In my first couple of months as the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, a starry-eyed gent insisted on predicting my future. I don’t believe in all this mumbo-jumbo, I told him in my brutal best. My glare bounced off his grin and eventually I realized he would only leave the premises if I allowed him to peer into tomorrow.
Milestone: It’s a long, winding road so learn to have fun.
“In your 40s you will be writing best-sellers about marriage and divorce,” he said wisely. “Divorce?! But I only just got married. Am I going to get divorced?” I yelped, falling neatly into his trap. “No, no, you will have a fabulously fun marriage. You’ll have a great time together,” he said.
It was 10 years yesterday and, so far, the astrologer’s prediction has been spot on.
Not many of us seem to be having fun with our spouses though. Indian marriages are falling apart faster than ever before. A recent book on the subject was titled Love Will Follow: Why the Indian Marriage is Burning.
Maybe it’s because 64% of us still don’t share our sexual fantasies with each other. Or because nearly one-third of Indian men who fantasize about role playing have imagined themselves pretending to rape their partners, according to the latest India Today sex survey.
All of us know of at least half-a-dozen marriages that have come apart. With some couples, you just know from the first moment you see them together that they don’t quite fit. With other seemingly perfect pairs, you wonder what could possibly have gone wrong. Hell, even the impeccable Tiger Woods couldn’t get it right. In short, a good marriage is a big luxury.
Maintaining a marriage is much easier than getting married, Margaret Kent, author of How to Marry the Man of Your Choice, told Lounge when we interviewed her last year. Her husband-pleasing tips were comically simple: At least once a week, tell him that he is unique and that you are happy to be his wife; sit and listen to him for 15 minutes daily as though he is the most important person in the world; and keep him sexually satisfied.
I still haven’t hit the 40s or written that best-seller but now that I’ve stayed (happily) married for 10 years, I like to think of myself as an expert too. In addition to the usual basics such as good food and good sex, here are some simple/simplistic pointers from which, I believe, every marriage can benefit.
Marry for love. Not for his looks or geographical location or the size of his car. And please, not clichéd, paperback love that is born over candlelight dinners and that grows every time you unwrap another branded present. To make a marriage work, you need rustproof, industrial strength, export grade love.
Don’t have a big wedding. Save the money for a house, a boat, a round-the-world trip, diamonds your child will inherit, or whatever it is that turns you on.
Mr Right comes fully trained. I know this is a rare trait in this part of the world but being married to an Indian man is infinitely easier if he knows how to cook, dust or, miracle of miracles, do both. And if he does, you know it’s only because his mother taught him early. And if she did, she’s your biggest ally in this relationship. Which brings me to the next point.
What’s not to love in your mother-in-law? If you married him for the way he turned out, at least half the credit goes to her. Besides, if you respect his family, he’ll respect yours.
Live lite. Have fun. Don’t get bogged down by possessions and all the multiple stresses of urban living. Don’t discuss petty things when you’re both in bed at the end of the day. Occasionally at least, use this time to discuss the things you would if you were lying under the stars. Don’t obsess about anniversaries and birthdays.
Always put your spouse first. If he returns the favour, you’ll have the solid, unblinking love you know your parents will always give you.
Discuss the non-negotiables beforehand. Mine was a cup of tea in bed. Every morning.
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