Don’t tell him but, secretly, I feel relieved when the husband and I fight. I actually feel happy when friends look at us and think we’re imperfect. Some days, when it seems like we really do have the perfect relationship, I even conjure up imperfection (yes women do such stuff).
Perfect marriages scare me.
You know the type. Those trendy, off-centre couples with two adorable children and a Fabindia-meets-Elle Décor house; the kind who know exactly which piece of tribal art to display in their living room. Put them on The Moment of Truth, I say, and watch their relationship unspool faster than any Sankranti kite festival trick.
In one episode of the popular US television show I watched gripped as the trust and comfort level of a happily-ever-after couple, who held hands to start with and bravely faced questions together in the hot seat, crumbled within minutes. By the end of that segment, we knew he had a gambling problem, wanted to have sex with her younger sister (who reciprocated the sentiment) and that he thought he might have fathered a child or two before he met her (he hadn’t thought this important enough to tell her before he came on the show). She, of course, spilled her own set of secrets.
Believe me when I say this show is way scarier than Bigg Boss. Even if you’ve never actually done anything inappropriate in your marriage, consider answering the following potentially destabilizing questions while taped to a lie detector: Do you fantasize about a past lover when you are having sex with your spouse? Does your spouse still turn you on after 15 years of marriage? Do you fake a perfect orgasm more often than not?
If you think the biggest challenge facing the modern marriage is sexting, you’re fooling yourself. Sure, in the past few years, technology has helpfully provided us with a million new and discrete ways to flirt. You can “cheat” with minimum effort and at any time of day or night that’s convenient to you. And with every new/improved gadget, it only becomes easier.
Tiger Woods may never have been caught if he had used BlackBerry Messenger, the phone’s instant messaging app, instead of regular ol’ SMS. In the former, an entire conversation can be deleted in one click—plus it’s free and doesn’t register on your monthly cellphone bill. Thankfully, technology has still not figured out a way to go beyond virtual sex. In the years to come, sexting may even be heralded as the new harmless flirting, an accepted indulgence in a monogamous, committed relationship.
The modern marriage has bigger problems than 140 character flirting, and topping the list is the pursuit of perfection. Couples who want the perfect house, the perfect kids, the perfect vacation and the perfect spouse invariably end up disappointed and divorced.
In New India there’s a greater chance than ever before of things not working out. Your anxious/ dissatisfied spouse could commit suicide during your office commute. Your best friend could steal your husband. Your husband could hack you to bits because you asked for a divorce. Your wife of 15 years could morph into a stranger who hates you and wants to erase all evidence that you were ever part of her life.
That we’re thinking of divorce is evident when you consider that last fortnight, a story of a boy whose parents are divorced won the Sahitya Akademi’s first award for Children’s Literature (English).
My mantra for any successful marriage is simple: Celebrate your imperfections. And keep track of perfect marriages that weren’t so perfect after all. These days I’m addicted to online news portal The Huffington Post’s new divorce section. As Arianna Huffington said in her note introducing the section: “Breaking up is hard to do... but reading about it isn’t.”
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