There are some relationship "tips" that have become part of our culture's accepted wisdom. I have read them so many times in so many places that they are coming out of my ears. Even celebrities echo them when asked inane questions about their partners and marriages. Well, inane questions deserve inane answers, don't you think? Here are six such pearls of wisdom. Implement them at your own peril.
Don't go to bed angry
I have never figured this one out. Now, if you substitute 'hungry' with angry, I can completely vouch for its importance. Seriously, nothing is worth giving up on that dinner ever! You can't sleep on an empty stomach, and you can be rest assured that you will get some amused smiles when you raid the fridge at midnight in spite of having made tall claims just a few hours back. Never go there. After that digression, let me come back to the point. Why should there be tenure on hurt and anger? Things do not resolve by saying, "Kiss and make up!" Even kids don't buy that these days. Things resolve by actively addressing the issues behind the conflict. If you can make peace before you hit the bed, it's great. Otherwise, tomorrow is another day. Personally, sleeping over problems gives me time to cool off and gives me perspective on how to handle the issue with renewed vigour the next day (I meant the nagging, lecturing and sulking).
The way to a man's heart is through the tummy
Why didn't anyone tell me not to fall for this one? Do they ever tell you the wretched aftermath of this? No, they don't. Now a normal dal, chawal, sabzi, roti is a puny meal in the family. Sometimes I have to put my foot down that I will not make chicken biryani on a weekday. Yes, the bar has been raised high now. The husband will just not be happy with a simple meal. The son (after-effects of watching MasterChef) gives heavy-duty comments on my cooking like "The texture is perfect - crispy on the outside and juicy within," "The meatballs have been seasoned and cooked to perfection!" So, unless you plan to spend most of your life slogging on the stove to protect your lofty reputation, remember to keep burning, over-salting or undercooking your food regularly. And also to praise him to the skies whenever he cooks.
Leave notes in unexpected places
In all probability, he may not read it and just throw it away as some junk paper. And if he reads it, it won't be too good for my ego to hear him burst into fits of laughter. Love notes can be corny! Ummm, I am happier telling him to his face. The other day, he came across an old handmade card of mine with a poem (stolen from the net). "Did you really do that one?" he asked. Of course! "Seriously, you aren't that creative!" he said with a doubtful look. Damn!
Do new things together
This again is a dicey affair. As supportive as I am of what the husband enjoys doing, including his gardening, I have realized that our interests are vastly different. I enjoy reading and writing. He loves gardening, carpentry and plumbing. He also enjoys tinkering with his electrical stuff. Try as I might, I find them boring. New things together may not always be fun. Instead, we give each other space to indulge in what we like individually.
Pay compliments to each other
This is true if you look at each other properly, which is not so common many years into marriage. Besides, most men get scared of the interrogation that follows. "What exactly did you like about the dress?" will finally descend into "I knew you were lying. I do look fat in this dress." Sometimes the compliments may lead to fights or sulking. Picture one such conversation.
Him: You are looking very nice today.
You: So you mean to say, I don't look nice every day.
You: You never have the time to notice how I look. I got this fantastic hair colour done, and you did not comment.
Him: Your hair colour looks lovely. What is it, red?
You: No it is auburn. When will you understand colours properly?
Him: Sulks (and wonders why he bothered with a compliment in the first place.)
Communicate with each other
This one I took very seriously. So much so that I talk... I mean, communicate, all the time. My poor husband is mortified every time I say, "Let's talk." He pulls his headphones closer and tries to show that he is hard at work with imminent deadlines. Even the kids have learned to steer clear when mom is in one of her talking (lecturing) moods. Luckily, my Labrador has no place to run.