The Pillars of Marriage: The First Pillar – Love

The last few years seem like a blur, the fast pace, the skewed focus on work that never seems to end and the constant feeling of being torn in trying to get the balance right between my personal and professional space and feeling like I can never get it right no matter how hard I try. However, the last few months have been like a pause and reflect button in so many meaningful ways. Even though work has been busy it almost feels like time has paused, the world has stopped rushing around, there is a sense of tranquility, possibly an uneasy calm in the midst of all this chaos and uncertainty. I can finally introspect. Life is allowing me to realize what is missing, what is valuable, what needs changing and what I need to hold on to.

I have been thinking of things that are important to me – marriage is one of those. There has always been a certain sanctity to marriage for me. I believe that the stronger the foundation, the stronger the structure. But on the flip side the more intense the emotions, the easier it is to get hurt and to have the power to hurt. A good solid marriage rests on so much but if I was to pick four things to be the pillars of a strong relationship I would pick Love, Respect, Friendship and Trust.

Today let’s talk about Love.

Sometimes you fall in love and get married and sometimes you get married and then fall in love. Is one better than the other? No, I don’t believe so-they are just different.

 Being crazily in love can be very heady with very strong highs and lows, that are emotional, volatile, even intense and then people get married. For many people the dynamics change as expectations associated with “being married” change. . It is common for one partner to feel that the other has changed but actually neither has- it’s just the circumstances and the environment that has changed. In the Indian landscape, marriage brings with it a certain set of expectations no matter how liberal someone is, these are expectations from each other and from the incoming member towards other family members. Things that were great and accepted with a smile and a thank you, all of a sudden, don’t garner the same response, expectations have moved up a few notches  in the minds of family and friends and therefore the same responses just doesn’t cut it. The rules of the game have changed just as you had become comfortable. That can be tough to accept and navigate through.

On the other hand in an arranged scenario, two people take the time to get to know each other starting from a blank canvas -one small step at a time. A person doesn’t know what to expect and it takes a while to truly get to know each other – there is an excitement as the journey starts with two people coming together on the basis of shared values, a strong personality fit, a mutual attraction and wanting similar things from life. The couple build the rest as they learn to discover each other. That’s a very strong foundation.Despite this, the journey is not a bed of roses, it is tough at times, extremely fulfilling at others but one where there is a lot of learning about who we are, who we are not and what we are capable of giving to a relationship.

Are love and acceptance two sides of the same coin? When we say we love someone what does it really mean? If we love someone do we also truly accept them as they are? Do we love them despite all their flaws or do we love them FOR their flaws and imperfections? Do we love someone and constantly try to change them? Do we love them but want them to live their life on our terms? And is that love?

I have always struggled with this one-I am guilty of rarely getting this right. I feel I have come a long way but there is so much work in progress! With time things settle down and people find their own equilibrium. I am learning to filter out the “noise”. Ultimately, only the two people involved can really understand what goes on between them. I have learned that everyone will have opinions, advice will be offered with the best intentions course but there needs to exist a space amongst all the madness, chaos and noise that should only be mine – in which only my voice can enter. Then the choices I make are mine alone.

When everything is falling apart I have found love to be my glue. It’s something that is so important to me that I cannot fathom my life without it, I don’t want to. And I don’t mean love as a concept but love as in the person I love. Yet there are times when I have been swept away by other destructive emotions like ego and stubbornness. They have clouded my vision and my ability to express the way I really feel. These emotions have put me in corners where I have meant something and said something else. I have believed for most of my life that if the person loves me he will know why I am reacting the way I am, he will know that sometimes what I want to say and what I am saying are two very different things, he will know that I am hurting when I am appearing strong, that I miss him when he is away and most importantly how much I love him even though I haven’t said it in the longest time. But the reality is different unless one is married to a mind reader! I owe expressing my feelings to the one I love as much as I owe it to myselfto not hold back. Life goes by very quickly and time lost is lost forever, which is a very heavy price to pay.

When you love someone is it important to show love in the way you want to show it, or in the way the one you love wants it? I don’t want the one I love to have to second guess how I feel about him. I want him to know that he anchors me. I want him to know how beautiful my life is just because he is in it. I want him to know how important our friendship is to me. I want him to know that I have learnt so much from him because of which I am a better person today. I want him to know that he has shown me that love is giving each other the space to be who we are as well as the freedom and support to blossom, to follow one’s dreams. I want him to know how much I value our years together, our journey, the distance travelled, the memories created, even the hurt, loss and grief – because it’s shared. It binds us in ways only we know.

There is so much I haven’t said because I believe that if he truly loves me he will understand not only my words but also my silence. I now realize that things unsaid are not always understood, and it is important they are. There are lots of reasons to be silent. Loving someone with everything that you have is not one of those.

I now understand what it means to be rock solid. Not because I am – but because that is what he is to me.

Anuradha Gupta is Founder, CEO for Vows for Eternity, and Indian-American matchmaking service headquartered in New York, with offices in Delhi, Mumbai and London.