The Pillars of Marriage: The Second Pillar – Friendship

The years have flown by and I often find myself wondering if it has really been 12 years since I got married and then I see some grey hair and I am reminded that indeed it has! So much has changed over the years, I have lived in more countries than I could have ever thought, got married, had kids, loved, lost and gained so much. And then the internal changes, which are a lot more drastic but a lot more intangible and have come after much soul searching.

Years ago, my notion of life and of relationships was so different to what it is today. Life was this little bubble that I lived in, a world made by me, for myself where everyone is safe. I have always been a die hard romantic and an intense all or nothing person. I have always believed in the sanctity of marriage but have often found myself being caught between believing in the sanctity of marriage, yet not being sure if I had it in me to be with one person all my life. Is that how human beings are wired – to love and to be with one person all one’s life? I couldn’t answer that then, I still can’t answer that now.

But today I know that life usually turns out very differently to the way we imagine and it’s very important to go with the flow and at the same time to trust your instincts. Look inward, listen in to that voice which speaks very softly and you won’t go wrong. I was 34, living in London when I first met this man who was the polar opposite of who I am. On so many levels we are like chalk and cheese. I am a vegetarian, whilst he can eat anything that crawls! He is a finance guy who can spend hours over an excel spreadsheet, whereas for me the excel works as a sedative, putting me to sleep very rapidly! Our backgrounds are different, cultures are different, even our styles are quite different. He is very chilled out, always seems to be in a state of zen, in control of his emotions, very humble – everything that I am NOT!

I met him for the first time in May 2008, in London, over an evening which lasted 5 hours where we spoke about everything from politics to sport and time just flew. And then we didn’t speak to each other for 4 months as we were both busy with work and travel. I reconnected with him months later and we met up in LA. We shared a wonderful few days, some of the best in my life, we drove for hours to watch the sunset over a glass of champagne overlooking the ocean, went for long walks, spoke for hours, went for a cycle ride by the beach, had the most fun dinners and time just stood still for those few days. Till the clock struck and it was time for me to leave for London. As he came to the airport to see me off and I said goodbye, I felt like I was leaving something very precious behind. That’s when I knew. This was the man I wanted to marry. I couldn’t understand it then, how could I know that I wanted to share my life with someone I had just met a handful of times? I still don’t understand how that happened, it was just so unlike me.

We got married exactly one year after we first met. Over the years we have gone through a lot together, seen a lot of ups and downs – good and bad times. Our relationship has changed drastically, it started off just with the two of us and then over time it was our individual families that one got to know, we had kids that in so many ways changed the dynamics of the game. It brought a phase of adjustment, a steep learning curve and the realization that our lives will never be the same again. And for that I am truly grateful. Becoming parents has been our biggest blessing.

I believe in change, and that it is the only constant. Sometimes I wonder what brought us together and kept us together – it couldn’t have been the kids as they came in so much later in our lives. So what was it? On the surface there is so much that is different, but deep down in things that matter to us, we are so similar. Most importantly, we are best friends. It started with our first meeting, it was so easy. We don’t have stereotypical roles in our marriage – perhaps because neither of us are people who would fit the typical mould.

We are both strong individuals who sometimes butt heads but also respect each other immensely because we are so different and bring such different things to the marriage. Today, when I look back at the headstrong, impulsive, volatile person that I am and the balance that he brings to my life, I realize how important friendship is to a marriage. Our relationship has seen so many seasons and even 12 years later I look forward to us stealing time to get on our bicycles and go on a ride by the beach, with the wind blowing through our hair, the sound of the waves as they crash and us just soaking in the moment as the sun sets.

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.