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Did you marry the wrong person?

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A friend shared this with me…

Most couples past the initial flush, start to wonder if they married wrong. Truthfully, there is no right person; there is only a right attitude

WATCHING a couple in their mid-30s with two young children talk intimately and smile at each other in the Shatabdi train, brought a smile to my face. It is heartening to see a married couple of some years with eyes only for each other. God knows there are so few around. Interestingly, I had seen another on my way to the station in Chandigarh; a Sikh couple, well past middle-age eating chaat at a roadside vendor’s and talking animatedly with each other. “It’s praying and eating together at the gurdwara that keeps them so close to each other,” explained my mother, as she saw me admiring them.

Goodness, are we on our way to becoming cynical with regard to matrimonial bliss minus special divine blessing? I hope not. But the number of unhappy, disgruntled couples one comes across does make one wonder. A few years into matrimony, once the initial charm wears off, most start believing they have married the wrong partner. As the march of years weighs one down and the panic of approaching mortality strikes, it is common to list marriage to the ‘wrong’ person as one of life’s biggest regrets. This is the easiest way of externalising all blame for what one perceives as failures of life. It is easy to imagine that you could have achieved more and been a happier person, had you married someone else.

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This regret is not unlike the hypothetical thought — “Had I been born richer, wealthier, better looking, I would have done far better in life!” The only difference is that you cannot hold yourself responsible for the facts of your birth, but you have only yourself to congratulate or blame for your choice of a partner.
The more choice one has, the greater the stress and scope for regret and what-ifs. You do not blame
parents, siblings or children as being ‘wrong’ for you; since you never got to choose them, you just accept and work around them. But that doesn’t hold true of your spouse. You choose him or her out of many, and so keep wondering all through life, if you did actually end up with the ‘right’ one. And the fact that you wonder, is what causes the problem.

Also, romantic literature and art have infused unhappiness in love with a certain romanticism that seems attractive. So, it is not uncommon to see lovers of literature indulging their romanticism by imagining themselves trapped in marriage with the wrong partner. One such ‘sufferer’ dramatically told me in a conversation, “I am leading a suffocating life, with no ventilator for self-expression.” However, truthfully, the only cases where we can say one is stuck with a wrong spouse are those of domestic abuse, unhealthy practices such as substance abuse or chronic infidelity. The rest, I believe, can all be overcome.

Maudlin self-pity, the resort of the weak and cowardly, keeps us from taking a hard look at ourselves and examining if we really made the effort to do better in life and marriage, or were just content with our lot? Did we even make an effort to make the marriage work, rather than take refuge in declaring we got married to the wrong person? Do we even know who is, or was, the right person to marry? The truth is that there is no such one right person to marry. It is all very romantic to believe in soulmates and the one person God made for you, but the practical truth is that the success of a marriage lies not so much as in marrying the right person, as in adopting the right attitude towards your marriage and partner.

What then is the right attitude that ensures your marriage isn’t wrong? The most important is the sincere intention to make your marriage work. Mutual respect comes a close second, followed by patience and the ability to strike an emotional interdependence and so, form an enduring attachment. It is important to surmount your ego and never stop making efforts to keep up a channel of constant interaction and some shared interest. The important thing to remember is it is never too late, if you make the right effort. You would be surprised; scratch the surface and you may find your partner just as eager to meet you half-way.
It is easy to figure out the health status of a marriage by just watching a couple when they are together or out amongst other people. Indeed, my respect for a man goes up several notches after studying the body language of his wife. Is she confident and fearless as she talks? Does she have an opinion to share? If yes, then she has surely been given due regard and space in her marital home. And if a man is well-groomed and steady, surely he is well-looked after and respected at home.

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So either all of us are married ‘wrong’ or all of us are married ‘right’.
I tend to believe the latter.

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