Balance Romance with Reality

Balance Romance with Reality

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

There are no guarantees that a man who is "crazy about her" and she who is "madly in love with him," will live happily ever after when they marry each other. In fact, the chances are that they may end up divorcing each other before the proverbial seven-year-itch begins.

Therefore, my praise goes to all male and female partners who put in a full day's work, come home, cook, clean, help their children do the homework, and, in between, find the time to ask each other how their day went. They intuitively know what to do and say when their partner is feeling down or their child is being tormented by a bully at school.

They may not be writing love poems or sending roses to each other everyday, but they make personal sacrifices and accommodate each other's needs everyday. They are my unsung heroes. They build a solid foundation for their marriage and create an emotionally stable environment for their children so the latter can grow up as responsible and caring adults. Thanks to them as they contribute every day to the peace, stability and prosperity of this nation.

Dr. Arnold Lazarus, a marriage therapist of international fame, based on his forty years of professional experience, says that the passion of romance soon burns out in the fires of everyday intimacy and practical challenges. Dr. Lazarus, in his recently published book, Marital Myths Revisited, puts it this way, "The thrills and chills of romance are doomed in the face of day-to-day proximity." Sounds cynical, doesn't it? But, the fact is that marriage is a serious business and requires management of a lot of practical problems involving two adults and a little later, children as well.

Romance is wonderful and everybody wants it. But, after a courting couple takes the vows of marriage, partners often fall victim to a demon called "disillusionment." In a previous article, I have discussed the problem of disillusionment, which is responsible for wrecking an untold number of marriages.

It is said that the arranged marriages, that is, a marriage, arranged by parents or family elders are more successful. Why so? One reason may be that in an arranged marriage, there is no romance to begin with. No romance, no disillusionment. No massive accumulation of preconceived expectations, therefore, no frustration. Everything begins at ground zero and a couple come to form a successful marriage unless one of the partners is intolerable and impossible to live with.

So, what should a man and a woman do to form a potentially successful union and avoid later problems? Well, how about preparing a detailed job description for a prospective wife or husband? Sound ridiculous? Think again. When you want to hire somebody to work on a job for just a few hours a day, who you know you can fire anytime if it doesn't work out, you still go ahead and prepare a detailed "job description." That way, each party knows what the expectations are before they begin.

Dr. Lazarus does just that during premarital counseling. He asks both the prospective partners to honestly and candidly prepare a job description, specifying what they're looking for in the other party. Imagine, a man who "waits on you hand an foot and worships the ground you walk on" to write the following job description:

"After the marriage, I want to return to my old buddies I neglected for months due to my total preoccupation with heavy-duty courtship. So, honey, don't greet me with a long face or ask me a bunch of questions when I come home late after having a good time with my buddies. You should be able to anticipate all my needs even before I know them. You shall perform all the duties of a wife, (second) mother, cook, house cleaner, baby sitter, and home teacher in a perfect manner, but remain totally silent, not a word of complaint, please.

By the way, there is another clause in this job description, titled as 'other unexpected duties' that may arise from time to time. You will be entirely responsible for them with no further assistance from me."

So, would-be partners, spell out in advance what you expect from each other. Write a job description. This way, you can prevent many problems in the future.

Dr. Lazarus gives the following tips for a good relationship: 1. Keep criticism to a bare minimum 2. Avoid saying "no." If you are unable to say "yes," explain the situation fully. 3. Show appreciation. 4. Don't give advice without first asking, "Would you like to hear my views on the matter?" 5. Instead of telling your partner what he or she may be thinking or feeling, ask and verify. 6. Don't dredge up the past. 7. Don't be a control freak. Nobody likes to be controlled. 8. Do not reward nastiness with kindness as that may encourage the person to continue to be ill tempered.

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Copyright 2001, Mind Publications 


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