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Camraderie, Not, Candle Light Dinners, is the Key to an Exciting Married Life

Friends, if you're wondering in your remotest of thoughts, "since when did she become a relationship counselor", please banish that idea about me. (smiles) I can be anything but an expert on relationships. Come on, how can I be one, when I am all the time trying to figure it out myself! Nothing baffles me so much as the nuances of relationships and the human mind that comes into play. Expectations, guilt, possessiveness, detachment, selflessness, selfishness – the hues of relationships are anything but dull.

So, no – I am no relationship expert and neither will I ever try to be one. 

What I can talk about with all my verve and vigour – is passion, dreams, goals.

And hey, I am NOT talking about the romantic passion that spreads like wild fire and consumes the mind and heart of the ones involved.

I am referring to the passion for something that you truly, intently love to do. It could be your passion for music, for art, for books, for photography, for health, for dance, for learning, for cooking, for technology. Anything.

And, when the romantic passion between a couple married for years is not all consuming any more, it is the other kind of passion that keeps the relationship blooming and growing and keeps spreading the sweet, invigorating scent of camraderie, chemistry and evolving together.

Mine was a "love-marriage" – as we Indians like to call it!

For my non-Indian friends, you might ask – well, what is "love-marriage"? Is there any other kind of marriage, anyway? Friends, welcome to India! In my country, we still have vast majority of people getting into matrimony 'arranged' by the respective families. But then, that's another topic of discussion. 

Being married for 7 years, we have had our share of ups and downs. Thankfully – more ups than downs. And, the downs never really hampered our relationship. On the contrary, every down actually got us to understand each other's perspective and individuality and helped us evolved.

Having said that, this married life has also been about series of never-ending chores, running the house, keeping everyone fed, grocery shopping, filing the taxes and bills and waking up umpteeth time in the night to pacify the wailing baby. In the middle of this grind, can love thrive and the spark in a relationship still be alive? Easier said than done!

Even if you discount the chores and let's say you are able to manage them without being affected, you still run the risk of getting trapped in boredom and treating each other for granted. The bad part is, you may not even notice how your relationship is slipping away into dangerous territory. Worse still, you may notice and choose not to do anything thinking it's a given. 

Days and months and years pass. Couples go on to celebrate silver jubilees and golden jubilees. But, do they pause to think if thier bond is shining as much?

The Saturday glossy pages of all leading newspapers are full of tips suggesting how to keep marriage exciting and "hot"! The tips range from romantic "date nights" to secrets of love-making to throwing surprises to being desirable and a whole lot about how to look, how to talk, how to seduce! 

Honestly, I have never been much interested in such tips. Not because, I'm not keen on making our relationship exciting. But because, I think, the excitement triggered by these tips is anything but long-lasting and organic. Because, all this, at best, can boost the mood but they cannot stimulate the mind.

Mind boosters not 'mood boosters'

I have figured that, for two people to share an exciting relationship, they must have at least one common passion that stimulates their mind beyond comprehension. And, that common factor better be something else other than their child! It is in sharing of a common interest – a serious interest – that the couple can find a cause to keep the fire burning. They are no longer dependent on mere physical longing and looking desirable. 

They share a common interest – so deep, so profound, so urgent that it can provide fuel for long-term sharing, connecting, debates, discussion, deliberation. The passion shared between a couple becomes their mission.

Now, this, by any means does not indicate that differences are bad. Differences stimulate a relationship in their own way. But, how you can connect and celebrate life when you share a joint passion or mission – is something else altogether. And, below you will see how you can develop that, if you don't have one.

To further explain my point, I will give my example. Traveling is a burning passion for me. It has always been. It's for my hubby as well. After Avie and I got married, we would often talk about what are the most important things we, as a couple, would like to do; what we want to make of our lives together and how. We were seeking a purpose of our being together. And, we figured that both of us desire to travel as much as we can. We both shared this common passion besides other individual passions. 

Ever since, we have never lost sight of this mission.

Together, we dream, we plan, we travel – far and wide and as often as possible. There are less dull moments. We get worked up when we watch travel programmes on television, when we grab an issue of a travel magazine talking about New Zealand or South Africa.

This one common passion, besides couple of others, have sailed us through chores and jugglery of everyday life. For, in our heart of hearts we know that we are with each other through our shared dreams and visions.

Here are some of my recommendations, from my own experience for what you can do to discover and share that common passion between you and your partner:

1. Be part of a mission – together:

The joy of struggle, survival and success – together – in an endeavour can be the biggest uniting factor. It applies to any kind of collaboration of shared sentiment. Whether it is a team of players who fought together to win a tournament for their country; a group of mountaineers who scaled the highest peaks; a team of doctors who snatched the patient from the grips of death; a team of kiddos who won a dance competition or even a mass of people who survived by helping each other in a catastropphe. When you are together in a mision and you put your blood and sweat into it, you become two bodies and one soul. You get united by a cause so overwhelming, that the passion and spirit flows through your veins. The camaraderie resulting from it is magical – much more magical than the one sparked by candle light dinners!

2. Take up a joint challenge:

Do you remember how in school and collge days we reveled in throwing and accepting challenges? That was the excitement about having friends. Bring back the carefree and fun-laden nature of friendship into your married life too. Encourage and prod each other by throwing a challenge and daring the other one to accept. Keep the other person's adrenalin flowing. Dare him/her to do something he's weak-willed at or lazy to do. Dare him/her to an early-morning rising, to a no-junk diet, to a hiking adventure, to take up a skill, to read five books in a month. This will not just breathe new energy into your relationship, it will also lead to self-development and motivation.

3. Take a hobby class or an activity that you both like: 

Go through the possible options and take up a hobby that you both can spend time in – together – and not separately. I mean, each doing his/her own thing is fine but doing at least one activity together – that you both like – can be really enriching and refreshing for you as a couple. Whether you go fo a dance class, for yoga, to the gym, for a swim or cycling, or a nature walk – doing something together that you both love, will rejuvenate your relationship like nothing else can. 

4. Be an inspiration to each other:

My hubby is an inspiration for me for the self-discipline he exemplifies. When it comes to early rising, regular jogging/workout, work-life balance – I consider him my hero. And knowing that these are my growth areas (read, weak points), he pushes me, motivates me and sets the bar. And, he considers me his go-to person in the house for all things creative, bold and brazen! When each partner is an inspiration for the other, there is respect, excitement and freshness in the relationship.

What's the common passion between the two of you – you and your partner?

Go ahead and rekindle it, nurture it and nourish it because it holds the promise to an exciting, loving and stimulating bond that cannot be dulled by the rigours of everyday life.

Some more reading on love and relationships:

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  • Ravindra Kumar Karnani August 4, 2011, 7:16 pm

    : by T T Rangarajan of Frozen Thoughts

    Existence has purposefully created man and women a little incomplete so that they could embrace each other and make it complete. However, centuries of conditioning have given the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ a very narrow connotation. It has shrunk the scope of this relationship. Drop the words husband and wife from your vocabulary and resolve to be ‘friends for a life time’. Then both the man and the woman sometimes play the mother , sometimes the father, sometimes a cranky kid, then the mentor, the teacher, the mirror…. And sometimes husband and wife too. Expand the definition of this relationship and keep it open.

    Dignity in marital relationship is found when you relate to to your spouse as a complete individual and not just the body. Observe each other’s way of thinking. Discuss personal values, standpoints and convictions; get sensitised to each others feelings, develop emotional compatibility and take time to sit together in quietude to develop spiritual connectivity. Respect the entirety of the person and relate to the whole person, not just the peripheral aspect of the other – the body.

    Don’t try to do it in one year what can be done in ten years and don’t try to do in one month what can be done in one year. Most married couples fall all over each other , overdo everything within the first few months and then there is no life left in that relationship. They coexist in a dead relationship. What can be a tree should not die as a plant. Take it slow and make it long.

    In life, as well as in good relationship, the past is irrelevant. The present forms the building blocks. The future is very significant, for that is where the two of you will travel together. Discussing day-to-day trifles alone will only make you fall in love. Talk future, talk dreams, talk ambitions, and resolve to play a part in each other’s growth in a very objective and non-intrusive manner. That’s the way to grow in love.

    There is this universal concept that after the wedding both lives superimpose and there is only one life to live from there on. As a result, women were often forced to live as a shadow of their man in the name of marriage. They tagged on, but as frustrated , self-pitying, sacrificial individuals who felt exploited.
    (Read it carefully):The fact is, much after YOUR life and MY life become OUR life, there still is my life and your life. ‘Our’ life is that intersecting space called marriage. Happiness in marriage depends on how both relate to ‘our’ space and how this space keeps growing with every passing year. However, he will continue to have his life and she should continue to have her life. In fact, she is at her best in ‘our’ space when she goes to her space and comes to ‘our’ space; and the same is true with him. This will ensure that you respect each other’s space, each other’s individual likes, dislikes and priorities, and most importantly, this alone will ensure that you do not suffocate each other in the name of love.

    Marriage, in its true sense, should improve the quality of life of both involved. Marriage can and should be a continuity of life, magnifying the possibilities for both.

    A good marriage has to be nurtured and developed. Building a great marriage is an art; so get artistic.

    • Rashmie Jaaju August 11, 2011, 2:44 pm

      Dear Ravindra,
      Thank you for visiting. One thing though – I would appreciate if you could share your OWN thoughts and feedback rather than copying and pasting an article from somewhere else on the internet. I hope you understand. I value your readership and it will mean a lot to me to know what YOU think of my writing and thoughts. :)

  • param August 5, 2011, 7:18 pm

    As usual well written Rashmie. Common passion/ interest between me and hubby…hmmmm, sochna padega:) Right now i can only list out how different we are but wait…i guess, we are very similar in our approach towards life. Kind of carefree souls. Haan, that’s what makes us tick together.

    • Rashmie Jaaju September 6, 2011, 1:15 pm

      My dear Param,
      “Carefree” AND yet true-to-yourself, genuine souls – I guess that’s how you both are that makes you tick :)
      Thanks for being here, my friend with your thoughts and comment. They mean a lot.
      And, sorry about this delayed reply…You know how I was in the middle of a maddening chaos before leaving for South Africa :))
      Will catch up with you…

  • Lori Gosselin August 6, 2011, 12:49 am

    Hi Rashmie,
    How can you be married just 7 years and already be so wise! I’m going to Twitter-introduce you to my niece who recently blogged about her first year – you will enjoy one another’s blogs – I’d put money on it!
    This has given me inspiration, me of a 25 year marriage. Such wisdom to say your common passion cannot be your children. I fear it has been for us – that and our business we work together. (not the BEST idea!) So tonight on our date night, I’ll be thinking about what you said and talking to my husband about it. Hmm… ;-)
    Thanks Sweetie!

    • Rashmie Jaaju September 6, 2011, 1:12 pm

      Dear Lori,
      First of all – am profusely sorry about this delayed reply to your sweet and thoughtful comment.
      You flatter me beyond words, my dear friend. Believe me, I am anything but wise when it comes to relationships. As I said in the beginning of the article too, I am too sentimental and sensitive to not brood over the nuances of relationships – all the time! ha!
      I am lucky that my hubby and I happen to share some common passions almost to the brink of obsession and have come to recognize that this is our best bet to stay in love forever! haha :)
      This allows me to guess that it will work for other couples too ;)

      From whatever little I know of you, dear Lori, I can say how vibrant, jovial, friendly and open you are as a person to make sure your married life is never boring and dull!
      I would be delighted to be introduced to your niece. Or, have you twitter-introduced already and I don’t know…oops! I have to catch up on twitter notifications as well. I am so lagging at the moment and still reeling under the influence of South Africa :))
      So glad I came to meet you, dear Lori. Let’s stay in touch :)

  • Chhavi August 7, 2011, 8:24 am

    Thankfully for me, most of it resonated with wat i personally believe and expeience in my relationship. Cant thank GOD enuff for the super relationship I share with Gaurav. Also thankful for the fact that we naturally share opinions, ideas etc. about life and other related aspects. So no space for controversies.
    On another note, the cute pic u displayed in the beginning should have carried a description:)
    Take care,

    • Rashmie Jaaju September 6, 2011, 1:02 pm

      Dear Chhavi,
      So sorry about this rather late reply to your comment above. When I saw your reply, I was madly hurrying through my trip to South Africa and thought I would reply once I land in SA. But, as you can guess, everything else takes a back seat when you are holidaying….
      More than once, I reminded myself that I have mails to reply to and comments to answer, but…

      Yeah, from what you have shared with me during our talks and reflections, I know how much you both connect with each other – like soul-mates. And, it’s so heartening to see such relationships in these times when ego hassles and other complex emotions do not allow relationships to blossom. Stay this way the two of you :) You are made for each other :)
      About that pic – haha! I thought giving a description will take away from the fun. Besides, I didn’t want it to sound like a family affair.. ;) Isn’t that pic so cute?!

  • Ravindra Kumar Karnani August 11, 2011, 1:03 pm

    Maintaining Your Self-Esteem In Relationships

    When a person is in love with another human, the marvelous thing about being in love is that it is a totally positive projection. There is a person who projects on to you all that is positive: you are marvelous, you are unique, you are indispensable, you are a treasure.
    That positive projection generates a euphoric state, of bliss, of wellbeing, whereby you are flying. You feel loved, cared for, needed and valued.

    That positive projection lasts for a time until, with the dependencies and expectations, the negative projection begins. “You should have called me, you should have told me, you should have come at this time, you should be more like this, you should be less like that, you should have done this or that.”

    With these expectations, demands and dependencies, that positive projection and flying state disappear. The other has started interfering in your personal space and the harmony that was there previously is lost.

    One needs to learn to have a positive vision of oneself. You are marvelous, you are unique; don’t depend on them telling you so. This does not mean you need to feed your ego, but that you need to make the most positive emerge from within you.

    Resort to all your creative, positive, spiritual capacity, so that you do not depend on others having to project positive things onto you in order to feel good. On feeling good in an independent and autonomous way, you will be able to share with others peace, love and positivism. You won’t be in the state of a victim but will be true rulers and controllers of your own life with solid self-esteem.

  • Big Zen September 14, 2011, 1:58 am

    This is a very interesting article and very well written!

    I once ready about a study by a guy called John Gottman. He has developed a method whereby he asks a couple to discuss something they disagree on for 15 minutes. He then watches the footage and codes the entire interaction, piece by piece. Apparently, from this snapshot, he can tell to within 90% accuracy if the couple will still be married in 15 years. The most important predictors are criticism, defensiveness and contempt. If these are present they can be devastating. Most of the time these reactions are unconscious and it’s only through detailed analysis that they are revealed.

    So if sharing a common interest is the key to a lasting bond, perhaps becoming more aware and avoiding criticism, defensiveness and contempt is the key to not destroying that bond.

    • Rashmie Jaaju September 22, 2011, 12:49 pm

      @ Big Zen – Welcome to Gorgeous Karma and thank you for sharing your thoughts.
      This study that you mention – by John Gottman – does have a shred of truth, I’ll have to agree.
      For, in any kind of relationship, arguments and differences do occur, but when the differences translate into contempt and criticism at the cost of mutual respect, the relationship will possibly not grow from there. Rather, it will deteriorate over time until the two people cannot bear each other any longer.

      Thank you for adding to this article. I’m glad you liked reading it. :)

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