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: