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This is something I have been thinking of writing about since such a long time. And there are so many things happening around me that prompt me too- a conversation with a friend (just last weekend), or I will read something topical(all the time), or just come across something around me(so often). But somehow, never sat down to put my thoughts in words. Till today. Hopefully, I'll get to the end of this too. Soon.
The idea germinated when an Indian appliances company called Havells ran this campaign, the premise of which was that women are not appliances. It was a very progressive campaign and had me completely hooked - like the one in which a mother comes to meet a prospective bride for her son, and complains how her son has all the comforts of living in the United States, but poor sonny has nobody to make him a cup of coffee- to which the girl quickly retorts - maybe sonny boy actually needs a coffee machine, not a bride. And another one in which Mr. Boss husband has an important meeting, and implies that it is the duty of his good wife to ensure that her husband's clothes are properly ironed for the big day, otherwise, of course - “log Kya kahenge”. The wife hands him the iron and conveys the distinction between “Stri(wife)” and “Istri(iron)”.
And it was this commercial that had me chuckling to myself as I ironed my husband’s shirt. And I paused for a minute to think if this was ironical. Was I blurring the lines between “stri” and “istri” myself, although I considered myself a strong and independent woman who was an equal in a marriage? What was the difference between me and that lady in the commercial? And after giving it a little thought, I realized that my answer lay in a little word with a big meaning - respect.
Although I love doing little chores around the house, my husband does not have any list of expectations that I need to tick off. We do not have a division of labor in the house. Rather, we have an understanding that he does certain things better than me, and vice versa. And we stick to what we do best, although, on a day when needed, our list of to-do’s is completely interchangeable. He could be taking care of the kids without it being termed “baby-sitting”, and I could be out of the house all day, doing what many consider “jobs of a man”. All in all, I feel respected in this relationship. And I hope he does too.
I do not know how to define it, or make a checklist of things you need to look out for to determine if you are respected in a relationship - be it with your partner, friends, children, colleagues, parents or in-laws. Each relationship deserves respect. I guess it is a lot like being in love. Nobody can explain what it feels like, but when you’re in love, you just know.
One easy way to find a reason to respect your partner, is to find the reason of why you decided to be with her or him in the first place, why did you both decide to spend the rest of your life with each other . A relationship is like a machine that needs regular oiling and maintenance. Oftentimes, we find ourselves questioning - Why did I ever marry this person? Maybe our answer lies in that question. Why did you marry this man or woman? I married my husband because at twenty-something, I was a chaotic mess, and he had so much clarity of thought, that it was difficult for me to fathom where so much wisdom came from, he was the same age as me. Now, at almost-forty(though, not yet ;-) ), I am still that mess on most days, and it is only his talking me through it that helps me get out of it. I know a friend (story reproduced without permission, excuse me R :-))) ), who told me this story of when she met her husband, and one of the things he said was - I never get angry. And she thought to herself - this is the guy I must marry because only he can take care of a freak like me :-)) She is definitely one of the wisest women in my life. But I know his calmness and composure have helped them triumph over a lot of challenges that have come their way in life.
Nobody is perfect, but nobody is completely imperfect either. Find the reasons he or she appealed to you. Sometimes we think we were attracted for “trivial” reasons - like she was so beautiful, or he made a lot of money, but somewhere down the line, these reasons lose meaning, we begin to take them for granted. But the ability to keep oneself physically presentable and attractive is a quality of its own, it takes a lot of work. And a man who cares about providing for his family and giving them a luxurious life is definitely worthy of respect. If you thought a person had a quality that could prompt you to spend the rest of your life with him, will in all probability still hold true, Sometimes, we just need to dig a little deeper.
I had read this quote somewhere - I don't remember the exact words - but what it said was that love is a conspiracy devised by nature for the furtherment of the human race. And that is so true. How different are our feelings for our partners when we met them first compared to a few years down the line? The butterflies in the stomach don't stay for long, but over the years, that is replaced by a feeling of deeply caring for one another, the comfort in being with each other, not having so much to talk about, yet being able to guess what's going on in the mind of the other, most of the time, the feeling of just being there for each other. Does love change? Yes. Can we still call it love? Of course, I think so. And in this transition, we have to find the reasons to respect each other. On some days, they come easily. On some days, you really have to work hard. But at the end of it, it's all worth it.