Marriages: What Makes Them Tick

January 03, 2007
Deepti Lamba

I don't like to discuss my marriage - not because it's in doldrums but because I am so insanely happy that some of my friends wink and put their fingers in their mouth and then grin at me. I am one of those who have been silenced by the suffering masses shackled in loveless relationships. It isn't easy to sit quietly and not wonder out loud why they were not able sit down and communicate with each other, why they let the daily grind quietly rip them apart or create so much ill will that they now don't think twice about bitching to the world about the wrongs done to them.

And, then, there are those who quietly lick their wounds in silence and to those my heart goes out. They are the ones who put up happy faces knowing that misery loves company but the company would rather attend a swinging party. It's with them that I prefer to be, with them I like to share retrospective cups of tea as we go down the painful by lanes while discussing the weather, movies or children. There are those painful silences that are abruptly put aside with mock gay smiles or the questions answered about what makes marriages work hopeful that the next round would treat them better.

Obviously, I don't have all the answers as to why my marriage works while theirs failed; all I can offer is that I got lucky by some freak chance and the embittered and the saddened alike laugh when I tell them that. To say that one's met their Prince Charming is obviously gag worthy but it holds true for me. I did not want a tall handsome dashing guy but one that liked books, animals, people and was even tempered since I'm slightly high strung and the day I met my husband it felt right and it still does after six years of marriage.

Too mushy? You bet, which is why I generally don't like to talk about the man I am married to. When my friends bitch about their spouses, I remember the times he stood by me, when he trudged in a blizzard to get my medications or stayed by my side during the birth of my kids.

We tend to impress people with our oneness - completing each other's sentences while talking to people, listening to the same kind of music, watching movies late into the night, discussing everything under the sun and playing our favorite game - Monopoly - with our friends which I tend to lose every time.

Like all couples we tend to fight once in a while, snap at each other, become some what rude towards each other, nip at each other's heels over small things but then forget about it just as easily. We tend to joke that we take each other for granted like siblings do and not like old married couples since there are no scores to be settled.

Our marriage has become like the soft old sock that one can't do without during those cold wintry nights. Or like a child and the worn out ear bitten teddy bear. It has a sense of permanence to it, a sense of security, warmth and most importantly a sense of being wanted. Which, now that I think of it, seems to be the key factor in building a lasting happy marriage.

Deepti Lamba is a writer, an editor for Desicritics. She can be found at Things That Bang
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January 3, 2007
01:10 AM


am happy for you guys - may you continue to fight and bicker your way to happiness for years to come;)

am saddened by so many marriages that just coast along for all the wrong reasons - children, family, society ... as they are cyber-conjoined and cannot be separated ...so they share their misery and revel each other in more of it for every minute...

more later...time to catch a wink

January 3, 2007
03:12 AM


You say:
Obviously, I don't have all the answers as to why my marriage works while theirs failed; all I can offer is that I got lucky by some freak chance.

Do you mean to say the factors (for success) are external to you? Is it just some freak chance (over which you have no control)?

Why do you have to shy away from acknowledging what you have achieved by attributing every success to "luck"? Just do some introspection. What what you give to life is what you get from life.

I see more and more women use the language,"Oh, thank God, I am married to a wonderful person."

The predominant mindset among "urban" women that most men are chauvinistic, insensitive or irresponsible, is "one" of the main reasons which leads to troubled marriage in "urban India". The sexist and misandrist literature propagating in various communication channels, media, education and magazines is responsible for creating such an impression.

Finally, everything is a function of acceptance (of other) and how one handles expectations? When I say acceptance, I mean acceptance without "compromising" basic values, principles and stands in life.

So far as expectations are concerned, one can define a set of "minimum expectations" from the spouse. Above them, there can be some more reasonable, but non-critical expecations. Above that one can have dreams.

Moreover, one has to also define the basic expectations from life itself.

When one or both spouses keeps raising the level of expectations from the other, by taking the other one for granted, the marriage easily goes into the troubled zone.

Ideally, highly educated, well settled people should have less problems in marriage. But, the irony of life is that we human beings often can not remain in peace and we get bored, when we do not face problems in life. So, we create or invent problems.

Our surveys in "urban" India show, 50% of the troubles in marriages are "not" due to the wife or husband, but are due to the parents or relatives of the wife or husband. Often, we Indians love to give control of our lives in the hands of our loved ones and end up living life like the characters in "Saas Bahu" soap operas.

When people take responsibility for their own lives, they get power over their lives. The more one makes others responsible for one's life, the more powerless s/he becomes.

January 3, 2007
04:19 AM

A thumb rule(from ancient times) to make "quite a few (if not all)" marriages work in an Indian social framework...

It may look lot dogmatic and orthodox putting it here, but truth is truth it does not know whether it is being dogmatic or liberal

"Ladki ek ghar neeechey se layoo, ek ghar oopper bhejho.."

Now some may have reservations about the gap that has been signaled in the above statement.

That gap is indicative of the difference between aspirations and ambitions of girl's family and that of boy's family and is not necessarily the difference between financial status of husband and wife (which un-equivocally was the case decades back). For example... a girl may be from an average family but under the influence of rampant commercialization and consumerism may have very high aspirations from husband and family...similarly a boy from orthodox family may have expectation that girl too should be like them.

Again this probably works only in Indian framework, because in other developed countries there is a concept of strict nuclear family and there are other issues which come into play in the breakup of family.

Deepti Lamba
January 3, 2007
08:12 AM

temporal, ahhh....if only we really fought to really make up;)

Sumanth, you do have a point- empowering our lives depends upon our own thought process coupled with great amount of introspection and self reflection but there is a thing as compatibility.

And that is what it boils down to. We have been each others' strength and made a difference in each others lives.

In many ways my marriage is like my grandparents or parents were they blended into one entity and yet retained their individual personalities and complemented each others quirks.They grew together.

But in front of a broken hearted friend whether male or female I do not wear my marriage like a badge of honor. When they wonder out loud what went wrong on their end while mine succeeded I rather not break into a pompous lecture as it would tantamount to gloating and instead tend to use humor to get me off the hook.

I have at the end of my post given my insight that what works for us is being caring towards each others' emotional needs.

Hardy, I agree that the woman has to make great amount of adjustments when she marries into an Indian family but at the same time it isn't easy for the man to do the balancing between his wife and parents especially during those early years when she is still new to the family and the bonds of love have yet to be formed with her in laws. It takes two to tango and the same go for marriages.

And as far as marrying below or above one's station goes, it again depends upon the type of family one belongs to and is getting married into.

January 3, 2007
10:55 AM


i have to remove two misconceptions

one: what is said to dee applies to both the partners in crime

two: as i re-read #5 my inexperience in 'dealing' with each other's extended families shows...(a major burden of which i guess has to be shouldered by the wife)...both M and i have spent our lives away from there...and perhaps blissfully are unaware how to handle that...

but it must be taxing for the couples there...specially when there would be a collusion of old and new values...

Ruvy in Jerusalem
January 3, 2007
11:58 AM


Excellent article. I do very much understand why you feel silenced in a world of unhappily married people. My wife and I still hold hands when we walk (well, maybe not here in Ma'aleh Levona but certainly out of the town's limits). We talk about things. And yes, we do argue about things.

But a big part to what has been the success in our own marriage is that we ironed out most of the issues that we would have to deal with before we got married. I would add this to the list of elements of success in comment #8. It isn't always possible to do, but it is worth trying to do.

May you and Aaman enjoy many many years together and be able to sit your grandchildren down and tell them stories of the "old days" when you were young - the days you walk through day by day now.

And may they see then the joy the two of you have now with each other, that they might learn from their elders...

A.K Rathor
January 3, 2007
12:43 PM

At last only good sense prevails.

If two people live together and share the common resource, there is bound to be dispute and disagreement between them, some times on petty issues and some time on serious one.

Still in our society the first level of counseling is done in those situations by elders in the family who have seen all the colors of relationship.

Counseling can be called a success only when the partners realize their fault, repent and then move in the life ahead. This process not only saves but further strengthens the relationship.

The reason a lot of marriages are breaking these days is because of lack of expert and unbiased counseling.

Let me remind you all here, force and threat in saving such relations only breaks it further.

That's why I expect our Govt. to stress more upon sensitive counseling and bring Harmony based laws instead of something else.

January 3, 2007
05:53 PM

#2, 3 and 7:

pardon me sirs!

.... the way you wax hatred on other boards against women...i find it extremely hard to take your pontifications on this subject without a grain of salt


January 3, 2007
06:30 PM


then you can ignore me;)


personal would be if i single you out and say you stink

and general would be if i say as a group you are full of antagonism towards the fairer gender

and while i singled you guys out as a group i was being general

A.K Rathor
January 3, 2007
07:36 PM

Looks like you have decided not to put your counter argument at any cost.

Instead you are keener in justifying why you will go for off- track attacks.

I am sorry to say, this attitude defies the purpose of this post.

Request you once again to come back to the discussion.

A.K Rathor
January 3, 2007
08:57 PM

As we all agree that the rate of divorce has increased manifold in recent times, can we term the failure of marriages to the lack of expertise in counseling.

We can discuss on who can be the best counselors and what methodology they can have in successful counseling.

Not to mention, even the new DV law makes it a first step but law came in place before ensuring even the first step.

Al most all the states are clueless on what to do even if they got the direction from the concerned ministry.

Request you all to come up with your valuable suggestions.

January 3, 2007
11:46 PM

(specially for #11 - but other von-siffers can feel free to include themselves)



January 4, 2007
12:11 AM

It all boils down to wanting to talk it out, wanting to make it work, wanting to be together, in spite of the hurdles, the relatives, whatever (in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, etc.). It doesn't matter how good the husband or the wife is. If the two people don't have the energy or the inclination to stick it out, then it just will not work. Most marriages (other than the ones with abuse or violence) just fall apart for want of hard work towards the marriage by the partners.

January 4, 2007
12:13 AM

By the way, just celebrated our 14th anniversary (and almost 19 years of knowing each other).

January 4, 2007
01:08 AM

Congrats on your 14th anniversary.
BTW, don't you think, there is a need to upgrade counseling infrastructure of our countery?

January 4, 2007
01:09 AM

My comments last night(about 12 hrs back) got deleted...This is not the first time...Is it a software bug. I saw them there for about 30 mins last night, but now they are gone.


January 4, 2007
01:15 AM

The author must have received a copy of those comments. Please restore back if possible. Thx

January 4, 2007
02:28 AM

request you all to read the following link:

Man Needs Counseling

January 4, 2007
02:38 AM

This is the reason I am stressing more upon counseling:
Lack of Proper Counseling can lead to end of life

January 4, 2007
03:33 AM

#8...It is your personal perspective...your are looking through a prism(may be the other end of tunnel) and you see a different angle to the truth/ground reality.

There is no second thought that weaver knows where the shoe pinches...To expect you to agree with us without having under gone the predicament would be foolish on my part...for even I was one of you a year back and found it difficult to accept that what I then thought is far from where reality is taking us to.

Deepti Lamba
January 4, 2007
04:46 AM

A.K, the blue is fine but the red is an eyesore- please refrain from blinding us:)

Deepti Lamba
January 4, 2007
05:30 AM

Here are the comments that fell prey to spam clearing:

Comment#6Anamika:Temporal, while I agree with what you say, you did leave out one major aspect: The fact that guys too have to "adjust" to their married state.
Deepti is very diplomatic and calls it "balancing" the wife and the family for a man.
But that isn't a gender specific thing - both partners have to learn to "balance" their natal and marital families.

Comment #8Hardy:Hardy
Comments: #5...You mentioned about the necessary ingredients. No second thoughts...But I guess they can be generalized to any relation in this world...Was there any thing specific to marriage in there?
I think the a few additional ones important in context of marriage are
1) Acceptance - that the things and persons are as they are. I can not imagine any person changing after the ripe age of 25-30 at least not under any threat. To expect him/her to change is probably foolishness. Those who try to change each other only spoil the party.
2) Short memory - Always be ready to forget. I know it is difficult to condition ourselves to imitate that pattern, but it helps.
3) Expectations - The lesser the better.
4) Trust - No doubt, it needs time to build it. However, Unconditional trust goes a long way in promoting healthy relationship.
Parents sometimes play an important role in breach of this trust, so we need to be wary of them at-times.
5)Overlap - Lesser the better. No I did not mean time overlap, but rather responsibility overlap.
One may argue that may be an overlap is essential, because you can be a substitute to other naytime(and all that self dependence stuff).
But having marked/defined responsibilities makes the two start depending on each other, which adds a flavor to relation(for the better).

Deepti Lamba
January 4, 2007
05:35 AM

Ruvy and Sujatha, like I said before if the couple are on the same page, then, together they can withstand any hurdle that life throws at them:)

A.K Rathor
January 4, 2007
05:28 PM

Do not worry Deepti #21,
since was trying it first, got published by mistake.
If you wish, you can remove it.

January 12, 2007
01:43 AM


January 12, 2007
01:49 AM

Aaman, you were lucky ;).

February 2, 2007
05:16 AM

On going through this article it appears as if the author is almost euphoric for having a stable and viable marriage.Even a few decades ago, people were generally "happily married".How ever today by consistent propaganda by feminists in the media, woman are made to feel dischanted about their "marriages" and are made to believe that they are not "getting enough from their marriages".
The basic mind set that goes behind such a stance is that men are not supposed to do such questionings.Ever bothered as to what men are getting from their marriages for all that they have to do in it? It is simply taken for granted. What is more is that, when men have started to ask such questions, women are becoming very uncomfortable and are refusing to face it.Feminists are not willing to let such "attitudes" emerge among men.

February 2, 2007
09:05 AM

Ajay, men get free sex and home cooked meal;)

February 2, 2007
11:34 AM

Bihari...I never heard wife paying for having sex either...So What is your point?

BTW, She almost always gets food,shelter, protection and money however...So your notion that men get sex for free is cockeyed.

February 7, 2007
01:42 AM

It is fashionable for women today to claim that they are not getting "enough" from their marriages. Such utterances are more heard from the upper class women, who get what ever they want from their rich husbands who slave and slog and earn and provide for them and satisfy their desires for a luxurious living.
However the scene is different in middle class families where both the man and woman have to contribute to keep the "family" running and become a viable unit.The man goes out of the safety and security of his home to "maintain and provide" for his family while the wife nurtures and manages the children and the common home.
But feminists have shattered this "dual responsibility" scheme in a marriage and women are now taught to evaluate that they are in "unhappy" marriages if they have to discharge their part of the responsibility.If that be so,then they simply cannot prevent men from evaluating the scheme of marriage and shattering the duties and responsibilities that he is made to discharge.Why should he be then prevented to think that he is having a "unhappy" marriage

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