It was a funny but an incisive experience that led to this article. I asked a friend at a party how she’s been doing as I hadn’t seen her for quite a while and she quipped enthusiastically: “Life couldn’t be better, Nisha. My kids have gone abroad to study, I feel like I have my life back and have joined my husband at work. There is bonding and more ‘us’ time now. We’re together at work, lunches, and dinners. It’s a new lease to our marriage, this togetherness.” A short while later at the same party, I found myself seated at the dinner table next to her husband. I politely queried him about life and work, to which he candidly volunteered, as if he had been holding it all in: “Not too great. I feel stifled. Our kids have gone abroad to study. My wife accompanies me to work and is with me all day long. It is not only intrusive but I have lost three valuable members of my staff due to her interference.”
Cut to another episode. I am at a busy brunch and my friend Sonia veers her way toward me enthusiastically. She has had a partner for some years. They don’t wish to get married and are ‘happy’ with their current arrangement of dating, traveling and ‘seeing’ each other. And yet again her partner’s perspective diametrically differed, “I feel suffocated. She doesn’t believe in separate holidays. Everything has to be together. I need a time out occasionally and I crave my own space and silence.”
The cliché — men are from Mars and women from Venus — came to my mind. It may not be entirely wrong too, no? We may believe that gender defined roles are not relevant in our times, and yet perspectives of men can be diametrically different to that of women, especially in relationships.
Men feel more hemmed in when their partners expect constant communication, contact, WhatsApp messages at regular intervals, and too many conversations. Women become ‘too clingy’, they cry. I spoke to a lot of men on this issue and they shared the similar viewpoint — of women ‘wishing to exercise control’.
Either partner may view a situation from a different angle or sometimes one of them may not be as happy as the other. It just tells me that we need to communicate more, we need to spend some time alone with our partners trying to calmly draw out information about how they are feeling before they escalate or calcify. It is important to realise that however close you are, you are different people with different backgrounds and mindsets. You may love each other feverishly, but she may not be as happy watching football as you are, or he may not think spending the day at the Dubai mall is the most enjoyable way to bond. The other, and perhaps most important, thing to bear in mind is to keep channels of communication such that it is easy to your partner to open up. Never overreact and make the atmosphere difficult for him or her to speak up.
It is not possible to be carbon copies of each other. Differences make the journey more adventurous and exciting together. The bottom line is to stick together, stick it out and learn more about each other as individuals.
The writer is a columnist, designer and brand consultant. Mail her at email@example.com