What Is Love? Baby, Don’t Hurt Me, No More.

What do you think marriage should look like?

I’m going to try my best to explain what I think it should look like. I believe that it should be a best friendship where there is love, respect, and trust with a lot of attraction mixed in. There should be understanding on an emotional level. There should be laughter and fun. There should be a belief that no matter what, you both are a team together.

So then why are there so many people out there making fun of their significant others? Why is joking about our marriage something that serves as way to bond with other people? Why is your spouse not held in the highest regard?

I understand that marriage isn’t always heaven. We show our worst to that person. Everything bad that happens in our lives will fall on the other person. They are our rock and our punching bag.

But isn’t degrading them in front of others disrespectful? Or is that just another way that people show their love towards their significant other? Maybe that is the bond between a couple, the ability to tease and make fun without resenting them. Maybe there are stronger people than I who can deal with this type of relationship.

For me, though, I can’t do it. I know that my husband and I will have to fight about things. I know that when the kids are exhausting, it takes a toll on us as a couple. As long as we can create some space to enjoy each other and continue to respect each other, I think we will be fine. But I don’t think I could survive being with someone who thinks putting me down is an acceptable form of affection. I might be too sensitive or I might just need something different.

I know we have all seen it throughout the generations and throughout different cultures. We have “husband” jokes and “wife” jokes. We hear this in wedding speeches all the time. There are stereotypes like the uptight wife or the messy husband that get reinforced over and over again. Can this change if we don’t agree with it? Why must this be the way to connect with others? Why can’t we use something positive instead?

I’d like to know what your thoughts are. I know that all marriages are different and have different bonds. I’d like to hear about what keeps your marriage strong. I’d like to also hear about what things you’ve heard between a couple that really irks you.

Is It Really Just “Teasing”?

I watched a couple interact a few days ago. There was a lot of “teasing” or as I’d like to call it “putting each other down”. Whenever they spoke to each other or about each other, it had to do with correcting each other or mentioning what they other person didn’t know. They seemed comfortable doing that as well. It made me wonder if that’s just how they communicated. It also made me wonder if that’s how they spoke to each other in private or if this was the case all the time.

I feel like I used to be like that at least in public. I didn’t know how to interact with someone I was in a relationship with. It was like, if I was nice to the person in public, I put myself in a vulnerable position. If I put my significant other down, it made me the stronger, more dominant person. Honestly, I don’t know exactly why I did it. But I do remember doing it.

After enough failed relationships, I learned that being vulnerable isn’t the worst thing in the world. People are built a lot stronger than we think. It’s hard if the relationship doesn’t make it but with the right help and work and time, we will get past it.

It taught me that I’d rather be vulnerable but be nice to my significant other. Putting them down doesn’t make me a better person. Teasing them doesn’t make me a stronger person. If anything, the opposite is true. Being good to them makes me a better person. And if I treat them with respect, then I’m treated with respect as well.

So what is it about these types of relationships and communication? I’ve seen it enough. Is it a form of affection? I don’t feel like I’d be very happy if someone I trusted with everything constantly made fun of me.

If you’re in this type of relationship, could you let me know what the deal is?

Relationships: Be Lame or Have Fun

Relationships are hard. Even the best relationships take some work. But, it’s possible to make a relationship easier if you just know how.

The hardest part about any relationship between 2 people is that you are going to have 2 sets of personalities and opinions. And if you’re lucky, those personalities and opinions really make the relationship a lot of fun and exciting.

But occasionally, there will be clashes. Here’s the bottom line: you can either let those differences hurt your relationship or you can help make it stronger.

When I was younger and in a relationship, I held onto things every time there was a fight. I would stew in my anger about things not going my way or if it seemed like my wants and needs were being ignored. I grew up with that image in my head that my significant other was supposed to create my every happiness (I’m sure every Bollywood movie I saw and every fairy tale I read helped grow this expectation). How surprised was I to realize that that expectation didn’t translate into real life.

Somewhere, between all of my relationships, I learned how to be responsible for my own happiness. I learned that if my significant other was happy, I was happy. I learned that sometimes, in a relationship, you’ve got to swallow your pride so that you and your significant other can move forward together.

Now, I’m in a relationship where we encourage each other to do things that make us happy and give each other the space to do so. When we fight, we take some time out and then address the issue and move on. We realize it doesn’t help either of us to be mad over something just to keep our pride and, in that, lose time enjoying each other.

My husband told me one thing while we were dating that has stuck with me throughout our relationship: “You can either be lame or you can have fun.”

I choose to have fun every time.

 

The Guilt Trip

Do you know that woman that finds a way to passively aggressively guilt trip you when something doesn’t go her way? She can turn anything around so that even if the whole thing wasn’t about her, it becomes about her. Instead of just addressing an issue at face value, she keeps pushing and twisting so that she can become the victim.

I know her. I used to be her.

In my last few relationships before my marriage, if my significant other didn’t do something the way I wanted, I found a way to fight and make it about me. I used to be act like things were okay but then freeze him out. I used to guilt trip and guilt trip and guilt trip. I did it to my friends too. But I finally realized though that a good relationship is based on direct communication rather than trying to force someone to understand you without talking to them.

Recently, I’ve made some mistakes. Honest mistakes that I didn’t mean to make but since I’m human, they happened. I also owned up to them and apologized for them. Now the people on the receiving end decided that instead of just accepting my apology and understanding that it happens, that they needed to make subtle comments on the fact that I screwed up.

I know when I’m being guilt tripped because I start having these arguments with the people guilt tripping me in my head. I think about what I want to say to them, explain to them so they understand why my mistakes happened. I want to yell and scream at them until they understand why it’s not my fault and that obviously there is something wrong with them if they had to guilt trip me. And this conversation goes around in circles in my head.

I don’t want that to be the case. I don’t want to have these conversations in my head and I really don’t want to have them in real life. Is it really worth arguing with someone who guilt trips? They obviously think they are the victims of whatever happened.

I like what The Four Agreements says. “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you.” It’s true. My mistakes weren’t meant to cause anyone harm. They were true mistakes on my part. So I will go ahead and believe that these people need to guilt trip me because of something that they are going through. Maybe it’s insecurity, maybe it’s something in their past, or maybe it’s just the way they think.

All I know for sure is that I don’t want to go through life feeling like I have to guilt trip people to make myself feel better. I don’t want to be passive aggressive in my communication methods. I would rather resolve a problem directly and move on. As my husband once told me, “You can be lame or you can have fun.” I choose to have fun every time.

Boys’ Night Out

When I was growing up, we would get together at one of our family friends’ house almost every week. Then, the men and women would split up into their respective genders and socialize until it was time to go home. That was what I grew up seeing. Men in the living room, women in the kitchen.

But when us children hung out, it wasn’t split up. Even though we all went through the “boys/girls have cooties” stage and the “you’re a girl, you can’t play basketball” stage (and let me tell you, I was a great basketball player, especially in fancy Indian clothes), we still played together most of our lives.

And now, when we all get together with our spouses, it is still more of a mix. Almost all of the women in our group work full-time which might be the great equalizer. Or maybe it’s the fact that we don’t see such a big difference whether we speak to one of our male friends or female friends. We consider our spouses our best friends and not someone we have to take a break from. Yes, we recognize that there is a difference and there are things you can talk to your own gender about (like giving birth) but overall, we all get together and just hang out.

So I thought that this was the way most people in our generation would turn out as well. And most of the time, this is what I do see.

And then I run across people here and there that will usually always want to be with his or her own gender. I’m not saying a girls’ or boys’ night out is a bad thing. It is definitely needed once in a while. But I was in a relationship for a very long time where I was excluded constantly because my significant other always (and I mean, always) needed a boys’ night out. I didn’t understand it. I thought I was with someone who considered me his best friend and yet, I was treated like I wasn’t a friend, but a hindrance to his social life.

Needless to say, that relationship did not last. I was glad to finally be out of it and to find someone who likes having me around. My whole social world shifted when I realized that there aren’t too many people who still have to be separated from their female counterpart in order to have fun. In fact, most of the people I know have more fun with their significant others present.

But it is interesting when you do run into those types of people again. I see it all from a different perspective now since I am not the one who gets pushed to the side because my significant other needs boys’ night all the time. I’m not the one who gets left at home because the boys are more important. I’m lucky enough to be someone’s first priority and not in a line after every friend he has ever had.

It does make me wonder how that relationship functions now though. When I see these girls and guys segregate, how does it make the girl feel? Does she know she is with someone who will always put her needs second? Or is it by choice and she would rather be with her girlfriends than her significant other as well? Would she rather sit next to her husband/boyfriend or with the girls?

I know that different perspectives exist and I’m honestly curious because it’s not something I’ve ever understood. So if you have an opinion or can explain it to me, please comment below. I’d love to discuss why this whole thing is what it is.

I Was Invisible

I was invisible. I was invisible to the people I hung around. I was invisible at work. I was invisible to the dance groups I was in. Nothing I did was good enough. Nothing I did was special enough. Nothing I did was worth noticing.

I didn’t exist. I truly and honestly didn’t exist. I spent every single day, trying to find myself, to see myself. I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to become visible. I was doing everything right (at least I thought). I was in a relationship, I went out partying with people, I was in one of the more popular dance groups in the city, I was always on top of my stuff at work. I did whatever I could to make my life complete. I tried to feel fulfilled. But I couldn’t. It was never enough. Whatever I did wasn’t enough. I was still invisible.

Why couldn’t people see me? I look at my journals back then and see pages and pages filled up of misery and demands for attention. I see pages of self-loathing and pain. I sit and wonder if there ever was any happiness. Or was the happiness all just an act for the benefit of the world around me? How did I survive that way for almost an entire decade? How was did I allow myself to feel that bad?

And whose fault was it? Was it mine for expecting that people should see me? What is theirs for not opening their eyes enough to be able to see me? Was it my significant other’s job to see me or was it mine to make him see me? Was I not worth seeing? Should I have done something differently? Should I have looked at myself differently? Was it because I questioned if I deserved anything better? Was it because I blamed myself for being invisible, as if I didn’t matter?

I read and re-read these pages to make myself remember how far I have come. I do believe I am visible now but it took a lot for me to see myself at first. I had to see who I was instead of trying to see who I wanted to be. I was never going to be someone I wasn’t and maybe that’s why I never showed up on anyone’s radar. Once I accepted I was who I am, I started showing up slowly. Day by day, month by month, year by year, I saw myself more clearly.

And now, I can not only see myself but I know others see me. I know that I have some value. It took a long time to get here and sometimes, I do feel as if I disappear again. And then, the search begins again to find myself.

If you feel invisible, just remember that the first person who can find you is you. Once you are visible to yourself, you will become visible to other people. It will always be work to see yourself clearly. You will change. Your visibility will change. But once you do find yourself again, it will be easier not to feel so invisible.

Are You Ambitious Too?

Ambition. It’s something that isn’t inherently in all of us. Well, at least, not in the same way. Some of us are ambitious about our careers, some of us are ambitious about our hobbies, some of us are ambitious about something else entirely. So how do it work when two people aren’t ambitious about the same thing?

Being a first generation raised in America Indian, most of us are taught to be ambitious about our careers. After all, most of our parents came over here and worked extremely hard so that we would get the opportunities to achieve whatever we wanted. So, of course, we should be taking advantage of that and do the best we can to take their successes a step further. Most of the people I have been raised with all have that same mindset.

Here’s the interesting part for me: not EVERYONE believes that as well. There are a few people I do know who haven’t achieved as much as they are capable of. I don’t know why they haven’t. I don’t know if it’s a lack of ambition or if there are other reasons. I don’t know if it’s something that’s inherited or if it’s just a personality thing.

I’ll be honest. I do judge people based on what is perceived as a lack of ambition. I can’t understand it because most of the people I know do have some sort of drive. And when I say ambition, I don’t just mean education-wise. It could be ambition in that person’s career or the way they raise their kids or their hobbies. I see interests that don’t just involve being social but to better themselves and the people around them in some way. But if I meet someone who doesn’t seem to want to do anything, I have a hard time understanding that person. I don’t think that too many people like this do exist though. Most people do have interests and want to accomplish something in life.

I think what’s important to understand is that two people won’t necessarily have the same ambitions. My husband knows I like to be involved in a lot of things. In the past, I have simultaneously worked, gone to school, and been involved in dance. But now, as a stay at home mom, that isn’t all possible. When we talked yesterday, he apologized to me for not being able to pursue my ambitions. The thing is that I can’t have the same goals when my role in life has changed. But what I can do is change my goals. While he follows his ambition to grow his career and business, I am following mine to raise my daughter and to develop other parts of my life (such as this blog) so that I feel fulfilled. And we both support each other. In the end, both of us should be able to positively influence my daughter’s life because she can see that even though we don’t necessarily share the same ambitions, we both will work hard to achieve something regardless of what it is. As long as we can figure out what we want to accomplish together as a couple and as parents, we can figure out how to get there with the other as support.