Monday, June 1, 2009

28) Couples

"Your relationship with your partner is the emotional glue that binds your family together." Vickie Falcone

We wish parents take seriously Vickie Falcone's admonition, and make the house a home where children live the happiest time of their lives, secure in being loved by caring parents, who love each other.

In the last two posts(26,27), we juxtaposed the roles of mothers and fathers. Now, we shall watch how they synchronize. Dr John Gottman, author of 'The seven Principles of making a marriage work', puts things in perspective: "It isn't so much about staying married for the sake of the kids. Couples need to stay happily married, if they can, in order to help their children". Happiness in the married life of their parents is important to children; they must bask in that warmth and be edified.

Men and women are so different in their physical and mental make-up, that getting them to work together, for a common purpose, is not easy. They will have to find the right motivation; consistently be energized by that force to overcome temptation; stay focused and fight fatigue.

Since working together is tough, some young couples are veering around to the view that a union between them is a 50:50 affair; almost like splitting an apple in two.
Your money, my money; your car, my car; you do the dishes, I'll take the garbage out;
you dust and clean the furniture, I'll do the beds. Right down the middle a line is drawn, dividing chores and possessions. With this system, the accounting is easier, when they choose to go their separate ways. Even before they start a relationship, a possible separation is factored in through a prenuptial contract. When such negative thoughts precede the union, separations happen over trifles. Live-ins are not even proxy unions. An arrangement of convenience will be governed by the conveniences of the consenting adults.

A marriage is really a 100:100 covenant; 100% commitment from each. On some days it will be 90:10; on other days 10:90 contribution. The 100% commitment to each other and the family does not change, only the quantum of effort varies, based on circumstances. The guiding principle is a spirit of sharing; not the accounting or the finger-pointing when there is a default.

J.Allan Petersen writes that most people get married believing in a myth that marriage is a beautiful box, full of all things they longed for: intimacy, companionship, sexual fulfillment. The couple soon finds out the truth that marriage, at the start, is an empty box. They must put in something, before they take out anything. If they take out more than they put in, the box will soon be empty. In time, they learn the art of giving, loving, serving, praising and forgiving. In short, they work at keeping the box full. Mignon McLaughlin uses different words to express the same idea: "A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person".

There are hundreds of reasons why partners go apart, causing children untold sufferings. Among them, is a common reason: the compulsion to have one's way. It may seem old-fashioned to cite the example of Sita, but to those who understand the context, she is a shining example. In the Ramayana, the Holy Book of the Hindus, Sita is to stay back at the Palace, when her husband Rama is banished from court. Her forceful arguments prevail: "Dearer is her husband's shadow to the loved and loving wife; with her Lord she falls or rises". The Palace relents and lets her join her exiled husband. Women who wish to claim equal place and equal opportunity, may find Sita's plea distasteful. For them, the story that follows, may have a lesson.

One evening Leo Buscaglia's father returned home from work, gathered the family and informed them that his business had failed and that he was bankrupt. It was a silent supper that evening. The next night the family assembled to what was a fantastic dinner; almost a Christmas dinner. Leo's mother had sold some of her jewellery to
prepare for the meal, explaining: "The time for joy is now, when we need it, not next week". Their mother showing courage, optimism and oneness with their father, spoke more than her words conveyed. After that meal the family began to pull together. Leo, though very young, offered to sell magazines. His sister decided to work overtime. The mood changed, thanks to the wisdom and family-spirit of Leo's mother. That is what happens in families where spouses decide to face tough times
together and where children experience strength in unity. Ancient wisdom from the Chinese makes sense: "If the family lives in harmony, all affairs will prosper".

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