What makes a marriage tick?

Published: January 5, 2013
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There is no fixed formula for a happy marriage; it is not akin to the making of a smart phone or a super fast sports car, but certain habits can reduce marital frictions. The list is not long but requires mental and emotional effort.

Mess created by the construction of the Rapid Bus Transit System (RBTS) is testing the nerves of Lahorites these days. After braving several bumps on pot-holed roads, my car was stuck in a nightmarish traffic jam on Jail road.

To vent my anger, I banged at the car’s steering, shouted loudly at the hawker selling coconut, and, then, mercifully, fixed my gaze at the horizon to empty myself of pent-up anger and frustration.

The late autumn sun was low in the sky and kites were flying around it in concentric circles. The rhythmic flight of the birds, silhouetted against an orangish glow, stirred a medley of emotions in my heart. Ridding me of accumulated negativity, the beautiful scene restored my emotional equilibrium, which I sorely needed to meet a dear friend of mine. She had separated from her husband, and had agreed to meet me after my grave insistence to discuss the future of her marriage.

As I entered the lounge, my friend mumbled a weepish hello to me. I had difficulty in recognising her- her beautiful, hazel eyes were covered with dark circles and her hair, which used to cascade down to her shoulders in dark waves, was arranged in a tangled, messy bun on the top of her head.

Slouched on the sofa she said,

“This is my bad luck that I got married into this household. The whole world seems unreal and so completely unlike my own. You are lucky enough to have a wonderful husband.”

A bit taken aback about why she thought my marriage was perfect and hers couldn’t be, I said,

 “Well, I tend to disagree with your last observation. No doubt, fate is important but happiness in marriage it not entirely a matter of chance. After my marriage, I readied myself to rearranging messy rooms, reading drenched newspapers after finding them on the washroom floors and living in a smoke-filled house, but putting up with that stuff could not have brought happiness, if I had not learnt to creatively manage relationships. A good marriage, or, even, a functional marriage, depends for success on a number of factors, but, generally speaking, positive attitude can put all marriages on the right track.”

On the defensive now, she said,

“I have always behaved properly; left my jobs to bring up kids, but my mother-in-law, and my husband always look for an opportunity to find fault and pick up quarrels. If one of the kids gets a C in their exams, then, it’s my fault; if the food is not cooked to their taste, it becomes an occasion for fighting; if I get a new suit, it makes my sister-in-law envious and if I visit my parents, it causes tension in the house. I have reached a point where I cannot do more to make this marriage work.”

Trying to make her understand my point I said,

“No, I believe you can make your marriage work by learning a set of behavioural traits. I am not suggesting that you are not good-intentioned but living amicably with any individual or a group of individuals is largely a learned behaviour. We even learn to live with our parents. Often, kids might find their parents controlling and dictatorial; and, similarly, parents might grumble that their kids are lazy, disobedient and self-centred.”

Confused, she replied,

“Ah, but parents love kids unconditionally and kids, in return, learn to love parents.”

Realising her confusion and seeing how her mind was struggling to understand, I thought about the simplest other relation, that we have to learn to live with. I said,

“And what about our siblings?” I asked. “Remember that kids learn to live with their siblings. We develop close relationships with our siblings through accommodation, trust, empathy and respect, and that is done through trial and error.”

While biting her nails, she asked,

“I know my marriage is doomed but what behavioural traits can lead to happy married life?”

Giving her question some thought, I reflected upon myself and then said,

“Well, there is no fixed formula for a happy marriage; it is not akin to the making of a smart phone or a super fast sports car, but certain habits can reduce marital frictions. The list is not long but requires mental and emotional effort.”

The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them- Ralph Nichols

“Listen actively to what the other person is saying. You should recognise the emotions on the other side and see the dispute from his point of view. But empathy can only be acquired by transcending emotional and psychological boundaries.”

If you judge people, you have no time to love them- Mother Teresa 

“Don’t judge people. Open your ears to grievances of people without passing any judgements. The fear of being judged often impels people not to express their fears, insecurities and longings freely, leading to the creation of void or vacuum in a relationship. And vacuums – an eerie feeling of loneliness and nothingness- can kill any relationship.”

An idle mind is a devils workshop- George Q

“Pursue hobbies and develop a niche interest. Even if you have quit your job to raise your children, you must stay engaged in different activities. Pursue different hobbies; read books, write a diary, listen to new musicians and composers, grow flowers, make cushions and maybe paint or draw. Life is about constantly learning and consecutively unlearning what we have learned before. Opening up to new interests- art, music, literature and even ideas- can offer us new perspectives. Often, we are trying to empathise with people but completely fail in that effort because we don’t have the capacity to listen to different viewpoints. To pursue variegated activities means that we must remain inquisitive and enthusiastic about life.”

A careless word may kindle strife, a cruel word may wreck a life, a timely word may lessen stress, a loving word may heal and bless – Author unknown

“Carefully select your words. Insulting words hurt deeply and cannot be dredged out from memories even after years of efforts. Even if your intention is good, but, if you speak harshly in a tense situation, it can damage your relationship irreparably. So, choose your words carefully during arguments.”

People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument- Will Rogers

“Don’t argue unnecessarily. You need to understand that people often can’t be convinced and the reason is that they cannot understand the nuances of different arguments. So, don’t always try to impose your opinions on your other half. If you realise that both are not on the same wave-length on a certain issue, reserve your opinion and talk about other, more pleasant matters.”

 Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine- Lord Byron

“Develop a humorous side to life. Find an opportunity to laugh at things that seem ridiculous, inconsequential, absurd, and, most importantly, laugh at yourself. Laughter can generate zillions of benefits. It releases more dopamine and endorphins that reduce pain and stress and also creates a sense of elation and well being that helps us bond with people.”

While listening to my harangue on marriage, her face exhibited contrasting emotions- melancholia, joy, wistfulness and hope. I squeezed her hands and gave her a goodbye kiss, hoping for the best for her life.

Read more by Sameera here.

Sameera Rashid

Sameera Rashid

A research analyst, blogger and a graduate of King's College, London, in public policy.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Mo/Ca

    Good writeup, but to blame the women and tell her to change is the exact sort of thing that have landed muslim and Pakistani women where they are right now…
    And I am saying this as a man…

    Instead the simple formula for a happy marriage is that women and men both need to change in a relationship in such that they become more accommodating, and more respectful to the other person. Women leaving their profession to sit at home and raise kids is not a role that needs to be dictated to women only. A man needs to do his part and raise the kids as well. Smoking, drinking, disrespect to women are some of the things that the man needs to drop when raising kids- or atleast drop in the presence of their kids…

    I don’t want to go on a rant here, but your article presents a false premise that the woman needs to change and all relationship worries would be over… that is not the case.

    and living in the same house as your extended family is another thing that brings animosity between family members… kids need to get married, and move out… live atleast 5 years on their own, and then move back in. Women don’t need to drop their professions to raise kids… Working mothers raise just as studious and wonderful kids as mothers that don’t have a profession. Working mothers are just as likely to be in a loving marriage as non working mothers… so this premise that women needs to sit at home and individualate the servents and cooks so that they don’t steal rs. 50-100 worth of food is ridiculous, and stupid… Recommend

  • Parvez

    Crikey, this is such a complex subject and you have done it justice.
    Although I must say in reality all the advice you have given is easier said than done. The one thing I have come to realise is, that the expectation that it’s the woman’s ‘ duty ‘ to make marriage work is very prevalent in our society. The fact that this duty rests on both the husband and wife’s shoulders needs seriously to be introduced into our lives from an early age.Recommend

  • Pessimist

    What……?Recommend

  • John B

    To make a marriage work, both parties should participate.

    The suggestions mentioned by the author are skewed towards making women as the amenable party and she is indirectly suggesting that woman has to remold herself according to her husband and his family. Once she goes on this slippery slope there is no ending.

    In all societies east or west, it is almost universal that certain functions of the household are delegated and most cases assumed by women. Chief of which, for some known primordial reason is cooking and raising children during their infancy.

    In the modern world wherein both spouses work, it is a demanding task on women and the men has to step up to the occasion. Most marriages go on rocky road when the first child comes in where the wife suddenly becomes a mother and the husband becomes a secondary attention factor, and most men cannot handle it unless they are actively involved in child care, as well. When a wife becomes a mother, oftentimes the bedroom for husband becomes a desert and the down hill starts from there. Add a mother or sister in law in this mess, there is no resolution as mother and sisters of the husband are still in possession of the son or brother and the wife is a competition in this possessiveness game.

    Husband should not expect his wife to take care of his parents. It is not her job and in due course it may happen when the family is bonded in love.

    The man enters a marriage expecting sex and love and comfort and some one to share his responsibilities. The wife enters the marriage expecting love and security of her future. As the expectations are different there is bound to be tensions when they are not met and if it is not discussed among them then it is hard to recover from the rift.

    Money is never his or hers; it should be from the common pot, and man should never ask questions about money she spends and should learn to answer if she asks the same question even though man is the earner. And never spend more than you can afford and learn from mistakes and never bring TV into the bedroom. If a wife retires early to bed, turn off whatever you are doing and get to bed.

    If your wife asks you to do something at home, do it without questioning. Her asking of you to do the trivial work is her way of re-asserting her supremacy role over her husband and once you do that trivial task, your rewards are manifold! If a man insist on his supremacy and asks why she cannot do that trivial task for herself, then he digs a deep hole to climb from.

    As much as possible, travel together wherever you go and take your children along. Your children learn from you of the relationship for their future.

    Never argue in front of the children and never go to bed without settling the differences. The next day both of you will realize how stupid you both have been.

    Never keep your wife waiting and never ask why she was late if you both are scheduled to meet. Buy something wherever you go for your wife and children, just a T shirt would do.

    This is my two cents of advice after married for 26 years with an only women I have ever known in our successful career life Recommend

  • Falcon

    So whatever happened to the poor hawker selling coconut that you vented your anger on? I bet he also has a long list full of advice for you :)Recommend

  • http://neerajbhushan.com/ Neeraj Bhushan

    Many a times the couple who appear most happy, need marriage counselling frequently.Recommend

  • Pessimist

    Marriage is normally between a man & a woman. Unfortunately in Pakistan (India too I believe), the girl is literally married into the entire family. This can be either good or bad, but most women are unaware of how to handle this situation. Maybe that’s why they face problems in marriage. I like your advice but I actually have to side with your unfortunate friend on this matter.

    It seems that her husband is unable to manage the conflict between his wife & his mother, with the latter getting a more preferential treatment. In such a case, why is the wife being lectured!? Has anyone talked to the husband? I’ll never understand that. Most married men need to realize something. Your wife has left her family, her home & her friends just so she can start a brand new life with you. Try to think of matters from her view. Yes women can nag sometimes and be emotional, but I think they have that right. Marriage isn’t about dominance or superiority, it’s about making compromises and understanding & supporting each other. I hope your friend resolves her marriage.

    Btw, I really liked your comment John B! I wish you all the best for the future :) Recommend

  • gp65

    @Falcon: Yep just what I thought. Also for the very sage advice to her friend to not be judgmental, one observes that the author has been fairly judgmental herself.

    Also agree with @John B that the responsibility to make a marriage work has to fall on both partiesRecommend

  • comment

    Well written & well thought article.
    Given the relevance of the topic, just wanted to share experience of a close relative.

    The couple both from a middle class family, started their married life happily, however, due, to lack of experience, endured a lot of friction in their relationships. So much so, that, the girl underwent a miscarriage & the boy had to lose his hardly fought job in an MNC.

    To conclude, there are a few learning, that can be taken from the experience.

    a) There is no specific formula to ensure, that, a relationship succeeds.

    b) Both the boy n the girl, should get rid of any biases, prejudice and egos. The only thing, that matters in a relationship is a positive frame of mind and value being added by both the members to each others lives

    c) Remember, that, the couple & only the couple is responsible for making a relationship “A Success”.Therefore take responsibility for whatever is happening and try to find solutions. Neither of the parents, nor siblings, nor any family members would gain/ lose any thing significant from the success/ failure of your relationship. It’s YOU only.

    d) Finally, analyze the situation objectively. If the issues at hand are beyond repair, then simply put an end to the relationship without delay and move on. Life is more precious than the interests of any one human being.Recommend

  • Helix

    Making a marriage work after the first year needs nothing short of a miracle. Most of the times, the marriage survives because of the children or because of convenience. I cannot imagine marriage surviving as an institution after 100 years.Recommend

  • Gazal

    90% of Pakistani women are depressed.Complete suppression of a female is so much a part of the society that one loses hope .Marriage should not be marketed as the only career option for a female.I personally have experienced that marriage systematically destroys the personality of a woman.Recommend

  • separted wife

    Dear writer, please understand that doing anything for a husband is not difficult, least of all reading a drenched newspaper off the bathroom floor. But when it comes to in-laws a woman is helpless if the husband is spineless.
    Secondly, you should have left your holier-than-thou attitude at home before meeting a friend in such situation. A couple of months down the road maybe so she could have slapped you in your face but not at a time when she was insecure. No woman wants her marriage to fail and in-laws take advantage of that to pull her till the end of her tether. Finally she breaks under the strain and separates to retain her sanity and faces new problems in the shape of judgemental morons such as yourself.Recommend

  • http://[email protected] ahad

    I agree with the sentiments of Mo/Ca and comment. The article has good advice but ONLY if both parties adhere to the principles set forth. One-sided tending to the relationship can only be stretched to a point. In this article, you have clearly misguided your friend. Yes, the advice is excellent (but it will only work if the husband does the same) but if it is not working, one should be able to recognize that rather than being stuck in a life of self-guilt, self-hate and unhappiness. A few points (so that I don’t rant):

    1 – All relationships are difficult. They should be worked at as long as possible with as much effort as possible. Goes without saying.

    2 – But if it isn’t working. One should be supportive, and be courageous enough to let go of the toxicity. In most cases it is women and we all know what hardships they have to go through. They have to be exceptionally brave and thick-skinned to pursue their happiness (surely, we should make it easier for women to do that, no?).

    3 – A functional marriage? Really? Is that the extent of our ambitions in marriage? What about a happy marriage? Anything can be made functional, but are we really worth so little to just settle for that?

    4 – Trust in yourself. Advice is just that, advice. It is easy to give, with almost no repercussions for those who give it. You live your life so you make the decision. Listen to advice yes, but do what you want (after thinking over what you want, of course). Similarly, be careful about the advice you give to people who trust you.Recommend

  • Sameera

    @separated wife

    Well, Everyone tends to be judgmental at times, and if I sounded so, excuse me for that. I have written from experience and my experience is multifaceted: I am a career woman and not only part time but have had work from 9 to 5 ; I am a mother; and, finally, out of 13 years of my marriage, I have lived 10 years with in-laws and the rest closely aligned with an intensely close extended family. But despite all, things are turned out well.It could be my sheer luck.
    I believe so, if I am not judgmental, marriage is a difficult proposition but empathy- compassion and generosity- can reduce a lot of friction and also heal.Recommend

  • nobody

    I’m not married yet as I’m a 26 year young woman and in no rush to get hitched just yet. However, based on all that I’ve heard and seen around me, I can perhaps offer some general advice. First off, living with in laws: bad idea. You can bet I won’t be doing that someday if and when I do get married. I’ve never once heard anyone say that’s a good idea or that it works out. If I have to move out of my place, he needs to move out of his. Second: don’t ever give up your career or identity to please ANYONE else. If someone wants to love u and embrace u, they will regardless. If they dont want to, u can’t do anything to change that. Stop trying to people please. You are your own woman, not a doormat. Keep your career or if you personally prefer to take some time off for babies, have a hobby to do in your ‘me’ time. Let go of the notion that you have to bring 100% to this marriage. Bring 50% if your partner brings the other 50%. If he doesn’t, you’re better off without him. That’s my somewhat inexperienced two cents. Best of luck to your friend. Cheers!

    Trust me :-) Recommend

  • xunera gul

    @john, your comment is so much more better than this article!Recommend

  • separated wife

    I agree with xunera- john’s comment is not only better its more mature and looks at both perspectives- man’s and woman’s.Recommend

  • Sameera

    @ separated wife

    I was writing a piece and not a book, so I decided to look at one side of story which could be talking to a woman only;
    As I read the comments, I see forces of modernization encroaching upon the institution of marriage. Women are studying really hard; their parents are investing heavily in their education and, finally, as most of families are either nuclear or semi-nuclear, so girls are unable to cope with pressures of in-laws, which I believe requires separate training, especially that of skills of persuasion and communication. Girls’ expectations from life that revolve around getting good grades, applying for foreign universities and working ( the expectations at the moment are created by society as well as parents, and I believe rightly so) clash with expectations of in-laws that I see in many cases allow the same freedom of working and self-expression to their daughters but not to their daughters-in-law. But how to handle such a situation ? Become angry, indulge in self-pity and rant against inconsiderate husband. I think these are all useless. Women need to unleash their intuition, creativity in forging relationships and their communicative side to fulfill their chartered goals.
    And I also disagree that daughters-in-law should not take care of their parents-in law. We should care for people and more so parents. I come from all girls family and my widowed mother lives alone, so after dropping my kids to school, I visit her everyday and spend an hour of total bliss with her- talking and gossiping and then I leave for office. My husbands supports my time spending with my mother. But as human beings are tied in reciprocal relationships, so I like to take care of his mother. If we draw boundaries between this and that then management of relations becomes difficult.Recommend

  • nobody

    Lol, ET Mods censored the last line of my comment because I put the word sx in it. Let me try to rephrase my sentence…. In answer to someone else’s comment on here, I wrote as an after thought that women marry with the expectation of sx as much as men do, trust me…. Now it seems me writing that is too naughty for ET apparently, but a gentlemen on here wrote the exact same words referring to men, and that seemed to pass the censorship test…. double standard much ET? Kindly post my comment as it there is nothing dirty meant by it and if you’re going to censor, censor everyone or censor no one. Muchas grassy a**. Cheers. Recommend

  • gp65

    @Sameera: Ah so you have a 9 to 5 job, personally drop your kid to school, spend an hour with your Mom each day and also take care of your mother in law besides picking up after your untidy husband. you superwoman you!

    By the way you say you are not judgmental but you appeared to be highly judgmental of your friend and are quite judgmental even in your response to ‘@separated wife’Recommend

  • Sania

    Woman should not waste her married life judging her family or carrying everything fairly,rather she should go along with the tradition.Be the tradition. I believe that in a successful marriage about 60% compromising side is of women!Recommend

  • separated wife

    Your key words- your husband supports you you. Not everybody is as fortunate. That is the only reason you should not be judgemental. Remember it could easily have been you that you are judging against.
    And being objective is always a good idea writing a piece.Recommend

  • separated wife

    The key point here- your husbands support. Every woman is not as fortunate. Be thankful. Think twice before passing judgement because it could easily have been you in our place.
    A little objectivity when writing a piece will be much appreciated.Recommend

  • John B

    Thanks to all who suggested that my comments were useful.

    @Sania:
    Sorry. I do not agree. In a successful marriage the key part comes from the husband and nearly all marriages fail because the men do not know how to sense a woman. Very few men do.

    Here are my further views on marriage for men and a few suggestions for women.

    1: You(man or woman)  promised before god at the time of marriage (whoever that is for the people who read this) that you will remain faithful, and share and finish the journey together. Keeping that promise is a reflection of who you are because if you do not value that promise to a god(or oath) that you cherish , then you will not value anything in your life including yourself. 

    2: No one has intimately seen the nakedness of a husband and wife other than themselves. If your nakedness before each other has not shamed you but only gave you joy and sense of love and longing, then why should anything else in your relationship  when you are clothed should shame  you or your ego? 

    Ponder on the above two statements when you are in a difficult situation in your marriage.
    I am talking about normal man and woman here; all abusive men and in law etc., are excluded.

    Women are born mothers; they never become “wife” as men call them. At the time of marriage, she plays “mother role” with her husband and when she become biological mother, husband becomes a sibling to their children until the children are married. Men should understand this.

    In short, if you  are a man, you have to learn to surrender your life to your wife, as you have been to your mother. It does not mean that she is “dominating” you. It takes a man’s man to let go of his personal “ego” for a woman. If you nurture this, soon you will realize you are having a worry free happy go lucky life. Only a real man is capable of surrendering before a woman and a woman in a good marriage never surrenders because she is the matriarch of the home. If you make her surrender, then you will live a miserable unhappy life.

    The woman who surrenders to the man’s demand, the light in her eyes are gone and it is hard to light it again.

    All who subscribe to the notion that each brings 50% into the marriage are terribly mistaken. If you enter the marriage with this notion, then it will take a long time to reach 100% or you may never reach that goal because you never know how much percentage is coming from the other side and how long you have to wait for that to happen. Get this nonsense  out of your system. 

    If you are still in the “me time” attitude, your marriage will never be fulfilling. The day you both become naked, there is no longer two different mind and body. You both only have 24 hrs together now in a day. 

    On the intimacy side: You will be whistling in your board meeting the next day if you are receptive to your wife’s song and dance in this regard. The song and dance starts several hours before, so all inexperienced men,  pay attention. If you master this, the song and dance never ends!

    Do not lie and do not ever cheat on your wife. A man who controls his unethical desires is a master of his destiny. Takes time to develop this discipline , so start early before you are married.

    If you are a woman, never stay in the way of your husband’s desire to venture into something. Let him try and fail or succeed in it, because in both cases you are the ultimate beneficiary. If he fails, he will come crawling back to you and if he succeeds you will enjoy the fruits of his labor. Otherwise, he will always resent you until he dies that you stood in his way. 

    By now it should be clear, regardless of whether she is a house wife or career woman, if a man surrenders his life to his wife, you both will be happy. If a man does not, then you both will be unhappy. Men who think I am talking nonsense, watch the life of the successful men in real world around you. 

    So, if you are woman choose a man who “senses” you and not acting like an alpha male with you. Only a non manly man shows alpha male attitude with his wife.

    Good luck to all of you. Recommend

  • Nobody

    @Sania:
    And that’s why so many women are miserable in marriages in our culture. The very word compromise should mean that both a man and a woman compromise half the time. no 60-40, no 70-30 or anything else. 50-50. I don’t see why anyone would argue it to work any other way. Especially a woman (assuming you are one). Couples around me in my age bracket follow the 50-50 model and yes it’s difficult as is marriage in general (or so it seems), but that’s the only way I see it work without over burdening one or the other. If a guy can’t get on board with me and put in his 50% then he has no right to expect me to. It’s not rocket science. Recommend

  • Nobody

    @John B:
    I agree with most of what you have to say except the wife being a mother part. I totally disagree. Not all women are “born mothers” as men are not born fathers. Some women do not even want to have children (I’m still single but at this point in time I do not want children in my future. Who knows. That MAY change someday). Once I do find a guy and if and when we do marry, I will not be his mother by any means nor will I treat him like a baby. He’ll be a grown man and I’ll treat him as such. The idea of babying a grown man is a bit sickening to me. It could partly be because of what I saw growing up in my house. My father is an independent & self sufficient man as is my mother such a woman; she doesn’t baby him and he doesn’t baby her. I don’t want to be treated like a toddler and I will not treat another adult as such. My children (granted I have any) will be my ONLY children. I understand some women baby their husband and if that arrangement works for both in question, by all means, do it. I personally find it a little gross. Many girls of my generation share this opinion. Take no offense; just offering my two cents. Cheers. Recommend

  • CommonSense

    @nobody, no wonder you’re not married yet.Recommend

  • John B

    @Nobody:
    Thanks but I think you misunderstood my point on woman being a “born mother”. It is not babying a grown man but how the relationship between them is psychologically connected in a stable happy marriage.You may still notice that your mother occasionally organizing your fathers belonging or taking care of his needs the same way she does for you. Remember, nothing in this relationship makes any one a dominant personality and anyone less confident a personality. Such personality traits are visible to outsiders only but between the husband and wife there is no such distinction. If there is, then it is not a good marriage and is not ticking.

    I am yet to see a woman without the innate maternal instinct (including lesbians) but that does not make all women as good mothers. Men do not have natural instinct to be a father (meaning wanting to become a father). Fatherhood for men is incidental to their action in a relationship but most men become good father once it happens.

    All wives shower their affection towards their husband with a zeal of a young mother towards her newborn, and the nature of love shifts when she becomes a mother. Based on my observations, even in her second marriage, the maternal instinct towards her new husband kicks in even if she is past child bearing age. Observe the relationship of couples who marry second or third time but past a typical child bearing age of woman.

    You can pick out unhappy couple, bored couple and happy couple of all age groups and of all strata of society in public places and observe them. In a restaurant if a man spills something on him or on the table you can see his woman companion instinctively coming to his aid., that is if she is not bored with him. Conversely, rarely a man instinctively reciprocating a similar behavior when it happens, even when they are courting.

    Human relationship has two parts ; intimacy and friendship. If a husband and a wife finds these two parts in their marriage then they are successful. Most couple don’t, however. Couples who start courting based on intimacy end up in divorce or in unhappy marriage when they do not find friendship later on and couples who find friendship first rarely come together on intimacy and if they do very few succeed onto life long partnership (ie marriage).

    Since marriage is typically an union of intimacy when it happens at early age, it blossoms when friendship develops between them and lasts as long as possible when their is a friendship between them and stops ticking, when friendship dies. You can see young couples dislike each other despite their intimacy.

    Whereas, in a marriage we are looking for friendship and intimacy, and thus the odds of these coming together are very slim, unless effort is placed on friendship. By nature men are less inclined for life long friendship unlike women, so the emphasis for successful intimacy induced friendship, which we call happy marriage, is on the men.

    Couples who together develop this friendship succeed in happy marriage and there are several chances for arguments and events, and persons to disrupt this friendship. Recommend

  • Sania

    @john-nobody
    This article merely presents the “do” of women considering her relationships. But if you really felt anything wrong here than pls write down another article (already I can see a lot of preaching).Same advices must be given to men as well.
    Writer is advising to her friend (a woman, suffering a break up, which might be unsuccessful due to her egoistic nature or because of her carelessness). Do not forget “It takes two to make a quarrel”. Writer is concerned with the first. You go preach the second.
    Tone is motivating and bringing up a ray of hope to the separated one! Recommend

  • Sameera

    @gp65

    Millions of women in this country toil from morning till night for their families and instinct for that labor is love for family and no desire for super-heroism. There is a woman in my office who gets up at 5 in the morning, when its pitch dark outside, to cook food and make breakfast for her school going kids. She feeds her kids food and sends them to school and then leaves for her work. When she comes back from office, her day has not ended yet as she to wash the uniforms, there is one set of uniform for each kid as she can't afford more, and other house chores to be done. But her kids are studying well and she thinks her hard work is worthy.
    A seventy year old woman takes care of small kids at a relative's house; she is half bent with old age but works from 9 to 4 as her wages would pay for school fees of her two grandsons.She loves them dearly and is proud that they go to an English medium school. She is worn out with age but a happy woman otherwise.
    And while driving on GT road in Punjab, one can see hundreds of women toiling in fields in severe cold as well as scorching heat. Some even carry small babies on their backs.What is their motivation? Love and care for their families.

    @ John: Thanks for your comments
    @ Separated wife ; My apologies if you found me judgmental but that was not my intention. Recommend

  • Sundus

    Dear Author, You need a relationship counselling. Please don’t be a door mat. I feel sorry for your relationship more than your friend’s.Recommend

  • Sameera

    @Sundus:

    No dear, you don’t need to feel sorry. I am a happy and contented person.Recommend

  • http://SA SA

    It is not easy and even emphasized textnext to impossible in Pakistan to rule out the ever bothering inlaws and how they ruin the fresh blossoming years of a marriage into a complete chaotic mess. They usually assert an ulmost unreal expectation on the young college going girl they once drolled upon, who is now nothing but just another member of the house and is being stricty monitored in the first few years. So while the husband is anxious to spend more time with his newly wed wife, the wife is completely bent upon pleasing her in-laws as first priority, and little does she know that she has not cemented the walls enough to support a solid roof. A marriage ticks if the husband is man enough to draw a clear line between his parents and his wife.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Sameera: Thanks for responding to my message. Appreciate it.
    A lot of people lead hard lives because that is the hand that life dealt them. So the type of examples you gave are real and I know they exist. I do however believe unlike you that it is not fair if a husband allows the wife to single handedly carry the workload of home and a full time career and be a primary caregiver for aged parents on both sides without chipping in. The impression I got is that your husband does not help around the home (and I could absolutely be wrong) because you indicated that he does not even pick up the newspaper from where he leaves it wet and messy.

    If this situation works for you, good for you. You just need to realize that this situation is not inherently fair or universally desirable. It would have been nice if you could have been a little less judgmental and a little more empathetic to your friend.Recommend

  • observer

    I landed on this page by chance and am glad I did.I agree whole heartedly to what John and separated wife have to say.
    The writer plainly seems to be a lucky person.Otherwise,her advice does seem to be easier said than done and requires from a woman a lot more than her share.Killing your pride and ego to an extent for your husband is still ‘do-able’,but when the ‘in-laws’ come in and take advantage of an already bad situation,and the one person who should have been there for you actually becomes the reason for your humiliation,it is too hard to keep your mind at peace.Recommend

  • observer

    I agree whole heartedly with John.A woman needs to keep her dignity and should not be put in a position in which she constantly makes efforts,in which in laws take advantage of an already weakened relationship, and to top it off,she is not given the security and support from her husband that she deserves.This can be psychologically devastating.Recommend

  • Nobody

    @CommonSense:
    Hahah I know it’s a hard concept for some to digest, particularly in our culture, but I CHOOSE not to be married yet as I’m still in grad school and haven’t established my own career yet. Yes, not every woman has only one goal in life. Gasp. Recommend

  • Nobody

    @John B:
    Thanks for the sincere response. Again, while a lot of what you say makes sense and I don’t doubt that it’s true, I can’t say that’s true about all men and women. I don’t know how old you are and I won’t ask but I can simply rely on what I generally see around me among my peers and my own age group. Some of my friends, both male and female are still single, some are recently engaged, and a couple of college friends have married one another. We range in age from 23-27.

    Most of the girls in our group are not very maternal. Not because we are callous or cold but simply because we don’t have children at this point and are more career focused or for those of us in a relationship, the guy is a part of our focus too.
    As for the guys, my observations have shown some of them are just naturally caring. That doesn’t mean their fatherly, but they’re very caring. The example you gave about a woman coming to a man’s aid if he spills something on himself. I don’t see that as a woman only trait. I simply see it as caring as a person. If I’m on a date, if I spill something on myself, naturally the guy will lean over with a napkin or help me however it seems normal. Same for me. If he spills something on himself, I’ll naturally hand him a napkin and help out.
    I’m not naturally maternal towards people, even to guys I’ve been in solid relationships with. Most of them don’t really care for it, at least not beyond a normal human need for care and concern from their partner. Now these are traits specific to my group of peers and those we’ve seen around us. I’m sure this varies, but I’m simply pointing out not all women are motherly and not all men are non-paternalistic. Human behavior evolves gradually. A century ago women had no other role except marriage and motherhood. It was common. It was expected. The same is no longer true in developed parts of the world so girls tend not to be ridden with marriage fever or baby fever. Even in my own experience, one of the guys I was with wanted to get married as he was ready to start that part of his life and anxious for a family, I wasn’t so we broke up. There was nothing wrong with him at all. He was a lovely guy, but I just wasn’t in the stage of my life where I wanted to get married or think about children.
    If I do decide to settle down, I’ll naturally care for my partner, but I’m not the type to mother anyone. And if I have children, I’m sure I’ll behave motherly towards them, but it’ll be a tough process for me as I’m not the motherly type from the get-go.

    You mentioned my parents. Perhaps my point of view was also skewed because of what I saw growing up. I know many women do tend to their husbands clothes and organizing his things. But I never saw that with my folks. They care for each other immensely and there is no end to what they’d do for one another. But on a daily basis, my father takes care of his own things. He organizes his own things. He prepares his own breakfast or for both when they’re both awake. They prepare lunch together when they can. My mother handles dinner with my dad’s help. He does these things because he LIKES to do his own things. He never liked the idea of being mothered even by his wife. I never saw my mom mother my father. And I saw my father care for my mother the same way she did for him (as grown ups). Simple things like lightening the heavy milk gallon for my mom when she had a shoulder problem so she wouldn’t have to lift the full gallon when he’s at work. Seeing things like this growing up makes it natural for me. My mother was the way I am now when she was younger. She wasn’t motherly before she had kids but once she had them, she became an amazing mother to us. My father was ready for kids before she was and is also an amazing father. Now I understand this may not always be the case. But it’s what natural to me. And also what I see (more or less) in my peers around me.
    Anyways, I’ve rambled on for quite a while now. Hope you understand my point. Cheers. Recommend

  • sameera

    @gp65:
    No worries, I have got domestic help;moreover, and being a highly educated person, he teaches kids in a very creative way and seeing my kids grow up into knowledgeable and curious kids is a great pleasure. We are not bothered about grades but want them to read more, observe more and think more. They do their history projects at home. My daughter, a seven grader, wrote a report on Ramayana and she knows more about Buddhism than many educated people in Pakistan. To use Hindu terms , although I admit my knowledge is limited, cancel out your bad karma with good karma and that means putting up with insecurities and tantrums of people.
    Cheers! Recommend

  • John B

    @Nobody:
    Thanks. In my opinion you are still a girl at heart and has not observed the world around you and has not become a woman yet. So , take your time to settle down. No offense intended. Happy life.Recommend

  • separated wife

    Dear author, apology accepted but go give your friend a hug and just tell her you’d support her through anything. she needs it. God knows what Id have done without my friends when I separated whether they believed in my reasons or not (my in-laws turned me and my one year old daughter out in the middle of the night for trying to make hubby get a separate flat, I never went back and my spineless husband never bothered even about his baby let alone his wife. Now I study and earn!) Take it from me you’ll earn a friend for life. I wish I could meet her. Recommend

  • zara

    What makes marriage tick?article generated a fair debate, successful life tagged with successful married life, but in Subcontinent cultural taboos don’t provide chances of reconciliation.Tips by author are difficult to practice especially in tense situations however skills and traits narrated in article may prove beneficial in many situations even at your workplace, peer relationship etc.

    Broken relationship proves a better choice to be availed in some situations,and thus may provide some joyous moments ahead in your life rather than longing for real happiness in whole of ones life.Recommend

  • Ms. Ras

    @John B:
    You have given wonerful pieces of advise to men which kind of creates an equibillirum with the article which focuses on women. By the way the advise in the article is also worth listening provided both husband and wife stick to it.

    I must say your wife is truly lucky. Having a husband who learns to surrender for the betterment of his family must be a blessing and I so agree with your observation that a woman who is made to surrender to her husband; the spark in her eyes is gone forever……This is so true. Recommend

  • Noor

    Sameera

    1) Its parhi likhi jahil women like you who have made life miserable for the masses by influencing the minds of men and many females that its a females responsibility.

    2) That list of urs—are u kidding me? Just because you are content with your life does that mean you can prescribe few pointer on how to make marrige tick – seriously shutup. If i was ur friend I would have slapped you so hard that you would have been on pain killers for the rest of the week.

    3) Seperated wife and John B – Kudos to you both

    4) I seriously hope in all honestly that your daugher faces a similar situation in her marital life like your friend and then lets see if your pointers can help her out in winning hearts of her husband/inlaws – people like you can only learn the hard way.

    5) I am such a happy/positive girl and I believe in felxibility/patience/tolerance but I also believe in rationality/mutual effort and respct. Your ultimate awful piece of work has left me bitter and disgusting for the rest of the day. Recommend

  • sameera

    @Noor:

    Well dear, you don’t have to tell me, you were embittered.Words tell the same. And it’s an optional list and not some law- neither Divine nor man-made. If you disagree with it, ignore it and throw it in a trash can.

    I hope it cools you down. Take care and cheers!Recommend

  • Citizen

    @Sameera:

    It pains me to see such articles being published still. Forces of modernization enroaching upon the institution of marriage? A woman’s individuality and basic human rights are being enroached upon. The in-laws of your friend had no right to treat her the way they did, constant humiliation and criticism falls under emotional abuse. Your so called “List” not only expects women to take the criticism, but also undeniably justifies the acts of the in-laws. It’s a shame to see such an article being published, which shows the extent of regressive mentality so prevalent in the nation. Justification of constant negative behavior only serves to increase it, it’s like asking someone to bear the symptoms of a disease, rather than looking for a cure. And believe me, these cultural stereotypes and negative behavioral norms are truly a societal disease for our nation.

    Understanding the fact that following or rejecting this advice is my personal choice, I’m ashamed to call myself a woman in a country where women like you go about publishing articles which support and eventually justify the behavior which could potentially derail this nation.Recommend

  • sameera

    @Citizen:
    Dear citizen,

    You have mixed up a lot of things in your comment but I will touch upon only two.And, I am answering this comment, as I have answered others, because supposedly my blog caused them distress which was not my intention.

    a) Place the advice of blog in a context and the context here was an educated woman who felt harassed by her in-laws and I believed, as I was aware of her other facts like her husband’s profile, that conflict in her life could have been reduced if more restraint has been shown;so, I talked about empathy, cultivation of a hobby or interest and restraint. The situation here was not that of a woman who has been asked to leave home or being physically or emotionally abused. Thus, in this context it is emotional intelligence and not repression. So, read it within a certain context and don’t transpose your emotions, which you might have been grappling with seeing women in different painful situations. In that case, you will be misreading the blog.

    b) The institution of marriage cannot be separated from other institutions as it is intrinsically connected with other social and economic institutions such as legal, educational and economic. So, don’t look at marriage from the angle of ‘individuality or human rights’ only.
    Cheers! Recommend

  • Noor

    Sameera: I definitely disagree with what you have written, in the process of ignoring it and will throw it in a trash can…….

    Sorry for being rude, but when you get something printed for public then you should open your mind to criticism, especially if your piece of writing exhibits a biased/personal approach. One is ought to take a mature, responsive attitude towards the feedback rather than just coming up with a ridiculous reply, ‘ignoring it and trash it’.

    In my opinion, your public dealing is on the same wave length as of a high school graduate, which is really funny considering the tenure of work experience you claim to possess and your successful marital life sailing smooth due to your intelligent and superb pointers. Since we cannot confirm any of your mentioned achievements so will grant you the benefit of doubt and let you live with the pleasure of believing in what you have written. Hope your friend is feeling better :) Recommend

  • sameera

    @Noor:
    Thanks for your kindness, Noor. I appreciate it.Recommend

  • peace

    @sameera. well written article and nice pointers. i agree with you.
    the reason the divorce rate, the depression among women have increased so alarmingly in Pakistan today is the lack of flexibility and compromising factors among the women.

    comments by most of the readers here confirms that the tolerance from the girls today has simply vainshed. they step into marriage with the attitude of “I will live my life as i wish without having a word from my in-laws and husband”,” why should i care about my MIL or FIL it is not my duty as they are not my parents”, “I will convince my husband to move out of the house ASAP”. if you enter into a relationship with this kind of mind set and with this attitude then no one on earth can make your marriage work. the ill thinking brings back ill and in any marriage where a girl thinks so negative and ill about her in-laws particularly, will rarely have a blessing into the marriage. the solution is that you either spell out very clearly at the time a family asks for your proposal that you would not want to live with in-laws and will not take care of them. give the right to decide to the boy and the boy’s family if they are OK with such a bahu. if they are they will proceed with you, if not they will move somewhere else.
    but not stating about your mindset and how you like it to be after marriage and tying the knot and then do not adjust yourself is like deceiving your in-laws and destroying the harmony of their house as well. so be truthful about your intentions when they ask your hand in marriage. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @separted wife: “But when it comes to in-laws a woman is helpless if the husband is spineless….. A couple of months down the road maybe so she could have slapped you in your face but not at a time when she was insecure. No woman wants her marriage to fail and in-laws take advantage of that to pull her till the end of her tether. Finally she breaks under the strain and separates to retain her sanity and faces new problems in the shape of judgmental morons such as yourself.”

    You seem to be very angry person. Author has a right to give her opinion. Why do you think “woman” in question is insecure now but will become confident later and will start slapping people she disagrees with? Do you think you are a “perfect” person?Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/sidra.ahmed.505 Sidra

    I agree with a lot of maxims espoused in the article, but honestly, the friend here just seemed sort of pedantic and cold. I feel so bad for her friend; she was at a low point and needed a listening ear and useful advice, and instead she got a lecture.

    Of course, one should be compromising and soft-hearted, but not a single paragraph was dedicated to external factors (ex. Husband, Susraal, etc). A husband and wife each have to meet each other halfway or close to that, but what this article seems to advance is that the wife should pull the entire cart!!

    Many people complain that divorce rate is going up in Pakistan. It sounds terrible, but it should! One big reason the rate was so low before was that wives were completely financially and socially dependent on their husbands. So if more women are getting divorced now; well, that is good, it means that a lot of women whom would have lived miserable married lives might get a chance at a contented single one.

    Sure, we have other extremes of the totally spoiled girls, but I think these are actually rare and just oversensationalized by the media to play to our fears (ex. Sara in Humsafar, Asmara in ZGH).Recommend

  • Umair Waheed, IBA, Khayban e Hafiz

    I hope Sana was the author. My wife doesnt listen to me. She is talking to her friends or is out all the time.Recommend

  • separated wife

    @Insaan
    I am far from perfect but I believe the author’s friend was in a vulnerable position and some time later later will grasp her situation better and stand by her decision. I can understand her position and I wish no person, man or woman, had to face it.Recommend

  • separated wife

    And if everything has to end at the author having the right to expressing her opinion, well then all the above discussion was pointless no? She knew she would get feedback and it won’t all be positive necessarily.
    But I still hope to read more articles by her.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Sidra:
    I feel so bad for her friend; she was at a low point and needed a listening ear and useful advice, and instead she got a lecture.

    What one thinks as useful advice, may seem like a lecture to others? I am curious what “useful advice” would you give to a friend in similar situation?Recommend