The pandemic and ensuing uncertainties have greatly impacted couples who’ve been recently married. In some instances, with quick court marriages or extremely private gatherings, cancellation of plans, curtailing ceremonies and celebrations, absence of bickering relatives, and fun with friends, many feel deprived, disappointed, and unhappy having had to compromise on a significant life event.
Living together as a couple is life-changing. The settling-in period is crucial as no one likes changes. We may outrightly resist, react with displeasure or find a way to cope. But invariably it leaves us feeling unsure and dissatisfied with an emptiness of having lost a way of life. So it’s important to willingly adjust, adapt and mutually compromise to settle differences that may arise from everyday interactions.
A new set of parents – from having to manage one set of parents and their emotional baggage, suddenly you inherit another! How do you address them? Are they involved in your marriage? How lonely is the struggle to adapt? Coming from a nuclear setup does the extended family structure overwhelm you? Do you sense disappointment that your maternal parents are alone and left out?
New House indicates the pressure to fit in. What is often overlooked is that the in-laws too must accommodate an unknown new person! Instinctually the girl attempts to recreate her maternal home and lifestyle while the in-laws insist on the unsaid rules and regulations of their lives. A clash is evident as each manipulates the other to accept their way of life.
Food – a necessity to live well. Is your palate shocked into having to develop a taste for fish head, spicy food, vegetarian diet or bland ‘healthy’ meals? Do you find cooking destressing? Are you experimental or long for mom’s cooking? Are your kitchen management skills criticized? Inter-caste marriages can add to the pressure and this dissatisfaction gradually extends to other areas.
Sleeping habits – Are you an early riser or a night owl? What do you like to do before going to bed? Are you expected to wake up early? Do you sleep hugging a pillow or lie on your stomach? Do you move constantly in your sleep or snore? Does your partner question how much you sleep?
Sex rituals are as stressful as the inability to reach orgasm. What’s your attitude towards sex? Who initiates lovemaking? Are you free to say no? Is foreplay important? Do you rush to clean up after sex or stay engaging in pillow talk? Do you cuddle or like space?
Bathroom habits – Do you prefer a clean and dry bathroom? Do you read the news or play games in there? Do you screw back the toothpaste top or want the shampoo name facing the front after use? Do you forget to switch off the geyser or leave the wet towel on the bed? Do you fart or burp unconcerned or worry about your bowel movements?
Shopping – Do you shop armed with a checklist or enjoy window shopping and buying whatever fancies you? Is shopping relaxing? Do you shop at full price or only during sale season?
Personal style – Do you dress for comfort, to be presentable, or follow fashion religiously? What is your grooming ritual? Do you love jewellery? Does your wardrobe cater to different occasions or do you dress the same wherever you go, no matter the occasion?
Entertaining patterns can bring anxiety. What’s your idea of socializing? Do you regularly entertain? Are you always left cleaning up? Does it annoy you to constantly entertain the same people?
Choice of relaxation – Do you like to laze with a book, binge-watch, or ‘do nothing?’ How sacrosanct is ‘me time?’ Are you an indoor or outdoor person? What’s your ideal holiday? Are you adventurous or prefer a scheduled itinerary when travelling?
Money matters – Money gives a sense of power, position, control, and stability. Do you discuss money and share financial responsibilities? Do you feel you contribute more? Should money be saved for a better future or spent on being happy today? Attitude towards money and what it means to you individually can greatly impact relationships.
Religious rituals – Each family has its way of praying, celebrating, or making an offering. How tolerant are you of your partner’s religion? Do you bathe before praying? How often do you visit your place of worship?
Work from home has also meant no respite. Do you work long hours? Are you expected to take on household responsibility? Is your work considered important?
Building a life of togetherness can be fun or an exhausting battle. To reduce conflict and ease into togetherness, it’s important to have open communication and create a shared understanding of values. Emotional engagement, romance, humour, trust, stress-reducing conversations, forgiveness, and acceptance can strengthen the commitment and intention to achieve personal and couple goals and dreams.