The significance of the wedding nuptials or the sheer grandeur of the functions is enough to distract a young couple from wondering about what life will be like once the honeymoon phase ends and all the guests have gone home. Once all the hoo-haa dies down, the young couple is left with each other and reality.
Reality hides in the shadows when we fall in love, it remains hidden when we begin planning and executing our dream wedding. It only rears its ugly head into the doorway a day or two or maybe even a week after we return from the honeymoon. Once the guests have left and the couple can truly start becoming themselves, reality sinks in into our lives to wreak havoc.
I have been married to a wonderful guy coming from an equally wonderful family for over three years.
I got a fairytale wedding and none of the typical predicaments of a desi girl’s married life were present. My in-laws turned out to be exemplary people, just as they were before the wedding. My husband didn’t leave me to rot in Pakistan but he whisked me away to my honeymoon and then to England as promised.
And I was not expected to single-handedly manage the concerns of a bustling house, nor was I to be a maid to the whims and demands of the family.
But after my perfect honeymoon with the perfect man, I came to terms with my not-so-perfect reality: I was utterly incapable of living by myself. You see, all my life I had done just one thing: study for and train to be an accountant. And honestly, that’s all I knew how to do.
I incessantly ignored my mother’s insistence on learning how to be a functional adult. I was very well-looked-after and never needed to iron my own clothes, cook my own food or even make myself a cup of coffee.
And so began the arguments. Doors may or may not have been slammed, dinners may or may not have been left uneaten and many nights have or may not have been sleepless.
Every couple fights, every couple has disagreements, but every couple needs to find a way around it. A marriage is not something you throw away because ‘it isn’t working out’. If it isn’t working out, you make it work out.
That was the mantra our parents had raised us with and accordingly, we set out to fix our ‘flawed reality’.
We had to identify the root cause of the problem, and in our case, it was me. You can rest assured I did not give in to agreeing that I was the problem without a fight. The problem was always my husband’s high expectations and the patriarchy. Most definitely the patriarchy. Of course! What else could be the problem other than a man deciding how a woman should behave and respond to life?
How unreasonable was it of my husband to expect me to carry my own weight. How could he expect me to help out with life and all its miseries?
But when the penny dropped it dawned on me that my husband was not being so unreasonable after all. I (very begrudgingly, might I add) came to terms with my own incapability. It was not pretty, as such realizations often are. But this painful comprehension had to penetrate my impervious mind.
Now came the real challenge. It wasn’t easy and I am nowhere near attaining the targets I have set for myself. My husband, to his credit, gave me ample time to catch up and adult. I (to my credit) began doing what most do when they turn 20: I started learning to be self-sufficient.
The issues we faced might not be the exact issues all newlyweds face.
Nonetheless, everyone has a reality to deal with once the honeymoon phase is over and the marriage begins. My advice to newlywed couples is to compromise. Talk to your spouse as opposed to at them and when it’s your turn, listen to what they are saying; don’t just hear the words. Marriage is hard work, but no one is going to do that work for you.
I am glad the honeymoon phase of my marriage ended when it did. The ensuing phase showed me my own strength and my husband’s compassion. I wear these as my battle armor when I face the world and its adversity. You can’t forever live on an all-paid-for hotel on a remote Maldivian island.
It’s nice, but after a while it gets boring.