Till a couple of years ago, I used to be a great believer in the whole “meant for each other” business. In college I gave the movie Pyaar ke Side Effects a 4 out of 5 stars and I had mastered the art of melting a woman’s heart via powerpoint presentations set to the lovely sounds of Enya and Josh Grobin. I was am also a big fan of long distance relationships because they allow/ed you the social flexibility of calling yourself unavailable (thus making yourself more attractive to other single women who want to get a piece of the action and live dangerously) while not really having to do any real work except exchange some schmoozy SMS’s and Skype chats (which invariably degenerated into mutual swapping of pictures of each others body parts after having shaved) Add to this the soft corner I have for lyrics that profess hopeless romance – you can say life was pretty good. I even got an Orkut testimonial (remember those?) saying that I’ll make a great father. This was obviously hilarious to me given that I hate kids with a vengeance and if I do decide to adopt a child, it’ll be by the time they’re 13 or 14 and sufficiently clear an IQ and EQ exam that I set for them. Either that or the CAT. Also, preferably white. I hear they’re all the rage at the Resident Welfare Association meetings, make great props at parties in the India International Centre and help getting visas to the EU. (God bless the crushing depravation that has befallen parts of
Ofcourse now, I know now that I suck at romantic relationships for more than two weeks and/or by the end of an Ashutosh Gowariker movie. Singledom helps create an exaggerated sense of the lonely, temperamental artist whose only obsession is his work and this is working much better than being Edwardjeet Singh Cullens. I am also getting increasingly convinced that most Indians are more excited about the idea of getting married than about marriage itself. And this ladies and gentlemen, brings me to today’s post about marital advice given by Alisa Bowman in her book Project: Happily Ever After.
First off, I don’t know about you but I’m extremely uncomfortable about that book title. I mean I know you’re supposed to “work” on relationships – but if you’re treating it like a bloody science project then is it really a relationship you want to be in anyway? Why does a kid make a science project in school? Mostly because it’s compulsory and s/he HAS to. Because if s/he doesn’t s/he’ll “fail” - and that is unacceptable based on the rules of school. Get my drift?
Second, I’ve often said that advice applicable to western relationships might not necessarily apply to Indians. This is one such example. While the advice is supposed to be applicable to both sexes, I will interpret it in the context of an Indian woman. This because EVERYONE knows Indian men are never wrong and NEVER need any advice.
The piece is titled “7 ways to fix your crumbling marriage”. Now I don’t know why you need 7 reasons. I know one, it’s called a divorce. If you’re really miserable I have a second – suicide. Seven? Seriously?
1. Look in the mirror. I initially thought that my husband was 100 per cent to blame for our marriage problems. It wasn't until I took a good, hard, humbling look in the mirror that I was able to see that our problems originated with me. I'd failed time and time again to tell him what I wanted, what I was thinking, how I felt, and how his actions (or inactions) affected me.
Interpretation: What the fuck is wrong with you bitch? Don’t you know its always your fault? The man is always right. What are you trying to be? Just because Margaret Thatcher became PM and Sonia Gandhi became an extra-constitutional PM you think you can let go of the civilizations patriarchal baggage? It was all your fault for not speaking up and telling him what you wanted in the relationship – the same way you get groped everywhere you go just because you wear sleeveless shirts. The feminist movement is just a cover-up by women too ugly to be with a man and drunk on the power of a college degree and the CEDAW convention. Have you seen how all the women in
come running out of class at every opportunity just to play passive aggressive games with their boyfriends? All you had to do was tell him how you were feeling – but no – you stayed silent. This marriage has failed and it is ALL.YOUR.FAULT. Lady Sri Ram College
2. Drop the idea of fairness in favour of the idea of happiness. What it takes to improve a marriage isn't always fair. You might have to be the big person most of the time. You might have to make the first (or 100th) move to warm up your marriage, be more affectionate, or keep things civil.
Interpretation: So what if he hits you? It makes him happy doesn’t it? If you keep threatening to file a case under the domestic violence act every third day – it’s but obvious he will go around sleeping with other women. Marriages aren’t always fair and you shouldn’t expect them to be. Your husband expects you to warm things up – so make him his drink and suck his dick. Keep it civil. Why do you always have to keep arguing? The only rights you’ll get is the ones he will let you make when you drive his car.
3. Become a problem solver, not just voice it. Shift from complaining about what's wrong to doing something about it. Marital problems are no different from any other life problem. Attack them with an open mind.
Interpretation: Are you still talking?! I thought I told you to STFU already? Why do you keep blabbering about your problems instead of solving them? If you have a problem with me not liking your cooking – learn to make some other goddamn food or order some from my favourite restaurant! If you don’t like my in-laws, stop bloody talking about how you hate them and come up with a solution. Why can’t you just quit your job so that you can make them tea five times a day, massage their knees, completely cover your body and produce a baby every year like they want you to? I mean be a problem solver god damn it!
4. Stop stockpiling old grievances . Fight about current issues. Forgive the old ones. Many people use the words "I can't" when talking about forgiveness, as in, "I can't bring myself to do it." But you probably can. Forgiveness is a decision.
Interpretation: So what if my family told you to abort the previous child? You know we didn’t want a girl. Why the fuck do you keep bringing it up in our current arguments? That kaamwaali bai you accidentally found me with? You should have brought it up when you had the chance. Stop saying you can’t forgive me. Don’t you want this marriage to work? Forgiveness is a decision. You can do it.
5. Be adventurous in the bedroom. Most of us have learned how to have sex somewhat accidentally. As a result, we end up relying on a small number of techniques that we use over and over again. This, however, leads to sexual burnout. Pretend you are 16 again and that you know nothing about how to please a man or a woman. Learn everything you can, and ask your partner to do the same. Explore the art of the hand job. Find out more about oral sex.
Interpretation: What are you waiting for?
6. Focus on foreplay, not on anti-play. Think of foreplay as everything that gets you warmed up about your spouse. It includes compliments, thank you's, favours, hugs, physical intimacy, skin on skin contact, listening, and support.
Interpretation: Seriously, did you not hear me the first time? This thing won’t suck itself you know.
7. Communicate assertively, without blame. Don't brace for a fight. Just ask for what you need, and do it in as few sentences as possible. Do it as warmly as possible, too.
Interpretation: Don’t even think about raising your voice. If you do there’s a cylinder in the kitchen and you know how much I love Diwali.
As you can see, most the advice is pretty much bullshit. In short, blame yourself for failure, forgive and forget, be careful while talking to each other and then wear bunny costumes and fuck each other running. How that is a recipe for saving a marriage that doesn’t seem worth it to begin with is beyond me. What is commendable is that a couple isn’t told to visit an affiliated marriage counselor from which the book’s author might be able to earn 10% more commission.
I can only hope Indian websites are more careful in publishing such ridiculous advice pieces. Either that or I really need to get into this self-help publishing business. The number of idiots in the world I think I’ll make a lot of money.