Work, Life and Wife Balance!

Everything in life always has two sides, except when one is born and one dies. There are no two sides to these two events. I will not go into the changes that have taken place during the last couple of decades and it will suffice to say that the volume of these changes is equivalent to or more than what happened in the last century. This speed of change is going to go up and by 2050 it will be beyond our imagination. (Of course, I won’t be around then)

There is cascading information that floats around and is exchanged around the globe 24/7, 365. What this has done is that speed of doing work has simply skyrocketed. For workaholics (like alcoholics) its unlimited supply of their life’s elixir  24/7, 365. Whether it’s a boon or bane only time will tell. But I feel that time has come for workaholics to take a sabbatical, go to the Himalayas for trekking or why not, to go and stay in an Ashram. This person will ask what do I do there? The main thinking should be how deep  one should delve into workaholic stuff. Do a full reveiw of the life you are leading!

I have very recently written a blog with almost the same title but I have an additional word in today’s title. WIFE!

Now you will ask me, “Pramod, stop writing a bit. You also go to the Himalayas. You don’t seem to have anything new to write”! You are justified in thinking this way till you read this blog, fully. I consider myself a storyteller rather than a blogger. After chatting with a young, dynamic, dashing workaholic friend, I felt that I need to write what I felt about our chat. I had just gone to him for a cup of coffee and had expected to be done and dusted in 15 minutes. One thing led to another and we ended up exchanging views on life for almost one and half hour.

This friend is an absolute go-getter, 8 am to 9 pm guy. Once in a while maybe he takes a holiday on Sundays! Over a cup of coffee, I was sharing with him my new semi-retired lifestyle. He is very senior in his organization. The organization has been going through a major upheaval, affecting most of the people. This has been going on for last six months. Naturally, I will not share the details. For our man, this is just a situation where he put his hand up and took over major responsibilities. Many of the responsibilities were from his area. So, what did he do? He said, “Pramod, during this period I was doing 5 X times the normal work under extremely stressful condition.” I said, “How is your health holding?” He is a reasonably fit person and also said that he has till some time back, never had any serious health event. Touch wood!

But he did have an event while he was travelling during this tough period. During this event, on the last day of his travel, he had to be monitored by a doctor, hour by hour. He was allowed to travel back home. He still had uneasiness and went to see his regular physician in a hospital, a few days later. His doctor was shocked on checking some values. My knowledge tells me that with these values any human being is theoretically dead. The doctor directly put him in ICU and made sure that his values came down to reasonable figures. He has started working again.

But one good thing is that he has started doing a few things in life with his family that he had never done for some time, he has seen a few Marathi movies recently. The question arose in my mind that passion has to be there in whatever you do. But one’s life has its own compartments. Work and Life balance are what we always discuss. But with our friend’s children being away for education, to me, Wife becomes an important aspect which should be considered. I read an article recently where the person had written that all the cousins in their family had been meeting only during marriages or when someone died. Should these be the only occasions when the cousins should meet? Do you really “meet” on such occasions? Death is a sad occasion anyway and during marriages, people make a very hectic entry and go away because everybody is too busy! Are we really so busy? Is it really worth it? What is life about? How about a cup of coffee with the wife at CCD or where ever? How about eating a Butta or two? How about a long drive once in while during the rainy season?

God is great and he gave a second opportunity to my friend. But we don’t know what is written in destiny. Should we test the destiny to the extreme, especially when you don’t know what is written in your destiny? Over a period, I have come to the conclusion that  a one-day-old child can survive in this world if his mother dies, the world will survive without your contribution. The organizations will survive without you; who knows it may thrive without you! Yes, your contribution matters, your passion drives your team to perform better. You are born to excel, you are born to perform. Your purpose on this “Terra Firma” is to contribute in a big, smart way, always! You won’t be able to sleep well if you don’t do this on a daily basis. This is understandable, you are simply made that way! But you are also trained to do the cost-benefit analysis! You have taken umpteen number of risks! But is the serious risk to your life worth it? You are very smart and you know that it is not!

So, my friend, bring your wife too into central focus now! For you, it is a matter of multi-tasking! You have been doing it anyway all through your career! But let me assure you switching from emotional to work multi-tasking is not so easy as it looks! It’s a tough call but I feel that it’s time you did it! For you and your family! They deserve it!

My two cents. A cup of coffee with you, anytime friend!

Marriages are made in heaven!

Marriages are made in heaven but we live our life in this world, on the terra firma! To me, this sentence is created by some smart cookie who is an expert in the blame game. Marriage does not work, blame the heaven’s administration! Simple is it not. But on a serious note, marriages are a union between two people of different sex; this definition has now undergone recently in India as now marriages between two people of the same sex are also legal. Another term used is they are blissfully married. By the time we find dictionary meaning of blissfully, the marriage becomes a routine relationship, a pleasant one if both spouses are sensible, practical people.

Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses. It establishes rights and obligations, between them and any resulting biological or adopted children, and  creates affinity. The definition of marriage varies around the world not only between cultures and between religions but also throughout the history of any given culture and religion. It evolves to both expand and constrict in who and what is encompassed, but typically it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. I know this is 2018, but please don’t laugh!

Enough of theoretical things and definitions. What really is a marriage? I will not delve into complications about marriage between people of same sex for obvious reasons, anyway, “normal” marriages are also complicated. In practical terms it is an event where two people start living together, (I know about live in relationships 🙂🙂) use the same bed, use the same bathroom, once they are comfortable with each other, they are not shy to tell each other that they need to use the bathroom. On a different level, they follow their careers but at the end of the day come to the same home, share the same dining table, though not necessarily the same food, go for movies, go and meet friends some old and many new! Both generally acquire an additional set of parents through marriage, hopefully. They also acquire new sets of aunts, uncles and cousins. With all these changes they are expected to get more joy. In one of my blogs, I had written about the inner circle theory. Husband and wife are in the innermost circle along with parents, to start with, after marriage. When children are born, they come in the inner circle and parents move in the outer circle. This defines the direction in which marriages are expected to move. Oh, yes! I forgot, they openly have sex. If you keep log of all the events in any marriage, sex is almost a footnote, though glorified, not untruly!

What is expected out of a marriage? Love, closeness, close friendship, support, intimacy and many more things that come to mind. The intimacy of couples is the most important aspect but its frequency starts waning as time passes. By intimacy, I don’t mean sex. This aspect gives maximum satisfaction to mind but from what we read, it has the least shelf life in most marriages. Reasons are different but “Honeymoon” period of intimacy is quite limited, pun intended.

What are the reasons for people to marry especially when it is an arranged marriage? Because the girls land is adjoining to yours, his family has a flourishing business, her father was the big farmer in town, or both families are from the same cast or sub-caste. These are reasonable sets of reasons to start with but then comes loneliness, infidelity, abuse, the hardness of heart and shouts due to reason “who should attend to the baby at 3 AM”! The reasonable marriage is not reasonable to start with!  It is based on thought processes prevalent in the society. Hence though we think in terms of bliss due to initial euphoria, on a practical level marriage is a different animal.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. As the time passes, thoughts come in mind that one has married a wrong person! Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true definition of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition. There is never a right person but at best there can the best or the least wrong person!

We need to exchange the romantic view for awareness, that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will in return do the same to them. This can end up in our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to, is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for. Is his smoking more acceptable to you than drinking? Is her sense of bold dressing acceptable to you or is her not mixing with your family more acceptable to you? Every single person has his or her quirks. It is how each one handles them in a marriage, maturely, decides the success of the marriage.

In my blog “Tit for Tat” I have suggested “out of box” interpretation of the saying. During any difference of opinion, which happen in plenty in “matured” marriages, taking a step back, saying sorry sincerely or any re-conciliatory measure should be openly accepted, with “tat” doubling the efforts to diffuse the situation. That to me is a blissful marriage. Once the honeymoon phase in the relationship is over, what we have is brass-tacks. Does the husband share some routine chores in the home? Does wife take up some of the “Man type” of work? If both are professionals do both take an equal load in basic things like routine purchases, taking children to doctors, changing diapers, with a smiling face, as the wife has to go for an urgent meeting.

We marry, to make a nice feeling permanent. We think that the joy of proposing someone on the beach with the Sun setting, later going for a lovely wine and dinner, will continue in our lives all the time. At that time, we tend to feel that we are the only couple who has achieved such level of happiness, such a bliss. Based on this lovely thinking we marry and expect the sensation to remain permanent in our lives. In that frame of mind, we tend to forget that there is no real connection between that lovely feeling and the institution of marriage!

Marriage is the most universal relationship but it is one of the toughest one. Marriage is the only relationship where all the details, which are unknown to others, about the spouse, are known to the other spouse. It includes bodily functions, fears, habits, insecurities, fear of the unknown. As the real intimacy, other than sex, comes into  picture, one may get a feeling, in most cases, that we have married a wrong person. But friends, that is not true. It is how you accommodate each other’s unknown quirks, let me assure you both spouses have them, it is how you start taking things in stride, you may become a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian to accommodate your spouse. As the saying goes, with the intimacy, closeness is automatically created. But in most cases there are ups and owns, mostly downs! Someone may feel that the grass is greener on the side. But when you go to the other side, you may find that the grass was the greenest on your side. You never marry a wrong person, you simply are not able to take things in stride. From a little distance, every person seems fine, but post marriage and intimacy, you know the real person warts and all! Happy blissful married life!

शुभास्ते पंथानः संतु! May the tough road of marriage be auspicious to you!