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Marital Blues - Commitment
Imagine a house that has fallen into a state of disrepair. The paint is peeling, the roof is damaged, and even the lawn is in disarray. The house is affected by storms over the years and also from neglect. Should it be demolished? If the foundation is strong, the house can be restored. The condition of this house can be compared to some marriages. Over the years, have storms taken a toll on the marital relationship? A degree of neglect could be there on the part of one or both partners. After fifteen years of marriage, a wife said, “We had nothing in common but being married to each other.” Even if one’s marriage has reached this point, terminating it hastily can be avoided. It can be restored depending on the level of commitment between husband and wife. “Commitment includes obligation,” says one husband. “When problems arise, we are resolved to honour the commitment we made and stop considering divorce as an option.”
Commitment to marriage does not mean that partners will never disagree. There must be a desire to resolve the matter when there is conflict, and to feel concerned for the welfare of one’s partner. One husband said, “I have stopped being single at heart.” Marriage means sharing a life, and the more two p e o p l e share, the more there is to grow. Some unhappy couples stay together for the sake of their children or for financial security. Others remain together because they fear what friends and relatives will think if they break up. Often, one partner gives a lot without any reciprocation. Instead of thinking, “What am I getting out of this relationship?” One can ask,“What am I giving or personally doing to strengthen my marriage?” Marriage partners can analyse their actions in a given week. When one’s mate wanted to talk, did the other listen – even if one is not inclined to do so? How many activities did one engage in, that interested the other partner? In most relationships, positive behaviour is reciprocated. Unselfish acts indicate a desire to preserve one’s marriage. This gives a sense of permanence to the relationship. One wife said, “When I am angry with my husband, I’m not worried about our marriage coming to an end. I am worried about how we will get back to where we were.”
A long-term view is an essential part of the commitment, yet it is lacking in many marriages. During heated exchanges, one may blurt out, “I’m leaving you!” or “I’m going to find someone who really appreciates me!” Most often such words are not meant literally, but they are destructive to the stability of a marriage. When one has a lasting view of a relationship, one expects to be with the person through thick and thin. This thought will make it easier to accept weaknesses and mistakes and hold on to each other. Earning each other’s trust and working at becoming best friends, will increase their commitment to marriage. A person may not remain committed when sacrifice is required, especially when there is no immediate payoff for the small concessions he or she makes. Without commitment, a relationship sours, no matter how sweet the romantic feelings were when they first fell in love. Commitment is strengthened by giving one’s partner priority. Usually, the more important an endeavour, the more time one spends on it. “To whom am I most attentive or enjoy conversing with – my partner, or someone else? One can ask oneself, “If my partner told me to limit my contact with an associate, how will I react or feel? Has my partner lost the qualities I liked in him/her, or have I become blind to them?” A woman married for twenty years said, “Many people go into marriage knowing that t h e y have a ‘fall back plan’ – the possibility of divorce, their commitment is lacking right from the start.” Would one decorate an apartment if one knew that any day one might be moving out of it? Commitment means teamwork – not just coexisting but working towards a common goal. One husband said, “Since we’ve married we have been trying harder not to have fights. We are committed so there’s no sense fighting about it.” Many today are sceptical of commitment. Some compare it to a chain that binds one to a bad decision. Instead, one can think of it as an anchor that keeps a marriage steady. Hence, can one strengthen commitment, or question it?