A dear friend of mine is getting married. And as she recounts tales of her last minute wedding shopping woes, I reminisce back to my own pre- wedding topsy- turvydom.
An Indian wedding is invariably an elaborate, extravagant, rackety, drawn- out affair. It can protract from as little as a week to a month or more. Guests usually number in the thousands. The trousseau needs at least half a dozen people to lug around. The menu may run into a few pages, at the very least. The groom’s party makes a grand entrance, quite often in a cavalcade of luxury cars. Of course, it is all subject to the amount of moolah at your disposal. The more you have, the more you burn.
Nowadays, the brides and grooms have taken it all upon themselves. From what they want to wear on “D” day to whom they want to invite. They want to plan everything to the T. All adding to the anxiety that is already building, thanks to the expectant life changes that are in store.
Not so long ago, weddings were planned and executed by the “elders” of the family. The parents did important things like the in- person invites and “gold- shopping”. The immediate uncles may help in venue bookings, caterer quests and bargains, haggling with the decorator or the “flower- guy”, booking air and train tickets for out-of-town relatives, printing invitation cards…..
The ladies in the family help with the shopping- clothes, jewellery, shoes, make-up, post- wedding wardrobe….the list is virtually endless. Then there are the parlour appointments, the beauty treatments, the henna undertaking…
You as a bride or groom can soon lose sight of the whole point of this exercise. The marriage gets lost in the “wedding”….
So, here I am….writing to my friend, who is due to be “hitched for life”. To the love of her life.
The days leading up to the wedding are like a LSD laden haze…(not that I would know what LSD feels like!)…..
You seem to be the center of the universe. Everything and everyone seems to revolve around thy holy- self!
Your appearance and well- being is paramount. Nothing else matters. Parents and grandparents get emotional and weepy-eyed at odd moments and embarrass you at jewellery stores and boutiques. You can shop till you drop and yet nobody seems to mind. Mum packs sandwiches and juice for your shopping trips when previously she constantly nagged you about buying “unnecessary” items.
Girlfriends constantly call you to enjoy all the excitement and attention vicariously. Guy friends tease you constantly, but also suddenly become extra- nice and chivalrous. In short, you are bestowed with so much attention that your ego inflates to gargantuan proportions and you start inhabiting a fanciful world in which you are the queen of all that you behold.
Well, my soon- to- be- bride friend; enjoy the care and tending for as long as it lasts. It will all come to an abrupt reversal as soon as the nikah is done/ thaali is tied/ rings are exchanged- whichever is your drill!
The minute the rituals and ceremonies are complete and the guests vacate ….. you are transported to an alternate universe; WHERE NOTHING IS THE SAME! You are no longer the centre of anything. Far from it. Even the so called “honeymoon” can be a surreal experience that whizzes by in the blink of an eye.
Married life, no matter how you imagined it to be- is nothing like you imagined it to be! It is exactly like every marriage inspired joke/ pun/ meme that you come across, yet it’s anything but. Confused much?
At this point in my ramble, the unmarried folks will think I’ve gone bananas, but all the married folks will be nodding vigorously and in all earnestness.
It does not matter whether you’ve married the love of your life, a complete stranger or even your worst enemy; some things change and the changes are not always welcome.
Here are some that come to mind immediately (spoken with more than half a decade of experience)…..
With great marriage, comes great responsibility
You are suddenly responsible for another human being. And it’s a binding contract! The man is responsible for the “safety” and well- being of the woman. And the woman is responsible for the man’s laundry, sustenance, health, well- being…..
Well…..She is responsible for everything his Mum was once was 🙂
The coffee/ tea situation- the morning after
The morning coffee can be a first and perennial sore issue….
The woman is used to her Mum serving her. Morning beverage of choice is hot and piping as she saunters into the kitchen all groggy and tussled. She is the undisputed queen of her pre-marital household, with people at her beck and call.
If she lives away, she is used to making only one- that too whenever and however she pleases.
The man also always had his mum make it…
So …Now…who does?
The first conundrum, the morning after…
Family finances and their nuances
My money. Your money. Our money. Whose money?
If both spouses bring in an income… whose money are they going to be spending??
One account? Two accounts?
If the husband complains, the wife goes all feminist on him. If the wife complains the husband calls her a nag….
If the woman, chooses to not work outside the home; then there is only “our money”. That brings a whole new set of problems. A husband can never be as accommodating and lenient as a father. (He shall understand once his daughter arrives…). The wife has never “explained” her shopping jaunts….
Aaah, the poor souls….
“We” time and “me” time..
The newly weds are inseperable. Loving. Conjoined.
But then you miss you solitary jogs.
The lonesome reading time.
The isolated thinking time.
TV time. Internet and facebook and watsapp time…..
Meeting friends for coffee, or heading for a dinner with colleagues…. Maybe…
Late nights with old buddies….. ? Dare you….
Overnight camps and stay-overs………..? But why?
Non- business, pleasure trips abroad…without spouse? Forget it buddy!
You are bound, for life! Just get used it.
Sharing is not necessarily caring!
If you are accustomed to having a room of your own, the marriage situation can raise new challenges. The concept of sharing maybe novel to you, but it is at the very core of a marriage.
Sharing a room, bed, bathroom, dresser, closet space …. Concepts alien to you need to be promptly mastered, in order to achieve a smooth transition from singledom to marriage-hood.
Even if you previously shared a room with a sibling or friend, living with a spouse is an entirely different cup of tea.……
From the dimness/ intensity of the bed-lamp, to the temperature setting of the air- conditioner…..there are compromises to be made and battles to be fought,,,, Every day….
Are you a bed- drifter? A pillow- hoarder? Or maybe a blanket puller…. Lord help your poor spouse at night….And may He save you the morning after!
Going to bed with the enemy…
A tiff with a friend?
An argument with your parents?
Disagreement with a co- worker?
A squabble with your fiancé?
No issues…. Just slam the phone, the door, or just walk away fuming….
Go home, or to your room …. Relax…. Air the fumes out….
Let the steam off….
Meet and greet another day.
A bit of space and time is all you need.
But, what if you have to share a bed with your present “villain/ enemy” …
Aah, an awkward quandary, tis shall be….
You need to learn new sets of skills to tackle this one.
Either learn to resolve things by talking them out. Or learn to spend the night on the sofa…
This list is by no means exhaustive! I’m just too sleepy to go on….
So, my dear bride – to- be. You are in for one hell of a ride. Insanely exciting, excruciatingly frustrating, incredibly fulfilling and unimaginably unlike anything you have experienced before.
All I have to say is, hang on. Hang on to dear life, my dear. I promise you it shall get easier. It will initially be overwhelming. But things will soon settle into their own rhythm. You, as a couple shall find your own method to the madness.
Comprehend and compromise.
Relax and reassess.
Adjust and apologize.
Yell, and be yelled at.
Stay strong, and support when you have to.
Wilt, and be held when you need to.
And please try to NOT go to bed with the enemy!
Communicate and make him your best- friend again before you do!
You shall make a lovely bride my dear. And an even lovelier wife!