20 New Year Promises You Should Never Make Your Husband

Hey penguins!

This is my last post of the year.

While waving goodbye to 2012, I’m reminded of the legendary New Year Resolutions my friend Amrita made towards the end of one of the last few years. She took something in some New Year’s Eve party (I’ve naturally forgotten to ask what) which compelled her to write a love-spiked letter to her husband with twenty resolutions for the New Year.

New year promises to husbandPhoto by Ilse

I think you’ve guessed that those twenty promises went down as the twenty biggest mistakes of 20xx (whatever that year was).

Keeping Amrita in mind, here’s the last bit of relationship/marriage wisdom of 2012:

Girls (wives), however drunk you get in the New Year’s Eve party, don’t make any of these 20 promises to your husband for the New Year!

  1. I’ll never let you do household chores anymore. Your career is already stressing you.
  2. I’ll buy the grocery myself. I understand you’re exhausted after a day’s work.
  3. I won’t play “Who can find the most faults in her husband” with the girls. You’re the best husband in the world.
  4. I’ll spend more time with your family. I’m grateful they brought you up.
  5. I’ll have my mother visit us less often. I don’t want you to feel bored.
  6. I’ll visit my mother less often. You need me more than she does.
  7. I’ll sell the TV. It’s such a time-waster.
  8. I’ll add up the proceeds with my savings and buy you a Play Station 4. You need to unwind sometimes.
  9. If you’re late, I’ll never again call up all the hotels in town. If you’re cheating, it’s my shortcoming, not yours.
  10. I’ll never try to find out exactly how much you earn. You’re entitled to keep that to yourself.
  11. From now on, I’ll take more interest in real estate and stock markets. I’ve come to realize that these are crucial parts of life one should know about.
  12. I’ll improve my driving skills and help you on our weekend trips. You too are entitled to a nap during the drive.
  13. I won’t bore you with stories of what my best friends bought for their birthdays. I respect your patience.
  14. When it comes to my birthday, I’ll never demand any gifts from you. Love resides in the heart, not in the wallet.
  15. I’ll never throw a tantrum if you forget our anniversary. What’s in a date?
  16. I’ll not nag you for giving up smoking. While it breaks my heart to watch you invite lung cancer, I don’t want to irritate you into a cerebral attack either.
  17. We’ll watch more sci-fi and action movies. I’m bored with romance and family.
  18. We’ll dedicate a weekend per month to watching football. I’ve just realized it’s the next best thing on earth after shopping. Which reminds me…
  19. I’ll never drag you along on my shopping trips. I realize that it doesn’t provide you enough intellectual stimulation. And last but not the least…
  20. By the end of 2013, I’ll quit shopping. What’s in a bit of bling?

With that, I’m off to my year-end vacation.

See you in 2013!

“Love Rejection” – A Complete Guide for Dealing with Rejection in Love

It was Dec. 2001.

I had a mad crush on this tall, dark, handsome school cricket team captain (don’t laugh). Somehow I’d managed to (ahem ahem…) get the message across to him through my best friend and yes, earned my first “love rejection” (as Indians call it, which means rejection in your love life). That’s right – my fourteen year old heart and all the tossing and turning emotions in it had just been rejected by the hero of my dreams.

Rejection in lovePhoto by Chandelier Motion Pictures

Yes I was hurt (a bit) on having earned the first rejection in my love life.

Sounds familiar? I bet.

If you have a love life – if you’ve ever fallen in love, proposed a girl or asked someone out on a date – it’s likely that you have faced, and are going to face many moments of “love rejection” in your life.

Rejection in love hurts and it’s real

What is rejection in love?

“Love rejection” doesn’t only mean being turned down for a date (or relationship). It also includes the everyday feelings of hurt and disappointment we feel when our expectations in the relationship are not met by our partner. From being cold-shouldered while trying to impress your girlfriend, to major relationship issues like infidelity and break-ups also give rise to feelings of rejection in our brain.

From a psychological perspective, rejection (particularly social rejection) is experienced by your brain because of some sort of deliberate exclusion – from a group, activity, level of intimacy, information or communication.

Rejection in lovePhoto by PinkyTurtles

Does rejection in love hurt? Self-help books and experts might claim that it shouldn’t, offering up one or more of the following self-help myths as explanation:

Myth #1. It’s possible to “choose to be happy”, regardless of what’s happening around you, ’cause happiness lies inside us.

Myth #2. Seeking inclusion or approval by others is a sign of weakness and should be overcome by loving yourself.

Myth #3. In order to have happy and fulfilling relationships, you need to first train yourself to be happy alone.

Unfortunately, if published research in the field of psychology is anything to go by, none of this is tenable.

As per Prof. C. Nathan DeWall, PhD, of the University of Kentucky, in order to function normally, human beings need strong, healthy relationships as much as they need food and water.According to Prof. Eisenberger from UCLA, one of the most prominent figures in the field of psychological research on rejection, the responses rejection (including rejection in love) causes in the brain is the same as the reaction caused by physical pain.

How to handle “love rejection”

So are you destined to bear all the pain of your rejection in love without any analgesic?

Fortunately, you don’t have to. You can’t pretend that the pain of “love rejection” is not real, but when you feel rejected in love is something you can control. Here’s a proven 5-step strategy to do just that.

Step #1. Acknowledge our differences

Do you know that there can be roughly 7 billion different versions of any given situation in this world?


That’s simply because no two people in this world experience exactly the same reality in any given situation, and there are about 7 billion people in this world. So there, you have it!

Naturally, the way your girlfriend/partner/potential date/crush looks at life is different from the way you do. Therefore it’s not only possible, but in fact probable that their response to any situation will be rather different from what you expect (in other words, what you would’ve done if you were in their shoes). If you’re one of the this-is-how-they-should-behave-because-that’s-what-I-think-is-right people (like I was), then it’s time for a reality check. The first step to avoid feeling rejected in love when it is not due, is to acknowledge this simple fact that each person’s reality is different.

Rejection in lovePhoto by Just a Toddler

Step #2. Brainstorm possible outcomes

Why do people feel rejected in love? Because they expect to be accepted.

What is expectation? It’s a certain possible outcome of any situation which you have in your mind.

We, human beings have a tendency of visualizing only one possible outcome of any given situation. And when the reality doesn’t match it we feel let down, betrayed, rejected. The rule of thumb that I’ve taught myself to minimize unwarranted feelings of rejection in any situation is, instead of envisaging only one possible response (from anyone), I force myself to sit back and imagine at least two possible responses, one of them compulsorily not-so-positive.

Step #3. Support each possibility with reasons

I also mentally construct all the possible reasons why each outcome should occur.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say, you’ve proposed your classmate. Don’t expect that she’ll accept you (in which case feelings of “love rejection” will quickly set in if she doesn’t), but don’t expect a rejection either (in that case you’re bound to be reeking of under-confidence when you propose her and she’s bound to reject you anyway! ).

Tell yourself, “There are two possible end scenarios. First, she could be happily accept me as her boyfriend because I’m an intelligent, honest and caring person (enlist whatever reasons you can think of, but have at least 2-3 of them). Second, she might also not want to get into a relationship with me because at the moment she might not be ready for any romantic relationship at all, she could be already interested in someone else, or she might be looking for some specific traits in a potential boyfriend which may be different from the positive traits which I possess.”

Step #4. Be objective

I think you realize that this reasoning exercise serves two purposes. First, in any situation it forces you to objectively picture both the positive and negative scenarios, thereby preparing you sufficiently for any outcome other than your desired one. Secondly, it also makes you look at the possible negative outcome very objectively, which helps limit personalization of the negative outcome which we all tend to do. So for example in this case, you’ve identified three possible reasons which might lead to a rejection-two of which don’t involve you at all. However you’re also remaining realistic and true to yourself by including one possible reason which is related to you. Even then you’re maintaining your objectivity by emphasizing to yourself that it’s not about whether you’re “good enough” for her or not, it’s just that what she wants and what you have are not the same.

Step #5. Rejection in love is not about you

This brings me to the most crucial part of dealing with rejection successfully, which is about totally avoiding unwarranted feelings of rejection (there are plenty of real rejections around you already, don’t make it up). Often you (and I, and most other people) tend to look at a situation as a rejection when it is not. We humans have a painful tendency to take anything negative way too personally.

As the earlier example will show you, rejections in love often have little connection with whether you’re good enough for someone or not. It only means what you offer is not the same as what they need. Look at it as the lid of Box 1 not fitting Box 2, simply because the two are not made to fit each other, rather than for the not being “big enough”, or “small enough” for the box.

Next time you encounter feelings of rejection in love (and trust me, there’s always a next time, ’cause life’s like that) apply this 5-step strategy and you’ll find you’ll be way better off in dealing with “love rejection”. You might even be able to use to constructively to create a better you. :)

Kissing Under the Mistletoe

Merry Christmas readers, friends, fans and critics!Merry Christmas to all!

If you are in love with someone, and you’re spending Christmas together, what’s the most romantic gift you can give them? Yes, it’s a kiss under the mistletoe.

Ne’er heard of that one? Read on to find out about this special Christmas gift for your special someone.


For the unfamiliar – mistletoe is a beautiful parasitic plant with long and narrow leaves and tiny white pearl-like berries, which is used in Christmas decorations around the world.

Kissing under the mistletoePhoto by magda.indigo

It’s customary for couples to kiss under the mistletoe as this is thought to bring good luck. It is said that couples who kiss under the mistletoe will get married and be blessed with a long and happy life together, whereas girls who are not kissed under the mistletoe will remain unmarried until the next year (i.e. next Christmas).

It is also customary to burn the mistletoe plant as a means of foretelling marital success. A steady flame indicates marital bliss, whereas a flickering one is thought of as a sign of a not-so-perfect marriage.


Exactly how long this tradition dates back to is largely unknown, but some traces can be found in 19th century literature. In his collection of essays and short stories, The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon (1820), American author Washington Irving recollects –

The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.


The origin of this tradition is quite obscure. According to some, the custom of kissing under the mistletoe originated from the ancient “Norse” or Scandinavian mythology – a Pagan school of mythology which continued into north-European folklore post-Christianization. According to the myth, Baldr was the son of goddess Frigg, who, at the time of Baldr’s birth, cast a spell to protect him from all plants, except mistletoe, which she overlooked. Later Baldr was killed by a god with a spear made of the mistletoe plant. Baldr was later resurrected, and Frigg declared mistletoe to be the symbol of peace and love henceforth. It then became customary for people to kiss under the mistletoe as a means to show respect to Frigg and also to remember Baldr’s resurrection.

Kissing under the mistletoePhoto by Anthony White

Another theory is that the ritual of kissing under the mistletoe has its roots the ancient Babylonian-Assyrian Empire. The mistletoe used to be hung outside the temple of the goddess of beauty and love. While standing under the mistletoe, young single women would accept the first man who approached them. However no mention of kissing can be found. Folklore has it, that mistletoe has supernatural healing powers. It’s a symbol of fertility with aphrodisiac qualities. Historically, mistletoe was also a part of wedding ceremonies and used to be placed under the newlyweds’ bed. Later the tradition evolved into kissing under the mistletoe and men plucking a berry every time they kissed, as “mistletoe etiquette”. Continuing to kiss once all the berries were plucked was believed to bring bad luck. (Kissing was obviously quite a big deal back then and was looked upon as a promise of marriage!)

So now that you know all about the mysterious mistletoe – find one, grab your maiden and get kissing!

Merry Christmas once again! ;)

“Sex Has Got Nothing to Do with Love or Marriage”, Tamal Pal

In Converstation with Love in India’s Featured Facebook Fan

Today I’m glad to bring you the promised feature on the 50th lucky fan of Love in India Facebook page, Tamal Pal.

A Computer Science engineer from Jadavpur University (Kolkata), and an MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur, Tamal works as an automotive marketing manager with one of India’s biggest manufacturing companies.

Love in India feature Tamal PalCopyright @Tamal Pal

When he’s not working, Tamal believes in enjoying life to the fullest, through engaging in (really really) varied hobbies and activities. A trained vocalist, Tamal’s eclectic tastes span everything from Stephen Hawking to SRK movies, and from Tagore’s music to fantasy cricket. In his own words, “I hate being stuck in the same thing for too long. I feel suffocated if there’s nothing new to learn, no new challenge to overcome every day. Even when it comes to career, I’ve changed my path whenever I felt like doing something different, and I’ll continue to do so in future.”

Excerpts of my chat with Tamal on love, marriage, life and his own story….

On love…

Pyaar dosti hai. Love is friendship…..

This may sound oh so stupid/corny/filmy, but after being in a string of relationships (yes, there have been quite a few) for the last 8 years, I have come to believe that friendship is the only true and sustainable basis of any relationship. Love is, at the end of the day, understanding someone, appreciating them for who they are, and craving to be with them because you just feel so comfortable in their presence.

That mad rush which you feel in your head when thinking about someone – at least for me, it’s just a sophisticated variant of physical attraction.

It’s of course natural to feel it for someone you love. In fact, I feel no romantic relationship can blossom if that madness is not there to start with. But just six months into a relationship, what remains is the understanding & the comfort that you share with your partner. If it’s worth it, you’ll stay together. If it’s not, you’ll start feeling uncomfortable subconsciously, leading to incessant silly fights, and ultimately break up wondering where it went wrong. It’s that simple, really!

On finding love…

You don’t find love, love finds you.

In today’s peer-pressure driven, competetion-obsessed society, even having a relationship has become a parameter for competition! Many “get themselves” a boyfriend/girlfriend, because they are supposed to have one, just like other essentials like a college degree, a job or a mobile phone.

I myself have got into relationships (yes, more than once) just because I was desperate not to stay alone after a breakup.

Gotta say, it doesn’t work that way. You can have an arranged marriage through a conscious decision and dedicated efforts.

Par pyaar koi karta nahi hai. Pyar bas ho jata hai. (You can’t “find” love, you fall in love.)

You’ll find it when & where you least expect it. And when it’s love, you just know…..

On essential traits of successful relationships…

There are relationships which are meant to be, and then there are the rest. If it’s not meant to be, I don’t think there’s anything in the world you can do to make it work. When it comes to spending your every waking moment with someone, it’s impossible-and more importantly a disservice to yourself-to try and be something different from what you are, naturally.

And if it’s meant to be, you just know it.

You trust them as much as yourself without even wondering if you should. When you are with them, you feel as relaxed & comfortable as you’d have been if you were alone.

You start caring for them and feel concern almost like your mother would feel for you.

Things like going out on a date, exchanging gifts, pampering each other with sweet words – yes, they make the moments special. But I would say they’re just the surface. A few moments don’t make a relationship. Your feelings and actions, day in and day out, do.

On marriage (and the love vs arranged marriage debate)…

Marriage is the decision to stay together with someone for the rest of your life. Marriage is the basic unit of society. To me, it’s a much more conscious decision than love. You have to think long & hard about who you are compatible enough to stay together with & raise a family. Quite often, it has got nothing to do with your feelings for that person. You can easily be madly in love with someone whose nature is completely incompatible with you, in which case you’ll never be happy in a marriage with them.

That brings me to the question of why so many arranged marriages work so perfectly. If your parents have put in so much efforts and thoughts into choosing someone for their child (you), they’re very likely to be from the same social background as you, with similar experiences and likes & dislikes as you. Hence although you may not know them at all, you probably don’t find it so difficult adapting to them, and end up living quite a happy life.

That said, I personally would never agree to an arranged marriage.

I don’t think anyone can do a better job of deciding who I’ll be ok staying with, than me!

It’s quite natural to be more comfortable spending your life with someone you’ve already been in a relationship with. I think getting to know someone as a person is much easier in the context of a relationship, than an always-already marriage, because the compulsion of liking each other is not there in case of the former. You can interact freely, express yourself, understand the other person closely, and then think about marriage if you feel that compatibility. Marrying someone unknown & then starting the process of knowing each other from scratch is just too painful compared to this!

On premarital sex…

To me, sex or any form of physical intimacy is completely separate from love or marriage.

Sex is just about enjoying the excitement of the moment. It has got nothing to do with love or marriage – you can very well get excited by an absolutely unknown woman.

Hence there’s no point in forming linkages between these, Yes, sex is more enjoyable with your partner, because the presence of emotions & the knowledge of their likes & dislikes makes the act much smoother. Yes, sex after marriage has got its own charms because you can express yourself much more freely with someone you’re habituated to. But using marriage as a boundary condition for having sex is just stupid, because the two have got zero correlation.

As an extension of this logic I would even go on to say that while in a marriage, you can very well enjoy yourself physically with other people while still remaining committed to your spouse. It’s not rocket science really, provided the trust between the couple remains intact. If they can remain truthful to each other while also being serious about their marriage, then why not? Swinging is not a very rare phenomenon, & many couples are happily married despite enjoying regular sex outside their marriage. After all its just sex – nothing compared to the emotional fulfilment a true relationship brings you.

Tamal’s story…

The most significant story of my life is that of my last girlfriend.

Love in India feature Tamal Pal 1Copyright @Tamal Pal

We know each other for more than three years and were in a relationship for more than two and a half years. We broke up very recently.

Let me tell you a bit about how we met.
After knowing her for 3 months, I knew I had feelings for her. But I decided not to tell her because she was in a complicated relationship with a married guy. She loved him, but he never made his stance clear. Even after filing for divorce, he finally reconciled with his wife. At this time, my ex-girlfriend was so emotionally confused that I decided not to make the situation more complicated by letting her know about my feelings. I came to know later that she’d already guessed, but at the time, she also chose to remain just my friend.

We would have remained so unless we had gone for our MBAs. I was to leave Kolkata earlier than her. Just a few days before I left, we had a fight. I was mad because I felt that the management school she had chosen to join was far below her standard, & that she was ruining her career. The next day, I expected her to be very angry, but she behaved perfectly normally with me. Then, on the day I was to leave Kolkata, she called me up & professed her love. She said that my impending departure had made her realise that she was going to lose her closest friend, the only person who would care for her so much as to rebuke her for her bad decision. Thinking about this made her realise that she had also started falling in love with me, 6 months after she had first realised that I had feelings for her.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about her now is that she loved me for who I was & had accepted all my shortcomings with endearing compassion. She was and still is one of my closest friends. None of us have ever been as open to anyone as we have been to each other.

She happened to understand me more completely than I can describe.

Our bond stemmed from the fact that we complemented each other. She was spontaneous whereas I am typically more thoughtful. We balanced each other perfectly. Even physical intimacy was easy & spontaneous with her. She has been the only woman with who I have felt so relaxed & comfortable during intimate moments….

Tamal’s bold and entirely original views make me take a step back and think, what is love? What is its place in our lives, in our marriages? How importance is intimacy, in case of relationships, or marriage?

What do you think? Let me know.

Like Tamal, do you want to feature on Love in India and share your stories and views with the community? Email me at sdasguptaaa@gmail.com.

10 Unique Gift Ideas for Your Girlfriend’s Birthday

If you have a girlfriend, I’d guess there’s a particular period of the year which makes you feel gradually more nervous and jittery. And that’s the time leading up to her birthday. The scariest question which appears on the mind of most of you roughly a month ahead of your girlfriend’s birthday is what to gift your girlfriend on her birthday. So here are the top 10 unique ways to sweep your girlfriend off her feet with never-thought-of-before gifts on her birthday. And what’s more, with these, her happiness on receiving her birthday gift will have no connection with the strength of your wallet! ;)

  1. Gift your girlfriend her friends & family on her birthday

    Invite her best school buddy or her closest cousin to her home on her birthday – someone who she loves dearly (other than you) and someone whose sudden appearance would make her feel incredibly happy and surprised. If she lives away from her parents (i.e. in a different city) you can invite them also, ,which will be a real surprise for her I’m sure. Make sure you manage to keep the whole thing from your girlfriend until the arrival of the guest.

    Birthday Gifts for GirlfriendPhoto by MantiCorp Photography
  2. Gift your girlfriend a serenade on her birthday

    Take her out to the restaurant (like everyone does). Make arrangements with the restaurant so that all the staff there wish her a happy birthday – from the doorman to the floor manager, and tell them to play some particular favourite songs of hers – of which no one but you know. (This one’s something everyone doesn’t do, but how we wish they would!)

  3. Gift your girlfriend her favourite food on her birthday

    This one’s a bit tricky. Find out – from her, or even her friends and family if need be – all her favourite dishes. Try to pick out the not-so-easily-available ones from these (chocolate cake is easily available, whereas “my mother’s chocolate cookies” are not – you get the idea) and then get all of those on her birthday (Get some of them couriered if need be – difficult but worth the effort considering the sunrise you’ll see on her face when you present her with all those little joys of her life). The effort and the thoughts you’ve put in would take her totally off her feet.

  4. Gift your girlfriend memories on her birthday

    Birthday Gifts for GirlfriendPhoto by meshling

    Create a collage of pictures of each of her birthdays till now, starting from her first. You need to carefully work at this one and plan well ahead of her birthday, ’cause as you understand you’ll need to painstakingly procure these pictures from her friends and family.
  5. Gift your girlfriend her childhood on her birthday

    Talk to her parents and childhood friends to find out trivia and stories of her birthdays when she was very young. Make a “Scrapbook of Linda’s (put your girlfriend’s name) birthdays” with photos of her friends and family and their quotes, and present it to her.

  6. Gift your girlfriend a surprise on her birthday

    Make a “Happy Birthday Linda (or whatever is her name)” poster. Let your imagination and creative instincts (and of course, your romantic heart) run wild. Print out at least twenty of them. And paste them outside her home (or bribe a neighbour of hers to do it ;)). I’m sure you can imagine the shock of surprise and happiness that’ll light up her heart when she sees this first thing in the morning when she leaves for work/school!

  7. Gift your girlfriend a midnight surprise on her birthday

    I have written about the super-dramatic alarm proposal earlier. This one’s kinda similar to it. Get your hands on her cell phone & set a reminder for some unreal hour like 3 in the morning or something, saying “Look inside your bag!” Of course you need to catch hold of her bag beforehand and put your special gift (and letter or card) in it. She’ll be groggy but I’m hoping she’ll get the idea. :D

  8. Gift your girlfriend a special announcement on her birthday

    If you’re really daring – you can try and tell her boss (if she’s a professional) or a professor of hers (if she’s in school or college) to announce her birthday at her workplace/in her class and to convey your dedication. If you can’t be present when the announcement is going to be made, tell a colleague or classmate of hers to take a photo of her hot blush and dazzling beam. I promise, you’ll cherish that photo forever.

  9. Gift your girlfriend all your feelings on her birthday

    Write down all the different types of feelings you have for her.

    Birthday Gifts for GirlfriendPhoto by jaime973


    Let me explain.

    It’s not just love, but also affection, admiration, friendship, commitment…etc. that you have for her, right? Now write all of them down on separate pieces of paper. Your messages should read something like – “here’s my love”, “here’s my affection”, “here’s my care”, “here’s my commitment”, “here’s my admiration”, “here’s my dreams”…. Again, feel free to go wild with the messages. Now hide them among her things in different places so that she discovers them throughout the day. I’m sure you can imagine how totally blown she’d be to find your love strewn all over her world.

  10. Gift your girlfriend a dedication on her birthday

    Last but not the least – let me know! Use the dedications section of Love in India to write your birthday message to her. You can also separately send me a story around you and her, and I promise Love in India will wish her a happy birthday with a dedicated post!

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and test the ones you like on her birthday. Don’t forget to let me know what happened through the comments section!

Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 2)

In my last post I talked about three of the six major changes which couples need to anticipate when they take their long term relationship to the next level, namely marriage. These three are-

  1. Discovering many minute aspects of your partner after marriage, which might be underwhelming to you and which you’ve had no chance to find out earlier
  2. Marriage invariably brings loss of freedom – at least to some extent
  3. Adjusting with expectations which the Indian Extended Families on both sides develop once you get married

Today we’ll look at the other three changes you should be prepared for before tying the knot.

Taking responsibility

One of the most important changes which people struggle to adjust to after marriage, is taking responsibility for yourself and someone else. Marriage means suddenly you’re not a kid anymore. You’re expected to build a life together, from scratch. And that involves everything from remembering to buy your daily groceries to taking joint decisions regarding buying your first home – things you never bothered about when you were on your own, even if you were in a relationship.

Relationship after marriagePhoto by preety1996

There probably aren’t too many easy ways out of this one – apart from being mentally prepared. The more mature you are as an adult, the easier it will be for you to adjust after marriage. Train yourselves up for the change. Discuss it often with your fiancé. Try to form a mental picture of Life After Marriage. The clearer this picture is the better. In order to create this picture, ask each other (mundane and intensely boring but important) questions like –

“Do we need to buy a car? If yes, when? How do we need to plan for it?”

“How many vacations are we going to take every year? How do we decide the locations? What about the finances?”

“How are we going to manage our daily meals? Who’s going to cook? Are we going to need help?”

It’s not necessary to ask each possible question or to have answers to all of them up front. But the more questions you ask before marriage, the easier it will be for both of you to grasp and adjust to the realities after marriage.

Sharing your finances

Do you know that economic tensions or financial disagreements figure among the top five reasons people divorce, all around the world? Money is something most of us take very seriously because of the immense effort we have to put in to earn it. Sharing not only your finances, but also decisions regarding your finances with someone else is a thought which throws most people off balance.

Relationship after marriagePhoto by 61@NO2

My take – get thrown off balance before you’re thrown out of your peace of mind when you reinvent the wheel after marriage. That is to say, like all other major changes, this change should also be handled through discussion before marriage.

Do you want to maintain your separate finances and pay for your own expenses?

Do you want to have a joint account for regular expenses with separate individual accounts for personal expenses?

Do you want all your finances completely shared?

Discuss these and all other questions regarding finances as openly as possible before marriage and try to find solutions both you and your partner are genuinely comfortable with.
If one of you is not earning (enough), the issue can become even more complex – it then becomes one of self-esteem. Even in that case discuss out the financial arrangement between the two of you (things like whether one of you is going to provide a monthly allowance to the other, or share your money completely, etc.) before marriage.

Could you be…taking each other for granted?

Another subtle yet important change which individuals complain of after marriage is a sudden drop in the level of attention they enjoy from their partner.
The reason of course is what I call The “Gotcha!” Syndrome. Even if you have been in a relationship for years and you were always very sure of getting married to each other, let’s face it – people break up. And it’s pretty easy. Compare that with marriages in India which are thought of as quite permanent and rarely break up – India has a mind boggling rate of divorce of ~1% (even though two of the major reasons for that could be the harrowing process of getting a divorce and the social taboo associated with it, if you ask me ;) ). So that means after your marriage, you’re really unlikely to leave your partner. This sometimes translates into a taken-for-granted attitude one’s partner after marriage.

The cure?

Well, the cure is to give yourself and your partner time to adjust to the new realities and to discover the new form of love after marriage. Empathy and communication are vital too. If you’re feeling neglected by your spouse after marriage, let them know. Make sure you’re setting the right expectations for each other. Needless to say, you can’t expect any improvement if you make this issue into a fight. Discussing it in a calm and mature way is key.
Often the solution lies in people realizing the value of true love, over external displays of attention – and that realization takes some experience. Certain behaviours could be natural in the context of a non-live-in relationship where you spend very limited time with each other every day, but impossible in the context of life after marriage. You need to realize that this seldom means loss of love. (That is to say – if you’re feeling neglected because your husband isn’t taking you out to movies every weekend, grow up!)

Did you face any other major change when you moved from being in a relationship to being married? Share your learnings with us through the comments. Have a nice day!

Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 1)

I had been in a (purely long distance) relationship with a (poor) guy for about six months when one fine Durga Pooja, we decided to get married.

Actually I had decided to get married long back. It was convincing him which took so long.

Gotta say, being in love & being married – entirely different ball games. Didn’t see that elephant romping in the middle of the room back then. A bit dumb, I know.

being marriedPhoto by jcoterhals

Some of you have been in a relationship for a long time. If you think (like I did) that you know your partner and marriage will have nothing new to offer – think again.

My husband and I (and the two billion couples of the world) made mistakes. Hundreds of them. These mistakes taught us about the six pillars of change which separate relationship & marriage. I thought I’ll share our learnings with you in a two-part post starting today. Keep in mind that by “relationship”, I mean only non-live-in pre-marital relationships here.

Discovering them up close

When you’re in an aeroplane, the meadows and fields below seem all so green. If you walk on the same meadows though, you might find patches of rough hard soil among the grassy stretches.

being marriedPhoto by jakebouma

Transitioning into a marriage from a relationship is a bit like getting out of that aeroplane and into the meadows – you’re bound to discover habits, beliefs, opinions, tastes, attitudes, dreams & philosophies of your partner which you won’t like and which you had no idea about. It matters little how long you’ve been in a relationship – sharing your home (including a bathroom) & your 24 hours with someone is very different from spending a limited amount of time every day/week with them outside your home. Differences in opinions on everyday basics like whether to have rice or roti for dinner, and whether to keep the windows open or closed at night – can become sources of uneasiness & irritation to either of you. In case of most couples, it’s these apparently inconsequential differences which accumulate over time, are brought to the fore during fights, & lead to straining of relationships.

Unbelievable I know.

And there’s no way of discovering these tiny bits unless you’ve lived under the same roof. It’s difficult to avoid surprises altogether , but the more conscious you are of this aspect of marriage before you decide “It’s time!” – the more mentally prepared you will be when it comes to discovering and making your peace with previously unknown aspects of your partner.

Loss of freedom (at least some of it)

A spouse is called a life partner for a reason. Sharing your life with someone means sharing your everything – your time, space, resources, family, likes & dislikes, dreams & decisions. And that is asking quite a bit. Unfortunately most people don’t realize exactly how much it means until they’re already into the melting pot of married life. Let’s start off small…

Are you up to cooking dinner tonight or you’d just have a takeaway pizza?

Should you go for a movie this weekend or to a picnic away from the city?

Are you open to move cities/countries for suitable career opportunities or you’re geographically immobile?

These are just some of the small and no-so-small decisions of your life which are suddenly not yours alone anymore.
Of course you can figure out answers to some of these before marriage, if you’ve been in a relationship for long enough. But the constant obligation of taking someone else into account (and believe me, it’s an obligation, and has got nothing to do with how much you love them – the more you love them the more seriously you take this obligation) in all your decisions – big and small – can be something quite daunting.
The big things – like life goals, children (whether, when, how many etc.) career, mobility – can, and should be discussed clearly before marriage. Don’t be like the couple who divorced within a week of their marriage after discovering that one of them really wanted children whereas the other really didn’t.

Here comes the great big Indian FAMILY!

Once you’re married to your partner, you’re part of their family. In the Indian context, you’re also part of their extended family.
These people were never in your life before (at least not so obviously & assertively) up till now. Suddenly there are too many people entering the equation between you and your partner.

being marriedPhoto by jcoterhals

Your partner has expectations from you regarding how you treat their family (parents).

You have expectations from your partner regarding how he/she treats your family (parents).

Your family have expectations from your relationship with them in the new context. (Usually they’re disappointed with the decreased amount of attention
& time you’re giving them. Fortunately at least some of them are not vocal about it.)

Your family have expectations from your partner…

I’ll stop before you get terrified and leave this page. But that’s just the beginning of the complex network of expectations which suddenly come into play when a relationship between two souls suddenly multiplies itself into an equation among four parties!

Think about it. ;)

The best way to keep things under control is to set these multitudes of expectations right before marriage. If you’re going to live together, or spend significant amount of time with your partner’s extended family (read parents ;) ) after marriage, make sure you start meeting and spending time with them regularly well ahead of marriage. Use this period not only to get familiar with each other, but also to set each other’s expectations right. Nothing can be worse than you agreeing to certain norms, (say, to live together with them, permanently or temporarily) only to discover that it’s just not working, to the utter shock of you, your partner, and his or her family.

Now wait.

Those were only three of the six pillars of change I talked about – which happen between being in a relationship & being married.

Stay tuned for more causes of concern coming your way in the next few days. ;)
[Update: Read the 2nd part of the series here – Why Marriages and Relationships are like Apples and Oranges (Part 2) ]

In the meantime feel free to disagree strongly using the comments section. ;)

3 stupid mistakes to avoid if you want to impress your girlfriend

There’s this guy who bought a set of sexy lingerie for his girlfriend & a bicycle repair kit for his boss for Christmas and accidentally mixed them up in a moment of nervous excitement.

Trying to impress your girlfriend is commendable. However trying too hard might not always be in your best interest. Here are top 3 mistakes to avoid if you’re trying to impress your girlfriend.

Impress your girlfriendPhoto by christopher campbell design

Being a sweet little puppy

I know he’s the cutest thing she’s seen. I know your girlfriend would give her world for him. But would she want to choose him as her life partner – is the question you need to ask yourself before making him your role-model.

I’m talking about her white puddle. He obeys every word she says and conveys his blind allegiance through licking her fingers. I’ve already written about this – If you try to be like him thinking she’ll be all pleased with you for saying yes to everything and pretending to be a lady in waiting, you’re wrong. The one thing every girl despises is a guy with no spine. She’s judging you as potential husband material, not servant material! So avoid the dog-technique completely.

Getting too cozy too early

Impress your girlfriendPhoto by shaymaya

One more cardinal mistake is to try to get physical with her (in any form) at an early stage before she’s comfortable with it. This is a sure fire way of losing her trust. Unless you want to quickly get out of “the boyfriend zone” avoid this one.

“I’m the best!”

If you’re playing “who can bore her and irritate her in the shortest possible time” then go ahead with bragging in full force like many men do. Nothing puts a girl off more than an endless advertisement of yourself. Men who do that forget the simple fact that she knows what he is, and she likes him for what he is. Whatever he needs to keep announcing beyond that, is something she’ll not take seriously at best, and get disgusted with at worst.

What are some of the stupidest things you did to impress your girlfriend? Tell me by leaving a comment.

Are you expecting too much from your partner?

At some point of time or the other in your life, you have wondered whether you’re expecting too much from your partner. Motivational coach & speaker Craig Harper observes that often we make too much of our expectations, starting to believe them to be the moral standards others should adhere to. And through this we cause pain and heartbreak to none but ourselves, especially when it comes to our expectations from the person closest to our heart. Other people never hurt us through their actions – we hurt ourselves by comparing their actions to our expectations.

Am I expecting too muchPhoto by PBS PressRoom

A 3 step process…

If you look at your significant other, what do you see? Ask yourself – why did I fall in love with him (or her)? List down all the reasons. Also, list down all the flaws you see in them now – all the hurts they’ve caused you. As a next step, try to explain why you felt hurt by a certain action/behaviour.

But you’ve already listed down why you felt hurt – she was rude (or lied/didn’t help with the housework/didn’t give your family as much importance as you’d like/doesn’t share your political views/thinks your favourite game is crap….put whatever she/he does that puts you off…), that’s why. Right? Wrong.

Feeling anything is a three-step process, not a two-step one. I call it the Expectation-Action-Reaction, or the EAR framework in which humans experience emotions.

The EAR framework of human reactions

Here’s how it works.

Step #1: Expectation. The root of any positive or negative feeling is an outcome vis-à-vis our expectation. This is pre-existent in our mind, resulting of a complex blend of our beliefs, attitude, culture, background, conditioning…etc.
Step #2. Action. Something happens. Let’s say he/she behaves rudely with you.
Step #3. Reaction. You react according to the below formula:

Your reaction = Action – Expectation

Thus, your reaction is a function of both the action, and your expectation, and not the action alone. Also, as is clear from the formula, your reaction will be positive or negative depending upon the action, as compared to the expectation.

So should you stop expecting at all?

Am I expecting too muchPhoto by simone|cento

Now go back towards the start of this post. You’d listed down all the good attributes. So should you change your expectations from your partner? Should you not expect anything from them at all?

Craig, in his post, concludes, “the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour”. So his point is that the variable Expectation should basically be a moving average of all past Actions, and hence is likely to “follow” the variable Action. This would mean the difference, i.e. your Reaction remains close to zero. Perfect recipe for a peaceful life!

Only that, it’s not. I’m a diehard fan of Craig and his blog, (and I think he belongs to the oxymoronic species of honest motivational speakers) but I don’t quite agree with this last bit. Well, not completely.

The only way you can stop expecting anything from your partner is if your love dies. True, the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. True, if you have been hurt too many times too badly you have the right to protect yourself emotionally by limiting your own expectations. But as soon as you tell yourself, “she’s going to behave in x way always”, you limit all future possibilities for your relationship.

What’s the solution?

Remember you listed down all the reasons you fell in love with them? If you’ve followed my suggestions, by now you’ll also have all his/her Actions & your Expectations noted. Now look at them closely. Is there any correlation between your expectations and why you fell in love with them? You probably won’t find any.

Love your partner for who they are. Consciously remind yourself of the special person that you fell in love with. Stop projecting the “ideal them” (according to you) on to the “real them”. Tell yourself, “I love Jane (or John) for their qualities x, y & z which are unique. And I don’t blame them for not possessing qualities a,b &c, ‘cause they are not as important as the uniqueness of my spouse/partner for which I love them. I will continue to love them for their unique qualities x, y & z and that’s all I’m concentrating on.” Consciously leave all expectations aside. Be prepared for them to continue to behave in the way the’ve always behaved, but keep an open mind for the future. Concentrate on why they make your life special, and leave aside what they don’t give you (as yet).

You’ll find more often than not, you’ll start living the change you want to see.

How to propose a girl who’s your classmate: Top 5 ways

In some earlier posts I had some great fun discussing many quirky aspects of how to propose a girl – here, here & here. Many of you have been requesting more articles on similar topics, so I thought we’ll look more closely at how to propose your classmate, since after all, this is the most common scenario for Indians trying to propose a girl. Let’s get started with the top 5 ways ranging from sweet to whacky…

#1. The good old letter between the pages

This is the classic vintage way of proposing a girl who’s your classmate in school/college/university (and super romantic too). Get hold of one of her books/copies and insert your heart in! ;) Did I say heart? I meant heart melted into a few (or five thousand if you can’t control it :P) words on a sheet of scented paper. A quaint little love letter often finds it easier to charm its way into a girl’s heart. You can find tips on how to write a love letter here.

How to propose a girl who's your classmate - love letterPhoto by Angelica Miller

#2. The good old go-to friend

If you’re one of the shy types, get a friend who’s a good-storyteller to do it for you. It’s best if you can convince a friend of hers to do it, ‘cause he/she would already have her trust and hence you’ll have more chances of success. ;)

#3. For those of you who think they’re Shah Rukh Khan…

…In the 90’s – you can declare it to the whole world, the earth, the Nature, God (…also your professors ;) ) by doing it on the stage. Wait for a college/university event, manage to bag some coordinating responsibility, and when you catch hold of the mic – tell her that you love her. A word of caution: How ever daring or confident you might feel, don’t propose on the stage in a gathering of more than 50-60 people (you’ll regret it).

How to propose a girl who's your classmate - Rock StarPhoto by von_brandis

#4. Get her hooked with some mystery

Put a very serious looking notice on the noticeboard saying something like, “the following five students have been called at such an such hour to such an such office.” Include her name, of course. Inform the other four students of your plan beforehand. Her heart will be racing with apprehensions about getting some sort of bad news from the school/college authorities … and you’ll be present at the designated place & time to give her the best news of her life (according to you ;)).

#5. Public yet private proposal

Reach your next classroom before anyone else. Write one of those cheeky “John + Jane = bliss” messages on the blackboard, big enough for everyone to see. Don’t be afraid to get creative/humorous (but avoid being suggestive or risqué, it’s a classroom!). When everyone sees it and starts laughing vehemently claim it was done by someone else to tease you. Later message her saying you did it yourself. This is great way to propose a girl if you want to start it off with good humour!

#6. Is there a #6?

Have you ever had a crush on a classmate?
Did you propose a girl who’s your classmate?
Are you currently in a relationship with/married to your erstwhile classmate?
I’m eager to know your story of how you proposed to a girl who’s your classmate. Please share it by leaving a comment.