Relationship advice from real couples that'll help you navigate married life
The I Dos and Don’ts of making it through the tough times
My colleague’s parents are real-life #couplegoals. They’ve been married for over 40 years now. Every picture she shows me captures a husband and wife madly in love and cute as mini cupcakes. While their mutual adoration and charm trigger her gag reflex, I’ve been asking her to prod them for relationship advice — and how they’ve kept the spark (and each other) alive, through the ups and down of married life.
Everyone, from grandparents to those newlywed friends posting cutesy pictures on Instagram will attest to the fact that marriage is hard work. Being married, you learn a thing or two about how to get through the ups and downs, and how to stay in love while not entirely liking the person you’re with at times.
It takes empathy, savvy, transparency and patience, especially during the dark moments. Some couples keep it light-hearted using humour to ride the wave. Others take time apart to understand each other’s position better.
Even the happiest of marriages aren’t happy all the time – you leave room for disagreements, are fluid with your approach and need to actively recognise harmful habits and work at cutting them out.
We asked our Tweak family for the poignant relationship advice that has tided them over during tough times. The I Dos and Don’ts of making relationships work have some commonalities. But it’s also apparent that a happy marriage has no strict rules, more like guidelines that can help us better understand our spouse — and that flexibility is key to maintaining ever-evolving relationships.
Relationship advice 101: You’re both humans and fallible
You married a human being and not a universally perfect golden retriever. Everyone has positives and negatives, and expecting someone to change completely is unrealistic, and unfair. You’re allowed to have an independent life, your individual likes and dislikes – “You may be partners but you’re also your own person,” says Sneha Menon Desai.
We need to be able to accept each other’s mistakes as equally as we could our triumphs. Get to know who your partner is, let them thrive and grow as a person. What Ruchi P was advised is, “Remember your spouse is human too. Never let ego outshine compassion.”
“I had an arranged marriage, we were from different cities, and I barely got to meet my husband during our courtship period. Had adjustment issues at the start of our marriage since the cultures were very different, our personalities were different. Not just adjusting to him but also to a new family. These teething problems always exist, whether it’s a love marriage or an arranged marriage.
There were many things I didn’t like about my husband, many things he didn’t like about me, which lead to fights, but then I realised I had to become friends with him, first. I had to make him trust me for him to know that my intentions were only for his betterment and I was not being a nagging wife. The advice that I got was very cliched but it worked – in any new relationship you have to hang in there and give the other person a chance to improve, work on themselves and the relationship. The person won’t be able to change overnight, no one can, no one will,” says Riya Khanna.
Says Khanna, “The more of a friend I became to him, the more our relationship improved. It was also about us understanding the little things that we both expected from each other. What helped me was finding a job and a purpose in this new city. Yes our partners are very important to us, and we must do our best to make them happy but we must continue to work on ourselves.”
Communication is key, never go to bed angry
“Never go to bed fighting. Like never, ever ever. Even if it’s 2 am, we yell it out or talk it over or put it on pause for an hour and then continue. But we’ve never done the whole sleeping in separate rooms. Or carrying forward a fight for the next three days. It’s not about who says sorry first if we don’t agree about something — we don’t agree for the sake of it. We really try to make the other person understand. Otherwise, we call it quits and then talk about it over dinner with lots of wine,” says Gayatri Chandra
Varun Chhabria got his best relationship advice from an old Kiwi man while on his honeymoon. The couple got talking with the gentleman on a boat from Auckland.
“The only thing I’ve been told is that in every relationship there are ups and downs and it’s healthy to fight. But the most important thing I learned is to never stop communicating no matter what we may be fighting about. When he learnt that we are newly married and on our honeymoon, he told us this and said he’s telling us this from personal experience.”
Priyanka Malik and Anu support the communication is key philosophy. Whether it’s taking criticism, learning to say no when needed or agreeing to do things differently. Communication is a two-way street. No matter how bad the fight has been throughout the day, talk it out before your head hits the pillow, say Lysandra D’Silva and Sathyavathi Karthik. Letting things fester is like a slow-burning flame that eventually turns into bitterness and eats you up on the inside.
“Make a pact to never go to bed without resolving the issue at hand. And that everyone messes up at some point, so don’t judge harshly what your partner has done before (within reason, obviously — this isn’t meant to condone serious misdemeanours) but rather focus on what they do after you meet,” adds Kashish Parpiani.
In the heat of the moment – take a breath and stay calm
“Don’t disrespect each other. I’m not saying be submissive but don’t be a douche to your spouse just because you’re angry. It’s tougher to work through the rough patch, but it only makes you closer.” The advice Gayatri Chandra was given is something we can all agree with. We need to pick our battles. “You don’t have to respond to your partner’s under-the-breath comment every single time. Just let that shit go. Once the fight is resolved, make sure you wear something really nice to bed.”
We’ve all said some pretty horrible things to people that we regret. Unfortunately, once it’s said you can’t take it back. When our emotions get the better of us it doesn’t just make us say mean things — it blocks our brain from accepting anything the other person is saying.
Surabhi Dhodapkar was told to try putting herself in her partner’s shoes while talking to them. It sounds cliche but it does help understand where the other person is coming from. “Take time to respond when in an argument… cooling down will give you an alternate perspective,” says Sonali SD.
Anger and aggression achieve little worth having. A tit-for-tat mindset rarely gets us anywhere beyond school playground drama. You’re building your life with this person and the last thing you want is to start keeping score. Like Tanvi Karnik Mehta says, “See the bigger picture. Is this going to matter after a few years?”
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