Love makes the world go round. Cliché? We know! But once you’ve lived as long as we have falling over and over again in the same warm embrace, the saying takes up a whole new meaning. Somehow both your hearts throb to the same beat after 26 years of marriage filled with happiness, commitment, sacrifices and loyalty. Marriage to us means much more than choosing each other every single morning and raising a wonderful family together.
Love is deliberate! It is not enough to say we love each other, we work on it the way you would a garden, consciously with patience and feeding it what it requires.
A Market researcher and a Mechanical Technologist, who would have thought? If someone told us 30 years ago that this is the life we would build together we would have laughed at the idea. Two crazy young adults eager to soak up the future only had one thing they were sure of each other and that was each other. We put our money on each other and as much as we’re still learning and growing, we can confidently say it was the right choice.
From how many of us were raised, family issues are meant to be kept private while we present a united front to the world. This strategy has clearly not worked for many couples who surprise the world with divorce papers a little way down the road. We are lucky to have connected with what our mission on earth is and that is to debunk the myth that happy couples were perfectly made for each other and have no flaws and fights.
We hope that in opening ourselves and what has worked for us, we are able to debunk that myth and inspire more couples to create lasting and healthier passion driven marriages. We have had the profound privilege of meeting and impacting over a hundred couples stretching out the sum of our relationship retreats and seminars around the world.
One of the biggest lessons we have learnt in our years together is never to give up. Hard to imagine but this dynamic duo hasn’t always been a bed of roses for either of us. It has taken work but it has been worth every sweat broken. Far too many couples throw in the towel prematurely only to repeat the same dysfunctional patterns that got them there on someone else. Don’t throw away a relationship because you’ve hit a rough patch. Trust and commitment deepen as you travel through storms together.
Listen. Don’t just listen to talk, but actually listen. Roll your partner’s words inside your head and internalize them how you would fine wine in your mouth.
One thing we learned in our tumultuous months earlier in the year is to communicate and be willing to listen. Relationships get rough and our egos sometimes come in between with the notion that one of us has to win when in reality, talking is not an admission of failure. Far from it actually. Because we were able to talk out our differences and allow our vulnerabilities to shine through, we were able to get through to each other. More relationships die from silence than violence.
Marriage is two people from completely different backgrounds coming together to build a home together. First things first, remove the idea that it is perfect. Perfection only exists in Hollywood. You have to take into account that everyone grows up differently and has a different set of norms hammered into them from birth, so it is not rare to find different sets of childhood traumas and wounds hovering around your partner.
Healing unresolved childhood wounds is difficult enough without having to be accountable to a partner. Traits from these wounds creep up subconsciously and have the ability to destroy. For us, these wounds have crept up in our communication patterns and our triggers for anger and it has been enlightening to pinpoint them and consciously work on them.
For one, Rick came from a childhood of instruction-based communication where he would hide in the face of conflict. Shashi on the other hand came from a very reactive household where everyone had an opinion and everyone wanted to blame the other and win. Where Rick felt attacked and always rolled into his hiding shell during confrontations, I would feel ignored. It took some time and a seminar with Tony Robins for us to actually realize what was happening and make a conscious effort to restructure our communication to be healthier.
Relationships work when the partners choose open and heartfelt communication over hostile and attacking communication. Go to your vulnerable place when talking to your partner. Our tongues have power to create or destroy and whatever energy we put out into the world always comes back to us.
Pick your Battles
Just like life, relationships are a series of peaks and valleys, the secret is to keep the valleys from becoming Grand Canyons. Relationships go through many ups and downs and you can imagine how much potential build up almost thirty years together can have. Not all problems are worth a fight.
When you love someone you care more about keeping the peace, unless absolutely necessary. The moment we learnt to detach ourselves from the kind of situations where you’re not always agreeing, it was a huge, positive shift.
On top of that, another secret we’ve found to sustaining a happy and healthy marriage all these years is to fight the problem, not each other. The real magic happens when we let our walls down.
When the fight start swaying more towards taking personal jabs towards each other, that’s when we take a time out. While many people advise couples not to go to bed angry at each other, we believe space is necessary to avoid saying things we can’t take back in the heat of the moment.
You can’t Pour from an Empty Cup
Self-love and self-care are fundamental for any strong partnership and marriage. If your self-love cup is filled to the brim, it is easier to love someone else and share some of that magical love with them as your well never runs dry.
When you love yourself wholly, you can be happy with yourself and don’t necessarily need someone else to pump your happiness and as ironic as it sounds, that’s one of the building blocks of any successful marriage and relationship.