Frankly speaking, in my experience, my parents’ marriage was a weird roller coaster ride for me and certainly for my parents themselves. I often wondered why they continued to stay with each other. What I remember of their married life is alternating episodes of grievances and fights followed by comparative calm when they just settled down and got used to each other again. As a child and later as a teenager, with my idyllic ideas of romance and love, I never realized that this is probably the norm for many marriages.
At the time, as much as I tried to reason it out, I couldn’t understand what kept them together. They were married for four years before I was born, quite sufficient time in my book to figure out whether they were compatible or not. Coming from a traditional background, where the beliefs of Hinduism frowned upon husband-wife separation might have made them rule out divorce for a long time, but they both had friends who had gone through the same, so it was not like the idea was taboo.
Despite the domestic mess, I think ultimately, they stayed together out of deep care and concern for me. Not only in terms of the inquietude they might have felt about exposing me to a variety of influences by virtue of cutting their time with me in half, but also because they wanted to put my wellbeing ahead of any discomfort they were going through. Despite all their difficulties, they never wanted to put me to even the slightest disadvantage by splitting up. And it is that feeling of concern that I have come to look upon with a sense of respect and gratitude.
But perhaps the most significant thing about my parents’ relationship was that neither of them even once attempted to rope me into their “camp” and set me up against the other. That is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned from my parents’ marriage. No matter what issues you might have with someone, you don’t attempt to mess with that person’s relationship with a third individual. They did not see me as a tool and respected my existence as an individual with her own emotions and relationships. Despite their differences, they did their best to provide a loving atmosphere for me to grow up in. I think that single factor alone made a huge difference in my childhood years. Even the experts agree that the right atmosphere in parenting tips all else in the balance.
I think for them, the family’s needs were much more important than their own personal happiness. Their disputes did finally abate towards the end, but for the most part, their relationship remained a wobbly vehicle. Despite this, they never thought of breaking up because that would have meant giving up on the family. Keeping the family together was something so valuable to them that it outweighed any personal considerations.
When I look at myself, I don’t think I am perfect, but I can see that I generally turned out pretty well-rounded and balanced. There are many positive things my parents did for me growing up that I can’t even articulate. But even something that was a bitter experience for me growing up, when I look back on it from a wider perspective, I realize there were many deeper insights that I had missed.
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