Saturday, January 29, 2011

Light-hearted marriage tips

In celebration of completing two years of happily married life, we are planning a weekend away starting tomorrow (ie. today!). We are going to Tezpur, where we hope to have a 'rest cure' in fast forward with Drs. Deepak and Ashita Singh, Koshy and Lydia George and their wonderful children. If we are rested enough by day 1, we hope to make some new friends (of the animal variety) at the Kaziranga national park, not far from Tezpur. And make it back in time for work on Monday morning. Looks like it will be a thoroughly restful weekend! In view of the long drive ahead tomorrow, I have been given strict instructions to sleep early. Fortunately, as Amy is on duty in the hospital, I can stretch the terms of my sentence a little bit to write this! And reflect a little on the wonderful time we have had over the last 2 years here in Shillong.

I will leave the majority of my 'reflections' for a more detailed post (yet another of those promised posts that may never actually turn up on the blog!!), but in keeping with the lighter theme proposed by some of you, I will put down a few insights I have gleaned after 2 years of the marriage experiment.

A COUPLE THAT PRAYS TOGETHER STAYS TOGETHER: Family prayer was an important part of the day in both our houses over our childhood years. So we assumed that this would be an easy routine we could slip into. But there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip and in our case the slip has been our diametrically opposite biological clocks! While Amy is fresh as a daisy from 6 or earlier in the morning (I am not too sure of the exact time for reasons that will soon be made clear), I continue to follow the old routine established in my Men's Hostel days, when the time to get out (or rather, jump out!) of bed was on hearing the horn of the bus that would take us to the hospital. Gathering all essential items in hand, a quick leap from the balcony to the ground would get me to the bus just as it pulled out. Then there were 2-3 minutes to hastily throw on the remaining items of clothing before the bus reached the women's hostel. I must say (with some pride) that the routine had a 100% success rate for me. Not so for one of my friends. This poor soul (attempting to follow the same routine one day), realised to his dismay just as the bus neared the dreaded Paradise Lost (Women's Hostel, which some high-thinking feminine spirit had decided to christen Paradise on Earth!) that he had left his shirt behind. A frantic call to the driver later, he was making the lonely walk back to the hostel clad in his white singlet vest!

But, as usual, I digress. It seems that 5 years in Men's Hostel (or Mansion of the Gods as some equally high thinking masculine spirit had named it) were enough to override 18 years of strict 9 pm bedtimes that I had grown up with and the (bad)habit stuck. So when Amy has her quiet time in the morning, I am also very quiet - only a bleep (pager) could wake me! And similarly, when my mind begins to shake of its lethargy at around 11 pm, Amy is already keeping an appointment in the kingdom of dreams. So prayer when we woke up or went to sleep was out of the question.

Over the last 2 years, we have made numerous experiments with different times for family prayer. At breakfast seemed good, but always ended up being an extremely rushed affair, as yours truly persisted in emerging from the covers at the last possible moment. At dinner, worked for some time, till the work became busy and I began to come home to find Amy already keeping the afore-mentioned appointment. We even tried getting together at lunch, but being a surgeon makes for extremely irregular lunch breaks, so that was a short-lived experiment. We finally reverted back to the morning, just before breakfast. Of course, this is still a work in progress and there are still major issues to work out especially the one where one participant falls asleep during proceedings. But we are getting there and I believe (and hope!) that God understands our weaknesses. But the point is that thanks to both of us having a faith of our own, our marriage has become yet another expression of that faith - where God is at the centre of all our actions and decisions. And this I believe is the key to a happy marriage

LEARNING THE MOST IMPORTANT WORD IN MARRIAGE: All you married couples out there know what it is. 5 letters that make everything alright (for the most part!). Sorry. (A disclaimer here - Amy and me never fight, we only have intense moments of fellowship every now and again!) Very early I learned that I have an important choice to make in every 'intense moment of fellowship' - does Arpit want to be right, or does Arpit want to be happy! Once I make the right decision, everything moves swimmingly! Of course, with my slightly (some say hugely!) eccentric bent of mind, it is an amazing thing that Amy actually puts up with all I throw at her. I remember the time when I was convinced that starting a KFC joint in Shillong was not only a perfectly workable idea but also the best way to make the money that was required to run the many poor-targeted projects that I often dream off! And that was probably one of the least hare-brained of my wild schemes (of which I will say no more, for fear of irredeemable embarrassment!). Amy, being the stable and sincere person that she is, makes extreme adjustments for this streak of craziness, but I must admit there are times when even her boundless patience is severely tried! And sorry is the best way to make things right. Not just lip-service, but a heartfelt apology. It's a time-tested (over 2 years and counting) success story!

TAKE TIME TO MAKE TIME, FOCUSSED TIME: Having been a bachelor for more than 30 years, I had gotten used to my personal mind space. Blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it), with a vivid (and wild) imagination and prone to Walter Mitty style flights of fancy, it was (and is) a learning experience for me to understand that my mind space is no longer solely my own. It is easy to spend time with Amy if that just means that she is in the same room. It is not so easy to spend time where my whole mind is focussed on what she is saying or what we are doing together. Of course, Amy, being the astute person that she is, is quick to notice when my mind wanders off into its whimsical reveries. And so far, she merely draws me back into reality with a smile, though I know I am pushing my luck. Given our busy schedule (and our diurnal variations!), we hardly get to spend an hour or so a day together, often less. In those times, I have realised that the best thing I can do is devote my time completely to her. Not having a TV helps, as does posting the blog after she sleeps. Going on weekend getaways is another step with this goal in mind. Of course, once God throws children into the mix, we will have to make a greater effort to find focussed time for each other, but this is another lesson these 2 years of marriage have taught me. Spending time with Amy means actually not doing anything else, outwardly or inwardly. (A variation on this theme is the six-second kiss)

The creative juice is all but spent and the tired mind does not help! So that's all for today. Hopefully someday, there will be a part 2. For all you married folk, I'm sure you know all this like the back of your hand. For all you unmarried ones, get married! I certainly recommend it!! Especially if you find a spouse like Amy!!


  1. Hi Arpit and Amy!! Happy wedding anniversary- could relate to every aspect you discussed here!Have a great weekend!
    Binila and Abhay

  2. That was a beautiful and witty take on married life after 2 years! Yes, children do change the equation somewhat. With 2 teenagers in the house we find time alone does get cramped! Let me share one way we have coped. We both read the daily reading from the website together and study it when we have the time. (Excellent resource, by the way). Else, we just read it by ourselves and discuss it any time we find. Works for us!

  3. Beautifully said, friends.

    All begins with God and is in God.

    With that as your core, so many other things become minor - and can be overcome.

    Blessed wedding anniversary to you and many more to come!

    Dr. Max

  4. Happy Anniversary you guys! I heard from my Dad and uncle about your unique and beautiful wedding ceremony. You should write a post on it!

    I agree with all that you said on marriage. And yes, a child does tilt the equations! Ash and I struggle with finding time to pray together. I leave for work before he wakes up and he gets back home just as I am ready to hit the bed. Weekends work best for us!

  5. Thanks everyone! Actually our anniversary was a few weeks ago, but work prevented us from taking the holiday (and doing the reflection!) then. It is good to know that all of you who are well ahead of us on the marriage road think similarly - so I haven't gone too wrong in my assessments! And I found that Dr. Max Vogt is actually a well-known marriage counsellor! Thanks again to all for the comments and the wishes!