Death of a relationship

BY SANTOSHI JAIN

marriage

Helen of Troy had a face that launched a 1000 ships. Menelaus, her husband, a central figure in the Trojan war, didn’t understand her and she spent enough time with Paris, best known for his elopement with her, and directly causing the Trojan War. All this only to realize – all glory no guts.
Arthur Miller, best known for writing the screenplay of Death of a Salesman, invented sexting by writing his then to be wife, Marilyn Monroe, a racy letter months before their impending marriage.. Final destination?  Divorce.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton kept running to and fro each other’s arms.  They’d get married and the “D” word would happen..  Must have kept their lawyers busy and dizzy all at the same time, let alone us poor readers..

Lesson learned – Marriage is the Death of a Relationship

A beau knows it’s not safe to walk out of the loo with the toilet seat raised up. But give him a couple days after he gets married.  The toilet seat is in a perpetual position of exposing its business in full view.  A belle dolls up till the day she gets married.  The advent of the frumpy nightie or for the westerners amongst us, the plaid pjs, and oiled hair with glasses or equally, the mask and the cucumbers that could only be defined as makeup prep for halloween, then makes the foray.  The smell of roasted garlic in mustard oil with methi leaves apparently is a perfect embodiment to encompass the scent of this woman.

Oh, the beau isn’t far behind.  His fingers will perpetually smell of raw onion and freshly oozed sneeze, if not worse (lord help me).

But sex is convenient and the baby happens.  Baby sleeps in the middle and has 2 distinct P sessions.  Pee & Poop and just for good measure, introduces a third, Puke.  Whatever romance was left in the darkness of the night and the painful struggle of a long day has now been flushed down the toilet which has its seat up in beautiful view.

But homosexuals have mostly cracked the code at this marriage thingamajig.  Why else do you think gay couples roam around all happy? The toilet seat is always perpetually up or down depending.  The raw onion and sautéed garlic make a happy harmonious blend in with pheromones with an organic call out to nature.

The heterosexuals haven’t yet figured it out though.  They are cursed by Huffington Post doing rounds of “toxic marriages”.  One of the reasons quoted (and sometimes used as clickbait) is:   “You can’t remember the last time you were really happy in your marriage”

Well paint me green and color me insensitive, but have you seen the service tax we pay on F&B at restaurants?  Not to mention the mandatory service charge. Of course the beau uses his depraved brains and wants to get some more wads of cash out for the pretty young waitress.  While the belle fumes over how a conversation-less meal should have stipulated costs especially when she’s on the wrong day of the cycle and of course the food was completely unappealing!

Another reason quoted is: (another clickbait)  “Your interactions with your spouse have turned downright mean”

Like helllllooooooo! The British may have defined the “divide and rule” method of politics but the beau never really wrapped his little head around division of labor.  The labor pains: hers, the labor of rearing: hers, the labor of rearing him: *also* hers.  While he’s caught wondering where is my fun-spirited girl who’d enjoy doing nothing but chatting and watching movies and bowling and all those fun things has disappeared, she has at some point in the exchange of I do’s, decided that she’d turn from his fun girlfriend to his mother from another mother.  And what do you get with shifting of roles?  The choicest of hurling abuses interesting enough to contribute heavily to the Urban Dictionary.  I’m sure though that was the beau’s idea. Her idea would have been to charge royalty.  Last I checked its still free so I guess she quit on him and never forayed into that space 😉

And then we move down onto: (clickbait hell)  “You fantasize constantly about leaving your husband”

Let’s blame the media for this one too!  The mirror ain’t our best friend and with Megan Fox and Channing Tatum taking over screen space, of course, the eyes do wander and wonder.  I’d like to ask Jenna Dewan Tatum about Channing’s “aim and shoot” ranges vis a vis the argument of having a urinal at home so the toilet is left clean.. And Megan Fox has walked out and all on over Brian Austin Green still parading around the streets with his wedding ring on despite the D-ivorce word shining bright like Miley Cyrus at the VMA’s this year.  I’m guessing he isn’t too good on following instructions as is with his species.  Of course that would upset Fox who has given up believing in “Transformers”.

It really gets my goat this one:  (click .. ohh you get the drift)  “Your spouse finds fault with everything you say or do”

When’s the last time you’ve known a woman who gives *space* to the man in her life?  Why would anyone be in a relationship if they needed *space*? The very definition of *space* leaves no room for “coupling”!
And what’s with the “I have a headache”?

How do you go through school, graduate college, work for a living with such poor communication skills that Tylenol /Panadol/Ibuprofen/<insert your name of drug or equivalent generic here>  ends up making money off of ur inadequate ways of conveying a message?  Often in a young family, I find the 0.1 year old more mature than the two people who have been given licenses to vote.  No wonder the political climate of a country is the way it is.. Look at the kind folk who chose ’em 😉

Lastly we have the  (cl…. I don’t have the energy anymore) “You find yourself sad, crying all the time, or much more than usual”

Thank God we are finally OK with men crying.  I enjoy making the beau cry.  I have a little of the Christian Gray spirit I guess in me but the breakdown in tears melts my cold cold heart and gives me material to blackmail him with in front of his friends.  And God forbid I cry.  The beau is rendered defenceless.  He has no clue whether to call my mom (and get whooped), or call his mom (and get questioned about semantics), or attempt at poking the bear (moi) and dying a ghastly death.

Moral of the story – Marriage is the death of a relationship.  

It should be mandatory to sign a prenup that reads a one and only lonely blanket statement.  Get wedded at your own risk.  All of the expensive divorces like the rumored Roshan one, the nasty ones like the Cruise one and just to keep it all real, the Rakhi Sawant-Abhishek Awasthi potboiler for good measure should be made compulsory to research and watch and read about.  Notes should be taken and maintained on how to avoid similar pitfalls.  Like Aniston should’ve just dialled up the crazy and had Pitt’s blood in a vial around her neck to save her from impending D-oom.

How else do you explain Vanessa Paradis and Johnny Depp surviving celebhood and sticking it together for 17 years?  They evaded this marriage route entirely.  Mark my words, in my lifetime they will pull a Burton and Taylor again.  They have to.  I am a complete romantic at heart after all.  I have the faith.

Even the Indian Supreme court got out a ruling earlier this year.. People who cohabitate without officiating their union earn the same benefits post fatality of the partner.. Who are we mere minions under the law of the land to refute that?  What makes the whole nine yards appealing anymore?  I’m sure Modi and his name woven suits are enough to sustain the economy that weddings in our country generate 😉

Que se ra se ra is alright for the french.. But if we’ve adopted their kissing style shouldn’t we adopt their ways of relationships entirely?  Isn’t it fun to read about Bruni and Sarkozy unlike Hillary & Bill?
Even in the movie Hitch, dude only shows you how to get the object of your affections.  Beyond that even God couldn’t save you.

Yours in reality,
The Relationship Gourmand

Disclaimer – This article was not remunerated by Kohler for their ad on the launch of Veil.  Despite that, we thank them for small mercies on a toilet seat that is in fact more intuitive than the beau.

About the author:

Pour oil into fire only to pour water into the fire. Santoshi is the igniter and the extinguisher. Womanhood, nay peoplehood is her playground, and the sinister mind, her weapon of choice.  Through the flowing, dripping, oozing coloured oily liquid that was once known as ink she explores and meanders for the semi conscious mind from the shallows of the depth that is loosely termed as humanity.

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What happens to friendships after baby ?

It was Friendship Day recently and although I am not the kind of person who subscribes to such things, I found myself thinking about and examining my friendships after baby, since that’s what my life stage is right now, and feeling grateful for the ones I have still managed to hold on to.

Friendships after baby

Dawn tea on Kovalam beach

What we perhaps give very little credit to is the rites of passage in friendship: Your politics. Your feminism. Your taste in books, cinema, people. Other friends. Bad boyfriends. Good boyfriends. Marriage. Babies. Friends after babies. Social media behavior.

Although it’s not on the top of the list, marriage does get a bad name for ruining many friendships. Various friendship tests had to be passed in ours and he had to be voted either ‘really nice’ or ‘really fun’ by my friends. Somehow, the husband managed one or both. As for his, all you had to do was pretend you liked football and tequila shots, hug like you’re long-lost buddies who’ve met after years, and you passed muster.

Friendships after baby

Having a child changes the ecosystem of your life in several ways; friendship is perhaps one of the things that is often affected. Pre-baby friendships usually suffer during the transition, but the ones that hang in there are the ones to hold on to. When you are single and snazzy, kids are usually fun as long as they are someone else’s. At least I used to have an immense capacity (and resilience) to bond with children of my friends of assorted ages and sizes. I don’t know why. May be it had something to do with the fact that people then seldom talked about their children like they do now, so they were always what I made of them. And that always gave me a fresh slate to work on.

Now I am in a situation where I either have to be friends with mothers whose children are friends with Re, or just hope that he will like some of my friends’ children. The latter is much easier, as the children in question are much older, so have less turf issues. But for the most part, I am stuck with mothers who can’t stop beaming at the fact that their children know continents or can read at six and other such, but who never bat an eyelid when the said child is being unduly aggressive, rude, petty or unkind towards your child. Along with selective hearing, they seem to have developed selective vision. On one play date, I pointed out to a mother (who I also like) about the incessant bullying of her son towards Re. She stared at me vacantly. It was not the first time, and I am sure it won’t be the last. In this age of ‘likes’ and popularity contests, kindness is not a virtue that seems to have much equity.

I do hope Re goes on to have more friends and I hope they are kind and loving, but for now, it seems to be in short supply. I explained my dilemma to a single friend, hoping she would understand. She threw me completely by saying that there is something is wrong with bringing up sanitized children. And that eventually they will all even out. But even as a teacher to adolescents, I saw that they don’t. Behavior goes deeper than phonics. I wish we focused on that in kindergarten.

I hope I am wrong, but I think my ability to wing motherhood so late in my life also alienated some of my friends. It was like I caught a bus they were hoping to be on, or that I betrayed the sisterhood and I felt punished for doing that. The optimist in me, who doesn’t like to give up, most of all on friendships, kept trying. Many texts and emails later, I came to terms with it, but I still haven’t had closure. I wish there was a way to do friendship breakups formally.

As Re grew up, I was, of course, concerned that he find (and keep) a few good friends. Somehow the rolling stone that is a tenant’s life in Bombay made it difficult to keep an address (or a friend) for a long time. But the Gemini side of me acted breezy and said, so what? He can always make new ones. And he did. But when I ask him for a wish list every year on his birthday of the people he wants to have over, I find new people in it, and I miss the old ones. But then, I don’t know what is happening in his mind, do I? Somehow I felt responsible for not giving him a permanent address (read ‘permanent’ friends), but then, I consoled myself that he had a shot at making new friends so often, something that I never did.

I don’t ‘add’ friends easily in the manner of Facebook, but I do get drawn to newness, and somehow a new friend makes me indulge in a friendship courtship dance I often miss, and therefore find myself giving into. Some of my old friends understand this, and understand that it makes me, me. But some don’t and begrudge it. I know we need to clear clutter as we go on, and there are some things not worth holding on to, but I will always have a soft spot for the friends who dumped me unceremoniously. In the end, I guess the friends that are worth holding on to will stay either way.

Fertility politics and other horror stories

Pregnancy is not always cute. Not to everyone. Because the one thing a pregnant woman reminds you of, in an in-your-face sort of way, is that she is pregnant and you are not. Or that she is married (for the purpose of convenience, I haven’t included pregnancies out of wedlock) and you are not. Or she is fertile and you are not. Or she is having sex and you are not. Or she’s in for the long haul and you are not. Or she is simply ready and you are not.
Unlike marriage, boyfriends, affairs or relationships, which can be camouflaged and on which information can be shared only on a need-to-know basis, pregnancy is out there and very public. On one hand, it makes things look bright and beautiful (at least to the couple involved). But it also changes the dynamics of relationships – at work, among friends, in your social circle, in the family – sometimes resulting in turbulence.

If you have a full-time job, you’ll be spending at least a third of your day at work. A pregnant woman with her belly prop somewhat rocks the oestrogen atmosphere in the space  around her. When I got pregnant, it was almost like I had betrayed the rest of my ilk at work and would no longer be synchronised with their biological cycles.
It was official. I didn’t belong. I was an outcast. I ate too much, peed too much, tired too easily, sat too much, felt sleepy a lot, yawned too much, and smiled a lot. No one told me any gossip anymore, hardly anyone bitched to me, no one asked me if I wanted to ‘hang out’ after work. People tend to think you are too zoned out to want any of this when you are pregnant.
Most other mommies at work pretended they didn’t remember what it was to be pregnant (if they had a baby three or more years ago). They looked at me like I was part of some lofty science experiment. It’s like smug-marrieds totally forgetting what it was like to be single.
On the other hand, to single women, I was a reality check. Is this what it will come to? Can they see themselves doing this? Or does it totally scare the shit out of them?

(An excerpt from my book “I’m Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot!“)

Friends after baby

A funny thing happens to your friendship ecosystem when you have a baby. There is a huge chemical shift, almost creating an imbalance of sorts, like electrons running amok in an sp2 orbital (those of you who don’t get science, look it up). Or read this.
 As if marriage wasn’t bad enough for friendship. Various friendship tests had to be passed in ours (with my friends mostly, since I am the one who has more history with friends) and he had to be voted either ‘really nice’ or ‘really fun’. Somehow, the husband managed one or both. As for his, the friends were as old as the last clubbing night, and all you had to do was cheer Man U , hug like you’re long-lost buddies who’ve met after years, think costume parties are cool and you passed muster.
For the first two years in our marriage, we were doing fine, and had a roaring social life, despite the disparity in our friends (mine did books, his did shots).
And then the baby happened. Things changed.
Single women suddenly flew off the radar (there are exceptions and you know who you are). I don’t know if it was because we were no longer set-up potential, i.e. we were more likely to know married people with babies, and not necessarily single men so what was the point? Or whether we were in-your-face reminders of how they would like their life to be extrapolated. Or we drew attention to their tick-tock biological clock? Or that they were so used to not having conversation that it was suddenly too tedious? (when you have a baby, you tend to go to places where you can be heard). Or that no matter how hard you tried, they always slotted you as smug-married?
The married-with-no-kids were too busy trying to get pregnant, or trying not to. Or pretending they had the cooler life and didn’t really care about their clocks.
Single men took a deeper interest in you. (Get it, biaatches? If only you had stuck around!). They wonder if this would be their life if they had met women who were interested in their wombs. Also, a child is good arm candy for a single guy.  Good with kids = good marriage potential, and so his equity in the market soars up. I have had so many single guys taking to my baby that I am seriously considering them for baby-sitting on a rainy day. And unlike single women, single men are not ashamed to acknowledge their clock.
New male friends are not welcome by the husband, unless they are spectacularly ugly, really short, love Man U or are gaming buffs. Gay best friend is no longer an option as the husband is homophobic.
You almost wonder. Where have all our friends gone?
And then you realise, you have a bunch of new ones. The married-with-kids. The We- are-as-fucked-as-you are couples. These sooner or later gravitated towards you, whatever your history with them.
Now this is where the power struggle among couples begins.
Two men. Two women. A baby or two. Plenty of dynamics.
You like him, she doesn’t like you. Or you like her, he doesn’t like him.  Or he likes him, but he doesn’t like her. Or you both like them equally, but the babies don’t get along. Or you like them both and the babies like each other, but they live in a different city.
There are other types:
  • Friends who are so working so hard on weekdays that they just want to sack on weekends. Or get trashed with other singletons (somehow a baby seems to demand a code of conduct most people are not willing to put work into)
  • Friends who are looking for that job with the perfect work-life balance.  I read somewhere that it means both your work and your life are equally fucked.
  • Friends who are always “wanting to ask you over”, but don’t, for some strange reason.
  • Friends who say, drop in anytime, but never say when.
  • Friends who forget to reply to emails or messages or (sic!) wall posts. Or ask for a raincheck!
  • I don’t want to get into the hothouse for friends, although there was a time when I met random people every Friday and pretended that they were my best friends. I notice that while people are all very effusive when they meet you, how many homes have you been invited to in the last month? Okay, three months? I mean really invited, not told to ‘drop in anytime’?
I don’t much care about birthdays or anniversaries, but if you don’t hear from me in a month, call /email/ do something. That’s what friends are for. Not random bumping and then saying, “Oh, I was just thinking of you!” No, you were so not. I know a bad lie when I hear one.
So I have decided. I need new friends, because I am tired of working on the old ones and their issues. Applications are invited.
Here is the deal: You should be funny. And compassionate. It is a very tough combination, but I am worth it. Also, you should be willing to do the work.  At least some of it. Which means making plans. Calling us over.  Showing up when we invite you. Thinking weekend getaways. Baby-friendly trips. Lunches. Dinners. Drinks. Games. Whatever you can manage. It doesn’t matter if you are single or married. Baby or no baby. Old or young. Proactive is the key word. Creative is even better.
Okay, here’s a sales pitch. I am good with food. The husband is a great bartender. We have a gorgeous baby and two cats. We are both funny (in different ways). But we have finally decided that we will do the work only to those who do unto us. All you have to do is earn it.