A look at varying narratives of the "perfect marriage."
Who are these happily married people? I’d like them to line up against a wall and be garlanded. A happy marriage is an oxymoron and anyone who pretends it isn’t is fooling no one. Please stop posting those insanely grinning pics; your better half looks asleep or dead.
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Sightings of the mythical Happily Married creature are reported now and then – but here is where Sherlock Holmes said ‘aha’ – by the creature himself/herself.
Same Marriage, Different PR
Just before a husband ‘accidentally’ bumps into a woman around the buffet table, his wife will lean into him nauseatingly and declare, ‘Sweetu doesn’t go anywhere without me!’ Sweetu may not, but Sweetu would like to. And how can one party speak for the other? Sitting opposite you and confidently declaring himself happily married, he has no clue that his wife is blubbering to someone on her phone right now that her marriage is over, boo-hoo. Same marriage, different PR.
Anyone saying ardently when the marriage is of a certain vintage, ‘I really love him/her!’ is immediately suspect. What are they hiding? Does he beat her? Does she beat him? Oooh, someone’s having an affair! Their entire friend constellation is then left with just one job – to find out what’s really happening. Most cheating couples, reportedly, put their spouse’s pic as screensaver or DP. That bling, that adoring look, that hand-holding photoshoot in Hawaii... all evidence of a cover-up?
Granted that for most married people – who feel moronic enough that they got married in the first place and now will look happy if it kills them – this is an investment in the future. If they keep saying happy, happy, happy, they just might become happy or at least Pharrell Williams. Besides there are kids and dogs and mothers-in-law, plus joint invites to weddings and funerals. It won’t look good, not to mention the cost of moving and the packing, to just up and leave. Plus, everyone around will act all superior and say things like, ‘I always knew...’ and ‘If I were you...’ No one wants to be killed by smugness.
So that it becomes like a contest; one unhappily married man will brag to another unhappily married man that he is the luckiest, the supremely blessed, the chosen one etc etc while eyeing each other’s wives.
The Luckiest Ones
Luckiest are those who as couples have achieved a safe sense of space, an exotic indifference that sees them through thick and thin. There’s a sibling air to them and sometimes even a startling resemblance to each other. They don’t try to complete each other’s sentences and look distracted if asked when their anniversary is. March 12, says one, while the other says at the same time, September 1. And then they say together: 'One of those two dates.' So sweet, na?
Since a marriage is between two people and not two corpses there are bound to be differences, let’s accept that. Stop the PDA at once – no one can tell you two to get a room because you already got a room, remember? When something looks that hunky-dory it is a work of fiction; your marriage is a story you are telling the world. A new survey on self-pleasuring, conducted for Superdrug Online Doctor, clocks men at 96% and women at 88% – even when a partner is presumably at hand!
Give me a couple who throws things at each other in public any day. At least they are not thinking, ‘how do I look?’
The author is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn’t Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.
First Published: Apr 21, 2018 7:00 AM IST