A few days ago, we had invited one of my husband’s cousins for dinner. My husband opened up his bar as he usually does when we have friends and family over. And asked his cousin, what he would like to drink.
While the cousin fumbled for an answer, his wife replied, “But, he doesn’t drink. I thought you would know that!” My husband was shocked, while his cousin silently pleaded with him to keep quiet. Apparently, his wife doesn’t know that he drinks, and would create a huge ruckus if she comes to know.
A similar incident happened when we went out for lunch with some friends. When my husband asked his friend if he would share his chicken dish, he replied to him, without blinking an eye, that he was a total vegetarian. The next day, he confessed to my friend that his wife didn’t know that he ate meat and he would prefer keeping it that way.
Both these incidents made me sad and pity the couple. Why you need to hide things from your spouse, your better half?
One would say to maintain peace in the household.
Does this mean the wife nag her husband so much that it makes him hide stuff from her? Doesn’t say much about the relationship, does it?
A relationship works when both partners are honest with each other and also do not fear each other.
One of my friends comes from a Brahmin family, but she enjoys non-vegetarian food and her whole family knows about that. Though her husband doesn’t eat it himself, he doesn’t stop her either.
How will it make the partners happy when one of them is constantly hiding things and lives in the constant fear of it coming out in the open? And just imagine the heartbreak that will follow when the truth will be out, as it usually does.
Even before we got engaged, my husband had told me very frankly that he smoked, drank and loved non-vegetarian food. He told me that he would not ask me to start having any of those things, so he would appreciate if I did not ask him to stop enjoying them.
And I didn’t. Not that I didn’t want to. But, then I told myself that he was an educated person and knew what was right and wrong for him. He knew the repercussions of smoking, and if he still wanted to continue with it, he certainly wouldn’t stop by my constant nagging. On the contrary, he might become more stubborn or start hiding things from me.
He quit smoking on his own volition within a year of our wedding. I didn’t ask him to stop, but yes, I did appreciate him for quitting it. Drinking was never an issue, as he drinks socially and very occasionally. As for non-vegetarian food, I don’t eat till date. My husband and daughter do. He cooks and they eat. Good for them! As long as he doesn’t ask me to cook or eat, I am absolutely fine with this arrangement. And seriously, we have never had a fight on this front, we will be soon entering into our twelfth year of marriage.
It’s the same thing that works with parenting too. If you scold or nag your child often for every small thing, they tend to start hiding things from you. I have learnt this the hard way. I always thought I was a very loving mother; I always looked after her requirements, her likes and dislikes and her moods. But, on the other hand, I am also quite strict about certain things; like absolutely washing her hands after coming back from outside, changing her clothes as soon as she returns from school, and not eating candy and sugary treats every day, etc.
One day after coming back from school, she changed her clothes and went to her room. Meanwhile, I checked her skirt pockets for any broken crayons, bit of papers or tiny pebbles that she is in the habit of collecting and stuffing into her pockets. After finishing my work, I realized that the house was awfully quiet. Where was she? I wondered. So, I went to her room. She was sitting on her bed and chewing something. On seeing me, she immediately closed her mouth. She was anxious I could see.
“What are you eating?” I asked her. It was strange for her to eat quietly in her bedroom. She usually comes home and asks me for food.
She shook her head.
“What is it? Tell me?”
She asked me in a very small voice, “Will you scold me?” There was genuine fear in her eyes. Her fear hit me and made me think what kind of mothering was I doing.
I promised her I would not scold her.
She then told me that she had got some candies from the school.
“But I checked your pockets. There was nothing.”
“I got it yesterday and I hid it in my compass box.”
“Because you don’t let me eat chocolates!” She uttered truthfully.
This incident made me realize that there was a thin line between being strict and being disciplinarian. Unfortunately, I had crossed the line. I wanted to be friends with her, so she could tell me her tiniest secrets, but she was already hiding things from me. Yes, eating sugary stuff was not good for her, even she knew that. But why did I forget that after all, she was just a child. We have all grown up eating chocolates. How could she stop herself from having chocolates? Just because I didn’t like it or didn’t have sugar, I couldn’t stop her from having it. It was not fair on my part. Furthermore, my nagging was driving her away from me.
So, we came to an understanding, that she could have one candy/sweet every day after coming back from school and she would rinse her mouth thoroughly after that.
‘No’ is a powerful word. More powerful than the ‘yes’. As it sucks up all the positivity from a relationship, and leaves it dry and brittle. So, it’s very important that we use it as sparingly as possible in our relationships.
Let’s be a yes spouse. I am not saying behave like the Stepford wives and nod at everything that your partner throws out at you. Just that show your support and compassion for the things he believes in, even if you don’t.
Choose your battles well. It’s not worth fighting for every small thing and come out looking like a nag. And it’s absolutely not good when your spouse starts hiding things from you which the whole world knows. You don’t want to be pitied at.
Let’s be the better half. There is a reason why we call the spouse the better half. Because he or she makes the other person better. She doesn’t pull him down, but helps him to rise up.
Make your ‘no’ count. Avoid saying it often, so that when you finally say it, it is heard. Be positive and engaged when you want to say ‘no’.