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Universal Truths

How long is forever? Why is marriage soon becoming what people do and regret in five years?

Recently, I had lunch with a friend. He’s one of Sri Lanka’s self-made millionaires (or billionaires at this stage) and has been married for 27 years. Over the last three years of being acquainted with him, I have become friends with his wife as well. Every so often when we do speak or bump into one another, we discuss work and life in general; I think he fancies the idea of being my “mentor” as we constantly deliberate over moves to make at work.

This occasion was different, he was agitated and obviously in need of venting out; I agreed to have lunch. No sooner the crab meat and egg droplet soup had arrived he spoke of his wife. I’d always maintained a respectable distance from topics related to domestic happiness and avoided delving in to areas that were too personal.

Over-exposure to boundaries so personal made me leave my soup aside and listen. (And it was the most aromatic soup ever) Apparently, his wife, whom we will now refer to as Mrs. B, is extremely temperamental; her moods shift instantly causing her to decline invitations she and her husbands are invited to; she would lock herself up for days in a room if her husband is late for a meal. If she was angry with her husband, it is over some trivial thing that does not even concern their family. Money, though abundant are doled out to anyone and everyone without a moment’s hesitation. Mrs. B is so privileged that she has a band of maids and housekeepers to wait on her every wish. To date, I learned she has not prepared a single meal for her husband in twenty-seven years of marriage. On the other hand, she’s most happy to be sent on her bi-annual trips to London where she is seen making purchases from Coach, Jimmy Choo or lunching at the Hyatt. Amongst these atrocities, he did admit that she is ‘nice’.

Not knowing how to react, I did not say anything, just an occasional ‘really’ or ‘I see’. The regret in his voice was no palpable; it almost sat next to me and drank my soup. Most marriages I know of are like this.

What I am confused about is, at what stage do men change their opinion of their wives? When do they become the monsters they are? I’m sure Mrs. B is not as bad as he claimed; but is this how it’s going to be for her fate for the next three decades?

We know of Godzilla and its distant cousin Bride-zilla – did I tell you that my best friend turned into one temporarily last December when she got married? (I promise to write about this soon!) I have made a new discovery, a brand new species – Wife-zilla. They appear to be local Martha Stewarts, surely not with that western a name, they are wonderful blushing brides whose mouths are seldom open, and if ever it is, it is with praise or thanks in hushed tones. Their education is never presided over by their husband’s; any errors of the latter are blindly looked upon; no, husbands can never make mistakes.

Then, after securing a signature on a paper than entitles them to half his worth, women change, or do they reveal who they really are? When and if, I do become a Mrs. will I feel safe enough to know that since he has no easy escape I can afford to be who I am? I always thought it was the women who were introduced into poverty after marriage, drunkard husbands and who slaved day and night who were miserable. Mrs. B is undoubtedly the most privileged woman I know – she is of wealth, and married into more; as her husband intimates, all she has to do is to just be. House work gets done, meals are prepared, shirts creased and pillows are pumped, she only needs be. She is to wake up to a routine of working out, socializing with her friends and being seen at the Hilton’s high tea at 4.00pm. Why, then, is she miserable? Does she understand the implications of this behavior?

When I am someone’s wife one day, I would not want him to speak ill of me, especially to another woman three decades my junior. I only entertain myself with the assurance that at one point she did try to “talk” about how she felt, how she confronted her husband that she felt lonely when he spent nights in his office; she could have tried to be the perfect doting wife, only to feel unappreciated. It amazes me that men can ignore what their wives do, no matter how insignificant the actions may be; a little appreciation can go a long way.

This is a lesson on its own; I just know that I won’t forget this conversation for a very long time. I remember how hollow I felt, listening to a man belittling his wide. You know how I concluded the conversation; I just said it could be her hormones.

You want to know whose side I am, don’t you. I don’t know for sure, and I’m not taking sides.

Dear husbands, I would like to offer you a few words of wisdom. This is not me assuming the role of the Dalai Lama of connubial bliss, but do read on.

* Don’t forget a simple ‘thank you’ when your wife hands you your breakfast in the morning. You could be married for centuries, but this word being absent in your vocabulary has caused enterprises like Perera & Sons to boom almost overnight. If she wakes up an hour early to make sure your first meal is from home, you had better appreciate that.

* You may not see the physical exertion your wife undergoes, but that does not mean she isn’t physically and mentally exhausted. She could be the one in need of turning in early, but if she’s up at 11.00 pm ironing your shirts, you must be a complete imbecile not to know that she’s an angel. Some women are not dramatic, their inward sighs are inaudible, some women take pride in neglecting (yes, I intended this) themselves just to make sure you are well looked after.

* When you first started dating she could have been a trim size 6, but just because marriage does add a few more inches on to her waist line, I can assure you this does not have any impact on the magnitude of love she has for you. Sex may not be ‘sizzling hot’ (pardon the cliché) but that doesn’t mean she should be relegated like your old porn movies in your home computer – kept away, only for absolute necessity.

* Look after her. She’s still a woman who’d appreciate a ‘how was your day’ or just five minutes of your time. There are a lot of unspoken things you’d only know if you look in to her eyes, she knows that it’s not worth the pain to start a conversation only to know that you are mentally reviewing the rugby match fixtures, and will ignore ninety percent of the conversation.

* Not every girl needs expensive gifts to know they are loved. Just because you have children at one point does not mean she’s forgotten your birthday, your wedding anniversary, your special song, when you first kissed – so why should you?

* I’m not sure what the unspoken code of conduct is, but men do discuss marital issues amongst each other, but must you openly belittle your wife with strangers? I know my mind is working two ways about Mrs. B. Do you know what courage and strength you offer your wife just by holding her hand or placing your hand on her back while you walk in to a place? I’m anti-PDA (public displays of affection) but these simple things carry so much weight, she’d know that you’re proud of her. Trust me; this is valued far far more than opening a car door.

Oh, have I offended you? I know what you are thinking. “Minoli, you don’t even have a relationship, what makes you the guru here”.

Let’s just say that these are universal truths.


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