According to statistics which emerged from a study conducted to mark the paperback release of The Rosie Project, a novel about a man’s quest to find his perfect wife, it was revealed that while 94 percent of women believe in true love, just 88 percent of men feel the same way.
Your Dictionary defines True love as a strong and lasting affection between spouses or lovers who are in a happy, passionate and fulfilling relationship. In the same vein, the Oxford dictionary sees true love as an intense feeling of deep affection. There are various interpretations as to what true love means, however, the search for a compatible partner which most women might call “Mr. Right”, often poses a huge problem.
Lori Gottlieb, an American writer and Author of the book “Marry Him” says, “Every woman I know – no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure – feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried. She argues that women should be realistic and understand that marriage is not a “passion-fest” but instead, a “partnership formed to run a very small, mundane and often boring non-profit business”. According to the author, older, single women often deny themselves any chance of finding happiness by failing to downgrade their expectations.
“But marrying Mr. Good Enough might be equally viable, especially if you’re looking for a reliable life companion.” Gottlieb also suggests that marriage to someone who may seem like Mr. Right could even be less successful.
These kinds of assertions have taken center stage in casual discussions among women as there seem to be divergent views on this critical subject. It is against this backdrop that the Amazons Watch Magazine conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. Nisha Khanna, a prominent Indian Marriage Counsellor who is an expert in family and relationship issues. Here is what she has to say:
What is your definition of a perfect partner?
The word perfect partner is mostly used in fairy tales or story books but in reality, it is easy to name, but difficult to prove. Actually, there is no single person on this earth who is perfect so how can we think of a perfect partner, if more or less we are not perfect at all. The perfect partner is not always perfect. A couple is incomplete without each other. One person completes the other’s incompleteness. Having a perfect partner doesn’t mean a person with similar educational qualification or similar social class or age or physical attractiveness or similar in ethnic, religion and cultural background. It is not a person you dream but it is someone who completes you, with whom you find harmony in yourself individually and as a couple together. It is a person who understands you, who helps to flourish and nourish you on one or the other aspects of life. A person who loves the similarities (like hobbies, interests, passions etc.) you share with each other and respect the differences (even opinions, thought processes etc.) A person who supports you in your high and low moments and who will be there with you through thick and thin. A person with whom you let go of yourself, and are ready to learn and unlearn about interpersonal dynamics and supports, even if it doesn’t match yours.
Does having a supposed right partner guarantee the security of a relationship/marriage?
Marriage involves two people along with families. I believe as a professional, the right efforts like time, patience, good communication, understanding, care, trust, respect, forgiveness, independence along with interdependence on mutual basis can guarantee the security of the relationship, not the supposed right partner. One person especially you can correct your part of mistakes and learn how to deal the situation maturely and help the other one.
Could it be said that the reason for the rise in divorce rates is as a result of wrong choices women have made?
There is no single reason for the rise in the divorce rate. Society changed, the law changed, so perceptions towards marriage also changed. In spite of wrong choices women had made, we can say women empowerment plays a major role in today’s scenario of increasing divorce rate. Economic independence of women as they realize their self-worth and started working equally like men and not ready to adjust and bear nonsense (dowry, physical & mental torture) and tolerate male dominance and deny to play the underdog or traditional role as a care taker/home maker. Law also gives and supports equal women rights. But as a marriage and family counsellor, I believe compatibility issues, unrealistic expectations, emotional disconnect, unhappy sexual life along with the mutual lack of patience, respect, understanding, ego clashes and temperamental issues are the few of the major reasons for the rise in divorce. Divorce is more positively acceptable in society. Along with all the above, high increase of live-in relationships, interference of parents (Both Girl and Boy sides), marriage against parents wish, misuse of law also plays a major role in Indian divorces.
It is a proven fact that no human being has reached a state of perfection. Bearing this in mind, what should older women do in order to win a companion?
Women should accept and lessen their list of expectations and criteria of a perfect partner. Women should learn to accept imperfections and in spite of looking for a right partner, she should look upon herself to become right. I always observed in my professional Indian settings that mostly, a woman’s life revolves around the life partner and his family of origin after the marriage. The partner’s family has very high expectations from the woman and it is not easy to win their heart. A partner is the most integral part of a woman’s life but not the whole life so women should not look up to him to provide her the only source of happiness. Women should take responsibility of her own set of expectations, her negative reactions, her dark moods and her insecurities so that she would be happy and take care of herself, partner and family in a best possible way and whenever required would be able to ignore the differences and imperfections of others.
Would you say maturity and exposure impede the process of getting the right partner?
I agree! When they are more mature and have more exposure to life and experiences, they would like to have a partner of more or less similar thought process which most of the time delay the process of getting the right partner. Because of a higher set of expectations, they would not like to compromise on a lot of aspects. They start thinking and seeing themselves as more adjustable and accommodative whereas finding others likes as immature and impractical. Sometimes they started perceiving them as children and as a result lose a good suitable companion.
What yardsticks could be used to measure compatibility or “rightness” of a partner? It has been said that the older you get the wiser you become.
Wisdom has no connection with age but still, we associate it with age. Definitely, with increasing age, we expect more maturity and intelligence to handle the situations, people, and life. There are no such yardsticks to measure rightness because every person is unique and have a different set of expectations and requirements but still there are certain dynamics of relationships on which we can measure compatibility. To measure that level of assertiveness is a preliminary stepping stone in relationship/marriage along with the feeling of being confident with your partner. The tendency to avoid issues or deal directly with issues, partner’s dominance, effective coping strategies, partner’s style and habits, financial management, time management and leisure activities are the core competencies accompanying healthy sexual life and proper division of labor in checking compatibility with a partner. Along with this, family and friend’s spiritual beliefs, forgiveness and personal stress also play important role in measuring rightness.
Does it follow that an older woman should have better relationships than the younger women?
We can’t generalize the things but definitely, with younger women, it is easy to mold the habit and personality traits. As with young age mostly due to the lesser experience they have narrow outlook towards life. Older women mess less with the head as compared to younger women. They may have past baggage and their biological clock tick real fast but old women have confidence enough to handle people and situations whatever life throws at them as they are more mature and independent. With older women, it’s difficult to change the pattern and behavior but they learn to ignore most of the things with the passage of time.