The Ultimate Workshop for Couples Archives | The Little Things India

Honeymoon period, when does it end?

The Little Things_Image of girl's hand on her honeymoon

When 45% of the divorces in India are applied in the first year of marriage – it is now understood that there is a need to be extra sensible and sensitive in this phase.

Planning a successful wedding ceremony, is tough. We agree. The wedding day is tougher, with rituals, celebrations, love and nerves battling for the top spot. Here-on starts a beautiful new journey. How tough is the first year of a marriage? As humans, we strive to live our lives in milestones. Passing each by, crossing obstacles and with a sense of achievement as we move. Even for couples who have lived together and made clear decisions before they get married, the first year of officially being married can be tough. 

Why is the 1st year so important?
The first 365 days of a marriage is crucial. Statistics state that 45% of the divorces in India are initiated in these very days. It’s that period when the partners warm up to the constant presence of the other in their lives. It’s an awkward and uncomfortable phase for many because it’s similar to weaning out of infancy and becoming a toddler. There is no evident recklessness as couples still try to maintain the thoughtfulness from the courtship period. They still speak softly, are extremely attentive and careful, to put it simply, both the partners are on their best behaviour. They are ready to go the extra mile to be good and kind to each other. In an ideal world this is great but the irony being, through this process they often end up setting expectations of an unrealistic version of their own selves.  

What changes? 
Nothing changes overnight. Over a period of time, one or both the partners who has been trying a little too hard give up and return to normal. Please note that this ‘normal’ version may be great but because it simply differs from expectations, it can create unnecessary ripples.  

What can a couple do? 
The first step in combating a problem is to recognize that it exists. Psychologists often speak about some oft quoted issues by newly married couples.   

Identity crisis  
This often occurs when one starts being identified as a married man or woman. This is a label that many don’t even realise that they aren’t comfortable with.  They are: 

Finances 
A debt taken for the wedding, those huge credit card bills, the investment in stock market or even that weekend shopping binge or fancy date, these do not appear important before a marriage and often crop up in discussions later. 

Intimacy 
A different routine, more responsibilities and being together almost every day under the same roof can lead to a decrease in the dinner dates, night outs and other such activities. Even physical intimacy and sex, in many marriages are compromised during the first year. 

Communication 
The long texts and chats, the letters and e-mails or the overnight phone calls, they all go out of the window. We end up believing that living together is enough, talking not so much. That’s one of our biggest follies, maintain seamless communication is a deal breaker. 

Own place 
In India, living with families post marriage can be a boon or a bane. It’s dependent on what both the partners want and agree to. If the discussion is left unresolved, it can cause troubles. 

The first 365 days come with their fair share of conflicts. There will always be conflicts on various levels, it’s about how to resolve them and that too, together. Pre-marital workshops are a great way to understand and predict the issues that may crop up in the first year. These workshops are tailor made and help in identifying, communicating and resolving problems with the help of coaches and experts. 

The Art of Saying No, Post Engagement.

A wedding is an affair of massive cultural importance in majority of the communities. While the execution and ceremonies vary, the emotion attached to a marriage is considered sacred and the bond, unbreakable. Yet, data suggests that a fair percentage of marriages are called off post engagement, globally.  

Breaking up a relationship is not easy. When it comes to a wedding, it’s quite a quandary. So what does one do when faced with one of the biggest dilemmas of their adult life? How does one say no to the man or woman they are engaged to? 

Why do engagements break? 

Though we understand that as an adult you appreciate the concept of being an equal partner and would know what’s amiss. There are some invisible red signals, which in many cases are chosen to be ignored. The most common yet unheeded behavioural indications that calls for action include these. 

  • If you are in a physically, mentally or emotionally abusive relationship.  
  • If there is infidelity and trust issues. 
  • If there is addiction that seems tough to combat even after repeated assistance. 
  • If there is erratic financial behaviour and irresponsibility. 
  • If there is conflict in thoughts, actions and values on a regular basis. 
  • If you feel disrespected and unimportant in the relationship.  

These are signs of existing in a toxic relationship. It needs effective communication and sometimes therapy to move out. 

How do I break up my engagement? 
If everything you do to make it work seems hopeless, it’s time to say no. Irrespective of it being an arranged or love marriage, do not let the big word of ‘engagement’ push you back. If you want out, you owe it to both your selves. Yet, a methodical and sensitive approach needs a mention.  

  • There will be an aftermath, especially emotional. Hence, you need to make yourself and your partner (later, the family), ready for the conversation. It’s a big step nevertheless and there may be a need for counselling and therapy. Be prepared. 
  • If the wedding dates, venue and guests have been decided, there will be chaos with logistics. It can be handled in a calm manner, do not let it get to you. A formal announcement to all the guests and cancellations of vendors are included. 
  • Rumours and gossips may fly. You may need to ignore them. It won’t be easy for you to walk up to each member and discuss the scenario. Most of all, you will need to stop it from affecting your well-being. 
  • If there are financial collaborations involved, e.g. – a house, vehicle, business organization or personal belongings, those would need a separate discussion. If need be, you may also seek the guidance of your lawyer.  

How can I do it best? 
There are counsellors and coaches who can help you be equipped, for a similar situation. There are pre-marital workshops organized by relationship experts, which help partners be aware of situations that could arise in the near future. They also enable the young partners on how to combat it, sensitively.  

While the saying NO part is tough, it’s equally tough to avoid a nasty situation. If the technique of communication is effective, there are good chances that both the partners understand the difficulty stemming out of the relationship. This could lead to a peaceful and empathetic resolution.  

The Indian culture of ‘adjust’ vs ‘adapt’ in a marriage.

Bride & Groom_Hands

In India, parental advice is as sacrosanct to marriage as the rituals. For centuries, the wisdom or should we say, the ‘expert talk’ has always passed on from the folks to kids. May it be employment, studies or marriage, the experience of parents has always rubbed on. We are often asked to ‘adjust’ in a marriage, quite a commandment that usually finds us in the wee hours of the morning on the wedding day. How we wish that we were instead told to ‘adapt’, don’t we? Why does the word make so much of a difference?

It does, because of the sentiment attached. In simple words, when we adjust to something, we harmlessly or harmfully change ourselves to fit the situation. When we adapt, we enable ourselves to satisfactorily accommodate a new situation in our lives. Adjust in itself is not a wrong action but when one adjusts to conflicting needs, it can lead to unhealthy circumstances causing what we commonly call- stress.

Adjust. Do we?
We change, everyone evolves in a relationship. The same goes for a marriage, both the spouses become an altered version of their selves. Not necessarily a better or flattering improvisation. As partners, Indian cultural norms often express the need to ‘adjust’ to the changes. Adjustment translates to willingly or unwillingly accepting the changes and taking it in good stead. Whilst the sentiments passed on to us by our elders are usually for the good, the action isn’t. Adjustment is not a very healthy situation. It usually perpetuates a system of ignorance. For e.g. – You would like to pursue higher studies or a change in career course, post marriage. It could be something you had discussed sparsely before the marriage but haven’t been able to converse on since then. It slowly builds up into bitterness when not acted upon.

Nostalgia is a very romantic emotional state. It often makes us look at change as something distant and often unacceptable. When we see our partner turning from an overzealous adventurer to a ‘comfortable in my couch’ persona or vice versa, it may feel like living with a stranger. So do we adjust? We adapt.

Adapt? Yes, we should
Why is adapt so diverse from adjust? Is this just a trick of the English dictionary or does it have a deeper impact on how we look at our behaviour. It does.

We accept changes instead of adjusting to them. This begins with effective communication. Taking our earlier e.g. – a conversation on why one feels the need to study further or change the field of career kick-starts the process. It later progresses into the opinion of the other partner followed with how to handle the situation financially and emotionally and concluding with the decision taken logically.

This is adapting yourself into making decisions together. Evolving as an individual to accept the concept of marriage and combining lives. It’s no longer a single woman or man’s decision. It’s about asking for opinions, evaluating both the sides, being ready for surprising changes and resolving it together.

While it may seem scary to begin with, it doesn’t have to be. Growing together translates to the literal meaning. It’s a good idea to be prepared to foresee these and that can be done in various ways. Talking to experts and being a part of pre-martial workshops can equip a couple to effectively adapt themselves to the concept of ‘marriage’.

Which ‘ear’ do you use more often?

The Little Things_Image of Couple's Hands Holding Coffee Mugs
The Little Things_Image of Couple's Hands Holding Coffee Mugs

It is no brainer that communication is the mortar that holds together a relationship. Cracks appear in relationships when conversations dry out, when feelings are not expressed or misinterpreted and voice voids are filled with sighs.

What does a healthy conversation look like? And how can you improve communication in a romantic relationship?

“We speak not only to tell other people what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think. Speech is a part of thought.” Oliver Sacks

In his Four-Sides model of communication, Friedemann Schulz von Thun a German psychologist and expert in interpersonal communication and intrapersonal communication say that every message has four facets to it:

  1. Fact: What I inform about (data, facts, statements)
  2. Self-revealing: What I reveal about myself (information about the sender)
  3. Relationship: What I think about you (information about how we get along)
  4. Appeal: What I want to make you do (an attempt to influence the receiver)

There is never the same emphasis put on each of the four facets, and the emphasis can be meant and understood differently. The difference is the result of conditioning – of our personality (introvert or extrovert), our family background or also our circumstances.

For example, when the wife saying that “there are so many new restaurants around” may be less about the fact that the new restaurants, but a prompt for the husband to take her out more often.

Complications arise, when as a receiver we tend to have one of the four “ears” specifically trained.

Complications arise, when as a receiver we tend to have one of the four “ears” (factual ear, relationship ear, self-revelation ear or appeal ear) specifically trained. So if the husband’s relationship ear is well trained, he may decode the sentence as that he is being told that he is not paying enough attention to the wife’s interests. He may retaliate with, “Why don’t you cook rather than speak about spending unnecessarily at restaurants?” This communication pattern leads to stress that can plague even the healthiest relationships.

It is important to understand that what we hear may not be what the other person was trying to get across. Think about it: which one is your best developed “ear”? For instance, do you tend to hear an appeal in every sentence? Or do you often feel questioned (hence you are listening with your relationship “ear”)?

To establish a healthy communication pattern, we need to understand deeply the four facets. And the next time you feel uncomfortable, or questioned – rewind to the original statement and think about the four facts. How else could you have understood the message?

Pay attention to the actual facts of the message and use questions to clarify whether you understood what the other person was trying to get across to you.

Why Are Pre-Marital Workshops Necessary?

“Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.” – Oscar Wilde

Nearly half of the total divorces occur in the first two years of the marriage. Many marriages fall apart because partners don’t expect the unexpected. When they do, more often than not, they find it tough to wade through the communication.

Wilde was right, to a great extent. Wasn’t he? To put it in simple words, every stage of a relationship sees varied amount of conversations and efforts in making the experience, beautiful. It all depends on the strong foundation on which the bricks of the relationship have been laid.

What’s a pre-marital workshop?
While we often hear of relationship and marriage counselling, how many of us have explored the option of pre-marital workshops? It’s true that there is ample support from elders, friends and peers while the wedding date edges closer. That stated, how many of us have thought of availing the same support from certified experts and coaches? A pre-martial workshop brings together a bunch of people who help you and your partner prepare yourselves for what lies ahead, both the spontaneity and the monotony.

Why are pre-martial workshops, important?
It’s proven that stages in a relationship hold a huge impact based on their ascending order, the first stage being the most vulnerable and suspect to damage. In India, where marriages are an affair to remember, may it be the multiple events, families involved or the phases to come, it can take a huge toll on the partners.

With pre-marital counselling workshops, one looks at being prepared for the future rather than combating issues as and when they arrive. With both the partners having individual financial, domestic, emotional and physical ambitions, it is important for them to pre-empt the issues that may arise in the relationship. A partnership evolves which involves shedding worries and communicating in a comfortable manner.

What does a pre-marital workshop include?
Pre-marital workshops are conducted either in groups or individually. Group workshops are highly preferred as they help warm up to the concept and open up about the objectives that the sessions set for a couple. Even a small amount of time spent in a pre-martial session can amply help in the future that awaits. Methodically, both the partners work through modules prepared by the coaches to understand and respect the strengths and weaknesses their relationship holds. The workshops involve conversations, open discussions, Q&A sessions, workbooks, easy exercises and feedbacks to keep the atmosphere fluid. The attendees take back a plethora of relevant information and also specially crafted material.

These are a few major goals that are worked on through the workshop which include improving conversations to anger management and intimacy. The experts and coaches on board bring together years of experience which help them build a module that’s effect in predicting and managing aspects of communication and conflict.

Why is pre-marital workshop still a taboo in India?
While we do realize the need for conducive atmosphere for a healthy start to a marriage, we also believe that it’s an imitation of western culture. Let’s tell you something, it’s not. A relationship between two humans is a universal protagonist, only the supporting characters vary with demographics.

When we opt for a wedding planner to help us in managing our wedding, why does it sound outrageous to have experts assist us in preparing for a happy married life, ahead?

It’s time that we open up to what is increasingly the need of the hour. Pre-marital counselling workshops can be a marriage-saver. The best gift you can gift each other, prior to commencing on a lifetime of togetherness.