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When opposites collide

sex and relationships Updated: Mar 16, 2009 18:03 IST
Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi
Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

People with different attitudes and interests may find themselves drawn to one another. But can they make a marriage work? Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi explores.

Rohan and Aarti met in college. They had nothing in common, from the kind of films they liked to the attitudes they had. “We were complete opposites. And that was the clinching point,” says Rohan. That was why they fell in love and decided to marry. We completed each other in a lot of ways. I was this relaxed, easygoing, emotional guy, while she was an assertive, aggressive and fiercely independent woman. I didn’t want my woman to be on my case all the time and I got that. And in me, she perhaps saw a grounding factor,” says Rohan.

Though Rohan and Aarti are seemingly happily married, Rohan feels it’s only ‘seemingly’ so. “We were different people. We still are, but unfortunately, these differences are getting bigger now. And after nearly six years of being married, they are becoming stark enough for both of us to do our own things individually rather than with each other,” says Rohan.

In different worlds
Rohan and Aarti’s situation is a complete contradiction of the ‘opposites attract’ cliché. While it is understandable that people with dramatically different interests can become attracted to one another, even find the contrast exciting, many couples find that it’s not possible to sustain their relationship over time.

That, say experts, can be quite heartbreaking for all the parties involved. “It’s quite all right to talk about individual space and having separate identities. But when the space between two people in a relationship becomes too wide, it is time to either bridge the gap or go separate ways, depending on individual situations,” says psychotherapist Madhur Iyengar.

Lawyer Shahana Roy is currently facing this dilemma. Shahana married her colleague after dating him for nearly two years. They too were opposites, she a hardcore romantic and he loving, but not really over the top when it came to showing affection.

“It wasn’t that he cared any less, and I just took it as the way he was at the time,” says Shahana. But now, after eight years of marriage, the cracks are showing in their relationship. “Even a hundred per cent understanding of your partner’s likes and dislikes may not be enough to nurture your relationship,” says Shahana. “I thought it was best to be the way my husband was. I became less expressive, reserved and measured my words. I’m not unhappy, but I am not happy either. I feel I have lost myself. And that is not a great feeling.”

Kindly adjust
This, say experts is something that most ‘different’ couples tend to do very often. “In a relationship, we tend to take for granted the fact that our partner will make changes for us,” says Iyengar.

“This is not necessarily a bad thing. But when it goes to extremes, it becomes a real problem.”

In the case of bank executives Shikha and Samrat, married life began with making small adjustments to please one another.

Shikha was a morning person while Samrat was a complete nightbird. They compromised by deciding to party only on weekends. But the marriage deteriorated when Shikha didn’t want to stay up too late even on weekends. “It tired me completely and I ended up feeling lousy the entire day,” she says.

This annoyed Samrat, who accused her of being an anti-social person. Says he, “I am okay with spending a romantic evening at home once in a while. But one wants to go out and catch up with friends too. She would crib even if people came over and stayed late. I began to dread going home, and finally one day we realised that we couldn’t adjust to each other’s needs anymore and called it quits.”

A change of heart
However, the situation is not impossible to fix. “It is possible to sustain your relationship even if the two people in it are opposites. But it requires complete understanding between them,” says Dr Rajan Bhonsle, senior relationship expert, Heart to Heart Center. “No two individuals who have come together can be dramatically different. If their value systems and thought processes are the same, they can mitigate the other issues.”

Umang and Megha have found middle ground. “We liked different genres of films, read different books, had separate friends and were very different in our natures. We fought too and still do. But then, we never expected each other to do things the way we would have done them. Rather, we accepted that we are different people,” says Megha.

Umang agrees. “How does it matter if she has her own group of friends and I have mine? We don’t mix the two groups, but yes, we make sure that we meet both sets together. I may not get along with her group and she may not like mine always but we are there with each other and that’s more than enough,” he says.

So yes, opposites may attract and one may feel that the other person completes him or her, but making it last is a difficult proposition.

As Shikha puts it, “Relationships are not about completing each other, they are about completing oneself. And when dreams become mutually exclusive, then it’s time to do some thinking.”

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