Haylo ji, I’m back from the firang land. What classy people Americans are. Unke itne chhotte chhotte bachchey bhi itni achhi English bolte hain. Err ... please don’t give me that look. This used to be quite a popular PJ when I was growing up.
Okay, I’ll not talk all insane. I’d seriously thought of telling you about all the good behaviour by foreigners that I witnessed during my travel, but changed my mind after seeing a couple fight worse than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Good behaviour phir kabhi sahi, what could be more interesting than watching a couple fight? Apne desh ki yaad aa gayi, by God. Itni conviction se, they were giving gaalis to each other in English. You bi***... you SOBi***, so classy, I tell you. I was so mesmerised, I missed my train. Anyway, a friend of theirs who was holidaying with this couple for reasons unknown to mankind, got talking to me later. “They fight like cats and dogs all the time. It’s so awkward for people around them. I wonder how to tell them to behave. What do you think?” she asked.
I toh died of happiness that such a white firang had asked for my calmness advice. Moksh jaisi feeling hui. Then with a very serious expression, befitting for someone who had the image of entire Indian spiritual heritage to protect, I said, “Just tell them that it’s not good Karma to fight.” She gave me a weird look, and I realised how used to I’d become, of getting it from people of all races. I’d said such an obvious thing. Of course, they already know it’s not good to fight. Who doesn’t? But those who constantly bicker with their partner, and there seem to be many of them no matter where you go, can’t seem to help it.
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I remember I once had a classmate in college who got into a fight with his girlfriend, also a classmate, several times a day. As a fun thing, we used to place bets on how they couldn’t go for more than 30 minutes without arguing badly over something. ‘You fight only with those who you care for,’ used to be his justification. This statement may be right to an extent but is also a big excuse to hide an inability, or sheer laziness to work on the relationship and trying to make things better. Anyway, I’m least qualified to do any kind of relationship counselling, as my only clients thus far have been Chaddha ji and the soon-to-be-ex-if-she-had-her-way Mrs Chaddha. But, I still have my two bits of advice for couples who find themselves fighting and quibbling most of the time...
1 Fight fair: More often than not, a person’s tendency to always quarrel stems from a deep-rooted complex and low self-esteem, that compels him or her to exercise control over the partner. You’re always in a bid to prove that you are right and the other person is wrong, sometimes regardless of how worthless it is that’s being argued.
And then you make the worst mistake of deviating from the topic of contention, and get personal. I once saw a woman fight with her husband, like properly fight — not just have a ‘loving argument’ in a store, over whether the colour of a shirt was bluish-green or greenish-blue. I’m sure it wouldn’t have threatened world-peace even if they had called it orange-ish yellow but they went on and on about it. And then she said, ‘The shirt is green, but like all other things, your mom clearly didn’t even bother to teach you colours.’ And hence, ladies and gentlemen, the nuclear bomb was dropped.
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We all had to duck since mom’s aatma had entered the scene and the crossfire got dangerous. By the way, the shirt was green, but the woman wasn’t right. An objective battle is when you stick to the argument, and don’t drag judgments on your partner’s personality or upbringing into the argument. An unfair battle is when you viciously argue with the only intent to hurt. Fight if you must, but be fair. It wouldn’t last that long.
2 Keep it private: Making a spectacle of your argument never helps, not even for the person whose point is right. Most people are like me and enjoy watching others fight. On a serious note, thinking that fighting in the presence of an audience is going to get you sympathy, is a fallacy. All it shows is that you don’t respect your partner enough to give him or her the dignity of not getting insulted in public. And that says something about you, more than it says about your partner, no matter who is right or wrong.
The most damaging is for a couple to fight in front of their kids. The harsh words and the loud tone in an argument doesn’t just sour your relationship with your partner, but can scar your kids’ emotional set-up for life. It’s just not worth it to not be able to contain the steam. You may have the most valid reason to fight ...but not holding it till the two of you are not alone, is never valid.
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3 Quit, if you must: A lot of you may not agree with me on this one but there’s nothing more unfair — to yourself and to your partner — than dragging on an unhealthy relationship, endlessly. This, of course, does not amount to announcing a grand break-up after every fight you have. It’s about seriously evaluating a relationship and seeing whether it’s working to the well-being of both the people involved.
You owe it to yourself to give your relationship the best possible chance of thriving, and making every effort to not let false pride or ego come in the way of making it work. You also owe it to yourself to recognise when it is becoming severely detrimental to your peace of mind, and of those around you. The reasons we give for two unhappy people to still stick around — family, parents, kids, friends, society — are all valid, but to the extent that our unhappiness doesn’t rob them of the very peace and harmony that our togetherness was supposed to bring in their lives.
The day your reasons for dragging on a dead relationship start to push you into the trap of self-pity, is the day to wake up and realise that a person who’s unhappy from inside can’t hope to make others happy. It’s much like the safety announcement we hear in aircrafts — put your own oxygen mask before trying to put one on your child. Ever thought why?
Sonal Kalra has invented a colour that’s bluish-greenish red. Can someone help patent it please? Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra.