Queen’s song, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, appositely sums up the heady feeling, almost all of us have encountered at least once in our lives (I’m sure some of you lucky ones, even multiple times). My intention is by no means to talk about the various biological and psychological effects of feeling irresistibly attracted toward that exceptional someone. Rather, I wish to look at what happens when this heady feeling starts dwindling. It is my take on the callous concept of “break-up” and whether “the happily ever after”, subsists at all.
What makes romantic love so incomparable is the conviction that we reckon another being as seamless. This is far-flung from the truth and in the course of time, this druggish illusion wears off.
We dwell in the world of intolerance, and I frequently conjecture about how painlessly individuals abandon (read dump) the very same person who they were once fanatically in love with. All those things that you found endearing about her suddenly start to annoy you. Her standpoint toward life, which formerly made you swell with pride, sets in motion a vicious cycle of squabbles. Suddenly, she no longer fits in your scheme of things and that’s where the “happily ever after” comes to a standstill.
The overriding faux pas all of us make is that, under no circumstances, we accept our loved one for who they are. There is an ancient Buddhist parable which aptly enlightens us, to relegate our fondness for fault-finding in our partner.
After the wedding ceremony, the father of the bride took his son-in-law aside, to offer some advice on how to have a long and happy married life.
“So do you love my daughter a lot?” he asked the young man.
“Oh yes! I love her more than my own life,” the young man sighed.
“And you probably think that she is the most wonderful person in the world?” the old man continued.
“She is perfect. She is completely amazing in each and every way,” the young man cooed.
“That’s how it is when you get married,” said the father. “But after a few years, you will begin to see the flaws in my daughter. When you begin to notice her flaws, I want you to remember this son-in-law…
“If she didn’t have those flaws to begin with, she would have married someone much better than you!”
The ‘happily ever after’ can stay alive only if we commence to feel grateful for not only our partner’s strengths, but all their various flaws as well. So how do we cultivate this feeling of gratitude in the background of an individual’s imperfection and blemishes?
Japanese Psychology furnishes us with an art of self- reflection called Naikan. The word ‘Naikan’ in Japanese means introspection. More poetically, it connotes ‘seeing oneself with the mind’s eye’.
‘Naikan’ is an ancient technique of self-introspection, which facilitates us to expand our reality through an earnest assessment of ourselves. In this approach, we rejoin three questions in relation to our partner: What we have received from our partner? What we have given to them? And what are the various inconveniences we have caused them?
A sincere and objective evaluation of our own selves is never a straightforward and tranquil job. Nevertheless, reflecting in this manner, we begin to appreciate the magnitude of assistance and support that we receive from our companion. Their occasional annoying behaviour toward us does not change the fact that we have benefitted from them.
Furthermore, when we start attending to the other side of the equation- what have I given my partner? We start recognizing that we give far less than we receive. When we start living life in terms of what we owe them, rather than what they owe us, we realise that we tend to focus on their diminutive annoyances, while discounting their enormous assistance to us in our every moment.
The concluding question is the most difficult to lay to rest. We all have a propensity to reproach other people for their defects and imperfection. On the other hand, when we are the source of trouble for others, we dismiss it as “Not such a big deal…” or “It was an accident; I’m only human!!!”.
Adopting an attitude of gratitude and tolerance toward our spouse or lover, would bring the relationship in new light & fortify our bond with them, as a substitute to discarding the relationship altogether. The next time you get annoyed with your boyfriend for turning up late or for not showering you with enough attention, perform a Naikan reflection and consider Einstein’s words:
“A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.”