Why don’t I see such perfect marriages ever?

Most days, I wake up with the feeling that I have an ideal relationship with my husband.

Then, he wakes up and screws it all up, sighs Gal Godot.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com

Early on in her essay ‘These Precious Days’, novelist Ann Patchett states that the story is not the one that we think we are telling; it’s the one that unravels as we go along.

The story that she is trying to tell with this essay is about Tom Hanks, but soon it becomes about Tom Hanks’s manager Sooki, whom Ann Patchett befriends eagerly — a tad too eagerly, I think, for a writer of her stature.

She describes her new friend with such detail and open adoration, that after every other passage, I find myself hopping on to Google to see if I can find any pictures of Sooki.

But that’s not the only thing I search for.

After a point, I start Googling images of Ann Patchett and her husband Karl VanDevender.

You see, in her quest to follow the story, Ann Patchett reveals a lot more than her friendship with her ‘tiny’ friend.

She matter-of-factly describes her physician husband as a respected member of his professional community, someone who can pull a few strings so his wife’s friend can get appropriate treatment for cancer.

Elsewhere, he is not just totally in-sync with his wife’s near-obsessive attitude towards her friend but doesn’t ever so much as feel threatened by it.

When Ann Patchett decides to try medicinal hallucinogens to accompany her ailing friend on a spiritual journey (also to alleviate the pain caused by chemotherapy), he gives them space.

When it turns out to be an unpleasant experience for Ann Pacthett, he is nothing but supportive; focusing more on the intent than the result of this madcap idea.

If this is true, why don’t I see, hear, dream of, imagine, read about such marriages ever?

Then it occurrs to me; stories centered on holy matrimony are largely told and consumed in broad strokes.

We don’t want to go deeper than that and risk bruising our fragile realities now, do we?

God forbid, if someone tells you that a minor spat about who would turn the lights off before going to bed did not end in trial separation or at least homicide, how would that make you feel about your own marriage?

Most days, I wake up with the feeling that I have an ideal relationship with my husband.

Then, he wakes up and screws it all up.

First by assaulting my senses with shrill exclamations like, “What a beautiful day”, then insisting that I get up and do something productive with my day.

Who needs that kind of hysterics in their lives?

If you are interested in going down that road anyway, I’ll give you a peek into what it’s actually like.

In the initial days, after the whole shaadi shindig is over and there is no new milestone on the horizon, you will wake up with a huge vacuum in your stomach.

And it keeps turning till you find something you’re supposed to be doing, like volunteer to cook an unhealthy meal, scream at the husband for watching TV instead of offering to help out, mutter “f*uck this patriarchal bullshit” under your breath, continue to cook, feel lucky for getting married just in the nick of time, feel superior to the friends you’ve left behind… you get the drift.

Then, there’s the FOMO.

Fear of missing out is like Betaal to your Vikram.

When you were single, you daydreamed about the wondrous prospects of never having to date ever again in your life.

Now that you’re married, you find yourself surrounded by Insta feminists screaming, “YOU DID NOT CHOOSE TO MARRY. YOU WERE CONDITIONED TO BELIEVE THAT IT IS A NATURAL PROGRESSION IN LIFE.”

It is imperative in such a scenario to ask the most fundamental question: Who cares?

If it feels natural to you, it probably is — if you’re not manic depressive, don’t have daddy issues and haven’t suffered extended bouts of physical or emotional abuse as a child.

Side-note: There is NO SHAME in seeking help if you’re struggling with these things or absolutely anything else in life.

Before I find the answers to all existential questions, marriage-related or otherwise, I am going to believe that Ann Patchett and Karl VanDevender have the most perfect marriage I’ve ever seen, read, dreamed, imagined or heard about.

And I say this with absolute certainty because it’s not the story Ann Patchett told me.

It’s the story that unraveled when she was speaking about her friend.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

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