People say that when a couple has been married for over seven years, they become more like siblings than lovers. I've always found that thought rather depressing. Then I think of my parents who were together for 40 loving years. That reassures me somewhat. Then I watch the movie, Something's Gotta Give, and I'm reassured further. Love doesn't end with age. In fact, as I grow into my thirties, I realize the truth about love, which is that love comes into your life when you are ready for it and it stays as long as you let it.
But we often forget to nurture this love and maybe now that your children have grown and flown from the nest, it may be a good time for you to go on a second honeymoon.
You can renew your vows, as people are opting to do more and more frequently. Or you can keep it low profile and just pack your bags, book your tickets and head out.
The best part about a second honeymoon is that you don't have the expectations and pressures you did when you were newly married. A honeymoon can be stressful as it comes right after the hassles of the wedding and the reception. On top is the desire to know and please your partner.
The second time around, you no longer need to figure out your spouse's needs because they've become second nature to you. You can relax and enjoy the sights and sounds around you, stay in late and let the hotel staff pamper you. With the children not bursting through your door at all inopportune moments, you can really talk to your partner about things that matter to you. You could stroll hand in hand by the beach or haggle in the flea markets. You could dance all night or find a cosy corner to yourself in the local diner. You could do whatever the two of you want to do and let love wrap its smooth comfort around you again.
There are some tips, some do's and don'ts for the second honeymoon:
· Do leave the kids behind.
· Do plan the vacation together. Expressing your expectations is crucial to making the trip a memorable one.
· Do consider making a vow renewal part of your second honeymoon; many resorts can help you arrange the complete details.
· Do make sure that each of you gets to do something you really want to on the trip -- and participate in it as a couple.
· Don't over-schedule your time. Keep it relaxing and feel free to do what you want when and where you want to do it.
· Don't use the honeymoon to solve problems in your relationship -- or expect the time away to erase problems.
· Do pack a tender wedding night "surprise gift."
· Do keep your sense of humour: Travel plans can go awry, and starting a journey off with patience, understanding and a good laugh can put your marriage on the right track.
And, DO remember to have fun.
By Kawshiki Nasser
You know why fairytales hastily end after the handsome prince marries the fair maiden? Because if we read beyond the wedding part, into the mundane details where Prince Charming grouses at Cinderella for being more concerned about cleaning house than giving him quality time, or where Beauty complains that her husband is a real Beast before he gets his morning tea, 'happily ever after' becomes less magical.
That's the truth about marriage, the plain drab truth that remains after the gloss of romance and dating wears off. Then you see real-life couples being happily married to each other for years and years, and you can believe in fairytales all over again.
Aziz and Rita celebrate their 32nd marriage anniversary this year. When someone mentions it, they roll their eyes, act embarrassed, and then kid each other about how they've 'survived' the past three decades together. They were childhood acquaintances who fell in love and got married.
For the first five years, since Aziz was in the army, they travelled all over the country as he kept getting posted in different places, before finally coming to live with the rest of the family in Dhaka. Then the children arrived, and they entered a new phase in their lives. It's been a little over twenty years since, but the old flame is still burning. They share such an amazing understanding, that Aziz can predict to the letter what Rita is going to say/do before she says/does it, and vice versa.
Thirty-two years, and he still plans elaborate surprises for her on birthdays, and she still gets all starry-eyed and rosy-cheeked when describing him to strangers. They went on their second honeymoon last year, their first trip without the kids in two years, and if anyone makes the mistake of inquiring about the trip, s/he is bound to get an earful about how much fun they had.
There's something about a lasting romance that makes one smile and feel all warm inside. It's the stuff that turns books into best-sellers and movies into blockbusters. Everyone loves a good love story, and the real-life love stories are even better.
Let's take Shahana and Amin for example. They met some forty years back, when he was acting in a television serial, and she was representing her college and had to meet him in relation to a writing project. “She was a skinny, plain-looking girl” Amin fondly remembers. “But she was intelligent, and confident, and witty, and she captured my imagination. The 'capture' turned out to be mutual, and the pair began to see each other.
This blossomed into a furtive romance over the next six years, and then they got married. Thirty-four years, and two married daughters later, they're still very much in love, and share a powerful chemistry that is just beautiful to observe. As Amin says, “The first few years, before my elder daughter was born, was like a continuous honeymoon. We travelled many places on a shoe-string budget, and it was as much a journey of discovery of each other as it was of the places we went to. Then the kids arrived, and the focus swung from each other to them. On one hand, we had less time for each other than before; on the other, we had this awesome shared bond of parenthood to bind us tighter together. Now that the girls are married and gone to their own households, we're on our second honeymoon. This time it's better than before because we're not on uncharted territory. We know what makes each other tick, and what to avoid, so the journey is sweeter.”
What makes a marriage tick? According to Shobhaa Dé in her book “Spouse”, “There's no such thing as a 'perfect marriage' or a 'perfect spouse'. Come on, get real! Marriage is a flawed institution, if you buy into that theory. Nor is it as diehard romantics would have you think a sublime, divine, and idyllic union, a true meeting of two bodies, minds, and souls.
'Marriage is an idea. A malleable idea. Marriage is what you make of it. Marriage is maddening, as anybody who has experienced it will tell you. There is no formula for a happy marriage. And nobody has all the answers.”
So while all the couples we interviewed are still all seemingly inexplicably mushy and moogly-eyed when other relationships around them seem to be falling apart, as the Maroon 5 song goes, “It's not always rainbows and butterflies; it's compromise, it moves us along.” There are fights. “Everyday” Amin admits, playfully adding “It's what keeps things spicy and interesting.” When a fight happens, they keep grousing till they lose steam, and then reach a mutual understanding. When Rita and Aziz fight, a heated argument leads to days of simmering silence; where each member silently acquiesces to the other's will, while keeping up a façade of defiance. Their children, who have become skilled in the art of conflict management, usually orchestrate the 'peace talks'.
So after all the trials and tribulations, the adjustments and the responsibilities, how does one keep going? “Respect” says Amin. “It boils down to respect, and not just for each other. She respects my friends and family, and has accepted them as her own, and I respect her friends and family, and take them as my own.” “Tolerance,” adds Rita. “There will be plenty of things about your partner that will just get your goat, but you have to learn to grin and bear it.”
No seriously, we ask…what keeps the spark alive? “A sense of humour” replies Amin. “It helps you take everything life has to throw at you.” “Teasing my wife and getting her annoyed and then charming her out of it is my best form of entertainment,” states Aziz, with a wicked grin. Rita rolls her eyes and says “I think he means spontaneity.”
Finishing off with another Spouse quote: “Marriage is memory. If the good memories outweigh the bad ones, it's fair to declare the marriage a success.”
By Sabrina F Ahmad
Photo: Zahedul I Khan