ON a recent trip to Bangkok, I found myself sitting at the back of a taxi with a married couple. I was in the city to attend a concert, and through a mutual friend we ended up renting the same Airbnb accommodation and hung out together most of the time.
I didn’t know much about them prior to this trip. But it turned out they are friendly, fun-loving and easy to get along with.
On that particular Saturday when the sun was blazing hot and we were in the taxi in the middle of bustling Bangkok, stuck in traffic, I decided to interview them. “How long have you guys been married?” I asked.
They told me they had been married for three years.
THE THIRD-YEAR INTERVIEW
“So,” I began, “Now that you’re three years in, is it different from what you expected before you got hitched?”
“Yes,” the husband answered, albeit a little hesitant. I saw that he quickly glanced at his wife for approval, a flash of panic in his eyes. The wife agreed and was quick to elaborate. “It is a lot more different than how I envisioned it would be before I was married,” she said.
The first three years of married life were less about the rainbows-candies-flowers stories and more about the reality of it all – the adjustment of living together, the newlydiscovered sides of each other and in general, a lot of interesting “why can’t you just help me vacuum?” type of questions.
A MATTER OF TOLERANCE
On the lesson learnt about co-existing with each other, both of them had the same immediate answer. Tolerance. It seemed to be the main theme of the discovery process.
There is tolerance after discovering that you will never quite get exactly what you fantasised about in a partner.
There is tolerance after learning that there will be things about the other that you don’t quite fancy but you learn to accept them.
There is tolerance as everyone has flaws.
People are individuals, and you will never thinkalike, or have all the same opinions as each other.
It is interesting to observe the evolution of relationships from their beginning to three years later, to a few children later, to whenthey arean old married couple.
As the novelty of a courtship fades away, so does the lovesick haze, that will then allow you to see the reality of a person, which includes bad habits, unpleasant qualities and flaws.
My mother once told me that you will never find a man who will fit exactly into the “box” that you have pre-designed.
There will be things about the other that do not quite seem like what we idealised them to be. The question then is: Are those things worth tolerating in exchange for having that person in your life?
WHAT IT IS WORTH
We’ve heard it all before. People have challenging relationships but are determined to be together. People who fall in love with others who not at all their usual past choices. People who are so different from one another but have managed to be happily united.
Tolerance is not easy.
The couple in the taxi gave me an insight into life together after a few years, somewhere between the excitement of new love and the comfort of a long-term companionship.
No matter how similar or different you are to begin with, somewhere down the line, the matter of tolerance will emerge, as no two individuals are the exact mould.
In today’s world where we are often presented with choices, as well as unlikely collisions, what is worth tolerating and what isn’t for the sake of togetherness seem to always be a question of the modernrelationship dilemmas.
Although there are such things as “deal-breakers” when it comes to what is acceptable, the reality is that maintaining love, regardless oftype,stage and age, will eventually be largely a matter of being kind and tolerant of each other’s individualities.
And although I was only a third-wheeler in this third-year marital interview, I sure was glad to have learnt something on that afternoon taxi ride in Bangkok.
,b>A geoscientist by day and an aspiring writer by night, Amal Ghazali ponders on everything, from perplexing modern day relationship dilemmas to the fascinating world of women’s health and well-being. All done of course, while having a good laugh. Read more of her stories at bootsoverbooks.com