“What happens when people open their hearts?”
“They get better.”
~ Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
A close friend texted me a few days back when I was just about to fall asleep, breaking down about her toxic marriage and her inability to get out of it.
Another friend told me about how unfairly she is bearing the burden of work, home, and childcare, while her husband gets away with flimsy excuses such as not being able to handle the child or any other responsibilities by virtue of being a man(child?).
A third friend lost her husband last week. She gave birth to a child just a few months ago.
Why am I talking about all these friends when this is a post on Valentine’s Day?
Because, these are the conversations that made me think about the significance of ‘love’ and ‘finding the right one’.
Does a perfect relationship truly exist?
And even if it does, is it guaranteed to provide you with that warmth, love, and security for the rest of your life?
Is marriage or being in a romantic relationship the most important factor in a person’s life?
The answer, to all these questions, at least in my mind, is a resounding “No!”
And that’s when we come to Valentine’s Day.
Most human beings have this natural urge to crave for companionship of the romantic nature. Many of us feel unfulfilled without that special someone in our lives. Thanks to social media where our friends’ lives are on display, when we see pictures of happy couples, it makes us wish the same for ourselves.
Firstly, though you might already know this, let me say this one more time:
Social media gives a sunny filter to all relationships, that is one of the important reasons for its existence!
I myself have so many cute photos with my husband. That’s because that is the side I choose to show to the world. Would I put a picture of us fighting in the middle of a vacation? Or would I write about the times when he calls me a nag or when I ask him to take responsibilities around the house more proactively? No.
See, that is the norm. That is what we all do. And most people wouldn’t even want to see posts where I go into a rant about my husband!
What I am trying to explain here is that no person on Earth is perfect and if we depend on a single person for our life’s happiness, we’re bound to be disappointed more than we can bear.
Hence, we need to invest is something bigger and something more guaranteed to give you the emotional support you are looking for.
Invest in yourself and in building a trusted network of friends.
Once again, I have nothing against your romantic relationship or your marriage.
But we need to understand that the more we depend on a single person to fulfill all our expectations, the more likely we will tend to get hurt.
Also, God forbid if something happens to our partners, does life stop after that?
Let us understand the importance of having a life of our own.
I don’t mean to say that surround yourself with anyone you find around. Surround yourself with friends who truly enrich your soul, who are good company, with whom you love spending time doing things together, people who uplift or inspire you. You do not need to do everything as a couple. You do not need to hang out only with other couples who you know through your partner.
Make friends of your own and go out with them, spend time with them, invest yourself in them. This means actually making an effort on your side and also from your friends’ sides.
Next, build a life that you enjoy.
You can paint, write, dance, sing, watch movies, read books, but have a life outside of your family.
As women, we are often taught that our lives revolve around our husbands and their families after marriage. Unlearn it Now!
Spend time doing things you enjoy. Even if you have kids, make sure your husband also spends time with the child as much as possible. Please don’t pay heed to excuses that he cannot handle a child all by himself, it is his baby too, what if something happens to you today?
Share responsibilities and if he can have a life outside family, so can you. In fact, both of you should.
I feel friendship is such an underrated virtue, while love is an overrated one.
And even if you have the most fulfilling life within your family with just your husband and your children, wouldn’t you still want some truly enriching interactions that are outside of your family? That are not bound by your responsibilities or built on expectations but are rather built on the foundation of common interests and an intellectual stimulation?
So, this Valentine’s Day, this is my message to everyone. Whether you’re single or in a relationship invest in having a life of your own, a life outside your family and partner. Of course, if you’re single and want a partner, that’s totally okay, but do not bank your life’s happiness on that person alone. Trust me, a lot of people are just attached in relationships out of compulsion. Don’t you think it is better being single if you aren’t with someone out of love and out of your own free will? Even if you’re still searching for that person, it’s never too late to have a life you truly love with yourself and your friends.
So go ahead and make new friends.
I Learnt It The Hard Way Too!
I used to be a closed person till recently. Though I definitely had a life outside of my marriage, it had more to do with myself than anyone else. I didn’t have many friends but more importantly, I didn’t even make an effort to make new friends. I felt my relationship and my family were enough to provide me the emotional comfort I so crave for and the rest of it, I can take care of, myself.
Then I went through a terribly low phase last year. I wouldn’t call it depression and undermine the term but I seriously felt like life had no meaning. It wasn’t like my partner didn’t try to understand, but nothing he said somehow helped me much. I’d feel like I’m a worthless human being and there wasn’t any point to my existence. I felt absolutely disillusioned and dejected towards life.
It was at this time that I missed having someone to talk to. Out of sheer desperation, one day, instead of posting a cheerful status on social media, I posted about how pathetic I was feeling deep down and how I craved for a true friend. I was pleasantly surprised when so many people, who might just have been Facebook friends till then, responded to the status and asked me about my well-being. Some of them even called me up.
I opened my heart and it made me feel better. Sometimes, the warmth of friends is all you need to heal. I sincerely started making efforts to be in touch with friends who matter. One of them even suggested I see a psychologist and that tremendously helped me into putting things in perspective.
All this might have never happened if I didn’t take the first step to try making friends.
Making an effort towards friendship has been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.
Hence, this is my request to you. Be as romantic as you want on Valentine’s Day or any other day but do not forget the person who matters the most: You, yourself.
And what you need for your genuine well-being are things that you already can work on, with or without a Valentine.
Image source: Unsplash