Let us just stop putting People in Boxes!

 ” There’s a story behind every person. There’s a reason why they’re the way they are. They aren’t just like that because they want to. Something in the past created them, and sometimes it’s impossible to fix them”


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Being a Single Mother is very Romantic, not Easy: Sushmita Sen, Miss Universe 1994

This Article was originally published at Different Truths under my Column -Relationship Rationale

A few years ago, adoption was only for couples who could not have their own biological children. Sushmita Sen, being one of her kind, was the first and foremost of single women to apply for custody of a baby girl.

“Being a single mother is not easy. It’s very romantic, but it’s not easy. Yes, that is true (went to court for my first daughter). I was 24-years-old and I had been trying since I was 22 to become a mom by the process of adoption. In addition, they did not allow it. It took us a while and we got the custody for my baby,” she shared in one of her interviews.

She was barely 24 when she brought home her first baby girl, Rene, which means re-birth. Adopting the second girl was more difficult than the first one for her.

“But the second child was actually a bigger court fight than the first one. Because in India, the rules said that you could not adopt a daughter after a daughter. You have to adopt a son. Moreover, I wanted to adopt a daughter, so 10 years I fought and then my Alisah came. It was a long wait,” she shared.

She is unique. Her soul is far more beautiful than her body. A true lover of life, she celebrates everything that comes her way. It cannot be as romantic as she displays for a 40-year-old single mother of two girl-children. She wants to get married to the right person.

“I have been much attached, just not married. I do not know, I think we are all unique and we are somehow told by everyone else that this is the right age to get married. This is the right age to have children. This is the right age to retire. I just wanted to take life at my own clock because I believe everybody is unique. I came close to marriage twice. However, better sense prevailed I think. I will get married and I think in the due course of time, I think that too will happen,” she says about getting married.

Sushmita Sen is a living legend, fiercely powerful, brave, and unafraid. She is an inspiration for thousands of women. She is a living proof that women can be whatever they wish to be. In one of her interviews, she shared what her father said to her, “Please look at my daughter. Do you think I’ve raised her in a way that her only identity is to be someone’s wife?”

She teaches our society as a lesson that everybody is unique. We are humans and not machines. Not everything has to go with the same clock. Get married in 20’s, have kids by 30, buy a house by 35 and the list goes on. Marry at 21, do not marry at all, have kids, adopt kids, or do not have them at all. Do what you believe is right and not what society wants you to believe.

Are Marriage Jokes all about Wife-Bashing?

This Article was originally published at Different Truths in my weekly column, Relationship Rationale.

We often come across the messages where wives are insulted and ridiculed in the name of humor. I recently received this message on my WhatsApp: “A successful husband is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man!”

The internet is flooded with marriage jokes with a subtle sexism. A few examples are:

Before marriage, a man yearns for the woman he loves. After marriage, the “y” becomes silent.

A little boy asked his father, “Daddy, how much does it cost to get married?” In addition, the father replied, “I don’t know, son, I’m still paying for it.”

A bus full of homemakers going on a picnic fell into a river, all aboard died. Each husband cried for a week, one husband continued for more than two weeks. When asked, he replied miserably – “My wife missed the bus”

We often become an instrument in spreading this kind of evil humor that stereotypes wife as a woman who only knows how to spend money she has not earned.

“Your husband called. He said buy whatever you want.” This might look like a plain joke but here is what you are saying when you make a joke about your wife spending all the money:

  • My wife is unable to make her own money
  • My wife does not understand money and how it is earned.
  • My wife does silly things like shopping

It was not only the men who were sharing these jokes, the women were too. They spread like wildfire. Demonetisation in India acted like a fuel for firing more jokes on women.

Have you watched the video where husband calls to complain to his mother-in-law that the product he got from her is a defective piece? Refund, please.

Jokes, where women are compared to a lifeless object, are definitely not acceptable. Men sure lead a difficult life as their in-laws treat them as Kings and Emperors. It is not easy to live a life without millions of expectations from in-laws and extended families even neighbors.

The neighbors are quick to judge a newly married woman. Not all men appreciate jokes of this kind. The truth is some men are happily married. Yes, happy and married are not an oxymoron. I have witnessed, with my friends and cousins, who openly express such sentiments of sexism on their wives.

It is not just women alone who suffer from this kind of message—men and children are also negatively affected. It does as much hostile damage to a man, Ray says, because the theme intensifies the pressures on men to be a provider, to be masculine, and if they cannot, they are a failure. The message of benevolent sexism tells girls they are too fragile, and their job is to be pretty and be put on a pedestal, Ray said. “This also perpetuates self-doubt in girls and stifles their developing sense of self-efficacy and agency that are critical aspects to basic human contentment.”

These are not light-hearted jokes but carry a subtle message of dehumanising and objectifying women. There are many heterosexual households where women make the money and the husband takes care of the household. We never hear the jokes on wife asking the husband, “Where did you spend all my money.” This could be disastrous for their marriage, as it would hurt the male ego. Why can we take liberty with women but not men?

How a man and woman are earning and spending their money is a personal matter. If men have a problem being a breadwinner, they should confess it to their wives and be willing to take care of the household and children. Laughing on your wives does not make you a Hero!                                  

Are Relationships Affected Adversely when Children Move Abroad?

This was originally published at Different Truths in my weekly column, Relationship Rationale

As the world is increasingly globalized, more and more people are traveling abroad for work and settling down in nations providing better opportunities. Mostly, couples who settle abroad are hanging between two worlds. They are too foreign for their homeland and too foreign for the adapted country.

Children living abroad suffer from identity crisis at some point. Raising children away from their cousins, grandparents, uncles, and aunts is a daunting task for parents. When you live in a country where you did not grew up as a child, a part of you would always feel incomplete.

It can be difficult to maintain the warmth and love in long distance relationships. We have Facebook, Skype, and WhatsApp but to feel truly connected with others, meeting them becomes crucial. People living abroad often miss on important weddings, birthdays and family get together.

A study of over 100 expat couples living all over the world has indicated that living abroad can put as much pressure on a relationship as having a first child.

How can we maintain better relationships being seven seas apart?

  1. Visit when you can

This goes both ways, it is nearly as important as parents are to visit their children as it is for children to occasionally meet the parents. It allows you to spend time together and understand each other’s world better. Parents often complain about their child’s choice of living abroad and openly express their disagreement with relatives and friends. It adversely affects the relationship.

Everyone seems to look at settling down abroad as a cakewalk. Quite the contrary, it is just the opposite of cakewalk.

  1. Call on important occasions and events

If you are calling on birthdays and anniversaries, it makes your relatives and friends feel special. There is a possibility that one would not be able to attend family wedding due to unavailability of leave or work pressure. One should always make sure that ‘family call’ happens on such occasions. This is the best time to video call with your extended family.

  1. Celebrate festivals together

If you can plan your travel around Christmas or Diwali, you will never regret your decision. It becomes extremely suffocating and depressing to stay away from family during festivals.

  1. Communicate regularly, but not all the time

Schedule a regular time to call suitable to both places. Make sure you frankly discuss about the time zones and your schedules. As the people who have settled abroad can be busy exploring new places and new people, it can be overwhelming to take time out for friends and family in homeland.

One should always take time out to talk with the loved ones but there has to be a limit. If you are discussing every little detail about your new life, it can often get depressing and suffocating when opinions and disagreements come along.

  1. Patience and understanding

Both parents and children need a lot of patience and understanding to keep the warmth and love in relationship. While having arguments is normal — healthy even — for a relationship, you may realize that fighting long distance is a completely different ball game from fighting in person.

Work at expressing yourselves clearly, articulately, and recognising when the problem is actually distance. Explain what it is that is upsetting you rather than blaming the other person.

Are we subconsciously looking for parent’s approval all our lives?

Every morning is a chance to shape our children’s future. The way that we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.

Think about the times when you screamed at your toddler for spilling over the milk on the floor or breaking your favourite picture frame. You could have done better. It takes one moment to cool yourself down and clean up the floor but the child can take as long as forever to forget your anger. Instead of reacting with anger, react with empathy. Yelling at them will only destroy their capabilities to become better.

1. Words have Power

We, as adults carelessly say words like, “dumb, lazy, stupid, thoughtless and mean” to children that can stay with them for a lifetime. We forget things but children remember praises and criticism alike. Your kids continue to hear these words in their heads before they start anything. Instead of saying, “You are so lazy. Get up and help me” try saying “You work wonders. Can you help me with this thing?” Instead of tearing them down, you are building them up and the result would surprise you.

2. Your Children need your Time more than Toys

Children are like plants growing in the garden. They need constant attention and love. Modern parents are providing more stuff than our ancestors did but they hardly ever get time to sit and play with them. Every adult needs happy memories of childhood to stay sane and happy towards the end of life.

3. Pointing out Mistakes

Mistakes are part of life – we all make them. Parents often feel the need to rescue children from making mistakes or help them avoid making mistakes. This does not help them – it cripples them for life.

Your children will make mistakes and the way you respond helps your children learn and grow.

4. Always Being There

Your children are growing and learning, they want to experiment and try new things themselves. This gives them a great sense of accomplishment and helps them feel good about themselves. You may feel one way to show your love is doing things for your children. This robs them of the opportunity to learn life skills and the satisfaction of feeling independent. It sends your children the hidden message, “You are not capable.”

5 Set a Bad Example

Some people say fighting in front of the kids have negative consequences. All fights are destructive for the child, even the ones that were in private room but the most destructive part is how you fight and resolve the matter. The best thing you can do for your child is to love his/her wife. You can set a bad example in criticising others, in carelessness with money, unthankfulness, unkindness, laziness, irresponsibility, and more.

6. Expressing Displeasure Regularly

Many people consider their children as a blank canvas where they can paint colour of their choices. When children start behaving against the expectations of parents, chaos takes birth. If a parent regularly expresses dislike and displeasure towards the child, it can destroy the relationship as well as child's outlook of the world.

You can disagree with your child without being rude and opinionated.

7. Showing Distrust in Them

Children are subconsciously always looking for their parent’s approval. When a parent doubts and distrusts the child, it affects them adversely. You have to believe in your child and his/her dreams, goals, and aspirations. When we start punishing them for speaking the truth, they begin to tell lies.

8. Taking Important Decisions about Child’s Life

There comes a point when your child is mature enough to take sensible decisions by himself/herself. When a parent forces his/her decisions believing they know what is best for the child, they destruct child’s self-esteem. It cripples them and makes them dependent lifelong on others to make decisions for them.

9. Demanding Blind Obedience

Some parents believe that their word is the final law, and that equals right. They do not view their kids as thinking, independent, autonomous individuals but instead as machines that they can dictate and program at will. Their mantra is that kids should obey everything. They want to control the lives of their children. Anyone raised by authoritarians like this becomes timid and submissive.

10. Lack of Appreciation

There are parents who believe that praising the child equal to spoiling the child. On the other hand, children need acceptance and appreciation far more than anyone else does. They are growing individuals learning new lessons every minute of their life and a word of praise can stay for a very long time.

It is important for parents to become exceedingly self-aware of their words and actions when interacting with their children, or with others when their children are nearby.

Your Siblings are the only People who Truly Qualify as Partners for Life

Your parents raised you, your spouse lives with you, but your siblings are the ones who really shaped your personality.

They were our worst enemies when we were little but as we grow old, we realize that they are the only friends who have always stood beside us and will continue to love us despite what goes wrong. The older we get, the closer many of us grow to our siblings. In fact, in a survey of 2,000 adults in Britain, it was found that 25 was the golden age when “we finally start to feel real love for them after years of fighting, bickering and competing” for our parents’ attention. Sibling relationships influence how we deal with the society.

Researchers believe that single children are “not only less trusting, less trustworthy, and more pessimistic, but also less competitive, less conscientious, and more risk-averse.” When you have a positive relationship with your sibling, you’re less likely to have anxiety and depression, according to Professor Clare Stocker from the University of Denver.

Some of the “healthiest, happiest, and least lonely people” are the ones with good sibling relationships. If we look deeper, they were the first ones to notice our sadness and happiness; they saved us from our parent’s wrath, helped us complete school assignments, fought for us, cried for us, and laughed with us. Majorities of our “first-time experiences” were with our siblings, they saw us when we fell from the bicycle, they rejoiced when we came first in competitions and they cried when we failed.

In the formative 1995 book, Sibling Relationships across the Life Span, psychologist Victor Cicirelli says, “the older sibling gains in social skills in interacting with the younger” and “the younger sibling gains cognitively by imitating the older.” In this way, siblings are “agents of socialization.” The mild conflict between brothers and sisters teaches them how to interact with peers, coworkers, and friends for the rest of their lives.

While our parents always taught us how to be strong and face the world, they were the ones who knew how much we were hurting. They understood our dilemmas and worries more than our friends.

According to Laurie Kramer, a professor of applied family studies at the University  of Illinois, “While these conflicts can be a headache for parents, they can help kids make developmental strides in a ‘safe relationship’ and give good training for interacting with peers.” Since you are stuck with your sibling (at least for a while), you are stuck with arguing until there is a resolution, thus you learn how to better communicate. Your brother or sister might have actually made you a more compassionate, kinder person.

“From the time they are born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales. They are our scolds, protectors, goads, tormentors, playmates, counselors, sources of envy, objects of pride. They teach us how to resolve conflicts and how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. Sisters teach brothers about the mysteries of girls; brothers teach sisters about the puzzle of boys. Our spouses arrive comparatively late in our lives; our parents eventually leave us. Our siblings are the only people we will ever know who truly qualify as partners for life,” says Jeffrey Kluger in The New Science of Siblings.

Results of a statistical analysis of nearly 400 families showed that, regardless of age-distance, having a sister protected adolescent against feeling lonely, unloved, guilty, self-conscious, and fearful.

Having a sibling means having a lifetime of emotional support, a friendship greater than a spouse and endless childhood memories that bring a smile on our faces. If one of the sibs is following a healthy lifestyle, it immediately becomes a way of living for another. Working together school assignments or play is much more effective than working solely. A single child faces enormous difficulty in making new friends, dealing with relatives, and speaking about their issues with parents. They learn to do everything independently but there is always an undying urge for a partner.

©Nikita Goel

The Wardrobe of a Woman and the dignity and grace of the entire clan .

Some people believe that dressing modestly is a part of respecting the boundaries of marriage. “You’re married? You do not look like it,” is a phrase women hear even after a decade of being married. Especially in India, women have to look different once they are married. Once you tie the knot, your wardrobe has to announce your marital status.

A woman has to be a sari-clad, wearing sindoor and mangal sutra, but men can roam around the house in shorts and tees all their lives. There is no obligation for men to ‘look married’ and ‘sanskari’. Men can go on living their lives, nothing much changes once they are married but women become ‘ghar ki izzat’ (honour of the family) the moment she steps inside a new home. A woman is treated as a walking, talking platform meant to display her husband’s wealth.

A woman is treated as a walking, talking platform meant to display her husband’s wealth. The imaginary ‘izzat’ of the house is let down and the family has to face severe embarrassment if a married woman is spotted wearing anything western. The wardrobe of a woman can have a drastic impact on dignity and grace of the entire clan.

Imagine the world where men have to wear traditional attires, talk softly, cook delicacies, and make babies. Do you think men would be able to carry on with the weight of the world on their shoulders?

In ancient India, Hindu men and women adorned themselves with exotic jewelry around their bodies. Hindu scriptures talk in detail about how men relished accessorising themselves. Over a period, men stopped being decorative pieces but women were forced to follow the ancient traditions to keep it alive. It becomes a ‘talk of the town’ if married women decide to wear something un-traditional, they say things like – your husband’s age multiplies if you wear sindoor on your forehead.

Indian women nowadays are financially independent working as CEOs of reputed organisations but nobody can escape the pressure of becoming a sanskari bahu. You could be a miser, destroying families over trivial issues but not wearing body-covering clothes is illegal.

We are teaching our daughters to be independent so that their in-laws can tame them.

A woman could be earning better than her husband could but she is graded for culinary skills, alone.

“Oh, she has not popped out a baby in five years. There must be something wrong with her.”

“She comes from a family where values were not impacted.”

“She is a disgrace to our family- look at those skinny jeans, who wears those after marriage!”

Sadly, women themselves are carrying forward the tradition of taming other women like cows and buffaloes.

Originally published under my weekly column – Relationship Rationale at Different Truths

Shouldn’t love be more than just that?

“You think you’ve seen her naked because she took her clothes off? Tell me about her dreams. Tell me what breaks her heart. What is she passionate about, and what makes her cry? Tell me about her childhood. Better yet, tell me one story about her that you’re not in. You’ve seen her skin, and you’ve touched her body. But you still know as much about her as a book you once found, but never got around to opening.” ~ Dominic Matthew Jackson

What is love to our generation? It is a partner with whom they can spend their weekends partying, post vacation pictures on Instagram with, take them to friends and family once in awhile without feeling embarrassed and pretend to be happy when together. We like the idea of love, but not love actually.

The kind of love we want is measured in life-sized teddy bears and bouquet of hundred roses. It’s incomplete without posting goofy pictures on social media and hashtagging #relationship goals, showing the world how your partner surprised you with material gifts and took you out to one of the fanciest restaurants in the cities. Shouldn’t love be more than just that?

Our generation wants to order love like food in a restaurant. We do not anymore believe in the golden words, “True love happens only once in a lifetime,” we can fall in and out of love as quickly as you can change channels on your television. We thrive on instant gratification and emotional connections are old school. We do not have the time to sulk on break ups, tinder is free.

It has become a chase. And once that ends, everything ends. Met someone new. Exchanged numbers. Late-night conversations. Ask out. Have sex. Lose interest and it repeats again. We are bombarded with options, who has the time to sit and cry for the loss. We believe in the ‘Let’s-end-this-before-it-gets-started.’

We are obsessed with perfection. We do not know how to handle flaws. “He is a great guy but he is fat,” “She has beautiful eyes but I do not like her dressing sense,” “He is everything that I ever wanted, only if he earned a little too.”

True love is sacrificing every ounce of yourself for someone else. It’s patient. It’s forgiving and understanding. It does not give up so soon. It can wait for a lifetime. As a generation, we are far too self-absorbed. We are too worried about ourselves to care for anyone else, and that is why we fail at bonding. To truly love someone means to put his or her needs before your own, and that seems to be too daunting of a task for our generation.

And if we walk inside deeper into their minds, they’re not wrong. This generation is broken inside, they have been used again and again. One wrong move and they’ll shatter and break into pieces. They’re too careful. They’re too protective and sheltered to let anyone come close enough ‘to see the devastation within’.  They do not ask for love anymore, because every time they asked for it, they were misled into darkness and pain.

We want convenience in our relationships. We also want our relationship to be verified by our  society. People do not anymore look for what life partners they’d like to spend the rest of their lives with, they want people who fit in society’s standards of ‘perfect partner’.  The Internet is flooded with articles like “How to know if a guy is into you” and “When to stop dating a wrong one.” Come on, Google cannot tell us if we are dating the right partner.

True love is a commitment for a lifetime. When you find your true love, there would never be a reason good enough for you to let them go. And that is exactly why we are terrified of finding true love.

“Unless it’s mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it’s a waste of your time. There are too many mediocre things in life. Love shouldn’t be one of them,” seems to be the popular mantra.

Orginally published at Different Truths under my weekly column – Relationship Rationale

Our Grandparents Think That Their Lives Were Simpler And Better. What Do You Think ?

Two generations ago, our grandparents were able to own their own decent house and send 7-10 children to college on one salary and small odd jobs. While they lived a very simple life with no weekend fixed outings and expensive foreign vacations, they were happier than us. Today, a couple with double income lives in a small apartment, eats at fancy restaurants, dresses impeccably and spends holidays at exotic places debates whether they can finance the upbringing of a second child.

So, whose life is better is debatable. We live in better homes, we have machines that can cook, clean and wash for us in less than an hour whereas our grandmothers used to spend hours doing the same chores. The internet gives us the benefit of connecting with the world but aren’t we disconnecting from ourselves. Organisations now expect their employees to be accessible round-the-clock. The fine line between professional and personal life has thinned and is fast vanishing.

A few decades ago, people lived a simpler life. They spent less time at work and had more leisure time for family and friends. It has been scientifically proven that they were physically and mentally healthier. We are caught up in political correctness and double standards. Life is hard.

We are not having Wars as witnessed by our grandparents but we are all fighting a battle within ourselves 24×7. We measure success as money. Our happiness index is dependent on our bank accounts. Everything revolves around being financially sound. Our Society refuses to respect good people with empty pockets.

To read the Complete Article published at Different Truths under my weekly column – Relationship Rationale , click HERE

Is Walking Away From Marriage Easier Today ?

Here’s my Weekly Column for Different Truths originally posted HERE

Deciding to end your marriage, without question is the most heart-breaking decision a couple could face. Marriage does not necessarily keep two people tied together, it’s the love and friendship between them which matters. Walking out of a relationship that you thought would end a lifetime and were willing to do anything to make it work is difficult but staying in an unhappy marriage could be worse.

Let’s take a different approach of looking at things. Being married to someone should feel like living with your best friend, no guessing, no drama and no obligations. You should not have the need to think twice before saying anything. A married couple can only be successful when they can talk about most disturbing aspects of their life and still go to bed not being mad at each other.

There’s an increasing number of divorces in India, which was unheard of in the past centuries. Our parents and grandparents were united through arranged marriages and they still manage to be a happy couple. Unlike, our generation that chose their life partner, were head over heels in love with each other as they tied knots in marriage and within a few years, they realise they cannot live together. There have been couples who were lovers for almost a decade but fall apart within a year of marriage. What has changed? Why has it become easier to walk out a relationship?

Why are our relationships immune to disaster? Has the West been an influence in our marriages? Women are more independent compared to that of a few decades ago. One of the reasons, women stayed much longer than they should have in an abusive marriage was financial dependence on their husbands and societal pressure to perform. We have finally broken the shackles of pleasing the society in all aspects. Our women are financially and emotionally independent human beings. They are already living alone away from their home and families. Women have understood that they do not need a man to survive.

“After my first wife and mother of my five children left us permanently, I felt like going through a divorce was the worst thing that could happen to a family. So when my second marriage was falling apart, as my kid’s sole and single parent, I was desperate to protect them from the trauma of another divorce. As a result, I kept the family in a situation that wasn’t good for any of us. The reality is, the worst thing for your children is for them to live in a hostile home and have them see you unhappy. My life and my children’s’ lives have gotten better and happier with each passing day after the divorce,” said Matt Sweetwood.

Walking out of a relationship that no more nurtures you and makes you feel better about yourself would always be the right decision. When a relationship is no longer a healthy one, you should abandon it. Never endure a broken marriage just to fulfill the vows you made or for the sake of commitment. You are doing no good to your partner and your children by pretending to love them. Children who grew up watching their parents fight and abuse each other take a very long time to heal themselves. They become rigid and closed when it comes to love. They start seeing marriage as hell. To bring up children in an unhappy marriage is the worst parenthood.

“If you’re a parent with young kids, getting a divorce is better than staying in a bad marriage because these are formative years for them. They will likely seek out and emulate the types of relationships they see modeled. I want my relationships to be happy, healthy and mutually respectful so that my children never settle for anything else in their own lives,” advises Lindsey Light.

Learning to let go and step into the unknown may be the single most important thing you can do for your own sanity and the sanity of those around you. Divorce sometimes is better than spending a life in an unhappy marriage.