In birthday celebrations, there is the universal “Happy Birthday to you!” song that practically everyone knows the tune and the words of the first verse or two, and maybe even the kids party additional versions of “You were born in a zoo, with monkeys and giraffes,” or the more ribald versions that mark some parties. In a wedding anniversary celebration, there are no major songs that everyone can sing along as the couple cut the cake and so people tend to shout out “Kiss! Kiss!” Many times, that leads to some very endearing moments where one pivots the other on their heels to plant one making everyone in the audience go “Awww!”, or some really funny ones where such an unexpected extravagance causes them to fall awkwardly and the video capturing that moment becomes a happy meme within the group’s instant messaging group.
For the more socially conservative people that avoid public displays of affection or in groups that mix friends from work and personal life, we typically resort to shouting, “Speech! Speech!” when the cake comes out and try to pressure the couple into saying things about each other with the hope that we can then tease them about their words on that evening and for years later, if we are lucky to get some real gems from these speeches.
At such a party over the weekend, clearly unprepared for giving speeches, one half of the couple awkwardly said, “I am so grateful to have had fifteen years with my best friend, philosopher, guide, financial advisor, therapist, best co-parent ever, and everything else. When I first met you, I only knew how much I loved you, and not I know I cannot live without you. You are the sun in my sky. You are the air that I breathe. I am just so grateful you are here with me!” and got teary-eyed. The other one perhaps had one too many, and just said, “I don’t know about all that, but am just so glad we are still having an awesome time in bed!” to loud laughs all around and a very pleased but embarrassed host.
The laughter and fun apart, it sets one thinking: Do we need our partner to be everything for us? Is it the ideal relationship if the people in it can be each other’s best friend, parent, child, doctor, cook, nurse, financial planner, life coach, therapist, lover, confidante etc.? What roles does one necessarily look for in each other, and what roles are we ok to let people from outside the relationship perform for us? If we are everything for each other, does it make us dependent and insular? Do we lose other connections? Do we risk losing ourselves if we lose the other?
Making relationships this perfect bubble might seem so romantic and satisfying, but it is a lot of pressure on it and just having such high expectations can make it crack. Maybe a lighter balance and a lot of laughter is the key to success.
As written for The New Indian Express
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.