About two years ago, I read a New York Times column, ‘36 questions that lead to Love’. Ever since, I read this curious little story, I am intrigued. I wonder time and again — if it is ever possible to fall in love with someone based on a list of questions. Last week, the same author wrote how she has stayed in love with a new paradigm — a signed, documented agreement! A document, that details the rules and responsibilities of both partners. It details everything — from the mundane — dog walking rules to who pays for the anniversary dinner rules.
“Does it really work?” I gasped even as I read the column.
I imagined my life with such a document — the numerous tasks and the daily chores, like washing. I would shove the clothes in the machine and then start the washing cycle. And, when the washer would musically declare the finishing of the assigned task, my husband would just run to the machine, get the clothes and put it up for air drying. Voila! Simple! I smiled. And my anniversary dinner date? I could almost feel it! It would be perfect — a beautiful place with candle lights and rose petals because, the clause would state that I would pick the place and then, we would split the bill — which I thought was way better. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about crazy gift ideas like reading glasses or hearing aid — which by the way, was my husband’s grand plan for our 25th wedding anniversary!
As I day-dreamed about the little document, it took me back in time. When, I discovered the magical feeling of love, there were no questions. Just one uplifting realisation. When my husband asked me if I could spend the rest of my life with him — I knew I could. No questions or answers. I went with my gut. It probably is the woman’s instinct but it helps, now, to know that I listened to my heart. Or probably like they say — love is any way blind!
Once married — there were no dos and don’ts. We were two people taking a leap of faith. No documents to sign, no agreements — just gut! I saw my parents who were then married for 25 years, managing the many ups and downs — doing just fine. Neighbours, friends, relatives — all seemed well-oiled for the long haul. It seemed rather natural to assume that partnerships were meant for a lifetime. No paperwork. Just a seal of faith.
Is gut good enough for such a huge decision? I wonder about it now that I am equipped with this new knowledge of “agreement”. Perhaps it helps to have a paper that lists our tasks and responsibilities? “Maybe”, I nod my head. It reduces expectations and hence can avoid conflict? “Without a doubt”, I mumble. Yet, with all the pros, this idea has a nagging feeling.
Just then, I watch a familiar face walk in. It is none other than the partner in crime. He hands me the newspaper — the weekend supplement. “Looks like you haven’t read it today”, he says, impressing me with his tiny observation. “I got work to finish”, I tell him as I head towards the dishwasher. “You read while I take care of the dishes”, he states matter-of-factly.
Although, paperwork kills spontaneity, I would get to read the weekend supplement, I gush inside my head. Ours is not a rosy marriage. In fact, over the years, I have discovered that, there is no such thing. But, then, matters of heart don’t come with a manual. It is not just the thought, words or even action. It is just — pure, simple gut. If only I could find a manual for that!
Sudha Subramanian is an author and freelance writer based in Dubai.