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#Bickering: As tensions mount, it’s time to take a lesson from our parents

When my husband and I decided to get married we believed we were a team and, like all couples flushed with the optimism and hope of the newlywed, were firm in our belief that we would not fall into the trap of arguing and bickering ‘like other couples’, particularly over inane issues.

Five years and one child later, we have both had a reality check – a reality that has only been exacerbated since moving to the UK.

Exhortations like “How would you know how lonely it gets to be looking after a baby on your own all day?” and “Moving to this country was a big mistake” have become all too common. 

My husband understands my conflict and helps when he can but such issues never seem to disappear completely.

Back in India, my parents in India have completed 40 years of marriage and I hold happy memories of them together.  Their generation may not have believed in public displays of affection but their love for each other was always evident to me and my most abiding memory of them are the sweet little gestures and the even sweeter episodes of bickering.

I have vivid memories of my father occasionally surprising my mother with gifts of Sarees.  My mother on the other hand would cook elaborate meals for my father, no matter how tired she might be. 

She would fuss about how my father would refuse to eat anything less than a three course meal and would spend hours in the kitchen preparing that. 

Of course they argued as well over various issues but such events were temporary.  I wonder how my parents managed to remain thoughtful towards each other despite having all the responsibilities that come with marriage and parenthood. 

Here, we let each other decide what to buy as a present and elaborate meals are rare, very rare.  Surprises are disappearing fast too, so overwhelmed we are with our parenting and other responsibilities.

Is living in a new country without family support to blame for our predicament?

I am not entirely sure.  To think of it, my parents’ situation was not much different from ours.  I grew up in a nuclear family as well where my father worked long hours and my mother single-handedly managed to build a home from scratch and raise me.

My mother had also moved to a different city after marriage and she adapted herself well to the big city life despite growing up in a traditional household with seven other siblings.

Occasionally, she did grumble about not doing something of her ‘own’ because of family responsibilities but I was never made to feel that I was a part of that problem.

Perhaps it’s time to learn from our parents who managed to create only happy memories for us.

If anything, we have more social freedom and resources at our disposal than they ever had.

{module Ruchi Haleja – Author}

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