Marriage + Relationship = IMPOSSIBLE?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Medicine isn't something I thought that would 'happen' to me. Yet the more I thought about it, the more natural it seemed and when the opportunity came knocking at the door, I seized it with a smile that reached my ears with the utmost excitement.

I spent my time fantasizing about sitting in lecture halls, absorbing like a sponge, the knowledge that my would-be professors would impart; standing for countless hours dissecting cadavers- those remains of people who had a part to play in history whether in a small, familial setting or on a larger scale- each one of them had a story to tell, I felt. I would then hit the clinical years- interacting with patients, getting a shot at diagnosing their various illnesses, feeling that sense of satisfaction in knowing that I'm not only touching the lives of others, but I'm actually touching my own by enriching it with my life purpose- that raison d'être- the very reason for my existence. Residency would soon follow, as would marriage with my prince charming. Kids would soon follow and I'd live happily ever after!

Right.... Lets take a reality check on that one shall we?!

The moment I attended my first lecture, that big fantasy I kept replaying over and over again was rudely shattered. Medical school is no joke- its freggin serious stuff and no amount of prozac or anything else one may crave for will numb the damn pain. Yes, stress is the invisible tiger that we must tame but being pushed to exhaustion is another thing all together! I even got screamed at for having the best french manicure with painted flowers and my nails weren't even long!

Like all girls (or people- I don't want to be accused of being a sexist or anything), I had this silent (or not so!) fantasy part where I would meet my prince charming- that man who would sweep me off my feet. I planned meticulously, my elaborate wedding right down to the finest details like the kinda china we'll be eating from.

Then he came along- my own prince. Little did I know though, that he truly was one. Our courtship started after we bumped into five times on separate occasions. We met in the hospital where his nephew was a patient. I was awestruck by this 2m tall, dark, handsome man and well, he was kinda taken aback when he saw this 1.85m tall girl who was oh-so-hyper, she could make pigs fly. We got to know each other via phone conversations and outings when I could squeeze time in. Then came the engagement and along with that suddenly came the demands of his mother who *ordered* me to stop studying.

The engagement came to an abrupt end after I told her to save it for Oprah and that I wasn't going to stop studying for the world. So here I stand, wondering.. would I ever be able to do it?! Would I ever be able to nurture my children well and be there and hear them say their first words? Would I be a wonderful, supporting wife to her husband? Would I be an awesome daughter to my parents? Can I do all of the above and still be in a highly competitive specialty? The questions are endless and the worries that follow it, are worse.

Yes, men have it easier (sorry guys- I'd support y'all on a normal day but hey- unless you're going to pop triplets outta your bums, I suggest you reserve the right to remain silent!).. alot easier but its hard for them too. Would that mean though that I should end up marrying a doctor? Would it be alright to have two exhausted individuals raising a household? What if our timings clash or are the complete opposite and don't end up spending time with each other? Oh and lets not forget the fact that everything comes with a price and after graduating from medical school with alot of debt (high tuition costs), we earn minimal wages as residents despite working around-the-clock.

There's a day for pretty much everyone and everything- Mother's Day, Father's Day, Friendship Day, Rose Day, St. Valentine's Day, etc. Whatever happened to Doctor's day?! Didn't it strike anyone to start celebrating that in conjunction with the others?!

How many of you all are married and work or study? How do you find the time to balance it? How can you all bare the lack-of-sleep?! Do you just live life from day-to-day? How do you do it?! Has the infamous Nike slogan, "Just do it" become your personal motto in life? Pray tell, what's your secret?!

A Love Arranged, A Life Deranged?

"Love is blind, marriage is an eye-opener.”

Remember what it was like when we were kids? The sweets, the presents, the lame jokes and the laughs? Seems like yesterday doesn’t it? Remember how we looked up to our parents for assurance? Remember how great it was to actually satisfy our parents' wishes as we sought their approval? Will we still do the same now? Will we satisfy them when it comes to finding that life partner? Will we actually give into their belief that love comes after marriage?

I have a couple of friends who got married and have since dreaded waking up next to their arranged-husbands each day. The sex is horrible and there is absolutely no understanding whatsoever. Nada. Zilch. In fact, they aren’t even trying to understand each other anymore. They lead their own lives despite sharing the same bed. They put on a front only for the public and their kids. Their marriages were merely social and economic contracts. Our conversations are filled with bitter complaints where they do nothing else but bitch and bitch. They just wish they could reverse time and say no.

I had often wondered if I would be a victim of arranged marriage. I'd wondered if I’d get to meet my husband-to-be just thrice before getting married. I'd wondered if I would actually be able to share a bed with the man I’m bound to in paper and worse still, I'd wondered if I could stand sharing the bathroom with him! I found myself wondering if I was far too modern for arranged marriages. Could I truly love him and live happily ever after?

My parents are a prime example of how love comes after marriage. Mom had her own TV show and was pretty well-known as a dynamic debater who had never lost a competition. She was holidaying with my grandparents and when she walked into her hotel room, a little girl came running behind her, asking for her autograph. Mom was talking to the little girl when the girl’s mother rushed in after her. She saw mom and went “Oh wow! Hi! My daughter watches all your shows! Are your parents here?” My grandparents soon came into the room and that lady talked about some guy in the family who’s of marriageable age. They met a couple of weeks after that and soon got engaged. Mom got married two days before her 19th birthday and gave birth to me on her 20th. (Yes, we share the same birthday.)

If I was part of those times, I would have crossed the unmarriageable threshold at 21 and should’ve been married with at least one child. I wondered how mom could’ve actually got married at the tender age of 18. The thought just seems so far-fetched to me. I got the shock of my life when I found out grandmamma got married at 15! Both mom and grams complained of how their respective husbands refused to understand them. Yet I realized that the understanding came intuitively with time. Was it because they were in love or because they've just lived together for years?

While we, as modern women, eschew the idea of marrying without love, the idea that we’re being too picky tends to nag even more than it otherwise would. I mean is it too much to ask for a man who is well-educated, open-minded, successful and honest? Is it too much to ask for someone who has a good mix of both the East and the West? Is it too much to ask for a man who truly knows what he wants and is grounded? I feared my parents would think so.

I thought about all my 'failed' relationships- the pediatric surgical resident, the influential businessman who dined with the elite, the government official and last but not the least, the man I was engaged to, the royal Ex.

Our engagement was dismayingly abrupt and we decided to part ways. He was someone who prided himself in being modern and open-minded but who in fact had horribly crusty notions passed down from his parents. I don’t think he actually thought I would give up my education and get married to him in two months, did he? I know it was his mother’s doing but hey- I was literally going to be married to the in-laws too!

I guess I’m like every other woman, complaining that a man is either too ambitious or not ambitious enough, too eager or not eager enough. But they are picky, too. These men, in their bid to fit into Wall Street or the golf course, would like a wife who is eminently presentable to their boss, friends and family. They would like a woman to be sophisticated enough to have a martini and not a Diet Coke at an office party, but God forbid, not “sophisticated” enough to have three. Sometimes I worry that I’m a bit too sophisticated for most of our men.

Alright, so I’ll admit to needing a little romantic assistance but the question remains: Can my parents truly find The One? Can they really find the man I’ll have and from that day onward, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish 'till death do us part or will they find the diametric opposite? Will the conundrum be exacerbated by the fact that our parents had no choice for a partner; the only choice was how hard they’d work to be happy?

Well to be honest, I have no doubt they can find him. I sat down with mom and had a talk with her some time back about the entire predicament. She was shocked I even thought about such a thing! She told me that I can marry whoever I want as long as it truly feels right. She also went on, assuring me that I won’t be in a wedding I didn’t ask for, to a guy I don’t know. Mom knows me well enough and she knows exactly the kind of man I go for. If she does fix me up with someone, I’d be more than willing to meet him and get to know him over a period of time. If it feels right, I’ll go on. If it doesn’t, I’m just one step closer to the right guy.

MayaSutra: If you could meet a right man in a café, in the park, in some hotel in France or in a bookstore, you could very well meet him through your parents. Be bold enough to meet him. Who knows? He might just be the one for you! You don’t lose anything by saying “no” but gain the world by saying “yes”.

Children: Blessing or Curse?

They can be as cute as annoying, as sweet-smelling as foul, as soft as rashy, as intelligent as senseless and an asset as much as a liability. No, I’m not talking about your girlfriends. I’m talking about children.

I’ve always dreamt of being a mother to awesome kids. Though I’m not biologically capable of giving birth, I’d adopt or maybe my to-be-husband would have children from a previous marriage or something. Whatever it is, it matters not. I so want to be a mother! I decided after med school in a couple of years, I’d specialize in pediatrics and emergency medicine. Pediatrics because I love children and emergency medicine because I love thinking on my feet. I’ve always enjoyed the company of children- my niece, the kids in the neighborhood, the children in the hospital. It would therefore come as no surprise when I’d tell you I was eager to meet an Ex’s children.

After lunch at his place, he had to go to some meeting that just came up. He left me home with the kids. The boy was a smart, notorious little thing who, like all young boys loved his sister but fought with her loads. The little girl wanted me to make her up. How could I say no? Its my forte, after all!

Me:Ok.. lets make you beautiful!
Boy: Ha! Like that's going to happen.
Me: Hey.. be nice to your sister.
Boy: Why? Because we're family?
Me: Yeah and because you're father's going to be old and sick one day.. and you'll want him to live with her.

We had a great laugh, and I made us all a nice smoothie and put the remainder in the fridge- the kids could enjoy some yummy yoghurt-icecream later! He then came back and we decided to go to a funfair. Needless to say, it was just fun. The kids and I got along and it was just amazing so much so that the sibling rivalry reduced quite a bit. I knew something was up.

Me: Why are you being so nice to your sister? Who did you kill?
Him: I wonder why everyone expects the worst of me?
Me: It saves time.
Him: I just want an xbox!

I laughed my ass off. Children are always up to something, I learnt. My friend Sonto and I briefly talked about children while we were watching ‘Birth Stories’ on Reality TV.

Sonto: Argh! All that pain for these nasty, bed-wetting, fools who could potentially end up being drug addicts!
Me: Does that mean you don’t want children?
Sonto: Well, I’m not saying I don’t.. they just better not give me problems.
Me: Yeah, well, that’s bound to happen.. all the crying..
Sonto: I’ll slap them everytime they cry till they realize crying does them no good.
Me: Okayyy… and if they disobey you?
Sonto: That’s when I tell them “Listen here.. Just like I brought you into this world, I’ll take you out.”
Me: (imagining the child going right back into Sonto’s vah-jay-jay) Hahahahaha! How’re you going to take him out?
Sonto: I’ll be a practicing doctor then. I’ll take him out with an injection.

I prayed, asking the Lord to spare me. I made a mental note to never come back as Sonto’s child if I ever reincarnate!

Sonto isn’t the only one who thinks children are a problem. There are thousands of others out there who share the same view. There are people out there who want to marry but not have kids. There are people out there who don’t want to get married so they won’t have kids. There are people who just can’t see themselves having children. Well, children aren’t as bad as they seem.

I know a friend who’s in a relationship with this guy who doesn’t believe in marriage. (Okay fine, make that a few!) He doesn’t want to get married, have children, etc. His take on this (and I know there are so many people out there who believe the same) is that marriage and especially children would destroy a relationship. The time spent becomes more family/children-centered and the magic is lost. I just wonder though, if he (and the people who believe the same) ever thought about his own parents. They seem to be the envy of their friends- they kept the family together, gave their children freedom, raised ‘em well and they still have romantic evenings together. So why all this?

I think people are taking this modernization thing a bit too far- just like they do with everything else. I mean what happened to the great belief and pride we have in multi-tasking? In the past, we women would just be housewives. After the feminist movement, we would want to be mothers and work. Now, all we want to do is to just work and focus on our lingerie- so much so that we actually liken them to our intimate wear?!

“Children are like brassieres- they divide and separate.”

I think we need to keep this new-found freedom in check- just like our unchecked ambitions. In our hopes of climbing the corporate ladder, we’re missing out on quality of life. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want the only proof of my existence to be my fat bank balance. Nope. No abso-fucking-lutely way!

Yeah you’d love to be with your partner forever- just the two of you and all that crap. I hate to break it to you but its going to come to an end one day. Do you know how boring it would be in time?! Damn. You may see children as the cause for the magic dying down but I think they keep it going. They give you new things to do. Everything evolves- as will our desires in time. Having children, I believe, is the next stage of the relationship- it is evolution. Where there is no growth, there aren’t any lessons. And when there aren’t any lessons, you’ve learnt and gained nothing- which literally means you’re in a stagnant state. And when you’re in that stagnant state, you’re one depressed, pathetic, lonely fool. You’re a vegetable. I mean you might as well save the plastic on your furniture for the afterlife ‘cos you’ll need something to sit on while you’re playing with your dick in hell. Its one waste of life.

Alas, children to me are blessings- even the ones I see in the roads. I treat them like mine. Screw the medicine that says you can’t have a heart-to-heart connection with patients (especially in pediatrics)- you’re as good as a zombie treating the wild. Quite honestly, you wouldn’t do your best to save someone because they’re not yours’.

I’m not saying you must have children. Neither am I saying you should want to have kids. All I’m saying is, keep your mind open- you’re bound to change and never know what the future holds- you might want children then. Be open-minded and don’t view children as irritating creatures ‘cos hon- you were irritating once upon a time (and probably still are) and so were your parents and their parents and so on. Its evolution- don’t fight it- just go through it. Its all about balance- manage your time well.

MayaSutra: No, children are NOT like brassieres- they do NOT divide and separate. They keep that flame burning brightly and take your relationship to the next level. Raise them well and they give you some satisfaction. Its all about balancing your time- which you should be doing anyway. The next time you see a child out there, smile, if not hug it. Trust me, a little love goes a long way- it only takes a spark to get a fire going.