“Granny, I am so confused.” Malani chimed. “How do you make a decision as important as marriage just in couple of meetings with someone. I have met at least 10 prospects now and with someone his education is an issue while with other his family is. One did not appear so keen to marry and with other I could not get a connect. I come back more and more frustrated after each meeting. I think people who marry for love are lucky that they do not have to go through this agonizing process of partner selection.”
“Malani, the process is actually quite simple, You are finding this issue problematic because you are not yet clear on what you should look for. Ok so to help you clarify, do you know which is that one quality which you should look for, in a long term partner above all else.“grandmother asked in her hollow aged voice.
“No, but I can guess. His personality. It should be pleasing.”
“Well, that’s too generic to quantify and too difficult to judge. The quality you should look for in your partner, is not pleasantness or attractiveness but empathy.”
“Granny, my friend Farzana, says that the most important quality she looks for is that the guy should be like her. The overlap of traits ensures temperamental compatibility”.
“Sweety, the key question in long term relationships is not how similar you are but how will you handle your differences. Here, let me explain this a little. See you are a different person and he will be a different person owing to your genes, background etc. Also as more life happens to both of you, you will evolve even more, in different directions. So a better plan is that instead of banking on today’s similarities, look for traits which will help you bridge the ever present differences.That’s where empathy comes in. When two different people meet one of the two things happen:
1) They get into a power struggle to see whose word will carry more weight. Either one party wins outright to the detriment of the other or there are in perpetual ongoing fights in the relationship.
2) They negotiate and compromise on the spheres of influence and work out a conflict resolution mechanism.
Now the first happens when people have pronounced egos which means that people are so full of themselves to be blind to all else. The second outcome can only result if people involved have empathy which is the quality of having space to connect and understand each other. Remember you are open to negotiation only if you can see the situation from another person’s perspective. To have that quality is the central skill of any long term relationship.”
“What about looks, education, family background, astral charts and all other things. Arent they important too in an alliance.”
“With my experience, baby, let me tell you that they are important only to the extent that they should not be so bad as to create existential problems or daily stress. If they are reasonable enough their role is served. So they are peripheral factors which contribute to the differences between the two of you and not key ones which bring you together in a happy relationship.
Remember over long term, fortunes fluctuate, families scatter, jobs change, degrees become irrelevant however what endures is a bond to go through all of them together. That bond unless based on genuine appreciation of the real you, never endures. So the recipe for this long journey, is loads of empathy, friendship and connect and a little seasoning of romance, if possible.” Granny concluded with a merry twinkle in her aged wrinkled eyes.