Man does not live by bread alone. Our need for the expression of our thoughts and feelings is a universal emotion, irrespective of our Nationality, Religion, Caste or Tribe. We all crave the love and warmth of our fellow human beings and even our pets.
We take mother’s affection and father’s pride in our achievements as granted and reciprocate the same emotions for our own children. It has been well established that ‘well balanced two parent families’ are the single most important contributing factor in producing well-balanced and happy adults.
Acceptance by our peer groups and approval in the eyes of our friends is very important for our sense of belonging.
In the high-stress-fast-moving urban societies, the sacrosanct institution of marriage has been under increasing stress, with higher rates of separations (divorces), live-in relationships and single parent families. A recent study in the United States has determined that live-ins before engagement and marriage lead to a very high rate of divorce.
While the without commitment, walk-in, walk-out lifestyle and nuclear families appear to give us unlimited independence to enjoy our lives, the first and foremost consequence of this is erosion of all bonds, which are the basis of all our Relationships.
DINK (Double Income No Kids) partners in the Metros seem to be post-poning having children as they are too occupied with their careers and are then stressed out to have time for the children. Further, to unwind they need two expensive vacations every year and cannot therefore manage this lifestyle with kids in tow.
Two Income parents increasingly pamper their children with material gifts and gadgets to compensate for the lesser time they seem to have for the children. This obviously leads to arrogant and alienated children who can be very sweet while asking for the next ‘play station’ and will be soon vary of that as well, as of everything else. The parents want to give their children the most expensive education and all the physical comforts, particularly on the grounds that the children must have everything they lacked.
These sentiments are very good and understandable, but do not acknowledge the downside, i.e. that the children need to experience and live in the real world, full of normal hardships and comforts. They need to walk, travel in public transports, go out and play, buy clothes and gadgets one by one etc. They need physical time and proximity from their parents, which Swiss Chocolates and play stations cannot compensate for.
The question of living with the in-laws (or should we call them out-laws!) would be extremely distasteful to the daughter-in-law. Even the husband would find the middle class or older generation thinking of his parents to be very cloying and only to be tolerated out of duty. The NRIs remember their parents at the time of childbirth or for looking after young children.
Heaven forbid if the parents claim to have engagements of their own!
Parents and elders cannot understand all this and blame the present times, attitudes, technology etc.
Husband and wife talk of spending quality time and believe that expensive gifts on birthdays, anniversaries and New Year can cover the spectrum of feelings towards each other.
Well the simple fact is that ‘Relationships’ are based on the ‘Touch-Feel-See-Hear’ platform and have to be nurtured on a continuous basis.
Wonderful relationships are based on Affection, Love, Respect, Care and Appreciation.
They are sweet, bring joy in our hearts, song on our lips, smile on our faces and light up our lives with their glow.
They are not Gender, Age, Position or Status dominated, but factor-in all these plus a genuine fondness for the other human being.
What Kind of Relationships are we talking about?
- First and foremost is our relationship with our Own Selves.
We have to understand, respect and love ‘Our Own Self’ before anything else. Our own self-esteem and inner harmony are critical for our physical, mental and spiritual health. We cannot present different persona to the outer world and to our inner self. Our Soul cannot be tricked or cheated to believe anything different than what we actually are. We have to therefore carefully analyze ourselves over a period of time to understand our own desires, motivations, priorities etc. and evaluate the same on the platform of reality with our own skill and competence sets and resources.
The motto ‘Know-Thyself’ has to be understood and well accepted by us in order to create a sound foundation for understanding ourselves and then proceed forward in life.
- Second is our relationship with ‘God’ of our understanding.
Once we understand ourselves, it is easier to figure out the basis or rationale of our beliefs and develop faith in some force greater than ourselves, which balances and keeps the entire universe in harmony.
It is a very individual matter and it has been observed that people with belief in a ‘Higher Power’ have a very strong support system, which can sustain them through inevitable cycles of ups and downs in life.
Best is to treat this as a private spiritual relationship, devoid of all dogmas. We should not interfere in the belief or religion of others, while respecting all and minding our own lives.
The ‘Mantra of Karma’ leads towards positive thinking and action. Tolerance towards others and their beliefs is what this very noble relationship suggests for everyone’s well being and there is just no substitute to this.
We have to give space to others and only concentrate on evolving our own wonderful equation with our ‘Higher Power’
More than any other, this is a relationship based on faith and trust.
- Third is our relationship with our family members, starting from our Parents, Spouse, Children and Siblings.
Family members provide us with a lifelong support group, which is very powerful. The positive power of this group has to be understood but cannot be taken for granted. We must also understand that rivalry is also strongest amongst this group, especially amongst siblings due to proximate comparisons.
While all the relationships demand reciprocity, parents- to- children are possibly the only equations that survive largely on one-way traffic, i.e. from the parents to the children. Whatever the parents do or feel for their offspring is their natural emotion, but they need to also appreciate that their own parents did for them whatever they are doing today for their children. Moreover they get more emotional gratification by ‘giving’ than ‘receiving’ in this particular equation.
If the children can appreciate this near selfless relationship of their parents with them and can reciprocate with affection and respect, it is indeed great.
Relationship between the husband and wife is possibly the most pious, intimate and wonderful out of all the permutations. It can make or mar the entire being of an individual and the family.
Best are the ones where both partners treat each other with respect and love as equals, compromise with least complaints, appreciate each other’s qualities and strong points, do not compare their partners with others, understand the subtle sub-texts of a lifelong partnership and learn to enjoy each other’s company. If they can evolve as friends, that is ideal. (Yes it is very much achievable; give it all you have and it will happen)
This, more than any other relationship cannot be taken as granted.
Sibling rivalry is a real issue as they tend to naturally compare themselves with each other and the lesser successful ones normally have an issue with the better-placed or more powerful ones. God forbid if some of them feel differentiated against by their parents. It has been observed that maximum cases of rift are because of business-property-wealth disputes.
There is no simple formula to avoid this, except to chart an independent course in professional lives, i.e. to keep the business separate from the emotional part and to acknowledge that each person has ones own destiny.
If neighbors can have different standards and achievement levels in life, why not own siblings?
Moreover the parents must clearly straighten the material wealth issues when the children are growing up-the more natural and normal this process is, lesser are the chances of any discord on this account.
It may also be noted that discords are much lesser amongst sisters, largely because of the gender traits and their distinctly separate lives after marriage.
Relationships between the mothers and daughters-in-law are the stuff of soap operas and are thought to be generally discord prone. The mothers normally do not want to lose hold on their sons and tend to treat the daughters-in-law with a different yardstick than their own daughters (so do the daughters-in-law as compared to their own mothers). Moreover the universal fact is that the boss or driver in any situation can be only one, while in this case both tend to dominate in their domain-i.e. the household. Unless one person leads and controls the kitchen or they run separate ones, it is very difficult to have harmony in this challenging relationship.
The lifestyle of the younger generation is bound to be different and should not be a basis of comparison by the elders. A conscious choice has to be made by all the players, i.e. whether they want to buy grief for themselves for rest of their lives or live in harmony with due adjustments.
It is as simple as that and there are no ifs and buts in this case.
- Fourth is our relationship with the external world, i.e. with friends, employer/boss, employees/subordinates, neighbors and humanity at large.
It has been noticed that a friend can definitely turn into an enemy during our lifetime due to some discord, hurt (perceived or real) or ego clash while our enemies remain consistent. It means that we need to be very conscious of this fact and be grateful to have good friends.
Friendship means being there for each other when the other person requires our presence or support, but not to dominate, interfere or sermonize.
Each individual is unique and different. Friends do have some common traits or interests that bind them together but they are different individuals, with their own lives. Too much expectation and demands can lead to heartburns.
This relationship ought to be felt and enjoyed but should not be put to acid tests.
With our employers or boss we should be respectful, while understanding that this is a commercial and contractual relationship in which we shake hands to provide physical and intellectual inputs for the job, at an agreed ‘consideration’, which is largely financial .We should not become overly judgmental about the other person and have to appreciate that this relationship keeps our kitchen fire burning, which is no small matter.
We should however not become doormats and subservient and must manage to maintain our self-respect from the very beginning.
To maintain our importance, we should stay ahead of the learning curve and must log in quantitatively verifiable achievements, which can be translated in monetary terms.
With our employees and subordinates we need to be fair and firm, without any parochial bias. A successful leader or boss becomes successful, not only because of own qualities, work and intelligence alone, but also on the basis of the performance of his/her team. A considerate and compassionate leader gets the due cooperation and regard.
Whenever arrogance creeps in, one needs to remember that there is someone above us also. At the same time we need to understand that people appreciate a firm (even tough) boss, who can take decisions in difficult and trying situations, while retaining his/her cool. Leading from the front provides the best motivation for the troops and begets respect for the leader.
Another cardinal principle is ‘never betray or report against your reports’
‘Goal-Congruency’ is critical in both the relationships so that there is an alignment of interests.
We all spend more time at the work place than even with our families and must ensure that the relationships there are harmonious, based on mutual respect and bonhomie. This will surely lead to a quantum jump in our performance and satisfaction levels.
‘Behave with thy Neighbors as thy wishes them to behave with you’.
Good, friendly and well-meaning neighbors provide a strong support system. The relationship is important from an overall social and practical perspective.
Even with Strangers, friendly behavior will be reciprocated likewise. Moreover dealing with others in a fair and pleasant manner keeps our own mood uplifted and provides a general feeling of well-being
Power of Good and Satisfying Relationships is immense.
Even an immensely rich and successful individual who does not have a happy family life is bound to feel unfulfilled in life.
Good relationships provide continuous nourishment for our Soul and enhance our Happiness Quotient like nothing else can.
Wish you all a Happy, Joyous and Free Life.