I recently watched an offbeat Bollywood movie ‘English Vinglish’. It’s a must-watch – gentle, yet hard-hitting.
Sridevi plays Shashi, a middle-class Maharashtrian housewife from Pune who has spent her life being an ideal homemaker. She is suddenly required to move out of her comfort zone – to go to the US to help her sister whose daughter was getting married. Shashi is worried as she cannot speak English and has had several uncomfortable, awkward and embarrassing moments when she has been required to speak it. She, however, does have one great talent – apart from being a good homemaker, she is a fabulous cook and her ‘laddoos’ are a rage. Yet her family unknowingly makes her lose her self-confidence and her sense of self-worth – her husband makes derisive comments about her laddoo-making; her daughter is scathingly rude to her and is ashamed at having a mother who cannot speak English like her friends’ mothers. In the US, Shashi ‘rediscovers’ herself at a crash English-speaking course, and her family is pleasantly surprised at her newly acquired confidence and fluency in English.
The poignant scenes in ‘English Vinglish’ were a clear case of not communicating effectively – not so much about English, but more about Vinglish (or any form or language of communication).
These common scenes can be avoided if both husband and wife learn to understand one another right from the first day of their married lives – or even before… when they plan to commit to each other for life. How important it is to empathize with one’s life partner is clear from the movie, and to be able to communicate what you feel, especially sooner than later so that it becomes easier to sort things out without much heartache.
Effective communication is the key in most successful marriages – make sure you are using this powerful and effective tool to work for you. And breakdown of communication is the cause of most marriages breaking down as well.
Are you communicating right in your marriage? How can you find out if you are? Take the 5-point questionnaire:
- Are you talking to your spouse about your feelings? What’s bothering you, your fears?
- Are you talking to your spouse about your day-to-day routine – it’s not really your weltanschauung but the little things that matter in a relationship.
- Are you sharing your ideas?
- Are you communicating your emotions, desires, aspirations?
- Are you really listening to your spouse? What is being said, and how? And about the other’s feelings? Are you trying to guard your own but not the others? Empathy is very important.
If the answer if a NO to most of the above, there is a problem that needs sorting as soon as possible.
No worries, it is not too late to change that if you wish to. Here is a list of things you can begin right away to communicate better and make your relationship work.
- Remember to listen carefully to what your spouse is really saying – watch the body language, the tone and what is being said.
- Allocate some together-time. When both you and spouse are doing something together – it could be as small as having a cup of morning tea together or doing some household chore together.
- Find something that is a common point for you both so that it can become the binder between you both; the communication channel that will allow for greater and more fulfilling conversations. This could be watching movies, or a passion for theatre, or trekking, or travelling, or even supporting special social causes.
- Find the way to your spouse’s heart – a way to show that you care and allow you to shower love and affection – it could be food or special mood music, or having friends over for dinner. But finding that right switch is important – we all have one.
- Sometimes it is just that there is no communication channel that exists – that can be a most dangerous state of affairs.
A robust communication channel through which the right communication can happen is an essential in marriage and going about creating that is your responsibility. It is not rocket science and if you spend some quiet time, you can find all the means yourself. Do seek help from veterans if you are stuck for long.
Remember to communicate, communicate, communicate. Though do make sure that your English Vinglish is not Greek Freak to your spouse.
Feature Writer: Purnima Joshi