My wife, Malathi, and I recently celebrated our 10th anniversary. Yes, it’s been a whole decade since we got married, a whole decade since we stood in front of family and friends, looked into each other’s eyes and thought, “Who is this person?”
We hardly knew each other back then, having met through a matrimonial ad on the internet. But after spending 10 years together and producing three children, one thing is clear: we still don’t know each other.
If we knew each other, I wouldn’t have waited patiently for her outside the clothing store in the mall — I would have rented a tow truck with a hook and chain to pull her out.
Despite not knowing each other, we’ve somehow managed to stay married for 10 years. That may not seem like a long time to some of our friends — a few have been married 25 years or more — but for Malathi and I, it’s amazing that we’re still together and even more amazing that we still occasionally talk to each other.
In fact, you’ll be glad to know that we spoke to each other just last month. I said, “Our anniversary is coming up. How do you want to celebrate it?” And she said, “I’d like to try the new Japanese restaurant in town. Do you want me to bring something home for you?” (That’s what I love about her — she’s so thoughtful.)
Actually, Malathi and I talk to each other quite a lot — whenever the kids let us. The kids are 4, 6 and 8, and at any given time one of them is speaking, one of them is singing and one of them is screaming. It’s hard to have a conversation when they’re around, especially since they don’t like to see Mommy and Daddy getting too affectionate. We usually have to speak in code — a special code that develops naturally during a marriage. Whenever Malathi wants to say “I love you,” she says, “Are you watching that stupid football game again?” And whenever I want to say “I love you,” I say, “How many pairs of shoes do you need anyway?” The kids don’t realize it, but we’re a very romantic couple.
Our relationship has evolved and matured over the years. We’re even able to communicate without saying a word to each other. For example, if I’m on the couch watching a football game and a pumpkin lands on my head, I know that Malathi needs help in the kitchen.
All relationships change over time, and it’s important to adapt to the changes. Just look at what I’ve adapted to from “then” to “now.”
Then: Leaves romantic “I need you like I need food and water” note on the dining table.
Now: Leaves frantic “I need you to buy some food and water” note on the dining table.
Then: Offers to make tea in the evening.
Now: Shouts “Where’s my tea?” while checking Facebook.
Then: Gives compliments such as “You’re so sweet! Take a bow.”
Now: Gives advice such as “You’re so sweaty! Take a bath.”
Then: Finishes my sentences without thinking.
Now: Finishes my sandwiches without thinking.
Actually, the last one isn’t completely true. She still occasionally finishes my sentences. Just the other day, I said, “How many pairs of shoes …” and she said, “would my husband like to dodge on a Sunday afternoon?”
That’s a special code, of course.
She means the world to me, too.
Cartoon by Mahendra Shah