Ten years and still getting to know each other

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 HumorColumn 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, she wouldn’t get annoyed whenever she finds me on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, as though I have any control whatsoever over the schedule of the National Football League.Anniversary

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

Melvin Durai’s humourous novel “Bala Takes the Plunge” is available at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. That’s very sweet. 🙂

  2. Hilarious! Maybe, someday I’ll learn your code language 🙂

  3. Rabindra Manuel says:

    Is it a precursor to…BALA STILL AFLOAT…?

  4. Quite fabulous Melvin. Inspired me to write one myself…watch out on FB!!

  5. Nel in Canada says:

    Allready 10 years Oh my where does the time go when your having FUN. Mariage is a learning experience Take it from one that has experience…LOL Happy Anniversary and next thing you know it is your 25th :):)

  6. Very sweet 🙂 I would be sharing with my hubby and friends.
    We would love to see a latest picture of the couple too 🙂 Grey hair, black circles around the eyes and all 😉

  7. mahendra shah says:

    Great! Thanks for using my cartoon.We have been married for 41 years! Inspiration of my cartoons!
    Mahendra Shah.

  8. suresh amin says:

    Will have to know this writer more.
    We after 5 decades have still develop code

  9. Connie Devadoss says:

    Wow Melvin! Another great funny and sweet column. You are a great storyteller! Congratulations to you are your wife!
    God bless,
    Connie Devadoss

  10. Bharat Dalia says:

    To attest to that
    I am married for 35 years
    one very learned man has said,
    “married life is like riding a chariot.”
    My take is even if it has one wheel of scooter and other of tracror.
    Enjoy the ride!!!!!!!!!!!
    Bharat Dalia

  11. That code language is lovely.
    Honey, why did you throw the kids in air? (Scowling)
    He hears “Wow, honey you so strong and macho, you can not only lift so much weight, you can catch it too…without falling on the ground. I love you!”

  12. narendra shah says:

    I enjoyed very much. Please send more cartoons. Thanks.

  13. After 24 years of marriage and 12 years doing marriage counseling as a pastor I have learned that, contrary to what most “experts” will tell you, the secret to a successful marriage isn’t communication, it is tolerance. The more you are able to tolerate the happier you will be!

  14. Congrats on your wedding anniversary Melvin! It will soon be my first and I am looking forward to developing code as well! Cheers!

  15. This one had me in splits!! Bwahahhaa!! Thanks for the laughs Melvin, much needed it after a hectic morning at home with a screaming child and too many romantic coded sentences from the husband 😛
    Wish you two many more years of togetherness.

  16. BEAUTIFUL!!! Congratulations Melvin and Malathi!!!! Rib cracking as is usual. Haven’t read the columns for a bit, I have a lot to catch up on.

  17. Melvin:
    I have been a fan of your blog, since those repulsive yellow background days ..lol
    Me and My wife are just 3 years into our marriage. We have an advanced system of detecting the density of air movement around us and realize how angry the other person (the variations in density caused by deep breaths that usually are followed by Identifiable flying objects).
    If we live to see the 10th year, I shall check this post to compare notes 🙂

  18. Entertaining as always. Thanks!

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