After nine years of living together and raising six children, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie finally tied the knot in a hush-hush ceremony in France.
While it may seem that marriage can’t throw up any surprises, especially after such a long period of living together, relationship experts say that isn’t the case.
“When you stay with a person without the commitment of marriage, there is a certain psychological freedom and space,” says image consultant Chetna Mehrotra. “But when you get into the bond of marriage — and this is especially from the Indian point of view — you begin to see the other as ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ and overnight, the relationship dynamics change.”
With long-term partners who’ve decided to formalise their commitment, there is a need to protect against being complacent about the relationship: You feel you already know everything there is to the other person. “Being a good human being, a good son or a daughter, a good brother or a sister requires a different skill set and attitude than being a good husband or a wife,” points out life coach Khyati Birla. “It would not be wise to judge how your partner will be in a marital role based on how good they are in other areas of life.”
Long-term couples need to be aware of the importance of good communication, Khyati feels. “You have to speak up about your requirements (no matter how long you’ve been together), rather than expecting your spouse to be a mind reader. Also, if you don’t like your partner’s particular behaviour in a particular situation today, don’t live under the assumption that it’s going to get better tomorrow or that marriage and your love will magically change their behaviour. It hardly ever does. In fact, the odds are that by accepting that behaviour now, you are actually enabling it — which means it will only get worse in the future,” she cautions.
The great advantage that a long term live-in relationship has for couples is that they get to see a side of their partner that they wouldn’t during the courtship. As experts point out, you’ve already gained an in-depth perspective of what your partner is like after sharing a roof with them over a period of time. Marriage, in this scenario, can be a very positive development.
“It means there is complete acceptance. There is no fear of losing the other, you are secure in the relationship,” says life coach Devanshi Gandhi.
However, you still need to continue to work on your relationship, she adds. “Marriage (in any scenario) is something that needs to be worked upon every day. It’s an effort by both partners.”
The key, say relationship experts, is to think of the commitment of marriage as adding value to your already existing bond of love. “Instead of feeling that a process (the wedding) has changed your dynamic, you might want to look at the change in your relationship status as an ‘add-on’ to your life,” says Chetna adding, “Not only are you united now, your families are as well.”