For the longest time, I remember romanticising the idea of an ideal husband. Back in 2006, I had even found this boy who I thought was great marriage material. He was well educated, smart, good looking, hailed from a good family, belonged to the same caste as me and we got along quite well. At this point, I was barely 20 years old. Where did all these ideas of an ideal husband even come from? None of them were my own.
Some context: Of the 8 cousins on my dad’s side who were older than me, 1 girl and 3 boys were married by this point and all of them had had an arranged marriage, each alliance beating the previous on money or fame or some other crucial attribute that elevated the status of my family in the society even further. Next, was this cousin sister, who was in love with a guy from another state, did not garner enough support for a long time to go ahead and marry as the whole family was fighting the love marriage epidemic. So, you can see where my ideas of an ideal husband came from. They came from my family, who had derived their ideas of a good partner from a society, that does nothing but sits back and passes judgement as if the music would never stop (using a musical chairs reference here!!).
Now, 13 years hence, if you asked me what makes an ideal husband, I am not sure I’d even have an answer to that question. I have been married for over 8 years now, and a husband is no longer a static idea for me. It is this real dynamic person that I share my life with. We are constantly learning new things about ourselves and each other, and we are still in the process of learning acceptance and reasonable responses to each others thoughts and actions. I can’t believe that I ever thought a static list of 10 points would determine the trajectory of a marriage that lasts a few decades.
I decided to marry my husband when I was 22 based on my juvenile ideas of an ideal husband, but none of that mattered every time we fought, and fought so often. It was not like I thought Oh, I’ve come back home exhausted from work, while he sat at home all day and did not bother tidying up the house, but you know what, it’s okay because he comes from great family or that my parents are happy I married from the same caste. I would still be pissed as hell for him not keeping the house tidy.
So, I just put tidiness on the list, and that should make the list for an ideal husband no? But no, there will be another situation on another day that will emphasise another attribute that’s essential in a partner. The list can be endless, but each of us only really have a handful of strengths if we are lucky, so optimising for an ideal husband seems like a dumb thing. Instead, optimise for a good partnership, and what each of you will continue to bring to it.
The idea of ideal is like forcing a trend line out of the many myriad relationships that exist in the world today. It’s not real, it’s not a reflection of any one relationship. Every individual values different things in a partner in different situations, and each one of us has the moral responsibility to respect our own. We simply cannot compare our values and situations to someone else’s just like that. That would just be a recipe for a disastrous relationship. Apply your own rules, not your mother’s. But if you ever feel under-confident about applying your own rules or sticking by it, then use the trend line. But remember, you’ll risk never ever living upto the trend line for the rest of your life, mostly because you were never meant to.
So, ask yourself who you are and what you value in a partnership and whether the guy you are evaluating will live up to their end of the deal a decade from now. If yes, there you have it — the husband. And trust me, he will always always be far from ideal (unless he leaves the toilet seat down everyday of course!), so you’re better off tearing down the idea of an ideal husband today just so you have a real shot at building a beautiful relationship with someone who has just torn down their idea of an ideal wife.