For the longest time, I remember romanticising the idea of an ideal husband. Back in 2006, I’d 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 (all older than me) on my dad’s side of the family, 1 girl and 3 boys were married by this point and all of them had had an arranged marriage. Each alliance had brought upon the family greater collective wealth or fame or something else that further elevated the status of my family in our society. Next in line was a cousin sister, who was in love but was struggling to garner support from the family to go ahead and marry as the elders were desperately fighting the love marriage epidemic that was about to plague our family.
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.
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 a decade now, and a husband is no longer a static idea for me. It is dynamic, and evolves in tandem with my own evolving personality. 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, he’s come from a great family, and we’re the same caste, so it’s okay that I’ve to tidy up the house after a long day at work even though he sat home doing nothing.” I would be pissed as hell for having to do more than my fair share of the household chores.
So, if I just put tidiness on the list, that would’ve made for a more 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 has a handful of strengths if we are lucky, so optimising for an ideal husband seems like a dumb idea. Instead, optimising for a good partnership, and the values we’ll continue to bring to it makes more sense.
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 at best, or not even. 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 as is. 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 person 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.