After movie reviews, I am back with real-life problems. These days, we hear about marriages that fall apart within the first few years or after decades, siblings who feud over inheritances, children who abandon their aged parents, families that break up because of ‘in-law’ wars, and friends part ways over trivial disagreements… and all this at the cost of what? Of living with a constant grudge and hatred toward someone, children growing up in broken homes, and everyone experiencing irreversible grief for the rest of their lives. Does this happen because people don’t care and don’t want to take the effort to mend the relationship or is it because they do too little too late? Please do not misunderstand me, I do not condone toxic relationships; I am only saying that people could work on their relationships before they become toxic. Regardless of it all, it is sad to see relationships break.
Why am I bringing up relationships today? There’s a special warmth and joy one feels after meeting with family members, especially those whom you haven’t seen in eons. You know what I am talking about, right? I felt that yesterday during a video call with the extended family on my mother’s side. What started as a wish expressed by my grandmother’s sister, concluded as a well-coordinated call with people logging in from 30+ different locations around the globe. The participants were of varying age groups, ranging from 6 to 90+ and everything in between. It was very clear from the demeanor of all who joined that they were overjoyed to be there, to see each other, and spend a few hours reminiscing old times. It was especially sweet to see the joy and excitement on the faces of the older generation, for whom these virtual meets might be the only way to see their extended families, considering the times we live in.
As part of the agenda, we discussed what to do to upkeep our connections, and one of the suggestions put forth by many was to increase the frequency of these virtual meets because no one knows when we can all meet in person. Over the past few years, a cousin of mine, with the help of a few others, has successfully created a family tree and is also working on gathering historical facts and documents as part of preserving our heritage. Read Mankada: A Memory to get a glimpse of my ancestral home.
On the one hand, we had all these people set aside their precious time just to see each other, renew old bonds, and establish relationships with new additions to the family, and on the other, there are people in our own families and across the globe who deal with disintegrating relationships: some that are strained to the extent of snapping or are beyond repair. Sometimes, I wonder if relationships are overrated and then again I tell myself that one cannot really survive in the absence of meaningful relationships… meaningful being the keyword. We come from a culture that was built on joint families and strong family bonds, but today the value of a good relationship (family or otherwise) seems to have tarnished. I am not saying that joint families were harmonious or that nuclear families are bad; they each have their plus and minus points… finally, what matters is whether the individuals are happy.
I know from personal experience that relationships are not easy, their upkeep requires extensive effort, patience, and the willingness to adjust and when that effort dwindles, problems creep in. I read this somewhere and find it to be very true, “If you want a relationship that looks and feels like the most amazing thing on earth, you need to treat it like the most amazing thing on earth.” And I believe that this can be applied to any relationship in the book, not just to couples.
I also believe that another essential element for the smooth running of any relationship is diplomacy. Right from my childhood, my parents have noticed my diplomatic skills, and my father, to this day, makes fun of me saying I’ll make a good politician. He says that I have the knack to talk tactically to different people, depending on the situation, and making sure that no one is hurt… Maybe that’s why I haven’t had any relationship issues. Fights? Yes. Periods of not talking to certain people? Yes. But has that caused a permanent rift? Never. The policy I follow: Treat others the way I would like to be treated, and everything will be OK.
Points to ponder:
- Politicians are not the only ones who need diplomacy in their lives, we all can do with some.
- Relationships take time and effort to maintain: time and effort put in by all parties involved.
- Joint family or not, keeping up familial relationships is the only way to maintain and carry forward family heritage.
- Sometimes relationships fall apart only to come back stronger (personal experience).
- As long as you believe that you are committed to the relationship, you’ll automatically put in everything you have to keep the bond strong.
- Try and work on relationships before they become toxic, because once it is then there’s no point lingering on.
- If a relationship does break (sometimes for no fault of yours), then understand that it was not meant to be, accept and move on.
What’s your take; can broken relationships be mended?