It’s often said that if a couple can get through the first year of marriage, they can weather any storm. And though Sara’s and Sunil’s first year was a bigger trial than most, with each having to deal with severe health problems, they also had their little battles throughout the grand war.
‘The biggest problem? Oh, Sunil snores so loudly, and I’m such a light sleeper—it would get me so irritated! Then he got me ear plugs. It’s not like they solved the problem, but they made it better, and I slowly got used to it. Sometimes, when I can’t bear it, I go to the other room.’
Of course, they fight over who takes the garbage out.
But what really riles Sara is his tendency to leave wet towels on the bed. ‘Ewww!’ she shudders. Thank God, now he doesn’t do it that often. But when I’m travelling on work, or I head off to visit family and friends, I still dread coming back to find the house in a mess.’
That’s not to say there’s nothing about her that doesn’t make Sunil grind his teeth, quite literally. His big grouse is the way she handles the toothpaste. She tends to squeeze whichever part of the tube she touches first, whereas he is finicky about squeezing it out from the end.
To a newly married couple, no issue is too small to fight over—not even a tube of toothpaste.
Gayathri Mohan, however, testifies to the possibility of a harmonious relationship. She can’t remember having any big fight in the first year. Her husband Sridhar is better at remembering anniversaries—down to that of their first meeting—than she is, so that was never an issue. But she says with fond frustration that going out together, especially on shopping expeditions, is practically a pipe dream. He would rather spend a quiet evening at home.
Shwetha Srinivasan says couples rarely fight over real problems in the first year. ‘It’s always external factors, it’s about other people. Even now, that’s what we usually fight about. And it’s almost always me who initiates the fight. I must have done the yelling some 2000—3000 times. Only twice in our marriage has my husband shouted at me, and I got really scared.
Well, I totally deserved both. But, yeah, fighting never happens because of you, it’s always other things, and you need to see whether they’re worth fighting over. Mostly, they’re not.’ Smriti Rao and her husband Sagar got into tiffs in the first year of their marriage mostly because of miscommunication — they didn’t understand what the other really meant.
‘You’re not sure whether the person is being romantic, cheeky, sarcastic, funny, or annoyed. It takes the time to figure all that out, and to interpret facial expressions! And then, of course, there are those lifestyle values like whether you should buy a flashy car or a utility vehicle and so on. It’s never important what you fight over, and you usually forget all of it, but how you handle it sets the tone for how you deal with things later.