The Indian Culture of ‘Adjust’ vs ‘Adapt’ in a Marriage.
In India, parental advice is as sacrosanct to marriage as the rituals. For centuries, the wisdom or should we say, the ‘expert talk’ has always passed on from the folks to kids. May it be employment, studies or marriage, the experience of parents has always rubbed on. We are often asked to ‘adjust’ in a marriage, quite a commandment that usually finds us in the wee hours of the morning on the wedding day. How we wish that we were instead told to ‘adapt’, don’t we? Why does the word make so much of a difference?
It does, because of the sentiment attached. In simple words, when we adjust to something, we harmlessly or harmfully change ourselves to fit the situation. When we adapt, we enable ourselves to satisfactorily accommodate a new situation in our lives. Adjust in itself is not a wrong action but when one adjusts to conflicting needs, it can lead to unhealthy circumstances causing what we commonly call- stress.
Adjust. Do we?
We change, everyone evolves in a relationship. The same goes for a marriage, both the spouses become an altered version of their selves. Not necessarily a better or flattering improvisation. As partners, Indian cultural norms often express the need to ‘adjust’ to the changes. Adjustment translates to willingly or unwillingly accepting the changes and taking it in good stead. Whilst the sentiments passed on to us by our elders are usually for the good, the action isn’t. Adjustment is not a very healthy situation. It usually perpetuates a system of ignorance. For e.g. – You would like to pursue higher studies or a change in career course, post marriage. It could be something you had discussed sparsely before the marriage but haven’t been able to converse on since then. It slowly builds up into bitterness when not acted upon.
Nostalgia is a very romantic emotional state. It often makes us look at change as something distant and often unacceptable. When we see our partner turning from an overzealous adventurer to a ‘comfortable in my couch’ persona or vice versa, it may feel like living with a stranger.
So do we adjust? We adapt.
Adapt? Yes, we should
Why is adapt so diverse from adjust? Is this just a trick of the English dictionary or does it have a deeper impact on how we look at our behaviour. It does.
We accept changes instead of adjusting to them. This begins with effective communication. Taking our earlier e.g. – a conversation on why one feels the need to study further or change the field of career kick-starts the process. It later progresses into the opinion of the other partner followed with how to handle the situation financially and emotionally and concluding with the decision taken logically.
This is adapting yourself into making decisions together. Evolving as an individual to accept the concept of marriage and combining lives. It’s no longer a single woman or man’s decision. It’s about asking for opinions, evaluating both the sides, being ready for surprising changes and resolving it together.
While it may seem scary to begin with, it doesn’t have to be. Growing together translates to the literal meaning. It’s a good idea to be prepared to foresee these and that can be done in various ways. Talking to experts and being a part of pre-martial workshops can equip a couple to effectively adapt themselves to the concept of ‘marriage’.