The Most Important Element in Marriage, and the Most Neglected

Twelve years of marriage, with all the milestones of an eventful life, taught Nidhi Chopra about that one element that's so vital yet so overlooked in any relationship.

By Nidhi Chopra

The husband and I got married arranged–introduced through a friend. So, it wasn’t the tea-and-pakora ceremony that most middle-class Indians have when parents are involved. It went the “Let’s take a trip together and check for compatibility” route.

We were engaged within three weeks, married in nine months, daughter A1 was two months old on our first wedding anniversary while daughter A2 was four months on our third. We were practically strangers with children, dogs, fish, birds and two sets of old parents between us!

As you can imagine, this came with its own set of pressures – especially if you not only speak different languages but are of different faiths too. Parents on both sides were left scratching their heads praying in their respective languages, hoping we knew what the hell we were doing.

And I’m pretty sure I was found fervently kneeling in some corner speaking to any God available at various points in our lives since then!

We were learning how to make each other a priority while on the job. Through these 12-odd years – having undergone multiple experiences involving births, deaths, financial crises and changing shirts and dress sizes – I’ve often wondered what’s keeping us going. I mean, one could argue that love, respect, and mutual understanding have played a big part.

But I know from experience that you could be in a superbly happy relationship and still have many moments within it when you are angry, sad, disappointed or downright disrespectful to one another. On most days, the word love is used mainly concerning the children or the dogs or sleeping in on a Saturday morning.

Much to my husband’s disgust, I tend to see more greys than clear blacks and whites. However, this does not mean there are no absolutes in my head. I believe that a good relationship stands on only one thing: Trust.

It is THE most important thing to have for a healthy relationship to flourish.

Trust would be one of those absolute whites and blacks for me. There is no way we could’ve known our relationship will work after the first few years if we weren’t operating out a place of faith in one another.

The same is true even today 12 years down the line. The moment I start doubting him, my entire marriage falls flat on its face regardless of how much I love the man, respect him or even understand his motivations. Only when there is trust can love and forgiveness flow amidst two human beings.

Friendships are based on the same pivot, I believe. I asked A1 and A2 to pick the one thing they thought would be most important to have in a good friend: love (which for them was loving the same music and games), respect or trust. They had an immediate response: Trust. So simple even an eight and 10-year-old can tell you it’s non-negotiable.

A good healthy relationship can go south very quickly the moment one stops trusting in the other. When insecurity sets in, things start souring. When there is faith, almost everything is forgiven and easy to let go of.

The most ironic part of all this is that trust is the most underrated aspect of a relationship.

We hardly ever pay attention to it. We hardly ever think about how we are misusing it. We don’t think twice about manipulating the truth to suit our purposes during an argument.

We always presume love and ‘mutual understanding’ will take care of it. It is always that one thing that is taken for granted and assumed it simply exists. We never consciously work towards building it, cherishing and holding on to it.

We realise that trust exists only when it is broken, trampled upon and completely disregarded to suit one’s own needs.

Nidhi Chopra is a Singapore-based digital entrepreneur, an in-the-closet writer, mother of two, wife of one, friend to many.

Lead photo: Alex Iby on Unsplash

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