It Took Me 17 Years to Do This

Do you compliment your wife in public or credit her for her actions and accomplishments?

Or you choose not to, though you know she deserves to be commended?

I plead guilty here.

I am usually generous with praise. When it comes to my wife, I refrain from doing so in public. As I would with self-praise. Some of you may understand while others may not. It’s a personality trait. I am not proud of it. But that’s how I am.

I pull her leg in public. I joke about how terrified I am of her and how terror follows her closely. I talk about the world’s most hi-profile terrorist attack occurring on her birthday (September 11) and India’s ugliest brush with terror coinciding with our wedding anniversary (26/11). Too much of a coincidence, don’t you think?

Is it a cultural trait? Perhaps not. But I know quite a few who are like me.

Take my late father for instance. One of his closest friends too shares the same trait. In both cases, their sense of humour always made the leg-pulling of their respective spouses enjoyable for their audience. I grew up grinning in that audience. That could have partly influenced how I have turned out to be.

I also know some who are lavish in praising their spouse and are very comfortable doing so in public. Each time they do, they make their spouses very happy. But my score falls rock-bottom. Just to be clear – my wife is the scorer – and my numbers have always stayed close to the bottom.

I have tried to change over the years but it’s tough to overcome natural instincts.

Today, I will give it a shot. I must confess I am stepping into distinctly uncomfortable territory. God bless me!

Turning a new leaf, I have many reasons to thank my wife. For coping with me. For tolerating my quirks. And a few more.

Until a few years ago, I couldn’t do without my usual quota of sleep. Being a light sleeper, I get up at the slightest movement. My wife recognised and adjusted with these traits. On the night my daughter was born, she asked me to sleep in the adjoining room. The hospital had upgraded us to a suite as the category we had booked was sold out. Our daughter Sara had surprised us by arriving two weeks early. The extra room ensured I slept soundly that night oblivious to the nurses on duty marching in and out of the room to check on both my wife and daughter.

Not just that night, for six months after Sara was born, my wife chose to move into the guest room with her. Her maternal grandmother and she spent many sleepless nights while I slept undisturbed.

I remain grateful.

Sara turned out to be a beautiful girl with a flair for art. My wife’s genes helped. I am pathetic at art though I think I can somewhat appreciate it. If I have to, I can attempt to draw a thatched hut, an impression of a mountain, a sun, lotus, river and birds. I use the term impression because though my sketches vaguely appear like those objects, I don’t make them remotely close to how they should be.

Each time I see my daughter’s artwork, I am grateful to my wife.

My wife has a fine eye for aesthetics. This has freed me up from a host of responsibilities she has taken up. She chooses well. Many of the choices made for our home are hers. Even my clothes. I have little patience for shopping. On the weekends, I prefer staying at home. It’s my me-time and I cherish it. It helps that my wife does a super job without the need for me to step out.

And for that I remain grateful.

She is a quick decision-maker and shops alone most of the time. I accompany her a couple of times a year. And I am surprised how quickly she decides what she likes and what she doesn’t. It frees up time for other things that need to be done.

Again, I am very grateful.

This is my first public acknowledgement in 17 years of marriage. I am glad I have made a start. I no longer have to run or hide when I hear others praise their spouse in the presence of me and my wife. With this post, I have officially applied for membership to this club.

If you are like how I have been till this moment, I urge you to step out of your comfort zone. Turn a new leaf. Commending your spouse is not the same as self-praise. Nothing embarrassing about it. If in public you can praise your friend, colleague, cousin, neighbour etc., why not your spouse?

Start now! Better late than never.

I sincerely hope my scorecard looks better from here on. By the time my wife wakes up, this piece would have appeared online.

Happy Wedding Anniversary, Gargi

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