A marriage is usually said to be a blend of many different ingredients. These ingredients, on the face of it, seem quite common from one marriage to another. Every couple will name these ingredients to be love, understanding, loyalty and friendship; however, the way in which these are put together to form the perfect blend varies for every couple. And that is what actually makes every marriage unique.

Hiba spoke to a few newly-married wives to get their views on what they feel are the two most essential ingredients of a successful marriage.

“There are many actually – respect, forgiveness and understanding,” said Sarah Anwar, who’s been married for a year and a half. “Keeping faith in your spouse and in his/her decisions is very important, since it gives you the feeling of being secure and also makes your spouse feel more confident. Then comes respect. Once you’ve lost it, it’s gone forever. You might not believe in giving personal space to your spouse, but respecting the other person for being him/herself is very important. After all, we all have our own shortcomings. By understanding I don’t mean taking everything your relationship has to offer, but it’s better to try to see the other person’s perspective at times.”

Hania Tahir, who’s also been married for a year and a half, interestingly felt that honeymoon was an essential ingredient of any marriage. “It’s the magic ingredient that strengthens your bond and allows you to become comfortable with each other in a way that early married life with a million dinners a week can never allow. Strolling around in a foreign country, staying out late and talking, talking, talking for hours and hours brings you closer better than anything else. I credit it for laying the foundation for my marriage,” she said.

“The second ingredient is to pick your battles. I cannot stress how important this is. There may be a thousand million things that bother you, but many of these are tiny and not worth fighting over. Before I got married, I’d have scoffed at the concept of apologizing even if you don’t mean it, but I’ve since learnt that that’s far better than both of you glaring daggers at each other,” she added.

“Willingness to cooperate with each other and trusting one’s spouse are the essential ingredients of a successful marriage,” said Faria Saleem, a wife, with a year of family life behind. “There are many issues which have to be handled diplomatically, if you want to avoid unnecessary conflicts. You have to know when to speak and when to remain silent.”

“Trust and compromise are very essential in a marriage,” said Javeria Idrees, who’s been married for a couple of years and has a baby daughter. “Trust will keep your life going and compromise within the boundaries of right and wrong will create more room for both of you.”

With new couples being aware of their issues and the ways to make a marriage work, why then does conflict arise? And what is the best way of dealing with that conflict?

“Talking the problems out,” said Sarah Anwar promptly. “You don’t have to be disrespectful while doing so, but if you keep the lava simmering inside, it’s going to take all the good things away, when it bursts. Compromise and tolerance are major factors of conflict resolution. Always believe in your spouse – whatever he is doing is for your own happiness. Plus, every individual is unique; we have conflicts even with our siblings, who are brought up by the same parents under the same condition in the same house. So how can we expect a person, who has lived his/her life in different conditions and is brought up differently, to be exactly like us?”

Hania Tahir was all for diplomacy. “Don’t raise your voice!” she advised. “Say all the horrible things you want, but disguise your tone. It makes a world of a difference. Pretend you’re being nice. At the end, profess (exaggerated, if need be) declarations of love. If you’ve exhausted your persuasion supplies, and the spouse irritatingly continues to disagree with you, swallow your pride and give up your own stance. At the end of the day, your choice is between sticking to your guns and maintaining a smooth relationship. I pick the latter, and if it means giving up a few things along the way, none of them are more important than a snarl-free marriage. Oh, and the best way to drive your spouse up the wall is to bring up something from a previous fight or something annoying you noticed two months ago. If anything comes up, resolve it as soon as possible. If more than two days pass and you’ve not mentioned it, give it up and move on. It’s not fair to your poor unsuspecting partner.”

Talking to these young wives and mothers gives the impression that they are indeed aware of the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of a marriage. It is also very encouraging to note that, based on their personal experiences, they are more inclined towards diplomatic handling of issues, rather than an emotional, spontaneous response. With so many marriages on the rocks these days, one can only hope that these young women will set an example for those around them. After all, as one mother put it: “It is not easy to give up your personal space in this age of individualism, but, eventually, you have to trust the other person in doing as minor things for you as ironing.”