Editor’s Note: Who doesn’t want to know what the secret ingredient to a successful marriage is. This is what our member ankita_chitnis feels. 

The truth is, there are several things that make up a successful marriage. I want to put the spotlight on one quality that towers over everything else, from my personal experience. And that is empathy. 

It is easy to list down a quality and say its important. But that won’t drive home the point. So, I want to illustrate with an example. 

It happened just after my first kid was born. I was having post partum blues and severe anxiety. I would be awake till 3am in the morning, thinking about all sorts of crazy things, imagining a worse-case scenario and cry. 

My hubby is a deep sleeper and he didn’t notice it for a few days. One day, he woke up in the middle of the night and he saw me awake. 

He asked me, “What’s going on?”. And, I said, “I am unable to sleep. I don’t know what to do for breakfast tomorrow.” He said, “Seriously? Is that a big thing. Just go to bed”. He then dozed off. He woke up 15 minute later and saw me crying. 

He asked again, “What’s the matter?”. And, I said, “I really don’t know what to make for breakfast tomorrow”. That is when some light bulb went on for him. He understood what I was going through. He realized that I am worrying about all these small things not out of choice, but out of hormonal causes that are beyond my control. He empathized.

Because he empathized, he understood that just brushing aside this or rationally explaining why this is not such a big deal isn’t going to help me. He woke up fully, both of us sat on the bed and started talking. And this is literally how our conversation went..

He – “Why don’t we have cereal for breakfast?”
Me – “That is what we have been having all week”
He – “I like cereal. You just had a baby. I can do cereal”
Me – “No, I don’t want to do cereal”
He – “Ok, what about omelette?”
Me – “I have only one onion”
He – “What about omelette without onion”
Me – “That won’t taste good”
He – “Ok, what about oatmeal”
Me – “We just had that day before yesterday”