Sharply declining are those days of “love-at-first sight” and the “happily-ever-afters”. These romantic notions are replaced by easier and quicker options like “friends-with-benefits” or the “no-strings-attached” syndrome.
But in a constantly changing complex world, each type of relationship faces an adverse crisis – of making it really work. Keeping a relationship alive is not only difficult but one of the biggest challenges a couple faces these days. With volatile tempers erupting in relationships and with the slightest of issues cropping up, sometimes leading to unexpected behavioural patterns by either of the partners, finally culminates in the relationship’s demise. We now live in a technologically driven era dominating relationships as well, as they now begin with a Facebook request and ultimately end with a break-up message on WhatsApp.
Dr Sujatha D Sharma and Dr Avdesh Sharma in their book – Couples in Harmony: Nine Keys to Enriching Relationships – raise these pertinent issues. The book engages the reader instantly as each one of us wants to strive towards a successful relationship and know the mantra in doing so.
Essentially all of us desire to have a loving, long-lasting and stable relationship with our partner. The entire purpose of compiling such essential aspects in the book is to sensitise people about changing psychosocial trends in the society. There are varied kind of relationships existing in the current scenario and each of them face several challenges which in turn impact people, at times even having unexpectedly grave consequences.
The book is authored by two seasoned mental health professionals with over three decades of experience, Dr Sujatha is a practising clinical psychologist and her husband Dr Avdesh Sharma is a consultant psychiatrist. Their book analyses and addresses the changing face of couples relationship and their areas of conflicts and disharmony. This understanding of what ails contemporary relationships paves the way forward for working towards solutions. The book educates us on how couples can use the “nine keys”, representing core psychological attributes, to bring change both within themselves and in their relationship with their loved ones.
Interestingly it draws parallels between nine traditional values that are universal and underlie all human behaviours with the nine core psychological attributes outlined in the book – self-esteem, autonomy, flexibility, empathy, nurturance, intimacy, communication, conflict resolution, creative coping the soul and heart of the mind. Following chapters in the book delve deeply into each of these nine aspects. The book right in the beginning demystifies some existing myths and misnomers about relationships.
These are real eye-openers. Some of them explained by the Sharmas include – does an ideal relationship merely function on the basis of factors like intense passionate love, where the partners know each other’s minds sharing similar interests and activities, where the partners have no conflicts, requiring total trust, revolving around a great sexual life and several such factors. Each of these myths is explained by them aptly.
Sharmas have stressed on the need for couples in distress to take charge and responsibility for it and work towards harmonising their relationship by using the nine keys outlined in the book. The book is a self-help tool kit for committed couples as well as those who are married. Divided into three sections, the first one focuses on Relationships: Black holes or Beacons of Light, which highlights the existing problems in relationships due to various factors, identifying the issues and then “demystifying erroneous assumptions about marital relationships.”
The second section Navratnas- The nine keys to positive relationships, which unravels the nine keys to a successful relationship. Each of these keys has been explained in different chapters that follow. Across these chapters each of the nine keys is further explained with the help of case illustrations, exercises, tips and techniques to enhance each of these attributes. Lastly, the third section is Journey towards enriching relationships, which focuses on the need for synergy in relationships and looking beyond the self.
One of the key issues which this book addresses is related to conflict resolution in all relationships. There is a need for accepting the other person as they are and not want to change them to what we want them to be. Dr Avdesh Sharma, described “relationships as a fulcrum around which everything revolves”. Referring to young couples as belonging to a “Maggi noodle” generation who want every problem fixed instantly and as not investing enough time and energies to make things work. He felt that “crisis and challenges in relationship are opportunities for change and growth”. He beautifully compares couples relationships to “a tango where you need to keep moving together in synchrony yet without stepping on each other”.