There is a story in one of the books of Deepak Chopra. His uncle, a travelling salesman was in Gaya during one of the 'Kumbh Mela' time. The place was flocked with a variety of sadhus descending from the Himalayas for the 'Mela'. The salesman noticed a sadhu bending over the roadside gutter doing something. Out of curiosity our salesman goes near the sadhu and observes what he was doing. A scorpion was trying to climb up the mossy side wall of the gutter but slips back to the gutter. This sadhu trying to help the creature picks it up but the scorpion instantly stings his hand and the sadhu drops the scorpion. It again tries to climb up, sadhu tries to help, gets stung and drops. After the same thing repeating for a number of times, our gentleman asks the sadhu why he was getting stung by the scorpion again and again. The sadhu replies that it is the nature of the scorpion to sting but saving a life from dying is 'my nature; even God cannot help us'
I bet a majority of relationships between spouses of middle class people of my time is of this type, - scorpion and the sadhu, at least uneasy if not painful. Yet, it is suppressed and a beautiful facade is worn by both the spouses for public view and for this painful retention we proudly say that we have maintained the sanctity of marriage and kept the values of the institution intact! But today's younger generation do not hesitate to call it a day whenever a fair chance given to it fails. Most of us grumble, - the values have eroded or the younger generation is neither bothered nor patient to discover the true happiness in marriage. After all a marriage survives on individual sacrifices of the partners, isn't it? Let me examine.
Remember Al Gore? He unsuccessfully contested the American presidential elections against George Bush. Al's wife also was a politician. During campaign they were together and during one of the campaigns they kissed on the public platform to show how strong is their marital bond even after thirty years. His campaign managers used the photograph of husband and wife kissing in public used widely for their publicity. Well, now after forty years, they have mutually agreed to divorce. Sane in old age, aren't they? Well, that gives ample reasons to believe that they too were not only wearing a facade for public view but also tried to provide material proof to the success of their marriage!
Marriage has been institutionalised. Different sets of rules are set in different communities and cultures, promising bliss if the proper rules are much valued and maintained irrespective of what individual emotional price you pay for it. The question arises naturally - Is bliss an outcome of sacrifices?
I have come across many successful people attributing their success to their spouses. All of us have heard the adage that there is a woman behind the success of every man. But I doubt if the woman has made any conscious sacrifice, because the very consciousness of sacrifice brings in misery. Then what is the secret behind the success of every man if there was no sacrifice from his woman?
And quite often than not, we do find a powerful man behind the grand success of a woman. Many years back, I remember M.S. Subbulakshmi, a legend of Classical Karnatic Vocal music, attributing her success as vocalist entirely to the support given by her husband. (I think at that time their marriage had seen over a fifty summers) Did her husband sacrifice anything for her sake? I don't think so! Yet the marital bliss among the couple undoubtedly was there, though the husband kept a very profile in public. And the beauty, for an outsider like you and me is in seeing much more sacrifice in the man! But the man is never conscious of his sacrifices; everything he did for his wife was very natural to him and that delicate part of the personality must have worked as a robust ladder to the wife in climbing up to reach the highest point in her natural talent.
So, according to me, the bliss, if at all, in marriage comes naturally for the partners when man and woman are in right space-time. That is to say, two naturally complimentary personalities meet and marry. And when anybody boasting of his or her sacrifices as the reason for the success of the marriage, is simply cheating him/herself with the facade they wear, not you and me. Other compulsions make the marriage to sustain (I don't consider constantly working out for sustaining, as success), not because but despite the individual sacrifices; for, in a true marriage, there is no individual.