It takes one by surprise because it happens slowly without couples even realising it.
Where they had imagined a blissful life together, sharing their lives, moments and experiences, they end up leading parallel lives instead of a life together. They keep wondering how things came to this. They have been living together, sharing the same roof, same room, same lives, but when did they change track along the way?
The truth is – the signs are always there; couples just fail to pick it up.
When they first start adjusting their lives due to their individual priorities and needs, they start drifting apart. Take the case of Shruti and Mahesh.
When Shruti and Mahesh both got promoted and started working long hours, they barely saw each other. They would come home at different hours, focus on their work and managed to coordinate their responsibilities at home well. But somewhere along the way, they lost their common ground.
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“I didn’t even realise when we became strangers. But now when I think back I realise that all those times when I refused to go out for a movie with him because I had a presentation to work on, or when he started eating out because he had to work longer in the office and I was fine with it, was the time we started leading parallel lives,” she says.
Mahesh feels the same way. “It was our fault, actually. We were in a relationship and no matter what we should have given it its due place in our lives. There were so many times when she wanted us to go out for a walk but I had no time. She would dress up and seek my attention but I would never take time out to compliment her or make her feel special,” he admits.
Counsellors say that it is often when partners start getting preoccupied with their own work and lives which excludes the other partner, that one unconsciously shifts to parallel lives, despite supposedly being “together”. They say it’s a subtle process since we feel there is nothing amiss initially and there’s no heartburn. But the emotional distance and lack of connection starts taking its toll on the relationship.
This is what happened with Aamir and Sana. When they had kids and their expenses shot up, they both had to put in extra time and effort. Over and above that, they both would take time out to help the kids with their studies. While it was a mutual decision, both failed to see the repercussions of not taking out quality time for themselves and their relationship.
“We felt we were managing very well with our work and giving due attention to our kids. But what we didn’t realise that we had failed to give proper attention to each other. Initially, I felt good when Aamir went out with his friends while I was busy with the kids, and he would be fine with me going out shopping with my friends when he had office work to finish. But there came a time when we realised we had stopped having fun together. We almost forgot how beautiful spending time with each other used to be,” rues Sana.
Experts say that what couples need in the busy, chock-a-block schedule today is work out a good balance between managing their responsibility towards their work, their family and towards each other. It’s important to stay connected with your partner, be involved with each other and be aware of each other’s presence in your life. Sometimes, it won’t hurt to take some time off work and spend it with one another.
As long as couples manage to strike that balance, there will be many beautiful memories and moments and all of it involving your life together and not the parallel lives.