Book Review of Row, Row, Row your Boat - 50 Simple Little Things to Navigate the Modern Indian Marriage by Sophia Philips and Roopak Nedumpilly

Book Review of Row, Row, Row your Boat - 50 Simple Little Things to Navigate the Modern Indian Marriage by Sophia Philips and Roopak Nedumpilly

It's a common saying which goes like 'Marriages are made in Heaven'; but we all know that the couple should still lead their lives on (beautiful yet complicated) Earth!! All of us want and yearn for a happy, peaceful, fun filled and satisfying married life and a partner who would support, defend, and handhold us in this journey. But very rarely do we come across couples who have achieved this stature. This book 'Row, Row, Row your Boat' is a book written by couple therapists, Sophia and Roopak(a couple themselves!!), who turned around their married life which was on the verge of collapse with therapy's help. This is a short but insightful read on little things that couples could do 'together' to reach their vision of becoming a made-for-each-other couple, which apparently was their original vow when they got married but may have fizzled out as years passed by. 

While the society and parents ensures that their children undergoes formal education to prepare oneself for the professional lives, there is no such structured preparation for one before he/she steps into one's married life. Many still think there isn't a need for one at all until they realise after 5-6 years of marriage that if only they had known that marriage is a different ball game altogether, where it requires one to shed their ego, take responsibility, share household chores, sacrifice personal time, and become more vulnerable than one already was, they would have made their choices differently. Because after the initial charm, infatuation, and the discovery mode fades away, we actually face the other partner in his/her raw form and unlike one's profession, which gives easy exit option when it doesn't suit one, marriage forces you to think of ways to squeeze one into the set framework. So, it is in the best interest of both the partners to work towards saving their relationship before it's too late.  

The authors have done a great job at compiling little gestures and behavioural changes that the couples could incorporate in their daily lives, which if diligently and sincerely carried out, would make each other an endearing partner. The book has 50 stories which are categorized under 5 broad heads, named after the foundational action verbs namely Listen, Give, Share, Ask and Say, with 10 lessons under each of these titles. I also liked the way they have personalised the stories, making the author themselves the lead actors. Each story has 4 elements- Rowing Mindlessly, highlighting the typical communication between a husband and wife; followed by the author's suggested approach to deal with the situation; and then the Rowing Thoughtfully section presents the dialogue, incorporating the suggestion, and finally Thought Anchors lists out the points to reflect upon by the readers.

The way the stories are structured is quite interesting, sandwiching their message between mindless and thoughtful conversation exchanges, which are highly relatable. They don't offer gyan or authoritative steps to be followed, rather very practical and implementable solutions such as respecting each other's feelings, saying Thank You/Love you, giving personal space for each other to grow, dedicating 'alone time' for the couple to stay physically and mentally intimate, so on and so forth.

I also liked this book for the authors, given their vast experience dealing with themselves and others, have managed to capture subtle aspects of a relationship and where it could potentially go wrong if left unaddressed. It also offers newer perspectives in looking at things. I, especially, was impressed with the idea of aspiring to be equitable partners and how it is different from that of an equal partner and the need to take a time out during an heated argument.  

This book covers comprehensively on refining the tangible and intangible communication between the partners. However, it leaves the reader wanting in terms of handling the teething issues around money management and dealing with ego issues where one partner does well professionally and financially over the other, and also the face-offs between spouse and in- laws, which usually adds fuel to the fire.  

I would strongly recommend this book to any person who ever plans to get married or who is dating, as this would put things in perspective in terms of the essential traits that one should cultivate to have a successful married life. On the other hand, a couple who have relationship issues and feel that something is amiss in their love lives, could do a joint reading session and later chart out a plan themselves or by seeking a professional's help. As the book rightly points out that the stress that builds between the unhappy couple also has a tendency to pass over to two generations – their respective parents and children. In these lines, I would also like to quote the legendary Zen Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hanh, who in his book 'How to Love' wrote, which corroborates the authors' views-

If our parents didn’t love and understand each other, how are we to know what love looks like? … The most precious inheritance that parents can give their children is their own happiness. Our parents may be able to leave us money, houses, and land, but they may not be happy people. If we have happy parents, we have received the richest inheritance of all.

So do pick up a copy and gift it to your parents and married/dating friends!! And the good thing is if you are looking for marriage mentoring/counselling session, the authors themselves run an organization 'The Little Things' ( they can help you and your spouse in rebuilding and repurposing your relationship. 

P.S: This book is available in Amazon Kindle.


About Sammy's MindChirps

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