Is there really any ‘Forever and Ever’?


I see ‘challenges’ that life throws at us and then I also see ‘things’ around us which in their way offer a ‘solution’ — if only we see with an observant and open mind.

The challenge I saw — managing relationships.

One such challenge I was thinking about was — ‘managing relationships’ and how to ensure they all are meaningful, healthy & don’t become a drag.

Photo by Bogdan Cotos on Unsplash

Most relationships are brilliant in normal times, mundane responsibilities & stress take a toll and repeated friction makes us indifferent. This indifference becomes rust and destroys strength. And it’s not about who was right, it’s perhaps because when it comes to human beings — our desires are ‘insatiable’ and we are by design ‘unreasonable’!

‘Insatiable’ because — the minute we achieve a milestone in a relationship (we want our partner to do x, they do x, now we need y, they do y, we need z and vice Versa, etc) — the goal post keeps shifting and our expectations from the other keep going higher — without their buy-in, thereby resulting in an eventual break.

And ‘Unreasonable’ because when it comes to introspection, we don’t see our flaws — we just don’t. We simply forgive ourselves first!

Is there a solution?

Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

I think we can make this work, if only we pre-define what we expect from every relationship, and review it periodically. Like an ‘Annual Operating Manual’.

I know this sounds mechanical and bereft of feelings but as a process it works because what gets measured gets done.

For businesses, we have business plans and reviews but for relations, there is no ‘ review’. If you don’t review things, no matter what you do — the gap between — what the other person wants, and what you are doing — will kill it.

Light Bulb!

Let’s learn from our CARS — they come with pre-defined asks to ensure they keep running well!

For the best performance, there are :

  • BAU expectations — we need to do some things right on an ongoing basis (regular checks and balances) like — driving properly, checking air pressure regularly, giving it the right fuel and oil, etc & then are
  • ‘Milestone-based Workshop Checks’ — With increasing mileage a workshop review and visit is required, here depending on the KMs covered (& wear and tear), more changes and interjections are advised/performed. Operating instructions are changed, and new guidelines are issued.
Example — BAU Asks & Milestone Reviews in Vehicles

The issue is — initially, we do everything well — and then we start getting comfortable — don’t check air pressure / don’t care much about variation in speed, and then complain about high maintenance or sloppy performance of the car — while all along we are the ones who didn’t do our part of the task ‘completely’.

The same happens in relationships, we start perfect (do regular check-ins/ care a lot about what the other person likes /dislikes/ surprises are on point, etc) and then complacency / ‘taking them for granted’ sets in. Parties don’t talk and internally start blaming each other (we forgive ourselves first, remember?).

At milestones (10k/20k/100k) — cars are sent for special interjections/ changes — things beyond regular maintenance are done. Relationships keep growing, and circumstances change but we don't realign ourselves (our behavior), hence relationships too should also have similar milestone-based reviews (and realignment of expectations).

How to do this?

First of all, make a personal Annual operating plan (format here). Now, for every relationship, we should define

  • BAU expectations — define these (expectations/pet peeves/aha moments) and review them mindfully and regularly (with timelines)! Regularly is the buzzword here
  • Milestones-based changes — For every relation, we can pre-empt these and again define timelines for review (if it can't be defined, every year see if any major milestone has occurred — review, understand expectations and adjust behavior)
Example of BAU Ask & Milestone — Parents
Example of BAU Ask & Milestone — Spouse

If one doesn’t do the above, it’s like cursing the car for bad mileage/performance while all along, you didn’t give it the basic care it needed. The same for relationships — we forget to upgrade ourselves and blame the other person for a failed relationship.

I have friends who take super-duper care of their cars and their cars look as good as new even after 7–8 years (In India that's a great achievement)! And then there are friends, who still look super in love after 20 years- perhaps the formula is how they manage ‘BAU Asks’, ‘Milestone based review’, and ‘Workshop time’ for both — cars and relationships

Else this ‘forever’ burden becomes too much & can never be achieved!



Deep Bajaj : Founder Sirona Hygiene (PeeBuddy)

Social Entrepreneur | Solving Unaddressed Intimate & Menstrual Hygiene issues with award-winning products | Fortune 40 under 40 | ET 40 under 40 | Tedx speaker