In our second installment of Summer Love Stories, Puneet Kaur Chawla Sahota offers tips on communicating in marriage with a few insights from her husband, Gurmukh. Puneet is a cultural anthropologist and physician. She is a proud wife and mother, and lives with her family in Philadelphia, PA.
What do you love most about your husband? And he you?
Puneet – Gurmukh is honest and straightforward. He is always dependable – I have an implicit trust in him. He lives by his principles every day and does not compromise on them. He has a huge heart and is the most generous person I know.
Gurmukh – Puneet is always willing to compromise and is extremely loyal. She tries to do what is best for our family even if it’s uncomfortable. She is passionate about her work. Also, she is willing to put up with my idiosyncrasies.
In this day and age with workloads, familyloads, and the demands of children, what three things help a marriage thrive on a solid foundation?
Mutual respect, communication, and love.
What is in your toolbox that helps you with your marital communication or in communicating difficult feelings, events, or ideas?
Gurmukh and I talk every day, no matter how long our workdays are. If one of us is working at the hospital late or overnight, we call the other one to talk about the events of our day. This daily check-in has made all the difference in maintaining a good relationship during some very difficult years of medical training for us both.
We disagree sometimes. We aren’t afraid to argue our positions because we feel totally comfortable and safe with one another and we know that the other person will be there no matter what. We generally don’t quit dialoging until we find a mutually agreeable solution.
In addition, understanding each other’s “love languages” is important. We express affection differently and understanding this has been key to keeping our communication open.
Having empathy for each other and viewing things through the other person’s eyes is also helpful.
What do you and your husband look forward to as a couple, and also as a family?
We look forward to completing our medical training and having our own home someday. We are also excited to see Anand grow and become his own person. And we hope to travel more as a family in the future.
How does Sikhi guide your marriage?
Gurmukh – It’s a constant undercurrent. It guides each of us as people and as individuals which allows us to come together as two people within the marriage. Because I’m a Sikh, I’m a certain sort of person, and so my marriage has a certain vibe to it.
Puneet – I think it gives us a shared cultural identity – we’re Sikh Americans and we both understand what that means without even having to talk about it. Sikhi also gives us broad principles by which we try to live our lives and raise our son.
What steps can the Sikh community take to be more supportive of young families and couples who are working and raising families?
An ethos of inclusiveness is important. Sikh families are diverse, and Sikh parents make different choices about how to raise their children. Embracing all Sikh families strengthens our community and unifies us all.
We also need more Punjabi storybooks and translations of classic American childhood stories into Punjabi.
It would also be nice to have online chat forums for Sikh families within a given city so we can find each other and exchange ideas.