Relationships especially marriages are not easy to navigate. We acknowledge that marriage is just the beginning of a new relationship with the same person (if you have been dating for a while). Once you start living together, there will be many changes that require adaptation. For example, doing things your way may need to change because your partner has a different way of doing things, vice versa, and after a while, you come to a compromise. That’s where the balance comes in.
However, this balance is easier said than done. In fact, recent news in China reports that divorce is on the rise as ‘couples are spending too much time together at home during self-isolation (see stats: world population review for 2020). One would imagine that couples would be happier now that they actually have more time to be with each other but this seems not quite the reality.
Most times, we ignore what annoys us and since we don’t spend all day together, it’s pretty bearable. We go to work and only spend a couple of hours in the evening and the weekends, and so we’re not in each other’s hair, right?
Marriage requires active participation and conscious efforts to keep it exciting and fresh. Sweeping our annoyance under the carpet and not addressing behaviours will just snowball tensions and here are three principles I find most strategic:
Left image: Breakfast made by ‘yours truly’ – Chris der Kinderen aka Hubster
1. Talk to your partner
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate
Find a time when the both of you are relaxed and there are no distractions (like kids and put away the phones). Bedroom would be highly recommended.
List the most pressing items (keep it to three at a time) in your mind or you can write it down so you remember and don’t get out of topic during the conversation.
Open the talk by saying ‘Hey baby, I’ve got something I’d like to discuss with you, would you be open to listening?’ or something similar. The gist is to go with a soft approach so your partner won’t have their defenses up. We want them to be as open and as accepting as possible. If you find that your partner is defensive, you might want to check your approach and choice of words.
After expressing your feelings, make sure that you also check in your partner’s feelings. Then try to understand from your partner’s point of view and brainstorm a few potential solutions.
It might not get solved on the first try but practice this strategy and turn it into a habit. Trust me, it works every time. Hope this is useful for you.
Reminder: Don’t ever get into a discussion when tempers are flying, or you are feeling annoyed. This energy will only make the situation worse and completely ineffective.
2. You are not responsible for your partner’s happiness
Many of us tend to have this great habit of ‘doing things for others’ but often get caught in between doing things because you want to or doing things out of fear that you would upset the person or the person might leave you.
When you do things out of fear of losing or upsetting the other person, this is a reflection of insecurities going on within you, and it will be the wrong reason.
What you need to understand is that we are each responsible for our own happiness and mustn’t rely on others to make us happy.
When you find your partner upset for whatever reason, try to find out why, be empathetic, but if your partner is being cranky or mean, then you must tell your partner that that behaviour is not ok. If he/she is upset about something, then they should tell you what it is, and if they refuse to speak about it, that’s ok too as long as they are honest that it is not you and will not treat you as if you were the cause.
The same goes for you too!
I can’t emphasize this skill more. I call it a skill because often in our culture (the Asian culture), we would express our appreciation in the form of ‘an act of service’ and do not show or express our appreciation in the form of physical contact i.e. Touches, hugs and kisses.
Another great way of showing appreciation during this quarantine is to help out with household work from chores to taking turns to look after the kids so our partner can have some ME time or alone time. Contributing to house chores does not make the man any less of a man and if he doesn’t help out, it’s really an act of laziness or what I’d like to call as “mama’s boy” syndrome.
Oh and do not forget “US time”! I love this one the most and it doesn’t have to be long, but it requires conscious planning. Spice it up with various activities! Watch a movie together, sing a song, play an instrument, paint, cook, massage each other, and the list goes on.
Imagine this simple scenario, the wife is cleaning the house, the husband realises and starts cleaning what he can. He looks at the wife and smiles. Later he comes over, gives her a hug and kisses her on the lips, then he goes back to cleaning the house. A simple gesture like this will make one feel loved and the body will be releasing lots of dopamine or happy hormones.
You can kick ‘divorce’ in the butt if you go by these three principles!
I’d love to hear from you and your ideas on keeping a loving, exciting and happy relationship!
#covid19 #lockdown #selfquarantine #divorce #family #couplegoals