By Balvinder Sandhu
Relationships aren't easy. It takes a lot to stay in love and committed in the relationship through good and bad times and it's more than just luck that keeps couples together.
Here are 10 secrets that happy couples adhere to:
1. Be realistic
The initial rush of being in love wanes after a while but this doesn't mean that all is downhill from there. A long-term relationship goes deeper than just gifts and romantic vacations and couples should be ready for any challenge.
Joanne, 37, and Rick, 38, married with three children, agree: “We are realistic about expectations as it is a crucial factor to maintaining our happy marriage. In the next decade, our lives will be all about the children and their demands (physically and financially). So we don’t expect to go on expensive trips but rather, we go for ‘simple holidays’ like staycations.”
2. Be Accepting
Trying to get your partner to do things differently or change aspects of their personality can often be the source of arguments. On the other hand, don't change who you are either, just to make your partner happy. Accepting each other is one of the key to happiness.
“I believe in accepting and respecting who my partner is,” says Jarrold, 22, of his girlfriend, Audrey, 22. “Because of the nature of her job and my service in NS, we spend less time together. I know she’s a go-getter and she'd never be happy doing nothing. It's tough but, I'd never want to change that about her.”
3. Agree to disagree
It's important to accept that not all problems can be solved and not all arguments will end with both of you on the same page. There will be issues which you won't be able to agree and you should work around things and compromise.
“Close to 70% of a couple's problems cannot be solved. It's normal to be disagreeing with each other. Learning to communicate with your partner in a healthy way will help you both to work through the differences, and come to an agreement,” ~ Mr. Arthur Ling, director of Fei Yue Community Services
4. Have 'me time'
Even though you're a couple – and regardless of whether you have children or not, it's important to spend some me time to do things that you enjoy.
“Our lives revolve around the kids so much that my 'me time' only happens when my oldest boy is at his enrichment class and my husband is at the gym. But that’s fine with me as I take these moments to have a nice cup of coffee!” says Joanne.
5. Don't hold grudges
Don't dwell on the past, instead, move on and work on being happy together by putting your relationship first.
Priya, 39, and her husband, Ravi, 38 shares: “Inevitably, even in the depths of your heart where you want to 'let it go', it is very often not as easy as there is always the niggling 'but why should I give in?' or 'why can't he/she understand it from my point of view?'
It takes effort and compromise to let the issue rest. Jazlyn, 28 and Raymond, 32 shares their experience, “We make it a point to solve an argument before bedtime as we feel that it’s important. This is to prevent the issue from festering. It is also better for our marriage in the long run.”
6. Embrace the downs with the ups
Know that there are no ups without the downs. Learn to accept the challenges as much as possible; this is especially relevant when you have children.
“Whenever I lose it, my husband steps in and takes over. He lets me know that, whatever happens, I always come first in his life. This binds our relationship and gives both of us the strength and assurance needed to heal and grow,”~ Mrs Ling-Chang Chee Siah, a professional counsellor, coach and trainer.
7. Don’t take for granted
Treat your partner with respect and never stop reminding them how much they mean to you, even if with the smallest gestures.
“I feel appreciated when my wife says 'please' and 'thank you'; these expressions of gratitude goes a long way,” says Ravi.
8. Have aligned goals
Joanne shares: “When we were dating, both my husband and I shared similar views of wanting to start a family soon after marriage and that goal brought us closer. We also shared the same views on maintaining a conductive home environment for our children. While there are minor disagreements in our daily lives, I feel those aligned goals have allowed us to prosper as a happy couple.”
9. Work on it
Just like a garden will not grow if you don't tend to it, relationships need hard work too. Solve any misunderstandings or issues early on instead of leaving them to fester.
“Being committed is using your will to love even though your ‘feel’ (feeling) is low. Even though you don’t feel for it, say it or act it,” ~ Mr Arthur Ling and wife, Mrs Ling-Chang Chee Siah.
10. Keep improving
Just because you've found a partner doesn't mean that you should stop working on yourself. Strive to be a better person both for yourself and for your relationship. When you work on being a better version of yourself, it inadvertently helps to improve your relationship too.
“Nobody's perfect, keep improving yourself for your partner,” says Ravi.