Just as marriage is a progression from dating, having children is the next step that will bring a couple close together. However, a couple needs to realise that unless the marriage is strong and communication channels are freely open, adding a baby to the equation can create additional stress for the marriage.
Some practical steps that can strengthen your marriage:
• Be optimistic
Look for positive notes in stressful situations like during a quarrel. Focus on the issue at the centre of the disagreement and resist the temptation to blame each other. Solve the problem together rather than that “it’s your fault”. Trust that the other is doing his or her best to make things work. Take time to listen to new plans and new ideas and explore options together.
• Communicate effectively and frankly
Make it a point to listen to each other instead of pushing your point of view or insisting on doing things your way. Use consultative communication. Rather than say “I think we should do this”, ask “Do you think it will be better if we do this?”Resist being accusing with comments such as “You never offer to help me...” instead try saying “If you could help me with the laundry tonight, I can get some reading done and maybe I’ll make us some coffee later.”
• Have respect for each other and never humiliate each other
Some little jokes might seem harmless but they can be hurtful to the other spouse. Speak up immediately and communicate your wish for the jibes to stop if you mind the occasional joke about how “she can’t cook an egg to save her life”. Have trust in each other that you are doing the best you can for the family, and with that in mind you will be able to appreciate each other better.
• Spend couple time with other couple friends
Maintain a social network of friends where you can share issues.
“We enjoy having our friends over every Saturday evening for some dvds, and all through Jas’ pregnancy, she didn’t feel so alone with friends coming over to check out if she was doing well.” Jason, 34, father of four-month-old Joleigh.
• Appreciate each other’s hard work
Do something special occasionally for each other. “Sometimes I buy Raymond little gifts when I see something he likes just to show him that I think about him although we’re both so busy with work.” Joyce Long.
~ Song XiaoLing, Family Life Educator and Social Worker with Feiyue Community Services