By Jenni Ho-Huan
Getting married is an exciting milestone in the journey of love. However, it also comes with practical concerns to address, such as, choice of home, wedding preparations, coping with expectations from family members... all in the midst of ongoing challenges at work and home.
Things might get a bit more complicated when different parties start to weigh in with their own opinion.
The changes and adjustment process continue after marriage. The romantic dinners, getaways, fun and lovey-dovey feelings are great to have. But life turns on the wheels of the daily stuff. Couples should hunker down and envision the new life together – both of wedded bliss and blisters. Failure to do so could be a recipe for conflicts and unhappiness, with potential flashpoints over household chores, bills, parents’ expectations etc. Here are some tips from experienced marriage counsellor and psychotherapist Danny Ho with OnePlace Consultancy to help you stay the course in your journey of love.
1. Remember you are friends
Sometimes couples go one-up on their expectations of each other and forget simple courtesies they would accord as friends. Building a home and a life is a joint effort and every bit of encouragement counts – especially from your most valued team-mate! So don’t forget to have some fun, and remember those Please’s and Thank-you’s.
2. Keep a gratitude journal
In our fast-paced, achievement-oriented society, we tend to focus on what’s missing, lacking or needs improvement. We start to take what we already have for granted. A gratitude journal – a simple coffee table book by the bedside or even a notepad on the fridge door for short scrawls and scribbles can help us to be grateful and happy for the little things in life. Some couples make it a point to write little notes of thanks to each other for doing simple chores such as replenishing the toilet roll or fixing dinner. It’s a great feeling to return to a home where a team mate roots for you!
3. Resolve conflicts not renew them
When conflict happens, don't hold it against the partner but do repair work. Agree on giving each other space and time to cool off. Seek to be the first to break the ice, seek forgiveness and offer an olive branch. Respond positively to initiatives to make up. Make it clear to each other that repairing the relationship takes priority over establishing who is right. Over time, you will learn to understand and read each other better, avoid hot buttons and express yourself in a more loving way.
Danny adds that the top reason for people seeking divorce during the first five years is that they feel unloved by their spouse. What contributes to this is often the reluctance of one or both parties to truly adapt to each other and adjust expectations.
4. Write out your daily priorities – things that must be done or attended to.
Compare notes and decide on a plan that accommodates most of each other’s needs and desires. If they cannot fit within the day, try to fit them within the week – aim to ensure that neither one feels neglected or taken for granted.
A specific area that couples can disagree sharply over is finances; in which case tip no 6 is critical.
5. Prepare a weekly budget that is acceptable and try to stick to it.
Evaluate what you may have missed out and see if adjustments can be made. Establish life values along the way towards finance, work and what it means to reward yourself.
6. At the heart of it, couples need to understand that they are forging a new life together, and figuring out how to run a home together goes beyond functional arrangements.
We are challenged to grow and adjust – from learning new skills (eg: mopping the floor), to adopting new attitudes (eg: “women are not necessarily the weaker sex”) and adjusting to each other (eg: one is neat while the other messes things up). Have an open mind about making changes, and cherish the efforts made by your partner to make the relationship work.
With these practical tips in hand, you can talk, work and mature your way through a stable, strong marriage. In turn, this provides a strong foundation for building a home and raising a great family.
I Love Children thanks Danny Ho, marriage counsellor and psychotherapist with OnePlace Consultancy, for his valuable input in this article.