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At the I Love Children Hot Date with Your Valentine’s event on 11 February 2017 @ Carlton Hotel, relationship education experts Boaz and Claire Nazar opened their hearts and answered a number of questions from the audience. Here are more questions and their answers:

 

  1. How do we know that we are with The One?

Firstly, there is no such thing as “The One” - simply because there is no such thing as a perfect spouse or marriage. However, we all can have “good enough” marriages.

No one can tell you if you are marrying the right one but more often than not, you can tell if you are marrying the wrong one, that is, someone who does not have “marriageable qualities”.

A good starting point (not the final decider) would be to ask the following 3 questions:

(a) is this person committed to discussing issues and following through on promises?

(b) is your trust in this person proven through his or her actions that he or she respects your views, cares and loves you unconditionally? and

(c) do you have a deep sense of emotional and physical safety with him or her?

 

  1. My partner wants to watch 50 shades of grey but I hated the idea. What should I do?

No doubt that the movie “50 Shades of Grey” is a controversial one.

The sexual lifestyle of Christian Grey in the movie is widely accepted by psychiatrists to be unhealthy, damaging and abusive for those who endorse or adopt such practices. That does not mean that your partner wants to be like Christian Grey simply by watching the movie.

What you should do in this or any situation in which a request by your spouse or partner makes you feel uncomfortable, is to talk about it. Let him or her know that you are not comfortable and why.

You should not feel pressured or allow yourself to be pressured into doing something you feel uncomfortable. If you communicate your feelings, your spouse should understand. If they don’t, that’s ok. Having a healthy relationship requires having healthy boundaries.

 

  1. How can I encourage communication with my spouse?

It depends on what you wish to talk about. If it is a specific issue, then set aside a time to talk to your spouse about it. Don’t ambush him/ her by bringing it up unexpectedly or when you are both out for a fun time.

It should be a time when both of you are calm and relaxed. Focus on listening to each other, to see the issue from your spouse’s point of view.

It is recommended that couples set aside a regular fixed time to talk about issues so that these are discussed before they reach a critical level.

To encourage communication generally, be willing to listen when your spouse talks and be careful not to judge or offer solutions unless he/ she asks for your help.

Asking the right questions, such as “how did you feel about [situation]” helps bring the conversation to a more intimate level. Communication thrives when husband and wife feel safe sharing their hearts with each other. The good news is that these are skills that you can learn.

 

  1. If my husband is not very affectionate or romantic, how should I respond if I desire for us to have a passionate and affectionate marriage?

Every person has their love language, whether it is Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, or Physical Touch.

It could be that your husband’s love language is different from yours. You should discuss this issue and let him know how you feel and also to understand his views. Be careful not to bring it up only when something happens such as if he doesn’t buy you flowers on Valentine’s Day.

In your conversation with him, talk about the romantic things he can do and then encourage him to take small steps in that direction. Meanwhile, don’t allow this to affect your marriage negatively. Focus on the positive aspects of your marriage and on your husband’s good qualities.

 

  1. Please elaborate a bit more about how to manage/ resolve gender differences. How do you resolve disagreements/ arguments? How do you handle the emotions after a quarrel?

Knowing and understanding the gender differences helps you to accept your spouse. Generally, men think in terms of boxes, i.e. they deal with one issue at a time. Women on the other hand are great at dealing with multiple topics at once.

Because of these differences, it is recommended that you use a structured way of talking and resolving conflict. Some tips for handling emotions after a quarrel – find something that you enjoy doing and calm yourself down.

Do not replay the argument in your head while calming down. Replaying the argument only causes you to get upset.

 

  1. We have been married for 2-years and just moved into our house. My wife is very particular about cleanliness and expects me to do quite a bit of housework on a regular basis. I find it physically and mentally tough to adhere to her standards. It often gets us into arguments. What is the best solution?

What you need to do is come to a solution that works best for you as a couple. In our PREP (Prevention and Relationship Education Programme) workshops, we share PREP’s Issue Resolution model which can apply to any couple and any issue like this one on housework.

The starting point is always to talk about the issue; to communicate how you both feel about the issue. The next step is to brainstorm. Come up with as many alternatives as possible, then agree to try out one option and see how it works out. Another point to note is that you need to prevent the issue/ arguments from escalating.

 

  1. We love to travel. So how do we manage when children come along? How often can we travel with children?

There are always many options: You can travel with children and you can also have get-a-ways for some couple time.

Travelling with infants and toddlers can seem challenging but with the right information and equipment, it is not only possible but also enjoyable. Start with short trips and to locations that are children-friendly.

Before the child enters primary school, you can travel with them as often as you like (and can afford!) as their schedules are more flexible. Once they are of school-going age, then you’d have to travel during the school holidays.

 

  1. Under SDT (Self-Determination Theory), there is a factor of relatedness which emphasises on social connection. Can you elaborate more about social connection or give an example.

Researchers Ryan & Deci of SDT, show that humans have a need to care for others because of the basic psychological need for having close, affectionate relationships with others.

Relatedness deals with the desire to interact with, be connected to, and experience caring for other people.

For example, the more you seek or desire a sense of belonging to someone, the more you will make decisions to care for him or her.

In a marriage, it is important for couples to keep making decisions that will increase that sense of belonging to each other, so that when the children come along, that sense of belonging is further enhanced by having children.

 

  1. You mentioned that couples should choose their children over divorce as they will be badly affected. However children are also affected when their parents are unhappy in the marriage and fight all the time. Should couples ALWAYS choose to remain in a marriage even when it is clear that they are badly suited for each other?

A divorce should be the last resort after all other avenues have been exhausted. In our experience, couples who are unhappy often do not seek counselling and/ or attend marriage workshops/ courses to learn skills that they can use to help them reduce the conflict in their marriage.

The question also mentions couples who are “badly suited for each other”. That is why we place such importance on pre-marital courses and counselling as these help couples ask the right questions about themselves and each other; to reduce the chances of not being suitable for each other.

Remember, love is blind after the wedding, but before that it should be eyes wide open!

 

  1. What has been the most trying experience in your 21 years of marriage that tested your trust, faith and the level of "us"? How did you both overcome it together? Was anything lost at the end?

There hasn’t been one major event. There were, however, trying times as we journeyed through the seasons of married life such as career moves, finances, parenting styles, in-laws and these were made all the more difficult because our personalities are totally opposite.

These were times when, if we had relied on our feelings alone, we might have gone our separate ways. More than anything, having a long term view helped us weather the brief storms.

Our commitment to the marriage and to each other was the anchor that kept us from making rash decisions in the short term.

The communication and problem-solving skills that we learned at PREP (Prevention and Relationship Education Programme) helped us to work as a team to overcome the issues. Through the experiences we learned to respect and accept each other.

Was anything lost? Yes, we lost all illusions of what we thought was marriage. But we found something greater.

 

I Love Children thanks Boaz and Claire Nazar for their input.

Boaz and Claire Nazar are relationship education experts who are passionate about building stronger, lasting marriages through family education talks and events. They are directors and lawyers in the same company, and have been married for 21 years. They have two children, aged 19 and 13 years old.

 

 

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