A satisfying relationship built on trust, commitment and love, putting aside the occasional disagreements, is what it truly means to be married.


It’s a myth to think that the road to happiness is paved with roses, especially when baby arrives.


“Contrary to common belief, ‘happily ever-after’ needs to be worked at, says family educator and social worker Song Xiaoling. While love is not everything, it is however, a necessary criterion that binds a couple together.


“Other factors such as trust, understanding and truthfulness go a long way to make a marriage work on a day-to-day level, and on a long term basis.


“Communication and sharing is the key to a healthy and fulfilling relationship, and talk to each other with respect,” says Xiaoling.


Use the right approach when asking questions or making statements. “Neither be spiteful nor careless, allowing sarcasm to seep into a simple comment. It can open a can of worms,” she advises.


And since our perspectives on life and expectations of each other change with our life experiences, becoming parents is a major life-changing process that will bring out new qualities in each of us, she explains.


Just as marriage is a progression from dating for many couples, having children is the next step that will bring a couple closer 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,” says Xiaoling.


Therefore let’s consider 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 center of the disagreement and resist the temptation to blame each other.


Solve the problem together rather than insist that ‘it’s your fault’. Trust that the other is doing his/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 of these little jokes might be harmless, but they can be hurtful to your partner.


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,” says 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,” says Joyce Long.


Mother-of-two Janaine Ong takes leave from work occasionally just to ferry the children around, so daddy can be relieved from his duties for a day

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