4 June 2015, by Tan Li Lin
The last 1 month of my marriage resembled vaguely a superhero movie plot.
It all started when my mother-in-law was admitted to hospital after suffering a stroke. While she has made a 80-90% recovery since, it is inevitable that things will change. Ronald had to step in to put order into the family situation to ensure finances were taken care of while his mother recovers, which includes cleaning up the place and releasing a room to rent out and setting daily routines for her medication and exercise. All this whilst managing his new business. Just when everything had settled, his dad (bedridden from an Autoimmune disorder) came down with an almost week-long fever and was admitted to hospital for pneumonia. We found out at the hospital that he was severely dehydrated and is diagnosed with diabetes. Over April – May, I had never been in a hospital so frequently in my life; before this I could count the number of times I’d done so with 1 hand – of which 2 were to visit my newborn nieces.
So, back to the superhero plot. Antagonistic events happen, establishes victims and hero. Hero takes on everything, stressed with the responsibility that he can make things right. Goes about saving the world, but begins to crumble inside. Cue hot chick / wife (as seen in movies) on the side and worried for said hero’s state. Expresses concern and tries to help in smart ways only to pat on her head, kissed and then pushed aside. Hero continues fighting but realizes he’s losing it!! Hot chick / wife comes into the picture, slaps hero awake and hero finally saves the day *ta da!*
It started when I found myself not enjoying conversations with Ronald. I would yakityyak away in the car, only to get NULL response, or a 1 sentence reply. Okay, maybe he’s just not in the mood, or maybe I had already yaked the topic to death.
Soon after, I noticed that in the midst of my conversation – actually by now, my soliloquy – he’d interrupt with a question about who I’m talking about, or what I’m talking about, or completely ask about something else. HOW ANNOYING. I’d snap at him and then refuse to continue talking.
I guess because I felt we were connecting less, I began to try to take back control by nagging him over things like, using HIS towel and not mine, putting a coaster under a wet cup, turning off the toilet lights or the power when he’s done charging his phone. Of course nothing went in and my irritation escalated. I recalled thinking to myself, “He’s not even listening to me. How rude.”
Our bedtime pillow talk had become bedtime ‘immerse in our phone’ time, after which we’d just turn our backs on each other and go to sleep.
The last straw came when I booked him for a quick lunch, which he had to cancel the last minute. I stomped around angrily and realizing he didn’t give two hoots about me, slammed the door to leave on my own. I was really upset and was wondering what had happened to us. I couldn’t stand the state of the relationship – it was like being stuck with a phone with crappy connection and thus, poor communication.
When I reached home, we decided to trash it out. I told (okay, shouted) him about my feelings and observations (more accurately, accusations). Something in there woke him up to what he had become. He had shut down over the weeks and retreated inside to try to deal with the stress he was facing from his family situation. It was so subtle we barely noticed it, but its effects were causing cracks in our relationship. I’m glad though that was over quickly, and told him I’m appreciative of how we are committed no matter what to work things through. I naturally dislike arguments and disharmony. I get really uncomfortable when people don’t see eye to eye, but in cases it involves an important relationship, arguments are needed to keep things healthy. Heat is needed to keep the water boiling and moving; still water turns stale and breeds mosquitoes. Ignore my prosaic metaphor, but I think you get my point about ‘productive storming’. We both learnt a lot in the process and have came out wiser in spotting tell-tale signs should things turn sour again.
Here’s a beautiful quote that someone kindly shared with me recently:
“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.” ~ Leo Tolstoy
So like all movies, there is a happy ending. In this case, the husband has relaxed, his parents are fine, his business is doing well, and I no longer have to talk to myself.
Lin Tan is an Entrepreneur and an Executive Coach who dedicates more time to making society a better place over making babies (for now). Follow her blog on www.maybebaby.sg/blog and journey with her as she embarks on all things ‘life after 30′.