I didn’t think I would benefit much from the Marriage Convention 2013. After all, my marriage is on solid ground. What could I possibly benefit from these sell-out sessions? 

A lot, it seems.

LIFE, as speaker Dr. John Van Epp says, has a tendency to imbalance your marriage relationship! Children, work, inter-personal relationships, family, school, personality or cultural difference… the list goes on.

And Dr. Van Epp should know. He has over 20 years of experience speaking and studying on topics related to marriage, family, recovery, single hood, emotional make-up, relationships and divorces as a counsellor, a minister and a former professor of marriage and family studies. Click here for Dr. Van Epp’s numerous credentials.

Even the Guest of Honour at the opening ceremony of the Marriage Convention, Ms Grace Fu – Second Minister for Environment and Water Resources and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, confesses that “in our busy lives, it’s easy to take our spouse for granted. This is a timely reminder for married couples to be more intentional in our efforts to find pockets of time for our spouse.”

Minister Prime Minister's Office Singapore

Ms Grace Fu and I

Speaking to an audience largely made up of marriage counsellors, psychologists and family group promoters, Dr. Van Epp spoke about the pressing need for the community at large to sustain and promote marriage and parenting collectivism, especially to the younger generation. In a world where relationships disintegrated at the slightest conflict, where getting a divorce is trendier than getting married, no wonder the troops are up in arms to defend the sanctity of the family unit!

Dr. Van Epp introduces us to the Relationship Attachment Model (R.A.M.) – a simple tool that he created to help couples check and balance their relationship. R.A.M. has five elements – Know, Trust, Rely, Commit, and Touch – which couples can tune at different phases of their relationship.

He explains that married or newly acquainted couples could use these five elements to verify if their relationship is on solid ground, needs work or even sustainable, especially for newly acquainted couples beginning a relationship. Ask yourself these questions: on a scale of 1 to 10, where do you place the marker?

  • How well do you know your partner? 
  • Can you trust him or her? 
  • Is your partner reliable? Does he / she come through for you? 
  • Are you and your partner committed to each other? 
  • Is there a good balance in physical intimacy (touch) or is it all about sex and not enough of trust, reliability and commitment?
Marriage Convention Dr John Van Epp

“You can adjust or tune the markers to achieve the desired relationship,” says Dr John Van Epp at the Marriage Convention 2013.

Here are my 3 key take-aways from the Marriage Convention 2013:

1. Investing in a relationship with another should be enriching, not a threat to your personal self-fulfilment.

Evelyn Khong, Senior Manager at Fei Yue Community Services urges that couples need to spend time and effort to encourage their relationship. She offers this three succinct tips to help busy couples stay connected.

Use technology to your advantage. Text personal thoughtful  messages like “Thinking of you.” or ‘Have you had lunch?” will help convey the message that you are thinking of your spouse.

Spend 5-10 minutes to cuddle with each other daily. It’s beneficial, even healthy for the children to “see” their parents spending personal time together. Evelyn encourages parents to educate their children that they need some “mom-and-dad time” before catching up with the children.

Be polite when communicating with one another. So many couples forget the art of being polite after they get married. Being courteous to your spouse also denote that you are NOT taking him or her for granted. It also makes the daily relationship much more pleasant when you say please and thank you. 

2. Marriage after divorce, without resolving core issues does not guarantee a successful second marriage.

Most unhappy marriages become happy again, if couples can stick it out. While some divorces are necessary, some marriages can be repaired. Read Can unhappy marriages become happy again? for more statistics on how to repair an unhappy marriage.

Judith Viorst, American author and journalist, says that “one advantage of marriage is that when you fall out of love with each other, it keeps you together until maybe you fall in again.”

Also, read Chicken & Fish Agreements by Singaporean couple Lai Yock Wah and Lee Choon Siew on how to establish a foundation to an enriching marriage.

3. Married couples need to learn married skills.

Dr. Edmund Wong, Director from TOUCH Community  urges couples to remember to “honour their wedding vows” after the wedding ceremony is over and life sets in. He encourages couples to do things together, both as a couple and as a family.

Just for fun, I did a “check” to see how my personal R.A.M. model will look like.

Relationship Attachement Model

My rankings in orange.

Probably high in everything except reliance (hubby does have a tendency to NOT remember household chores that I need him to do) and touch (who has time to have sex when you are so tired from doing housework and running after two kids?)

But maybe it’s time to take the advice of the relationship experts above and raise the bar on our physical intimacy. Quick hubby, we have 15 minutes before the kids find us.

Tell us what works for your relationship and connect with US on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

Till our next post, love yourself, love one another.

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