I never understood couples who spent lots of money and efforts planning for their wedding day. Getting hitched is the easy part. Staying married for the next 20 to 50 years, now THAT takes a lot more effort and sometimes money – too much or too little – gets in the way.
My hubby and I are usually very private about our relationship. So, this post is shared with his permission because it addresses a very sensitive part of our relationship that happened some years ago.
Those who know me know that I am annoyingly logical and systematic to a fault. Hubby is more free and easy and organized within his “disorganized” state. It annoys me how he always seem to be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat at the last nail-biting minute. How or why we got paired up by the Universe and ultimately got married is sometimes beyond me. Opposites attract you say. Perhaps. But our opposing characteristics sometimes adds a lot of strain on the nerves of our marriage.
The final straw that broke the camel’s back (for me) was when hubby simply could not adhere to or refuses to understand what seems to me a very simple and reasonable request. Let me share a common scenario in our household that ends in an argument.
Hubby will call in the evenings while I am putting (or trying to put) the kids to bed and say he will be home in 45 minutes. I will say okay (sometimes irritably) and hang up the phone.
Two hours later, there is still no sign of hubby at home. And there is no phone call or text messages. He just goes missing for hours. Where is this fella?! Didn’t he say he was on the way home? I want him to take over the kids and put them to bed. Was there an accident? Did he stop over somewhere to have a drink and did not inform me? Why can’t he be home at the TIME he said he WILL be home!!! Naturally, my irritation grows. Can you feel it?
By the time he gets home, I am in a cantankerous mood and when he starts to talk to me, I will snarl at him. No kidding! And that of course, will lead us down a very slippery, treacherous, unfriendly cold war territory for the next few days. These episodes would occur almost quarterly.
No, I am not anxious about his whereabouts because we are SOOO in love. Neither am I the obsessive wife who MUST know the whereabouts of her husband at all times.Nor am I worried about him cheating. I just WANT him to show up WHEN he says he will show up. It is a quirk of mine and when my hubby does not keep to this principle, it annoys me. A LOT.
I am sure every couple have their quirks in their relationships and their ways of dealing with them. We just haven’t found a way to deal with ours. Like I say, hubby and I operate very differently. I have friends with the same quirks but they have no issues because their spouses were able to deal with them.
This one little quirk unravelled our marriage quickly. It led to constant fights and arguments. My hubby simply could not understand why it was such a big deal if he was home 30 minutes later or 3 hours later? Was it a trust issue? Was it a control issue? Like my hubby, you may think it is a small issue, no big deal. But to me, it is a big deal. And it drains my LOVE tank when I feel things are not in place. Remember my operating system is logical and systematic. Is it irrational? Perhaps. But it is how I FEEL. It is what it is. I cannot change that.
The arguments led to OTHER unrelated issues. Everything we did to each other, for each other became a matter of contention. Not to mention the stresses of raising two young children and looking after two sets of parents (his and mine). The bickering affected our relationship and we were really, really unhappy.
Close friends of ours could not understand why we were choosing to separate. We were financially sound, and seemingly happy. AND this thing – the quirk, seemed like such a small issue.
But for us, every conversation became a power struggle. Every decision a dispute. Everyday carried the question: why am I in this marriage? Every other day, the thought “I want a divorce!” pops into our minds.
HOW did such a small quirk cause such a big rift between hubby and I?
The answer. DISCONNECT.
Because of hubby’s lack of understanding and our constant disagreements, we stopped talking and looking at each other. He dove into his phone and work. I distracted myself with the kids and house matters. One miserable day, after a particularly huge fight, we both decided to call it quits. After 9 years, we were done with each other!!
In the days of our separation, we went for counselling and asked ourselves some basic but very hard questions:
- Do we still love each other?
- Do we want to be together?
- Was the issue that is causing us to break up something that can be resolved?
- If so, how?
Then amidst the separation discussions, hubby finally asked the MOST important question; the one that I had unknowingly been willing/waiting for him to ask: Why is this quirk so important to you?
I explained that this little quirk signifies dependability and reliability to me. So when he follows through, I felt that I could depend and count on him. When he does not, I am deeply hurt.
The moment he asked that question was an epiphany to both of us that what we both really wanted was understanding from each other. I was relieved that he understood the values behind my intentions for him to come through. And once he understood that, it was easy for him to follow through. Now whenever he is delayed or prevented from fulfilling what he has agreed upon earlier, he will text or call me. Just a simple mindshift helped us averted becoming another statistic on the divorce chart.
The healing journey took some time. We began to talk to each other more. We were more deliberate in our consideration of each other; we did things that matters to the other party instead of what we THOUGHT mattered. We are also more mindful of our tone of voice and the words we use with each other. Today, hubby and I are better at coping with our disagreements and managing each other’s expectations.
The Prudential Relationship Index
When I heard the report from Prudential’s Relationship Index that 24% of married couples in Singapore seriously consider leaving their partners EVERY WEEK, that struck a chord with me. I want to share my story of how hubby and I saved our marriage through some soul searching and finding ways to reconnect with each other. It takes time and effort to reconnect, to “fall in love” again. Your marriage deserves it.
At the Prudential Relationship Index Forum hosted by celebrity comedian Gurmit Singh, a panel of relationship experts like Dr Paulin Tay Straughan (Vice Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore), Helen Lim-Yang (Work-Life Principal Consultant, ROHEI Consulting), Jason Wong (Director of Focus on the Family) and celebrities like Roshni Mahtani (Founder of theAsianparent.com) and Jade Seah (celebrity actress) shared an interactive discussion on relationships. Watch the Live screening of the event on FB.
Whether it is a couple relationship, parent-child relationship or relationships at work, the panel agrees that the following factors contribute greatly to the growth and maintenance of our bond.
- Relationship requires effort and commitment
- Trust (is essential)
- Communication (can be learned)
- Make time for one another*
- Laugh and Have fun — remember why you fell in love with each other
- Have family rituals
- Having the resolve to make it work
I want to share what I thought was the best advice of the night from eminent sociologist Dr. Tay (from the panel) who says:
“Give your loved ones your PRIME time* when you are alert and interested, not the washout time. When you get it right, the family is irreplaceable. “
Download the #RelationshipIndex at this LINK to learn more about the hows and whys of #RelationshipReconnect. But if you want a quick review, check out the following video on the findings of how Singaporeans view our relationships with our partners, spouses, parents, kids and colleagues. You can also visit Prudential Singapore’s Facebook page to get more relationship tips.
Till our next post, love yourself, love one another.