Sunday, June 20, 2010

Everlasting Tips To A Better Marriage Relationship

better marriage relationship 1Today happens to be my 10th wedding anniversary. We had a rocky start – one beset with frequent clashes over the silliest of things; our quarrels reflecting our very different thinking, upbringing and background. Yet, despite the rocky start, our marriage relationship is one that grows from strength to strength. So to have made through ten years is a celebration, don’t you think?

Different or the Same?

On first look, we cannot have been more different. My husband is of mixed parentage (half Caucasian – half Chinese) and myself, a typical Chinese family. Our individual upbringings were so different that they contributed to the beliefs we held about life and how we like to get things done.
wedding anniversaryLike most other marriage relationships, ours did not start out being disastrous. Romance began almost like a modern day fairytale over chat lines. When we first got to know each other through a mutual friend, he was in the States for a work stint of a few years. Our first meeting was in Washington D.C. I was holidaying in the States and decided to fly across from San Francisco to meet him.
It was a marriage fraught with many ups and downs – in fact, more downs in the beginning. A big part of it came with the stress of raising young children. With little awareness, we gave in to each of our individual egos. The result was drama amidst lots of tears, confusion and hurt. We had a lot of difficulty relating to each other. (We have better acceptance; now that we realize that we operate from very different Enneagram Personality Types).
We managed to experience a turn for the better in the last few years. The turn happened at a time when we started on our personal development journeys. There have been several periods in the past when both of us individually felt the despair of being with a partner who did not share the same ideas about life. In a funny sort of way, we now realize how similar we are – and in more ways than one. The best part of it all is that we are very serious about our personal growth. We see our ideas becoming more congruent with the passing of time!
Tips To A Better Marriage Relationship

The keys to relationship success are nothing new. Many of you probably already know them. Then again, knowing what these are and actually applying them can be a pretty separate thing in the lives of many married couples. The statistics are revealing: there is an increasing number of people filing for separation and eventually divorcing. Singapore – with an urban modern lifestyle that encourages both parties to work hard thus leaving little time for developing family life – is no exception.
I have often felt that I would be the last person to give any sound advice on marriage relationships. After all, with so much storm going on in my personal life previously, who am I to be an expert? However, I would like to make an exception today. I would like to think that my husband will be pleasantly surprised if he reads this post. After all, they are tips that he often espouses to me in his vision of what a marriage is. So here they are – a list of ten factors that have worked for us even though they have not been all that easy to apply –

Marriage Relationship Tip #1 – Spend Time Communicating.

In the dating phase, we found that we could never chat enough. We spent thousands of dollars on long distance calls! Then, as we took up more and more responsibilities that comes with a marriage and children, we found ourselves having less time for things. Yet I have come to realize that if I wish to know my chosen partner truly, I should never stop communicating. Getting to know someone – who happens to be your other half – needs your presence.
I am not that much of a talker but my husband is. He will insist on dissecting every problem or issue we have. While I have often gotten pretty worn out with his long analyses, I do acknowledge that it is through the communication that we found out more about each other.
My married friends tell me that their broken marriages are due to lack of communication. Well, no communication is also talking. When two persons in a marriage are not making an effort to talk through their problems, then each is silently saying that “I am not interested in building a stronger relationship with you.”
Marriage Relationship Tip #2 – Discover the Intent.

Have you heard of the NLP presupposition “behind every behavior is a positive intention”? NLP presuppositions are assumptions and beliefs that we work with in order to do change work. Should you apply it, you will find it easier to forgive anyone – including your partner.
I found myself being able to look beyond my feelings of hurt and to understand that there is a higher intent behind my husband’s words. So my perspective change from “he is criticizing me” to “he cares enough to share his honest opinion”. Sometimes his actions and behavior – though not totally acceptable – is a result of his own hurt. His higher intent is to manage his own pain with the only way that he knows best.
Marriage Relationship Tip #3 – Commit to Each Other.

In this day and age, divorces are taking place much faster than there are marriages. Don’t be part of a growing statistic! Intent for your wedding vows to be true. Feel the commitment deeply towards each other. Visualize being together in your future.
Marriage Relationship Tip #4 – Trust Each Other.

No marriage can sustain without mutual trust and respect. Either party can have opportunity to stray. However, have faith that your partner will make a wise choice in not attempting anything that will jeopardize what you have together. Trust and respect needs to be mutual.
Marriage Relationship Tip #5 – Go On Dates.

It is easy to drift apart when you don’t spend time together. Taking some time to having fun is important. Tease other good humoredly. Share a joke. Watch a funny movie. If you find your life constantly ruled by your day-to-day events, then you need to make an effort to set aside time. Obviously, your partner needs to do the same too!
Marriage Relationship Tip #6 – Admit and Take Responsibility.

We would not be where we are if each of us have not taken responsibility in the parts we play in the marriage. We took charge by each acknowledging that we have our own deeper inner issues. Then, we took the time to doing inner work; sometimes individually and sometimes together. And believe me….we spent hours and hours doing inner work. The hard work did pay off! In the process, we found ourselves inspiring and encouraging each other.
Experiencing delight in the joy of evolving together is a bonus that we never quite expected. Our aim was to resolve differences but in the end, by taking responsibility, we found a treasure of true love and compassion – a unique and special feeling in the oneness.
Marriage Relationship Tip #7 – Have Your Own Space.

While spending time together is important, it is also crucial that both parties find their own space. Space can be found through meditation, spending time individually with own friends or in some special hobby. My husband knows that I have a deep need for space and tries his best to give me allowance every week! Coming together after being apart for a while helps to reaffirm our relationship.
Marriage Relationship Tip #8 – Be Honest and Open.

In the beginning, I was afraid of being real. I was afraid that my husband would not like me for my vulnerability, weakness and faults. And so I was fearful of being truthful about what I really felt inside. Needless to say, not being totally honest created problems. I would say one thing but I really meant something else (more often, a deeper truth).
During my learning journey, I became more aware about the need to be honest. Initially, I faced a lot of difficulty in expressing myself. Raised in a typical Chinese family, I was never encouraged to speak up. So I had to learn how to speak as an adult! As I think about it now, it is like getting a stubborn mule to open its mouth.
In the end, I found out that it was far better to be let my partner understand my inner world. When he does, he is a much better position to understand some of my idiosyncrasies and be accepting of who I really am.
Marriage Relationship Tip #9 – Support Each Other.

I used to be selfish. I would be so wrapped up in my own little world that I would forget his needs. However, I have learned to give support to my husband by being present. Be kind to your partner’s needs and he or she will be thoughtful to yours.
Marriage Relationship Tip #10 – Show Appreciation.

Show your appreciation in little and big ways. Send an sms, write an email to make your partner smile or help in something. Showing appreciation keeps your relationship alive in its meaning for both of you!
Happy Tenth Anniversary

(Photo taken a few weeks ago in Tokyo DisneySea)

More than ten years ago, we got engaged over a Tiffany diamond ring while we were in Miami. To celebrate our wedding anniversary, my husband asked me to pick out a gift. As I ponder over what I would like as a gift, I realize that I have already been been blessed far more than I can ever imagine.
I take the opportunity to thank my husband – my soul mate across time – for being the special person he is. There is a lot that he has done for me!! I will be saving more words of appreciation for later in a special dinner date this evening.

In Celebration of Love and Romance,