7 things my marriage has taught me

I’ve been married to the man for about five years now. All in all, when I look back, I feel like we’ve been on the fast track almost all the way. After being married for barely three months, we found out that I was pregnant with Vera. Soon after that, JJ happened. And now bun number three is in the oven.

(Yah I know we’ve been richly blessed in such a way, and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but boy sometimes I do wonder “what if” things didn’t happen so quickly…)

But you know there IS good in all the change and challenges. We’ve been forced to move beyond our selfish wants and desires, in order to meet the needs of family. (If there’s something that can make a person less selfish almost overnight, it’s got to be parenthood.)

But I digress…Here are a few things that my marriage has taught me over the past few years of transition.

1) In order for the marriage relationship to thrive, we need to move from a “me” to “we” mindset

We all enter into this relationship with a tendency to focus on our needs, not on the other party. I honestly believe it will take a lifetime of training before we can confidently say that we are truly other-centred.

But if we start each day asking ourselves, how can I serve my spouse today, we are off to a good start to this lifelong journey of learning and moulding. Don’t you think?

2) Flaws are meant to be overcome, not ignored

Early in my marriage, I realised that I had plenty of insecurities to deal with. I was possessive over my husband’s time and practically wanted to monopolise every minute that he had.

Needless to say, we were quarrelling over little things because of the missed expectations. The poor man could barely understand why I got vexed whenever he made appointments without consulting me.

I had to come clean with my innermost feelings and insecurities, and communicate them to him in such a way that we could work out a suitable compromise.

He tried to take steps to let me know early whenever he made plans. I also came to understand why he needs his personal space, and how that actually works for our benefit.

It wasn’t always smooth-sailing, but as I consciously prevented those niggling doubts from taking hold and sowed trust into the relationship, things got more manageable.

Change begins from me. When we make the effort to grow individually as a person, the benefits that we bring to the marriage partnership flow many times over.

3) No one knows your feelings until you voice them out

However well you think you understand each other, or however strong your intuition may be, it’s still best to not make our own assumptions, and to hear from the horse’s mouth.

I learnt that my husband was often clueless about how I felt, even when I showed signs of “obvious” displeasure at certain things he said or did. That’s when I realised I should never assume that he understands how I feel, and that all I need to do is to find the right time to share my feelings with him.

4) It’s always good to check your love tank

Each one of us has an emotional love tank. Some of us need quality time and words of affirmation to top it up. Others need acts of service or gifts or lots of hugs and cuddles to keep it filled. Whatever works, it’s best to know when we’re running low, and to express your needs to your spouse.

We can all take a page from The love dare:

“Love, however, is your primary responsibility in marriage. Did you not vow to a lifelong love at the altar? Are you not the one God has privileged to fill your mate’s love tank? And remember this: when your spouse deserves your love the least, that’s when they need your love the most. No one on earth is more strategically positioned, commanded, and called on to love your spouse than you are.”

5) Even if you’re not in the wrong, you can still take the initiative to make up

Saying sorry isn’t only the prerogative of the person at fault. When there’s a quarrel, usually both parties are at fault in some way anyway, so just go ahead, swallow your pride and take that first step.

Try not to let the anger seeth in you, or to use other events as convenient excuses to vent and lash out. I find the sooner we deal with it, and at a time when both of u are calm and less emotional, the better.

6) We need to make couple time happen

Time for ourselves doesn’t automatically happen these days, especially after kids.

We make it a point to call for time-out, relax at a new cafe (or an old favourite one) and share the things that we’ve learnt at work, or from books we’ve read, or the things that are causing us worry and stress.

Sometimes we also go on a couple jog or walk, which allows us to keep healthy and tune in to each other at the same time.

From time to time, we do embark on couple devotional books (admittedly a lot less now as we’re both caught up with work and family). Such books are useful as they serve to remind us of our joint purpose, and suggest practical ways to enhance the relationship, or to tackle certain problems.

7) Respect is paramount to the man

Ask any man what’s most important to him, and you’l probably get the same answer. The reason why men are created to strive, to pursue, to attain achievements at work, is because of their God-given need for respect and significance.

At home, give him the respect he deserves (even when he does not deserve it), and help your children do the same. He will appreciate you all the more for it.

What is one thing that your marriage has taught you?

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My view on The Sunday Times article ‘Love means saying sorry’

Today was a day of great duress.

I did a short interview with The Sunday Times a couple of days ago, and the article was published today. If you’ve read it already, you probably wondered why I said those things.

Well, I didn’t.

Here was my original answer, in full, to the question: Should parents say sorry to their children?

Saying sorry is a simple way of expressing our remorse when we make a mistake. An apology works to restore some sense of justice for the hurt that we may have caused the other party, and ease the tension in the relationship.

I think sometimes parents get a mental block when it comes to saying sorry to our children, because we tend to think that we as authority figures must not be seen as being weak or wrong. But the truth is, when we apologise for our failures and mistakes, we are sending an important message to our kids, and the message is: “It’s okay to make mistakes and it’s not the end of the world. What’s important is that we learn from it, and we do our best to make amends.”

Parents can and should set a good example for their children by saying sorry, and better still, showing that they are committed to not repeat the same mistake, and to do better next time.

If you’ve been reading my blog, or if you know me personally, you’d know that I do not find it hard to say sorry to my kids at all.

I’m not sure how the meaning of my answers got lost in translation. There were also key points that were left out, for example the fact that even though my own parents were not the type who would apologise to us, my godmother, who took care of me since I was very young, was.

Anyhow, this episode has made me realise that the same information can be viewed and treated differently by different people. And in this case, it was possibly at the expense of my own credibility as a parent, and as a family blogger.

To the friends who stood up and voiced their concerns to me over the article, thank you. I’m heartened that you could tell something was amiss.

Finally, I’m glad that I have this avenue to share my views. I think I shall just keep to blogging from now on…for a long, long while.

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