Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Bittersweet of Marriage Life

It's been a little over a year since my husband and I were technically married. Yes, time flies like an arrow and my husband and I just had our first anniversary since we registered our marriage (ROM) in Singapore last year. We have lived together under the same roof for almost a year by now and this being said, there are indeed lots of things to reflect upon to improve my marriage and personal lives.

Marriage life treats me pretty sweet thus far since my better half and I are no longer separated by considerable distance for a long time again (like when we were dating). For this, I am really blissful and forever grateful. However, one thing I learned thus far about my new life is that marriage isn't all about sugar. Marriage ain't bed of roses. A lot of work are constantly required for two individuals with two different thinking, upbringings, characteristics and habits to live a peaceful, loving, sound marriage life. My husband and I battle with each others' differences, lapses and shortcomings every other day. On top of that, my husband and I are also challenged with our different nationalities, cultures and languages. Live happily ever after post marriage is not as an easy project, my friends.

Life is just bittersweet.

During my courtship period, I faced difficult times with my then boyfriend (read: now husband) because I didn't plant enough trust on him. I had excessive jealousy of him, which corrupted him and our relationship slowly, and I was also very often perturbed with our future. My biggest question then was whether two of us would be be able to live together one day. Now that we have past those periods and I have grown more trust on him (I think), our daily arguments and fights have gone to another level.

Nowadays, my husband and I argue on small little details on our daily life like switching off the lights, closing water tap and windows tightly, deciding the breakfast/lunch/dinner menu, etc. We fight and scream to each other on bigger issues. We give silent treatment when we are fed up with each other. Luckily, our fights these days don't last any longer than 24 hours. We try to resolve our issues before 24 hours. One of us gives in and finds a solution before we sleep. We try not to cherish anger and sleep upon it.

Nonetheless, every time we are filled with regret and guilt after our fight rounds; we still argue and fight again at some other time. I figure that husband and wife's fights are indeed inevitable but I personally assume that occasional fights are tolerable. Should we be able to properly handle anger and conflict with our partner, these two might bring us closer together instead. Healthy and fair dose of fights in marriage life probably are necessary as learning process to better understand our partner, but we're not supposed to carry the fights too frequent and too far. Stop the fight when it has to stop and don't pick the fight when it is not necessary. Try to overlook some small things that are not worth fighting or arguing.

Whenever I stumble into anger and conflicts in my marital life, I am actually the one who is more emotional in handling them. I, in fact, have the tendency to pick the fight with my husband. *Is this because I am a woman?* However, I am trying to better myself and think of some ways to manage my emotions and selfishness in my marriage life so I won't distress my husband that much. Here are some of the things that I think are important to remember and apply in keeping the pieces of any marriage life together, especially for newlyweds like myself. I admit, these food for thought are better grasped theoretically but not easy in practice. I still fail to do so too, most of the times.

1. Listen, Talk and Understand.

I often form prejudices when I hear slight negative things or ideas that don't exactly go like my thinking. I quickly get burnt with fire when I hear unpleasant things. I intentionally apply this bad habit too in my marriage life and I know it is wrong. I think we need to listen to our partner's explanation before anything. Listen to his or her side of story before cracking any (negative) comments, much less perform further actions. Talk through all the things that cause the potential arguments and fights. Calm and mature talks between husband and wife will sort the marriage problems out better, faster and less painful. It is also important to always put our position in his or her shoes before making remarks or demanding something from our partner.

2. Be Patient. Avoid Blowouts.

Patience is probably my biggest problem. I tend to be very emotional and overreact in handling issues in my marital life and end up creating superfluous drama than it should be. Small disappointments in my daily life may turn to a day-long war between me and my husband. It's no good. Like my friend, Astrid, mentioned, either one has to hold his or her temper when handling marital conflicts. She said "Husband and wife are not enemies and more like crew mates in a boat. If they fight means they are destroying their own boat. What's the point of of hurting own crew member, hence, sink the boat?" When the husband shows a bad temper, the wife should control her temper and try to bring peace back into the marriage life; and vice versa. We can't really fight fire with fire.

3. Stop Hurting Each Other.

Throwing barbs of criticism, cynicism, whines, attacks and angry words definitely do no justice to any marriage. These negative behaviors hurt our spouse and push each others away. When my husband criticizes me, I naturally feel hurt, offended and angry. I get defensive and find it very vexing to not take his criticisms personally. Whenever he does that, I give him the "Here we go again, the same old song" kind of attitude. Honestly, until now, I am still not at ease dealing with his constant criticism and cynicism but the more I think about it, maybe it's not entirely his fault. I indeed have done something that prompts him to do so. He perhaps has valid points that I need to look at. True enough, I realize that he only criticizes my bad habits. I do and repeat the things that he thinks are bad for me and for everybody else. Only when I consistently desert his warnings, his criticism grows into cynicism. In this case, probably I should make the change first. So, I guess reflections and making good changes are the keys to stop hurting each other here. Once we are changed to a better person, our partner will sure follow too.

4. Quit Blaming Each Other.

Blame games damage relationships. For sure. This is probably the next serious issue that my husband and I need to fix the soonest. I feel that we both love and take the joy in blaming each other for every small thing that goes wrong in this world. We specifically place responsibility to each other when something unwanted or bad comes to the surface. I guess the only solution in handling this is to control the blame game by thinking clearly and communicate our problem calmly and thoroughly before pointing finger at each other. Being less emotional is also helpful here as during the period we feel emotional in an argument, we hear blame when it's actually not there. If we are not sure what the real issue is, perhaps seeking advice from a trusted third party would help clear the water.

5. Forgive and Forget.

When our spouse lets us down, we should forgive and forget for infinite times. Let bygones be bygones. Forgiving is definitely not an easy business here as not of all of us possess humility and the forgiving heart to do so, especially for our spouse's serious crimes. Forgetting is probably another difficult thing to deal with in any relationship, especially those who are blessed with photographic memory and revenge competency. I have lived a terrible life when I could not forgive and forget my husband's past. In the end, this only created more hardened situations in our relationship and hurt both of us. My inability to forgive him and move on was really eating me up alive. Therefore, I think the ability to forgive and forget the past are essential in surviving relationship or marriage life, otherwise failure to do so will just eat the relationship/marriage up. Trying to get the trophy by winning the fights or taking revenge on our partner is also senseless commotion in any marriage. Furthermore, perhaps answering the very basic questions like why we love our spouse and/or can we live without him/her in the first place would help us to find ways in forgiving and forgetting our partner's flaws and live a better quality of marital life.

I have had my fair share in tasting the sweetness of marriage life in my first year of my marital life. Although there are days when things get sour and bitter but I believe if I could remember and really put into practice some or all of the above five guidelines into my marriage life, my husband and I will be okay. All the more, we might even be able to taste sweeter parts of our marriage life which have yet to come - as long as we stay mature, happy, cool and calm in rowing our boat. I mean, we both had weathered big storms before thus I am guessing we can endure other hardships. Hopefully.

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