The first few months were blissful. They enjoyed coming home to each other after long days at the office and relaxing in their cosy space. Weekends were also spent finding new ways to decorate their home. However, the household chores soon started piling up. Lim also realised that her man wasn’t keeping up his end of the bargain with daily tasks.
“Terence was in charge of washing the toilets and making sure the apartment was always tidy, but I had to constantly nag him into doing it,” Lim says. “It became frustrating and caused some friction in our marriage.”
On Ng’s part, he reckons he was doing the chores ― at a pace he was comfortable with. “Shirley wanted the bathrooms to be washed twice a week, which I thought was unnecessary because it was just the two of us. Also, the place is tidy, in my opinion!” he adds.
“Radical Acceptance…it’s loving without judgement. It is replacing judgement with compassion and empathy. It is loving your partner fully for who he really is – flaws, shortcomings, insecurities and all.”
After a year of arguing constantly about the same thing, Lim realised that her beef with housework wasn’t worth the stress it was putting on her marriage. Also, she found it incredibly exhausting trying to force her husband to change his ways.
“I accepted that Terence would do his tasks but at his own pace, and I didn’t want to stress myself out in the process, so a part-time cleaner was the best solution,” says Lim. The positive and immediate effect it had on their marriage was unmistakable. Ng stopped resenting his wife for trying to change him ― also, knowing that she was willing to be flexible made him love her even more.
Acceptance ― the key to a happy marriage?
While not all marital problems can be easily solved like the Ngs, an important lesson can still be learnt from their experience. Marriage is not hard work, it takes a lot of trial and error. Keeping a union harmonious is not just about give and take, but also about acceptance.
Sounds easy enough, but here comes the tricky bit. You don’t only accept each other’s good and lovable parts, you also have to embrace the bad, ugly (and annoying) bits. Author Andrea Miller, who founded the love and relationship portal YourTango, explains this in her book Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love. “What is Radical Acceptance? It’s loving without judgement. It is replacing judgement with compassion and empathy. It is loving your partner fully for who he really is ― flaws, shortcomings, insecurities and all.”
Imagine the feelings of security and trust you’ll experience with someone who accepts you just the way you are. You’ll also give your spouse the same positive feelings when you accept them for whom they are. Plus, you will feel so much more free as soon as you stop trying to control or change a person.
Explains John Gray, author of the bestselling relationship guide, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, “Quite often, when one partner makes a positive change, the other will also change. This predictable coincidence is one of those magical things about life.”
That said, you mustn’t overlook certain relationship deal breakers, such as infidelity or abuse ― work through these with professional help. As long you know your husband is a good and trustworthy man and father, you can start to embrace these areas that are very much a part of whom he is.
1. His family
By now, you’d have figured out that when you marry someone, you end up marrying his or her entire family. Trying to fit into a new family is not always easy. In Selvarani Murugan’s case, it was a challenge from the get-go. She has never been able to see eye-to-eye with her in-laws and things got even more complicated once the kids arrived.
“My husband and I would constantly fight about his family and even he agreed that they were a handful at times,” Selvarani says. “It became so bad that I ended up cutting my in-laws out from my life.” However, Selvarani’s husband was hurt that she would no longer join family outings with his parents and the kids were confused with the sudden change in family dynamics.
“I’ve actually never seen my husband that hurt before. We didn’t speak for months,” Selvarani recalls. Noticing the severe impact her one-sided decision had made on her family, she made peace with her in-laws.
“My husband is a good man, and he was not the one giving me problems, so it was wrong of me to take it out on him and the kids. Also, they are his family and I need to respect that. I’ve learnt to tolerate my in-laws!” she quips.
2. His personal interests
Sharing common interests probably brought you and your hubs together. However, you will both also have different interests, some that you understand and others you just don’t. Navigainge these differences can cause unwanted friction in your marriage. If you don’t want to give up your Saturday afternoon chick flick movie marathons with your gal pals or monthly shopping sprees on Etsy, then you shouldn’t expect your man to give up his interests, just because you are totally indifferent to them.
When Noraini Hassan first met her husband, she found his interest in gaming a bit childish. “I thought playing video games was for kids. I didn’t get it and was hoping he would stop after we got married, but he didn’t. In fact, his gaming ate up into our time and it made me mad,” says Noraini. She tried all sorts of tactics to stop him from gaming ― this included imposing a “ban”.
“But then, I realised I was acting more like his mum than his wife, and I was stopping him from having fun. Gaming was his way of unwinding and getting in some ‘me time’,” she adds. Once Noraini stopped fussing, her husband also made sure his gaming didn’t eat into their couple-time either.
Nobody likes their flaws under the microscope, so focus on their good points instead ― if there’s really something you can’t work with, talk about it in a positive and loving manner and watch your marriage blossom.
3. His relationship with money
Is your husband a good provider? Does he make sure all the bills are paid on time and contributes to you joint account every month as promised? Have you discussed your retirement plans and bought all the necessary insurance policies? If your answer is “yes” to all or most of these questions, look the other way when the hubs drops some of his hard-earned cash on a sophisticated home entertainment system or does a major upgrade to his computer systems.
“It used to bug me when my hubs would walk into a store and easily spend hundreds of dollars in a few minutes. Or make big purchases for our home, which I didn’t think was necessary,” Samantha Chan says. “But over the years, I realised he was doing it in a responsible way. He also didn’t do it very often, so when he did, it was a well-earned treat for him. That I can accept.”
4. His pace
Just like the Ngs, most men and women operate at a different pace. Women are usually the fast-paced multitaskers who have already planned tomorrow’s dinner dishes, while men tend to be more relaxed, laid-back, and who enjoy savouring the moment. So, how do two very different people live in harmony? By finding the positive in each personality.
If your husband takes forever to make up his mind about something, this means that he’s weighing his options and wants to make an informed decision. He’s hoping for the best outcome for the family ― instead of making a snap decision he might regret ― and it’s always a good thing!
5. His character
Did you marry an introvert or a workaholic? Expect him to continue being one after marriage. Was your hubs a social butterfly when you first met him? Don’t expect him to tone it down after marriage ― after all, you are who you are. However, if his temperament is annoying you now that you’re married, it’s a good idea to talk about it in a loving manner.
Mum of two Casey Simons’ workaholic husband always threw himself into work, such that he wouldn’t check in on his wife at all. This didn’t sit well with Simons, who enjoys keeping in touch with her man throughout the day via messages and pictures. It became an even bigger problem when the kids arrived. She needed him to respond to her calls or text messages in an emergency or just as a sounding board on a tough day.
“It was hard to make him see that I needed that connection, because he didn’t like distractions in the office,” says Simons. “So, I told him that while I admire his work ethic, I did need him to check in on me from time to time because I was alone with two young kids.”
Simons and her hubs settled on specific times when he would make himself available, for example, right after he arrived in the office, at lunch time, and mid-afternoon.” Once they reached an understanding, Simons noticed that her husband would sometimes even check on her when he wasn’t supposed to. She enthuses, “It came as a nice surprise and I always made sure to tell him.”
It’s all about changing your mindset. Nobody likes their flaws under the microscope, so focus on their good points instead ― if there’s really something you can’t work with, talk about it in a positive and loving manner and watch your marriage blossom.
As you can see, accepting your husband just the way he is will not only bring harmony to your marriage, it can also help it thrive.
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