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Is Your Marriage Functional or Fulfilling?

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I once saw this funny quote on marriage that says, “Marriage: Two people asking each other what they want to eat until one of them dies”.

This quote may well describe many marriages and the types of conversation couples have.  I know of many couples who have conversations that revolves around their children and household matters. While there is absolutely nothing wrong in wanting to get their household in order, over time, their relationship with their spouses can become purely functional. The duties and demands from work, children, family of origin, etc., soon take over the couple’s priority over each other and their relationship.

When that happens, marriage satisfaction is likely to drop, and other problems may arise. So, what can couples do to transform their marriage from a functional to a fulfilling one?

  1. Start to pay attention to each other

Let’s do a simple exercise. Can you recall what colour was your spouse’s outfit that he/she wore to work this morning? If you can, great! Otherwise, may be time to pay more attention to your spouse. Yes, it starts from simple things like these. You may recall complimenting your spouse on his or her outfit when you were still dating and the smile it brought to his or her face. Such compliments and smiles go a long way in building a fulfilling relationship with your spouse.

Are you attentive to your spouse’s body language that tell you something is going on well or not so well in his or her day? It is easy to miss that out when we are preoccupied with other things. When you start to pay attention to your spouse and show interest in him or her, it shows you care. When your spouse feels cared for, marriage satisfaction is likely to increase.

  1. Start to reconnect with each other

How do you and your spouse connect with each other during the day or at the end of a busy day? I know of couples who send text messages like, “Miss you” or “Love you” or emojis to each other during the day. Or others who take picture of something interesting that caught their attention and send it to their spouse. These simple ways of connecting with each other show that you are thinking of each other.

Another simple way of connecting is to put aside 15 minutes before bedtime to chat about each other’s day. When spouses feel connected with one another, their sense of fulfilment in the marriage improves.

  1. Start to prioritise your marriage

In my work with couples, it is common to see couples prioritising their children over their marriage. I have heard complaints of how spouses would show affection to their children, and not to them. I have also heard a man saying to his wife, “I love you, but I love our children more.”

Couples fail to see that when they are not prioritising their marriage, i.e. not putting in time and effort to nurture their relationship and make it a fulfilling one, they may end up becoming unhappy and ineffective parents. On the other hand, when their marriage is fulfilled, couples have a greater capacity to provide a stable and loving home environment for their children.

So, if you find your marriage moving towards being more functional than fulfilling, I encourage you to start doing the above three things.

After six months, I wonder what quote you will use to describe your marriage, “Marriage: Two people …”

Join our FREE Marriage Enrichment workshop on 7, 14 and 21 October to identify your strengths and growth areas as a couple, strengthen communication skills, resolve conflicts and work together better as a team.  Sign up at http://go.fycs.org/MEP or call/whatsapp 97914100 for more enquiries.


If you would like to speak to a counsellor, reach out to us via [email protected] or call us at 62355229. We provide free counselling for couples.  Alternatively, approach CPH Online Counselling services for live web chat counselling (live chat), phone counselling (arranged through live chat) and email counselling at https://www.cphonlinecounselling.sg/hc/en-us  

Written by Eileen Chua, Senior Counsellor, Fei Yue Community Services


Reflection Questions

  1. Is my marriage functional or fulfilling?

  2. What is 1 thing I do or say to pay more attention to my spouse?