Recipe for a Loving Marriage
I once read a joke that a father told his son. “I am the potato, and your mama is the tomato. We may seem incompatible, but we make a good French fries and ketchup combo.” Indeed, marriage is a union between two very different individuals, and it takes great effort for both to shape themselves to be the best combination.
Did you know that cooking and marriage have a lot in common? Whipping up a good dish requires preparation, patience, and effort. Let’s look at the recipe for a loving marriage with tips adapted from Gottman’s Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
Cut off bad memories
When a relationship gets into negativity, it is often because one partner digs into the history of their marriage and brings up bad memories. In a happy marriage, couples recall happy memories and build positive perspectives of each other. They see each other positively and have higher odds of overcoming difficulties. Cut off the bad memories and start seeing each other in a positive light. See yourselves as a team and have more open conversations with each other.
Spread admiration and appreciation
Get in the habit of scanning for good qualities in your partner and show your admiration. Share compliments often: “You look hot in this outfit” or “Thank you for fixing the leaking tap.” Look for the small, everyday moments to show your appreciation: “I enjoy the meal you have cooked” or “Thank you for washing the dishes.” When you acknowledge and openly appreciate your partner, you strengthen the bond in your marriage.
Create interest in your partner
An intimate couple is familiar with each other’s world. Store and constantly update yourself about your partner. Remember each other’s interests, preferences, stressors, joys, worries and fears and make an effort in showing interest. You can only truly love someone when you know them.
Season with trust
Trust is more than a feeling- it is about your willingness to assume the best of your partner and marriage. Trust is knowing that your partner is on your side and has your back. Couples who often turn to each other for support, and receive encouragement from each other, build mutual trust in the relationship.
Whip up good communication
Good communication requires taking turns for active listening. Show genuine interest, and do not be too quick to give advice. Show your understanding by empathising. For example, “I hear that you are frustrated about the situation at work”, “I can see why you feel that way”, or “I can hear your excitement towards this venture”. Allow your partner to express emotions and show your affection through words and actions such as holding your partner.
Sprinkle fun and humour
Couples who play together stay together. Couples create shared meaning through fun connections such as sharing an inside joke, cooking, or celebrating festivities together. When marriage is built on fun connections, tensions are often defused through light humour.
Seal with commitment
Commitment is about being emotionally bound to your partner, taking your partner wherever you go, in your heart or hand. At the point of saying “I do”, you have chosen to walk the journey of life together with your partner. Commitment is also about making a choice to give up other choices. Let your focus be on the future and nurture the long-term view by talking about your goals and dreams together. Never threaten the future.
Written by: Rachel Tan, Marriage Coach, Fei Yue Community Services