Building and Sustaining *Complicated* Relationships
After the much-awaited relaxation of COVID-19 measures, Janice* and I finally had the chance to meet up. When I asked about her relationship, she replied, “Well, it’s kinda complicated.”
If you have come across or experienced such phrases – “It’s complicated” – you are not alone. It is not uncommon for us to describe our marital relationships with that phrase. Life happens, and we have so much to handle. Many of us work, caregive, have duties and obligations that take our time and energy. All these can cause tension and conflicts in the relationships.
It is crucial in this time-starved society to intentionally allocate time for our spouses. We often put our spouses, and even ourselves, as the least priority. Here are three tips for building and sustaining relationships: –
A time for work, a time for relationship
Needing to make time for each other is always at the back of our minds, but we keep putting it off because something more urgent needs to be done. We know this. The challenge is – are we doing it?
We all say family is important, and they’re the reason we work so hard. The marital relationship is the foundation of a family. We need to make sure that our foundation is strong and not ignore the cracks. Time to do what we say and make couple time a high priority.
We can start by putting couple time in our calendars. And by calendar, I really mean a physical or digital calendar – something we can see and be reminded of. Out of sight, out of mind. Make a deliberate choice to mark specific ‘couple time’ on our calendars today.
Knowing me, knowing you.
Some couples say they feel like they are living with a stranger. How do we go from being all excited about and wanting to know everything about each other to ending up being strangers? Dating your spouse is one of the best ways to keep knowing them. Why do we need to keep knowing them? Because change is constant, including how we are growing as persons.
Our thinking, values, interests, preferences, and personalities keep evolving over time as we learn and encounter different people and circumstances, sometimes imperceptibly. Getting in the mood to date allows you to find out more about your spouse in an open and compassionate way. The Love Map is one way to open conversations. Keeping updated with each other enables you to keep knowing how you are both developing as persons and provides opportunities for you to offer support, encouragement, empathy, and resources to each other as you walk this journey together.
Enjoy, not endure your partner
Have fun with your partner. Remember all those fun times you had before the whole world was on your shoulders? Maintaining your playfulness in your relationship can help you and your partner better manage stress together.
Enjoying your partner includes being able to manage conflicts, express your needs and feelings and work together as a couple. To know more about managing conflicts, refer to the useful tips shared by our marriage counsellor.
Relationships are complicated when they are shrouded under a lack of open communication and lack of trust. Relationships do not have to be complicated. They can become more straightforward when we set aside time to openly communicate our concerns, values, and priorities and strengthen our friendship and commitment to each other.