“Today is such a hot and humid day!” When was the last time you returned home to your spouse and lamented about your sweaty day in tropical Singapore?
Just as the “weather” outside changes from sunny to stormy, every now and then, so do our marriages.
Sometimes, it is bright and sunny. Your relationship is filled with passion, hope, and exuberance. Think the honeymoon phase of your marriage.
Other times, it can get gloomy. Your once amazing marriage has become predictable and boring. You are not terribly unhappy, but it is far less than what it could be. You know your marriage is growing stale.
Or it becomes stormy with striking lightning and bolting thunder. Conflicts increase over petty issues. Sexual intimacy is sporadic. You are miserable and at the brink of calling it quits.
There is a cycle of “lows” and “highs”. We can be happily in love with our spouse for a season, but churn with feelings of rage and bitterness in the next. We are in this flux of marital ambivalence. But as renowned family counsellor Dr Gary Smalley once remarked, “everything in life that truly matters boils down to relationships”. No matter what the weather of your marriage right now, you need to spend time caring for and developing it. Do not give up. Here are 4 ways that can help you calm the turbulent storms in your marriage, to clear out the clouds and let in the sunshine again.
What can I do in my marriage?
Share critical feedback in a gentle, empathetic manner.
It is not what you say but how you say it. Never blame and shame your spouse.
Validate and affirm your spouse to build up a greater sense of self-worth in your spouse.
Focus on the positive attributes
Give each other compliments – Create your own practices or “rituals” for sharing mutual appreciation.
Exhibit caring behaviours – Hold hands, write love notes, give massages, gift surprises.
Communicate ownership of mistakes.
Be as specific as possible in explaining what you believe you have done wrong.
Show awareness of anything that you have said or done that may have hurt, offended, or brought sadness to your spouse.
Take time to cool down separately.
Learn how to stop a conflict from spiralling out of control. If communication is breaking down, call for a cease fire and time-out.
Resume conversation only when both of you are cool-headed.
It is natural for marriages to experience a variety of different “weathers”. But so long as each spouse plays his or her part, a committed couple can weather the storms that strike their marriage. Even good weather can be maintained or made even sunnier.
Written by: Isabelle Ng, Marriage Counsellor, Fei Yue Community Services
Clarke, David & Clarke, William G. (2009). I don’t want a divorce: A 90 Day Guide to saving your marriage. Revell: a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Gungor, Mark (2008) Laugh your way to a better marriage: Unlocking the Secrets to Life, Love and Marriage. Atria Books, New York.
Hendrix, Harville & Hunt, Helen LaKelly (2013). Making Marriage Simple: 10 Truths for Changing the Relationship you have into the one you want. Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
Smalley, Gary (2007). The DNA of Relationships. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.