Burdened with the dreaded anticipation of meeting anxious relatives who might interrogate you on anything from your family planning schedule and methods to where you’re at in terms of your financial goals as a couple - the Lunar New Year can be a stressful time for some newly married but does it really have to be?
If you’ve just gotten married, apart from the usual practical considerations such as how much ang bao to give and where to buy the best lunar new year titbits, which can be easily obtained online or from the grapevine, here’s what my husband and I learned early on in our marriage that helped us not only survive the Lunar New Year but actually enjoy it:-
If you find yourself already having to sieve through loads of possessions that need purging, this is where both your conflict management skills will be put to the test.
Most people more often than not, tie meanings to possessions. As such, persuading your spouse to get rid of that really worn out pair of shoes or bag might not be such an easy task.
What really helped my hubby and I to avoid or at least minimize fighting over the spring-cleaning was to have a chat as to how much space would be allocated to each of us for the storage of our personal stuff. This we learnt of course wouldn’t work if we didn’t remain committed to ensuring that all our personal stuff fit into the spaces allocated. We had a mantra that kept us focused and it went something like this - Is having this spill out of my space more important than my spouse’s sanity and by default, mine? More often than not, the maintenance of peace in our marriage trumped whatever possession we were tempted to hoard but had no space to store.
We reminded ourselves that the need to purge and spring-clean is not a personal attack by the other to cramp one’s style or impede one’s needs. Imagine the amount of stuff that could possibly be accumulated if what we hoarded wasn’t contained! Another motto we had that helped us quite a bit was “A clutter-free home for a clutter-free mind”. Besides, we reasoned, giving away pre-loved items that we hardly used could be a blessing to others who might need them.
Regarding how we divided the chores in the cleaning of our home, it helped to recall what we learnt at our marriage preparation classes – that is, to have an attitude of service towards each other. So it’s not about how much I could off-load to my hubby but how best I could help in taking the load off him, given his work schedule and other commitments. Thankfully, he had the same attitude towards me after we quickly realized that quarrelling over each other’s messes would bring us nowhere.
The Lunar New Year spring-cleaning exercise is the perfect opportunity to practise self-sacrificial love towards your spouse and this will only further strengthen your marriage, as we learnt.
The Reunion Dinner
If traditions are to be followed, this is especially difficult for the parents of the bride who will have to often accept that their daughter will likely need to have the reunion dinner with her in-laws on the eve of Chinese New Year. As in my case, I found it necessary to spend a little more time comforting my own parents, especially my mum, as it was clear from her sighs and forlorn looks while discussing our reunion dinner schedule, that she would feel the sting of my absence on the eve of Chinese New Year – the yearly date I would have dinner with her each year prior to marriage. I learned that it helped to make a phone call to her while at the reunion dinner with my in-laws just to let her know that I am thinking of her.
The Managing of Lunar New Year Interrogations
By far, this has been one of the greatest challenges as reported by many newly-weds from my experience. How do you fend off the well-meaning but often intrusive questions that come your way from relatives and friends?
For starters, I learned early on that I could be in control of the conversation by asking questions that allowed my friends and relatives to share more about what is of interest to them. If this failed, and the conversation steered towards an interrogation of sorts regarding my fertility plans, a vague reply in a cheerful tone accompanied by a smile, such as “It will happen when it happens.” usually worked, before I politely excused myself to get busy with some other matter, like going to the kitchen to replenish a plate of pineapple tarts, for example. Alternatively, I also learnt to take the attention off me by asking them what they think about children or what their experiences were like when they were planning for their own family. Perhaps, even what their ideals are when it comes to having children, even if they haven’t had any, for example.
The key is to not take them or ourselves too seriously over such interrogations. Laughing over these conversations with my hubby when we had a moment to ourselves helped to not put a damper on our festive cheer. We also reminded each other that friends and relatives are usually well-meaning and just feeling excited for us, hence the questions that they pose to us.
In all things, we’ve learned over time, that viewing every challenge as a team and looking to support each other every chance we got, helped us to not only survive dicey situations but actually enjoy them. With that, we wish you a truly joyous and blessed lunar new year!
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