“Do you know you’ve become absolutely impossible to live with!” my husband hollered.
“Well, being with you is no walk in the park either!” I spat out venomously.
I remember this explosive exchange I had with my husband under the blazing noon day sun in a public carpark as hot tears streamed down my face. Ironically, I can’t even recall what it was that triggered this monumental argument we had. It was also a turning point in our relationship. I was shocked at how much we had grown to dislike each other. How did things get to this stage? It was our tenth year of marriage and my head spun at how incredulously estranged we had become as compared to how we were when we first met.
Gone were the laughter-filled conversations we shared in the initial years of dating and marriage, that sense of anticipation to see each other at the end of each day or the eagerness to sneak in a quick lunch in the middle of a busy day. We never grew tired of looking out for ways to show love to each other and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company tremendously. We often looked at other more mature couples then, and judged them for the scowls they had on their faces as they shared a meal and were so confident that we’d never end up like them.
Ten years on, conversations had turned transactional, almost business-like. Initially, we prided ourselves in being efficient in running the household, but we fell into a pattern of conversation that lacked intimacy which created a chasm between us. Resentment built up surreptitiously and soon, what we used to find endearing in each other became downright irritating. Most conversations ended up being arguments, often over the most inconsequential things. It was hard to ignore the fact that we had hit rock-bottom with our marriage.
That evening, still reeling in shock at how bad things had become between my husband and I, I sought to do some soul-searching and realised that we’d had our priorities all wrong. We enjoyed the challenges that our work had brought us a little too much and had even neglected our faith. Work issues appeared easier to fix and more satisfying to deal with than the issues we were facing. We negligently placed our marital issues on the back-burner because it often seemed impossible to resolve. Neither of us were seeking to truly understand each other. We were simply insistent on asserting our opinions during each conflict. How did we get from being other-centred to self-centred? We didn’t even know where to begin to fix things, but the huge argument we had in the carpark showed us we needed to do something and we needed to do it fast.
Our wedding anniversary was round the corner and we decided to plan a getaway for just the two of us. We’d become so emotionally distant that it felt odd being on the plane together. From feeling like two peas in a pod, we now felt like complete strangers. However, till this day, we look back and are so thankful that our unwitting choice of destination for our vacation was a remote dive resort with limited and often times, no mobile phone connection. We were literally forced to put aside work and focus on each other. Going on a scuba-diving trip was also reminiscent of the times we shared when we were dating. We had forgotten how important it was to not just “do life together” but enjoy each other while we’re at it.
What really helped us was also our shared beliefs and remembering that we had made a covenant to each other and our God, to remain married in good times and bad for all time. We agreed that divorce was not an option and we had to do all we could to make our marriage work as a team. We had to go back to being each other’s number one cheerleader.
The road to reclaim our intimacy was not easy, but by intentionally making our relationship a top priority, regardless of the busyness that comes with being parents, running a business and pursuing career development, we finally found again what we thought we had lost forever.
We’ll soon be married for twenty years and I am so thankful that we realised on that unforgettable day that we needed to get to work quickly on the right things in life because marriage is for a lifetime. If you and your spouse are going through something similar, I want to reassure you that it is highly possible to not only bring back the intimacy, but grow it further in marriage once we set our minds to it.
© 2016 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
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