My husband and I have been married for 13 years, and we are like the proverbial chalk and cheese.
While being different – and learning to appreciate each other’s differences over the span of our marriage – has worked in our favour, it wasn’t always smooth sailing! Yet our love for each other has survived many storms and grown deeper over the years.
Here’s sharing some tips that have helped us to grow deeper in love with each other.
Tip #1: Worry less about doing “it” right
Wedding nights are often less glamourous and sexy than they are hyped up to be. Guess what my husband I were doing in bed after a long, long day of wedding festivities that began at 5am and ended at 12am.
Clue: it definitely wasn’t sex!
Thankfully, both of us had the foresight not to plan for anything else other than a good night’s sleep because we knew that we would be exhausted.
Contrary to what movies or novels tend to depict, sexual intimacy is not something that magically happens over one night of passion. It is a slow and often awkward process of getting to know what feels right for the both of you.
So, don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourselves to get things “right” from the get go. Not sure if you need support or help? Consider seeing a counsellor or therapist who can help you with marriage and intimacy issues if you haven’t had the benefit of pre-marital counselling.
Accept that learning to live together and embracing each other’s quirks is not something that can be achieved within a short frame of time.
Tip #2: Learn to live together
Living with another person in a home that you are both building together comes with a unique set of challenges – getting used to each other’s quirks and habits!
There will be things that annoy or amuse you about each other, and you should expect differences in the way you handle various chores and tasks.
How can you work together to resolve your differences? A good way to start is by accepting that learning to live together and embracing each other’s quirks is not something that can be achieved within a short frame of time.
Tip #3: Stop keeping score on chores
Who’s in charge of groceries? Whose turn is it to clean the toilets (and keep the seats down)? Who should do the laundry every week?
Speaking from personal experience, my husband and I found that the best way for us to approach chores was to split them based on our work schedules and our competencies, rather than divvy them up equally.
I would do the groceries, laundry and cooking. My hubby would manage the bills and see to everything else that I would rather not handle, such as changing the light bulbs and ensuring our broadband connection is working well. And by default, he is also in charge of pest control (because cockroaches are my kryptonite)!
William and I-Lyn, who have been married for 6 months, found that talking about the division of household labour and priorities from the beginning has helped them.
William shared: “As both of us are working, we discussed and planned how to divide household chores, bills, and most importantly, how to set aside time and energy for leisure and rest.”
Tip #4: Go in without bias
Few people know this but the secret to effective communication is to address each other without bias or pre-conceived notions. Instead of being judgmental when something goes awry, stay curious. Seek to understand what the other person is thinking.
This is all the more important when both of you are just starting to build a life together.
Tip #5: Communicate with love
Contrary to popular opinion, communicating effectively doesn’t come naturally most of the time!
When there is conflict, or when the need to talk about something difficult arises, our emotions may get in the way of being objective and addressing the root of the issue.
Thankfully, there is more than one way to talk things through. Approaching the issue with the goal of affirming each other, instead of wanting to prove that you are right/better frames the issue in the right perspective – and keeps you both playing on the same side of the field.
Tip #6: Make room for growth
Making a life together does not happen without struggle and conflict. It is unrealistic to expect your partner to understand your needs without him/her learning about them through experiences and consistent communication and effort, and vice versa.
Remember – this is a journey of a lifetime, so give yourselves and each other the space and time to grow and learn!
After the wedding, getting our home ready and moving in together, life seemed a little flat...We had to work at building our chemistry as a married couple.
Tip #7: Make that date
Dates shouldn’t be confined to special occasions, and aren’t just for dating couples! Making time for dates helps to build the chemistry in your marriage.
Be it a simple meal or movie, or a particular activity that your spouse enjoys, committing time to doing something together – other than domestic chores – can make all the difference.
Shauna, who has been married to her husband, James, for a year, shares the benefits of committing time to dates. “After the wedding, getting our home ready and moving in together, life seemed a little flat. However, we both realised that it wasn’t realistic to sustain whatever initial excitement we experienced in the lead-up to getting married. We had to work at building our chemistry as a married couple. That’s when we reinstated dates. It does take some effort to plan special activities beyond a simple meal together, but because we both try to do something each of us like, we learn to love and appreciate each other all the more because of it.”
Whether you’re newly married, getting married, or have been married for years, these tips still apply. So, go ahead, make room in your heart for the love of your life, and relish this process of growing, making mistakes, and learning to love with every fibre of your being!