We all enjoy a good love story, especially stories of deep, faithful love that is built over the decades. The film Up tells one such story about Carl, an elderly man grieving the loss of his wife and lifelong love, Ellie. A few friends even shared that they teared when watching the prologue of Carl’s journey with Ellie!
Up resonates deeply with us because we too long for a love as enduring and deep as Carl’s. I believe in the possibility and power of such a love. However, it can be challenging to keep the fire going as life gets overtaken by routines and responsibilities.
Here are some things my wife and I do together to rekindle our spark:
As much as the present moment is important, looking back helps us remember how far we have come today. My wife and I regularly revisit the happy moments we had together, such as before we got married, before our first child was born, and even joyful moments with our children.
Occasionally, we also involve our children in commemorating cherished moments from the past, such as when we got our son to recreate a photo of us from 10 years ago!
Revisiting the past is not about resisting change or wishing that things were the way they used to be. Rather, remembering our journey together helps us grasp the depths of the love we have built over the years. As we remind ourselves of exciting or warm memories, it inspires us to envision similar possibilities in our future together.
Out of all the skills essential for nurturing a relationship, the ability to is perhaps the most crucial. Listening is not just about hearing; it involves suspending judgment, empathising, and avoiding presumption as far as possible. Many of us appreciate when someone listens to understand and acknowledge us, rather than glossing over what we said too quickly or trying to fix our problems.
One way to nurture a safe space is to practise give-and-take when listening and sharing. It helps to pay attention to how much we have shared, and to ensure our spouse has sufficient “airtime” to unload as well.
When marriage becomes the safest space, it nurtures faithfulness; both husband and wife can return to the marriage to refuel for the next trying day.
When responsibilities and obligations mount over the years, it is easy to forget that our spouse is the one we fell in love with, whether in the passionate romance of days past or even during the wedding!
Though it can sometimes feel unnatural in our stoic Asian culture, we have tried to build a habit of admiring one another. This can be in simple actions, such as a loving gaze, affectionate touch, or saying “I love you” regularly. One thing my wife and I do is to show each other off.￼We do not withhold praise when we talk about each other’s strengths in public! Such admiration of our better halves helps prioritise our marriage as the number one relationship in our lives. in our lives.
The process of rediscovering each other helps retain a sense of adventure in a marriage.
Human beings are endlessly complex. Every individual is shaped by different family cultures, school experiences, work environments, and role models, and the journey of self- and other-discovery rarely ends in marriage!
Whether it is taking on new ambitions and projects, exploring a new interest or country, or simply keeping an open mind towards one another, the process of rediscovering each other helps retain a sense of adventure in a marriage.
At the start of our relationship, I took myself too seriously. I believed that having an austere approach to life was the best way to weather its storms! However, while perseverance and discipline are important for a lasting marriage, I swung too far in that direction. In hindsight, this attitude prevented us from fully enjoying our relationship. Fortunately, my wife has since shown me the joys of loosening up!
Joy and laughter bring a sense of vibrance to relationships. My wife and I value humour in our marriage, and we love injecting joy and laughter into our everyday life. When used in the right moments, humour helps lift the mood and bring new perspectives in trying times.
While not all couples can have the privilege of living out their wildest dreams, we can build each other’s aspirations one step at a time.
Just like Carl and Ellie who dreamt about visiting Paradise Falls, dreaming together can help keep a marriage moving forward. While not all couples have the privilege of living out their wildest dreams, we can build each other’s aspirations one step at a time.
This is not limited to just big goals like career changes or moving out of the country. It can also involve smaller goals, such as pursuing small interests and hobbies, or just saving up for the next trip together.
Over the years, I have heard many share that marriage is a sacred relationship that is not to be taken lightly. The solemness of wedding vows, uttered before a crowd of witnesses, have deep social, legal and even spiritual implications for a married couple. Such a journey requires careful deliberation, preparation, and determination to help us go the distance.
Though such advice is well meaning, it sometimes leads us to think of marriage only as “serious business,” which could be intimidating to many! Indeed, it is undeniable that it takes hard work and sacrifice to build a strong marriage. However, let’s also remember the magic of a deep and faithful commitment to one’s spouse: The sense of adventure from journeying together, as well as the warmth and legacy of a home built together over the years.
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