How do you maintain your relationship with your spouse?

Successful parenting is founded on successful relationships between spouses and relatives. We must not neglect our spouse while we focus our attention on grooming our children to become the best they can be. Discuss relationship issues here.

How do you maintain your relationship with your spouse?

Postby PlayfulFairy » Tue May 26, 2009 11:18 am

Hi all,

Would anyone like to share what are the things you do to keep the sparks alive in your marriage?

I've been married for more than 7 years. But sometime when I'm with DH, we just keep quiet. (He doesnt like women to talk too much and he doesnt like to talk about feelings, but I think we talk more during courtship) Is this normal? How do I make myself to be a more interesting person? (I'm a SAHM with a 6 yr old dd and 11mths old dd) Thinking of going for Marriage Encounter to spice things up..

Look forward to your replies:)

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Postby winth » Tue May 26, 2009 12:44 pm

[Editor's note: Topic edited and selected for Portal Publication.]

Hi PlayfulFairy,

Nice nick! Seems to already describe what kind of personality you have. I used to have nicks like fussybabu and poisonivy.

I'm into my 8th year marriage and things are still progressing upwards. Like you, we try to make ourselves more interesting for the other person. DH is a highly left brained person, so he's into logic, figures, finance. For me, I'm a central brained, so I'm alot more 'colourful' and adventurous type. Though we are very different, we have very common similarities - we dun like idle talking (talking for the sake of talking, I think generally men dun like women to idle-talk), family-committed, independent, hates crowded places etc etc.

We find common topics to talk about - our marriage, our progression in life/career/investments, buddhism, fortune-telling, children, where our retirement place will be in (and all sorts of things that we love to discuss). You will need to know which topics both of you are comfortable to talk about.

For my marriage to DH, I am the one to look up for information on how to improve (the marriage), and we will discuss my findings (this is a huge topic to even talk about) and tune my findings to the relevance of our marriage. All chidren-related stuff (health, tonics, education, well-being) are my call too. Fortune-telling (I read alot in this topic) so that becomes his topic of interest too when he is looking to investments/career switch/luck level etc.

For him, his roles are generally into info-search for housing, investments, house maintenance, home finances. So we balance up and match ourselves to each other to make it more wholesome.

One place you might want to start is Marriage Builders or look up books (like The Language of Love, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus). From Marriage Builders, we have also done up a questionnaire that reveals our priorities in a marriage (the beauty of such marriage sites, it does not promote putting children as the first priority). Such questionnaires might be simple (to fill) but you will be shocked to see how it reveals your spouse's priorities in the marriage. At least for me, I was :shock: to see how much he (or men generally) places priorities in a healthy sexual life. We then discussed on these differences and for me, I will match up to his emotional needs and him to mine.

You should think of topics to talk about (except complaining about daily chores/ how to discipline children), or sign up for courses together. Sometimes, it's good to leave your children out and concentrate only on your husband. Suggest going for movies, KTV, breakfast dates (we do that very often without the children).

If you read about Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, there might be a chapter that is relevant on why your hubby doesn't like to talk? This theory comes from the stone-age days where men hunt and women take care of the children/household. And men after a day's hunt, comes back cave (home) and fire-gaze (now more modern, called watch TV/newspaper) as a form of de-stress for them. Men while fire-gazing DO NOT like to be spoken to. If you notice, you might find it very common for men to just sit down and stare/flick on the remote controls. It's their way of communication and by leaving each-other alone, it's a respect of privacy. In another chapter, it also states that all men and women have a x number of words per day. And men usually talk alot lesser, bec their 'words-per-day' limit is many times lower than women. With this in mind, the authors encourage the wives to start talking to their husbands in the early portion of the day when the 'words-per-day' is reset. At the same time, wives get to use up their 'word' limit too. So by the time husbands come back home (after work) to fire-gaze, wives will leave them alone and not be too invasive into the husband's de-stress moments.

Other than the theory part, we talk alot about our past, our courtship, jokes that we share. He does nice things for me to keep me sane from the daily child-minding business, like bringing the children to school, playing and bathing with them. We still talk about children, but we've learnt that we should NOT make that a huge portion of our conversation.

My 2c worth.
Last edited by winth on Tue May 26, 2009 12:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby westmom » Tue May 26, 2009 12:49 pm

You are normal and I am sure a lot of women out there have the same issue. I am a working mom and so it's not in my priority list "yet" to spice up life with hub. Friends have told me to get out at least once a week on dates with DH but have not got round to doing that... Yes, let's hear from the others!

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Postby MMM » Tue May 26, 2009 12:55 pm

Personally, I thot that the "silence" between a couple is because you are so comfortable with each other that you don't need to think of what to say to "entertain" each other. I sort of enjoy this kind of silence as it's supposed to be stress free.

This is unlike friends/ business associates where if you sit beside each other you must think of topics to talk about...

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Postby winth » Tue May 26, 2009 1:32 pm

I have alot of guy friends, given my very boyish nature. So that kinda gives me the edge to know how men think.

I met up with my primary school friend, he's married think 2 years ago, and has a 1 year old girl. When we were done with updating our career life, I asked about his marriage life (that's my favourite topic so that I get to know how other families work), but well, according to his recount, I felt it was not too healthy.

1. He told me that his wife would go back to her own home to sleep overnight. I was :|, and maybe he realised something was amiss. So he quickly correctly himself that oh... think bec she missed her own bed.

2. He said that his wife no longer wore contact lenses anymore (like back in their courtship days), and the glasses make her look ..., so I retorted, 'Tell her to wear the lenses lar, if you don't tell her how will she know that you find her more attractive without the thick glasses?' He said, 'Aiya, tell her she'll say it's inconvenient lar... etc etc.'

3. I asked them what time they usually sleep. He said, 'I don't know what time she sleeps. Usually I'm in bed by 10pm, but she will dilly-dally with something else. I'm asleep when she finally comes to bed.'

4. Do you guys go anywhere during weekends? He replied, 'Oh, I love to do grocery shopping for the weekends.' I asked, 'Really? But with the child + need to take diaper bag ...' He said, 'Oh no. I shop alone while my wife and maid is at home.'

5. I think your wife is very pretty (attended their wedding dinner with my other primary school guy frens) plus good skin and nice slim figure. He said, 'Nice meh? Dun think so. Too thin already and she has sensitive skin.'

I think it's very common sight as we are very busy parents. But I think there is also a concern here. He's only married for 2 years and it seems like they operate very separately. If we are talking about 10-20 years down the road, assuming that nothing progresses, it might spell disaster.[/list]

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Postby PlayfulFairy » Tue May 26, 2009 2:20 pm

Nice to hear the replies! Thanks winth for the informative website:) And yes though I'm a mother of 2, me still is fun-loving...

Relieved to know that my situation is normal... In fact, the characteristics of my DH match the theories in Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus..When he comes back from work, he'll just read news on his iPhone or watch news.

Haha I think I'm getting more difficult to please (cos I crave for more excitement in my life as a SAHM with no helper) but DH's a simple man...

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Postby westmom » Tue May 26, 2009 3:15 pm

Coincidentally someone sent me this today:

by Bill and Pam Farrel, excerpted from Single Men Are Like Waffles, Single Women Are Like Spaghetti


Dive into the Differences
So how are you to understand the differences between men and women? Put simply: Men are like waffles, women are like spaghetti. At first, this may seem silly, but stay with us. It's an analogy that works, and men "get it" (because it involves food).

Men Are like Waffles
By this statement we don't mean that men "waffle" on decisions and are generally unstable. What we mean is that men process life in boxes. If you look at a waffle, you see a collection of boxes separated by walls. The boxes are all separate from each other and make convenient holding places. These boxes resemble how a man typically processes life. His thinking is divided up into boxes that have room for one issue and one issue only. The first issue of life goes in the first box, the second goes in the second box, and so on. The typical man then spends time in one box at a time and one box only. When a man is at work, he's at work. When he's in the garage tinkering around, he's in the garage tinkering. When he's watching TV, he's simply watching TV. That's why he can look like he's in a trance and ignore everything else going on around him. Social scientists call this "compartmentalizing"—putting life and responsibilities into different compartments.

As a result of experiencing life in boxes, men are by nature problem solvers. They enter a box, size up the "problem" that exists, and formulate a solution. In their careers, they consider what it will take to be successful, and they focus on it. In communication, they look for the bottom line and get there as quickly as possible. In decision-making, they look for an approach they can "buy into" and apply as often as possible.

A man will strategically organize his life in boxes and then spend most of his time in the boxes he can succeed in. This is such a strong motivation that he will seek out the boxes that "work" and ignore the boxes that confuse him or make him feel like a failure. For instance, a man whose career holds the possibility of success will spend more and more time at work at the expense of other priorities. On the other hand, a man who always falls short at work or feels he never meets the expectations of those around him may find out that he's pretty good at being lazy. He will then develop a commitment to being lazy because he knows he can do that today with the same proficiency as yesterday.

A man also takes a "success" approach to communication. If he believes he can successfully talk with the opposite sex and reach a desirable outcome, he will be highly motivated to converse. If, on the other hand, conversation seems pointless or women seem impossible to understand, he loses his motivation to talk and clams up. "Hanging out with the guys" can become a pattern for men—sometimes they truly enjoy the male bonding, but other times they're avoiding the consistent conversation women often enjoy.

That's why men say such profound things as, "Is there any point to this conversation? Is this conversation leading anywhere? Can you just get to the point?" These are statements a man makes out of frustration because he doesn't know how to make conversation with the women in his life work.

The "success" drive is also why men find it so easy to develop hobbies that consume their time. If a man finds something he does well, it makes him feel good about himself and about his life. Because men tend to be good with mechanical and spatial activities, they get emotionally attached to building, fixing, and chasing things. Yard projects become expressions of a man's personality. The car becomes his signature. Fishing becomes an all-consuming pursuit of the right equipment, the right fishing spot, and the right friends. The computer, once simply a tool of work, transforms into an educational, entertaining, even intimate friend. It makes predictable moves and gives predictable feedback. Because a man knows what he will get back from his computer, he spends more and more time facing the monitor and less and less time face-to-face with people.

The bottom line with men is this: they feel best about themselves when they're solving problems. Therefore they spend most of their time doing what they're best at, while they attempt to ignore the things in which they feel deficient.

Women Are like Spaghetti
In contrast to men's waffle-like approach, women process life more like a plate of spaghetti. If you look at a plate of spaghetti, you notice that there are individual noodles that all touch one another. If you attempted to follow one noodle around the plate, you would intersect a lot of other noodles and you might even switch to another noodle seamlessly. That's how women process life. Every thought and issue is connected to every other thought and issue in some way. Life is much more of a process for women than it is for men.

This is why women are typically better at multitasking than men. A woman can talk on the phone, prepare a meal, do the laundry, make a shopping list, work on the planning for tomorrow's business meeting, watch her favorite talk show, and not skip a beat. Because all her thoughts, emotions, and convictions are connected, she's able to process different strands of information and keep track of different activities all at once.

As a result, most women try to connect life together. They solve problems from a much different perspective than men do. For most women, it's an act of denial to quickly solve a problem that involves a lot of disconnected issues. Women consistently sense the need to talk things through. In conversation, a woman can link the logical, emotional, relational, and spiritual aspects of the topic. These links come to her so naturally that the conversation is effortless for her. If she's able to connect all the issues together, the answer to the question at hand bubbles to the surface and is readily accepted.

This often creates significant stress when a man and a woman talk because while she's making all the connections, he's frantically jumping boxes, trying to keep up with the conversation. The man's eyes are rolling back in his head while the tidal wave of information is swallowing him up. When the woman is finished, she feels better and he's overwhelmed. The conversation might look something like this:

Joan calls John and says, "Hey, I drove by your favorite truck store today—the one where you got that cool cup holder. You remember … that day when we went to my mother's for my cousin's birthday. It was the day I wore that peach dress you said you liked. I think you like it because it's my color. You know, I went to that color seminar at work and they said I was a 'Spring' so that's probably why I look good in peach. Hey, this spring, I think I want to go to Memphis in May—maybe a whole group of us can go. It's so pretty then and they have great jazz there. It shouldn't be too hot then. It has been so hot here lately … makes me want to go to the beach. What do you think? Should we?"

At this point, John isn't sure what the question is. "Should we go to Memphis? The beach? Shopping for peach dresses? And he has no idea what any of it has to do with his truck! He admires her ability to connect seemingly unrelated thoughts, but he just can't seem to understand how she does it.

Out of Words
Waffles and spaghetti are very different from each other, but there's more—most men have boxes in their waffle that have no words. There are thoughts in these boxes about the past, their work, and pleasant experiences, but the thoughts do not turn into words. A man is able to be quite happy in these boxes because the memories he carries in these wordless boxes have significant meaning to him. The problem is that he cannot communicate these experiences to others, and so the women in his life may feel left out.

What's more, not all of the wordless boxes have thoughts! There are actually boxes in the average man's waffle that contain no words and no thoughts. These boxes are just as blank as a white sheet of paper. They're empty! To help relieve stress in his life, a man will "park" in these boxes to relax. Amazingly, if there is any woman in eyeshot (sister, mother, girlfriend, coworker) it's as if she has radar for these moments when he's in park. She notices his blank look and relaxed posture. She assumes this is a good time to talk, and so she invariably asks, "What are you thinking?"

He immediately panics because he knows if he tells the truth, she will think he's lying. She cannot imagine a moment without words in her mind. If he says, "Nothing," she thinks he's hiding something and is afraid to talk about it. She becomes instantly curious and mildly suspicious. Not wanting to disappoint, his eyes start darting back and forth as he hopes to find some box in close proximity that has words in it. If he finds a box of words quickly, he will engage in conversation and both will feel good about the relationship. If he's slow in finding words, her suspicion fails to be extinguished and he feels a sense of failure. He desperately wants to explain that he sometimes just goes blank. Nothing is wrong, he's not in denial about anything, and nothing is being hidden. This is just the way he has been his whole life, but she cannot imagine it.

These blank boxes can get in the way of meaningful conversation. In the middle of conversation, as a man moves from one box to another, he may pass through one of these blank boxes. Right in the middle of conversation, he goes blank. He knows he should have something to say, but he's blank. He knows it's awkward to go blank in the middle of a thought, but no amount of effort can prevent it. It's an awkwardness he must live with, and he hopes there are kind women who might learn to accept it.

Consider the following interaction. MaryBeth came to Tim's apartment after a particularly stressful day at work. She began unpacking her emotions by lamenting, "Tim, it was so awful today. It's like I couldn't do anything right. And everyone wanted something from me. 'Do this MaryBeth. Do that MaryBeth!' I feel like everyone is so self-absorbed. No one takes thirty seconds to care about what I might want or need. It's like no one talks anymore. Now that you got your new job we don't even talk much. I don't even know how you feel. How do you feel, Tim?"

Well, Tim has also had a stressful day—so busy that he missed lunch. "I feel hungry!" he answers.

"Tim!!"

"What? You asked me how I feel. I feel hungry. I want a cookie."

At this point, someone has to jump over the gender wall. MaryBeth could say, "I want a cookie too—or an entire carton of Ben and Jerry's ice cream!"

Or Tim can say as he wraps his arms around her, "I care how you feel. Let's go get some dinner and talk." Tim knows he will really just listen and eat, but MaryBeth will be happier—and he will too, after he eats. He might even care about MaryBeth's day!

These gender differences aren't limited to conversation. God made men and women different in many ways. They think differently, they process emotions differently, they make decisions differently, and they learn differently. And yet men and women complement one another so beautifully that healthy relationships will enhance both genders. Consider the following ways that modern research has highlighted our uniqueness.

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Postby MLR » Tue May 26, 2009 3:41 pm

DH and I met when we already matured beings and had been thru several relationships before we found each other. So, we are the sort that can sit in comfortable silence and watch tv/read/do puzzles or just lie on bed/sofa and watch the sky. Sound liked we are celebrating golden jubilee soon rite? :love:

If its not possible to go for dates, at least you should date at home. I will cook a nice dinner (or go "ta pao" from your favourite store, my fav is crab, so can feed each other in messy fun), open a bottle of wine, candles, music, set a mood. What we do is that we take DS swimming or a good hour of play in the park and he sleeps early and we have a late dinner at 9 or so. Sometimes we sent him to cc on sat and go for picnic brunch. Put a movie on with ice-cream/popcorn when DS is taking afternoon nap. Some of my friends would actually for for lunch dates with their spouse, and if they don't work near each other, they would just take the afternoon off.

Few weeks ago, we left DS overnight with my sis (1st time for DS to spend overnite without us) and we went out for a friend's b'day bash. It was great, like when we were single again. It felt a little strange, cos we take DS with us wherever we go, dinners/parties.

Got to leave housework/own personal stuff alone and share some time together. Also, we take time off to get together with our own friends too, spa/dragon boat/football/happy hours/brunch,etc. We wind that its just as important to have our own private time as well. Need to de-stress so that we are re-charged and we believe that happy couples make better parents.

:celebrate:

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Postby wanchia » Wed May 27, 2009 5:33 am

Dress is sexy clothes and wear lots of makeup. Encourage lots of sex during daytime. Go on holidays without children. Make sure husband eats lots of celery and zinc.

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Postby jesschan » Wed May 27, 2009 9:14 am

I think it is important to create couple time with your spouse and sometimes one party needs to make some sacrifices. For me, I quit my job in order to look after the kids and have a more flexible time. At that time, my career was going uphill but I was feeling exhausted all the time and it became very challenging to spend quality time with my family.

Maintaining a good relationship needs consistent effort. My husband is seldom home for dinner as he often works late but we have breakfast together everyday after the kids go to school and I will leave some simple home cooked food or soup at night if I do cook. On Saturdays, we will deposit the kids with my mum for a few hours and we practice golf at the driving range, go shopping, take a dip at the swimming pool or simply laze at home. Once in two months, we will dress up and also go for a nice dinner and have drinks while the children are left with his mum. Occasionally, he will also take half or one day leave and we go for walks or played golf while the kids are in school. Sometimes, we also watched a midnight movie at the nearby cinema while the kids are sleeping. On top of that, we go for a short overseas trip without the kids at least once a year. We are very lucky to have very supportive parents who can help to look after our kids when needed.

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