On a warm Sunday afternoon, dressed in an off-shoulder mermaid cut satin gown, I stood hand-in-hand with my soon-to-be husband, suited up and complete with his K-pop inspired wavy locks. In the company of family and friends, we made a promise to love each other forever. It was a perfect day.
8 years and 3 kids later, we are still married. However, married life feels like a never-ending game of tag with parenting duties. Due to sheer exhaustion and lack of time, we hardly interact but co-exist as flat-mates do. Other times, simple conversations can escalate into arguments filled with undertones of resentment and disappointment.
In her international bestseller, The Sweetness of Life, Francoise Heritier challenges us to see the small sweet moments that may be overlooked in our overextended lives: wild laughter, phone calls with loved ones, coffee in the sun, running in warm rain, long conversations at twilight, opening a gift package, or being curious about everything.
These “precious experiences of pure joy” remind us of what it means to be human.
Could my marriage actually be filled with sweet moments that I have failed to notice? Like how our hands fit together, the smell of coffee freshly brewed by my husband, warm feet under the blanket, random text messages about nothing of consequence, and making up after resolving a quarrel.
The initial sparkle of marriage may fade, but here are some ideas that can help us keep discovering the sweetness of marriage:
1. Reminisce together
How did you first meet? What was your wedding day like? Where was your last overseas trip together? What happened recently that made both of you laugh or cry? Watch your wedding video, scroll back to the earliest photos in your phone’s gallery. Spend time remembering: seeing, hearing, and tasting your memories.
My husband and I refer to the start of our relationship as “that fateful night”. It never fails to bring a smile to our faces when we recall the turn of events that led us together.
2. Thank your spouse everyday
When was the last time you said “Thank you” to your spouse?
If you can’t recall, perhaps it is a good time to send a Whatsapp message to your spouse right now. It need not be something momentous, or even something that you would usually thank your spouse for. Adopt the habit of showing appreciation for small things, often. It could be just a simple: “Thank you for buying dinner.” Showing appreciation helps us to see the sweet side of our spouse rather than taking them for granted.
3. Choose to see your spouse’s strengths
Once upon a time, we may have looked upon our spouse as our knight in shining armour, our Wonderwoman or Captain Marvel. However, over time it becomes easier to put on critical lenses.
We need to intentionally switch gears and choose to see and value their strengths again. One way is to list out the top 3 strengths you value in your spouse.
I was extremely annoyed the other day when my husband turned the house upside down searching for a pair of missing nail clippers when we have at least five other nail clippers. Upon reflection, I realised that this determination is actually a trait I deeply admire about him. Especially when he refuses to give in to the kids’ unreasonable demands. (This is also possibly how he got me to marry him!)
4. Initiate intimacy
Physical intimacy may not be everyone’s top love language but it is part of a healthy marriage. Over time, sex can become rather routine. But taking things slow can help us rekindle the passion in our relationship.
How about a massage to relax his or her muscles after a workout at the gym? Give a long deep kiss goodnight? Try something different during sex?
Communicate with our spouses what we would like. Don’t let emails and Netflix take over our bedrooms. Rather, let our marriage bed be a place for us to build our relationship and remember what we enjoy about each other.
Over time, sex can become rather routine. But taking things slow can help us rekindle the sweetness in our relationship.
As the humdrum of life sets in, marriage can seem functional. Nevertheless, we can choose to pause, observe, and savour our experiences with our beloved. And don’t be surprised if you find more than a few moments of grace and beauty in your everyday life.
© 2019 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
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Sue-Anne Wu is a coffee and nature lover. An avid reader, books are her lifeline in the choppy waters of life, marriage and parenting. She lives with 4 rambunctious boys aged 3, 6, 8 and 38.