When Your Marriage Hurts

Do you dismiss your hurt feelings in your marriage, thinking that time will heal? 

Imagine putting 5 raw potatoes into a draw string bag and carrying the bag everywhere you go. During mealtimes, when you are at work, the bag must not leave you and you even need to sleep with it. You can take a peep at the potatoes and move them around in the bag. But you are not allowed to remove them from the bag.  

After some time, you will probably notice a stench coming out of the bag. People around you will also alert you to the foul smell coming from the bag you are carrying.  

Now, what would you do? Would you dump the entire bag, with the rotten potatoes, into the garbage bin?  

Perhaps merely thinking of this scenario is enough to make you feel nauseated? 

But what if I tell you this is an analogy for what happens when married couples accumulate their emotional hurts and wounds in marriage?  

When wounded, most people slap on a band-aid that provides superficial relief in the short-term.   

But as the offenses stack up and nothing is done to clear the air, some couples reach a tipping point and throw the baby out with the bath water. They end up at the family court or lawyer’s office. 

But does your marriage have to end in this way?  

Dealing with pain 

Ponder the various hurts you may have accumulated in your marriage life. She criticised you in front of your family members. He forgot your wedding anniversary. She neglected your needs in favour of your newborn child. She compared you with her colleague’s husband. He did not help with chores around the house.  

It is a laundry list of hurts – intentional or unintentional.  

While there are serious issues such as adultery, spousal violence, addictions, or abandonment that often inflict enormous pain and require professional help, my focus in this article is on the common mistakes and choices that everyday couples make.  

When a hurt occurs in our marriage, it is not uncommon for us to ignore or nurse the hurt or hold onto it with resentment or thoughts of revenge. 

We often think burying the pain will somehow make it go away or secretly wish time will heal all emotional wounds. The unfortunate truth is, it does not.  

Recognise that you and your spouse will say or do things that will offend each other during your life together 

What happens when hurts are not attended to  

1. When we leave conflicts unresolved and hurts unhealed, these may drive a wedge in the relationship. Avoidance will gradually lead us into an unhealthy zone, sometimes even resulting in “emotional divorce,” where one or both spouses check out emotionally from the marriage. 

2. You may not opt for divorce because of the children, cultural or religious convictions. But the relational and emotional disconnect between you and your spouse can widen, opening the door to increasing risks, such as an extramarital affair.

3. Marriage does not exist in a vacuum, and the effects of these unresolved hurts can spill over to those who are closely related to us. Children are often the victims who suffer the ill effects of a troubled marriage.  

Without forgiveness, it is almost impossible to cultivate a good marriage

What can couples do? 

1. Recognise that you and your spouse will say or do things that will offend and hurt each other during your life together.

2. Realise that both of you are equally responsible for the marital pain even though you may think you are the victim of your spouse’s insensitivity or unkindness.   

3. Be willing to make time to talk about the offenses and hurts instead of denying or dismissing hurt feelings.  

4. Develop a sensitivity to your spouse’s hurt feelings and learn to understand your own.  This means discovering the causes of the hurt – unintentional or intentional. When we separate the problem from the person or view hurtful actions not as personal attacks but as a result of past baggage, it can make it easier to forgive.  

5. Extend forgiveness. The closer we are in a relationship, the more opportunities for hurt, thus forgiveness is a crucial element in a marriage. Without it, it is almost impossible to cultivate a good marriage. Remember that forgiveness benefits the forgiver much more than the one being forgiven. Nursing an offence will eat you from the inside and undermine your marriage, but by forgiving, you can experience a sense of profound peace. 

6. Nursing an offence and can often cause bitterness, and eat you up from the inside. Seek professional help if your emotional wounds run deep, and you are unable to heal on your own as a couple.  

What can you do if your spouse is not willing or ready to address the relational hurts? 

1. Acknowledge your hurts and start your own healing journey  

You may feel frustrated or disappointed if your spouse thinks there is nothing wrong with the marriage and you are the one having issues. Or he is closed to the idea of talking about your marriage. You wonder if it is possible to move the marriage in the right direction in this instance. If this is true in your case, it is needful for you to pursue your own healing. As you work on yourself, you develop emotional and psychological resilience. And when you learn new ways and strategies to resolve marital conflicts, at best, your spouse may join you in this healing journey.   

2. Reach out to trusted mentors, friends or professionals for support 

Going it alone can sometimes be daunting if there is a stockpile of grievances and resentment. Talking to and receiving encouragement from trusted friends and mentors can go a long way to facilitate your healing.  

Every marriage relationship has its fair share of mistakes and selfishness that result in emotional wounds. It does not matter how much you love each other or how long you have been married, petty arguments and conflicts are inevitable. It is critical that you and your spouse acknowledge the hurts, past and present, instead of sweeping them under the rug. And be willing to make time to heal the hurts so that together you can rediscover the love and care you once felt for each other. 

If you are experiencing abuse or violence in your marriage, please seek professional help as soon as possible.  

How to Have Healthy Expectations in Marriage

Let’s not be shy about admitting it. Marriage is hard. Often, it’s made even harder by the one thing that floats beneath the surface, only surfacing in the midst of quarrels.  

Expectations 

Whether said or unsaid, expectations, when unmet, can leave couples feeling dissatisfied, disillusioned, and disappointed with marriage life. 

Expectations are not wrong  

One common misconception about expectations is that it’s wrong to have them. But renowned marriage therapist Donald Baucom found that people often get what they expect. He found that people who had low expectations for their relationships tended to be in relationships where they are treated poorly.  

Knowing this, how can we communicate our expectations in a healthy way?  

Focus on the Family spoke to Ivan and Kerin Lau, who have been married for one and a half years and are parents to a 7-month-old baby, to find out more.  

Expectations allow you to uphold certain standards, but grace allows for flexibility when one party doesn’t meet them. 

Balance your expectations  

As Kerin reflected on her expectations of Ivan, she realised that expectations need to be balanced with grace. Expectations allow you to uphold certain standards, but grace allows for flexibility when one party doesn’t meet them.  

She wasn’t always like this. As they are still waiting for their home to be ready, Ivan moved into her home after they married. Being neat and tidy, she expected him to continue keeping the space exactly how she wanted it to be. She would even remind him, “No handprint” whenever he touched the mirror.  

But one day, she realised that by nit-picking on every little thing, she was not allowing him to feel free to be who he is.  

Ivan laughed upon hearing Kerin recount that incident. He believes in communicating what you want, but also showing understanding and grace to your spouse. “In that way, while we might not be there now, we can move towards where we want to be and avoid blaming each other.”    

Learn from every argument  

Kerin admitted that they often find out more about each other’s expectations after an argument. Ivan agreed, saying that arguments are “opportunities to learn more” about each other. But it’s not simply enough to have an argument and expect to magically understand each other 

One day, after quarrelling repeatedly over how their newborn child, Arabelle, should be cared for, Kerin had an idea.  

She realised that she could not possibly resolve every conflict on the spot, so they began to have regular debriefs after every argument. They would share their feelings with each other, and think of ways they could improve. 

“What you said, made me feel this way. What I said, might make you feel this way.  

How can we do better?” 

With this nifty trick, the couple could then go on with whatever they were doing and wait until later at night or the next morning to have the debrief. This was usually when they were not as tired and emotional, and could better discuss what had happened. 

The journey is more rewarding when it’s more than me, myself, and my needs.

Recognise the unchangeable  

While there are things that can be changed and improved on, Ivan is clear that there are certain things that he needs to accept. He has learnt “to come to terms with reality, and to acknowledge that it’s never going to work in the way I want if I insist.”  

This does not mean that he has had to sacrifice all his ideals; rather he has learnt to temper his expectations in a way that makes them “realistic and workable.” 

Place your partner’s needs above yours 

Kerin and Ivan are very different individuals. Whenever they fight, Ivan would want to resolve it quickly while Kerin would prefer to have some space. Although Kerin has heard advice about how couples shouldn’t go to bed angry, she often needed time to process things on her own. Now, Ivan has come to understand her need for space, and to put her needs above his own. “The journey is more rewarding when it’s more than me, myself, and my needs,” he mused.  

Trust that your partner’s heart is for you, and communicate your heart with your partner. 

Share your heart 

Ultimately, expectations are not wrong. Many times, expectations can be helpful in setting a goal that both parties can work towards. But by communicating those expectations and learning to show grace when the other party falls short, we can minimise conflict and tensions in our marriage.  

As Kerin reminds us, “Trust that your partner’s heart is for you, and communicate your heart with your partner.” 

© 2022 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved. 

Kindness – The Secret Sauce Of A Good Marriage

Kindness is an often overlooked characteristic of a successful marriage.  

Ask any married person what a key ingredient of a great marriage is, and you would receive answers like respect, commitment, honesty, and openness in communication.  

Just like cooking up a palatable dish, if a key ingredient is missing, the dish lacks the “oomph” that has you coming back for more.  

Kindness may not be the fundamental element that holds the marriage, but without generous dashes of it, your relationship cannot flourish.

What is kindness? 

According to the Cambridge academic content dictionary, kindness is defined as the quality of being generous, helpful, and caring about other people, or an actshowing this quality. 

When people think of kindness, they often associate it with acts of generosity such as buying gifts, or acts of service such as taking out the trash.  

But being kind is both an attitude and an action. Do we treat our spouses with gentleness when they make mistakes or are we condescending? Do we insist on our way or do we consider our spouse’s needs and preferences in every situation? 

Of course, it is easy to be kind when things are going well or when your spouse is kind first. It’s a totally different story when things are not going well, or you perceive your spouse to be the one who is unkind or undeserving. Such angsty times are, in fact, opportunities to practise kindness.  

If you match a snide remark your spouse made with your own equally sarcastic comment, what you get at best, is negative vibes for that moment, but at worst, it could spark a cycle of tension and resentment in your marriage.  

However, if you try something different – instead of returning harsh words, you choose to speak with compassion or voice your emotion with an “I” statement, you halt the negativity in its tracks and might even get an apology from your spouse. 

As the saying goes, “Kindness begets kindness.” So, if couples make it a habit to exercise kindness toward each other, they will feel validated and cared for. Over time, it gives rise to an upward spiral of positivity and love, which nourishes the marital bond and fosters intimacy. 

If you are in a relationship that is struggling, conscious acts of kindness may not transform your marriage overnight, but they are a good start. Kindness has the power to change a marriage that has become lacklustre or contemptuous. What is required is effort and time to be a kinder partner.  

However, if you are experiencing abuse of any form or find yourselves entrenched in unhealthy patterns of communication, please seek professional help 

Since kindness nourishes the marital bond and promotes emotional connection, why not flavour our marriages with the secret sauce of kindness?  

If couples make it a habit to exercise kindness toward each other, they will feel validated and cared for. 

Choose to be kind first 

We cannot make or force our spouse to be kind. However, we can choose to be kind regardless of our spouse’s attitude or actions. Being kind does not mean faking a smile when we are unhappy or yielding to demanding behaviour. It does mean we treat our spouse the way we want to be treated. If we want our marriage to be characterised by kindness, we can start by being kind first.  

Give without expecting payback 

Of course, it will not come easy if we perceive our spouse to be undeserving of kindness. That’s when it is helpful to examine our motivation for expressing kindness. If our goal is to give expecting a payback, we would be upset if our spouse does not reciprocate. When we extend kindness because it is the right thing to do, then the rewards are more far-reaching and long-lasting: a healthy, vibrant and thriving marriage. 

Schedule time for kindness 

This strategy may be deemed as lacking depth or hollow. But it is worth a try if your priority is to strengthen your relationship by becoming a kinder person.  

Random acts of kindness can increase good vibes and make your spouse feel validated. But they are just that – random. When you schedule time for kindness, your focus will be on ways to express kindness toward your spouse. So instead of ruminating over petty grievances that could potentially make you feel worse and zap your energy, set aside a little time on a regular basis – whether it is ten, twenty minutes, or whatever timeframe you are comfortable with – to do something thoughtful for your spouse.   

Daily acts of kindness not only nourishes your relationship; they can keep resentment taking root in your marriage. 

Tip: Embark on a 30-day kindness challenge to help you kickstart your journey of   kindness.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop

Show kindness the way your spouse understands 

Our idea of acts of kindness may differ from our spouse. We may think that buying a gift is a kind act whereas our spouse experiences kindness when we refrain from using harsh words during a conflict. When we understand how our spouse wants to be treated kindly and express kindness from his/her frame of reference, we will likely have a happy spouse and relationship.

Kindness has the power to change a marriage that has become lacklustre or contemptuous. What is required is effort and time to be a kinder partner. 

Kindness in marriage matters. Without it, our marriage cannot flourish. If we want our marriage to be thriving, we can choose to be kind, and make conscious effort to show kindness to our spouse.  

What is one act of kindness you can do for your spouse today?  

 © 2023 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved. 

4 LOVE Habits To Cultivate In The New Year

When it comes to new year resolutions and goals, lifestyle habits such as productivity, finances, and nutrition are usually given more attention and focus.  

But what if we take time to develop new habits or relook at our current habits with the goal of strengthening our marriages? 

Healthy habits provide structure and consistency and cultivating them is important as they contribute to our marriage’s health and vitality. Additionally, relationship habits promote changes that are sustainable over time.   

Here are some Stop-Start-Show-Stay habits you might want to consider:  

Stop comparing, complaining, and criticising 

It is very easy and tempting to compare our spouse with someone else’s husband or wife, complain when our needs are not met, or criticise our spouse’s shortcomings: 

“My marketing manager manages her work and children so well; you can’t even discipline a three-year-old, let alone do well at work.”   

“My boss prioritises his family over his work, you can’t even have an uninterrupted meal with us. You are always on your phone.”  

Of course, your criticism might well reflect a very real and difficult marital issue you might be facing, and genuinely want to seek resolution for.  

But constant comparison, nitpicking, and focusing on what your spouse does wrong builds resentment, and may chip away at their motivation to do anything about it.  

A more effective approach is to express your concerns or dissatisfaction in a non-judgmental manner and share your needs or request for change.  

But constant comparison, nitpicking, and focusing on what your spouse does wrong builds resentment, and may chip away at their motivation to do anything about it. 

Start affirming and validating  

Our spouses want to know they are valued and accepted. Practicing unconditional positive regard not only uplifts our spouses, but also nourishes and gives the relationship a dose of fresh air during stressful times.  

Ideas to affirm and validate your spouse:  

  • Send an encouraging text message  
  • Tell your children how much you appreciate their father/mother for being a loving parent 
  • Show empathy through attentive listening
  • Share with your spouse a positive character trait that you like about him or her 
  • Plan a surprise birthday party or event for your spouse

Practicing unconditional positive regard not only uplifts our spouses, but also nourishes and gives the relationship a dose of fresh air during stressful times. 

Show appreciation and gratitude  

Taking our spouses for granted is a surefire way to sour the relationship. Here are some examples you may find familiar:  

  • He expects and gets used to her coaching the children in their studies and disciplining them when they misbehave.  
  • She sees it as his duty to work hard to support and provide for the family.  

As the saying goes “familiarity breeds contempt”; when a spouse’s contribution toward the welfare of the family is unappreciated or goes unrecognised, it can slowly create unhappiness and contempt.  

Make it a habit this new year to say “thank you” more often although it is not necessary to go overboard. Genuine expressions of appreciation will make you more grateful and your spouse will also feel affirmed, which will go a long way in enhancing the marriage bond. 

The grass is greener where it is watered and given tender loving care. 

Stay committed for the long haul  

Regardless of the number of years you are married, when your marriage hits a rut, it is tempting to think that “the grass is greener elsewhere” and fantasize about being married to another person.  

So, instead of spending time and energy working to revitalize the marriage, it is not uncommon for the “bored” or dissatisfied spouse to give excuses for not putting in effort or shift the blame onto the spouse.   

The prospect of having a new partner may seem like a wonderful alternative to a rocky marriage – especially at your lowest moments – but remember that you may just end up with a different set of problems with the new person.  

There is no easy way around it – the grass is greener where it is watered and given tender loving care.  

Here is an interesting quote that can be aptly applied to marriage:  

There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it is convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.Ken Blanchard 

A marriage relationship is for keeping. Choose to be faithful and commit to tending and nurturing your relationship 

Here are some practical ideas you can start working on today:  

  • List the good and gains you have from being married to your spouse  
  • Remember and recite your wedding vows and choose to uphold the promise to stay faithful 
  • Practice the art of forgiveness 
  • Display a family or marriage photo on your electronic devices or any spaces that serve as reminders of your goal to be faithful 

 Which habit do you want to cultivate in the new year to deepen your marriage bond? 

What is ONE habit you can jumpstart this week to reset your marriage? 

© 2023 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

How to Date Your Spouse Again

Marriages go through different seasons and life stages, with some more hectic and challenging than others. Similarly, while dates with our spouse may at times feel
lacklustre (or frankly, non-existent), we can take small steps in reconnecting and learning to date our spouse again.

As you take the first step towards nurturing a healthy and strong marriage, this eGuide will provide you with tools and tips to keep the sparks flying! 

Suitable for newlyweds or couples married through the seasons. 

What Happens When We Truly Listen To Our Spouse

Thriving in your marriage is not a science, it’s an art.

Like all relationships, marriage ebbs and flows through time and personal challenges and growth.

Through all the changes, the art of listening can affect a marriage’s strength. Gaius and Herng Wei, married for over 8 years and parents to two children aged 4 and 6, share with us their own insights and tips into this art.

1. Turn towards, not against

When the couple discovered their firstborn would be born with a congenital heart issue, they were thrown into a period of distress.

“When we received the diagnosis during the pregnancy, Gaius supported me in very practical ways like making sure I have my meals. I remember days when I said, ‘I don’t even feel functional today,’ and he would come back to make sure I have my lunch,” shared Herng Wei.

Gaius said, “That was a challenging time but thankfully, we chose to walk closer and not apart. It was a subconscious decision but looking back, thank God, we decided we could express our vulnerabilities and fears to each other.”

The fact that they had each other to turn to and communicate with was the reason this difficult season somehow got transformed into – in Herng Wei’s words – “a bonding time” instead.

When going through periods of stress and fear, do you turn towards your spouse or turn against them by shutting down or taking out your emotional turmoil on them?

Learning to express our emotional needs in a way that helps our spouse understand and support us will enhance the love in our marriage.

2. Expressing yourself authentically

The art of listening and communicating functions much like a mirror. If one is willing to listen but the other is not committed to share their feelings on a deeper level, the connection will still be lacking. But when one spouse chooses to communicate vulnerably, it can spark a desire in the other to do the same. This can form the beginning of healthy emotional connection that strengthens the foundation of your relationship.

Expressing yourself in your marriage should go beyond talking about routine matters, like what’s for dinner, who’s picking up kids, or what did the kids do in school.

Learning to express our emotional needs in a way that helps our spouse understand and support us will enhance the love in our marriage.

As Gaius shared, “There have been multiple occasions when she would say, ‘Hey, we are not connecting.’ The fact that it crops up so many times means I have not got it yet. Whenever she tells me we need to connect or I need you to listen to me, I would try to find the time to listen to her. I think of it as a cry to listen to her thoughts. If the other spouse can’t listen, then we have to ask questions to find out if there are other reasons like emotional or physical needs not being met.”

“When someone listens to me, I feel loved. It tells me that what I’m feeling is valid,” explained Herng Wei.

It is also important that no one takes these requests personally or as an accusation that one is not working hard at the relationship.

“We have to respond in a manner that’s appropriate and respectful to consciously create a safe place for the other person to talk,” added Gaius.

The magic phrase, “We will talk about this later” helps them fix a time to discuss the issue again while giving each other space to calm down.

3. Carving out quality time

But of course, expressing yourself at the wrong times can be unhelpful. Like talking about an issue during the early morning rush to get out the door, or when one spouse is obviously tired and you “won’t have them 100 percent”.

Gaius and Herng Wei shared how they have adapted their communication style after marriage and kids.

“When we were still dating, we coined this term, ‘RTC’ or real time communication. Maybe because we were still dating and we had more time to address any issues immediately because we hoped to see the whole picture and get to know each other,” said Herng Wei.

“Now, there’s some delay,” laughed Gaius.

But on the flip side, this also works to help each other become calm to ensure a conversation is gainful.

“Gaius once shared that he realised after marriage, his highs are higher and his lows are lower,” said Herng Wei, adding that the magic phrase, “We will talk about this later” helps them find a time to discuss the issue again while giving each other space to calm down.

Gaius pointed out a universal challenge that every modern-day couple probably faces – time. He shared, “The challenge has always been to carve out a window of time. People don’t ask you ‘are you available to listen’? They just say, ‘Papa, this or that’ or ‘darling, this or that’, and I need to prioritise them.”

He manages his priorities by recognising that work and other demands will always be there, but we still have to carve out time for our marriage.

What has really helped Gaius and Herng Wei is fixing a time daily where they can connect.

“We try to do evening walks every day. That’s our undistracted time to talk. It’s about 45 minutes each time and we don’t have our phones with us,” said Gaius.

This omits distractions that can affect quality time together and is a key to keeping the marriage growing.

Said Gaius, “We tend to think what’s before marriage is the same as what’s after marriage but it’s not. We need to set aside time to communicate sometime, someplace, somewhere.”

Food for thought for couples shared by Gaius and Herng Wei indeed. Would you too set aside time today to communicate and connect with your spouse heart-to-heart?

© 2023 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Celebrating Marriage

Keys to intimacy and happiness

Celebrating Marriage

Do you find it hard to express your innermost hopes to your spouse?  

Learn how you can overcome the hindrances and hesitation in articulating your innermost hopes for your marital relationships. And discover the secrets to a thriving marriage as we unlock the keys to greater marital satisfaction!  

Participants will be equipped with skills to:
1.
Understand the emotional and sexual needs of their spouse
2.
Gain practical tips to meeting your spouse’s needs (and work towards having your own relationship needs met!)
3.
Learn effective ways of communication and conflict resolution

Details

Duration:  1 – 1.5 hrs 

Delivery Format: Talks can be conducted either onsite or online via Zoom 

Have questions:
Reach out for more information on this programme!

Connect2 is an initiative by Focus on the Family Singapore to help married couples nurture and grow their relationship.

Intimate Marriage

Cultivating sexual intimacy and marital passion

Intimate Marriage

Do you find it hard to express your innermost thoughts to your spouse?

Learn how you can overcome the hindrances to connection and begin to express your authentic self to your spouses. You will discover the secrets to a thriving marriage as we unlock the keys to greater marital satisfaction!  

Participants will be equipped with skills to:
1.
Understand the emotional and sexual needs of their spouse
2.
Gain practical tips to meeting your spouse’s needs (and work towards having your own relationship needs met!)
3.
Learn effective ways of communication and conflict resolution

Details

Duration: 1 – 1.5 hrs 

Delivery Format: Talks can be conducted either onsite or online via Zoom 

Find out more:
Reach out to learn how you can bring this programme to your community!

Connect2 is an initiative by Focus on the Family Singapore to help married couples nurture and grow their relationship.

10 Essential Ways to Prepare for Parenthood

Getting the news that one is going to become a mother or father for the first time may send a flurry of excitement and butterflies all at the same time. Envisioning our cute little bundle in our arms, we read up voraciously, google online for tips on what to expect with each pregnancy week. We browse through baby catalogues and shop online for the best baby equipment to ease our little one in. We spend time mulling over plans for the new nursery and all sorts of new parent dilemmas.  

In the heart of every well-meaning parent is the question: How do we REALLY prepare for parenthood? 

Here are 10 essential things you may want to consider.

1. Prepare financially

First, lets deal with practical aspects. Having financial stability and healthy financial habits play a significant role in preparing for parenthood, especially in Singapore. So this may be a good time to sit down to discuss with your spouse the immediate, mid-term and long-term needs of your family.  

Family budgeting and planning is an essential habit that will serve you well at every stage of the parenting journey. Account for all the major expenses, including healthcare, education, childcare and daily living costs and consider if theres a need to reconfigure some funds to support your family through the different life stages.  

Personally, being prudent in the early years of parenting has helped us stretch our dollars. My husband and I welcomed hand-me-down clothes and toys and other essential baby items that served us well for short periods of the childrens growth. This helped us bolster our savings for big-ticket expenses like health insurance, medical treatments or family holidays. 

2. Simplify your schedules

Second, unpack your schedules where possible to have sufficient rest and recovery time, especially for the first six months. It may also be good to discuss with your spouse how your family will transition through the early years of parenthood where you might need more help and support.  

Parental leave policies are well-established in Singapore and can be instrumental in helping you ease into the first few years of parenting.   

Realistically, we will struggle to do it all without trading off something else like our own sleep or wellbeing. 

3. Recognise your limits 

For new parents, the fuss and attention often goes to the babys well-being. We may want to live up to the supermum or dad ideal, yet we only have 24 hours in a day. Realistically, we will struggle to do it all without trading off something else like our own sleep or wellbeing. Finding breathing space in the first few months is critical for our wellbeing as we navigate the changes as a family. 

My husband and I agreed that I would take 6 months off full-time work to care for our firstborn and also to help me manage my rest and new responsibilities like nursing and baby-care.  

We also decided to engage post-natal confinement help for our earlier children when we were less experienced parents to help ease us in our learning curve. Having an extra hand helped us free up time from cooking and chores, and allowed us to rest and recuperate more.  

4. Foster emotional support 

Emotional readiness and mental resilience is crucial for all prospective parents. Parenthood comes with a myriad of challenges and changes, from sleepless nights to balancing work-life demands. The deep joy and responsibility that comes with raising a child also comes a hair-raising spectrum of emotions: self-doubt, worry, overwhelm and even disappointment.  

Building a strong support system of family, friends, experienced parents and parenting communities can help gird us with the ability to manage better the emotional ups and downs.  

5. Expect stress  

Becoming a parent is a major life transition. Any kind of transition, no matter how well equipped or prepared, entails some degree of stress. Despite our best intentions and preparations, we will probably need to be open to adjust our plans as we go along. Revise your expectations of yourself as you adjust to the new demands. 

Dont hesitate to ask for help when you need it, as a small break from the routine can go a long way. 

6. Accept help, gladly 

We cant do it all – even if we wanted to. Family, relatives, friends, neighbours and even co-workers are often more than happy to help, if you let them know what you need. It could be as simple as a short time out to nap, shower, or take a trip to the supermarket while someone you trust cares for your baby. Dont hesitate to ask for help when you need it, as a small break from the routine can go a long way. 

7. Trust yourself 

At heart, you WILL know what’s best for your baby. Filter through the mountains of solicited or unsolicited advice you’ll receive from friends, relatives, strangers, doctors and parenting blogs. Give ideas that sound good to you a shot and forget about the rest.  

8. Be kind to yourself  

 Parenting guilt often cripples us. We need to face the fact that no matter how much we prepare, we WILL make mistakes. Theres no manual on how to parent your children right. Even experts” often disagree about what’s best for baby and no one can give us all the answers. As your baby grows, their needs will evolve and so will our parenting. Continue to learn and relearn from your experiences while embracing the process. 

Consider negotiating with employers on flexible work arrangements so that you can be there for your child’s milestones. 

9. Aim for balance 

In the longer term, carving out a healthy work-life balance is imperative for parents especially with Singapores fast-paced lifestyle and work culture.  

Consider negotiating with employers on flexible work arrangements so that you can be there for your child’s milestones. Prioritise family time by scheduling bonding activities on weekends, creating family traditions, and capturing precious moments.

10. Enjoy your baby AND your spouse 

Do not forget that even as you go through this journey of parenthood, your spouse is also growing along with you. While the baby may demand most of your time in the early days, remember to cultivate some meaningful time alone with your partner. Share about your hopes and fears, how things have changed, and how you can better support each other.  

Parenthood is a life-changing journey – to say the least. As a parent of six, I can say candidly that we can never be fully prepared. 

Even as our children grow, we too grow as individuals in the process, and as we learn through life experiences, we may find ourselves throwing some of our original mindsets out the window! As long as we embrace this journey with patience, support, and a healthy dose of optimism, we will find a way that works best for our family unit!

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