Sunday, August 20, 2006

couple of tips for couples

You guys make me feel so old when you ask me for tips on keeping the marriage alive for the last 14 years.
I must make a disclaimer. I am not an expert, okay? I’m just gonna tell you our experience. Things that we did might work for some but maybe not for all. Situations and personalities differ, so pandai-pandai lah ye? (use your own judgement)

Be Genuine
Taufik and I first got to know each other when we were 19. We got married when we were barely 21. We started out as friends, so we were quite honest with each other when it comes to who we really are. We were not afraid to be our real selves with each other. In short, there were no pretentions between the two of us. We already knew what each other’s values are, what were our likes and dislikes, how we expect the other to act and such. Therefore throughout the marriage there were really no big surprises and “You are not the person I thought you were” kinda quarrels. It also helps decision-making easier, coz even if one of us were not around, one of us could easily gauge how the other would feel about certain things.

Trust and earn trust
This was something I struggled with during the early part of our marriage. I remember Taufik always complaining about my mistrust and him getting frustrated because he doesn’t know what else to do to gain my trust. But he promised me that one day, he will be the person I will trust the most. The reason for my mistrust were events that happened to me in the past that was difficult for me to get over. It also didn’t help that there were sinister people out there who liked to stoke the embers of my insecurities. But as I said, Taufik tried and worked really hard to earn my trust. Up to a point, he even made sure that he never got into a situation where he ends up with a woman alone. Like, if there were no male colleagues to go out to lunch with, he would ask someone to buy him a packed meal rather than go out with a female colleague. That way, no one can make up stories that could purposely be misconstrued into something else.
Taufik had no trust issues with me. He trusts me completely. But then, I *am* a good girl… tee hee ;)

Include and Interest
For as far as I can remember, we have included each other inside our lives outside the marriage. Taufik always brought me along to his office functions and I would drag him along to mine. That way we know each other’s office mates quite well. This helps dissipate any potential misunderstandings. Like, if I said I got a ride home from Jason, Taufik knows that Jason is not some stud, but a short, fat Chinese guy. And when Taufik tells me he bought some lunch for Maya, I know that it’s only because Maya is 8 months pregnant and crossing Jalan Ampang during lunch time could be hazardous for her and her baby.
We both take great interest in each other’s work. I found that this helps us understand each other better. When we come home and talk about how our day was, the other person actually understands what the partner is going through and I can’t help but feel very supported. My home really becomes a haven of security and calm. I know when I come home, I can just let go of all my frustrations and mentally relax. Even now that I’m not working, I still tell him what goes on in my world, like he tells me what goes on in his.

From the beginning, our relationship had always been a volatile one. It didn’t help that both of us were young and hot-headed. This marriage could’ve easily gone the other way had it not been for our commitment to stay together. We knew that bottom line, we love each other and we want to stay that way. So we could either do it the hard way (with lotsa screams and crying and hurting) or the easy way (by not screaming and crying and hurting). So, slowly as we matured, fights that used to take days to resolve, now are carried out in an adult, rational way, and with one goal in mind: to stay together.

Plan your finances
I know I complain a bit about Taufik being so stingy, but actually I am really proud to be married to such a frugal person. From the time we started making our own money, we discussed about where we saw ourselves to be financially, in 10, 20, 30 years time. We planned out what needs to be done to reach there and we worked together to stay on that path. I don’t know about you, but I think this is very important, because I read somewhere that most fights between couples are about money. With a plan, a mutual understanding and a concerted effort on how and when to save and spend, we have basically taken money out of the list of potential hazards. Being financially secure also means that you have less to worry about, and more to enjoy.

Our house is not the conventional house where the man does the fixing and the woman does the cooking. We try to do the best that we can, whenever we can. Taufik doesn’t mind helping with the cooking once in awhile, as long as it’s something he knows he can do right (like frying chicken or fish, he even made some fried meehoon once). I don’t mind sending the car to the mechanic’s (but I prefer Taufik to go because he seems to get better discounts) or changing the light bulb once in a while. And guess who is in charge of mopping the house? *points to the husband*

Be Spontaneous
For the first 6 years of our marriage, Taufik and I were often apart, due to the nature of Taufik’s work. It always killed me whenever he gets a call to board a plane and catch a helicopter ride to wherever. I always felt like there’s so much we could’ve done, but didn’t do because we thought we had more time. So we learnt to be more spontaneous. I would go off and meet Taufik wherever the nearest on-land town was and we’d go on an impromptu excursion.
Even after we had kids, sometimes we’d make a three-day weekend out of a regular weekend and drag the kids along to wherever.
Speaking of kids, they are all the more reason to be spontaneous. Romantic moments can no longer be planned. You need to grab them whenever you have the chance. I also learned not to mull over and get frustrated with ‘unfinished projects’. I just get over it and look forward to the next time. This is also a good excuse to purchase sexy underwear and wear them all the time, coz you’ll never know when you’ll need it. :laugh:

To Feed is to Love
I learned this one from Pearl Jam *grin*.
I try to cook most of my family’s meals. If I’m not cooking, then I will at least make drinks. If we’re at a restaurant or at somebody’s house, I will at the very least, serve my family some of the food/drinks. Even the smallest gesture of taking a piece of chicken and putting it on their plate speaks volumes in terms of my love towards them, I think. I believe that feeding someone brings berkat (blessings) and brings the person closer to you, so I try to do it often.
By the way, this reminds me of an incident at a wedding we attended. It was a buffet dinner and because of the limited space, ladies were invited to fill up their plates before the men. Taufik beamed so proudly when I came back with two plates of food, one for me and one for him, while the other men at our table found out in dismay that their wives came back with just one and had to go and get their own! I got brownie points that day, and I think Taufik never forgot that gesture, because whenever there's a buffet and I'm tied up for whatever reason, he would always fill up a plate for me. :)

Du’a (Pray)
Last but not least, make du’a (prayers) to God, ask for God to bless you with happiness and contentment with whatever you have.
On top of the normal du’a, I also recite this verse, after solat and whenever I am free. While I recite this I will think of my loved ones (read: Taufik lah, who else).

Yusuf 12:4 “I saw eleven stars and the sun and the moon - I saw them prostrating to me."

It is said that this verse is akin to a du’a pengasih (love charm). So far, it has worked for me! :D

I hope that these stories about how my marriage have worked so far
can help you strengthen your own relationships in some way as well.
Insya-Allah (God Willing).


Wallahu a'lam..
All that is true and good comes from Allah,
while all that is not comes from my own weaknesses.


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