Singaporebrides | Relationships

September 2021

10 Lessons About Marriage From Real-Life Married Couples

We ask some of our colleagues to share some lessons on married life they’ve learned in their years of marriage.

Marriage is a life-long learning journey that every newlywed embarks on after they’ve said “I do”. It will be something you constantly have to work at, and the longer you are married, the more you’ll learn about your spouse and married life.

As a newly-wed couple, hearing that the happily-ever-after you envisioned isn’t going to be a bed of roses may be daunting, but with some guidance and tips from married couples who have been through it (and are still going through it!), you’ll be better prepared for your married life ahead.

We spoke to three of our colleagues who have been married for at least four years and asked them to share some of the lessons on married life that they’ve learned over the years.

Tania and Ayron’s Dreamy Pre-Wedding Photoshoot in Picturesque Bali by Trevo Pictures

1. Marriage doesn’t magically make you a mind reader

If you are expecting your spouse to finally know what you want or how you’re feeling without having to verbalise it after the wedding, you might be in for some disappointment. Even if you’ve spent a number of years together, you can’t expect your partner to know exactly what you are feeling at all times.

You’ve heard of the adage “communication is key”, and it really is. The success of a marriage (or any relationship, for that matter) depends on communication. Regardless of the time you’ve spent together, you and your spouse see and interpret things differently, and have expectations that will differ from one another.

Joanne, Marketing Manager at SingaporeBrides, agrees. “Communication is the key in any marriage, since misunderstandings or arguments usually occur when you assume your partner can read your mind or when you assume what is on his mind. Always be fair and listen to them when they speak, and never dismiss or belittle what they have to say.”

So, it is always best to verbalise any thoughts or wants instead of assuming that the other party knows. Not only will you be saving the time spent guessing and arguing, you’ll get to know each other even better throughout your married years. It may not seem second nature when you first try it, because not all of us are brought up to voice our concerns, but as long as you do it with respect and good intention, you’ll see that it’s worth the try.

One Three One FourRachell and Sean’s Peranakan-Themed and Dreamy Rooftop Pre-Wedding Shoot with OneThreeOneFour by OneThreeOneFour

2. Remember to prioritise your spouse, and make them feel appreciated and valued

This lesson is for married couples with children. Before having children, all your time and attention are spent on your spouse, but after starting a family, you might find yourself channeling all your time and attention to your child instead. That’s perfectly normal and natural as your desire to be the best parent will naturally take precedence over everything else.

While there is nothing wrong with doing this, it can be damaging to your marriage in the later years. As your child grows up, they’ll become less dependent on you and eventually, they too will marry and move on to start a family of their own. When that happens, you’ll be left with a spouse who may be more like a stranger than the best friend you knew him to be.

You did not get married and have children just so you could drift away from the person whom you fell in love with and sworn to love until death do you part. So, remember to spend some time with your spouse away from the children. Go out for date nights, or spend some romantic time together after the children have gone to bed.

Talk to each other about your day at work or home, and show your appreciation to your spouse either by picking up their favourite drink or dessert, or whipping up their favourite dishes. Don’t forget to reconnect with the one person who’ll be with you until the end of your days.

Lynn and Zhisheng’s Awe-Inspiring Pre-Wedding Travelogue in Bali by KAI Picture

3. Learn to fight fairly and hold your tongue

Ask any couple you know, married or otherwise, and they’ll all tell you that they’ve had their fair share of arguments with their partners, regardless of the number of years they’ve been together. Fighting with your partner is inevitable; in fact, it is only normal. What you can avoid, however, is saying hurtful and damaging things to each other while fighting, or undesirable behaviours that do not help the situation.

“Don’t say things you don’t mean and regret later,” Jaclyn* (not her real name) advises.

“Don’t make it personal. Talk about the topic at hand and be open to hearing the other person’s side of the argument,” Mandy, Editor at SingaporeMotherhood, says.

So, don’t fight dirty, don’t name call, and don’t say hurtful things that you’ll regret after the heat of the moment has passed. Also, don’t slam doors or shut down in the face of conflict. Instead, fight politely and calmly (I know, it sounds like a paradox, but it can be done). Learn to hold your tongue during the heat of the moment and listen openly and fairly to what your partner has to say during a fight.

“If you are unable to cool down immediately, ask for a time-out to calm your emotions down and organise your thoughts,” Joanne adds. “I always believe that there is no point talking to an angry person who cannot think straight.”

Besides fighting fairly, you should also learn how to apologise. Saying “sorry” is never easy for anyone, but it is essential to know when you’re in the wrong and admit that you are, and apologise. Over time, you’ll also realise which arguments are simply not worth having.

Janice and Glenn’s Stunning Pre-Wedding Shoot in Cappadocia, Turkey by Kursat Acar and White Grandeur

4. Marriage is seldom about give and take, and never 50/50.

Here’s a reality check for all of you newlyweds: marriage is seldom about give and take. It’s mostly just giving. At times, you’ll be giving more than your spouse, and other times, your spouse will be giving more than you.

The important thing here is not to take count of who gives (or wins) more or less, but to recognise that for a harmonious marriage to happen, both of you have to give. Soon, you’ll realise that no marriage is 50/50, whether it is about money, or the division of work at home. While it might be tempting to, it is unrealistic and damaging to your relationship to keep score of who did or did not do their fair share of work, so try not to do that. Over time, you’ll eventually find that perfect balance in your marriage.

5. Learn your spouse’s love language

Have you been expressing your affection to your spouse regularly but find that they are not appreciative or reciprocating the favour? Well, you might have a case of love that’s lost in translation because your love languages are different.

The concept of love languages was first developed by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, where he introduces five unique styles of communicating love, namely words of affirmation, quality time, acts of services, gifts and physical touch.

Antoinette and Terrence’s Dreamy and Modern Pre-Wedding Shoot in Singapore by Bridelope Productions

Everyone has a different love language, their own unique way of giving and receiving love. When you and your spouse’s love language don’t align, you may feel unappreciated and unloved, and arguments might arise as a result of those feelings. To avoid this and to love each other better, get a better understanding of your spouse’s needs by learning their love language.

If your spouse feels loved most when you go out of your way to make their life easy, then their love language is acts of service. Show your partner that you love them with specific actions, like taking over their share of the chores so they can relax. If your spouse’s love language is quality time, then try to spend more time (uninterrupted, so that means no electronic devices!) with them after work and on the weekends to reconnect and show your affection.

6. Compromise is not about winning or losing

Don’t look at compromising as winning or losing, because when you or your spouse compromise, it comes from a place of love and ultimately, your marriage wins. So, don’t think about compromising or giving in as winning or losing something. Try to look at compromise as an act of choosing your battles wisely to maintain the harmony in your relationship.

“Sometimes, stepping back a little means a win in your relationship,” Jaclyn* reveals.

You have nothing to gain if you engage in a tug-of-war with your spouse. Tempers will flare and feelings will be hurt, and over time, your marriage may suffer. Instead, listen, with your heart and without judgment, to what your spouse has to say and put yourself in his shoes, weigh the options and decide if it is more worthwhile to compromise or to stick to your stand.

Shiyun and Darren’s Hiking Pre-Wedding Shoot on Coney Island by Happyphotopeople

7. Be your spouse’s number one cheerleader and believe the best in each other

It’s natural to assume the worst about people, especially in marriage, but that shouldn’t be the case. This is the person you’ve sworn to love in spite of everything that comes your way and you should always believe the best in him. So, if your spouse is home late for dinner, learn to redirect your thoughts and believe that he was held back at work at the last minute instead of assuming that he is intentionally late. Doing this will help restore and strengthen trust in your relationship and better your marriage.

Remember that both of you are in this journey called “marriage” together. Besides believing the best in each other, you should also be each other’s number one cheerleader. “After years of marriage, I’ve learned that supporting my spouse in his endeavours and interests, even if I don’t share them, makes him happy and that in turn gives me happiness,” Mandy shares.

And when your partner makes an honest mistake at home or at work, don’t jump into scolding mode immediately. Everyone has ups and downs, and makes mistakes. What they need at that moment is encouragement and reassurance from you, the one person whose comfort and forgiveness means the most to them.

Brenda and Matthew’s Romantic Wedding at Sinfonia Ristorante by Andri Tei Photography

8. You will have to forgive (maybe over and over again)

In a marriage, you’ll find yourself saying “sorry” and forgiving your partner more times that you’d ever think you would have to. Toes will be stepped on, arguments will happen and feelings will be hurt, sometimes really, really badly. So, it is really important that you’ll be ready to forgive each other over and over again throughout your marriage.

“I’ve learned to never withhold love, in thoughts, deeds or words, even when I am upset with my spouse,” Mandy reveals. “It’s okay to say things like “I still love you”, even if you are less than happy with your partner in that moment.”

9. Unconditional respect

Everyone talks about unconditional love in a marriage, but what truly matters most is having unconditional respect for your partner. Don’t put your spouse down in front of his family, friends, co-workers or even strangers you meet at the grocery store or restaurant. Doing so will humiliate the person you’ve sworn to love in front of others, and that can be embarrassing and hurtful. Put yourself in their shoes.

“I’ve learned that mutual respect for each other is the most important factor in a marriage,” Mae, Business Manager at SingaporeBrides, stresses. “Your opinion is just as valid as your spouse’s, so always remember to respect what they say or do.”

In any relationship, a little respect goes a long way, especially in a long-term relationship like marriage. Always seek to compliment or talk about your spouse in a positive light to show them respect in front of others. While it may be easier said than done at times, you should never put them down intentionally. If a joke hits hard, be the bigger person and admit that it was inappropriate of you to say it and apologise.

Fareeha and Hafiz’s Intimate COVID-19 Wedding at Warehouse 16 and The Lakehouse@Orto by Mavericks Wedding

10. Marriage is going to be hard

Ever heard of the saying that marriage is a full-time job you show up to every day, with no sick or personal days? Here it is again: marriage is hard work and it might be some of the hardest work you’ve ever done and will do.

Being married means you no longer have the option of walking away when things get tough, and trust me, there’ll be plenty of these moments throughout your marriage that you’ll have to work out and fix together as a couple.

Disagreements and arguments are inevitable because when two individuals with their own sets of opinions, expectations and habits live together, they are bound to clash from time to time. The important thing to note is not why these disagreements and arguments happen, but how to work them out and come to a resolution that you’re both happy with, because like it or not, you’ve sworn to love this person for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, and also, with annoying habits or unrealistic expectations.

At the end of the day, your marriage will always be worth fighting for, so don’t ever stop working on your marriage.

Feature Image from Amelia and William’s Dreamy Destination Pre-Wedding Adventure in Indonesia by Fire, Wood & Earth

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10 Lessons About Marriage From Real-Life Married Couples