Friday, February 27, 2015

12 Things I Learnt After 12 Years Together As A Couple

Next Monday will be the our 12th anniversary together. If you didn't know that, you should also read about 11 other things you didn't know about hubby and me :P

It's really amazing to know how far we've come together since the first day we met in University. It hasn't always been easy, but we stuck through it thick and thin, and I'm pretty sure we will be growing old and ending our days together like Allie & Noah {from The Notebook}, as morbid as it sounds.

Being with the boy in such a long, loving relationship has taught me some things about people, about life.. about myself. Insights about our relationship that I can apply to other relationships and things which make me want to be a better friend, sister, daughter, mother and overall, a better person.

I'm not saying after 12 years we have it all together and I've no secret recipe for a long, happy relationship, but I guess coming to understand the following points has helped us to love each other more, think things through and make us look at the big picture in making our relationship last.

1. You don't always have to win
In the beginning of our relationship, this was a hard one for me. I felt like I had to "prove my point"  but then I realised that it's just quite tiring to fight relentlessly over tiny details that don't matter in a month or two. Sure, there are some things that struck the core of our values but there's no point in having to win every argument and fight if it's going to tear us apart.

We picked our battles, know what's worth fighting for and on things that we really can't resolve, we just agree to disagree. I mean, not turning the cups upside-down to dry after washing or putting down the toilet seat after use isn't really something to lose sleep over. Really.

2. Show appreciation every day
We might know it in our hearts, but in our household, we don't believe in mind-reading and it's really more important to express out that you love and appreciate one another. Even for the smallest things like folding the clothes or bringing Lil Pumpkin to her swim class on Saturday mornings, the boy will always say "thank you" while I thank him for doing the dishes and fetching me after work too. A note, a drawing, a card, a text.. it doesn't matter how we do it, we just do.

Oh, and we say "I love you" pretty often too, just because. 

3. Togetherness is important, so is being apart
If you hang out with us, you'll probably see that the boy and I are usually together. We go to one another's events and gatherings, even if we don't feel up to it, just to show support and also because now that we are both working adults, time together is so precious.

However, everyone needs their own space, and we also take some time out to nurture ourselves and develop our own passions. It's just a little me-time to pamper ourselves and do the things we each want to do so that we can recharge and reflect on our own. I find that it helps to make life more interesting too as we bring different things to the table and keeps our relationship healthy by not being too "over-reliant" on one another.

I've taken overseas trips with friends alone, while the boy also meets his own friends by himself and makes time to go to the gym daily. Being a couple doesn't mean we are obligated to spend all our free time together. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?

4. Comparison is the thief of joy
With so many posting every bits of their lives on social media, it's easy to look and feel jealous about their lives, money, house, kids etc. However, doing so will only make us lose sight of what we already have, which is plenty already. Sure, it'll be nice if we could go back to live overseas with a bigger house and less stressful lifestyle like some of our friends, but we're definitely grateful for our stable jobs, comfortable home and family & friends close by. 

Someone is always going have something more than us. And somewhere, other people will be looking on at us and feeling that we have more too. So, rather than getting sucked up in a vicious cycle of comparison, it's more worthwhile to just look at ourselves and see how we can make our lives happier and better.

5. Make your own adventures
It was much easier in the beginning of our relationship when we were young and carefree to just make random plans of travel or dates. Go down South for the weekend? Sure thing. Head out for a late-night movie? No problem.

However, with work and a growing kid now, it's a little hard {and tiring!} to make surprise trips away. But we've come to realise that adventures don't need to be big and extravagant. No, they can be small adventures like a spontaneous trip to a new park, or taking some time off work to have a long lunch together, or just a surprise breakfast & massage from the boy. No matter how small, just something out of the mundane to inject some fire and excitement to get us feeling alive! 

6. Clashes are good
In a perfect world, relationships would be lovey-dovey all the time. In a perfect world, couples understand one another completely and there's no need to fight or quarrel.

However, we don't live in a perfect world. And even if we do, I think clashes are good for relationships as they help us to learn more about ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. If it didn't happen, how would we know how we feel about it? The boy and I have had our own fair share of door slams and table flips, but I reckon it's better to get things out in the open and learn how to work around them, rather than bottling up issues and tip-toe around hoping that in everything we do, we hope the other person will like it too. 

7. Look forward, not backwards
I used to hold the boy to my own standard. Like, if I can do this why can't you? If I'm doing so much, shouldn't you be doing it too? However, he is not me, and I am not him. I can't expect him to act and think the same way I do. He will certainly do things that I don't like and make mistakes which I can't stand, but so will I.

Yes, mistakes and clashes are inevitable but when the deed is done and we agree to forgive, we really try to forget and not hold onto that hurt, anguish and pain. It does no one any good to bring up all those bad feelings again in the future. We want to build a better future together, and those hurt, anguish and pain has no place there.

8. Surround ourselves with positive people
Sometimes we get into a relationship rut and it's great to have these positive people who have great relationships themselves and understand the struggles that couples go through, to share their own experiences, to encourage and lend us some strength to carry on and be together. Isolation kills relationships.

They are there not just to be an extra head to think through the problems, but also to be our listening ear and shoulder to lean on. Susu and Maryann are mine, and I think the boy relies on his other guys friends too.

9. Extend the love
One thing I truly love about the boy, is how he loves my family like his own. He respect and cares for my parents like they are his by making time to join our family gatherings, buying health supplements for them, taking time to talk to them, inviting them to our holiday trips, and also making sure we give them their monthly allowances on time. I know that if anything were to happen to me, he would surely take care of my parents for me. Thank you dear.

It may not even be major stuff but sometimes we may find things that our partners do silly, like how I think it's ridiculous that the boy buys a new pair of spectacles almost every 6 months, or how he thinks I own too many Ferragamo shoes.. but if it makes your partner happy, just 爱屋及乌 and extend the love, or at least interest, to that.

10.  Have rituals
Yes, it's fun and exciting to discover something new, but having relationship rituals help to bring us both together as we do something we love over, and over again and bind us to those happy memories.

One ritual we have is the boy tucking me in bed, like how he used to do when we stayed in our Uni dorm, and then reciting our nightly "chant" before we sleep - "good night, sweet dreams, hug me always, together forever, muakz muakz muakz". Even if we happen to be apart at night, we'd still say it over the phone or text each other that :) Lil Pumpkin's been hearing us say it ever since she was born so she "chants" it with us too! ;P

11. Being a parent doesn't make you a lesser partner
Having Lil Pumpkin means we have even less time to be just the two of us, especially with work and other commitments. However, it's also through being a parent that we can show just how much we care and love one another too.

It's like the boy spending at least 3-4 hours on the road each weekday driving me and Lil Pumpkin to and from work / school even though his own workplace is just 15 mins away from our home, just so we don't have to squeeze and get tired taking public transport. Or the boy getting Lil Pumpkin dressed for school each morning, just so I have one less "mummy duty" to worry about.

12. It's the journey, not the destination
As a couple, we have dreams and goals that we want to achieve together. Things like having Lil Munchkin, building our dream home etc. These things form our "big picture" and move us forward as a couple.

However it's our journey in getting to our destination that life really happens, and it's these little things on the way, even the disappointments and despair, that we shouldn't neglect to see and experience as they make us grow even more as a couple and appreciate one another.    

What other things have you learnt from being in a relationship?

P.S. These photos are from our recent family photo shoot at Chinese Gardens. Go check out the rest! :)

Other anniversary posts:



Unknown said...

Awww this is really sweet! I love the pictures! So happy :) Happy anniversary!!!

Unknown said...

So sweet to recite the 'Good Night' chant before bedtime. Happy 12th Anniversary to you both :)

An Apel a Day said...

I'm actually on the same lines as you. What you wrote, is what I would have written.

At first being married I had trouble picking my fights. I got annoyed with the small stuff. Then I learned.

Happy Anniversary!

Unknown said...

You two are so sweet! Love this post, especially the tip on looking forward, not back - that's def sth I struggle with myself, and the bit about not holding your partner to your standard resonated with me. Heh. Happy anniversary to you both! :) Many more to come...

~Summer~ said...

Happy Anniversary, Ai! These are very wise words indeed and I can imagine how much the two of you have been through to get to where you are today. So sweet to know how deeply you still love and cherish each other! P.S. That nightly chant is too cute! =) Have a great celebration, dear!

Susan said...

Happy anniversary Ai and Andrew. You're right that marriage is no bed of roses and I'm sure it gets better over the years as we learn to give and take. Many more anniversaries to come.

Mum's calling said...

Awww...all too sweet! Happy 12th anniversary! With many more years to come.

Ai Sakura said...

Adora: yeah love these shots my friend too! :)

Angie: thank you!

Alissa: Maybe it's age but I'm glad we're over that bit :P

Dorothea: thank you!

Summer: thanks! have a great weekend too!

Susan: Yup here's to more better years to all of us :)

Mums Calling: thank you!

yAnn said...

Blessed anniversary! Marriage is a marathon, not a sprint, and you guys are such great examples of that.

Unknown said...

Yes to everything.
Before we got married, 13 years ago now, someone gave us their best advice and it was to walk together. For good health and for good conversation.
Here to many more years of happiness.

One Mother Hen said...

Loved this. Just goes to show how much can be learned in 12 years,. It is not easy. xx How wise you will be in 24 years! :)

Masshole Mommy said...

Happy Anniversary to you and your hubby. It sure looks to me like you guys figured out the secret to a happy marriage.

mail4rosey said...

I love the photos! And Happy Early Anniversary to you!

Theresa Mahoney said...

You two are just the cutest! I will be celebrating 12 years of marriage with Jason in May (together for 18 years though!) I agree with everything you have listed here. Happy Anniversary!

Cybele Masterman (Bele) said...

What a wonderful list. I particularly like what you say about looking forwards not backwards

Stacy said...

Good one, Ai. I have much to learn from your list. Especially the one where I expect him to do as much as I do!

Missus Tay said...

happy anniversary! so sweet la, both of you.

totally agree with what you shared. 人比人,气死人. and whatever works for others may not work for us. so it's best to focus on what we have and count our blessings!

p.s. i never get the toilet seat thing. i just put down when i want to use it and he would put it up if he needs to use it. not that hard what! ;)

Elaine73 said...

Awww congrats! Lovely pics and article dear xo

oomph. said...

excellent points. i especially agree with #3 and having your "own life" apart from your partner. so many people give up their own lives when getting into relationships and they lose who they are. away time gives you something to look forward to and something talk about when you are back together.

oomph. said...

oh...happy anniversary!!

Indah Nuria Savitri said...

lovely and sweet notes indeed..can't agree more! After 12 years together, for sure you are learning a lot and spending so many beautiful moments together..