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Mistake #1: They don’t talk

According to Ms Stephen there are two kinds of communication – day-to-day and problem resolution. Day-to-day communication can help create a healthier relationship between spouses when there is “authentic dialogue”, such as when couples talk about their hopes, dreams and feelings. This builds companionship and intimacy.

If conversations turn mundane or routine, lack of closeness and problems start to develop. In Ms Stephen’s experience, this is when people sometimes turn to others outside their marriage. Therefore good day-to-day communication is vital in keeping the connection between husband and wife alive.

Mistake #2: It’s all about the money

Inequality in finances can cause a power imbalance, which in turn can lead to abuse, warns Ms Stephen. Couples need to agree on how to manage their finances, and the solution can be different depending on the couple and the situation. However, she emphasizes that it is imperative that couples make financial decisions together, and that both benefit from any financial arrangements.

When a problem occurs, such as one party spending more than the other party is happy with, couples need to discuss and try and resolve the situation, rather than sweep it under the carpet which can lead to resentment and anger. People who have an unhealthy concept of money (perhaps one parent gambled, or as a child you witnessed your parent using money as a form of control) may need help in creating a more realistic view of what money means to them.

The key to a happy financial relationship is for couple to have an agreement of overarching long term, mid-term, and short term financial goals and then “spend” and “save” with these goals in mind.

Mistake #3: Not keeping the faith?

One memorable case Ms Han encountered was of a couple that divorced due the husband’s infidelity. He was a man who could not stand to be lonely and often had to travel overseas for work.

He and his wife managed to divorce amicably and maintain such a good relationship that they eventually considered reconciling.

However, in this case, Ms Han told him to reconsider unless he was very sure that he could honor his commitment to his wife to be faithful. Therefore even in cases where one spouse forgives the other for straying, they both should make a conscious effort to recommit to their relationship in order to start afresh.

Interestingly, Ms Stephen says that although affairs can be devastating to a marriage, it also become a catalyst to rebuilding the marriage, as the discovery of an affair “brings the relationship to the forefront and forces both parties to reexamine their relationship”. In order for the marriage to survive, both parties need to be willing to process their part in the relationship’s demise. Couples need to go through the process of repairing the trust and ultimately work on forgiveness in order to move forward.

Mistake # 4: They have forgotten to show a little kindness

Ms Han has encountered cases where husbands and wives called each other “stupid” or “good for nothings”. In one case a wife told her husband that “he was so ugly that she could not bear to sleep with him”. In another case, a man told his wife that she was “fat” and he was “ashamed to be seen with her”.

Ms Stephen says the cause of such behavior may stem from childhood - they may have had poor role models, such as verbally or physically abusive parents, and cannot break the cycle. For instance, a child who has either been abused, or who has witnessed abuse, is more likely to become an abuser or be abused.

Ms Stephen stresses that our own behaviour should promote our partners’ feelings of safety in the relationship, and both should feel safe and comfortable in expressing themselves. If either partner is abusive, help should be sought as quickly as possible to stop the cycle.

The definition of love is choosing to “value” your partner and refusing to “devalue” your partner. Actions that flow from that will naturally be kind!

Mistake # 5: They give up too easily

When asked if all marriages can be saved, Ms Stephen says that anything is possible if both parties are willing to work at a relationship. She stresses that she often sees couples who seek help too late, as many see counseling as a last ditch effort.

In her experience, she says that it is “far easier to salvage a relationship when couples are having problems communicating, rather than when they haven’t spoken to each other in years or are already living separate lives.”

Solutions for the 5 mistakes| My magical mummy | Mothers, balance it all | Maid to last | Eternal Flame

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