Staying connected is important, especially to help you get through that definitive first year of marriage (aka The Paper Year). We’ve consulted Lissy Puno, a Singapore-based counselling psychologist and marriage guru to give us some tips on how to preserve or rekindle that connection with one’s spouse.
Recent close encounters with (not the third kind but with) newly married couples reminded us of two things. One: adjusting to married life is often difficult and poses a very real threat to your sanity (can we get an “Amen”?). And two: it’s been months since we promised a follow-up to this article on the challenges newlyweds face. For both, we are truly sorry. But don’t stay mad at us for too long! We’ll try to make it up to you by sharing these tips for staying connected with your spouse as relayed to us by Singapore-based counselling psychologist Lissy Puno.
Adjustment Period for Newly Married Couples
When two individuals become one and start living together, they naturally evolve and have to undergo an adjustment phase. During this period, differences arise and lead to struggles and conflicts. We’re sure you’ve heard at least one married friend passive-aggressively remark how you don’t really know someone until you marry them. Well we’re pretty sure this is what they meant. When these differences aren’t discussed, Lissy says, dissatisfaction starts to incubate. Rather than staying connected, couples tend to fight about it, withdraw, or shut down completely. All these causing a disconnection. This may then lead them to pursue “exits” in the relationship that pose further challenges to staying connected.
“Exits” to a Marriage: The Normal and Catastrophic
When it comes to these so-called “exits” to a marriage, however, it’s important to note that there are normal ones and catastrophic ones. Normal exits can mean that individuals choose to avoid the issue with their spouse by redirecting their energies towards their children, or work, their barkada or family of origin, even hobbies. While these are all good, they become an excuse to not prioritize the marriage.
“I remember when we were still newly married and we’d have a fight, my wife would leave the house and retreat to her parents’ place (We chose to live in the same neighborhood where we both grew up).” – Law
However, there is a worse kind of exit to a marriage. Examples of these catastrophic exits are affairs, addictions, mental issues, and the like. We hope that Lissy’s advice below can help individuals in their efforts towards staying connected with their spouses so that you can avoid taking either of these two types of exits, but especially the catastrophic ones.
Of course, it’s perfectly normal to seek these exits every once in a while. After all, it’s pretty rare for marriages to be walks in the park. Don’t let your friend’s Instagram stories fool you—we’re pretty sure she and her husband fight about things like closing the toothpaste cap too. But when the fighting gets too much, one or both of you need to recognize the importance of staying connected even when sometimes all you wanna do is gag your partner. Oh, that never happened to you? Me neither. I don’t know what this writer is talking about. But Lissy does though.
Staying Connected: 5 Tips for Newly Married Couples
Having authored the book, “Affairs Don’t Just Happen” and creating the journal “Stay Connected”, Lissy has had her fair share of experience counselling couples as they work towards resolving their marriage issues and staying connected. In fact, her well-lauded couples weekend workshop, “Getting the Love You Want”, will finally have its first run in the Philippines this July 2018. She gives us a sneak peek into her psychology as she shares with us some tips for staying connected to one’s spouse. If you’re single, keep on reading because you can also use these strategies to repair your relationships with other people you love! (But we’ll be praying that you get to work on these with a spouse in the future too.)
1. Say “I love you” every day
Don’t wait until Valentine’s or anniversaries to express appreciation for your spouse. Rather, show care towards them daily. Pay attention to the little things that they appreciate. Yes, that means taking a second to screw on the freaking toothpaste cap.
2. Take some time out
It’s easy to let the busyness of making a living and, eventually, taking care of children, to overwhelm you. But staying connected is vital to keeping the spark in your marriage! Don’t let your marriage take the backseat. If you want to keep feeling that kilig over your spouse, you need to work at it.
You don’t have to spend so much money or take too much time. Get creative! Whether it’s a steamy shower together or just a quiet night out on the porch gazing at the stars and talking about your childhood, make sure you take time at least once a week for just the two of you.
3. Get deep
When you get older, physical attraction in a marriage can fade so staying connected by other means is crucial. We’re such suckers for good conversationalists. Communicating our deeper thoughts, feelings, dreams, and passions with our spouses is therefore a pretty good way to keep us falling in love over and over again with the same person.
4. Learn the art of war
It’s not true that healthy couples don’t fight. Of course they do! You’re putting two completely different people together under one roof. There’s bound to be some resistance. (We’ve all seen it on Survivor, Pinoy Big Brother, and America’ Next Top Model.)
As couples, you need to work on areas of conflict, dissatisfaction, and frustration together and with effective problem solving skills. But you need to learn to fight fair.
5. Be grateful
This is easier said than done, especially when your partner is a bit of a nag or turns out to have horrible hygiene. But regardless of their flaws (and yours), do your best to cherish the person you love and make them feel special.
These are just a few of Lissy’s advice for staying connected with your beloved. We hope you can keep these in mind during the course of your happy (though sometimes challenging) married life. Remember that a loving relationship is possible for everyone. Let your marriage be the dream that you always imagined it would be!
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