Harmony in marriage

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The author says a spouse needs to listen when the other speaks, without formulating a response. Do not interrupt. Become fully engaged. Curb your urge to correct or argue. You will have your time afterwards to respond appropriately. First, just listen. Picture: WWW.PEXELS. ORG.

Bula Fiji! Thank you for taking time out to read Bula Vakasaama, a column dedicated to enlightening readers about practical strategies for optimal mental health and mind wellness.

Today’s topic is about cultivating joy and harmony in one’s marriage. Ideally, marriage represents a beautiful, blessed journey of two beings united in their values to serve a greater purpose through their soulful companionship and a daily intentional practice of good thoughts, good words and good deeds.

As a psychotherapist, I’ve observed a rise in the number of divorces and separations due to disharmony in marriage.

Despite the hundreds of religious texts, practices, selfhelp books, and podcasts that teach us ways to demonstrate love, compassion, care, and kindness, marital problems continue to soar.

So, what exactly are we failing to understand about human connection and soulful companionship?

Is it that we use words without practising the essence of those words? For example, we use words like love, kindness, compassion, empathy, and so on, but perhaps we don’t really understand how to translate these words into action?

Where are we failing?

Take the following examples: Husband surprises his wife by cleaning the kitchen, but when wife sees the kitchen counter, she tells him off for putting the bread loaf in a different spot to where she normally does.

She doesn’t thank him, instead she fixes the ‘error’, storms off in anger and mutters something like : “Why is it always me who has to do everything around here?

Do I look like a slave to you all?” The poor husband is left feeling confused and unmotivated to help out any time soon. Another example is when the husband is glued to his phone instead of helping with household chores and the kids.

They both come home from work but somehow the entire workload at home gets piled on the wife’s shoulders while the husband chills on the sofa to watch TV or engage on his phone.

Meanwhile the kids are left to engage themselves with whatever they can find to amuse themselves. And yet another example is when spouses are constantly trying to find fault with one another through incessant arguments, bickering, nagging, grudge-holding, and passiveaggressive behaviours, such as silent-treatment.

The above examples show what love, compassion, respect, and kindness don’t look like.

Actions speak louder than words

So, what does love, compassion, kindness and respect look like? How does one translate these words into action? It’s in your tone, your gaze, and your touch. It’s in your ability to hold space while you listen to your spouse’s words without judgment or reaction. It’s in your expression of gratitude, first and foremost, for everything your spouse is already doing for you.

It’s in your choice of words – are you accusing or seeking clarification? Are you namecalling? Are you blaming? Are you using respectful words, kind words and saying them in a kind, respectful tone?

Love, kindness, compassion – these are just empty words unless you translate them into deeds that are in harmony with the essence of these words. How to hold space for each other

  • Look your spouse in the eye when you communicate. Looking into your spouse’s eyes when communicating reaffirms your commitment and caring nature and encourages transparency in marriage;
  • Listen when the other speaks. Really listen. Do not formulate a response while she/he is speaking. Do not interrupt. Become fully engaged. Curb your urge to correct or argue. You will have your time afterwards to respond appropriately. First Listen;
  • Give undivided attention to each other. Multi-tasking is a wonderful skill but NOT when you are communicating with your spouse. No matter how important certain chores or tasks may seem, remember Always that your marriage is more important than any task you are concerned about;
  • Ask each other this question: “What matters to you most in life?” Understand the response given and honour those wishes. Knowing what matters most to your spouse helps you understand what you can do to fulfil his/her wishes;
  • Speak well about the people who matter to your spouse. You may not get along with all the people who matter to your spouse and that is fine. There is no obligation to get along. However, there is an obligation to show respect. If you speak ill about people who matter to him/her, it is hurtful. Causing your spouse hurt will eventually turn the relationship sour;
  • Respect each other’s fears and sentiments. Fear is very real to the person experiencing it. You do not have to encourage it, but you need to show the sensitivity that it is real to the person experiencing it. For example, “I know it makes you fearful when you think about our new baby. It is overwhelming for both of us. I am with you all the way. I am so pleased that you are trying your very best. That is all that matters. Keep doing your best.”;
  • Do not bring up past arguments/ negative events when addressing a new issue. Be clear from the beginning of any discussion that the topic of discussion is to remain a specific one and you both need to respect that rule. For example, if you need to discuss the budget for your next family vacation, it is not advisable to talk about how the last vacation was horrible because one of you forgot to book a hotel and ended up staying with in-laws;
  • Thank your spouse regularly for being your soulmate. Expressing gratitude increases positivity in your relationship;
  • Emphasise each other’s good points. Dwelling on mistakes or negative traits will only put stress on your relationship. Instead, acknowledge that you are human hence you have your own shortcomings. Similarly, your spouse may slip every now and then too. Say sorry, forgive and move on; and
  • Make this a daily teatime or coffee time or juice time or smoothie time, whatever you both prefer. Learn to once again be with each other and learn to enjoy being with each other.

PRINCESS R. LAKSHMAN is a counsellor, clinical nutritionist, writer, narrative therapist, and certified lifecoach. She is passionate about mind wellness and an advocate for kindness and self-care. She lives in Sydney and will soon open mind wellness hubs in Fiji to provide free mental health counselling and workshops exclusively to Fiji residents. The views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper. She can be reached at info@princesslakshman.com

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