Does marriage and the arrival of children spell doom for intimacy, passion and romance? Sarah Lee-Wong spoke to three women spoke about how they strive to fuel the honeymoon passion in their marriage, and how other women can also do it.
The New Age Parents (TNAP): Hi Mummies, tell us how long you’ve been married, and how many kids you have.
Veronique A. Dawson, 34: More than a decade with two kids, 14 and 9
Susan Lim, 37: 8 years and 3 children aged 7, 5 and 2.
Xiu Yin Tan, 31: 3 years , with a 10-month-old baby, and 9+ year old from a previous relationship
TNAP. How would you describe your current marriage?
XY: Loving and fulfilling.
VA: I would describe my current marriage as a very intimate bond.
SL: We are getting closer day by day. With children growing up, we have more time to relate and talk. We don’t go on dates but we have couple time, especially when our children are asleep. Sometimes we talk till wee hours and we feel very enriched by each other.
TNAP: What are the most amazing moments in your marriage you wish to remember for life?
XY: An amazing moment was when my husband, Ian proposed – because he took a while being the gentleman he is. Another is when Ian told me there was no difference between the excitement he felt knowing and watching Joshua grow and knowing and watching Caleb grow- because it showed his equal love for Joshua. He genuinely loves to Josh despite his being Ian’s adopted son from my former relationship.
SL: Over the years, we begin to quarrel lesser and make up more readily after fights. That’s amazing to me. Last year my hubby surprised me with an iPad for Valentine’s Day. I love surprises. It is not like him to spring surprises but I am glad he took an extra mile to do what I like.
VG: The most amazing moments in our marriage have a lot to do with our kids. When they give us a surprise card, thank you notes, sometimes very long letters, those loving gestures make us feel really, really blessed. Also, their hugs. Children give the most amazing hugs.
TNAP. Every marriage has its ups and downs. Could you share some of biggest challenges you have had to overcome as a couple, and how you overcame them?
V: In the early years, Michael and I lived at first with his parents, then my grandparents…depending on who was looking after our children. That was our biggest challenge. Getting along with in-laws, respecting them and yet struggling for our independence and need to make decisions regarding our children. How did we overcome that? We finally got our own place.
SL: This would be how we pulled through sad episodes when I had two consecutive miscarriages. Our faith in our religion helped us to pull through this gloomy period. We were blessed with another child a year later.
XY: I had a miscarriage during my first pregnancy with Ian. It was gut-wrenching for me as I hadn’t expected it at all. I plunged into a dark place of grief and he was always there to edify me, to shine a light for me, to pray over me and to love me out of the pain despite his own sorrow.
TNAP: What is something special you have done or do with your husband that has greatly impacted your relationship?
VA: In December 2010, to celebrate 10 years of marriage, we went for Marriage Encounter. It’s a stay-in weekend marriage retreat organised by our Catholic Church. We learned this tool of “dialogue” where we each write our feelings on any topic for 10 minutes and share what we’ve written with each other. We’ve learned so much about each other from here. Allows us to be vulnerable… and grow closer.
XY: We communicate in many ways as it is the key to having a good relationship. I write post-it notes to encourage him especially during trying times and paste them on the bathroom wall so he can see them. I also write him love notes that I hide in his pants pockets and clothes when he travels. If I have no time to hide them, I buy a notebook and write a letter, together with a prayer and an encouragement for each day, and secretly pack it into his bag.
TNAP: With kids it can be so hard keeping the passion fresh between couples. Can you share some valuable and practical tips with other women struggling with this?
SL: Rank your priorities together with hubby e.g. Husband, children, cooking, housework, education. Eat together as a family as often as possible in a week.
VA: I’m not sure if this is appropriate but Michael and I practise Natural Family Planning (Billings Ovulation Method). So since there is periodic abstinence, there is a feeling of being on a honeymoon every now and then. We fight, we don’t hold back, we’re honest, we speak our minds. The intention is to be real with each other. We’re best friends and lovers. We go on date nights, talk late into the night over the weekends… Date nights are so important!
XY: As a Breastfeeding SAHM, it is very easy to just roll over and play dead after an exhausting day of baby caring, tutoring our older child and doing the housework. But I make sure I take the initiative to snuggle up the hubby as men are generally more physical in their love language than women. It is important not just to satisfy our emotional needs but, as crass as it sounds, it is important to also help our husbands satisfy their need for physical intimacy.
TNAP: Thank you ladies for sharing such intimate details with our readers!
By Sarah Lee-Wong
This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine.