” I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone. – Robin Williams
In my last article, I raised the issues facing couples when they drift apart due to different priorities in their lives. Picture this. On one hand, a husband may be pushing to achieve his goals at whatever cost; on the other, a lonely husband is left home alone during his retirement, longing for care and attention from his wife and older children.
Today’s article is a sequel necessitated by wonderful feedback from you.
How can a couple safeguard themselves from such scenarios? How can one identify the signs in good time? How can a couple work towards what matters?
We live in times when people want stuff and more stuff. More is cool. People will put in a lot of effort to get what they want. Sunny Bindra, in his article, How much is too much? We seem to have no idea’, puts it this way, “We have bought into a story that says strive. Get your three ‘As’ of life – achieve, accumulate, amass. Outdo your peers. Be number one. Keep comparing and measuring. Have more this year than last year. Exploit and misuse. Stay in the rat race until you drop. The thing that is really precious about this life, though, is just that – the life itself. Not the gains and accoutrements and accomplishments and scorecards; just the fact of living. Breathing, eating, engaging, learning, bonding, growing.’ That is powerful.
Despite the information we have on how possible it is to end up as a married single, many find themselves in the same positions over and over again. One of my friends told me that men think that all their wives need is to be provided for. And when they provide, they do not focus on intimacy. The wives expect intimacy and because they need it, their husbands stay away in bars and parties complaining of how their wives have become nagging. That husbands would need help in how to balance providing for the families on one part and showing intimacy on the other. As I had stated in my earlier article, MARRIED SINGLES, therein lies the dilemma.
“Women need to speak up for what they need. But many women won’t because they are afraid to come across as too desperate or needy or crazy.”Anita Chlipala
I recently came across an article, 15 ways your job is destroying your marriage, which helped identify signs of how your job/work could be killing your relationship. Below are some signs that all is not well:
- You opt out of or cancel activities that you would ordinarily do with your spouse e.g. family/couple time, visiting together etc.
- All you ever talk about is work!
- There are more arguments in the relationship as you’re easily irritable from your work activities.
- You enjoy being at work more than being at home.
That said, work is not the only reason for married persons acting single. Identifying the problematic areas is important. Look out for the following flags in addition to what I have stated above:
- Communication between you and your spouse is lacking or inadequate. Only few words ‘abound’.
- You are no longer emotionally connected.
- Your spouse is more of a roommate than spouse.
- You prefer going for functions alone and end up giving excuses as to why your spouse is absent.
- You become vulnerable to addictions and get engaged in bad behaviour.
- You cannot remember the last time you had anything positive to say about your spouse.
Dr. Ed Wheat, in his book “Live Life“, offers a solution for relationships at the verge of dying. The solution is called ‘BEST‘ – Bless your spouse by speaking positively to and praising them; Edify your spouse by encouraging them and genuinely complimenting through; Sharing time with your spouse for meaningful activities, both family and as a couple; and Touching your spouse in non-sexual ways as it is affirming.
One can also consider the following, working towards oneness of their relationship:
- Improve your communication lines with your spouse. Many couples struggle in this regard. Talk about your current and future needs. Seek to listen and be heard, not one or the other.
- Hang out with other great couples that can walk with you and encourage you when things get tough.
- Assess what is enough for you and whether your work is causing your family to suffer. Research indicates that working longer hours, money problems and spending less time with family are leading causes of stress for relationships.
- Do not give up if you are the one fighting for the marriage to stay. Give it your best shot.
- Have a positive attitude towards getting things better. At times, negativity pulls our spouses and loved ones away and each consumes themselves in other activities other than family.
- Check the mental wellbeing/health of your spouse. They could be pulling away because of stresses at work, or about finances or health issues arising from work issues etc. For our dear men facing such challenges, speak up and seek help. Do not suffer alone.
- Build your spiritual lives together. Ask God for help along the way. He is able to turn things around.
Let us bring an end to married singles.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” – Matthew 19:5-6