Because sometimes, love isn't all you need.
I wanted to type Marriage in the title when I decided on Relationship instead, because I believe we ought to give our all to every relationship we're in - whether we are married or not.
I remember my first breakup at 16... I was crying my eyes out and my classmate asked, "I don't understand why you guys didn't work out. He loves you and you love him right? Isn't that all that matters?" Coming a long way from there, I've realised that no, love isn't everything.
Being in a relationship is much more than love, it's about working together as a team.
The boy and I have been together for 5 years and married for coming to 1.5 years. 1.5 years is honestly, a pretty short period so I wouldn't consider myself a relationship guru or expert.
However, we have seen our fair share of breakups and makeups amongst our friends and have had people asking us how we do it, since if you know us in real life, we're are as different as night and day. In fact, when we first started dating, my girlfriends predicted that we wouldn't make it past a year... but hey, look where we're today.
So here's my 2 cents' worth on how to make your relationship work.
The other day, I received a call from my girlfriends who insisted I had to meet them for drinks that very evening even though I wasn't prepared at all to head to town. For god's sake, I was in my ratty home clothes sans makeup and all. But they were sooo persistent and so, I caved in to an exorbitant $25 cab ride to Boat Quay.
When I arrived, the WHOLE group was there waiting for me, like some sort of intervention wtf and I swear I had the MOST ominous feeling ever when S uttered, "Flora, we have something to tell you."
"Garry was spotted picking up a girl."
"Chey... I thought what???? You girls were referring to that time at Red Dot is it? Ya I knew about it from him already... he had texted me then and there about it. He was picking up that Miss Chinatown for his friend lah!!"
While I wouldn't say that the husband and I have complete blanket trust in each other, I'd like to think that we are both doing what we can to eliminate insecurity. In my line of work, I often have to meet new people and travel without him but I make sure I put in effort to update him whether we are in the same country or not. Likewise, he bothers to update me when he's checking out strip clubs LOL when he's overseas... which honestly, I don't mind one bit because I trust him enough. In fact, I am always pointing out pretty girls on the street to him and telling him things like, "Wah that girl at your 3 o'clock, her boobs damn big!!!".
He has no qualms with me looking at his phone and likewise, if he wants to read all my messages, I am perfectly fine with it. We do not hide our phones or emails from each other and know each other's Facebook passwords.
2) The Little Things
While birthday presents and random Chanels is always a good idea, I've realised that what really warms my heart are the random little things the boy does.
Such as charging my phone and setting my alarm for me every night without fail when I've fallen asleep while watching Revenge on my iPad.
Such as showing up at my office with my favorite carrot cake AFTER I cancel lunch on him because I'm drowning in work.
Such as me telling him to have dinner without me because it's going to be yet another long night, and when I return home past 11pm, I find a freshly-roasted chicken and a hungry husband waiting for me at the dining table.
These little things are what money can't buy.
3) Accept your differences
The husband and I are very different people... I need to eat 6 small meals a day, he eats 3 HUGE ones. I can't run to save my life, he goes for a jog every evening. I use a Mac, he a PC. I'm short, he's tall. I'm smart, he's... I'M KIDDING.
There is one particular date that I remember us going on when we were just dating - having chicken wings and BBQ stingray at Bedok 85 and no, it isn't because I had dolled up myself up to the nines with false lashes and the full works (it was a FRIDAY night afterall!) and he had brought me to a hawker centre wtf... but because it was there that we had talked about things that matter. Religion (both agnostic), politics (good that we support the same party) and kids (I want one or none, he wants four but
I convinced him otherwise we managed to work this out.)
It is often said that couples need to agree on money, kids, sex and politics for a relationship to work.
And in our case, FOOD.
I didn't use to eat duck before I met the duck-loving husband and now Dian Xiao Er has become a weekly affair and he has learnt how to agree to disagree on blackforest cake.
4) Accept each other's shortcomings
I'm excellent at multi-tasking (like most women) - as I am writing this blog entry I am chatting to a girlfriend about Christmas plans and to my business associate about geeky technological developments.
The husband however, the last time he literally had too many browser tabs opened, we arrived at our hotel in Bangkok to realise that he had booked our suite for two months ago.
And it was Christmas Eve which meant that the hotel was fully booked fml.
After sorting it out (by that I meant ME saving the day), we arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport three days later, only to discover that he had booked us on a flight... from Singapore to Bangkok instead.
Now I make sure I do all the holiday planning myself.
5) Make Time for Yourself
The husband and I still pretty much do the things we did when we were single. He STILL gets to enjoy his 2,965 hobbies... fishing, beer-brewing, playing Magic cards AND nightly 3-hour gaming sessions, while I go for regular dinner & drinks with my girls and weekly Zumba classes. (I did try to get him to join me at Zumba but he got SO angry at the shake to the left, shake to the right moves it became a one-class-only affair.)
I actually believe that enjoying different hobbies is healthy for a relationship. This way, you do not lose yourself just because you're with someone now and as a couple, the relationship in turn gets strengthened because we’re always sharing our two worlds with each other.
After all, in the wise words of Carrie Bradshaw,
The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous.