WITH THESE SOLEMN WORDS, we are reminded that no man should be allowed to come between a husband and wife. Whilst most couples do their utmost to guard against this, the invaders that ultimately undermine a marriage can take shapes and forms that we least expect.
I want to focus on a disruption of marital harmony which comes in a rather innocent package. For most people, the arrival of a baby heralds the relationship moving to a new level. It can be another point of connection for the couple and a fulfilment of hopes and dreams. In some instances, it may even breathe fresh life to a stale relationship.
However, some marriages are impacted in a negative way with the arrival of a baby. Husbands complain of being displaced as the centre of their wife’s attention.
Couples exhausted by the constant tending to the needs of a vulnerable, helpless child may have little time and energy for each other, even less for themselves. In such circumstances, how can a couple prevent their marriage from slipping into the doldrums? Firstly, it is important to keep remembering that the basis of strength in a family is the strength of the couple’s bond. is bond will help weather the stress and strain of disrupted sleep every night to feed the baby. How eﬀective they are at being eﬀective parents is dependent on how well they synergise their role as father and mother. Secondly, even though their personal and couple needs may not be at the top of the list of priorities, they cannot be deferred indefinitely. Some couples may agree to postpone it temporarily, for example, till the child is oﬀ pampers or till he finishes PSLE, before they can expect to enjoy their own personal space and couple togetherness. is is assuming that the couple has only one child. If they have more, the period of their sacrifice for their children would be a longer stretch.
But doting parents in Singapore who feel the kiasuism of giving their children the best possible education, tuition and enrichment programmes to be one up on the Tans next door will extend their time for parenting responsibilities right up to O-levels or beyond. By that time, their couple togetherness has become a hazy memory of their courtship days or early married life before the kids came. The sooner they learn to let go of their children, the better it is for their relationship as a couple and as parents who can provide a loving, harmonious home for their children to grow up in.
Thirdly, learn to agree on how to raise your child. Parenting will uncover a myriad of diﬀerences in nurturing your child’s potential and moral values, ways to enforce discipline, with grandmother to indulge, etc. Parenting is a good test to see if you can compromise and agree on the upbringing of someone who means so much to each of you.
The patter of little feet may bring a couple closer in their common goal to raise a child they can be proud of, or it could swing the other way, and rent the marriage apart when their frequent squabbles over the child’s behaviour or school performance start to erode the love they had for each other that had led to their exchange of marriage vows.