Love your spouse and benefit your kids

Love your spouse and benefit your kids

I used to scoff inwardly whenever people told me that "the best thing parents can do for their children is to love each other".

Yeah, yeah, I'd think. That's a given, isn't it? Otherwise I wouldn't have married the guy.

In the blissful early days of marriage, the Supportive Spouse and I joked that we were a non-profit organisation, in service of our then-only child, now eight. We "worked" tirelessly, without pay or even thanks, as a team to keep our little boy fed, cleaned and happy, making decisions about his education and well-being, and pouring our (limited) funds into his enrichment.

When a friend asked me if I believed in date night, I laughed at her. NGO workers have no time to go on dates. There are more important things to do.

Years later, I am publicly eating those words.

As our marriage clocked more miles, and as we added more members to our entourage (younger son, now four, and a domestic helper), our once small and efficient non-profit organisation became unwieldy.

We moved to larger but older headquarters (traded our first flat for a masionette nearer to the kids' schools), and house maintenance became a bigger issue. The decisions to be made multiplied exponentially.

The main office-holders (the SS and I) started bickering more often.

Things came to a head when recently, at a crossroads over what to do with the rest of my life, I had a mini pre-midlife crisis. I wanted to go in a new direction, shifting from journalism to fiction, and toyed with the idea of moving overseas to pursue a postgraduate degree.

My husband, however, wanted to stay put to grow his editorial and publishing business. Nor was he keen on the idea of uprooting our children just when our elder son had settled comfortably into the local school system.

Suddenly, it was Cold War. We withdrew the communication lines. Then, the morning after a discussion over our family's future that degenerated into a fight, I decided to Google for a way out.

I found a website called Power Of Two Marriage, sort of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) for couples - for US$15 (S$18.70) a month, you could access modules on communication, joint decision- making, anger management and the like on the site. You were also assigned a marriage coach, who would give you activities and monitor your progress.

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