The Challenges of Our Relationships… Are They The Same For You?

These days, my life pretty much revolves around both children and work.

With an endless list of tasks to do each day, I often find myself time-strapped. But I know I cannot be alone – after all, everyone else is juggling multiple roles and relationships too. Just how do they seem to have everything under control with the same 24 hours that I have?

As a mum of two, that means allocating time to both bubs within a day. Oh, and not forgetting the husband too. Evenings are the only times we get to catch up after a day at work – that is if he arrives home in time before we start eating.

Sometimes, I wish K and I could enjoy deeper conversations – talking about the kids and work don’t count, for sure! It’s rare that we actually get to spend time together sans children (save for special occasions!), but I know it should be a priority too. After all, we were both a couple before becoming parents, right?

It’s heart-stirring to know of friends who drift apart from their spouses over time, and I can understand why. In fact, from the recent 2016 Prudential Relationship Index, 24 per cent of married couples in Singapore surveyed have thought seriously about leaving their spouses every week. That might not actually be a bad thing!

The local study resonates with what I wrote about recently: a study from the United States revealed that thinking about divorce could result in a thriving marriage. With a topic so close to us, the findings from the 2016 Prudential Relationship Index are insightful reminders to feed our relationships, and everyone could surely do with a little nudge, right?

As husband and wife: ever thine, ever mine, ever ours

Getting down to basics: We are first individuals, then a couple. Now, we are husband and wife.

As we go about our careers, social life (or lack thereof haha!) and other commitments, we naturally yearn for quality time alone. In fact, Psychologists advise that solitude can enhance the quality of our relationships, allowing us to reconnect with our inner selves to discover ourselves while appreciating our relationships. That’s definitely WIN-WIN!

While 75 per cent of couples in Singapore hope their partner can enjoy doing things together, at the same time 57 per cent want an understanding partner who is able to accommodate each other’s lifestyle.

I guess the constant struggle speaks of what we experience too: the wish to water our relationship as a couple, yet wanting to nurture our own souls by indulging in “me time” which is equally scarce.

The question then is, how much time are you dedicating to both yourself, and your spouse?

As parents: the learning journey

There are days we wish the kids would grow up instantly, yet there are days we hold dearly to the time we have with them.

Today, time stood still for a few minutes. I had a milk-drunk baby cradled in my arms and my heart stirred as I took a closer look at him. Calm, peaceful and delicate – 3 words to describe that moment. I've always thought that nothing beats a sleeping baby, but today I realised that a sleeping baby in my arms offered a new sense of bond and indescribable feelings that raced through my soul. . Not so long ago, he was a wee newborn. And there are days I wished he'd grew up quicker; perhaps toying with that thought more often than I should. Seeing this angel on my chest reminded me that my wish did come true, but now I really wish it hasn't. If only time could stand still so I could hold him just a little longer… A little more.. Until the day he decides that being with mummy is uncool… And then when that day comes, I'm not sure I'd be relieved as time can never be reversed… Now I wish for time to stand still just a little more.. Just to allow me to smell this little one a little longer… Would it be too much to ask for?

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Our children definitely take a significant share of our 24 hours, but let’s not forget that time spent with them goes inversely with age.

Deep inside, especially when we are so absorbed in other responsibilities, companionship with our children ranks top. Going home to toothy smiles and wet kisses lifts our spirits immediately – a boost to our happiness quotient!

So when weekends come around, we try our best to spend quality time with the kids. This is echoed by 77 per cent of the parents in the 2016 Prudential Relationship Index too – and it’s easy to see why 65 per cent feel that children makes them smile from within too. After all, relationships with our children start at the point of conception, and being present beats giving presents hands down.

October is a month of changes, and one of it includes daddy having to work on most weekends. That also means K has even lesser time with the kids since weekdays are already rushed routines. . Some days, it makes me feel like work-life balance is a myth. At the end of the day, couples start a family and relationships (with the kids and between spouses) need TLC to blossom. It's always a struggle for time between work, family, me time amongst the 37645874 commitments and things on our lists. As much as I know K is caught in between his roles, I'm glad the little girl enjoyed some special time with daddy by getting their hands dirty. Who cares about dirty leaves from the garden or getting paint on your clothes! Hope that offered him an additional dose of motivation for having to run off for his other role. Always right beside you, daddy @h_shang 😘❤️

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I’m immensely thankful that K is a hands-on father. It takes two starting from the point of marriage, till the end of our married lives.

As Evelyn Khong, Senior Manager & Principal Consultant, Fei Yue Community Services, points out, “We are raising someone for someone else.”

With that nugget of truth, surely we hope to raise good people, and that can only be done together as parents.

As a daughter: always their child

As a mother, I’m better able to empathize with my own mum. My parents are (still) working parents (hello, working parents dilemma and mum’s guilt!), and my sister and I were left in the care of relatives when we were younger.

Although we have since moved to our own homes,  I’m thankful that we live pretty close to each other, just like 76 per cent of the local parents who live less than an hour away from their maternal homes. That also means we can park the kids with them visit them whenever it’s convenient.

Every week, we try to meet both sets of grandparents, so our children are in regular interaction with them. Hubs is a family man, and he definitely resonates with the 59 per cent who value interaction with their parents as one of the most important aspects in their relationships. Family relationships are important, and there’s no doubt we are also setting an example for our children.

As a friend and colleague: precious friendships

While family is important, I value my friendships too.

I’m also very blessed that I’ve made sincere good friends with colleagues over the years, going beyond the office pantry into each others’ lives. Many of whom are inspirations and helped shaped my perspective as we grow together. Glad to know that 57 per cent of the respondents share the same view about their colleagues, and 42 per cent of working adults rave that their work colleagues are also their best friends!

It really is all about building a friendship. Don’t we spend most of our awake hours with our colleagues? :P

Right now, working on an independent basis means I get to “catch up” with friends via technology any time. And for that, I’m also heartened to be “within reach” from my best friend who has moved to the UK.

While I wish we could do things together physically, (70 per cent of those in the study enjoys that with their best friends!), I know it’s impossible, but we are entirely comfortable despite the distance and lapse in responses in between. Just like 56 per cent of the respondents, we are comfortable in each other’s silence. Absence makes the heart grow fonder; taking time out of our own lives to put effort in our friendships lets our friends know that we value them.

We don’t need tons of friends but a few close ones are like crème de la crème – 61 per cent value having quality relationships over sheer numbers. What about you?

Technology: friend or foe?

In today’s smart world, there’s no doubt technology has infiltrate our lives.

The struggle of gadgets and kids is a constant battle; one can’t deny that work, social life, information are now at our fingertips too.

Technology offers a quick connection, yet creates an invisible wall between relationships. In agreement with 68 per cent of the respondents who think technology makes it easier to stay in touch, it also causes us to retreat into our own world (only 30 per cent thought so!).

Not forgetting the 24 hours we have in a day, how much time are we spending on technology for a multitude of purpose?

I’ve to admit, when I seek solitude, I reach out to coffee and my mobile. The connectivity makes sneaking in pockets of time to complete my to-do list efficient, yet at the back of my mind, I really should disconnect to connect with my inner self. Or talk to the husband. Or read a book…

And when K is back home, work continues because… technology!

I’m starting to worry about explaining things to Vera: both of us are on the phone because of work, or even surfing through social media (alone time!) to catch up with friends, news etc. Rejecting her requests for our mobiles to watch Barney makes us feel like we aren’t doing as we preach. After all, our children are our best imitators –  it’s about time to be a better role model.

As Jason Wong, Chairman of Focus of the Family Singapore puts it, “Time is the currency of relationships.”

I cannot agree more.

Daddy's stuck at work so mummy gets to play chauffeur today! And what an opportune time to take a bus home, just the way she likes it! 🚌 . Time is certainly fleeting, and such moments remind me of my role in the family, as a mum, and wife; ultimately, a team player. . While we're often chasing after time and are at its mercy, a child often attempts to put things into perspective which the adults fail to see, or are perhaps blinded to. We could have easily hailed a cab and got home in half the time, but the bus ride brought smiles to her face and offered conversations we would not otherwise have. We're often rushing to get our to-do list checked, making quality time hard to come by these days… Do you feel the same too?

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We are often chasing after time, and forget that emotional fulfillment grows our happiness bank. My everyday challenge is to tick off priorities against time, while balancing the relationships that matter.

What about you?

Want to find out how couples in Singapore can improve their relationships?

Come join us at the Prudential Relationship Index Launch panel discussion, hosted by Gurmit Singh. Expect to discover what married couples argue most about, how Singapore’s relationship health factor ranks in Asia, and more!

Date: 20 October 2016, Thursday

Venue: LIVE on Facebook at 6.30pm at Prudential Singapore Facebook Page.

Feel free to share your stories or questions at the forum by leaving a comment on our Facebook page or Facebook LIVE video chat. #RelationshipReconnect #RelationshipIndex

Watch this video for a sneak preview of the Prudential Relationship Index:

What are some challenges you face in your relationships? Do share your stories too!
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