Nearly ¼ of married couples in Singapore think seriously about leaving their partners each week according to a new study. The study also revealed that Singapore ranks 7th compared to 10 other countries in the region in relationship satisfaction. This is pretty concerning considering we look to our partner to be the foundation of our support system. When it feels like the world is against us we often lean on our spouse to get us through.
The couples rated their relationships as providing 63% of what they needed in a partner. Decades ago when I was in primary school a score in the 60s represented a grade of D. This was only one tick above failing. In fact some schools didn’t allow students to pass with a D. This sounds like a wakeup call that our marriages need more attention.
The most likely source of arguments between couples are children (46%), money (41%), housework (29%), too much time on the computer or phone (28%) and being inattentive (27%).
When we get married our spouse typically becomes our primary relationship. They take the top spot in terms of where we put our emotional efforts. In return we also look to them as a place to be vulnerable, draw strength in times of trouble and generally be a safe harbour through life.
Why does this matter?
There are well-established links between marital satisfaction and the impact on children. Children tend to have poorer outcomes when exposed to parental conflict. There are distinct decreases in areas such as academic performance, and health status. While at the same time you see increases in the rates of behavioural problems, depression, and substance abuse.
Adults are also affected in various ways by trouble on the home front. Things such as life expectancy, overall health status, and work performance are clear indicators that marital dissatisfaction has a significant impact on our life. Work life balance is a two way street with conflict at home impacting the employee’s ability to perform at their best.
What can be done?
Some people feel that there is a stigma associated with seeing a psychologist to help them with their marriage. In this instance it would be helpful to lump psychologists in with other professional services. For instance if you have complex tax matters you would naturally consult a CPA. If you needed advise on legal matters you would engage an attorney. It is unfortunate that for some it seems more comfortable to see a nutritionist for dietary planning or a personal trainer for fitness than to see a psychologist to strengthen their most important relationship.
Couples who are seriously unhappy and considering separation are ready for major changes to happen. The question then becomes do you make the major changes in your marriage or out of your marriage. A divorce involves a large-scale remodel to your life in terms of housing, finances, childcare etc. As you recall from the research above finances and childcare are the top two things married couples fight about. However, they are also among the first things you have to address when you start the divorce process. These are also the topics you will need to be able to communicate about and collaborate with your co-parent on till your little ones are fully grown.
Can counselling help?
For those couples that are fighting frequently and generally miserable it may be time to seek out a bit of support to help you get back on track. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy “after receiving treatment, almost 90% of clients report an improvement in their emotional health, and nearly two-thirds report an improvement in their overall physical health. A majority of clients report an improvement in their functioning at work, and over three-fourths of those receiving marital/couples or family therapy report an improvement in the couple relationship”.
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
– Mignon McLaughlin
The Prudential study has a lot of information about relationships in the Red Dot if you want to check it out go here.