(As published in Localiiz)

We do a lot of investing in Hong Kong, and there is no shortage of investment advice. How well we invest can have a tremendous impact on our future and the legacy we leave. Why then, doesn’t everyone spend the time and energy to learn about investing in their relationship? Studies have shown that couples who invest in building long-term relationships are healthier financially, mentally, and physically. While living and working in Hong Kong is exciting and affords amazing opportunities and experiences for personal investment, it can be a minefield for adult couples, especially for those in the ‘Growth Set’ – late 20s to early 40s.

The Growth Set have a unique cacophony of stressors unrivalled by any other stage of life. Career focus, finding the right partner, and starting a family are hard enough, but are exacerbated by Hong Kong’s long working hours, crazy wages and even crazier living expenses, and universal drive to get ahead and impress the right people. All of this can take a toll on Hong Kong relationships, so how can you grow strong together instead of letting your relationship crack under the pressure of it all?

It helps to start out by understanding what scientists have defined as the Four Stages of Love.

STAGE 1: INFATUATION / FALLING IN LOVE

Your eyes locked across the room and you started to bubble inside. No matter if it leads directly to the bedroom or you keep it cool, the same hormones are hard at work. It’s literal chemistry.

STAGE 2: ROMANTIC LOVE AND ATTACHMENT

Research shows that hormone levels normalise after 12- 28 months of being in a relationship. Things get more comfortable and the relationship shifts toward acceptance, commitment, and developing better communication.

STAGE 3: DEALING WITH CONFLICT OR CRISIS

This is a difficult phase where relationships are tested. This stage is so critical because it tests your mettle as a couple, building the final patterns and confidence in each other as life gets real.

STAGE 4: THE BEGINNING OF A STABLE LONG TERM RELATIONSHIP

Holy Grail? Sort of, but the real work is just beginning! Relationships at this stage are an art – a beautiful medley of shared goals and priorities, core values, work ethic, trust, and intimacy. These last two being the most common challenge for most couples who find themselves in my office.

No matter which stage you are in, you can continually invest in each other. In fact, and what may seem counterintuitive, this investment is more important the longer you have been in your relationship.

Research shows that emotionally intelligent couples remember all the major events in each other’s history (not necessarily with encyclopaedic knowledge of dates and participants, but the emotions and events that shape us), and continuously update their information as the facts and feelings of their spouse’s dossier changes. If, as a couple, you don’t start off with a deep knowledge and understanding of each other, it’s easy for a marriage to lose its way when lives shift so suddenly and dramatically.

Here’s a quick list of questions to ask each other to reconnect. If it helps, make it a game. Write each question on an index card and shuffle them. Set a “reconnection date” each month where you have at least 90 minutes uninterrupted with your spouse. Select one question at random each month and explore it thoroughly, for each of you, together. 12 months, 12 questions – and repeat. Because life changes and we change with it.

  • How would you like your life to be different three years from now?
  • Do you see your work changing in the future? How?
  • How are you feeling about your jobs these days?
  • What is the most exciting thing happening in your life right now?
  • Have any of your life goals recently changed?
  • What are some of your life dreams now?
  • What are your goals for us as a family?
  • What goals do you have just for yourself right now?
  • What have been the highlights and low points of the last year for you?
  • What adventures would you like to have in your life right now?
  • If you could have a superpower, what would it be and how would you use it?
  • How do you want to be remembered? For what accomplishments or characteristics?

Read the original article HERE.

Dr. Quratulain Zaidi (BSc. Hons, MSc, MSc, PhD) is a mother and a member of the British Psychological Society and British Association Counselling & Psychotherapy and abides by the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychology. She has lived in Hong Kong and Singapore for 12 years.  She specialises in assisting families with issues including parenting, teen issues, Cybersafety,  marriage guidance, post natal depression, stress and anxiety disorders, depression, bullying, eating disorders, OCD and self-harm. She is an expert in educational assessments and learning challenges in children, for example ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia and ASD.

 

For more related articles, read our series on “Love and Relationships in Hong Kong”

Relationships and Conflict

Lovers in Hong Kong – A Guide to the Four Stages of Love

Marriage in Hong Kong – Find the Silver Lining While You Chase the Brass Ring