You wouldn’t expect married couples to have separate bedrooms, finances, or to take turns looking after their child.

Yet some women do; and not without good reason either. It can be healthy for the modern couple to maintain a balance between the ‘us’ and ‘me’ time, says counsellor Ang Thiam Hong of Edora Counselling Services.

He adds that it’s up to each couple to discuss and agree on the specific activities that they should do together or separately; this will build a foundation of mutual understanding between each couple.

Two Singapore women tell us about their unusual martial arrangements;
a Singapore counsellor gives his expert opinion. Image: Corbis
 

These two Singapore women explain why they went against the norm and how it works for them. Counsellor Ang Thiam Hong provides expert advice to these two women and two other scenarios where couples better manage their ‘alone-time’.

1. “WE SLEEP IN DIFFERENT BEDROOMS”
Marketing manager Jules*, 37, realised that her quality of sleep improved when her husband wasn’t around; he started travelling regularly for work. The couple are light sleepers with very different work schedules.

THE DOWNSIDE
Jules misses feeling close to her husband before bedtime – the couple used to chat and hug each other to sleep.

THE BENEFITS

  • The couple slept better as they stopped waking each other up in the middle of the night because of their conflicting working schedules.
  • They still spend quality time together doing things they both love.
  • Their sex life hasn’t suffered although Jules admits that they have sex less frequently than before.

2. “WE HAVE SEPARATE BATHROOMS”
36 year old stay-at-home mum Cynthia* and her husband use different bathrooms. The habit started a few years ago when he started using the common bathroom in the mornings to avoid waking her up. The couple created an extra bathroom for his use – the one attached to his study – while Cynthia uses the master bathroom.

THE DOWNSIDE
Her husband still uses her bathroom once in a while. Although Cynthia is fine with it most of the time, she will grumble when she needs the bathroom urgently or if he’s spending too much time in her bathroom.

THE BENEFITS

  • She gets her personal space, free from her husband’s usual bathroom clutter.
  • They do not get irritated by each other’s bad habits. This includes his tendency to leave nearly-empty toothpastes around while opening a new one.

3. PRACTICAL MATTERS: MONEY AND CHILDCARE
Ang Thiam Hong of Edora Counselling Services adds that a partner shows his willingness to contribute when he is willing to split the expenses even though both parties are working. 

THE DOWNSIDE

  • Paying huge amounts are troublesome
  • Neither knows how much the other is spending. She used to spend a lot on shopping but she has since become more disciplined after having her first child.

THE BENEFITS

  • You can feel more secure about your finances; there are those horror stories of women who had lost all of their savings when things soured between them and their husbands.
    Married couples can become more independent when they shop for their individual needs and wants.
  • Having separate accounts reinforces the trust that a couple can have for each other.

4. TAKING TURNS TO LOOK AFTER YOUR CHILD
Counsellor Thiam Hong says that this arrangement can make you feel happy about your partner and his willingness to split the load.

THE DOWNSIDE

  • A couple can disagree on parenting methods and these differences can become more obvious over time.

THE BENEFITS

  • It can make you both less tired and stressed. For instance, a couple could make the general agreement that the partner who is less tired will look after the kids.
  • A couple would be able to maximise the time that they spend with their child, especially if one or both parent(s) work irregular hours.

*Names have been changed.

Ang Thiam Hong is the counsellor and manager of Edora Counselling Services, a private coaching company that offers life and executive coaching services for working professionals. The company is located at 1 Fullerton Road, #02-01, One Fullerton, (S) 049213. Visit www.edora.sg for information or call 68325001 for more information.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer December 2010.