[VIEWPOINT]Loving words lead to marital bliss

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[VIEWPOINT]Loving words lead to marital bliss

Some time ago at a gathering of a group of friends over drinks, an older friend of mine said jokingly, “Isn’t it right to say that women have to finish with romantic love before they get married? How stupid is it that a housewife still wishes to behave like a girlfriend to her husband?” Most men in the group agreed with her, nodding and saying repeatedly, “Yes, I agree!” They probably said so with their own wives in mind, who ask them to go out to watch a movie or to dine at a restaurant.
But married women talk differently about their husbands.
“What I want is dialogue. Is it so hard to have a conversation with me? I mean, for you to pay attention to me. Why on earth do you get angry when I want you to look at me!”
Wives who have been married for more than 10 years complain that they have no dialogue with their husbands. The husbands complain that they are bothered by their wives whenever they try to rest during the weekend. Aren’t they like cats and dogs living in the same house?
They say that the reason cats and dogs are not on good terms with each other is because they can’t communicate well. When a dog approaches a cat wagging its tail, the cat presumes that the dog wants to pick a fight with it and sharpens its claws.
Having spent a whole week without exchanging a word with each other, a wife approaches her husband with the intention of saying a few words to him, since they are a couple. But her husband, far from listening to her, clicks the television remote control while lying down on the living room couch. His wife then snatches the remote control from him. With this, a quarrel between the husband and wife starts even before dialogue begins.
Why should it turn out like this? A couple of days ago, I had dinner with a group of close female friends. There, a younger friend who has been married for five years asked an older woman who has been married for more than 15 years, “Older sister, I cannot have a dialogue with my husband. Isn’t it right that a married couple should at least exchange a few words with each other?” The elder friend retorted, “Surely, but I wonder whether you ask your husband to have a conversation with you in a straightforward manner. If you really want to have a dialogue, you shouldn’t approach him in such a way.”
Another older friend who has been living with a husband more than 10 years older than her for 16 years advised the young woman who complained of the lack of conversation with her husband with the following:
“If you want to have a conversation with your husband, you’d better pay attention to him ― what he likes and wants to do the most. If your husband likes baseball, you’d better watch baseball games on television together. While engaging in something that your husband likes with him, you’d better try to tell him in a natural way. Even to be friendly with children, isn’t it necessary to find out what kind of games and toys they like the most if you want to exchange a few words with them?”
“What were the words that your husband told you that made you the most happy? To me, it was nothing else. When he said, ‘I am happy to live with you,’ I felt the most happy. You, have you ever told your husband such sweet words?”
“How can I say such words to my husband?” the younger friend asked.
“Why not? If you don’t tell that to your husband, to whom will you tell it? Now, say after me, ‘You make me happy!’ You must tell him this today! You must tell this to your husband upon returning home!”
After hearing her words, I started to think.
Living together as husband and wife for a long time, how much does a couple love each other? But there are moments in the course of their lives when the way they express their love is more important than the depth and width of that love.
Minds are not visible or tangible, so love sometimes fails to be conveyed to the other side properly if it is not expressed in an appropriate way.
The Chuseok holiday this year is rather long. I wonder whether we live in an age where the time we spend with family members means hard work for female members, because a new phrase, holiday-acquired-tiredness-syndrome, has been coined.
If we have to live as husbands and wives, parents-in-law and daughters and sons-in-law for the rest of our lives, and if we want to be happy, how about trying to say those words this Chuseok, even though they sound awkward. Don’t put if off till tomorrow, but say it today: “You make me happy!”

* The writer is a novelist. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.

by Lee Myeongrang
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