Helsinki Times Newspaper in Finland Interviews Relationship Expert Hellen Chen
During a trip to Helsinki, Finland, Hellen Chen sat down with reporter Banafsheh from Helsinki Times to discuss about why it takes more than just "falling in love" to make a relationship working. Read Excerpts Below
Excerpts from Helsinki Times:
Couples should be educated about relationships
Q: Finland has one of the highest divorce rates in Europe,what do you think about this?
A: One of the reasons is that people are too self-centred;they don’t think as one, they think they are separate. They think I’m with you half way. They don’t think that I’m with you all the way. For a successful relationship you have to think as “one” and as a team.
My winning is your winning; your survival is my survival. But if you think that I am “myself” and you are “yourself” and we are “half” and “half”, you won’t succeed. I think that’s the thing, maybe people are very independent here, they do everything themselves, they are all “one”.
Also I think it’s because of the women’s personality. Women are strong, smart and fast, they work so they don’t need financial mental and emotional support. They are very independent, which is a good quality for starting the marriage. Women here grow up in cold weather – they are cold too. So they require men to initiate, but nobody starts. I think people have posts as wives and husbands, I mean it’s a position of work. For instance, today somebody didn’t come to work but someone else should cover her or his absence. At work we are willing to help but in the relationship and marriage we aren’t.
I found that in 80 per cent of cases the person who wants a divorce is the woman, not the man. And whenever they want to get divorced, they are strong and stubborn. Men usually don’t want to, even when they make mistakes and it’s their fault.
I suggest that women should change to be softer because men are babies, they grew up with mother’s love, they are used to being taken care of by women. Women should think as a team and wait for the men to grow up because women are more mature than men at the same age. If you give the man another ten years, he turns into a good guy. When men get older they become attached to women.
I think sometimes I need to educate people to be patient and to grow up, people go to school but no one teaches them. If kids make noise, you don’t hit them and wait for them to grow up. No one teaches people, so when they have difficulties, they break up – it’s so sad. I try to give seminars to educate people. I wish I had a chance to give a speech here for these people.
Husband and wife don’t go to learn and then at home they suffer and divorce. But when they come to a seminar they usually go through their marriage better.
Lots of people who divorce are in love but they think they can’t take it. In most cases, the woman regrets the divorce, she loves the husband and misses him, but thinks that she can live alone, and then she becomes stronger and colder.
Most people divorce during the first years. If a machine doesn’t work you need to fix it. People should learn how to manage a relationship like a business.
Q: When and why did you start your job as a management consultant?
A: I started 20 years ago because of my husband. [There is a saying] that if you marry a chicken you do what chickens do, if you marry a dog, you do what dogs do. If you marry a business consultant, you do what he does.
Sometimes in the beginning of our marriage when I was a housewife I helped him. And then one day he had an appointment and he told me, “You go!” Then I became a consultant. That was my love story actually.
Q: How do you balance family life and being a management consultant?
When you are a business consultant, it’s a post at the office, but as a wife it’s a post at home. When you go home you start to understand that it’s another job and you do what a housewife should do: you clean and cook, you love your husband. People, after finishing their work, forget that they are wives. They come home and they work as a consultant and super woman.
They continue to work, they don’t accompany their husband. The husband works too, so when he works you are free and you do your job, and then after working you have to come back and do your job at home.
We have many jobs as students, teachers or mothers, and sometimes we forget to do them. If you have children and you aren’t a mom and you just work, the same problem would occur.
So I think you need to have a schedule book. When I am at work I act as a boss, but when I come home I don’t talk to my husband as a boss, I need to change it. My husband says as soon as you come home and you look like a wife, it’s okay, but at work if I have to be strong and fight, I do, and there is nothing wrong with that. So you need to know when to do what.
Q: What is the role of the husband then?
A: A husband should be a sweet talker and give the wife attention and then he should enjoy having the woman with him. A man’s job is to date the woman, make her happy, kiss and hug her. He has to tell her that he loves her and she is beautiful. But lots of people get tired and they don’t talk and for a wife it’s boring.
The husband comes home, drinks, eats and watches TV and never talks and that’s the problem.
Q: So you believe that women and men have fixed roles?
A: You don’t have to have fixed roles, but I believe every family has its own culture, they don’t all have to be the same. In some families the man takes care of the baby or in a lot of Chinese families the man cooks, there is not any set rule. Sometimes people try to have a rule, it kills people because everybody is different. For example, a woman like you works, you are not like everybody else, so the man who fits you is different from the man who fits a housewife. You have your own culture but the trick is having family meetings. You need to have a family meeting at least once a month and set an appointment to discuss at a fixed time, but not in the middle of dinner or while you are watching a movie! We need to talk about who does what this week.
It’s not important who cleans the toilet, but it’s very important that we have an agreement about who cleans this week. People don’t talk and then they get mad. All the cases that I had were not about someone with bad intentions, they just never talked and they didn’t know things about each other. Men are not bad people and women either. We do the job by talking instead of suffering and getting crazy.
Q: What is the current greatest challenge with respect to relationships?
A: The biggest challenge is in communication because people don’t learn how to talk.
You go to school, but you never learn how to talk. Your mother just talks to you but never corrects you. People talk in a bad manner or they don’t listen, making a relationship difficult. If you talk rightly, you don’t mind that she is not dressing right. If you can talk you don’t mind that he goes out and drinks.
But people say: why did you come late?
Then you don’t know how to do the next thing. I have a communication class and teach people how to express their emotions and how to talk. People never learn how to fall in love and how to have sweet talk and how to approach people in a correct way. The biggest challenge for love is ability, it’s not just I love you, it’s more than that. At the beginning love is enough but then it’s a matter of communication.