Marriage: Staying Together, Staying Happy

Leonny – Singapore

My grandmother got married in mainland China when she was sixteen years old. No it wasn’t pre-arranged by their parents, and yes it was based on love.

That was in 1941.

Then 60 years later, in 2001, I got married.

My grandparents thought it was fun to get all dressed up again for their diamond anniversary. And so that’s us in 2001. The year when I got married and my grandparents had their SIXTIETH wedding anniversary. We had our photo shoot together that day. (I still remember how my grandpa made silly jokes about my grandma and her ‘wedding dress’, hehe).


[She was 76 years old then, and gee, if only I could still look half as good at that age!]

This year they’ve been married for SIXTY EIGHT years. They still travel everywhere together visiting their children and other family members around the world.

And the way I see things, just like any other married couples, they may have gone through many rocky times during their years together, and they may have been mad with each other countless times, but they manage to go through it all. They stay together, and I know they’re happy together.

Most of us haven’t gone through THAT many years of marriage, have we?

And one thing we all know for sure is, when it comes to marriage, being ‘in love’ alone is not enough.

Because as much as two people love each other, they’re two individuals with different backgrounds, personalities, emotional needs, amongst lots of other things. And when together, disagreements and conflicts are simply inevitable.

In our own home, we have our share of heated arguments too.

When good intentions are misunderstood. Lack of communication is seen as lack of appreciation. An exchange of unkind tone of voice as a result of work pressure and daily stress.

Just like any other normal relationships, we have our moments of frustrations with each other.

Really, it’s only when we start talking openly, listening to the other person, resisting the urge to self-defend, swallowing own pride, apologising for one’s unwise move, that we can slowly come to a better understanding of each other.

And I must say, in the end, when both parties are willing to work things out and build a strong marriage together, the seemingly negative experience can bring us closer as husband and wife. That is, when we better understand our spouse’s need and thoughts, and when we discover better ways of handling such conflicts in the future.


The other day we went to a gathering where quite a few ’senior married couples’ gave their words of wisdom and shared some relationship-related advice to those who’re to be married soon.

And as always, it was an insightful session.


Here are some practical tips shared that evening :

1. Unless it really is not an option for you both, explore the possibility of having your own roof (ie. not share your home with your parents and in-laws)
Once you’re married, you need time to get used to how things work between just the two of you. And if you have the privacy of your own home, however simple your roof is, adjustments become more ‘real’ and less complicated (ie. without any third parties’ involvements and presence)

2. When conflicts occur, hold your tongue and avoid saying hurtful words that you’ll only regret later. ‘Battles’ get resolved, but hurtful words uttered in a moment of anger may remain in the mind and heart of your spouse.

3. Where necessary, when you’re really mad, step out of the situation to cool your mind and emotions off for a while.
Go to a different room and separate yourself. Do something different for a few minutes. Re-evaluate the situation and gain a little perspective of what’s really going on. Introspect and see whether going ahead with the battle will do any good to the both of you tomorrow or in a year or two.

4. For the wife, especially later when you’re busy looking after the children fulltime : look after and keep yourself ‘physically attractive’ in the eyes of your husband, and remember to keep yourself up to date with what’s going on outside the four walls of the home.
Other than being a mother, you’re a wife too. And as much as you need to be there for your children, your husband needs you as well.

Try to always be in the know, read the newspaper, go out and socialise. Because when your husband talks to you about his work and ‘his world’, you want to be able to respond and ‘understand’ as much as possible what he’s trying to share with you. Because sharing with a completely clueless wife who shows no interest in her husband’s struggles nor in developing and valuing herself may unconsciously lead to a situation where the husband finds more ‘joy’ in chatting and sharing with someone else, somewhere else.

5. For the husband, especially when you start having children in the house : remember to show your love and appreciation with actions and words, to proactively offer help with the household chores, to actively participate in raising the children, especially when it comes to disciplining and teaching them what’s right and wrong. Play an active and responsible role as the husband, the father, the leader in the house. Because your children will learn from you, and your wife will respect you more and more when you do so lovingly and consistently.

It takes two to work on a marriage, and yes, staying together and staying happy throughout a relationship needs lots of HARD WORK.

But when both husband and wife put in their best effort, overcoming each hurdle together, their relationship will grow even stronger.

Which actually is the beauty of marriage itself, isn’t it?


Redaksi note :

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