Tag Archives: Marriage

How my Dad Changed my Perspective on Love and Marriage Without Knowing It

I always wondered how Dad put up with Mum’s perpetual lateness (and why he married her when he hates being late) … and when I found out by chance, it changed my life.

It was a Saturday afternoon; I was running late to meet a friend (as usual) so Dad offered to drop me off. Ever thankful, I dashed into the car while he calmly started the car and got onto the road.

As he lamented and questioned why all his kids inherited Mum’s trait of being late and zilch of his love for punctuality, it made me pause.

“Dad,” I asked slowly, “You get mad whenever mum is late. So what made you choose to marry her despite knowing that she will always be late when you absolutely abhor lateness?”

Photo Credit: Deannster via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Deannster via Compfight cc

He stared ahead at the road, and then answered quietly, “Because I love your mother more than I love being punctual.”

That one quiet sentence changed my life; it reframed my perspective of love and marriage, and I never looked at love and marriage (or at them) the same way ever again.

Out of curiosity, I asked Mum why she married Dad.

“Because he loves me for who I am. You can see how much your Dad loves me, right? I knew he loved me and would be a good father to the children. Sweetheart, you need to marry a man who loves you as you are, a man who will put you (and the children) first, giving his all to take care of you.”

Speechless. I couldn’t say more.

Tears welling up in my eyes, I squeaked out some excuse about needing the toilet and ran there to have a good cry.

My parents have always told me to look out for a good man, and so on … but nothing could have spoken to me more than their life example. The way Dad loves Mum (and all of us, to be honest) is a real inspiration.

Truth be told, Dad telling me why he married Mum is one of the most precious memories that I have of my time with him. And when my kids ask how I decided to marry their father, I’ll tell them this:

“When your Grandpa told me why he loved Grandma, and how I should choose my future husband… that’s how I decided.”

And then I’ll share with them this same story in the hopes that they will learn the greatest lesson of all: that loving someone is about loving them beyond their flaws and weaknesses.

This guest post comes courtesy of Xin W., a happily married post-graduate student.

5 Things I Wished I Learnt from the Baby Manual

One can only read that many books, talk to that many people or attend that many classes to prepare for that very special day, where your first child graduates from kicking around in the Mother’s womb out in to the whole new world.

jean and joy

Photo credit: Jason W.

Well perhaps I could do with reading more books and talking to more people, but alas when the time came, there was no looking back. I guess 9 months is a long time to anticipate something, a substantial amount of time for preparation and reflection.

I remember vividly the first cry I heard when my daughter was born and then reality really hit. I remember my wife coaxing me to carry her during the first few moments and in my head I was going, “I’m so going to crush her… her head may flop over wrongly… she looks slippery…argh! Where’s the manual?!”

But of course on the outside I had to put on a brave front, even more so right after witnessing what my wife went through in delivering my baby. So there I was, holding my daughter for the first time, looking at her, and for the first time I really understood what unconditional love meant. I had no idea I can love someone whom I just met so much! It was one of the most amazing moments of my life. Of course that awesome moment was suddenly rudely disrupted when my daughter belted out her version of “Let [Me] Go… let me go, don’t hold me up anymore…” right next to my ear.

Well, that pretty much summed up the start of this journey of parenthood for me. Great moments of love and responsibility and then a cruel dose of irritation and sacrifice, somewhat similar to the emotions of the contestant on those cooking shows where the judges praise you and then tell your best is not good enough and then tells you that fortunately there is someone else in the room who is worse.

I have now survived 9 months of fatherhood and looking back, if there was to be a manual for fathers, these would be the 5 things I personally wished I had read.

1. It is normal to be worried

I remember jumping out of bed just to check to see if my baby had flipped over and suffocated or if the swaddling cloth had covered her face during the first week she came home to us. On checking with other couples, this phenomenon is actually quite usual.

2. Poop is character building

It seems that babies have an innate ability to sense when it would be the perfect time to pee or poop. The times where we become collateral damage during diaper change has happened so often, it cannot be by chance. This character building levels up when your baby starts to flip, climb and crawl. The test is to remain calm and still talk nicely to your child.

3. Every child is different

I was quite confused upon hearing different advice and reading different articles with respect to being a first-time dad. I even tried to reason against reading all these books, especially when the author had a disclaimer in the beginning saying, “every baby is different”. But after all the OJT (on job training), I must say that having the different information helps in some way. At least sometimes it presented some form of hope when the baby acts up or behaves outside the “textbook”. We had options to try out at different situations and in the end choose which suits our baby best… or rather best suits us all.

4. Parenting is not a zero sum game

Growing up in a family with 2 other siblings, it was often a game of “I did the dishes last time round, who’s next?” I had foolishly tried to bring that game into the parenting sphere. The first time I mentioned that it was my wife’s turn to change her diaper because I last did it… and then I was kindly reminded of all the other things I did not do. Well now I just volunteer to change the diapers. It really is a job for 2, and some may say it takes a village but what I have learnt is this: raising a child is a team game and good teamwork will benefit everyone.

5. Appreciate your wife

This is a sobering reflection when I see how my wife suddenly becomes the baby whisperer. She can differentiate the cries of the baby while I sit there still wondering what went wrong. Before leaving the house, she would have made a list of what needs to be done. For example, while she’s putting on her make-up and I’m just sitting there wondering when she will be done, she tells me that the diaper bag needs a top up of diapers and rash cream. The baby needs lunch and possibly dinner so you need two sets of bibs and cereal. Her water was from yesterday and needs changing. Her toys are still dirty and needs a wash.

And there I was, clueless about what to prepare before leaving the house.

These 9 months have taught me how to think beyond myself – even when it’s something as simple as leaving the house for a meal. I have a newfound respect and appreciation for my wife and I would do well never to forget this.

So there, the 5 things I wished I had learnt if a manual came along with my daughter. I’m sure others would have many more to add and this list is not all there is to it, but I guess that is what makes this parenting journey such an adventure.

This guest post comes courtesy of Jason, a happily married father of one. His baby, Little J, was born in March, and life has never been the same since then.

Men and Destinations

couple driving on the road

Photo Credit: penelopejonze via Compfight cc

I’ve found that on road trips and holidays, some men can be a tad too particular about getting from Pt A to Pt B on time.

If we drive at 110km/h we can reach San Francisco in 6.5 hours.

“Honey, look, let’s stop for pastries at Solvang. The town looks pretty.”
“We can’t. It will throw our timing off and we will get caught in the traffic.”
“Honey, look, let’s stop by the beach coz it has a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean.”
“Please, we don’t have time coz we’ll be late.”
“Late for?”
“Late in getting there in 6.5 hours.”

Years ago, there was a cruise ad in Australia targeted at widows that read “Taking you to places your late husband wouldn’t stop at.

Sometimes we can be so focused on getting to our destination that we fail to enjoy life’s beauty along the way.

I’m learning to do more of that. Now when I’m late in picking my wife, I tell her I had to stop to enjoy the moment.

Gary is the resident “blogger of few words” whose brevity and takes on love, life and daily interactions with his son are rather popular with readers. He loves his wife and son dearly, and enjoys jamming together with them as a family band.

Preventing the Cycle of Divorce

If the Family is the building block of society, then marriage is the foundation of the family. However, as seen from the latest figures released on divorces and marriages in Singapore, this foundation appears to be weakening, with fewer adults entering into marriage and more adults leaving it in divorce (“Marriages down, divorces up”; Jul 30, 2014).

While the article points out that the overall figure is still considered low compared with other developed countries, that should not be any consolation since divorce inevitably affects our children. Each year, 54% of our divorce cases involve approximately 8,000 children, with over 5,400 children under the age of 21. Studies show divorce causes immediate extreme anxiety in a child that can lead to behavioral issues, intensifying a young child’s dependence while accelerating an adolescent’s independence. This can elicit a regressive response in children and greater aggression in adolescents.

In addition, divorce has inter-generational implications that cannot be overlooked. As shared at the 11th Family Research Network (FRN) Forum, in adulthood, children from divorced families have a higher propensity to experience less satisfaction with life, higher rates of depression and lower psychological well-being. Their own relationships and marriage are affected too: they tend to experience lower marital satisfaction, more marital discord and higher divorce rates; and in turn their own children face similar challenges when they grow up. Research reveals that children of divorce risk a 50% higher likelihood of divorce themselves; this risk increases to 200% when both spouses come from a divorced home.

How then, can we help prevent this cycle of broken marriages?

Couples can help their marriages begin on a firm footing by attending marriage preparation lessons. Subsequently, participating in marriage enrichment classes or marriage retreats every 2-3 years during the marital journey will further build a protective hedge around their marriage to withstand the challenges that arise in daily life. Studies show couples who participate in premarital programs experience a 30% increase in marital success over those who do not participate. They report improved communication, better conflict management skills, higher dedication to one’s mate, greater emphasis on the positive aspects of a relationship, and improved overall relationship quality.

Rather than tackling marital challenges only when the threat of divorce looms, keeping a marriage going – and thriving – requires continuous effort and commitment of both husband and wife. It is said that one of the best gifts we can give our children is to love our spouse. 

Editor’s note: This letter was published in the Straits Times on Aug 7 in response to the marriage and divorce statistics in SIngapore.

Men and the Art of Meaningful Conversation

Man and Woman in Conversation

“Honey, what’s on your mind?” “I don’t think you would really want to know…”

While we want meaningful, honest conversations with our mates, women don’t really want to hear certain things that guys have on their minds even though that’s what they are thinking.

If guys were allowed to openly share their thoughts, the following would be examples:
1. “Honey, would you wear those high heels just for me along with that bikini?”

2. “Dear, my buddies asked me to go fishing on Saturday. I’ll be gone for the day.”

3. “That striped outfit makes you look like a zebra and horizontal stripes make you look big.”

Instead, men will most likely get the following responses:
1. “You think I call-girl ah?”

2. “Who’s going to look after the kids? Huh? Fine! Go do whatever you want (which means don’t you dare do whatever you want).

3. “Well at least I don’t have a beer gut hanging over my belt and I have better taste than that ridiculously tight shirt you have on and I’m healthier than you are.”

So men must learn how to say what they want to say tactfully. Try:
1. “Honey, you look gorgeous and like ‘wow’ in those heels. And that swimsuit is so attractive. They both match. Wow. Wow. Wow. I can only imagine what you’d look like in them at the same time.”

2. “Dear, my buddies whom I haven’t seen for such a long time asked if I’d go fishing with them coz men hardly bond together and can be such loners…which can be unhealthy coz it’s important for them to share with other men. But I told them I’ve got to help my wife look after the kids because parenting is a shared task. Even though they pleaded, I said I’d ask my wife for her thoughts on that matter.”

3. “Honey, you look lovelier in the other outfit. The white areas are turning yellowish.”

It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it that matters.

Gary is the resident “blogger of few words” whose brevity and takes on love, life and daily interactions with his son are rather popular with readers. He loves his wife and son dearly, and enjoys jamming together with them as a family band.

5 Secrets to Relationship Longevity By Happily Married Couples

Elderly couple walking

It’s a joy to find someone to journey through life together with, so how can we build a healthy and strong relationship that will last?
Whether you are dating or are married, these 5 secrets from couples who have been happily married for a long time will certainly help strengthen your relationship:

  1. Keep a lid on your anger.
    It’s easy to blow your top and complain about your significant other on social media. But have you thought of the ramifications of doing so?Take Action: Choose to speak to one or two trusted confidantes who can help you work through your anger and give you constructive feedback on what you can do better in future. This gives you a safe space to let out the emotions, and is a proactive way of learning how to deal with such issues.
  2. Make time for each other.
    Anyone can say “My spouse comes first!” but if you are consistently putting off having a nice date together because you are consistently pulling in late nights work late and are busy with other appointments, the sad truth is that your spouse is not first.Take Action: Carve out small pockets of time together. Perhaps having a quick lunch date, or going for a run together at the park – these are the little things that matter. And remember – these pockets of time should be screen-free so you can truly focus on each other.
  3. Apologize.
    We don’t need to say much about this – this is a consistent challenge for couples no matter what stage or phase in life they’re at!Take Action: Often times when faced with having to apologize, we tend to say “I’m sorry but…” – an apology followed by justification of our action taken. Instead, simply say “I’m sorry.” No and, or, if or buts. Those two little words alone “I’m sorry” can make a lot of difference in your relationship. This also relates to the next point…
  4. Deal with tough topics.
    It’s easy to sweep things under the carpet, but healthy couples know that it’s not going to benefit in the relationship in the long run. A healthy relationship is built on trust and openness.Take Action: When talking about a tough topic, think of it as a boulder standing in front of both of you. How can you deal with it together? The key here is the word “together” – take responsibility for the problem AND the solution as a couple.Go into the conversation with the right frame of mind. It’ll help to make the tough topic a little bit easier 🙂

    And a bonus for married couples:

    + NEVER give up.
    At the wedding, most couples recite vows that go something like this: “.. to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish from this day forward until death do us part.”Honor your vows by holding each other’s hand as you journey through life. There will be ups and downs, and perhaps, a few storms. Remember: you may not have it together, but together you’ll have it all.


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What No One Told Me About Sex: Tips for Newlyweds

We spent the first few days of our married life at a mountain resort. Our loft suite overlooked breathtaking views and with a crackling fireplace and plush bed linens, it was made for romance. But what happened next was far from what I had expected! When we got home from the trip, I immediately confided in my friend and mentor and purchased a book she recommended on sex for newlyweds. If I had only sought her advice before the wedding, our honeymoon could have gone a little smoother.

Here’s what I wish someone had told me about sex:

It’s not like the movies

To be honest, my expectations for the wedding night were very much shaped by what I’ve seen in the movies. Couples onscreen are always raring to jump into bed and make love all night long. In reality, a couple’s first time together can be clumsy, messy, embarrassing and for the wife, often painful. So it’s only natural that some couples come away from the wedding night feeling disappointed. Actually, sex is something that gets better with practice, rather like learning to dance with a partner. The first few times you tango, you’re bound to step on each other’s toes! Trying to “go all the way” on the wedding night may introduce feelings of pressure and anxiety, especially when you are already exhausted from the day’s events. Instead, enjoy the intimacy of kissing and caressing each other and learning what gives your spouse pleasure. Marriage experts Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg remind married couples “that although it’s good to work toward climax, the journey is pretty unbelievable too.”

It’s important to talk about sex

Most of us feel awkward talking about the “s” word but good communication builds sexual intimacy. Start talking about sexual expectations once you’re engaged. This lays the groundwork for open communication about sex after marriage. Tell your spouse about your preferences, what excites you and what turns you off. Sex therapists Dr. Clifford and Joyce Penner say that “expressing positive messages during sex enhances the experience for both spouses”. My husband and I have developed the habit of giving feedback soon after we make love. We are careful not to criticise but share honestly, positively and lovingly. This has helped us improve as lovers and enjoy our times together more.

It takes planning

Right after our honeymoon, my husband was called away to work out of town for two weeks – I had never missed anyone so badly! When real life takes over, so many things can interfere with romance – busy schedules, stress, conflict, TV, children, illness and so on. And when you’ve been married for a few years, it’s all too easy to let sex take a backseat to that last email you need to send or that latest TV show. We need to prioritize our marriage and intentionally make time for intimacy. Make a date to be alone with your spouse, commit to it and keep it free of interruptions.

The beauty about sex within the context of marriage is that you have a lifetime together – there is no pressure to get it right on the first night, or even in the first year!

LJ and her husband have been married 7 years and have three delightful children. They keep the romance alive by putting the children to bed early and listening to their favourite playlist of 90’s love songs.