When was the last time you recounted your love story to someone? Reminiscing the early days of courtship and marriage is a powerful way to build emotional connections with our significant other.
How did you meet your spouse? What attracted you to him/her? Do you remember the terms of endearments you had for each another? Bringing to mind these sweet memories can rekindle feelings of affection or inspire us to renew the spark of romance.
Even though we cannot turn back the hands of time as we reminisce the more carefree times before our children came along, we can find new ways to connect and turn towards each other. For my husband and I, we often remind ourselves that we are husband and wife first, before we are parents.
Recently, when we were doing spring cleaning for the New Year, we pulled out our photo albums and read the many letters and cards that we wrote to each other. Reading every single card brought back so much memories for us as we progressed from young lovebirds to newlyweds and young parents over these 20 years.
I spoke to 2 couples who are at different stages in their marriage and listened to them recount their journey and lessons learnt through the years.
Not giving up a good catch
Nam Seng and Sok Mian are parents to two grown-up daughters and grandparents to two granddaughters. The couple has been married for 32 years and both of them are Focus on the Family Singapore trainers, working to equip couples for a life-long marriage.
“I’m glad I didn’t let go of a good catch and won her heart again.”
Nam Seng and Sok Mian met as bandmates in Junior College and it was Sok Mian’s sweet smile that first caught Nam Seng's eye. “At the end of our first year in JC, I told Sok Mian I was interested in her and we started going out as a couple.”
The young couple dated for 9 years but in between, they took a 3-year break. During the separation, Nam Seng realised how much he had missed her and that his feelings for Sok Mian had not changed.
“I asked Sok Mian out one day and suggested giving our relationship another try. She agreed and 2 years later, we got married.”
The proposal was the old-fashioned way where he popped the question “Shall we apply for a flat?” The newly-weds shifted into their first matrimonial home in Yishun and shared many happy memories in their humble abode. “We had our first child in that home and hosted many friends for gatherings during the various festive seasons. Even though life was busy, we felt fulfilled with what we have.”
However, the couple had to make a painful decision to sell their first home and live with Nam Seng’s parents as he is the only son. During those 20 years, Nam Seng witnessed how his wife loved and accepted his parents, in spite of tensions that arose from differing values and thinking.
“It was through her selfless giving and devotion that I saw how beautiful my wife is. She did her best to accommodate my parents and find common ground where we could appreciate our differences. I’m so grateful she never made it difficult for me to be a son and a husband.”
Though their marriage hasn’t been easy at times, the couple remains committed to be the right one for each other through the ups and downs. The duo will be celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary this year.
“I love her more and more through the years. She is beautiful and I am so happy that I had made the decision to win her heart back more than 35 years ago.”
Pressing the reset button on their marriage
“We credit our stronger marriage with better communication skills and understanding each other’s point of view.”
Richard and Yuet Mei have been married for 23 years and they have two boys, a teenager and an adult son. The husband and wife run a transport company providing transportation services for people with limited mobility in Singapore.
The pair first met at a close friend's gathering. Even though Richard didn’t leave a deep impression on Yuet Mei after the first meeting, they got to know each other better through subsequent gatherings. Before long, their friendship blossomed into a serious relationship. They tied the knot in 1997.
When their first child came along after 3 years, their relationship was put to the test with added responsibilities on both their shoulders. Without the support of their immediate family, the young couple had to rely on themselves and Yuet Mei stopped work to care for their two young sons.
Even though motherhood was fulfilling, Yuet Mei recalled that her new role as a stay-home mum took an emotional and physical toll on her.
“I grew increasingly distant from Richard as we were both busy in our own world – me with the two boys, and him with his work. One night, I told Richard that we are a team in this family and the boys needed their father. There was a growing frustration towards him as he was fast asleep while I struggled with the exhausting night feeds alone. That’s when he realised that I needed his emotional support more than just bringing home the bacon.”
After pressing the reset button, the pair slowly improved their communication and is now more intentional in tending to each other’s needs.
“Looking back at how strained our relationship used to be, I’m glad we persevered and worked through our conflicts. We credit our stronger marriage with better communication skills and understanding each other’s point of view. We realised these were taken for granted as we shared so many commonalities in the past. We’ve grown in appreciation of each other and are more aware of how we can take our relationship forward in a healthier manner.”
Looking back to look ahead with hope
For couples who are feeling distant or are going through a stressful period, the positive memories of supporting each other through the ups and downs can rebuild solidarity in a relationship.
As we bring to mind how we have weathered setbacks hand-in-hand, our marriage can draw strength from the adversities conquered.
However, if bad memories invariably get brought up, don’t allow them to remain as emotional baggage. Seek pardon if you’ve hurt your spouse. Extend an olive branch and forgive if you’ve been wounded. It is possible to start a new chapter if we choose to work towards reconciliation and restoration.
© 2021 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
Susan is a self-confessed C+ mum who lives for coffee, chocolate and heartfelt connections. As a mum of one she believes that the best parenting style is parenting with intention and shares her motherhood journey on her blog A Juggling Mom.
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