By A/P Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim
(This first appeared on MSF conversations, a blog by the Ministry of Social and Family Development.)
I recently met an elderly couple in their 60s.
Having been married for over 40 years, they shared with me the magic formula behind their long-lasting marriage – “Give and take”, “Forgive and forget” and “Share your problems and housework”.
Indeed, their words remind me of the ‘beauty of imperfection’ in a marriage. Marriage is between two people who are imperfect, and yet can be perfect together.
When we recognize the imperfection of being a human, it is then that we can learn to give and take and be accepting of each other’s shortcomings.
I have realized that marriage is not only about filling a gap. Recognising the imperfection of your spouse comes along with an appreciation for each other and loving for each other.
And, it is key to be kind to each other. Being kind to each other opens up many doors of love in a relationship.
It is important for us to see this imperfection in a positive light, and how it leads to many more good things in our marriage.
How can We Strengthen our Marriages?
Many couples I know say that they are too tied down by work or their children to think about strengthening their marriage.
But investing in your marriage can be as simple as spending time with your spouse as part of your regular routine.
I know of a friend who often remarked to me how loving his parents are. He said, “Even after 30 years of marriage, they would still make it a point to spend me-time together.
They would hold hands and go for a walk in the park after dinner every day. My dad would wait at the MRT station to walk my mum home after work. My mum would help out in the kitchen when it’s my dad’s turn to cook dinner for the family.”
Daily simple gestures like these show our love and care for our spouse, and go a long way in helping us keep our marriage strong.
Importance of marriage preparation programmes
My officers at the Registry of Marriages (ROM) shared this heartwarming love story with me.
There was this young couple in their early twenties who fell in and out of love several times due to vast differences in their personality, family and educational backgrounds.
Despite the odds, they made the decision to get married.
They were well aware that it was unhealthy and unsustainable to blindly compromise on issues to keep the relationship going.
They signed up for PREP (Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Programme) and have since learnt how to better communicate with each other, better appreciate each other and to resolve conflict in a peaceable manner.
This love story tells us that conflict is inevitable in all marriages, even if we do not like to admit it.
It is not a question of avoiding it, but of how we work together to resolve it. Conflict doesn’t need to lead to negative outcomes.
A happy, lasting marriage does not happen by chance.
I would like to encourage more couples to take pro-active steps like this young couple mentioned earlier, to strengthen their marriages.
It is through working together to resolve conflict that we can learn to accept, adjust and grow as a couple.