By Rae Mok
The wedding gown has been packed deep in the wardrobe, the honeymoon pictures have been stashed away, and you are blissfully settled in the world of two, so… what’s next?
From having to adjust to possibly a new living environment, to accommodating the different habits and values of the other half, it is the beginning of a new journey of discovery for both. You may think you know your spouse very well and adjusting to married life should not be a problem. However, living together and seeing each other everyday will pose a different set of challenges that can only be addressed with ongoing communication and compromise with your partner. It takes effort from both parties in a marriage for it to stand the test of time. It requires resolve to tackle your differences and manage your lives as one. But despite the roller-coaster ride from the highs of the wedding and the honeymoon to the rough patchy road of adjusting to each other, one thing must remain firm – your love for each other. As you settle down into married life, make use of every opportunity to strengthen your marriage, so that you and your partner will be better equipped to cope with new additions to your family – your little ones.
So how do you retain the sparks (or better still to increase them!) in your marriage?
We interviewed a newly-wedded couple who had dated each other for more than ten years to find out their secret formula in keeping those sparks alive. Jasmine Tan (JT), a Secretary, and Terry Lim (TL), an Operations Manager, both 28, shared their love story.
Newly-weds, Jasmine and Terry
Did you experience any difference in your relationship before and after marriage?
JT & TL: Yes. Even though we had dated for a long time, the feelings we have for each other deepened after we solemnized our marriage and committed ourselves to be there for each other, through thick and thin. We started staying together only after our wedding. JT: I have to learn to accept his family’s culture & their living lifestyle as our lifestyles are totally different. Furthermore Terry has a big extended family and sometimes it’s quite tough to remember how to address each member.
Has your spouse done anything differently after the wedding that made you love him/her more?
JT & TL: As we’d dated each other for so long, most things are pretty much still the same as before. The only difference is we now have to take care of each other’s daily needs, such as preparing breakfast, sharing household chores, buying groceries etc. Our mums used to do that for us!
JT: I like to spring surprises on him by buying small gifts, baking a cake or whipping up a scrumptious dinner on his birthday as well as our anniversary. He will surprise my by fetching me up from work sometimes, even though his office is at Paya Lebar whereas mine is in Orchard Road.
How do you keep your marriage filled with love all the time after the buzz of your wedding has worn off?
JT & TL: We indulge in the things we’ve always loved to do before we were married, like going to the beach, catching movies, and travelling. We don’t think we will get as many chances to enjoy these activities when children come along. We would want to spend quality time with them when they are young, and when they are older, we would bring them to the movies and travel with us.
How often do you say “I love you” to each other nowadays?
JT: I say them as often as I can, and especially when I need a favour from my hubby! (JT winks cheekily).
TL: As often as I can, at least once a week.
While both of you are still enjoying your “honeymoon bliss”, have you made plans for children?
JT: Yes, we plan to have children before we turn 30, which means we plan to have two years of couple-time. I feel that having just one child is good enough, as Singapore’s standard of living is very high, and we want to give our child the best that we can afford.
TL: I would prefer two though, so that the siblings have each other as a playmate and they can grow up together.
Have you discussed roles each of you will play when you have children?
JT & TL: We’ve not really discussed in detail, as we are still adapting to many changes in our married life. We will probably only start working out our plans when it is time for us to have children.
A strong marriage would provide couples with a good foundation for having and raising children together. With mutual support, care and concern, you and your partner would be better prepared to take on the additional duties that come with caring for a child. A good relationship between parents would also translate into a warm and loving environment for a child to flourish in, and allows the couple to revel in the joy that the child will bring. Isn’t this the wish of every parent?
I Love Children recommends 2 good reads:
1) Passionate Marriage, By David Schnarch, Ph.D.
2) Relationship Rescue, By Dr. Phil McGraw