Singaporebrides | Relationships

June 2011

Keeping The Flame Alive – Pt I

After the “honeymoon period” is over, couples may start to find themselves irked by each other’s faults and habits. We speak to four married couples who have been married for five, 10, 25, and 30 years respectively, to find out what keeps their flames alive.

Nobody is able to live on love and fresh air alone. It is only human, and expected, of people living in the same household to find certain peculiarities in habits hard to live with, such as the wife always leaving her used teabags around the house, or the husband insisting on rolling up the tube of toothpaste to try to make the most out of it. How then do couples manage to stay married without trying to strangle each other on a daily basis?

Couple 1: “We go on monthly dates and give each other surprise presents.”

Keryn Oo and Adrian Koh, married for five years

Accounts Executive Keryn Oo, 32, and Senior Manager Adrian Koh, 34, met at an ex-colleague’s Christmas party in 1998. They dated for seven years before they decided to get married. This April, they celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary together with their two-year-old son, Ethan.

The couple decided they had found “the one” respectively when they realised they had a lot in common, particularly in the same genre of music (alternative and indie Brit-pop, which wasn’t very mainstream). Keryn also found Adrian very patient and understanding. While preparing for the wedding, Keryn relied on the help, advice and recommendations from other fellow brides-to-be that she met on the SingaporeBrides forum.

In the initial few months of marriage, the couple confess that they argued a lot over housework. So they sat down and had a discussion on who should be responsible for which chores, and they still try to stick to the agreement they had made.

In an effort to keep the flame going, Keryn and Adrian go on monthly dates, and give each other surprise presents on birthdays and anniversaries. Keryn shares, “After we got married, we agreed not to celebrate “pak-toh” (dating) anniversaries any more but to celebrate wedding anniversaries instead. But on our 12th “pak-toh” anniversary, I got him a Polo T-shirt from his favourite brand, wrapped it up and put it in his cupboard, which he’ll definitely open every morning. I had already left for work. So he woke up, dressed to go to work, opened the cupboard and saw the surprise present I got for him. Then he sent me a text message to thank me and posted about the surprise on his Facebook.”

What advice would this couple give to newly weds?

“Have open discussions on issues like money and housework!”

Couple 2: “Over the years, we have kind of met in the middle – he has learnt to put down the toilet seat, and I have learnt to be somewhat neater.”

Leonny Atmadja and Wilson Hidajat, married for 10 years

Leonny and Wilson met as students studying in Perth. Leonny is now a full-time mum who maintains a parental blog and Wilson is a Creative Director. They celebrated their wedding with two ceremonies, in Singapore and Jakarta respectively. The couple have two lovely children, and one more on the way.

When asked how she knew Wilson was “the one”, Leonny says, “We share similar values in life, and the same faith, which is very important to us. I felt that I could really open up with him; we could talk about anything for hours and not have to worry about being judged or looked down upon. I saw that he was a responsible person, not afraid of life’s struggles. I just knew he was the right one for me.”

Having lived away from their parents for many years before marriage, the couple were already used to doing many things on their own, as compared to those who lived with their families up until getting married. But there were still many adjustments to be made. For example, matters that are important to her may have been seen as insignificant to him. He has learnt to listen without making comments first, while she has learned not to make a big deal out of everything. “I’ve also learnt to raise certain matters at ‘the right time’. If Wilson is tired or has a lot on his mind, the issue will never get addressed anyway. So I learnt not to always bring up big issues spontaneously.”

Knowing that Wilson goes the extra mile for her makes Leonny feel very special. “Like when I was too tired to cook, my husband would proactively prepare dinner for the family. Or when I felt like having ice cream late one night, he walked to the nearby petrol kiosk and got me my favourite ice cream without me asking.”

This couple keeps their flame alive and marriage strong by having an open communication channel. They spend regular “couple time” together by watching DVDs when the kids are asleep, or simply just chatting, and talking about other things apart from the kids.

What advice would this couple give to newly weds?

“Couples who are planning to get married should be ready to be ‘halved’, to change and to sacrifice some things. Just like the other person needs to be ‘halved’, so that together they will be ‘one’. That’s why people usually refer to their spouses as their ‘other half’.”

Part Two of Keeping The Flame Alive coming up tomorrow.

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Keeping The Flame Alive – Pt I