According to a recent report by the Department of Statistics Singapore, there has been an increase in the number of marriages registered since the 1980s but also in the number of divorces and annulments for the same period. Stats show that marriages don’t last as long as they used to.
What could be the key to a long-lasting marriage, especially in this day and age where technology has changed so much how we communicate and build relationships?
Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore gathered advice from couples who have been happily married for years.
1. Opposite personalities don’t necessarily make for bad relationships; it’s how you handle relationships that matters
While it’s often believed that opposing personalities are the recipe for a bad relationship and that differing views are likely to end up in conflict, some couples we spoke to had a different experience.
“There is no true synergy between two persons, only compromise and understanding of the other person’s needs,” said Ting Huat Seng, 54. Huat Seng has been married to Angela Ng, 49, for 26 years.
Different personalities can in fact make relationships work, rather than causing them to fail.
“My wife and I have opposite personalities. I am an introvert, she is an extrovert. She has a very strong character, I tend to be laid back. But in our 29 years of marriage, this has been a boon, not a bane in our relationship,” said Martin, 53. The man, who only wants to be known by his first name, believes him and his wife complement each other and make up for one another’s weaknesses.
2. It is not necessarily good to involve third parties to resolve issues between a couple
While there may be many bystanders willing to give their input on your personal problems, you may want to think twice before involving them.
If it’s just a regular disagreement, couples should settle it among themselves. Communication is fundamental to a healthy relationship, and couples should practise regular and open communication to better understand each other.
It’s important to “talk calmly and be mindful of the other person’s feelings when expressing our opinion. We also have to be respectful of our differences,” said Fiona Remigious Deocampo, 53.
However, some situations, such as those involving abuse, may require third-party interference. In such situations, people close to the couple, a religious counsellor or even the law may need to be involved to sort out the issues.
3. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder
The character and personality of your spouse will have more bearing on your marital bliss than your spouse’s looks. Remember that beauty is subjective. “Love allows a spouse to overlook the shortcomings of the other. It allows both to endure the challenges that can buffet the marriage,” said Martin.
Cultivate your personality. It’s the little things that you do that will define how “beautiful” your spouse finds you. A tip if you’re still at the dating stage: look out for red flags. “How does your date treat the waiter, the security guard, the elderly? How does he or she react in crisis situations? How does he or she handle stress?” said Martin.
4. Compromises are healthy, but they should not be at the expense of your core values and principles
According to Huat Seng, compromise can indicate a deal “where both parties win or lose a bit” but also “a win-win situation”. Compromising or making sacrifices when it comes to minor arguments can indeed build the foundation of a strong relationship.
However, issues that involve compromising one’s moral values “should not be taken lightly because they will have damaging consequences on the marriage and family,” said Martin.
5. Communication is not only words; actions are are equally as important
Constant communication and transparency build trust. Talk about your likes and dislikes, things that bother you, work stress and almost anything under the sun. Always clear your doubts with your significant other, rather than relying on what third parties have to say.
“Beyond words, actions are just as important,” said Angela. Constant shows of care and concern allow relationships to flourish. Holding hands, frequent hugs and writing surprise notes are just some of the little things couples can do to nurture their relationship.
6. Keep the fire alive
The couples that Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore spoke to all said that romance doesn’t have to end with age. As you grow older together, continue to go on dates, do things together, send flowers. Don’t forget important dates or wait for special occasions to show your love. The simplest things such as going for a walk or eating at your favourite restaurant can in fact be the best memories.
Ultimately there is no secret to a successful marriage
A successful marriage is the work of two selfless individuals putting their spouse ahead of their selfish interests. It requires hard work. With tolerance, patience and trust, love may flourish.
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