March 3, 2006

Marriage and The 100th Entry

This blog has been 7 months old and this is my 100th entry! How time flies....

Was having dinner with my mum the other day and I asked her a question - "How was it is like when you and dad went dating last time? How was the courtship like?"

Mum let me into some details of the courtship which we as kids never knew...
1. Dad and mum were colleagues in a (now extinct) departmental store in town.
2. Dad was not a romantic man. He doesn't buy flowers for mum nor do nice things for her. Even though mum stays near their workplace, dad has never sent/walked her home. After work, mum will walk home and dad will take a bus home.
3. Although dad was not a typical romantic, he would purposely arrange his off-days with his supervisor to be the same as mum's, so that they can go dating (this I heard from the supervisor, whom now I know as 'uncle')
4. Dad was not well off at all but mum didn't mind him and didn't mind being frugal with him.
5. Dad was not a good looking, handsome man but mum didn't mind him. My mum is very pretty when she was young... of course she is still now!
6. After the departmental store closed down, dad went to be a bartender at a hotel. He was always surrounded by many different ladies (due to the work environment) but he did not succumb to temptation (not that mum knew :P) and mum trusted him.
7. Although dad was not rich, he would scrimp and save to buy mum a set of jewellery (those 4 piece combination of necklace, ear rings, bracelet and ring... in diamond) for their wedding.
8. Dad was mum's first boyfriend.

Dad is a honest, down-to-earth, simple, non-ambitious (I guess he can't be too much of one when he was also not very highly educated) guy... I guess such qualities attracted mum. Dad is also the type who does not express much of his feelings (even to us as kids) to mum (is this typical of men? or Asian men? :P). Mum is kind, gentle, pretty, tolerant... tolerant because I have heard how her sister-in-laws (my aunties) and her mother-in-law (my grandma) were not very kind and nice to her but my mum remained nice to them. E.g. my grandma prefer grandsons. So when I was born (being the eldest), she did not visit mum nor me at the hospital. It was my grandpa who boiled soups and visited my mum. Over the many years, grandma and my aunties gradually realised that she is true and kind so they began to change their attitude towards her...

That was a side-track... but really I was just thinking about how marriages nowadays will and can last 'till death do us part'. The Singapore government is now trying to promote strengthening marriages. To quote the newspapers:

THE Government is promoting programmes to strengthen marriages, after the first large-scale study of divorces here put its finger on what made unions work or fall apart.

The study of more than 1,700 divorcees and about 1,900 married respondents raised the same red flags that had been waved by marriage counsellors for years.

The risk factors include a hasty courtship, long hours spent at work and away from one's spouse, and the arrival of a baby when a couple are unprepared for parenthood.

Sociologist, who completed the study last year said: 'You can't just tie the knot and then go through daily life without conscientiously working on improving spousal relations and expect your marriage to last.'

The study found that couples were more likely to break up if they:
- married because of family pressure or to get a flat.
- were unhappy with their spouse's long working hours.
- were not prepared for marriage.
- had no children.

Counsellors said the study confirmed their experience that it takes more than love to keep a marriage going.

Also, marriage is not a constant as couples change as they go through different stages of their lives.

While the stress factors may be age-old, the rising rate of divorce is an indication that couples are no longer willing to remain in failed marriages. Women, especially, get married nowadays not for economic security but for love and companionship.

Couples who were happy with the amount of time they spent together, and talked to each other about what was important to them, were less likely to split up.

Seven in 10 divorcees blamed their marriage breakdowns on poor communication.

Looks like marriage surely isn't a bed of roses. Whoever said it was? Although dad and mum are not Christians, I thank God that they have a relatively happy marriage. There are friends I know whose parents do not have happy marriages. Yes, dad and mum do have their little arguments here and there but they would still go out on 'dates' and show their love for each other in practical and non-romantic ways.

I must say that I have also heard encouraging stories about how parents of a friend, separated for many years and still came back together 20 years (I think) later... how my cousin was on the brink of divorce but eventually still came back happily together...

Is there a secret formula to happy and long marriages? Well I'm not sure (since I'm not married) but I believe that as Christians, as long as both are God-fearing man and woman, striving to live in godliness and holiness to God, happy godly marriages are possible. Of course the husbands are to love their wives, to present them holy before God... and wives to submit to husbands and respect them. If we can understand God's purpose for earthly marriages and seek to obey Him, I believe happy marriages are possible. Its just sad that divorce rates are on the rise all over the world... this is the sinful nature of men - to rebel against God's purposes and intention for marriage.

Hmm, I can't wait for that final marriage in heaven... :)

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