“I think he is not used to it so when he sees it, he gets pek chek (frustrated) then he will vacuum it up.”
The “he” in question is Annette’s husband, Raphael Foo.
Launched on February 4, this new campaign hopes to help newlyweds address the challenges of marriage in the foundational years.
Besides Annette and Raphael, marriage mentors Tan Nam Seng and Tan Sok Mian — who have been married for 33 years — were also invited to answer questions on their marital conflicts and how they navigate them.
Joked Nam Seng to Annette: “So to get him to do housework, you drop your hair lah?”
“For me, I pull my hair out when I think about it,” Raphael jumped in, much to everyone’s laughter.
For Annette and Raphael, another trick they’ve learnt over the years is to have a 24-hour rule.
“We don’t bring up issues more than 24 hours ago,” Raphael explained.
Annette elaborated: “We realised it really helps because you’re no longer ‘Aiyah, you’re always like that ah‘ because we cannot talk about issues more than 24 hours earlier.”
Nam Seng agreed with their approach. “It is like keeping short accounts so that whatever happened you close it rather than let it hang there… Don’t accumulate, don’t be a hoarder lah.”
“A hoarder of hurts, that’s what I realised a lot of people like to do,” quipped Raphael.
After all, while conflicts are unavoidable, marriages can be #SoMuchMore when we learn to fight well.
MORE MARRIAGES ARE FALLING APART
Giving more context during the launch of the campaign, June Yong, Insights Lead of Focus on the Family Singapore, said: “A recent marriage quiz we conducted in 2021 found 40% of 654 respondents reporting that they struggled to resolve conflicts with their spouse appropriately.”
In fact, research released in the same year by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) saw an increase in divorces in recent years, particularly among newlyweds.
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Specifically, 16% of couples who wedded in 2006 separated before their 10th anniversary – nearly double of those who wedded in 1987 (8.7%).
MSF also revealed that the biggest proportion of marriages that dissolved happened between the five- and 10-year mark.
Besides a possible shift in societal perception towards divorce, the increase of dual-income families means that couples have less time to care for their relationship in light of other pressing needs, noted National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser in an article by The Straits Times.
BUILDING STRONGER MARRIAGES
So how does one continue to pursue and get to know their partner better? And how can newlyweds find themselves better able to manage conflicts?
This is where Celebrate Marriage: #SoMuchMore comes in.
As an annual marriage campaign, the objective of this year’s theme, #SoMuchMore, is to encourage young married couples to discover more about themselves and their spouse, and aspire towards nurturing deeper connections and intimacy in their marriage.
“Through Celebrate Marriage: #SoMuchMore we hope to encourage and resource couples with better conflict resolution strategies and ideas to reignite the relationship with their spouse, especially when marriage can feel mundane or strained during the pandemic,” June added.
The campaign features digital content and resources, including bite-sized content on social media and a complimentary marriage quiz for couples to discover the strengths and growth areas of their relationship.
Beyond online resources, Focus on the Family also offers Connect2, a marriage prep workshop with certified trainers.
Since being emotionally charged can make resolving conflicts difficult, it can be helpful to have a neutral third party step in to guide the couple out of their challenges, shared marriage mentors Nam Seng and Sok Mian.
“Often, husbands and wives can experience a wide range of intense and conflicting emotions when navigating challenges in their relationship with their spouse,” they said.
“In our experience of journeying and equipping newlyweds with practical handles to have healthy conflict, we’ve witnessed couples overcoming gridlock, and experiencing so much more in their continued pursuit of one another.”
Hearing these reflections reminds me of the saying that though one can be quickly overpowered, two can defend themselves and a cord of three strands is not easily broken.
A marriage may be a commitment between two individuals, but it can flourish when it’s built on a strong foundation and supported by a trusted community.
Want to discover the condition of your marriage and receive free resources to strengthen your relationship? Take Love Quiz: What is the State of my Marriage? to find out more.
Focus on the Family also has a Small Group Resource: A Prayer Guide: How to Pray for Marriages in our Family, Church, and Community, consisting of reflection questions, group conversation starters, and prayer pointers for both couples and the church community.
- What are some issues that have come up in your relationship/marriage?
- How do you both usually resolve conflicts?
- What are some conflict resolution tips you can adopt?