Have you ever wondered what life after marriage is like? And what happens after the honeymoon period is over?
We speak to two young couples, Chew Yin Xi (33) and Joshua Cheng (33) as well as Nicole Chan (27) and Zhee Yong Tan (27) on what it’s really like when two become one.
Just a little bit of context: Yin Xi and Joshua engage with Focus on the Family Singapore‘s (FOTF) materials regularly while Nicole and Zhee Yong were previously featured on FOTF’s Instagram where they shared on their newlywed journey thus far.
Nicole and Zhee Yong started dating in 2018 and got married in March last year. After getting married, they found themselves having to pick up domestic skills also became “paw-rents” to a pair of rabbits and a hamster.
“Although learning to take care of our own space and ‘adulting’ haven’t been a bed of roses, Zhee Yong has always been teachable and present,” affirmed Nicole, who also complimented her husband on his handyman and baking skills.
As for Zhee Yong, he saw how Nicole’s motherly instincts became more apparent in how thoughtfully she cares for their pets.
“I was pleasantly surprised by her traits: They are much more pronounced than I had previously thought.”
Zhee Yong has also come to appreciate how easily contented Nicole is; she is happy when she gets to have her favourite fruit or a nice cup of coffee.
Yin Xi and Joshua dated for three years before tying the knot three years ago. The couple shared that, since then, marriage life has given them many opportunities to get to know each other on a deeper level.
Yin Xi shared: “I have learnt that Joshua is a very attentive and meticulous person, from the way he washes dishes and hangs the laundry to how he takes care of me when I am unwell.
“That surprised me as I have never seen him day in and day out before we got married. Living together has allowed me to see him live out his values consistently.”
Similarly, living together made Joshua appreciate Yin Xi’s qualities more.
“I have seen how Yin Xi interacts with her friends and colleagues, especially on those days that I work from home. It shows me how likable and genuine she is towards her friends and colleagues,” he revealed.
“Not that I was surprised, but I discovered the extent of how genuine and loyal she is towards the friends whom she holds dear.”
For better or for worse
Yin Xi and Joshua also recounted the days when they had to learn how to adjust to each other’s living habits.
This was exacerbated by the Circuit Breaker which meant there was a significant increase in the amount of contact time immediately after their wedding.
One conflict they had to resolve together was learning how to separate me-time from together-time.
“Joshua likes to wind down by chatting about how our days went, whereas I like to decompress by having some me time,” Yin Xi described.
While living together is fun, Yin Xi and Joshua had to find a balance between having their own space and spending quality time together.
“We discussed this on a few occasions and, over time, found a balance between spending quality time together and giving each other space to decompress on our own,” they said.
The couple has also come to see that marriage is so much more than some ideal of cooking breakfast together on weekends or “pillow talks” at night.
“I have learnt that marriage is a commitment to stick with your spouse,” said the Chengs.
“We ride it out with each other in the good and bad times. We are a team that tackles the problems that life throws at us together!”
For Nicole and Zhee Yong, who have been married for less than a year, they are still learning how best to resolve conflicts.
“Often, our more dramatic conflicts arise from small issues like saying one person isn’t doing enough around the house or getting calculative with the amount of time or work the other has been doing at home,” Nicole noted.
As someone who has been diagnosed with panic disorder, high levels of anxiety can also further increase tensions.
“Sometimes, the conflicts would even escalate to shouting or melting down,” Nicole revealed. “So, when such issues come up, we do our best to de-escalate and process our emotions in our own hearts.”
For example, Zhee Yong would pray and ask God to help him to focus on showing love instead of “winning the argument”.
Nicole would try to surrender her feelings to God and hold her tongue until she was in the right mind to say something constructive.
Previously, while they were still dating, Nicole and Zhee Yong had marriage mentors who taught them conflict resolution based on each other’s love languages.
“Zhee Yong calms down when I hold his hand and say ‘I’m sorry’,” Nicole recounted. “And he will try to acknowledge my emotions and intentionally give me space instead of pressuring me to feel better.
“Marriage is where we get to see the absolute worst in each other yet still choose and commit to love one another because we are in this ride of a lifetime together.”
Advice for other newlyweds
Rounding off their stories, the newlyweds highlighted some tips for those who will be getting married soon.
“We’ve found that it’s easy to get caught up in the daily stresses of life and it’s easy to start to take our partner’s presence for granted,” Nicole and Zhee Yong shared.
“So, it helps to intentionally set aside uninterrupted time to do things together, which can be something as simple as spending an evening playing a card game with each other!”
The couple also emphasised the importance of having older mentors to confide in: “When both parties are unable to resolve a disagreement, having a third perspective helps tremendously.
“If not for our mentors, our relationship would probably not have reached this stage!”
She shared that much of what she found there was very relatable: “I appreciated the stories of different married couples as they shared vulnerably on their marriage journey.
“It showed me that every marriage is a work-in-progress and we will continue to refine one another through the years.”
Her husband, Joshua, agreed: “There is no typical couple, so don’t compare yourselves with others. Every couple has their own journey to take and their own battles to fight.
“Also, a marriage grows stronger when you communicate and resolve issues positively, not by winning arguments.
“So remember: Tackle the issues, don’t fight your spouse!”
Young couples, don’t feel ready for married life? Check out FOTF’s marriage preparation course, Connect2, which aims to address common issues that newlyweds face.
For married couples, take the Love Quiz: What is the State of my Marriage? if you want to assess the condition of your marriage or want a resource to strengthen it.
FOTF 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.
- Which of the couples’ successes or struggles spoke to you personally?
- How might you incorporate some of the lessons in this article into home-life with your spouse?
- Take a moment to lift yourself, your spouse and your marriage up to God in prayer. Don’t rush!