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A Singapore Department of Statistics report indicated that couples married for five to nine years accounted for 30% of all divorces in 2017. Photo by KS KYUNG on Unsplash.

Couples in Singapore are facing unprecedented levels of distress in their marriage and family life, revealed charity Focus on the Family Singapore.

A 2016 Prudential online survey of 500 Singaporeans showed that about a quarter of married people in Singapore are thinking of divorce.

The study found that children, money, housework and amount of time spent on the phone are the top sources of marital conflict.

Some 32% of respondents felt that their partners prefer spending time with their mobile phones and not them.

The study found that children, money, housework and amount of time spent on the phone are the top sources of marital conflict.

In 2017, a total of 7,578 marriages ended in a divorce or an annulment. Although this was marginally lower than the previous year, there is still an urgent need to encourage and support married couples, especially those in their first decade of marriage.

A Singapore Department of Statistics report indicated that couples married for five to nine years accounted for 30% of all divorces in 2017. 

“When marital conflict and distress become commonplace at home, couples are left without the emotional capacity or desire for parenthood. Last year, the total fertility rate declined to a seven-year low of 1.16,” said Focus on the Family Singapore.

In response, Focus Singapore has launched Celebrate Marriage, which will run from February 8 to 19.  

The objective of this year’s theme, “Re:Connect”, is to encourage greater understanding and intimacy, especially among young married couples.

Videos by marriage mentors, articles on everything from sex to handling tech as a “third party” in the marriage and a quiz have been designed to equip and encourage married couples who are struggling to connect with their spouse.

“As humans, we tend to prefer the hype of events over the drudgery of a long journey, so as couples, we would spend more money, time and effort on preparing for our wedding (event) than for the marriage (journey),” Joanna Koh-Hoe, CEO of Focus on the Family Singapore told Salt&Light. She and husband Gary, who are marriage mentors, have been wed for 18 years.

“Every marriage will inevitably encounter differences because it’s about two unique individuals coming together as one.

“One thing my husband and I realised is that our struggles – whether in physical intimacy, emotional connection or different expectations – are common to many couples! But many people don’t have the support network of older married couples for guidance and encouragement, and often feel alone in their struggles; this makes them feel more isolated in their marital struggles.”

“Many people don’t have the support network of older married couples for guidance and encouragement, and often feel alone in their struggles.”

Gary Koh, marriage solemnizer and family life trainer at Focus Singapore, said: “We all have different personalities, dreams, habits and opinions that inevitably make it hard to see eye to eye on everything. Being intentional about intimacy is important, otherwise we enter drift mode and unknowingly the relationship stagnates and things start going downhill.”

Joanna agreed.  “Anything worthwhile requires effort and intentional investment of time and money. A great marriage requires hard work – but it has guaranteed returns. One simple thing couples can practise is to make intentional effort to reconnect each day – even if for only 10 minutes.

“What’s more important than finding the right person to marry is being the right person – before and after the wedding. If we each take effort to commit to improving ourselves, our marriage will also improve.

“Through Celebrate Marriage, we hope to encourage healthier and happier marriages, and by extension, happier children and healthier homes. The best gift parents can give their child is to love their spouse. When spouses build connection and intimacy, they become better partners in parenting and provide a secure home for raising confident kids.”

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Salt&Light

Salt&Light is a platform to facilitate marketplace unity in Singapore and the region.