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Marriages, especially new ones, were badly affected by the pandemic. Focus on the Family Singapore launched Celebrate Marriage to help newlyweds cope with the challenges of marriage in the early years. Photo by JAN Pictures on Unsplash.

Reuben Ng, 26 and Ronice Li, 25, did not have a whirlwind romance. But their journey to the altar was a whirlwind affair.

They had to put together their wedding in just 41 days. Three weeks after they said their “I dos”, they moved to another country to start their married life. All this in the middle of the pandemic.

“The moment we landed overseas, we were confronted with real life.”

Said Reuben: “Our friends joked that it felt like we were experiencing an extended honeymoon and, on some days, it does feel like the dream.”

Yet the realities of adapting to a new life and a new country can seem a little like a nightmare at times as well.

“The moment we landed overseas, we were confronted with real life – learning how to make the marriage work as two very different people coming together to make our lives one.” 

Pandemic stress 

Admittedly, Reuben and Ronice faced more than their fair share of newlywed stress. But this season of ongoing pandemic has not been easy on other couples entering into marriage either.

According to findings by MSF last year, there was an increase in the number of married couples calling it quits.

On top of the usually stressors including managing finances, expectations of in-laws and family planning, they also have to handle unique Covid-19 challenges such as job transitions and adjusting to shared workspaces at home.

According to findings by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) last year, there was an increase in the number of married couples calling it quits, especially among those who were recently married.

Keely Ng, 29, has experienced the strain of the pandemic on her marriage.

“Last year, in the midst of many disagreements, my husband and I went through a really down and emotional season.

“We both ended up crying while talking through the issues.” 

It was one of the most difficult conversations the couple had ever had. But things took a turn for the better when her husband gave her a hug and encouraged her to release the emotions she had been holding in.  

“Learning to compromise and communicating when we don’t even feel like talking deepened our connection with one another.” 

Said Keely: “It’s such things that surprise me about our marriage. That gentle and sensitive side to him was something I had never experienced, even after three years of marriage.

“Learning to compromise during challenging times and communicating when we don’t even feel like talking deepened our connection with one another.” 

Marriage Mentors and Trainers of Connect2 Tan Nam Seng and his wife Sok Mian who run the marriage preparation workshop by Focus on the Family Singapore (FOTF) believe that couples can be taught to navigate conflict and reach deeper levels of intimacy as a result. 

Said Nam Seng: “Often, husbands and wives can experience a wide range of intense and conflicting emotions when navigating challenges in their relationship with their spouse.  

“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.” 

Celebrate Marriage to strengthen relationships

To help newlyweds address the challenges of marriage in the foundational years, FOTF launched Celebrate Marriage on February 4.

With the theme #SoMuchMore, the aim is to encourage young married couples to discover and understand more about themselves and their spouses, and to aspire towards nurturing deeper connections and intimacy in their marriage. 

“The nature of our arguments is the product of our conversations during peacetime.”

Said June Yong, Insights Lead of Focus Singapore: “A recent marriage quiz we conducted in 2021 found 40% of 654 respondents reporting that they struggled to resolve conflicts with their spouse appropriately.

“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.” 

The campaign features digital content and resources, including daily bite-sized content on social media and a complimentary marriage reflection quiz for couples to discover the strengths and growth areas of their relationship. 

Reuben is already beginning to learn a thing or two about managing marital conflicts.

“Something that we’ve learnt over the past couple of months is that the nature of our arguments is the product of our conversations during peacetime. 

“It’s the intentional small things that we do to sow into our relationship every day that makes a difference.”

“By sharing openly what is important to communicate when we are fighting and making small, achievable commitments to each other on how we can make amends, we harvest lessons from these conversations and become better prepared when the next fight occurs.” 

He and his wife Ronice had their eye on each other since they were in their teens and tied the knot after dating for more than five years.

Their relationship has come a long way since.

Quipped Ronice: “It’s only been four months since we got married. But we probably went past the ‘honeymoon’ period a long time ago.

“It’s the intentional small things that we do to sow into our relationship every day that makes a difference.

“So, even in your 50s, 70s, every relationship has the potential to be in a ‘honeymoon’ phase as long as you are intentional with it.” 


Here’s where to find out more about Celebrate Marriage: #SoMuchMore by Focus on the Family.


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About the author

Christine Leow

Christine believes there is always a story waiting to be told, which led to a career in MediaCorp News. Her idea of a perfect day involves a big mug of tea, a bigger muffin and a good book.

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