The challenges of modern marriages are not uncommon for expats in Singapore – and Singaporeans, too.
Singaporean Candy Lim-Soliano, co-founder of The Fashion Collective Singapore and a professional writer and editor, will have been married to her Singaporean hubby, Paul, for 14 years this year, though they’ve actually been together since the age of 16! (Paul used to sit right behind her in class and would pass her little handwritten notes to make her laugh.)
Since then, they’ve become parents to three active boys, aged 9, 8 and 6.
Despite the fact that they’ve been at this marriage thing for quite some time, Candy says she and Paul face issues like any couple.
“We’re both headstrong and opinionated, so what starts out as a casual debate can sometimes get rather intense,” she says.
“When that happens, one of us will remind the other to stop and listen, and consider the other person’s point of view. Or, we’ll agree to disagree.”
Ironically, time – or rather, the lack of it – is a constant challenge for the Solianos, due to their busy schedules. “I don’t think it’s easy for us to get really sick of each other, because we seldom ever have enough of it together!” she says, laughing.
That said, Candy – a self-described “mombie” – says juggling childcare without her husband in town while also managing her own career is definitely a source of stress.
“As an officer in the military, Paul is required to travel frequently for work. Because ‘Daddy’s work’ doesn’t allow the same flexibility that Mummy has, the day-to-day logistics of raising the kids has naturally fallen on me,” says Candy, describing a common scenario for many trailing spouses and even expat parents who both work in or outside of the home.
“I work when my little men are at school, or in bed. There’s no sleep for the weary – mombies survive on coffee and wine!”
Despite the time apart, Candy strives to keep Paul’s bond with the kids alive with little acts of love. She encourages the boys to make ‘Welcome Home’ cards for Dad, or talks to them about how Paul works hard to care for the whole family.
Most importantly, she keeps everything that she says about Paul positive. “I’ve seen the negative effects of couples who project their personal dissatisfactions with their spouses onto their children and, for me, that’s an absolute no-no. I told myself right from the start to never involve our kids in an argument, regardless of how angry I may get with my husband. It wouldn’t be fair to him – and it would be especially unfair to the kids.”
Candy’s marriage advice: it all boils down to the “little everyday things” like being kind and appreciative of each other, recognising wellmeaning intentions (“even if they don’t turn out the way you envisioned them to be”), taking a keen interest in your partner’s life and pulling your weight in the marriage.
“I’m very much in love with the man I married,” gushes. “We’ve been together for 21 years, but I still get butterflies in my tummy.”
By Hazel Joanne Vincent De Paul, The Finder, February 2017
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