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Friday December 13, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday December 13, 2013 MYT 6:55:29 AM
by gayathri nair
Amidst higher divorce rates, many couples work hard to keep their marriage happy.
FOR young couple Aiqa Halim and Harith Ridzuan, each day is a learning process.
Balancing their jobs and caring for their daughter is challenging enough, but they are also determined to keep the flame burning in their marriage.
Aiqa and Harith married young – she was only 22 then and he was 24 – and knew from the start they had to go into marriage with their eyes wide open. They were aware of the sacrifices they’d need to make to juggle new responsibilities, but they also believed in each other.
“We know what we are both like, as well as each other’s habits. Along the way, we have picked up some new habits too, whether good or bad.
“But when you have the yearning to improve yourself and change for the better, especially for your significant other, it truly opens your eyes and makes you realise what a relationship is and what a marriage is built on,” says Harith, who has been married for four years.
The highlight in their marriage is the birth of their daughter Hanna two years ago.
“Having Hanna has made our family unit closer. She easily puts a smile on our faces every time she enters the room,” says Aiqa.
It’s not easy shouldering the responsibilities that come with marriage and parenthood, but Aiqa and Harith say they have always looked to their parents as role models.
“From juggling work, being parents and always keeping the flame alive in our marriage, we have taken a pointer or two from our wise elders.
“It was their faith that gave us the confidence to build a family of our own,” relates Aiqa. Having good role models helped them envision what their future would look like.
Their supportive extended family network has been crucial as they navigated through their everyday challenges.
“We have been really blessed with an amazing support system in the form of our parents. While some couples might look at it as an intrusion, building a relationship with my in-laws has never been an issue. They truly play a huge role in our lives, not just as doting parents but as loving grandparents to our child.
“Hence, much like our elders, we understand the need to work, earn and provide for the family.
“With their guidance, we have learned how to cope and to always be prepared financially, spiritually and emotionally to deal with what may come,” says the young mother.
Through thick and thin
AS for newly-weds Alvin Fernandez, 28, and Maria Natasha, 29, their vow to be with each other “in sickness and in health” began long before they walked down the aisle. Alvin stayed by her side even when she was admitted to the hospital for kidney stones in 2009, and proved to be the rock in their relationship.
By the time they tied the knot, Alvin and Maria were convinced their marriage is built on a strong foundation of love, care, trust and devotion.
They also believed that being spiritual helped in building a strong, long-lasting marriage.
“While going through obstacles, Alvin and I prayed together.
“It helped us both see the positive side to our issues and how to overcome them. Who knows what obstacles we may encounter in the future? Whatever it may be, we may not be fully prepared, but we will figure them out along the way,” says Maria.
The couple also believe in keeping communications open.
“A simple question like ‘How was your day?’ is good enough to break the ice. Who better than you significant other is there to share your stories with? No matter how bad a day we’ve had, or how much trouble we go through throughout the day, we make it a point to share our stories with each other and never go to bed upset,” shares Maria, adding she learns new things every day in her conversations with her husband.
They also like to keep the romance alive in their relationship by making the effort to go on dinner dates, short getaways and through simple gestures like breakfast in bed.
Still in love
EVEN after 41 years of being married to each other, retiree K. Selvaratnam can still easily make his wife, Rajini Ponnurajah giggle like a schoolgirl. He still teases her, and cracks jokes for her, and she still finds his silly antics hilarious. They genuinely enjoy each other’s company, and are openly affectionate with one another. They don’t do romantic candlelit dinners or bouquets of roses, but have built their loving relationship on shared responsibilities.
The couple who brought up three daughters say they have simply always been there for each other, supporting one another through the hard times.
Selvaratnam, 72, also shares how he strongly believes in talking openly with his wife, and finding the root cause of problems together.
“Throughout our marriage, whenever we face any issues, we solve them by communicating and discussing them openly together.
“One of the challenges we faced as a married couple was when we decided to buy our first property. Interest rates were high and my wife understood the need for me to work longer hours. She lent a helping hand by managing our finances wisely,” he says taking pride in his wife’s financial savvy.
Their advice to newlyweds or those in relationships is to understand and know their partner well.
“Share your needs, wants and aspirations with your partners in order to ensure harmony in the household,” says Rajini, 64.
They also believe in resolving their issues without involving others to avoid further conflicts. “As a couple, attempt a clear resolution. No matter how bleak it may look like today, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel,” says Selvaratnam.
Elusive 'happily ever after'
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Family & Community, newly-weds, older couples, marriage
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