Mr Chiang Khee Yan and Madam Tan Ah Lek met at a friend’s gathering when she was 17 and he was 24. They dated and got engaged a year after. 4 months later, they were married on 26 September 1961. That is more than 55 years ago! What are the elements of a successful marriage? To the Chiangs, the elements of a successful marriage are tolerance and “give-and-take”. The couple celebrated their 50th year of marriage with a family dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel 5 years ago. Mr and Mrs Chiang have two sons in their 50s and 4 grandchildren. They enjoy travelling these days.
Compulsory registration of civil marriages was started 55 years ago following the enactment of the Women’s Charter Singapore in September 1961. 120 couples solemnized their marriages at the ROM that month.
Before September 1961, it was not compulsory for couples to register civil marriages. There were many couples then who only went through traditional or customary marriage ceremonies, which were valid under the Singapore law.
In September last year, ROM had invited couples who registered their marriages in September 1961 to step forward to receive a commemorative marriage certificate. 3 couples including Mr and Mrs Chiang received the certificate.
Minister Tan Chuan-Jin hoped that the stories of Mr and Mrs Chiang, as well as the others, will inspire fellow Singaporeans as marriage is the foundation for any family. According to the minister, marriage is important and should be duly recognised, not just in a customary manner but in a civil perspective as well. All the protection that comes with it should be given due regard as well.
For another couple, Mr Sun Boon Huat, 80, and Madam Lim Chwee Kim, 76, the elements of a successful marriage are:
- Get along;
- Give in to each other; and
- Let go of disagreements by the next day.
See: Neo Chai Chin, “Six couples celebrate 55 years of marriage by renewing vows”, Today, 7 December 2016
As a divorce lawyer in Singapore, I have seen many couples who divorced as they are unable to get along. As the long-marriage couples in the article suggested, the elements of a successful marriage are to get along and give in to each other. This cannot be more true but more often than not, it is easier said than done.
A couple, no matter how similar in behaviour and character, will have differences. The elements of a successful marriage really is about letting go of unhappiness and not always insisting of going your way. Remember, to love is to give.
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