Fei Yue Community Services conducts the one-day “Marriage Support Programme” in support of “transnational marriages” involving a Singaporean and a non-resident. 800 married couples attended the course in 2015. Some couples attend the programme as part of the non-resident spouses’ applications for long-term visit pass.
Social worker Mr Justin Paul is one of the instructors at the course. In the programme, Mr Paul discusses ways to manage conflicts and answer the participants’ questions on housing policies, employment and immigration. He would also stress the importance for both the foreign spouses and their Singaporean partners’ families to try to get along. Cultural and communication differences could be a source of conflicts, especially if the foreign spouses end up living with their spouses’ families in Singapore.
See: Pearl Lee, “Foreign spouses get timely help to adapt”, The Straits Times, 30 October 2016
Such programmes will not eliminate family and spousal tensions completely. However, they serve to provide Singaporeans and their foreign spouses with an idea on the issues that may crop up along the way. Even local spouses find it difficult to communicate with their in-laws at times. Foreign spouses, especially those who do not speak the same language, will likely encounter more difficulties. This may give rise to conflicts and when conflicts build up, divorce may become a real possibility.
As a family lawyer, I encourage all stakeholders (not just the married couple, but the couple’s family members as well) to endeavour to understand more about each other’s cultures and be more tolerant. Sometimes, it takes more than two hands to clap.
Harmony breeds longevity.
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