Mr. and Mrs. Chia and Mr. and Mrs. Song are in their late 70s and have been married for over 50 years. Though the feelings of butterflies-in-your-stomach and excitement in their early years of marriage may have faded, they continue to choose their spouse and have never regretted their decision to marry.
The couples share how they keep their love alive, decade after decade…
1. Reflect on Your Day Together
By the 1970s, the Chia family had expanded into a family of six. Life was busy and everyday conversations for the couple were about work or their four children.
“Money was tight. I worked 12-hour days. I was stressed, and constantly doubted my ability to provide for my family. When I got home from work, I would put on a strong front and ask my kids about school and homework before going to sleep,” recalled Mr. Chia.
Lasting romance goes beyond the initial feelings of infatuation, and Mrs. Chia struggled whenever she felt her husband did not take the time to have deeper conversations with her.
“Our marriage was lacking emotional sentiment. I needed to know what he was thinking beyond ‘how’s your day at work?’” she shared.
Mr. Chia later learnt that his wife wanted a more expressive companion and he needed to make a greater effort to open up to her. This taught him to better express his feelings. To this day, they would sit each other down a few times a week and talk about any issues that are on their mind.
Having frequent intimate conversations allows you to share any concerns or worries that you may have. By taking fifteen minutes before bedtime to reconnect, couples actually build the foundation and intimacy of their marriage.
2. Romantic Dates are Powerful Tools
Mr. Song makes it a point to surprise his wife with special dates. “Of course, I love my children and grandchildren, but my wife and I also need to enjoy some alone time, away from the family.” said Mr. Song.
“Once, he took me to West Coast Park and rented a couples’ bicycle. I was laughing so hard. We are almost eight decades old you know - it was so embarrassing!” Mrs. Song quipped. “She was not as full-figured in the 1970s, and I didn’t need this much effort to peddle the bicycle then,” teased Mr. Song, as his wife gave him a light smack on the shoulder before bursting into fits of laughter.
The playful banter between the two shows that it is the simple act of retaining our inner child that can preserve the fun and laughter in a marriage.
Scheduling dates is a powerful tool in keeping the romance and passion alive. “We even dressed up to the nines on one dinner date, and he donned a suit and tie. We actually complimented each other – something we haven’t done since our early years of marriage,” gushed Mrs. Song.
As mushy as it may sound, any couple can have fun when they have cultivated a deep sense of trust and appreciation of each other.
Keep in mind there would be some days where you or your spouse may just need some time alone and not be in the mood to talk. On such days, you can still enjoy each other’s presence by watching a TV show together or reading a book in the same room.
3. Praise your Spouse, then Get Your Children to Show Them Gratitude Too
Both couples agreed that spouses should always express affection towards one another.
“A simple ‘thank you for taking care of the kids and for making dinner’ would suffice,” remarked Mrs. Chia.
Families for Life Council Member, Mrs Sarojini Padmanathan who has been married for more than 30 years, agrees wholeheartedly. She suggests, “Couples can devote time daily to talk about what goes on in their lives, understand the stress from work or share moments of happiness and joy. Even small gestures like saying or texting a simple message, “I’m thinking of you” can remind each other of the special bond they have and keep their relationship strong.”
Mrs. Song added that children should be taught to express gratitude. “I raised my children by letting them know how hard their father has worked for this house, and the happiness of our family,” she continued. Cultivating gratitude in your children can have positive ripple effects throughout the entire family.
When you know that the other party is thankful to have you, it helps you remember why you pledged to be with that special someone for life.
Two grateful hearts can go a long way towards keeping the love, respect, and passion alive in your marriage.
This article was written in collaboration with Focus On The Family Singapore, a local charity with IPC status, dedicated to empower families in Singapore with skills to build strong families and raise resilient kids.