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Saturday, 17 March 2018 00:00

The Path towards a Harmonious Marriage

Written by  Joyce Ng Kim Lean / KL & Selangor

On March 17, 2018, English Group had its monthly Fellowship, themed “The Path towards a Harmonious Marriage”. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]

The theme, “The Path towards a Harmonious Marriage”, for the Tzu Chi English Group March Fellowship was both timely and fitting in the current materialistic climate of tumultuous family relationships and broken marriages. Two couples were on hand to relate their views and experiences.


The fellowship began with Robert Chong, the session facilitator, expressing the importance of harbouring love and gratitude from within ourselves at all times. He offered that a life that is built around the Jing Si Aphorisms and a commitment towards charity and helping the needy would be far reaching and meaningful, not only towards the community but also within our homes.

The topic “How Couples Get Along”, was shared by volunteer Chan Foong Yee, her husband, See Chee Nang, and their son, Wei Jian. Before joining Tzu Chi in May 2006, Foong Yee’s relationship with her husband was a constant squabble. Theirs, was a turbulent relationship with the wife as a noisy aggressor while the husband adopted a stoic demeanour. Foong Yee admitted that she was a self-proclaimed “queen” of the family who did no wrong. Her hot temper and “win lose” attitude exacerbated the situation. Her tendency to get mad at the drop of a hat and inclination to find fault with Chee Nang would result in endless rows and arguments.

Chee Nang on the other hand, was harsh towards their sons especially the eldest who is now married. His attachment and care towards his own mother would add further distractions and complications for the dysfunctional family.

The situation started to become better when a Tzu Chi volunteer, Cynthia Tey successfully persuaded her to join Tzu Chi. Her involvement in its activities put her in the company of caring and compassionate folks. Her absence from home help to alleviate the toxic home atmosphere. Meanwhile, Chee Nang had to pick up some of the domestic chores and responsibilities. The happy consequence was that each started to appreciate the other.

They started to make an effort to reconnect and Foong Yee eventually convinced her husband to join her in Tzu Chi. “Both of us do not easily lose our temper these days. The journey has been long and the compassionate route that we took in Tzu Chi together has made this change possible. My anger has been replaced with love and his irritability with a smile.”

Their son Wei Jian was joyful at seeing his parents turning over a new leaf. His father had quit smoking and gambling and is willing to listen, more forgiving, generous, cheerful, and more open minded. The family has turned vegan and into recycling activities. Likewise, Wei Jian’s wife was glad to see the positive change in her father-in-law and overall family atmosphere.

Secrets to a blissful marriage

The second couple who shared were volunteers Chim Chee Keong and Christine. The loving couple with two grown-up sons begun with a good-humoured recollection by revealing that they had courted for eight years before finally tying the knot. “I was still hesitant on the Registration Day as he actually turned up late!” Christine recalled with a smile. “I am a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of person by nature though I am being warned on numerous occasions not to take her for granted,” Chim responded good-naturedly.

They pre-empted their sharing by noting that they were not professional marriage counsellors but only a couple who had known and been together for almost 40 years. They were blessed, apart from Malaysia, to have worked and lived in countries like Brunei, Singapore, Hong Kong and China throughout their professional lives and had first-hand experience of the life in each of these locations.

“There are many factors which can lead towards a successful relationship but to us, the ones that we hold essential are ‘acceptance, trust, life balance, breathing space, communication, flexibility and humour’, not necessarily in that order,” said Chim.

For them, a marriage is a journey. “There will be ups and downs and occasions when feelings were hurt due to lack of mindfulness. One cannot expect things to be blissful all the time. Whenever we have a disagreement, we will try to talk it over promptly so as not to allow ill-feelings or resentment to build up. Communication is key,” said the couple.

It helped that both are avid readers, more so for Chim, having acquired the habit from young. “I have wide interests especially in sports and read all kinds of stuff, fiction and non-fiction like novels, autobiographies, politics, sports, philosophy, investments, etc. It helps to broaden my mind and knowledge about things around me. It is important that we build our network of friends and pursue our interests.”

For this couple, giving space to each other is crucial especially since they retired from corporate life years ago. “We would consciously sit apart in social gatherings when appropriate just so we can socialize with a wider circle. We make it a point to go on separate trips or outings with our own friends occasionally.”

Balance between career and family was a commitment from the beginning. “It was tough when both of us were working as we had high pressure jobs. Mid-way through, when I got assigned to China, we decided that she should quit her well-paid job to spend full time looking after our two boys while I earn the dough. It was a major sacrifice on her part and a major turning point for our family as we realized that our children needed more parental guidance. We have never regretted the decision as we have witness many friends, in their headlong pursuit of material gains or career success, ending up with their children going off-track due to lack of love and attention” said Chim.

“It is important that we learn to articulate our thoughts, feelings and ideas in an open and honest manner. We share household chores and divide the responsibilities. For instance, she will do the cooking while I will do the cleaning. Being mindful of simple things like these is one way to achieve harmony,” said Chim.

To Christine, it is vital to release our anger and be forgiving. “When there are differences in opinions or actions, both parties should be flexible and be willing to compromise to arrive at a win-win situation. We should accept that each of us are unique and different. Learn to respect that we are from different backgrounds and may have divergent views. Do not take things too seriously and have a laugh at ourselves once in a while.”

The session was both stimulating and refreshing as the audience had the opportunity to listen to two contrasting family situations and their corresponding solutions. It offered a broad perspective to the attendees to reflect upon their own relationships and provide useful tips to apply in their daily life, be it in their relationships with their partners or others.

 

Volunteer Chan Foong Yee (centre) and husband, See Chee Nang, shared about “How Couples Get Along”. Their son Wei Jian was glad to witness their positive changes, which made him appreciate every second spent together. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]   Volunteer Chim Chee Keong and wife, Christine, shared that communication is the key when disagreements arise. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]

Volunteer Chan Foong Yee (centre) and husband, See Chee Nang, shared about “How Couples Get Along”. Their son Wei Jian was glad to witness their positive changes, which made him appreciate every second spent together. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]
 
Volunteer Chim Chee Keong and wife, Christine, shared that communication is the key when disagreements arise. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]
 
The attendees listened to the sharing with great interest. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]  

The attendees listened to the sharing with great interest. [Photograph by Ong Boon Hock]