Millennials. Let’s face it, we’re mostly struggling when it comes to relationships. And that is despite the convenience of dating apps such as Tinder, or Love Meets Bagel.
We have technology that gives us instant communication, yet we can’t express our genuine feelings for fear we might end up being ghosted (when he stops texting without any information given).
But how did our parents and grandparents end up staying together for so long?
Since Valentine’s day is in less than a week, I decided to ask older couples about their marriage. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Rita and Rufus (Married for 30 years)
What was your first date like?
Rita: “Not long after meeting him, he told me that he wanted to open a bank account. (Rita worked at a bank). After doing that, he suggested that we have lunch at McDonalds.
I suggested that we could go Dutch. But he said ‘no’ — he wanted to spend on me. I then told him that I wasn’t sure whether we’d like each other and if we break up, I didn’t want him to think he’s wasted his money on me.”
When did you know that your partner was the one for you?
Rufus: “When I was introduced to her by my future brother-in-law. I knew that as the days went by, I found that she is a caring, capable and strong character. When I first met her, I thought she was very pretty, very confident and strong.”
What does Rufus do for you that tells you he loves you?
Rita: “He is a very caring person. Before marriage, I used to live in Shah Alam while he lived in Cheras.
During his off days, he would get up very early in the morning just so that he could drive all the way to Shah Alam from his place to pick me up and send me to work.
And to this day he still does that. When it’s his off days, he will drive me to work and pick me up too.”
Rita: “Another time was when I once took a loan for my brother-in-law and it was from a loan shark. They would harass me and even come to my office. He came and rescued me, and he even settled the loan for me. That’s when I knew he loved me.”
What is your fondest memory together?
“We’re still living the memory. We’re blessed to be together for so long with 4 wonderful kids and building a life together.”
What is your secret to a long lasting marriage?
Rita: “#1 Put God first. #2 Trust. #3 No jealousy. #4 Understanding. #5 Making love whenever we can.
It doesn’t mean sex only. WhatsApp or a call or surprising me for lunch or giving gifts for each other not necessary (birthdays or anniversaries).”
Rufus: “As a husband, always keep silent. Happy wife, happy life.”
2. Kaseng & Teresa (Married for 28 years)
How did you first meet?
Kaseng: “We got to know each other while working in the same travelling agency. I asked her out on a date one day and we had our first date at The Ship along Jalan Sultan Ismail. After a few months of dating, we decided to move together.”
How did you know your partner was the right one?
Kaseng: “We were never right for each other. We’ve always fought, but at the same time we could never live apart from each other. We eventually learned to understand each other as well as appreciate one another.”
Teresa: “I learned to appreciate him when he takes care of me especially at times when I am sick. When I need him the most, he’s always there to take care of everything; there will be milk in the fridge, the plants are watered and the kids are sent to school. I know I can depend on him.”
Kaseng: “As a man, there are only 2 rules to a happy marriage: Rule #1: Never say no to your wife. Rule #2: If you think otherwise, refer to #1.”
How do you manage to overcome conflict and reconcile over the years?
Kaseng: “We’ve never truly overcome every conflict. Rather, we learned to appreciate one another and agree to disagree. In time, we also learned to respect each other and our differences. My partner is first a friend, business partner second and wife third.”
What did you find most attractive about your partner?
Kaseng: “She’s bold. I like that she’s daring and so unafraid to do something not many people would dare to do. But of course, when I first met her, what attracted me the most was her sexy white pants.”
Teresa: “I liked that he was very generous and big-hearted. He has always been very generous with his colleagues, and never once complained about a bill he foots.
He always gives freely even if he doesn’t have much and he’s very confident. He knows what he wants, so always look for a person with focus.”
What is your secret to a lasting marriage?
“Till today, we are still learning and still practicing. We can’t say that we’ve mastered it and have been there and done that, but we’re growing together and we always encourage the other person to go on. We always depend on one another and stick together through the good times and the bad. Life is still exciting for us and we continue to give each other space for growth.”
3. Tony & Susan (Married for 41 years)
How did you first get to know each other?
Susan: “We were in our late teens – around 18 or 19 when we first started dating. I knew my husband through my classmate whom I’ve been close friends with. He was her older brother.
When I was 23 years old, we decided to get married – the year was 1979. We just celebrated our 40th anniversary last year.”
How did he first ask you out?
Susan: “We were Catholics. When we first started dating, we would go to Novena together (sunset prayers). Reason being is because Tony used to work in a timber estate where he would grade timber in the jungle so he would be away for most of the days.
When he came back for the weekend, he would call me up to meet up at church and go for the Novena then we’ll go out for dinner after that.”
How did you know your partner was The One for you?
Susan: “Actually we would not have gotten married earlier if it wasn’t for my parents. They did not approve of our relationship and we were afraid they might try to break us up.
Popo (Tony’s mother) however, liked me and so she proposed that Tony come over to ask for my hand in marriage.
I came to know that Tony is very kind, and gentlemanly. He may be hot-tempered sometimes, but he’s always been kind.”
Tony: “I knew she’s very beautiful. Even today she’s always been beautiful to me. I love her because she’s kind, very helpful and a very, very good cook. She would always feed me the best food and I love that she’s gentle and patient.
Even though I may be hot-tempered sometimes, I like that she has always been patient with me and would often say encouraging words.”
What advice can you give young people for a lasting marriage?
Tony: “Anybody can easily fall in and out of love. My number 1 advice is this. Be patient, patient, patient. You are loving someone outside of you, and accepting another person’s life is not easy.”
Tony: “That part is tedious because the other person’s way of life may be different from yours. You have to accept and be patient if you love that person, and never be angry at the same time your partner is angry.”
Susan: “Wait till it’s the right time before reaching out to reconcile.”
Susan: “Communication is important. When communication dies, the relationship also dies. And when you start a relationship, you must always start honestly. Because when you start a relationship with a lie, it will slowly build into a cancer and it can destroy any relationship.”
4. Catherine & Raymond (Married 35 years)
How did you first get to know each other?
Catherine: “We met through a close friend in college. Back in 1978, I was just a student and Raymond was about to study in England. We were just friends at that time, but there was definitely some chemistry. We came to agree that we will meet again when he returns back to England, and we would correspond through letters.”
What happened when you met again after he came back from England?
Catherine: “How we met again was purely coincidental. At that time, I was pursuing my career as a singer and sang at a lounge by the bar. It was one of those nights when a friend of Raymond’s invited him for a night out and they happened to visit my bar.”
Raymond: “When I saw her singing at the bar, I immediately recognized her. I then sent for a song request, asking for the song ‘You Light Up My Life’, and specifically signed ‘from Raymond Loh’. I knew she used to sing this song quite often in the past and so she remembered me. That night I asked her out right away.”
How did you know your partner was The One for you?
Catherine: “We did not really know. We just knew that love was in the air, that’s all. We were together for about 3 years before deciding to get married.
At that time, I was at the height of my career; I was making records, I was filmed in advertisements and often made appearances on TV.
When he heard about my engagement, my manager was upset, asking why I would get married when I’m getting so popular. But in the end, love overcomes all and we got married anyway.”
What is your favorite thing about your partner that he/she may not be aware of?
Raymond: “That’s a tough question. Everything she does every day is my favorite. But if I were to specify, I would say that I like that she is modern, yet conservative at the same time.
She always manages to keep up with the times and evolve with it. Yet, she’s able to carry out the traditions and put the family first. She always takes care of the family and is very respectful to the elderly.
And most of all, she is wise. She’s full of wisdom and that’s my favorite thing about her.”
Catherine: “My favorite thing about him is that he’s a very good person, very kind. He’s always been very supportive in whatever I do and what I pursue, and that’s very important to me.”
What is your advice for young people in maintaining a lasting relationship?
Catherine: “Patience. Don’t try to change others and let the person grow. You must accept the person as they are and never try to change them. Also, what’s important is prayers. Because a family that prays together, stays together.”
Raymond: “What’s most important in a relationship is to have trust and be transparent. You should also have respect for one another. Lastly, have fun and enjoy your time together. When you’re together, every day is Valentine’s day, so don’t wait for the moment. Smile and greet each other every day and savor the moment.”
What do you think are the secrets to a happy marriage? Let us know in the comments!
For more stories about marriage, read: Marrying Young – What Other Malaysians Should Know Before Making the Leap and Making a Relationship Work for 30 Years; What I Wished I Knew Then.