A Jaded Teacher’s Guide to Life, For Singaporeans Attending Their First CNY As A Couple
For context, this article comes courtesy of a writer who calls herself a ‘laojiao teacher-heartland aunty-jaded parent’.

So it’s that time of year where nosey relatives are somewhat invested in your relationship status.

Rather than hire yourself a make-belief partner, perhaps you might want to give an actual relationship a try after reading these tips from one who has lived through too many; enough to chalk up a respectable wealth of information with regards to how unions work or otherwise.

If you’re already in one, then these will be all the more relevant.

Want to be happy like this couple? Better read on.
1. To be in a successful partnership, one must suspend the following: your ego, your habits (some), your money (most) and well, your intelligence (often).

I’ve come to this conclusion having experienced it especially from a mostly egocentric, commitment-phobic viewpoint. It is challenging to accommodate another person when you are someone who is quintessentially self-absorbed or absentminded, often forgetting appointments or even the time of the day. This will eventually irk your partner to the point of rage.

Also, if you have certain intellectual pursuits which you wish to discuss enthusiastically with your partner but alas, are not matched with similar enthusiasm, the relationship will eventually degenerate into polite and distracted nods. Worse, if Netflix has taken over your life so you need to share your latest viewing with your partner who doesn’t grasp how fictional characters have become your friends to be discussed on first-name basis.

2. An ideal union should also include a common goal to work towards, not much different from a project except this one entails maintenance and follow-through.

Grand plans are always inspiring at the start–drawing up blueprints for a home, delegating the parental duties, discussing retirement plans and investments through the night.

These are wonderful moments of hope and dreams. And I say this without a tad of cynicism; this is exactly how everything appears at the start.

However, this should also be put in some form of writing, or better yet, a contract. because more often than not, your best-laid plans go missing, overlooked or sometimes completely awry when you get waylaid by the petty concerns of your routines. Make certain that your partner and you revisit those lovely halcyon moments or you will lose the plot, and possibly each other.

3. Take those couple-time vacations (lots) before kids and (mandatory) after kids.

Respites aside, the former is really a cornerstone of loyalty and love. These experiences would often be a precursory glimpse of your future in the face of the rest of the world. I recall my ex-spouse in days BC (before children) having our loyalties tested by mild flirtations, divisive parenting values, and even the simple day to day decisions on domestic purchases.

These have to be ironed out completely before the sprogs take over your lives so that you’ve formed a sort of team with shared corporate values. After the kids arrive, don’t lose yourself in your parental roles, forgetting you’re still somebody’s lover/partner/friend. It’s what keeps the bonds stronger when you have to return to the very premise of marriage.

4. Finally, look out for red flags before you sign on that line; one being your religious leanings.

It may seem innocuous at first, that differing faith, but it has an uncanny way of catching up and perhaps even creating an irrevocable tear. Much as religion is a man-made construct (to some), it has an irrational way of causing one to suspend complete intellect (refer again to point 1). How this may affect your relationship: it drives a wedge in your day-to-day discussions which may eventually escalate to a rift of epic proportions.

For example, you’re caught in a jam; you utter an attempt at logical reasoning, “Ah if only i had taken that other route,” and your partner replies, “Don’t worry, we are blessed and the jam will clear.” 30 minutes later, still in the jam, you wonder how much solace you can take from that while your tummy growls in skeptical resentment. Cut a year later, this has turned into private contempt laced with the urge to express itself in verbal snark.

Then you project the next 10 years of this into reality and there the alarm bells become a death knell of evil portent … OK I’ve digressed into a personal narrative but you get the idea.

So my dear readers, those of  you who are in a serious long-term relationship or at the brink of one, my heartfelt congratulations. I have nothing but deep respect for your dedication and skill. It is a skill which is much harder to master than it looks because we’ve been mostly conditioned to believe it is easy, and hence taken for granted.

I looked at my parents and later my elder siblings and thought, this looks doable. Decades later, I realised it was really an entirely new realm of effort and sacrifice, and not everyone may have that sort of capacity or character to manage.

Ask me to scale a mountain peak, dive a cave of hammerheads, or learn a musical skill; even raise a couple of kids, and I’d say, bring it! But challenge me to commit to another’s lifetime of needs and you’d see me taking the next option of lying in a pit of snakes.

Agree or disagree with this auntie? Tell us at community@ricemedia.co.

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