Forum: There is more to marriage than 2 consenting adults’ happiness

I agree with Mr Tony Ong Kie Wee that the proposed changes to the law on the maintenance of parents are a step in the right direction (Guidance, support needed for lasting conciliation between parents and children, Nov 19).

The proposed changes to the law and Mr Ong’s suggestions are useful in managing and repairing strained relationships between parents and children. However, more can be done further upstream to strengthen families and reduce such acrimonious relationships.

Many marriage preparation courses are currently available only for couples who are close to engagement. Such courses also tend to focus solely on relationship skills and miss the opportunity to manage expectations of marriage via discussions on what marriage is.

Marriages will be more vulnerable if society embraces the view that marriage is mainly about two consenting adults’ happiness. There is little personal motivation to wrestle with and address personal struggles such as a tendency towards certain vices if one is focused on maximising personal happiness.

This situation could be improved if individuals and society recognise marriage as a comprehensive institution.

Beyond personal happiness in marriage are the noble cause of providing a healthy base for having and raising children, and a transformative space for personal improvement, as husbands and wives put aside their own interests in the best interests of other members of the family.

Singapore will stand to gain if individuals are not just taught relationship skills, but also gain insight on what marriage and parenting entail.

These can also be taught at a much earlier age, such as in school, so that individuals can date with a clearer vision of marriage in mind.

Marriage preparation courses can also help individuals develop empathy, to work on common grounds with parents and in-laws even when disagreements exist.

Take care of the institution of marriage, husbands and wives, and parenting will be taken care of. With better managed expectations and support for couples and parents, we can further reduce pressures and circumstances which lead to family abuse, neglect and abandonment.

Lim Jun Bin

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