Be proactive and let fate work its magic, Josephine Teo urges singles in Valentine's Day message

Mrs Josephine Teo adviced singles to be proactive and give fate a chance to work its magic.
Mrs Josephine Teo adviced singles to be proactive and give fate a chance to work its magic.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Some say matters of the heart are best left to fate, and you find love where you least expect it.

But as couples new and old celebrate Valentine's Day tomorrow, the minister in charge of lifting birth rates has a piece of advice for singles - be proactive and give fate a chance to work its magic.

Mrs Josephine Teo's advice comes as the number of citizen marriages last year saw a slight dip from 2014, but is still the second highest figure in the last 10 years.

There were a total of 23,805 marriages last year involving at least one Singaporean, down from 24,037 the year before.

In a Facebook post on Saturday evening, Mrs Teo said the figures got her thinking about dating and marriage.

In recent years, fairy-tale weddings of celebrities and well-known figures such as Mandopop star Jay Chou and wife Hannah Quinlivan have dominated headlines for their sheer lavishness, she wrote.

The couple got hitched last year in a church dating back to the 11th century in Yorkshire, northern England, followed by a dinner at a hotel and a party at a stately home. The extravagant affair was estimated to cost $1 million.

Such fairy-tale weddings are fascinating "because there's so much room for imagining the best of everything in the married life that follows the wedding," Mrs Teo said.

But they do not guarantee a lasting marriage and are unnecessary.

Instead, if her children were to ask her for advice on what makes for a successful marriage, she would ask them to consider the marriage of the late Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew.

Mr Lee "was not afraid to marry his intellectual equal", Mrs Teo said. Such unions are far more common now. In 2014, 81 per cent of marriages involved couples where the bride had the same, or higher, qualifications than the groom, up from 77 per cent in 2004.

"In the case of Mrs Lee, one cannot help but admire how she wholeheartedly supported Mr Lee, a man whose entire preoccupation was the well-being of a country and his people," she added.

Mrs Teo also cited the marriage of her two best friends, whom her children know as Uncle J and Aunty K.

The duo are from different races and have been married for nearly two decades. Yet, because of their cultural differences, one of their mothers had objected to the relationship as she felt they were incompatible.

Inter-ethnic marriages are more common now - 20 per cent of all marriages in 2014 involved inter-ethnic couples, up from 13 per cent in 2004.

"By some societal yardsticks, one could say they were not fully compatible. But their relationship has withstood the test of time," she said.

"When K had a health scare, J was the pillar of strength. K in turn has, in her quiet way, been J's biggest cheerleader when things have not gone his way."

Mrs Teo also shared her own fairy-tale romance - she and her husband used to date on buses, as it was the cheapest option for them.

Steadfast loyalty, commitment, and devotion are the key ingredients to marital bliss, she said.

"Far more important in getting to your own fairy-tale romance and a lasting marriage is sincerity, a big heart, a generous spirit, and willingness to make sacrifices for the person you love."

But all love stories must start with "making time to find someone to build a relationship and to share your life with," Mrs Teo said.

She added: "What about those of you who are single? Have you reached out to find that special someone?

"Remember, you need to be proactive - to give fate a chance to work its magic."