I had not intended to blog
about Mr Yaw Shin Leong. But even before this became news, I had been mulling over the question of how a marriage could stay intact.
As I hear more sob stories from my clients at the Citizens Advice Bureau of partnerships (not necessarily marriages) gone wrong, I was asking myself, “How do I keep my own marriage intact?”
My husband comes from a family where there are many broken marriages, including his brother’s. For this reason he was not keen to marry.
He also came to the conclusion th
at in every marriage breakdown there is always fault with both parties. It takes two to form a partnership, and it takes two for the partnership to break down.
Whenever we discuss the breakdowns of friends’ partnerships, even of friends very dear to him, his comment is always, “It takes two.”
I have been conscious therefore of my own part in this marriage, too.
at Mr Yaw and the wonderful things th at he has done for the public with such energy. I wonder how much his partner understood his aspir ations and how much support he was given. Was he ever reminded to “slow down”, have a break, recharge?
Did Mr Yaw also support his partner in wh
atever career p ath th at she was pursuing?
There is always a danger when the dynamics within a partnership change. My husband has always been the worker ant. He calls me the “tai-tai” and I run the family and a business from home.
(He may be the breadwinner, but I am the bread maker! Bread making is a delicious hobby.)
Dynamics change when one or both partners make career moves, take on new hobbies, children are born, start school, leave home, fall ill, etc.
My husband is now semi-retired. I, on the other hand, am trying to forge an academic career (again) given my imminent redundancy as a full-time mother.
He was always very sensitive to my needs while I was a housebound mother, always checking to see th
at I was still happy to remain at home, always telling me to tre at myself to something nice because being at home is boring. (I’ve declined all offers of Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and more recently Christian Louboutin, etc.)
I realized th
at I, too, must remember to be sensitive to his needs as a husband who might be spending more time at home than I do for the first time in our marriage.
His words keep ringing in my head: it takes two.
I learned an important lesson when I became a full-time Christian worker. Jennifer told me: “You are not indispens
able. Always make time to rest.”
Take time to have a life. Christian ministry (like politics?) is 24/7 if you let it.
But as Jennifer pointed out: even Jesus rested. He went to quiet places to commune with his F
ather. He avoided the crowds. This is the same message I pass on to all friends going into full-time ministry.
All of us, whether ministers of religion, ministers of educ
ation (teachers), ministers of law (politicians, lawyers. policemen), ministers of medicine (doctors, nurses), ministers of care (mothers, maids, etc) all need time off to recharge our physical, spiritual and mental b atteries.
Those of us in a personal partnership need to ensure and encourage our partners to take necessary breaks, and be there to support him/her. If we are the busy/busier partner, we also must take heed and take time off to recharge.
We owe it to our partners to be
able to give them our full, total and undivided attention on a regular basis. We are, in that sense, indispensable, or should make ourselves indispensable to our spouses.
Breakdowns do not happen out of nothing if th
at rel ationship (ie a firm commitment) was there in the first place. (I grant th at some marriages are marriages of convenience.)
ationships start breaking down when partners stop communing, in word, in deed and in the flesh.
In word: The Bible teaches “Never let the sun set on your anger.” Let us make sure we talk and clear any “bad” air before retre
ating to bed.
In deed: My husband makes me a mug of tea in the morning before he goes to work. I make him coffee when he comes home from work. Each mug is lovingly made and each is gr
atefully received and acknowledged. (This prob ably does not happen in households with maids.)
In the flesh: The words of the marriage vow “with my body I thee worship” is very powerful imagery. Married Christian people do not “own” their bodies, according to the teachings of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 (emphasis is mine):
3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so th
at you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so th at S atan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Jesus taught, “Love your neighbour as yourself”. So love your spouse, your closest neighbour, as yourself, your own body.
This is a timely episode to remind all of us in a rel
ationship to not take our partner for granted. I think those who feel able should also pray for healing for the marriages we know th at have broken down.
I pray, too, th
at there is room for forgiveness.
Let him/her who is without sin cast the first stone.