A marriage that lasts involves not just enduring and suffering together till the end. We want to nurture a marriage with joy and laughter so that it endures even in trying times. Even while overcoming insurmountable difficulties together, the learning couple grows stronger each day, leaving behind a legacy of significance for the next generation to emulate. Here are eight practical tips that will prepare millennial couples to build a marriage that lasts for a lifetime.
- Wedding Ceremony. Choose to live within your means. Don’t spend your income on that one day; marriage is a lifetime celebration not to be entered into lightly without careful consideration. Don’t follow the crowd! Must you have those video clips of your childhood days? Must you have that expensive photo album? We are not saying that these are not good, but perhaps, there are more creative ways to celebrate the wedding (low cost, but with higher value to yourself and the people who matter to you). How about getting sponsorship for some of your expenses? If you plan carefully, you should be able to make a ‘profit’ from your wedding and yet present your guests with a positive learning experience.[i]
- Relating with Parents or In-Laws.If you have to stay with in-laws or parents, bear in mind that role confusion could arise. If your parents or in-laws are sick and can no longer look after themselves, please don’t ‘throw’ them into an old folks’ home. What you do to them may one day be done to you by your children. In ideal circumstances, you should live separately so that you can learn to take up leadership of your own household. You would need to allocate time to visit both sets of parents. Also, budget your money carefully if your parents or in-laws or younger siblings need your financial support. However, keep in mind that your highest priority and devotion is now to your spouse, followed by your children.
- Family and Financial Planning. All unnatural contraceptives will have side effects on women, especially their health, such as water retention or excessive weight increase or even difficulty conceiving later[ii]. We advocated one year for the young married couple to make adjustments together. As a general principle, the husband must rise to the occasion to shoulder financial leadership, so that the wife will have the option to work or not. Alternatively, plan in advance to pioneer your own business so that you can be flexible with your time. Doing so intentionally, you can spend more time with your children in their growing years. Buying insurance coverage for your children at a young age is a good idea – it would be a way of forced savings.
- Baby-sitting. We strongly advocate that couples should look after their own children, instead of delegating this task to maids or parents. Children grow up very fast; if you miss being with them in their growing years, you will have missed out on a big part of their life. By choice, Abby chose to be a stay-at-home mum, even when we had very little money to run on, and with no help from either side of our family in the first five years of our marriage when we lived in Australia and Singapore. It was tough but we grew stronger as we overcame every challenge along the way. Today, our grown-up adult children are still so close to us and we are still a tightly knit family.[iii] We hug each other regularly, and never fail to express our love for each other in a practical manner through words and actions.
- Joint Account. Husband and wife must be completely transparent with each other in the matter of finances. If both have an income, consider opening a joint-account. Both should manage their finances wisely. We budget together as a family. When our children were growing up, we included them in our financial planning. As individuals, we did not have ‘secret money’ unknown to the other. Thus, there was no chance for either of us to participate in inappropriate activities that would require money. Difficulty in being open and transparent with our spouse on money matters is an indication of other, underlying problems in our marriage that require help from a marriage counsellor or mentoring from a couple qualified in this subject.
- Separation. If you are working in different cities and see one another only during weekends or periodically, you will be more exposed to temptation. When one of us goes overseas alone, our rule of thumb is never to stay away for longer than a week. We maintain a seven-day cycle of separation, never longer. During our temporary separation, we video-chat with each other at least twice a day. We also choose our travelling companions for business trips carefully. Never travel alone with someone from the opposite sex. Stay away from people you suspect might tempt you into indulging in heavy drinking or unhealthy entertainment. You always have a choice. Value your family and integrity above all else.
- Weekly Dating. Dating does not stop after the wedding. We have maintained our weekly date for more than three decades now. Plan and make it happen weekly, intentionally. Think of doing something special for each other on a regular basis. Be innovative! Other than personal hobbies, we share numerous common interests such as reading inspirational books as well as sharing lessons from the Bible. One day, our parents and our children will leave us. Therefore, we must keep the fire of weekly dating going on in preparation for our second ‘honeymoon’.
- Grooming and Health. Many couples go out of shape shortly after the wedding. We should look after each other well and not neglect grooming and looking our very best for one another. We are talking about physical appearances here! Eat well as a family, have regular outings and exercise together to keep fit. Study nutrition and apply the knowledge in your diet. Use food as a natural medicine.
About the Authors: Dr Peter Ting is the President/CEO of Family First Malaysia. He and his wife, Dr Abby Ting, are committed to TRANSFORMING Next Gen Fathers, supported by Mothers, to build Better Families, resulting in a Better Workplace, a Better Society and a Better Nation. They are also co-authors of a book entitled “3F Next Gen Leadership”.
Since 1990, Dr Abby has tirelessly worked alongside Dr Peter to mentor their three children, Eleazar, Othniel and Nehemiah, as Next Gen Leaders empowered by 3F values.
In 2014, Dr Peter retired from a full-time corporate career. Now, he uses his time to mentor Gen-Y CEO Couples and Gen-Z leaders, who are tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. Dr Abby continues to be the best helper to Dr Peter in their shared vision to reach every generation and build better families everywhere.
For more about them, find their profiles on our trainers’ page.
[i] For more tips on wedding budgeting, see https://www.facebook.com/notes/peter-ting/wedding-budget-considerations/10154654139883607/
[ii] For more info on the effectiveness and side effects of the various birth methods, see https://www.emedicinehealth.com/birth_control_overview/article_em.htm
[iii] For what we taught our children in their growing years, refer to our book titled: 3F Next Gen Leadership. See http://familyfirstmalaysia.com/next-gen-leadership-mentoring-champions/