KM S. got married in her 20s and is a mother to two adult children. She shares with us how much work it takes to stay in a marriage. 

I’ve been married for 30 years. Suffice it to say, the honeymoon period is long over.

I have learnt that staying together is about patience (loads of it), humility, kindness, generosity, and sometimes even the occasional white lie.  It also requires a lot of compromise, acceptance and tolerance… especially of the in-laws.   

My husband is pretty chauvinistic—he probably got that from his father. When we just got married, I was shocked that he got mad at me because he had ran out of clean underwear. He actually said, “What kind of wife are you? You don’t even know that I ran out of boxers?” I was pissed. I wasn’t aware that I was supposed to check if he had sufficient clean laundry. After all, wouldn’t he know better if he was running out of them?   

My mother-in-law told me that in her younger days, she was expected to wash her husband’s feet when he returned from work in the evening. My father-in-law ran a tight ship. He would give my mother-in-law a small daily allowance and she was expected to feed the entire family, provide all seven children with what they needed for school and cover any medical fees incurred.

My husband and his siblings learnt to do without material items other than the basic necessities. They never went hungry, but treats were only for special celebrations; they were not poor at all but their dad controlled every cent they spent. It’s no wonder my husband always questions the household expenses and feels the need to control every aspect of our lives. 

The reality of marriage set in when the bills came and we needed to decide how we should spend our money. I realised that our different backgrounds meant that our views about how money should be spent were vastly different. 

It also set in when we had kids. We had to decide on how they should they be raised and how they should be disciplined. We had to ask ourselves,  “Who’s going to play the good cop and who’s going to play the bad cop?”

I was the youngest in my family—I had three older siblings and a single mom that doted on us. I grew up never in need of a want. I was almost always given what I asked for. If my mom could not afford it, my three older siblings would save and buy me almost anything on my wish list. We were not wealthy but somehow my mom always managed to put food on the table.

When I was growing up, my mom taking time off work around Christmas and take us to the old Robinsons to check out their annual Christmas décor, take a photo with Santa and give the lucky dip surprise bin a go. The day would end with a coke float or banana split at the Robinsons café. I’d tell my family my Christmas wish list and some, if not all, of my wishes would be granted. I was pretty spoilt. I was made aware at a young age that gifts came from my loved ones and not Santa. And from that, I learnt that you spoil the ones you love.  

This is one of the biggest differences between my husband and I when it comes to the kids. I love to take my kids shopping and buying them almost everything they want, while my husband believes that they don’t need anything more than two pairs of shoes, pants etc. 

We’ve been married for 30 years. We dated for three before that. We are still learning to accommodate and love each other through our faults and habits. We have learnt and accepted that this is the only way we can make our marriage work.”