Contributed by RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO –
What do you think sustains an inter-racial marriage or a transnational marriage?
I read with much interest the government bodies’ forthcoming programmes to support transnational couples in The Straits Times (“Marrying a foreigner? Help at hand to settle in”).
I would like to contribute to these useful programmes as I had enjoyed 40 years of blissful union with a woman whom I had grown to love so dearly.
Although I am a mixed Eurasian and Ceylonese, my marriage to my late wife, Doris Lau, who was a Chinese Teochew Peranakan, is a beautiful memory which I will always cherish for the rest of my life.
Staying Resilient In The Face Of Adversity
Though my marriage to Doris had its challenges due to her six chronic illnesses that included schizophrenia and arthritis which impaired her mobility, I had grown to love her more and more each day. This is because I always kept in mind what the marriage vows expect of married couples–to love and care for each other in sickness and in health, for better or worse.
Initially there were objections to our marriage from my wife’s family, but they gave their full blessings when they realised that I was sincere in wanting to care, love and support my wife–mental illness and all.
During our marriage journey, both of us learnt so much from our different cultural and religious backgrounds. I learnt to appreciate the Chinese culture and the Buddhist religion; and Doris learnt to value my Eurasian culture and Catholic faith. After she married me, she converted to be a Roman Catholic. We learnt that practising a common faith helps make the marriage much stronger, which matters all the more during times of crisis.
Because of my strong belief in honouring marriage vows in the face of adversity, I want to educate other young couples on what it takes to keep the love burning for decades after the wedding day.
Take A Leaf From Successful Inter-racial Marriages
Marriage involves a lot of compromises and sacrifices, and it is like a roller coaster ride filled with many ups and downs. Marriage, like life, comes in a package–with the good, the bad and the ugly.
Marriage counsellors and other professionals can certainly come up with suitable support programmes. However, they could very well also collaborate with those who have successful and resilient inter-racial marriages, like myself, to infuse the powerful virtue of love in couples wanting to tie the knot. There should also not be hurdles for those who do not have paper qualifications to prevent them from living the experience in such programmes.
In my letter to The Straits Times on Saturday 2nd August 2014, “ ‘Hands-on’ experience in marriage counts too”, I spoke of the obstacles I faced in wanting to speak on marriage at a government agency.
So, I hope that this time around, my willingness to contribute will not encounter anymore roadblocks, and I look forward to collaborations with all parties involved in the transnational marriage support programme.
By Raymond Anthony Fernando