It does not always have to be a dinner or movie date; couples can also spend quality time working out together. Photo from Shutterstock.

Romance in a marriage may take a backseat when work and caregiving responsibilities take precedence over “couple time”. However, setting aside quality time together is an important investment in any relationship. As Focus on the Family Singapore’s Principal Counsellor, Ms Alicia Boo, points out, “If a couple doesn’t do that, the relationship may evolve to become merely functional or transactional over time.”

One way of spending time together is by doing date nights, which can be weekly or monthly. However, when you’re on these dates with your loved one, avoid slipping into conversations about your children. “Instead, use the opportunity to get to know your husband or wife all over again,” advises Ms Boo.

Jason and Shelen may be married for nearly 20 years and have two children, but they still enjoy spending “couple only” time with each other. Photo courtesy of Jason and Shelen.

Even after 19 years of marriage, that’s precisely what Jason, 50, and Shelen Ang, 46, have been doing. The couple met one another in their 20s and are now proud parents of two sons, aged nine and 12 years old. “Our relationship has matured through the years,” says Shelen, who adds that the secret to sustaining a healthy marriage is about “not taking each other for granted and to constantly find a spark in the relationship”.

To navigate challenges in their marriage, Jason and Shelen make a deliberate effort to constantly connect with one another. “That’s why we define dates as ‘couple only’ time. After we had our boys, these dates needed more intention and coordination to materialise,” says Jason. To the wedded pair, a well-spent date night usually involves good food and a movie — which is reminiscent of their first date when they watched a movie together. 

These regular dates have helped Jason and Shelen to reconnect with each other. Oftentimes, in the busyness of life, there is little opportunity to share deeper feelings or what is truly going on in each other’s lives. As parents of young children, it is easy to focus on the kids. However, on intentional dates, there is time to pay attention to each other. Such moments of reconnection can keep a marriage fresh and help it last a lifetime!

Here are some ways to bond with your partner:

  • Find a new activity. Pick up a new sport and enjoy learning how to do it together. 
  • Plan a weekend getaway. You’ll be surprised how a short break from the usual routine can do wonders for your marriage. 
  • Set aside an hour a day for each other. You can do this by going for a leisurely jog or taking a gym class together.


Spending time with one another can also help married couples survive traumatic events. And for parents, there is nothing more painful than the passing of one’s child. 

During the toughest of times, Ernest and Benecia stood by and encouraged one another. Photo courtesy of Ernest and Benecia.

Ernest, 40, and Benecia Yeo, 38, lost their first son, Elkan, hours after he was born. The child suffered from acrania, a medical condition where the foetal skull is partially or completely absent. According to healthcare experts, babies with acrania pass on within a few hours or days after birth. 

Benecia still recalls the moment she heard about Elkan’s condition. “It was during a routine 12-week scan. Ernest had accompanied me to all of the doctor’s visits up until then; he missed that one because of a work trip,” shares the stay-home mum of two young kids, aged six and two years old. 

When Ernest, who works as an educator, returned and heard about the news, he was determined to support his wife at all costs. “I was in a state of shock and denial initially. But I put my own emotions aside, so I could support Benecia emotionally.” 

Ernest admits that at times then, he felt helpless about how to console his wife and how to navigate their future. For example, they had to decide if Benecia should have an abortion or follow through the pregnancy. Guided by their faith, the Christian couple ultimately decided against the former. 

Coming to that decision was not easy and involved many sleepless nights. But through the storm, they were comforted by each other’s presence. Says Benecia, “I want to affirm Ernest that even though he did not have the right words, he did all he could to assure me that I was not alone. He never failed to tell me that he loved me.” 

Looking back, the couple says that the strong foundations of their marriage allowed them to support each other through the tumultuous period, from Elkan’s diagnosis to his birth and, eventually, his passing. “I encourage other couples to build a similar foundation, so that when storms hit, you’ll have the confidence that someone is there to go through the challenges with you,” says Benecia. 

“It’s also helpful to remember the person you fell in love with,” adds Ernest. “In difficult situations, emotions run high and conflicts arise easily. It is important to believe in and think the best of each other.”

Focus on the Family Singapore celebrates marriage and encourages married couples to rekindle the spark in their dates and rediscover the joy of dating by choosing to make time for one another and allow themselves space to discover #SoMuchMore about each other. Learn more here.

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