Having witnessed how my parent's marriage broke down due to my father's womanising ways, I made a vow to myself 35 years ago: The woman I marry, whoever she is, I will love forever. And I would love and care for her in sickness and in health, for better or for worse.
Little did I realise that the day I met my wife, Doris Lau Siew Lang, I would have to fulfill that promise to the letter. Indeed this was the woman that would change my life – dramatically.
Unlike the many girls that I dated, Doris was very down-to-earth. We met as pen pals.
I found her to be sincere and caring. This was the main reason why I accepted her as my wife. As our relationship grew, Doris revealed to me her closely guarded secret: She was stricken with schizophrenia at the tender age of 17. Many people find it hard to believe that I married Doris despite knowing that she has one of the most distressing mental disorders.
But strange as it may sound, in caring for Doris for more than three decades, I have grown to love her more and more each day. I have seen this illness ravage more than half her life and the journey, though very difficult, can be rewarding when I see her enjoy life to the fullest. With my undying love for Doris, she has recovered from her illness and is today, the author of 5 books.
As I celebrate my 60th birthday this Valentine's Day, Doris and I will reflect on the beautiful memories we shared together for 35 years as husband and wife. Certainly, Love conquers all.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO