Saturday, August 2, 2014

Raymond A Fernando's letter to The Straits Times: 'Hands-on' experience in marriage counts too

My  letter on the above subject is published in The Straits Times today, Saturday 2nd August 2014.
With the Government’s goal of encouraging couples to get married and start families, news of a drop in the number of marriages and a rise in divorces rates is cause for concern (“Marriages down, divorces up”; Wednesday).

While I agree that many young couples place priority on building their careers, while others are held back by financial constraints, I am sure we can come up with suitable programmes to help them see the joys of marriage and parenthood.

To motivate young people to tie the knot, they must see at first hand how seasoned couples have lived their marriages to the letter – for example, in caring for a spouse “in sickness and in health, for better or for worse”. Someone who has had “hands-on” experience in being married for decades is just as qualified as anyone with a string of degrees to counsel young people.

Several years ago, I offered to share my experience through motivational talks, but was rejected outright by a government official, who told me I was not a marriage counsellor and did not possess a degree.  Yet, I had kept my marriage vows intact for 40 years.

Keeping the sanctity of marriage intact influences various dimensions of life, such as physical health and longevity, mental health and happiness, economic well-being, and raising children in a conducive environment where love becomes second nature.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has often called on Singaporeans to step forward to help the Government as it cannot solve all problems alone.

So it is only proper for civil servants and even religious bodies to embrace those who are willing to step forward with life experiences and not be so sticky about paper qualifications.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

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