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A many splendoured thing

A many splendoured thing
Ella Tan
  • On February 13, 2015

The Han Suyin version of romantic love was passionate and tumultuous, maybe because of the time and place (1950, Hong Kong). But love can be a many-splendoured thing with a happier ending if you have the good fortune to find your other half – someone who reflects your view of the world and with whom you can be yourself, while you both mature over the course of a long life. Sadly, few are lucky enough to strike the marriage lottery.

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With Valentine’s Day about to thrust obscenely expensive roses and the ostentatious gewgaws of commerce under our noses (is there a newspaper or magazine that hasn’t featured a Valentine’s Day shopping spread?), it’s a good time to contemplate what it takes to sustain a relationship without living forever as vampires.

Be inspired by the ones whose unions are shining examples of what marriage should be. Take Winston Churchill for example who described his September 1908 wedding thus, “I married and lived happily ever afterwards”.

Our own Mr & Mrs Lee Kuan Yew made the perfect couple. So did Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward; Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards; Ronald and Nancy Reagan; Julia and Paul Child and of course Winston and Clementine Churchill.

What stands out in these relationships is mutual devotion, but with enough room for individuality. There needs to be a balance between healthy respect and personal growth. In a recent newspaper article about marriages breaking down because some husbands were overawed by their wives’ career success, some counsellors advised women to let their husbands be bosses to keep the peace. Not my idea of an equitable partnership, but if both parties are truly happy, it’s no one’s business.

Seems to me spouses should appreciate the other’s abilities and not put each other down, but to have to become someone else makes a farce of marriage. Let’s pick up pointers from the ones who stayed happily married till death did them part. We’ll even include a letter and poem – sweet if cheesy. It is Valentine’s after all.

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