Relationship tips: Partners for life

Relationship tips: Partners for life

When we met Baey Yam Keng and Lim Hai Yen, both 44, it was clear that theirs was a love story of how opposites are drawn to each other.

He is the attentive, loving husband, and, in his own words, the kan chiong one. She likes to do things a little differently. For example, before they actually tied the knot, Hai Yen made sure they were both ready.

She says, "I bought a book on marriage for us to work through together. Communication is important in every relationship, and I felt we needed to start as early as possible."

They met as members of Hwa Chong Junior College's Chinese Society at age 17, and were good friends for about seven years before taking their relationship to the next level in 1994.

Her World Brides: With your different careers and schedules, how have you managed to stay close?

Yam Keng: I tend to be the more practical and rational one, but we've never had any trouble getting along. The biggest milestone was when I went into politics.

Before that, Hai Yen actually had a higher profile as artistic director for theatre productions. She was the one being interviewed for her plays and awards, while I was the supporting half.

I truly appreciate my wife adjusting to this new dynamic. Now that I have much less time for the family, she's the one backing me.

Hai Yen: It took some time to cope with the change, but we are perfect for each other. Communication is key. Despite Yam Keng's busy schedule, we keep one day a week for ourselves, and set aside 15 to 20 minutes to talk every day.

It has helped us to be more open and honest about personal as well as family issues, and how to cope with them.

We also try to take trips without the kids, like for our wedding anniversary and his birthday, which are pretty close. Having time to ourselves is crucial for a happy marriage.

Do you see marriage as a job?

Yam Keng: It's a duty. We are committed to each other for life, and to our children. As for other issues we discover along our paths, we always meet each other in the middle.

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