The very first and last thing that Mr Jeffrey Aw does every day is to talk to his wife, despite pulling 12-hour shifts at times.
His wife, Ms Ng Che Chi, reciprocates, even though each day is a flurry of activities. She juggles a full-time job as a teacher, night classes for a degree and caring for their two-year-old daughter.
"Having intentional and regular conversations may be a simple thing to do, but it keeps our marriage strong," said Mr Aw.
"As a young couple, we learnt that if we don't communicate our needs and opinions, misunderstandings and deeper issues will fester," added the 29-year-old pastor.
They tied the knot five years ago, when he was 24 and she, 22.
Back then, finances were tight and tensions often arose over budgeting.
He worked then as a youth worker in church and she as a private tutor. Their total monthly income back then was about $2,500. After paying off her study loan and his motorcycle loan, they barely scraped by.
"We did not quarrel much, but she got angry and questioned me when I spent $500 upgrading my cellphone because that meant less money for groceries," he said.
Both took time to grow into their roles as spouses and parents.
When their child came along two years ago, Ms Ng felt neglected as he sometimes came home late from work. However, he felt misunderstood as he was putting in his best at work for the family.
"Later, I realised that she valued quality time and so I would take leave from work to spend time with her," he said.
They went to a marriage counsellor for financial advice three years ago, though they are financially more comfortable now.
Though both enjoy good food, they restrict themselves to a good meal a month. They also do not turn away second-hand toys and books for their daughter.
Said Mr Aw: "Young couples will definitely face challenges beyond their capacity but there is also joy in choosing to settle down early and weathering the storms together."
This article was first published on April 9, 2015.
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