Singapore couples in long-term relationships share how breaking up made their love grow stronger

Instagram/Jacquelinecorliss

It's that time of the year again, when love fills the air and couples are dizzy from romantic dates and sweet gestures. 

To get you feeling all warm and fuzzy this Valentine's Day, we asked couples in long-term relationships who have been together for six years or more to share their "aww"-inducing stories.

But their personal journeys weren't without some heartache.

These couples opened up about how they overcame relationship speedbumps ⁠— stagnation, cheating, distance ⁠— leading to time apart, only to bounce back stronger months or even years later. Some of them are even happily married now with kids!

So if you're feeling downcast over a recent heartbreak, let's hope these real-life stories bring you some hope that all's not lost, as long as both parties are willing to give the relationship a try again.

But if the relationship was toxic, then bye, Felicia! You're better off alone for now.

PUPPY LOVE

Perhaps not unsurprisingly, all the couples we spoke to got together with their other halves at a very young age. 

Jude Lim, 31, met her husband Martin Hua, 30, through Ragnarok, a popular online RPG (role-playing game). But it wasn't all lovey-dovey at the beginning, especially since the internet can be a dangerous place. "You never know if the person behind the keyboard is really a 16-year-old boy (as he claimed)", said Jude, who was only 17 when she first met her husband-to-be. 

As for Lexter Chen, 39, and Cynthia Heng, 38, they met via Alamak Chat, a once-popular online social networking site during the "dawn of the internet age".

"We've been together since I was 19, and we got married 10 years later at 29. She's my first girlfriend and first and last wife, hopefully", quipped Lexter.

Jacqueline Lim met Melvin Lim in church through mutual friends when she was just 19 and he, 18.

Said Jacqueline: "I told myself I would want to date this guy for a long time but marriage was definitely not in consideration back then, since I was only 19."

While everyone found love online and through common friends, Felicia Teo, then 20, and Arthur Hua, 21, were Polytechnic sweethearts.

HEARTBREAK HOTEL

Relationships aren't always rainbows and butterflies, and as these couples were teenagers just learning to be adults when they got together, we can see why breakups were inevitable as they entered different stages of their lives.

Lexter shared: "We broke up when I was 23 and she was 22. She was in her starting years as a tax auditor in one of the big four firms, and I was in the last semester of my bachelor's degree.

"Her long working hours with my studying schedule meant we had very little time for each other. My immature brain at the time couldn't process this, so we broke up".

Likewise for Jude and Martin. She shared: "The relationship didn't seem to be going anywhere due to my studies and the distance". Jude, who's Malaysian, was residing in Kuala Lumpur then while Martin was in Singapore.

Jacqueline spoke of problems which popped up during their seventh year as a couple.

Said Jacqueline: "Most people call it the 'seven-year itch' and things didn't turn out the way we wanted. We kind of got used to one another and stopped making an effort for each other.

"We felt like family members rather than lovers, which is a comfortable stage but yet the most dangerous."

Things weren't so simple as well for Felicia, 26, and Arthur, 27, who got engaged in 2018.

"After he proposed, a week later he told me I wasn't the one for him anymore and he couldn't go through the relationship because he liked someone else," said Felicia.

PATCHING THINGS UP

For most couples, a breakup signifies an end to a chapter. Most people would deal with the emotional hurt and move on with their lives

However, these couples found a way back into each other's hearts, and with the benefit of hindsight, some only realised that what they had was good only after briefly dating someone else.

"I can't deny I felt free during the beginning (of the breakup). I didn't have to care what time I got home, I didn't have to 'report strength'. Basically, I felt like I could do anything without being accountable to anyone except myself," said Jacqueline.

"It was difficult to cut off contact entirely as we have too many mutual friends and we would definitely bump into each other in church. I guess that was a good thing for us, because it kind of reignited the 'chase' in our relationship."

After half a year of consistent texting on a daily basis, Melvin managed to move Jacqueline's heart and the pair stepped out as a couple again.

Felicia recounted how she avoided Arthur after going through the traumatic betrayal.

"I begin dating someone after two months of crying but he kept texting me, telling how much he missed me, to the point where I blocked his number. But he found me again via Instagram".

Making the decision to get back together with Arthur wasn't easy, and required constant forgiveness to overlook the broken engagement. Arthur also had to put aside his ego to meet her parents to convince them of his sincerity and to let him date their daughter again. Of course, he got a good scolding in return. But their trials weren't for nought, since the couple will be getting married this March. 

Shared Jude, who broke up with Martin after three years: "During our breakup, I dated another guy who was unfortunately not nice to me. But Martin was always there for me as a friend even though we were no longer seeing each other."

Things eventually ended with the guy, and Martin and Jude patched things up after three long years of being apart, during which he remained single while waiting for her.

In a similar vein, Lexter shared: "I got together with another girl during our breakup, but it didn't last more than two months before I broke it off. It was mainly because my feelings for Cynthia never left, and I was too stupid to realise.

"I never thought I had another shot but thankfully I did, and we got together again after nine months of courtship."

So guys, if you're not ready to let go of the relationship just yet, these stories show that simply by being around, putting in the effort and showing that you still care, these actions go a long way in worming your way back into your lady's heart. 

LESSONS LEARNT AND STEPPING INTO A MARRIAGE

Entering into the 10th year of their relationship and tying the knot this June, Jacqueline reflected: "This whole breakup process was like a wake up call for both of us. 

"Going through all these (experiences) will definitely make you think deeper about your relationship. I started asking if I could see myself walking down the aisle with this man...It reminded us that if we want to make things work, we have to compromise, be thankful, make effort daily and accept each other including our flaws".

Having been together for 20 years and married for 10 with two beautiful children, Lexter shared a nugget of wisdom: "Have patience with each other, and be prepared to go the distance in solving problems and not take the easy way out by giving up, especially for somebody who has travelled so much with you."

Lexter with his wife, Cynthia, and their two kids.
PHOTO: Lexter

"The breakup taught us both that, if the person loves you, he or she will always love you and will never give up even at the lowest point of the relationship", said Jude.

She added: "Working as a team is very important — we learned to face problems together, tolerate each other's bad behaviours and habits. We also learned to love each other's hobbies and interests", and it's something which has helped sustain their relationship of 14 years (including five years as man and wife). 

ALSO READ: What keeps Hong Huifang and Zheng Geping together for almost 30 years - and other couple tips from celebs

Let us know if there are any other interesting relationship stories out there, or if you would like to nominate a couple to be featured.

melissagoh@asiaone.com