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Fifty years ago, attitudes towards marriage and dating were different.

Families were often heavily involved in one's choice of partner.

Sociologist Nilanjan Raghunath says: "Typically, marriages were not just between individuals, but also between families. You got married to fulfil a role as a dutiful daughter or son."

In some ways, these norms increased the chances of marital longevity.

"Whereas now, people don't always date with a view towards marriage – that was not the case then. I think the term 'courtship' would be more appropriate.

"Divorce was a taboo. It was like breaking the family apart," says Dr Raghunath, an assistant professor of sociology at Singapore University of Technology and Design.

The three couples featured here, who have been married for 50 years or longer, are renewing their marital commitment later this year at the Golden Jubilee Wedding Celebrations.

Organised by the Registry of Marriages and Registry of Muslim Marriages, this year's is the third edition of the event under the I Still Do campaign.

Launched by the Families for Life Council, I Still Do is an annual initiative that celebrates love and marriage.

Asked to share words of advice for marital longevity, the couples interviewed by The Sunday Times all speak of the need for tolerance and a willingness to take on challenges as a team.

They speak of their children as a joy in their union. Their faces light up whenever they talk about their children, who are now grown up.

While expressions of physical affection are rare for their generation, actions often speak louder than words.

Singapore Management University sociologist Paulin Straughan says: "The demonstration of love then was not as overt and certainly was not seen in public."

Love was shown in providing for the family, in domestic care and in fidelity, she says.

"After marriage, you fall in love more," says Madam Hajjah Siti Sa'oodah Haji Kassim , 77.

Mr Haji Supahat Haji Mohamed, 84, and Madam Hajjah Siti Sa'oodah Haji Kassim, 77, married in 1965. They have three children and nine grandchildren. The secret to their 55-year marriage is being mindful of seeing the best in each other.

1. KNOW YOUR SPOUSE'S FAMILY

Madam Sa'oodah was once engaged for three years until her fiance then called things off.

She had already prepared her wedding outfit.

"I was broken-hearted. I told my mother I did not want to find someone else," she recalls.

When she was about 21, she was out near the old Esplanade Park when she caught Mr Supahat's eye.

He surreptitiously passed her a note with his name and telephone number before slipping away. But she did not want to meet him as she felt her mother would disapprove.

A while later, they met again at a dance she performed in – a mutual friend was part of her dancing group. She felt it was "meant to be".

"Before getting engaged, it is good to know who the man's family is, who the people surrounding him are. For my first engagement, his family was in Malaysia," she says.

2. KEEP MARITAL PROBLEMS TO YOURSELF

The couple faced financial difficulties early in their marriage and had to borrow a few hundred dollars from their friends in the 1970s.

Mr Supahat worked as a fireman and Madam Sa'oodah worked at different times as a hotel chambermaid and bus conductor while raising their children.

They believe that marital challenges should be kept private. "Don't complain to anyone else. Work it out together," he says.

His wife says: "It's important to trust each other and to think before you speak."

3. CHILDREN ARE CENTRAL

The couple say their love deepened when children came along and they appreciated each other as parent and spouse.

Madam Sa'oodah recalls how he used to cook nasi goreng and soup for her after she gave birth.

He cherished how well she took care of him and their offspring.

She says of marital longevity: "Remind yourself of the goodness of the other person, regardless of anything he may have done wrong."

Mr Kanna Veerappan, 79, and Madam A. Nyanamani Sankaram Arodalu, 78, married in 1965. They have three sons and six grandchildren. The secret to their 55-year match made union? Working as a team.

1. HAVE A SPIRIT OF COMPROMISE

When Madam Nyanamani was introduced to her future husband at the age of 24 by their relatives, she thought he looked like a "gangster".

"He was handsome and he had a gold tooth," she recalls.

"My aunt said she can cook," remembers Mr Kanna, a retiree whose past jobs include working at a laundry, hotel and car wash.

Madam Nyanamani was shy when they met, but after they wed months later, they got to know each other better.

"At first, we didn't know what to talk about, but over time, we enjoyed talking to each other, especially about the children," says the housewife.

Fights are inevitable in any long union, Mr Kanna says. "Give and take, then you will have a happy life."

2. HARDSHIP STRENGTHENED THEM

The couple appreciate what each contributes to the family.

Mr Kanna says: "She takes care of everything, cooks, sews. I worked hard too."

When money was tight, Madam Nyanamani once took a night job at a factory.

"We wanted to buy things for the children, but we could not. It was sad. But we bonded through all the struggle," she says.

3. STEAL A MOMENT AWAY TOGETHER

Madam Nyanamani fondly remembers how they sometimes took a walk by themselves to reconnect with each other.

"It's good to have more heart-to-heart talks," she says.

Mr Seow Cheong Choon, 83, and Madam Lee Geok Hua, 72, married in 1969. ThRead More – Source

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