New survey shows commitment triumphs over divorce among Singapore married couples

Nearly half of the couples surveyed in a recent study on what makes a marriage work, say they've considered divorce. 

But all stuck it out and they attribute family, friends and religious advisors, as their primary source of support.

Those who've been through marriage preparation programmes were also more open to professional help. 

What are the common stress points in a marriage? 

A study commissioned by Marriage Central revealed they include infidelity, interference by in-laws and difference in aspirations. 

Over 450 married individuals participated in the survey, conducted from February to May this year. 

Nearly half (45%) said they had considered divorce at some point. 

But all decided to remain together. 

One of the main reasons - children. 

Couples fear their children would be negatively affected by a divorce. 

Family support and professional counselling were also found to be useful. 

Principal investigator Dr Mathew Mathews, a research fellow from the Institute of Policy Studies, elaborates. 

"It shows that there are different agents which are acting in that process -- family, the community, broader messages around and notions of commitment are all there, and I think these things help to keep couples wanting to walk through their relationship rather than giving up." 

Chairperson of Marriage Central, Anita Fam, a workgroup under the National Family Council said the findings point to hope, for troubled marriages, in Singapore. 

"I think what came through very very clearly, was the idea of commitment that no matter how things are, if you decide to stick it through, there's more than a fighting chance. We could get some direction in terms of our workplans. Because of the stressors and the information that we have now and the idea of commitment, it would really give us more focus to where we should concentrate our areas in, in terms of going forward. Not only that it's equally important for us to share that information with VWOs and marriage service providers, so with that information, they too can tailor-make their programmes so that they can best support the couples who are in need." 

The study also affirms that there is merit to early intervention for marital problems. 

So it's been recommended that marriage preparation programmes which target soon- to-be-married couples, incorporate a complimentary post marriage counselling session. 

This is to encourage couples to discuss teething problems in their relationship early, and build resiliency. 

-By Hetty Musfirah