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Getting Along
Brian Johnsen and Evelyn Tan are account executives in different advertising agencies. They will be getting married later this year and were game enough to be as candid as possible in front of marriage counsellor in our new series, Sixty Minutes.

Brian : Sorry we're late! This is probably not a great way to start a session like this, but Evelyn was half an hour late because she had to work. And she forgot to bring her cellphone so I couldn't even call her.


Ganesan : So, Brian is this a norm? That she's late and you have to wait for her?


Brian : This is the first time since I can remember that she's had to work on a weekend.


Evelyn : I knew the meeting was at 5pm, but I had to take an important call at the office because there was a crisis in New Zealand. I did forget my cellphone, but I called him from the office to tell him that I would be late. I could tell he was upset, because even before I got to the door he was waiting outside.


Ganesan : Were you stressed while you knew he was busy waiting?


Evelyn : I knew he was going to give me a hard time. I was actually prepared for it.


Evelyn : I knew he was going to give me a hard time. I was actually prepared for it.

How Ganesan sees the situation : This is just a taste of what to expect as a couple. Things do not always go your way. Couples need to plan for contigencies. In this instance, how the person wo's waiting reacts determines how the rest of the evening progresses. Do you sit and fume or find something to divert your attention? It all depends on you. As couples, there is always a need to manage each other's expectations.

Ganesan : Evelyn, does Brian do anything that annoys you?


Evelyn : He plays computer games every night. It's really hard to get his attention when he's on the computer, and sometimes I want some attention. I don't necessarily get angry about it but I do wish he wouldn't sit in front of the computer for so long. But to be fair, if I insist that he spend that time with me, he sits with me and talks to me until I fall asleep, then he goes back to sitting in front of the computer


Ganesan : What do you get out of playing so many computer games?


Brian : There are certain television programmes that I just don't enjoy watching like certain sitcoms, so I prefer to destroy and kill things on the computer.


Brian : There are certain television programmes that I just don't enjoy watching like certain sitcoms, so I prefer to destroy and kill things on the computer.

How Ganesan sees the situation :It's good that Brian and Evelyn are in touch with their feelings and are able to express them openly. All of us have idiosyncrasies which crop up when we start living together. Couples need to continuosly communicate to each other how this affects them so that adjustments can be made. Those who suppress their feelings find their resentment building up and will blow up later.

Ganesan : You mentioned you like to do different things. Is that stressful for you, Evelyn, that you don't have a lot of things in common?


Brian : Well other than computer games we actually do have a lot of things in common.
We're both social animals. We can both socialise for an entire night. We go to parties, separate to socialise and come back at the end of the night and talk about it.


Ganesan : What happens at these parties? Have you ever been jealous of a girl that he has been talking to, Evelyn?


Evelyn : There was one time when a girl came up to him and asked him for his number. After the party, I drilled about why he was talking to that girl for so long.


Ganesan : How did you feel when you saw him talking to this girl? What did you want him to do?


Evelyn : I wanted him to talk to other girls as well, not just talk to this one girl.


Ganesan : How do you feel about that, Brian?


Brian : I actually like that she comes out with her issues immediately. I think it's important to voice out how you're feeling and not repress them.


Ganesan : Do you get jealous Brian if Evelyn is talking to another guy?


Brian : Not really, because I know that we're both in a committed relationship. We're adults, we should be able to have our own lives. So I don't get insecure about the relationship.

How Ganesan sees the situation :It is heartening to see that the couple is able to share their feelings and there is mutual trusts. It is important for couples to find things that they can do together to enjoy each others company and yes, it could mean learning to like doing something you normally would not. This is what relationship is all about, making adjustments and little sacrifices.

Ganesan: Are there cultural differences between the two of you?


Brian: Evelyn's been exposed to many different cultures, so there are really no differences.


Evelyn: I think they would like their son-in-law to be more family oriented, but I'm not going to force him to do something that he's not comfortable doing.

How Ganesan sees the situation : Marriage is not just the couples, it'ss two families coming together and, in this case, different cultures as well. Couples need to be mindful of the influences of in-laws and also learn to draw boundaries in their marriage. It's good that Brian and Evelyn, realise there are cultural differences between them and yet are willing to make compromises.

Ganesan : What do you like about each other?


Evelyn : Brian is different from Asian men I've known. He's affectionate and showers me with compliments and nice words of love. He is also able to take me for what I am - a lot of people can't really take me because I have a pretty strong personality.


Brian : I like that she's a strong woman and a tough, strong character. She definitely someone I can look up to. I lean on her at times, and she definitely gives me confidence. She's extremely open-minded, clever, and liberal. She's beautiful, and great in bed.


Ganesan : And you Evelyn, what else do you like about Brian?


Evelyn : I like his personality. It's not easy to find someone you're sure you want to be with. I think we're comfortable and assure enough of each other to trash things out and scream at each other on occasion. At the same time, we laugh a lot together.


How Ganesan sees the situation : It is good that Brian is so forthright and generous with his show of love - it's exactly what Evelyn desires. Asian men in general have been accused to have difficulties opening up to show emotions. They tend to be doers. This does not mean they love any less. To each his own. The rule of thumb is that couples communicate their needs and avoid playing 'read-my-mind' games.

Ganesan's summary : Building lasting relationships requires mutual which continues throughout the marriage. So, you can never be less or more prepared for it!

Ganesan Ramasamy is a Family and Marriage Counsellor with Atman Counselling and Training Consultancy.
The address in 89 Short Street, Golden Wall Centre
#04-16, Singapore 188216. Office Tel: 63389498.
Email: ganesha@counsellingweb.com.
Website: www.counsellingweb.com
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