Happily married for 35 years with 2 adult children and a granddaughter, both Edmund Wong and Chang Mun Lan began their journey at TOUCH Marriage Support almost 20 years ago. Starting out as volunteers for the Marriage Preparation Programme back in 2002, Edmund and Mun Lan were convicted to go one step further in journeying with couples and converted to full-time staff around 2008.
As Principal and Senior Family Life Educators now, Edmund and Mun Lan prepare lessons and run workshops jointly organised by the Ministry of Social and Family Development and TOUCH, for the Marriage Preparation Programme and the Remarriage Programme as part of their day-to-day. They also conduct marital health checks for couples on request.
“We work when people rest – most of these workshops are held on weekends when couples are more available,” says Edmund with a laugh. Despite this, Edmund and Mun Lan enjoy the opportunity to share their marital journey with other couples and connect them with other couples who are willing to share their experiences.
With plenty of adjustments like starting a new family, living with one another, and understanding in-laws, the first 3-5 years are crucial in laying a strong foundation for a married couple. For couples who are keen, Edmund and Mun Lan have monthly check-ins with them for three years to provide support as they embark on a new life stage as a married couple.
“Each couple is different. Journeying with them is like having a life-long conversation where we come alongside them as they prepare for marriage, begin their own families, and eventually return to share their lives with other couples.” Edmund and Mun Lan now catch up with 7-8 couples per month.
Couples are bound to have differences. What is important is learning how to look from different perspectives when things do not turn out as expected.
Having conducted marriage workshops for more than 500 couples and journeying with some who now have families with teenage children, Edmund and Mun Lan believe that listening to each couple’s concerns and understanding their perspectives are paramount in their work. “We must be careful of a pitfall – their needs are not our needs. Each couple has different needs, and we must learn how to listen, rather than dish our solutions uninvited.”
Despite the challenges that come from journeying with other couples, Edmund and Mun Lan find fulfilment when a couple experiences breakthroughs.
“Couples have their highs and lows, but we are happy to witness breakthroughs in marital relationships especially when we see couples who are open to learning and growing with one another. Our greatest motivation is seeing some of them return as facilitators to share their journey with others.”
TOUCH Marriage Support aims to enrich marriages to build a strong foundation for families. Through a range of holistic programmes led by experienced marriage educators and counsellors, TOUCH Marriage Support prepares young couples for marriage, strengthens spousal relationships, guides couples through conflict resolution, and empowers couples to navigate and cope with the stressors and challenges which they may face in their marriage.