What they should know before the wedding
SINGAPORE, Aug 21 — They considered themselves “mentally prepared” for marriage — until the question of who would clean the toilets at home came up.
For 20-year-olds Goh Yixuan and Goh Siying, the question came up during their mandatory marriage preparation programme for minors — a requirement before they could apply for a marriage licence — which they attended before they were married last month.
They were among the 74 “minor couples” aged between 18 and 21 who have attended the programme since the requirement came into effect in September last year.
According to the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), 27 couples consist of at least one party who is 18 years old and below, while the other 47 couples are between 18 and 21 years old.
The programme is aimed at helping young couples better prepare for marriage, and key topics covered included communication skills, conflict resolution and financial management.
“As minor couples may face additional challenges such as early parenthood, or lack of financial independence, the programmes may also include topics such as parenting and management of personal and family responsibilities,” said an MCYS spokesperson, adding that feedback “has been positive thus far”.
The Gohs — who met three years ago at Nanyang Polytechnic — said the course, which they attended at REACH Community Services, focused on details they had not thought about.
“They not only asked us to plan our finances, but also household responsibilities, like who will wash the toilet - it’s not something that we both like doing, so that we don’t push the responsibility to each other,” said Ms Goh.
“Also, it doesn’t just focus on us being a couple, but our relationship with our family, how we interact with each other’s parents.”
Currently, there are 15 MCYS-supported service centres providing such courses. Fees range between S$280 (RM700) to S$470 and the ministry funds up to S$350 per couple if they attend courses at these centres.
While the topics covered during the courses are similar to standard marriage preparation courses, more time is spent covering topics specific to young couples’ needs, counsellors said.
“They might have several concerns, maybe financial or in-law issues, and also childcare issues, because most of the time, when they are getting married at this age, it’s because of pregnancy,” said Ms Chang Ai Ling, a senior social worker at Hougang Sheng Hong Family Service Centre.
Counsellors also emphasise helping minor couples think about what long-term commitment means. “We highlight some of the challenges to commitment, and what it might take for them to sustain the commitment as a couple,” said Ms Flora Chin, a counsellor at REACH.
However, it is not a requirement for service centres to do follow-ups with couples after they have completed the requisite marriage preparation course.
REACH also offers couples the option to attend a marriage mentoring programme in which they are matched with an experienced married couple who are volunteers for one year, added Ms Chin. — Today