Friends, Love, Love In Lines, Marriage, Relationships

[Love In Lines] The One Thing You Won’t Expect Your Wedding Planner To Be – Deborah Tan

She’s been married for almost three months now. Today, Deborah Tan talks about the one person who might have actually saved her from becoming a runaway bride.

Both the husband and I can be extremely stubborn when it comes to the way things should be done. Over the course of four years of our relationship, we have worked out that there are certain things we won’t do together because the ensuing arguments will most likely lead to the outbreak of another world war. We don’t actually spell them out but I think we can both agree that …

1. We will not run a business together
He sees only the “big picture” and I’m all about the details, obsessed with the nitty-gritty. Whenever we talk about starting a business, he accuses me of being “all doom and gloom” while I shake my head at his eternal optimism.

2. We will not use the kitchen at the same time
I don’t think we can be inside the kitchen together and hope that both will emerge from it alive. It would only be a matter of time before either of us puts a knife in the other person’s heart.

3. Sometimes, we just have to go our own way
I count hitting the karaoke with friends as one of my favorite things to do, he loathes singing in public. Fitness is his life while I only do the minimum required. We have learnt to leave the other well alone when pursuing our individual hobbies.

And in a way, I’m grateful we decided to accept the help of wedding planner Rubina Tiyu of Inside The Knot. Contrary to popular belief, wedding planners are not a luxury. If anything, given my temperament, I think using a wedding planner probably prevented a big day walk-out! I can just see it in my mind: me, all flustered and stressed over the wedding logistics, he, just going his own merry way telling everyone they can wear whatever they want. Not a pretty picture – literally and figuratively.

The color theme was Black, White and Pink. Guess WHO didn't follow the theme?!?!?

The color theme was Black, White and Pink. Guess WHO didn’t follow the theme?!?!?

And in case you think hiring a wedding planner equals spending more unnecessary money, allow me to explain why you can’t be more mistaken:

1. A wedding planner can open your mind to options you would never consider
When we decided to get married, our first choice for venue is “somewhere in Bali”. I’m the sort who expects people to reply to my email like … NOW. So when the wedding vendors in Bali proved too “relaxed” for my liking, we found ourselves suddenly at a loss of where to hold our wedding. In came Rubina to save the day. She asked, “Why Bali? Why not Phuket? Or, Penang?” It was as if the sun had broken through the clouds. She told us she knew the bosses of Mansion 32 – a seafront restaurant – and could help us check if it was available for the wedding date. Within a week, we locked down a venue – something I had been trying to do for two months!

Mansion 32 in Penang, Malaysia.

Mansion 32 in Penang, Malaysia.

 

Look Ma, NO FLOWERS!

Look Ma, NO FLOWERS!

2. A wedding planner can save you money! 
I bet this is something many people wouldn’t expect. You are probably thinking, “A wedding planner is probably going to mark up everything so that she can pocket the difference.” That’s not true. In our dealings with Rubina, we made it clear that we were not a couple with money to burn. We gave her a budget and she did a marvelous job keeping to it. I told her that I did not wish to spend more than $1,000 on my gown and she hooked me up with a dressmaker who made my wedding dress from scratch for $800. How awesome is that!?!?

Bridesmaid Madeline showing off DIY social media paper fans made by Rubina.

Bridesmaid Madeline showing off DIY social media paper fans made by Rubina.

3. A wedding planner has the resources to make your visions a reality
At our second meeting, I told Rubina that I had a challenge for her: Except for bouquets for the bride and the bridesmaids, and a basket of petals for the flower girl, I don’t want to spend money on flowers. I’d rather the money went to where it would really count – alcohol. She did a fabulous job decorating the venue and very, very little flowers were harmed in the course of making my wedding happen. I wanted a black and white wedding cake and … BINGO! It’s done!

I wanted a simple black and white wedding cake. DONE!

I wanted a simple black and white wedding cake. DONE!

4. A wedding planner makes your wedding party feel welcomed
As a bride, the last thing you want is to worry if your friends are enjoying themselves. For me, I’ve always been a bit of a worrywart when it comes to events and parties. I worry if people are enjoying themselves, I worry if they are getting along, I worry if they are being taken care of. On my wedding day, while my wedding team was busy getting everything in order, Rubina zipped out to buy Penang char kway teow to feed everyone. She really made sure I didn’t have to play “mother hen” so I could enjoy my big day.

Meet my well-fed makeup artist, hairstylist and photographer in a selfie before the ceremony.

Meet my well-fed makeup artist, hairstylist and photographer in a selfie before the ceremony.

5. A wedding planner can potentially save your relationship
So, the husband decided to celebrate his stag night in Phuket a week before the wedding. However, he realized he would be missing the flight to Penang because his return flight from Phuket was arriving after it. If I had been the one working on this wedding, Mount Deborah would have erupted. Instead, my darling wedding planner saved the day, and my marriage, by offering to drive the groom from Singapore to Penang.

The role of a wedding planner is more than just a coordinator. She is the couple’s closest ally in the months before the wedding. This person has to be aboveboard in her dealings with you and you have to feel comfortable enough to tell her your concerns and limits. With Rubina, we never once felt lousy that we didn’t have a large budget for the wedding. We were able to air our concerns very openly with her and she never downplayed them or waved them away. Simon and I not only got ourselves a fabulous wedding, we gained a very close friend in Rubina.

So the groom and his best man made it to the wedding on time ...

So the groom and his best man made it to the wedding on time …

So, couples, if you think fights are part and parcel of what it means to get married, I strongly recommend you work with a wedding planner. Your marriage will thank you for it.

Deborah’s Wedding Team
Wedding Planner: Rubina Tiyu and Clarissa Chiang of Inside The Knot (Tel: 9151 5535)
Photographer: Raymond Toh of Vineyard Production (Tel: 9679 7087)
Makeup Artist: Eric Tan (Tel: 9791 7133)
Hairstylist: Edward Chong of Evolve Salon (Tel: 9777 7128)

 

[More stories like this?]
1. I Refuse To Be A Size 2 Bride
2. Learn The Ropes From Val Lee of Blessed Brides
3. Should I Take His Name?

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Love, Love In Lines, Marriage, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Do You Believe In Marriage? – Tan Lili

In this week’s Love In Lines, founder Tan Lili shares why she is still on the fence about marriage. And while there isn’t a cut-and-dried formula to marital success, she believes she’s found a key to a happy, healthy wedded life.

But what comes after?

But what comes after?

If my buddy had asked me that question when I was 25, my answer would’ve been a resounding yes. But when she sprang that on me last week, I found myself in two minds. On one hand, stubborn me refuses to support the institution of marriage; why do I need a piece of paper to validate my relationship? But on the other, I want so, so badly to say, “I do” to the man I love.

And deep down, I’m terrified. I’ve heard of and witnessed too many broken marriages to know that so much more would be at stake the moment you’re legally bound to each other. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not banking on an eventual screw-up at some point in my relationship, but shit happens.

The ugly truth

Wedding preparations are another level of horror altogether. To me, they set the stage for the slow but affecting reveal, i.e. marriage. Case in point: A friend of mine, who used to dream of an intimate wedding affair, ended up having a grand celebration because her mother-in-law had insisted on it. “You don’t only marry your man; you marry into his family,” she warned me. Gulp.

And that’s not including other terrifying tales of ang pow drama, overbearing MILs, and the ridiculous amount of money spent on the entire fanfare.

Every couple's greatest fear.

Every couple’s greatest fear.

Once the wedding’s over, you’d still have the whole marriage thing to contend with. When you live together under one roof with shared responsibilities, there are bound to be bigger conflicts between the two of you. But each time I see my favourite real-life couples uncharacteristically argue over money or kids, I’d look at them and wonder to myself, Can two people who love each other so much eventually fall apart? I’m sorry if I sound unnecessarily bitter, and I know it’s silly to base my beliefs about marriage on what others have because every couple operates differently. I know.

But doubt and fear are two very powerful things.

When love isn’t enough

Friends always celebrate my long-term relationship but, honestly, there’s nothing to shout about. Yes, it involves hard work, but we don’t have to worry about household expenditure, pleasing the in-laws, the proper parenting methods – the whole shebang. Right now, it’s so easy to love and just be.

But from what I gathered from my family and friends, once you get married, love isn’t enough anymore. It’s about teamwork, it’s about practicality, it’s about serious commitment, it’s about having truckloads of patience.

And therein lies what I think is the key to marital success: No matter what happens, you don’t stop fighting for each other.

Never stop fighting for each other.

Never stop fighting for each other.

While I’ve seen a fair share of broken marriages, I also know of happy long-married couples. These couples shouldn’t be seen as an anomaly; their lives are peppered with as many obstacles as anyone else. But the difference is that they simply stick to their guns and never give up on each other. They fight hard.

I know there’s no point worrying about the unforeseeable future. But with my recent epiphany, it does help paint a clearer picture of what marriage entails and make me better appreciate and respect married couples who fight to make it work. I sure as hell hope I will be as strong when the time comes.

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Love In Lines, Marriage, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Should I Take His Name? – Deborah Tan

Newly married, Deborah Tan writes about the first of many problems about life as a wife. Today, she asks if she should take her husband’s name.

just married
This is my first Love In Lines post as a married woman. We ROM-ed last Friday. The actual wedding party, however, will happen at the end of the month. One of the things I get asked a lot is if I’d be taking on my husband’s name. You see, he’s got a rather interesting last name and everyone is waiting with bated breath to see if I – The Girl Who Loves Her Black Dresses – would change my name to …

Deborah Pink.

Yep, my husband’s last name is Pink.

It is quite a big thing – in some cultures – for the wife to take the husband’s name. The wife’s own last name is called her “maiden name” and that is why, in marriage, she is expected to assume her husband’s last name. Some women do the double-barrel thing and combine both last names. In my case, if I wanted to go double-barrel, I’d be called “Deborah Tan Pink”.

There is a growing debate whether women should still be expected to take their husband’s name. In the United States, it has been found that the number of women opting to keep their maiden names is shrinking. From 23 percent in the 90s, the number has fallen to a paltry 8 percent in 2011. Some feminists find the trend disturbing because it is akin to a woman choosing to lose her own identity – the one she was born with.

For the women who have chosen to keep their own names, often, the reason is professional. If her name is already a well-established one in her industry, it seems counter-intuitive to change it. This is the biggest reason for me as well for not wanting to change my name. I have been publishing under my own name since I started working in magazines. “You have no idea how much work I’ve had to do to get onto the first page of Google!” I’d tell my friends. There was a period when if you had Googled “Deborah Tan”, you’d get the principal of a girls’ school.

To change my name to Deborah Pink would – in the words of my inner-geek – mean losing my search engine juice! And just what would happen to my personal domain, deborahtan.com? My ego is telling me to keep “Deborah Tan”.

The Pinks wearing black.

The Pinks wearing black.

The first complication I foresee arising out of my decision to keep my name would be if formal invitation cards should address me as “Ms Deborah Tan” or “Mrs Deborah Pink”. Obviously, I’m not a Ms but it would be weird to call me Mrs Deborah Pink if I’m going to introduce myself as Deborah Tan.

Earlier on, I mentioned how some women go double-barrel but for me, I cannot consider it an option. “Tan Pink” is just asking to be made fun of! If I happen to spend a minute too long in the sun, I’m going to have to sit through all manners of sunburn jokes because I’m Mrs Tan Pink!

The arguments supporting “Deborah Tan” are mostly professional, based on my crazed need to keep my identity. The arguments supporting “Deborah Pink” are most certainly more emotional. The women who have opted to take on their husbands’ names often say that marriage is not the place for personal egos. Rather, it is a partnership where two people have promised to work as a team. Of course, we can discuss why can’t men take on their wives’ name but this isn’t the point of my post. What messages would I be sending out if I chose to remain “Deborah Tan”? What messages would I be sending if I chose to become “Deborah Pink”? Does it even matter?

To my husband, he has said no, it doesn’t matter to him if I become one or the other. I guess the reason why I’m bringing this up is because I’d love to hear a second, third, fourth … tenth opinion. I’ve heard the, “It’s so cute to have Pink as a surname” argument, I’ve heard the, “Deborah Pink will also get you on page 1 on Google. How many Deborah Pinks are there?” consolation.

Beyond saying, “I do” and putting on the wedding band, I think many women struggle to establish what their new identity really entails. As a wife now, should we set aside our personal ego and recognise that we have to work with our husbands now to build a new life together? As a woman, should we remind ourselves that we shouldn’t forget our own person just because we are now married?

I think I’m only just beginning to scratch at the surface of a whole new personal growth topic. But tell me, what do you think I should do? Stay as “Deborah Tan” or be “Deborah Pink” or thicken my skin and just go by “Deborah Tan Pink”?

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of being newly married. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She does openly wonder if people would take her seriously if she goes by the name, “Deborah Pink”. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Denise Li, Marriage, Opinions, Relationships

Grandeur Frightens Me Or, Why I’ll Be Having My Wedding At My Neighbourhood Pub – Denise Li

When I get married, I want to make sure it’s as stress-free an affair as possible. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.

Also, I won't be having bridesmaids.

Also, I won’t be having bridesmaids.

Like most engaged women, I spend an inordinate amount of time dreaming about my perfect wedding. It will be beautiful … I will be wearing a gorgeous short white dress, the playlist will be personally handpicked by me and my fiance Alain, my nearest and dearest friends will all be there tossing back a craft beer, or a few.

Except that over the years of attending countless weddings at hotel ballrooms – all beautiful in their own right – I decided that it’s really not for me, or us, as it were, as Alain seems to be in full agreement with me on this.

As someone who is decidedly not detail-oriented (except when I absolutely have to be, like at work), planning a wedding on such a grand scale, where I have to worry about everything from invitation cards to flower arrangement, to what sort of glassware is appropriate for the occasion, represents my ultimate worst nightmare.

True, I could engage a wedding planner to take care all of that for me but fact is, the responsibility of taking care of things such as the guestlist ultimately still falls on me and my partner. And as far as guestlists go, I’d really hate to have to think about whether I need to invite that fifth grandaunt I haven’t seen for five years to bear witness to my big day.

Beyond the guestlist though, there are a number of other reasons I will be eschewing a hotel ballroom wedding for a party held at The Cider Pit (said neighbourhood bar).

1. Cost

There are many things I dream about spending $10,000 on; like being able to live for months on end in Thailand or one extravagant trip to the Bahamas. Heck, I’d even much rather use the money to invest in a Rolex watch (those things only appreciate in value, I heard). Some people think I’m crazy for wanting to mark my big day at a cheap bar where you can get a decent pint for $10. Let me throw the question back to these people by saying: isn’t it crazier to spend that kind of money for ONE night in which you won’t be having that much fun anyway because you’re fretting about dress changes, or making a speech, or a hundred other things that the bride’s expected to do? I mean, you can’t even enjoy the food right until the end of the night when you’ve shaken the hand of your last guest. Okay, you might argue, but the angpows you’ll be receiving will cover the cost. Ugh. That line of reasoning bugs me sooooo much, which brings me to the next point …

I'll be wearing a dress like this at my pub wedding ... paired with a pair of motorcycle boots. All the better to drink and move around in!

I’ll be wearing a dress like this at my pub wedding … paired with a pair of motorcycle boots. All the better to drink and move around in!

2. The shittiness of ang pow politics

Don’t throw a grand party only because you think you can “cover the cost” or worse, PROFIT from it! If you have the means to pay for the whole thing on your own, by all means, THROW THE PARTY. But I’ve always thought it was in bad faith to expect your guests to cough up upwards of $100 to cover the cost of their seat at the wedding. It creates unnecessary stress – and trust me, resentment – for the guests who might not have the means to do so. I once went to a wedding where the couple’s friends, who were at the reception, actually MARKED the angpows so the couple will know exactly how much each guest gave. That just left a terribly bad taste in my mouth. See, the last thing I want is for the people I love to stress about how much to give me. I just want them to come, get tipsy at the open bar, dance, and have fun. Shocking, I know.

3. The cliched-ness of it all

I really don’t like the idea of “packages”. Sure, many hotels give the illusion of choice – menu A and menu B, and so on. But at the end of the day, it’s still a set package. In the same way that you go on a packaged tour knowing exactly what sights you’re going to see, hotel weddings will all inevitably have that “same-ness” about them. There is usually no sense of the couple injecting their own personalities into the whole shindig. And it’s THEIR big day! Maybe some people like the predictability of the proceedings – not me though. My relationship and everything we’ve been through together … it all has a special place in my heart. So, when we seal the union officially, I don’t see why it has to done in the same way it has been done by so many couples before me.

I know … most people say that hotel ballroom weddings are “for the parents”. But … have you ever tried reasoning with them? Why does the shadow of your parents loom so large over your life that you feel that you have to give up control over how your big day will go and who you want to invite?

My neighbourhood bar is a very special place to me. It’s somewhere that my friends, Alain, and I have spent countless hours catching up on life. I like the fact that when I stop by, I can have a chat and share a joke with the owners. I like that it almost feels like home. I spent my last birthday there, I will celebrate my 31st birthday this year there once again, and I know that it will be an absolute riot, like it always is. To me, it’s the perfect destination to celebrate a huge life milestone. I won’t be sending out fancy invitation cards – just Facebook event invitations and Whatsapp messages. I’ll tell my friends that I don’t need an angpow from them – for them to make time to show up and party with us will be meaningful enough for me. People can arrive late if they want … the party starts with or without them, and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind.

Everybody wins, and nobody’s budget gets busted. I can’t wait to get married.

About the Author: Denise Li is a founder of Material World and a freelance writer-editor. Before that, she spent a few years in the Features section of CLEO and Cosmopolitan Singapore. She considers Chiang Mai her spiritual home and makes it a point to head there for a yearly pilgrimage. She’s also a fitness buff and enjoys boxing, running and the occasional yoga session. Obviously, she’s also a fan of verbal sparring. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseLiTweets.

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[Love In Lines] Wedding Woes

[Love In Lines] The ROM-com That’s Not Funny

Latecomers Are Narcissists

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Love, Love In Lines, Marriage, Relationships

[Love In Lines] The ROM-Com That’s Not Funny – Deborah Tan

Does it really matter who play witness at your wedding solemnization? I thought not but my dear sister begged to differ and this, got me thinking.

KillBill

“This church is a bit too big for the wedding, don’t you think?”

“OK, people,” I texted to the Whatsapp group of friends helping me out with the wedding, “I need 2 names and IC numbers. For witnesses for the ROM thing. Anyone?”

My guy friend Navin texted back, “I can, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course not! One more, please!”

Then Rubina, our wedding planner, texted back saying she could be a witness too.

Set. We typed their details into the online form and were about to pay the $26 fee for booking a slot when my sister messaged, “The ROM is THE THING.”

She was insistent that my witnesses should be people I wouldn’t grow to hate. “What if Navin becomes your enemy in the future? His name is going to be on your wedding certificate forever!”

“Relax,” I replied. “It’s not like the wedding cert is going to be framed and hung up in the living room, right?”

Whose signatures are going on this?

Whose signatures are going on this?

“Up to you,” she said, “I can be your witness. At least I’m related to you and you can’t get rid of me.”

Well, everything worked out just fine. Turned out Rubina may not be in Singapore on the few available dates left in April and so Delphine, my sister, became the witness I “won’t be able to get rid of, come what may in the future”.

The entire episode lasted just 10 minutes. From my Whatsapp plea for witnesses to the final confirmation of who would be the 2 “unlucky” ones, the whole thing was settled in a matter of minutes. In fact, Vanessa went from witness-wannabe to witness to no-longer-a-witness during this whole time! But that got me thinking about something: I didn’t even realize this mattered.

To me, it was as simple as going down to an office to complete a form, a matter of administrative work. To my sister, and perhaps many brides-to-be, this somewhat innocuous act of signing on a piece of paper bears a considerable amount of significance. It is the “official” moment where one gives up her Single status and legally becomes a married.

Some couples plan an entire event around the ROM. They have a special dress for it, they gather a group of their closest and dearest to witness the moment, and they usually celebrate the affair with a lunch reception at a restaurant. Some couples – finding the ROM office a bit too “unromantic” – would apply to have the Justice Of Peace (JP) come to the church or the hotel to solemnize the wedding. Some even fly the JP overseas so they can officiate the whole thing in a scenic spot overlooking the ocean.

For me, I’m the bride who just wants to get the paperwork out of the way so we can properly plan for the fun part of the wedding without any care or worry.

The thing is: Why do we bother going the whole shebang when we famously always complain about the amount of red-tape one faces in running his/her daily life in Singapore? Almost everything in Singapore requires some kind of paperwork. To buy a car, one needs a certificate of entitlement. You cannot dream of running any business without applying for a license. Our men have to call in to inform the Ministry of Defense whenever they’re leaving the country for work or for a vacation. In Singapore, there is no theme church you can saunter into and get married in a moment’s notice … no! In fact, the only dates available – as we speak – are in April!

Wedding spontaneity, Vegas-style, is not possible in Singapore.

If you – like me – detest this bureaucratic killjoy, wouldn’t it make sense that you just want to get it done and over with as swiftly as you can? I wasn’t planning to invite anyone along for the ROM, except for the two witnesses. And, I hope it’s okay if we are not even planning to exchange rings at the ROM.

I don't care if Elvis is my witness. I just want to have fun at my wedding.

I don’t care if Elvis is my witness. I just want to have fun at my wedding.

You see, on the list of Most Unromantic Things To Do When You Get Married, the ROM is No. 3 after marriage preparation course and the medical check-up where the doctor confirms that you are both healthy, child-bearing adults.

Wouldn’t it be more fun if my ROM could be one where I have some Jon Bon Jovi lookalike sing “Thank You For Loving Me” live as a Steve Tyler lookalike walk me down the aisle of a not-really-a-church church. The dude officiating it could look like Slash or, better, Mick Jagger. Maybe a handful of drunk friends can be there but they probably won’t remember a thing the morning after. We will say our “I dos” and proceed to an all-nighter at a karaoke, where we will sing all kinds of love songs written by Man. I don’t want to have to lock in my ROM date three months’ ahead. I want to be able to ROM whenever my mood tells me, “OK, GO!”

At the end of the day, does it really matter what you do for the ROM or who is there to witness your ROM? Yes, the witnesses’ names are going to be on the certificate. Yes, it is legally momentous. But it is just a piece of paper that requires signatures and it plays no part at all in ensuring whether your marriage is going to last. I don’t even see why I have to be present physically to sign the cert when – like Internet banking – we can just do it all online and save the cab fare to Fort Canning.

The witnesses, while essential in the ROM process, can really be anybody. [Navin and Delphine, this isn’t to say we do not appreciate your participation here. We are truly grateful you guys are going to be taking time off for this]

It’s the person you are going to marry who better make sure he/she shows up! Failing which, we would really have some rom-com material on our hands.

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of living together with a partner. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She’s glad that her friends and sister are there to give the wedding some “gravity”. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweet.

This is not the end …
1. Here’s Why You Are Invited To A Wedding
2. [Love In Lines] Wedding Woes
3. [Love In Lines] He Proposed

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Love, Love In Lines, Marriage, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Confessions Of An Undomestic Girlfriend – Tan Lili

It never fails to amaze me how my boyfriend and I are still learning new things about each other to this day. Like how, after more than nine years of dating, he only just found out that I don’t know how to operate a washing machine.

"Just press the buttons," he said.

“You just need to press buttons,” he said.

He has probably resigned to the fact that his girlfriend doesn’t belong in the kitchen – I’m about as clueless as Bear Grylls would be on a catwalk – but he never knew the extent of my undomesticated ways until our recent holiday in Taiwan. Since it lasted 10 days, it was inevitable that we’d use a washing machine at some point.

“Buttons, you just need to press buttons,” he said, fumbling with said buttons as I unsuccessfully tried to make out the Chinese words next to them. “Who washes your clothes, then? I even iron my own clothes!”

Silence.

“YOU MEAN YOU DON’T IRON YOUR OWN CLOTHES?!”

To my defence, I do know how to iron, but my sweet mum always insists on doing the household chores. (“The shirt is still crumpled!” / “The dishes are still dirty!” / “The floor still feels greasy!” she’d tell my dad and me each time either of us tries to take over a chore.) Meanwhile, my dad is the one who does the cooking. Feeding us is his number-one priority; I love how his eyes always light up whenever I ask him what he’s cooking for dinner.

But the washing-machine incident brought to mind a conversation I recently had with a taxi driver. Not 30 seconds into the journey, he showed me a photo of him and his wife, introducing her as “the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known”. I know, right? Who’s cutting onions? Anyway, since I’ve always been a sucker for love stories, I listened with rapt attention as he regaled me with tales of how they met. Then he said, “You know how we’ve managed to stay together for so long? She fulfils every duty of a wife, and she never dares to disobey me.”

Wow, talk about jamming on the brakes.

Still, who am I to say he’s a bad, bad husband? For all I know, his wife could be the one wearing the pants and he was just making things up to lick his wounds. But the conversation only went downhill from there.

“You can’t cook?” he exclaimed after I told him so. “I’m sorry to say this, but you’ll make a very lousy wife next time. Every woman must know how to cook a proper meal for her husband.”

Do I feel bad for being horrible at household chores? Of course – only because I wish I could help my mum with the chores, rather than add on to her daily list. Do I feel bad for my lack of culinary know-how? Nah, though I’d like to learn some of my dad’s awesome cooking skills. Do I feel bad for not fulfilling the qualities of a so-called good wife? Hell, NO. In case the uncle failed to notice, it’s year 2013; being a stay-home wife is virtually impossible given the financial responsibilities every household has to bear today.

Thank goodness my boyfriend – and most men, really – doesn’t buy into the girlfriend/wife material bullshit, but it doesn’t stop some people from writing articles like “10 Signs She’s Definitely Not Wifey Material”. It’s borderline misogynistic and 100-percent sexist. Stop.

This is by no means a feminist rant, because I’m not refusing to be domestic; I just suck at being so, and I’m definitely not proud of it. But that does not make me any less of a woman, thank you very much. On a different note, however, my boyfriend’s reaction to my rather embarrassing revelation – he pouted then ironed his own clothes with a smile on his face – makes him twice the man he already was before. I wish I could bake him something to express my gratitude, but let’s not subject the poor guy to any more trauma, shall we?

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more! 

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Deborah Tan, Love, Marriage, Opinions, Relationships

“Why” Is The Question To Ask Here – Deborah Tan

At what point does cheating happen in a relationship?

Is it when you catch your boyfriend/husband in bed with the other woman?

Is it when you see suspicious SMS messages in his phone?

is it when you hear from other people that they have seen him out and about with another woman?

Is it when you see flirtatious messages on his Facebook Wall?

Or, is it when he has decided that he’s going to try his luck and look around for someone to cheat with?

coupleonbedThe reason for my asking is obviously to do with news that a dating website targeting married people may be launching in Singapore and this has given rise to debates about whether the presence of such sites contributes to the erosion of family values and whether starting this service in Singapore undermines the trust between husband and wife. This contentious website is AshleyMadison.com.

Like there isn’t cheating happening in marriages and relationships in Singapore as we speak.

Off the top of my head, there are a number of ways I could cheat on my boyfriend, and he on me:

1. How about adding strangers on Facebook and Instagram and start exchanging “friendly” messages with one another? After all, 1 in 2 Singaporeans are apparently okay with adding complete strangers as “friends” on their social networking sites.

2. How about me resurrecting my partying habits and hitting the clubs at Clarke Quay every Saturday night? I’m sure with adequate alcohol and appropriate lighting, it is possible to find someone attractive enough to have a one-night stand with.

3. How about I sign up for dancing classes and start developing feelings for my dance partner or instructor? With the close proximity and sexy dance moves, I’m sure it’s quite easy for people to find love again under such circumstances.

4. What about just going to work and meeting new people every other day? Like, maybe I should start looking for a job in a male-dominated industry like finance and find myself a rich man to have an affair with.

My point is … ANY CIRCUMSTANCE and ANY OCCASION can lead to cheating. And whether or not a website that serves as a “conduit” for adulterous activities is allowed to launch in Singapore isn’t going to alter the fact that a CHEATER IS ALWAYS GOING TO BE ABLE TO FIND A WAY TO CHEAT BEHIND HIS PARTNER’S BACK.

I’m not condoning the use of AshleyMadison.com here. I’m not saying it’s OK to use a website to cheat. I’m not saying it’s alright to cheat as long as you do it discreetly.

What I’m saying here is there are deeper issues as to why people are cheating on their partners in Singapore and it’s been happening for a while. Hello? Have you seen the bus with the ad that says, “CatchCheatingSpouse.sg”?

If someone wants to cheat, he or she can do it just about anywhere.

The bigger question to ask here is WHY would someone cheat? Why would someone put their marriage, family and reputation on the line for a brief affair?

club dancingThey do it for the thrill. An overwhelming number of people are most likely to quote this as a reason why they would cheat. Many years of marriage have led to boredom, to your spouse taking you for granted. Sex becomes routine, predictable … and that is if you even have sex at all. The excitement of getting back into the “game” again makes a person feels attractive and desirable.

They do it for the connection. Often, people cheat with their co-workers and their bosses. Time together leads to emotional and physical connectedness, and given the amount of time we in Singapore spend at the office, I would posit that the OFFICE is a more conducive place for cheating than a website.

They do it because they have no respect for their partners. It’s easier to blame something or someone when a partner strays. But really, the crux of why they do it is because they have NO RESPECT for their other halves. They feel they are entitled to abuse the trust someone has invested in them, they believe they can get away with it because they are (1) successful (2) rich (3) good-looking and that their partners will stay with them for these very reasons.

At the end of the day, cheaters need validation. They do it to feel wanted, to feel desired, to feel loved, to feel special. Sometimes, it involves a change in attitudes and habits, sometimes, it involves you walking away from them. The fact is, once they have taken that first step to stray, they will find a person to do it whether it’s via a website or at the office.

Stopping a website from launching in Singapore isn’t going to stem the problem at its roots. It’s merely taking one option out of the many available to those who are serial cheaters, and delaying the inevitable for those who are toying with the idea of cheating. The website is not introducing into Singapore a new concept called cheating and that is what we need to be mature enough to acknowledge.

inception

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits and thinks cheating is actually more tiring than it is thrilling. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Infographics, Love, Marriage, Relationships

[Infographic] The Dirty On Cheating (Part 2) – Deborah Tan

Exactly a month ago, I did up an infographic about some interesting statistics on cheating. As the results reflected findings from US and UK, we thought it would be great if Singaporeans can give us an insight into the cheater’s mind with a survey.

Tonight, Material World presents an infographic that reflects the results of this survey. Although more women than men took part in this survey, we found that patterns are generally similar between both sexes. And, the good news – it seems – Singaporeans are pretty loyal. Most of the respondents turned out to be non-cheaters. Those who are cheating or have cheated tend to get into affairs with their friends – someone who knows and understands them.

Unlike the UK survey that revealed Audi drivers to be most likely to cheat, in Singapore, cheaters here are most likely to drive a Toyota. Anyway, have fun going through this infographic!

Pssst … wanna help us out with another survey? Click here to take our Happy Endings survey now!

Cheating in Singapore

Copyright of Material World

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About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits and thinks cheating is more stress than it’s worth. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Love In Lines, Marriage, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Wedding Woes – Deborah Tan

Planning the big day ... how?!?!

Planning the big day … how?!?!

So planning for the wedding has kinda started.

I really don’t know how to begin talking about this … but let’s just say … I’ll probably make it to the list of Top 10 Least Enthusiastic Brides Of All Time. If I could afford it, I think I really would hire a wedding planner to settle it all for me.

It’s not that I don’t know what I want. It’s getting there that’s proving to be the ultimate test of my patience (and I don’t even have a lot to begin with!).

1. Location
I would like to hold my wedding in Bali. But I don’t want the whole fancy fairytale thing. I just want to book a villa/garden/cliff/padi field, have the people place like 80 chairs, a table for guests to sign in, and that’s it! But whenever I email a venue, I get expensive quotations that include things like, “Two Balinese girls as flower-girls”, “Balinese musicians”, “rose petal showers”, “magic show”, “priest”, “photo album with 200 pictures”, etc. I guess these “extras” are their way of justifying why it costs US$2,000 to book a garden. But can’t you just rent me the garden with chairs for like US$500?

2. Guest List
We only want to invite 80 people. Max. But currently, MY guest list alone is already over 100 people. His guest list is small … like maybe 10? I have already been very brutal with my guest list. If you haven’t Facebooked me for the last 6 days, you are out. And still I have loads of people to invite. Then again, if I’m thinking of doing this overseas, maybe not everyone would want to come. So here’s what I’m thinking …

I could set up a Facebook Event and make it voluntary. If you want to come (and preferably still give me an ang pow), just add yourself to the guest list. Cool?

3. Food
Venue doesn’t come with food, unfortunately. Simon (that’s the groom’s name, by the way) says no sharks fin, which is fine cos I’m going for a 4-course Western dinner. But price per head is the same as the original quote, which is for a buffet! Does it make more economical sense then to go with a buffet? But that’d be so troublesome for the guests, no? But less food is involved in the 4-course dinner so why aren’t they charging me less?!?!?! *headache*

4. Drinks
Drinks have to be paid for too. I read somewhere how a bride just got each of her guests to buy 2 bottles from duty-free and take them to the dinner. Would they charge corkage? Would we be thrown out? But to pay over US$200 per head for drinks sounds too ridiculous too! The non-drinkers won’t be able to drink US$200 worth of Coke! AARGH. Kill. Me. Now.

I only want these 4 things. Oh those, and a credible tattoo artist in Bali.

I don’t need fairy lights drape over trees.

I don’t need a live band.

I don’t even want a wedding photo album!

I don’t need cute cars and Vera Wang dresses (I intend to buy something from ASOS since it will be the only time I’ll wear white anyway).

But how else can I keep the cost down and to get the vendors to understand that I want “SIMPLE”?

Anyone who got married in Bali reading this? Your advice would be sooooooooooo appreciated.

Exhausted just thinking about the wedding

Exhausted just thinking about the wedding

 

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of living together with a partner. Stay tuned for more! 

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and wants Henry Cavill (or a lookalike) as her hen night’s stripper. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Infographics, Love, Marriage, Relationships

[Infographic] The Dirty On Cheating – Deborah Tan

I read an interesting news online the other day. It seems drivers of Audi are most likely to cheat on their partners. In fact, if you drive a German car, chances of you cheating on your partner seems rather high (see infographic below). Yikes! I drive a Volkswagen!!!!!

The topic of cheating comes up frequently in conversations with my friends. While it seems very clear-cut to most of us what cheating is, sometimes, it’s not at all very clear. For example, do you consider flirting on Facebook as cheating?

When I was single, I used to say No. Because for me then, cheating would have to be physical or emotional. Surely a playful comment or a flirtatious Like can’t hurt. But I found that my stance shifted when I got into a relationship. Overnight, flirting on Facebook was unacceptable. I won’t go as far as to say it is cheating but I don’t like it when other women leave “harmless” flirty double entendres on my boyfriend’s Facebook Wall. Call it marking your territory, call it whatever … I knew there and then that my generous definition of Facebook flirting did not include my boyfriend.

While the infographic below presents statistics curated from several sources, I think they are only a loose (no pun intended) representation of general sentiments. I’m interested in knowing what YOU in SINGAPORE feel about cheating. If you have cheated, or are cheating, on your partner/spouse, I’m interested to know your take on this matter. There is a 10-question survey I would like you to complete. It’s ANONYMOUS so you don’t have to fear that your identity is going to leak out.

If you can complete this survey, it would certainly help a lot of us understand the “cheating” scene in Singapore better. I’ll create another infographic to reflect these results in the future.

To take the survey, click here.

Meanwhile, enjoy this infographic:

cheating

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About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits … drives a Volkswagen, and thinks people who sext are really asking for trouble. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Love In Lines, Marriage, Relationships

[Love In Lines] He Proposed – Deborah Tan

So yes, Simon proposed to me while we were on our holiday in Bali yesterday. After 3 years, the man has finally decided to make a respectable woman out of me.

Us in a shameless selfie taken at Sardine in Bali - the most proposal-suitable restaurant we went on our first day there. Our proposal didn't happen there.

Us in a shameless selfie taken at Sardine in Bali – the most proposal-suitable restaurant we went on our first day there. Our proposal didn’t happen there.

After the event, I posted on Facebook how those who’ve been threatening to embarrass me at my wedding could now take a queue number to do that. The deluge of Likes and “Congrats” was heartwarming as it was overwhelming. Honestly, I didn’t expect such an outpouring of love from my friends and family. Really.

One friend’s response, however, really summed it up: “Well done! Hell has frozen over!”

Yes. The unthinkable has happened. The Deborah who used to bug her married friends with questions like, “How do you know he’s the one you want to live with for the rest of your life?”, “What makes you think you won’t meet someone better?”, or “What’s going to happen if you regret your choice?” is engaged. The Deborah who felt uncomfortable doing bridal magazines is probably going to be needing one of those very soon.

Our friends are hustling us for the details.

I can tell all of you this: There was no sunset. We weren’t in a beautiful Balinese restaurant overlooking the padi fields (we did that on our first day in Bali). There was no fancy surprise. And …

There was no ring.

So those of you hoping to catch a glimpse of a big rock on my right hand can give up now and go back to watching “Keeping Up With The Kardashians”.

Did I mind that we didn’t have a ring? No. Absolutely not.

tattoorings

Quite nice, what?!?!

When was the last time anyone spotted a ring on my fingers? I don’t wear rings usually and I don’t expect my proposal to feature one. In fact, I’m campaigning for a TATTOO around our ring fingers instead. Cheesy? Well, not if you know that I’m someone who already has five tattoos. Practical? You bet! Have you seen anyone try to take off a “tattoo” ring? That’s impossible! So yes, I am going to try my darnest to sell him the idea of a tattoo ring. He’s not very keen on that idea and I suspect he is going to work very hard to try to change my mind. Good luck, Simon.

How did he propose? Well, we were waiting for our takeaway at Made’s Warung and our conversation led to him asking me, “Shall we get married?” No bended knee. No crying. No declarations of everlasting love. I jokingly replied, “Haha! OK. You going to get down on your knee or what?” He had planned to pop the question when we go for dinner at Poppies – a Balinese institution in Kuta since 1973. As fate would have it, I had to “ruin things” by whining about getting a massage and then heading back to the hotel with some cheap local fare from Made’s.

On hindsight, I would be at a total lost if an entire restaurant was looking at us. As much as my friends think I’m a drama queen, my proposal should preferably not be a scene out of a rom-com. Not for me.

Two years of living together have taught us both a thing or two about grand gestures. Neither of us are fans of them. I envision my wedding to be a party where friends basically drink themselves silly, where we’ll be playing embarrassing frat-boy games, where people will be able to eat, have fun, have conversations, and get drunk.

But you know what, girls? There is one wedding tradition I must insist on:

A hen party. And, for this one night in my life, I promise I will not try to take control of things.

Hell has indeed frozen over. Two cynical individuals are getting married. Now, let’s hope we don’t ever change our minds on children.

 

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of living together with a partner. Stay tuned for more! 

 

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits, and wants Henry Cavill (or a lookalike) as her hen night’s stripper. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

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Marriage, Relationships

Living With Domestic Violence – Vanessa Tai

Dear Nigella, why stay?

Dear Nigella, why stay?

When news broke of celebrity chef Nigella Lawson getting publicly abused by her husband Charles Saatchi, I was horrified. Not because I didn’t think such things didn’t happen in this day and age. No, I was bewildered as to why someone as successful and capable as Lawson would tolerate such behaviour. In my mind, I pictured domestic abuse victims as lowly educated women with little or no access to professional help. How wrong I was.

According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), domestic violence against women has reached “epidemic proportions.” One in three women have suffered physical or sexual assault at the hands of a man they know, whether he’s a current or former partner. This is especially prevalent in regions like Africa, West Asia and Southeast Asia, with an average of 37 percent of women in these regions experiencing physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes.

Look around you; it’s way more pervasive than we’ll like to think. It could be happening to your colleague, friend or even your own family member. Very often, these victims of domestic abuse go unnoticed because of a fear of social stigma. Corinna Lim, executive director at AWARE, says, “These women tend to feel it’s their responsibility to make the relationship work, which is why they choose not to share what’s going on with others.”

A deep sense of responsibility to her marriage was what made Anne*, now 51, stay on in an abusive marriage for 13 years. Now divorced for the past one-and-a-half years, she shares with Material World her story.

I was a senior executive drawing a high salary when I got married to Joe*, an architect. Even before we got married, I knew he had a bad temper. He used to shout at his mother and threaten her with a knife if she so much as moved the things in his room. Somehow, I didn’t see that as a red flag because he never behaved that way towards me and I thought that even if he did, I would be able to handle it. After we got married, things started to change. He started to control everything that I did – my dressing, who I went out with, what I ate, even which lane I chose to drive in! When we were out with our friends and I tried to offer my opinion, he would sneer and say, “What do you know? You’re just a woman.” He took pride in his chauvinistic remarks and actions, and whenever we quarreled, he would strangle me or smother me with a pillow. His reason for using a pillow? “So that even if you go to the police, there won’t be any marks as proof.” Because he was previously diagnosed with Schizotypal Personality Disorder (a type of social anxiety that may lead to schizophrenia), he often used that against me by saying that even if he really killed me one day, no court of law would persecute him because of his disorder. I lived in constant terror every single day.

It’s not like I didn’t try seeking help. When I shared with my parents what was going on, their reaction was typical of that of the older generation – “You chose him … you make it work.” I tried reporting him to the police many times, but he would always call me to beg for forgiveness, listing out all his wrongdoings and promising to change. I guess a big part of me really wanted to believe that he would change, and another part of me felt a deep sense of responsibility to our marriage and our young son. However, the last straw came when Joe suspected me of having an affair. He went absolutely ballistic, and the “punishment” he meted out was far worse than I’ve ever experienced. I moved out with our son and filed a Personal Protection Order (PPO) against him.

After the whole ordeal, I quit my job to spend more time with my son. I’ve now put the past behind me and I feel much free-er and happier. My message to women who are victims?

Leave. Don’t believe he will change because he can’t. Being abusive is part of his value system; it’s as fundamental as that. To him, women are objects to own and control. You deserve much, much better.

Know somebody that needs help? Encourage them to call the AWARE helpline at 1800 774 5935.

*Names have been changed.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.

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