It’s said marriage is not a destination but a journey. And like any road trip, you’ll make new discoveries and cross milestones but there’ll also be bumps and wrong turns.
In Part 2 of a series of three stories, Dolly and Bernard Cheong share with us how they’ve navigated their voyage of love.
Dolly & Bernard Cheong
Married for 30 years with two daughters, Dolly and Bernard consider the watch instrumental in their journey as a couple—not only has it brought them shared experiences and new friends, it has offered them opportunities to explore a world beyond their normal comfort zone. Bernard says, “Doing something that demands learning a new skill is extremely stressful for both partners, but is key to the next step of knowing each other.”
Our journey began in… 1987.
Dolly: We first met in 1981, during my first year in university, but only started dating when I graduated from NUS. We had a simple church wedding followed by a reception at the church. We were just starting out in our careers—Bernard was about to start his private practice three months down the road so we were very pragmatic about it. Plus, we felt that it was the marriage that was important, not the wedding day. The most beautiful thing was that Bernard’s friends came forward to be our official photographers. We’ll be married for 30 years in July.
Bernard: The moment of the ring exchange in church signified we were married. I found someone who loved me. We had no money. Even if we had, we would have had the very same. Life could not have any higher points if I had walked a different path. I cannot imagine a life without Dolly.
Dolly: I love Bernard for being a family man, always putting us first and for being a fun dad to our girls. He’s the Minister of Fun in our family! It wasn’t easy for me when we first came out for social events, and it was through his continuous effort to ensure we did things as a couple that it gradually became natural and comfortable. He used to be the one to pull me onto the dance floor, and it can be quite unnerving when you’re the only couple dancing for that few minutes. But I can say I am less inhibited now. He’s generous and cares a lot about his patients and finds it hard to say no to anyone in need.
Bernard: Dolly complements and adds to my good side. She has never harped on my bad habits. I love her because she is a good person. She’s decisive, firm, analytical and insightful. She does what it takes, not just talk. She is morally and mentally strong.
In marriage, like every journey, there are bumps, sliproads and blindspots…
Dolly: Close friends would say I’m the reserved one while Bernard is often the life of the party. It’s not always easy living with someone who has strong opinions and crazy ideas. Learning to work on this and overcoming differences together has made us appreciate each other more. We’ve been blessed with good health, we work hard, and we’ve seen our lives change for the better since marriage.
Bernard: We are poles apart. Dolly is smart, she reads my intense abstract look on issues. I reflect and ponder over her impressions very deeply. I’m still learning. She has a different mind and emotional currency than I. This causes crevices and even glacial drifts down the mountains we’ve already climbed. We value each other to climb back up.
Treasures we’ve picked up along the ride…
Dolly: We’ve complemented each other despite the ups and downs. We play to what we do best and have worked on that to raise our daughters who have done us very proud. They are absolute treasures God has blessed us with! I have been blessed to meet and marry Bernard, through whom I have been brought along on a journey of interesting experiences—something I’d never have imagined as a young girl from Kuantan, a small seaside town.
Bernard: Discovering a shared philosophy, and our children. We read and watch, listen to musical eras, books and films. That has sealed many problems and opened new doors. I used to lead a philosophy of success without money, but Dolly convinced me that money is important, and to be wise with it.
What’s the golden rule for a smooth ride?
Dolly: Respect each other. Knowing that I always have Bernard’s support is very comforting. I cannot stress the importance of doing things as a couple, having common interests and common friends. Compromise is important.
Bernard: If it were constantly a smooth ride, it’d mean we are learning nothing. We would not be contributing to anything, no new grounds, no discoveries. We’d be living out time in a box of candles, not lighting any. Two golden rules: Try new things together; and be there for less fortunate relatives, especially for in-laws. To me, it is incredible that Dolly has the love and capacity to live with my parents.
Hear what the couples have to say to each other in this special video below: