Husband and wife know that happiness isn't something that just falls into your lap -- they intend to keep it in their marriage by constantly refining only the good and pruning out all the bad.
Love is notorious for eluding the most hopeful only to strike them in the unlikeliest circumstances in a breathless whirlwind of unexpected events and emotions.
Such was indeed the case for Tan Shen Wain and Lim Ai San.
Married almost a year and a half now with a daughter and blessed with another child on the way, love was the furthest thing on both their minds when they met. When they did encounter it, however, it took them on a bullet train to happiness much greater than either expected.
The right place at the right time
One could say sparks flew the moment they met each other.
“We met at a friend’s dad’s birthday party,” shares Shen Wain. “It was a typical Chinese family gathering where they expected all the single people above the age of 30 to mingle and get married.”
Ai San grins to herself as she too recalls how it all unfolded. “He asked me to join them at their table because they were playing cards,” she recounts. “When he brought me to the table, he placed a hand on my back. This is going to sound so cliché, but there were electric shocks running down my spine. That was the first time I felt anything like it.”
A first date like, as Ai San herself put it, one right out of a Korean movie followed. Shen Wain was the perfect gentleman who picked her up from her home, brought her out for drinks before they indulged in a romantic dinner date. It even ended with a stroll through the KLCC park famous among lovebirds, at the end of which Shen Wain took a chance and kissed her under a tree.
“Believe it or not, I always tell people that my first date with my husband was very much like a Korean movie,” tells Ai San. “He was really funny and, yes, he was very romantic.”
Shen Wain credits it all to being at the right place at the right time. “You can have everything coming together perfectly but if it happens in a scrap metal yard, it’s not going to work. It’s a combination of faith and chemistry, which makes it very beautiful.”
"We couldn't have done it without our daughter"
Wedding bells chimed for the couple soon after that fateful first date. Before long, they welcomed an adorable baby girl, Rue Shan. It may all sound really fast but both Shen Wain and Ai San wouldn’t have done it any other way if given the chance to redo it all. In fact, they feel it could be the very thing that helped strengthened their marriage.
“Unlike some couples who have dated 10 years and have got it all figured out, we had to work out the kinks very early on,” shares Shen Wain. “From our habits to how we want to bring up our daughter, we had to fast forward how to iron all that out from mere fantasies you talk out with your boyfriend to reality.”
Ai San feels the same way but attributes a bigger part to Shen Wain’s patience and understanding as a husband. “When we were preparing for our wedding, he did all the work; when I was expecting, he made sure the house was ready and that everything was done; throughout my pregnancy, he made sure I was comfortable up till the day our daughter was born.”
“We have our challenges, but I think I have more pros than cons with my husband. He has always been there.”
The arrival of their daughter cemented everything for the couple.
“Everyday when I wake up and I see my daughter, I feel very thankful and blessed to be where I am,” says Ai San. “Whether it could’ve been better, I already have the best and I’m still enjoying it with my husband. He’s definitely my support system who’s always been there for me and he made me realise that everything is actually really good. I can’t complain.”
“We couldn’t have done it without our daughter,” echoes Shen Wain. “When I see how happy my daughter makes my wife, I don’t think I can make her as happy without our daughter – I always feel that way.”
"With marriage there are no pros and cons -- you're already a team"
A year and a half into holy matrimony, things continue to look up for the couple, especially with a second child on the way. They credit their happiness to their traditional upbringing and their understanding of what marriage life should be like to their parents.
Ai San saw from a young age how her own father continues to surprise her mother with flowers and small gestures to keep the spark alive. In turn, her mother takes care of her own appearance and never once let herself go. Both parents never once took one another for granted no matter how small a scale and she intends to emulate that.
“People fall out of love because they stop trying,” says Ai San. “The minute you don’t bother trying, that’s where the problem lies – when you’re too comfortable that there is no more excitement, there’s nothing to talk about anymore.”
Shen Wain learnt from early on that as a husband and father, he now has a duty to not only provide for the family, but ensure his wife and children are never in want, whether financially or emotionally. He intends to see to it by working doubly hard and never playing the blame game.
“With marriage, I always feel there are no pros and cons. You’re already a team,” he imparts. “You have to work it out whether it’s a pro or a con. If it’s a pro, you need to get better at it, and if it’s a con, you have to turn it into a pro.”
“The perfect relationship is a stuff of fairytale,” he continues without hesitation. “You have to constantly find a way to make things work out. You need to just keep refining things. If you’re stagnant and you start to feel lazy or that there isn’t anything worth working on, that’s when the problems start coming.”
Come what may, husband and wife are adamant to see themselves through, by each other.
”She’s my yin and I am the yang,” says Shen Wain. “Everything that I am bad at, she’s good, which makes us a good match.”