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'Take along things she'll forget': Celebrity couples' secrets to long-lasting marriage

Zheng Geping and Hong Hui Fang – and other veteran actors who are also married couples – tell us what they think are the ingredients for a long and happy relationship. 

'Take along things she'll forget': Celebrity couples' secrets to long-lasting marriage
Pierre Png and Andrea De Cruz have been married for nearly 20 years. (Photo: Pierre Png and Andrea De Cruz)

The Danish poet Piet Hein wrote, “Love is like a pineapple, sweet and undefinable.” 

While that may be vague and true, there are some things about lasting relationships that are most certainly definable. 

Just take it from some of Singapore’s favourite celebrity couples who have been famously married for decades and counting. 

This Valentine’s Day, we asked them about their secrets for a long, happy relationship; what advice they would give young couples just starting out; and how they deal with conflicts. 

Sharing insights from their own experiences, they all spoke about the value of love that works hard and quietly, valuing commitment, appreciation and mutual respect above all else. 


Married for 30 years, with two children

Hong Hui Fang and Zheng Geping with daughter Tay Ying and son Calvert, who are also in entertainment. (Photo:

Zheng Geping: Before getting married, you might read books or listen to experts. Those are just guidelines. Actually, there’s no secret. Communication is the most important thing. And, don’t take things for granted. 

Importantly, no one is perfect. We cannot expect our other half to become our ideal. There’s no such person. It’s just not possible. Accomodate the other person’s so-called flaws. 

For example, my wife often forgets to take things with her when she leaves the house. I know she will forget so I secretly take them along for her. So, when she says, "Oh, no, I forgot this and that. I have to go back and get it," I say, "No need. It’s right here!" Approach it with humour. Take it as, "Actually, it’s so funny, so cute". Please don’t be calculative and record her mistakes and complain. At the end of it all, she’s your other half. The more you comment on it, the more it will build up and lead to big conflicts later on.

Every couple has differences in opinion. Although we don’t have big quarrels, we do have small ones – it’s inevitable. When it happens, let her cool down. You don’t have to resolve it right away. Maybe in the morning, when you get up, be gallant – apologise first. Women are more sensitive. (Laughs) Take her for breakfast. Or buy her a flower out of the blue. Thereafter, when she’s calmed down, state your case tactfully. 

Some people always want to be right. But, what do you gain if you win? Do you get a trophy? Will she love you more? No. You’ll just end up hurting each other. So, it’s not necessary to quibble over these things. Really. You don’t get a prize if you win. It will only hurt your relationship further. So, there’s no need to be stubborn about everything. Instead, communicate. Then, it becomes easy to solve problems. There is no secret. Communication is very important. And don’t take things for granted. Even if she gets you a glass of water or makes you something to eat, say thank you. Show appreciation. 

No matter if you’re a new couple or have been married a long time, give each other personal space, and the space and freedom to go out with friends, whether it’s friends of the same or different gender, old schoolmates or colleagues. You have to allow them space to go shopping, have tea, catch up. Don’t stick together every day. It’s not necessary and actually not good. And, allow your other half their privacy, whether it’s their phone, their own savings or their past. If they want to, let them share, but never be intrusive.

Zheng Geping (Photo: Kelvin Chia)

Hong Hui Fang: The most basic thing is mutual respect. Also, even when two people get married and become a family, they still need freedom. Even if you are very close, you should give each other a little personal space and freedom. Otherwise, familiarity might breed contempt and it will destroy the relationship. 

A husband and wife should never doubt each other. Doubt is the thing that does the biggest damage in a marriage. Don’t speak ill of your partner to outsiders, and don’t destroy your partner’s value in the eyes of others. 
The husband and wife should appreciate each other. Without mutual appreciation, the relationship will weaken. 

You should also not fight to win, saying hurtful things in the process. Only by achieving a win-win situation can you be truly happy. A good marriage is one in which each helps the other to achieve their goals. The couple progresses forward together. They make each other feel their worth, cherish each other and put in the effort. 

Geping and I have managed our relationship in this way, and not only has our romance not faded, it has grown deeper and deeper. I wish for young couples to understand how their marriages can be long and happy, and for them to grow old together.

Married for 19 years, with no children and two dogs

(Photo: Pierre Png and Andrea D'Cruz)

Andrea De Cruz: (The secret) is to accept that we are constantly evolving as individuals, and we’re definitely not the same persons we were when we first met. To go with the flow, and be there to support and encourage each other’s new adventures in life as best we can.

We learnt of this before we tied the knot: Do you see your spouse as a “problem” or a “mystery”? We choose to see each other in the “mystery” light – it makes us excited and makes us want to know more about each other. That’s the advice we’d give to others.

Holding hands as you work conflict out makes sure that you are connecting, and makes you remember why you fell in love with them in the first place.

Pierre Png: Take it one step at a time. Treat each other with respect. Knowing what to do is one thing; practising it is another. 

If we have a major conflict, we let each other cool down first, and then talk it out, learning from our mistakes and being ready to forgive each other. 

Married for 25 years (“and 15 days”, according to Huang) with two children

(Photo: Instagram/Panlinglingg)

Pan Ling Ling: I have always thought we should take it as if the two of us are forever dating. That is a very beautiful thing. Don’t think that because you’re an old married couple, it’s okay to take things for granted. If you’re in a “forever dating” mindset, it’s easier to accept the other person’s flaws and strengths. It’s sweeter that way. Make small gestures. Give them small surprises, or a goodnight kiss or goodbye kiss. Every morning, say, "Good morning, dear.” These are very important to me. 

The relationship between husband and wife is like a dance. The stronger one leads. But, of course, in life, we face many dances. Each dance has a different rhythm. In each one, we see who is the better dancer, and the other will follow. No one is perfect – you can’t be the best at every dance. 

My husband always says, "Don’t let carry your anger over into the next day." After you’re done arguing – even if you have a cold war that lasts a few hours – you have to resolve it. Of course, one party has to take the initiative first, and it’s usually my husband. After he apologises, we work on solving the issue. Of course, if I’m wrong, I apologise too, but, aiyah, I usually apologise less frequently because, women, you know? 

Huang Shi Nan: Accommodate, accept, give, and love each other. 
In marriage, a couple should focus on the responsibilities of family and children, not personal preferences. Complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, support and respect each other. In a dance, the man traditionally leads. But if the woman is good, the man can put aside his self-esteem and follow. The most important thing is to dance a beautiful dance. Disregard whatever irresponsible words others might say. The shoes are on your feet and you know if they are comfortable. 

When two people live together, it’s inevitable that there will be different opinions and viewpoints. I usually let her have her way. If it turns out to not be ideal, we try it my way the next time. 

If we have a small dispute, in order to ease the mood, I apologise first so that communication can be opened. I don’t like carrying negative emotions over to the next day, prolonging the pain. A husband and wife should not have overnight feuds. She has only ever apologised once so far. (Laughs)

Source: CNA/my