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Photo credit: YOUTHOPIA.SG/ALIYAH KHAN

What young couples in Singapore think about getting married early

Some youths want financial stability before marriage, but others have also made the leap to settle down with someone they love.

Low Jia Ying
Low Jia Ying

Can be found watching true crime documentaries or tending to my growing collection of houseplants.


Published: 14 July 2021, 1:04 PM

Singaporeans are getting married later in life, according to a report released by the Department of Statistics Singapore on Jul 7.

In 2010, the median age for marriage was 30 years old for men and 27.7 years old for women. In 2020, this has risen to 30.4 years old for men and 28.8 years for women.

What’s behind this trend of Singaporeans getting married later? Youthopia spoke to four youths to get their thoughts on tying the knot.

Financial stability first, marriage later

For Elkan Hon, 22, getting married is not something that he is opposed to, but he has other more important priorities in life for now.

The university undergraduate, who is currently single, said: “At this point in time, marriage is not a definite no. The thought of getting married is just something I want to hold off until I get a stable job and finish university.”

His sentiment is also similarly echoed by Jerome Tan, a systems engineer. Although he’s in a two-year relationship and is on the lookout for Built-To-Order (BTO) flats and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF), he is in no rush to get married.

“My girlfriend and I do have plans to get married, but not so soon. Once we secure a flat then there will be a bigger push for us to do so,” said the 25-year-old.

Jerome said that even if they were able to get a BTO flat now, it will only be available in five to eight years. They will opt to get married a year before their flat is ready.

When asked what’s stopping him from getting married anytime soon, he said that he wants financial security and job stability first.

“For people my age we’re just starting out in our careers, I have to consider whether I’m suitable for the job and whether this company is somewhere I can stay long-term,” he said.

 

Wanting to achieve financial and job security is an oft-cited reason for why Singaporean youths choose to get married later in life. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA.SG/TARINI TILVE

 

Jerome also brought up the financial commitments involved in purchasing a flat in Singapore. Staying on top of housing loan payments means that one has to be financially stable.

Enduring and changing notions of marriage

Jerome also said that as a man, there’s an expectation that he should be able to provide a safety net for his future wife.

“As a guy, I would want to provide that kind of assurance to my partner. I feel like I’m supposed to be at least a bit more financially stable before I marry her,” he added.

He also said that unlike older generations, people his age are not in a rush to get married.

“Marriage as a milestone is not what everyone in my generation aspires to reach. I think what’s more important is finding someone to be happy with, rather than just rushing to get married,” he said.

Elkan also said that marriage is not a life goal that he is striving towards.

“Marriage is not the most important thing in my life at the moment. My life goals are more aligned towards carving out a career for myself and being independent,” he said.

Why do some Singaporean couples choose to get married earlier?

Despite the typical concerns about financial stability and housing, some young couples have decided to get married, or have plans to get married soon.

Noel Jeeven and his girlfriend of five years, both 25, hope to get married by 2023. 

Noel is currently a university undergraduate and his girlfriend works as a behavioural therapist. They have both come to a decision that they are ready to settle down at an age younger than most of their peers.

“We’re not very career-minded in the sense that we don’t feel the need to be financially stable before getting married. We’re ready to settle down and figure out life together,” said Noel.

 

Noel and his girlfriend are planning to get married. PHOTO CREDIT: NOEL JEEVEN

 

“For me, marriage isn’t something to achieve in terms of social status. But [I’m getting married] because I found a best friend who I want to spend the rest of my life with,” he added.

Noel and his girlfriend have also been actively looking for SBFs to purchase. 

He said that the decision to marry a little earlier in life came naturally to him and his girlfriend, as they grew up with the expectation of dating to marry.

He said: “Having the conversation with your partner about wanting to get married is never easy. You have to figure out your own emotions, and then figure out your partner’s emotions as well.

“But when we spoke about it we were both on the same page. We discussed what the timeline looked like for us and came to the conclusion that we should get married soon.”

Noel also didn’t shy away from the serious commitment that marriage is, even though it’s natural to have doubts and not being totally certain that the marriage will work out.

“Life can throw a curveball at any time. But if the maturity is there and you find someone who you want to spend the rest of your life with, you will have the assurance and peace to make that kind of commitment,” he said.

Circuit breaker helped seal the deal

However, there are still Singaporeans who are getting married younger. For newlyweds Kenta Philip Endo & Annabel Yeoh Li Jie, both 22-year-old this year, last year’s circuit breaker helped them realise that they never wanted to be separated again.

“As law-abiding citizens, we couldn’t meet and were not able to be physically around each other. It dawned on me that ‘If this is what life would be like without her around, then I wouldn’t want to live that kind of life’. So it just made me more certain of my decision that this was the girl i wanted to marry,” said Kenta.

The couple, who have been together for four years, got hitched on Jun 26 this year.

Kenta and Annabel are both full-time students at Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University, respectively.

“Having that time apart really puts things into perspective for us. It made us realise how much we wanted to spend our lives together. There was more reassurance and certainty and that’s why we both felt more comfortable marrying at an earlier age,” he added.

 

Kenta and Annabel did not think they were going to get married this young, but time apart helped them realise that they were meant to be together. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM/@_MIDIFOTO

 

Of course, getting married this young, there were people who wondered if theirs was a shotgun wedding.

Kenta said: “There were some people who were less discrete and asked us directly. But we just told them ‘No, we’re not expecting a child’.”

The seriousness of such a commitment was also something that the couple took to heart.

“You always hear the phrase “Till death do us part” at wedding solemnisations, but it’s something that we had search in ourselves and consider whether we’re really willing to take care and love the other person for the rest of their lives,” said Kenta.

Although they are still living with their respective families, they hope to move in together after Annabel finishes university.

“I also hope that being married would help our chances in getting a BTO soon,” he said.


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