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#BuroinLove: 3 Malaysian couples on love and marriage
Love, and other stories
There are many stages in a relationship, each one just as beautiful as the next and each one with a lesson to learn about each other, and themselves.
One couple is newly engaged (and did long distance too!), one is approaching five years of marriage, and one is recently married and with a baby. Amanda Chaang, Jon Chua, Hanie Hidayah, Nasri Lian, Carey Ng and Roen Cian talk about the keys to a successful marriage, how to resolve conflict, balancing a love life with a third member in the family, what's changed and what it means to love someone.

Watch these three couples test their compatibility with the No Arms Challenge below:
Newly engaged

Jon: My friends from Malaysia were in Singapore and they were asking why I was single. Then they showed me Amanda's Instagram profile and I said, "Ok, not bad". I told them I wasn't interested but after I got home that night, I followed her and—as much as I don't want to admit this—I slid into her DMs. I said two words: "Adidas FTW". We were both representing the brand. I didn't expect her to reply but she did. I met up with her when I was in KL, and we started texting.

Amanda: Then he saw me lip syncing to Britney Spears on my Instagram Stories—I was going on this Britney craze, doing it in my room, in the car, you name it. And he asked if I wanted tickets to Britney in Singapore. I was like, "Don't play my heart like this! Do. Not. I will get a heart attack!"

Jon: The truth is I didn't have the tickets yet at that point in time. But since she said yes, I had to quickly ask my management and everything. And I got us four tickets. She brought Hanie.

Amanda: Who is married.

Jon: And I brought my stylist, who is gay.

Amanda: It was a very strategic move.

Jon: Yeah, and she fell in love with me after that.

Amanda: More like, I went with zero expectations. I just really wanted to watch Britney. We took it slow but we got along ridiculously well. And it wasn't just us two. We went with friends and all four of us clicked like a jigsaw puzzle. Romance aside, we were like friends and could do crazy stuff together.

Jon: I just thought, "Thank goodness that she didn't friend zone me!" Guys, always keep your eyes on the prize. Don't fall into the friend zone. It's impossible to come out from there.


Amanda: There was no eureka moment. I just can't see myself spending the rest of my life with anyone else. The more time I spend with him, I just want to spend even more time with him.

Jon: I think every guy who's married would agree with me. You don't see it in the moment but you try to foresee your future. For me, I imagined myself at 65 years old, sitting on a rocking chair, and I ask myself—who do I want sitting next to me and who I can still poke fun at?

Amanda: Yeah, I can imagine that too.

Jon: I don't think I saw myself with anyone else like that so congratulations!

Amanda: Congratulations to you!

Both: (laughs)


Jon: LDR isn't so bad. We discovered a really efficient way to close the distance. Driving is the fastest. I could go to work in the afternoon (in Singapore) and still meet her for dinner (in Malaysia). It's only three hours and twenty-five minutes from my doorstep to hers. But also, technology—Google Hangouts, Skype, or WhatsApp call—helps.

Amanda: I think we both thought that we wouldn't date anyone in the same industry. But when it happened, we realise it's not that bad. It's actually even better.

Jon: We understand each other's problems. For example, not many people would understand us trying to get the right photo with the right lighting. They'll think we're being difficult but it's more than just a photo—it's work. Even things like why taking three hours to read a script or spending an hour sitting on the chair, being in my own headspace. There will be hard times but we always see it in a big picture.

Amanda: You also have to give each other their own personal space. He's an artist and he values that. When he zones out, I try to respect that. Also, one has to be the bigger diva than the other, and I'm definitely the bigger diva—and he respects that. Thank you, Jon.

Jon: Yeah, I'm your personal driver in Singapore. I don't do it for other people, just specially for you. But in Malaysia, I have to take a Grab (laughs).
"They had a code where the photographer would say, 'I'm going to Utah to go skiing.' That was his code for Jon to propose cos he was going to set up the framing, focus and everything. I just went, 'Oh, that's nice!' I only realised later that there was no skiing in Utah. But it was very romantic." — Amanda Chaang

Amanda: We had planned this trip to L.A. and New York and Jon suggested we do a "little photoshoot" in New York because he has a really good photographer friend. I was excited cos the place is like a concrete jungle—very pretty! We dressed up, got our makeup done and was supposed to go to this really tall building but we were kicked out cos we didn't have permission to have a photographer and videographer. We went to another building—legal, by the way—and we had to climb stairs and go through water tanks to get to this nice spot. Fun fact: The photographer told me that the videographer was his friend and just there to do a school project. Wrong! He shot for Khalid and Logic before!

Jon: We had the most "G" crew.

Amanda: And they had a code where the photographer would say, "I'm going to Utah to go skiing." That was his code for Jon to propose cos he was going to set up the framing, focus and everything. I just went, "Oh, that's nice!" I only realised later that there was no skiing in Utah. But it was very romantic. Very cold. But romantic.

Jon: I told them then that I had to tie my shoelaces. That's when I went down, took out the box and very confidently opened it but—

Amanda: No, but we were also wearing gloves.

Jon: Yes, but I didn't realise that even though I could see which side of the box to open, it could still be upside down. It's a 50/50 chance and obviously, whatever could go wrong, did, and the ring was upside down when I opened it.

Amanda: (laughs) The first thing I said to him was, "Bro, the box is upside down."


Jon: I did so much research. I went online, read forums, Googled "engagement ring tips" and asked friends. But I really wanted to know what she would want so I asked the best person I could think of to help me—her mum.

Amanda: I have to say that I'm very proud and appreciative that you didn't go to my friends to ask them what I would like. You picked something that you thought I would like. You asked my mum for advice but at the end of the day, you made the decision by yourself.

Jon: So you can't say that you don't like it. You have no choice.

Amanda: But it's true! I really, really like it.


Jon: It feels more real. There's no exit strategy anymore. There'll be bumps and everything, of course, but now I wake up every day knowing that I'm going to spend the rest of my life with Amanda.

Amanda: Nothing much has changed actually.

Jon: Maybe just the added stress of planning a wedding, which we are slowly doing. We want to do it right and we want to enjoy the process. I have friends who got married after four or five months after the engagement and it can be very stressful. It's common in Singapore because you have to apply for housing so everyone rushes into it.

We also agreed to take it slow because of our crazy schedules. Jon has an album dropping this year. We're not in a hurry. It's a journey. We're just going to learn more about each other—probably going to love and hate each other more at the same time.

Jon: It's not like she's pregnant either.

Amanda: Yeah! I can't believe people thought I was pregnant. Just because we've actually only known each other for six months. I mean, I never expected that to happen but as cheesy as it sounds, when you meet the right person, you just know. And it feels right.

Married for five years

Hanie: (laughs) Actually, we didn't have a proposal.

Nasri: I love this question. I want to hear what you have to say about it.

Hanie: We spoke about marriage in our second year and I said, "It's okay. Let's wait and see." Then the next year, it came up again and we thought, "Okay." It was a mutual agreement.

Nasri: I just didn't want to marry someone much, much later and then after getting married, you'd think, "Oh, let's have kids right away." I thought it would be a good idea to enjoy life as a young married couple first. Also, if we're already set on each other, why wait for it to happen?

Hanie: The next step was telling our parents. More specifically, my dad. You were basically proposing, not to me, but to my father.


Nasri: Well, there are plans. Just not yet.

Hanie: I'm used to people asking me this—yes, it's kind of a stereotype—but due to the nature of our work, it's difficult. We're just letting it be. If having kids is the goal and that makes you happy, go for it. But our goal is to be happy with each other, first—before being happy with adding another family member. Five years of being married, we're still learning about each other and we love to travel. So we want to take our time.


Hanie: We only had six months to plan everything for our wedding. And we had three receptions and a party. So it was crazy hectic and we argued quite a bit as well. But that's normal—I tell everyone that now. That, for me, taught us that if we have a challenge, there's a way to solve it. We just needed to sit down and think of a solution together.

Nasri: The real compatibility test happens when you travel, live together or be stuck in the car for a long time. There'll be fights and arguments, and it's really important to learn how to accept disagreements. No matter what, we're grown ups so we're still going to stick together and it'll only make a relationship stronger.
"I just didn't want to marry someone much, much later and then after getting married, you'd think, 'Oh, let's have kids right away.' I thought it would be a good idea to enjoy life as a young married couple first." — Nasri Lian

Nasri: It's something we all have to go through. The more it happens, the more I understand it. So if we were to fight, we can properly argue over the matter, sit down and take a step back. If we can't reach a verdict, there's nothing else we can do but pick it up again later. Or we'll break the ice and be like, "Well, do you want to play video games?" or "Do you want to cook?"

Hanie: We try to do everything together. So no matter what—argue or banter—you're going to go home together at the end of the day. You're going to sleep beside each other. You're going to sit in the car together. Even if you want to "merajuk" (sulk), where else are you going to go? My advice is to take the time to feel what you want to feel, and then end it there.

Nasri: It's also important to talk about it.

Hanie: Yes, you like to do that. I'm a non-confrontational type whereas you're very calm. There's no shouting with Nasri. It's always, "Okay, let's sit down and discuss this."


Hanie: Compromise. That would be the first thing. Second, to not be selfish. If I want to do something for him, it's because I want to. Not because I have to. Not because I want to impress him. We have a very equal relationship. I'm only expecting him to take care of me and to love me. That's it.

Nasri: For me, it's mostly about listening to each other. You can do whatever you want but when there's something you don't like, voice it out, and the other person has to just listen.


Hanie: It's hard to say because I consider everything you've done has been sweet and romantic. Or rather, it's always a nice gesture.

Nasri: I know my answer.

Hanie: Oh?

Nasri: It happens almost every night. When we're about to sleep, your hand is always on my chest—which is like on my heart. It means a lot to me and that's how I'm able to sleep every night.

Hanie: It's true. Nasri will be like, "Hand." (laughs) It's the same for me. The usual things you do are the sweetest like how you'll ask me what I want to eat.

Nasri: (laughs) Here's the other side of the story. When I ask that, what I actually mean is tell me what you don't want to eat so I know what to look for and present to you what you can eat.

Married with a 7-month old baby

Roen: It's so important that they can get along with the family, especially with us being Asian, or rather, Malaysian. It's a big part of our lives. Right now, we have a child, and our parents and siblings are very involved. You have to see how the other behaves around the family.

Carey: I think it's open communication. Whether you can be honest with each other, whatever it is, because that's how you build trust. Everything else can be worked on.


Carey: It's a different self-responsibility and it has really cemented the marriage. You have to now work twice as hard to create a happy marriage so that it reflects on the child as well. But as individuals, we're still doing what we did before we got married, individually and together.

Roen: As a couple, we've always been there for each other since day one. But with a child in the picture, though, all the focus tends to go towards Shae. I'd have to say that I now see Carey as even more of a superwoman. All her attention goes to this infant, especially right now during the breastfeeding stage—which goes up to a year—our baby girl wants the mother all the time. It's super duper taxing.

Carey: And waking up every few hours.

Roen: Shae doesn't even sleep in her cot anymore.

Carey: She's cool sleeping with us and taking half of the bed till we fall off. It's not funny. But a kid really tests the marriage, in terms of the support we give to one another. If you stay strong, it bonds you more than it breaks you.


Carey: Roen's very, very adaptable, and knows when I need support or help. A lot of couples struggle through that because you can't expect the father figure to do the same things as the mother—it's not natural and most of the time, it's a lot of things that the mother has to provide. I never expected Roen to be the father figure that he is. He really loves Shae and he spends so much time with her.

Roen: Half macho.

Carey: You're tough and macho but not to the daughter. Future daddy's girl, this one. One thing that nobody knows though is that Roen's the diaper daddy. He cleans the poop.

Roen: That's the easiest part. Everyone made a fuss about it but I'm like, "There's way more difficult stuff."

Carey: Like pushing? (laughs)
"You also have to be very forgiving and overlook a lot of things. There are things you need to let go and some sacrifices have to be made." — Carey Ng

Carey: Every parent and child are different. You just have to be calm when anything bad happens and seek the right advice. Don't over-research on the Internet though or you'll go crazy. Also, take things in stride don't be hard on yourself. It's normal to feel overwhelmed because it's a 24/7 job.


Carey: We're still trying to find that balance but it's a lot to do with communication. You also have to be very forgiving and overlook a lot of things. There are things you need to let go and some sacrifices have to be made. But if you feel something, talk about it. Tackle it.

Roen: It's life. It's the same with business and everything else. We just have to adapt. And when it concerns people, we have to be proactive.

Carey: It's a team thing. We have our own roles but whenever is necessary, we can switch it up a little. It's the same when we have a bad day. We let it out and then get over it. I also know that Roen needs his time to play football or cycle for his alone time. You have to understand what the other person needs and let them do their thing.

Roen: Everyone needs their outlets. As a husband and wife, we need to cover for each other and understand each other. If Carey needs some time alone to go to the gym or meet her friends, I tell her to go.

Carey: It's harder if you spend all the time together.

Roen: Same with the baby. We have to let go sometimes and get help. We want to be able to enjoy being parents and life as a family.

Carey: It affects the baby too. I notice that when I'm stressed out or not focused on her, Shae knows. There's a bond and babies are so dependent on you. So, first you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others.


Carey: Our families are pretty neutral. I guess that's why we can all get along. My family is not typically Chinese, and Roen's side has lived abroad for several years so a lot of the traditional stuff has been diluted. We're all also quite open-minded. We do however try and do all the celebrations.

Roen: It helps that our parents aren't the type to dictate. A lot of our decisions are our own.

Carey: You have to take ownership of the kind of traditions you want to take on. It's no longer about his family or mine. It's our little family—Roen, Shae and myself. And we have to decide what matters for our little family, and everyone else has to respect that and go along with it.
Videography: Around The Block
Photography: Gerald Goh/Metal Bees
Coordination: Rachel Au
Styling: Joan Kong
Art Direction: Yi Suen Chong
Hair: Juno Ko
Makeup: Cat Yong
Clothing: Models/Talents' own; Cos; Swarovski

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