Shared lives

Hen Pok Aik, 55 and Feli­cia Lim, 54.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FAMILY -

Mar­ried 29 years

THE odds of Hen Pok Aik and Feli­cia Lim get­ting to­gether were slim. Al­though they are from Terengganu, the two moved in dif­fer­ent cir­cles. Hen was from a Chi­nese medium school while Feli­cia went to a na­tional school and rarely would the twain meet.

Then one year, Hen and his friends de­cided they needed a change. So, they ven­tured out of their com­fort zone.

“I don’t know why one year they de­cided to seek my friends and I out. Maybe the Chi­nese school girls were in short sup­ply that year,” she teases as Hen laughs.

They had long left school by then and had started work­ing. He was 25 and Lim, 24 and that fate­ful Chi­nese New Year, Hen and his friends ended up in her house.

Al­though it wasn’t ex­actly love at first sight, there was def­i­nitely an at­trac­tion.

“He was very quiet and that stood out. I could im­me­di­ately see that he was dif­fer­ent from the other guys. He was more ma­ture and not loud or boast­ful. That caught my eye.

“Af­ter that day, we would go out as a group more of­ten and I would al­ways no­tice that he was the only guy in the group who was con­sid­er­ate. For in­stance, if we were go­ing out for din­ner and there were a few girls hang­ing back, he would go back and check to see that they were ok. These were signs that he was a re­ally nice per­son,” says Lim.

It didn’t take long for Hen to “make his move” and ask her out and the two have been in­sep­a­ra­ble since. As they re­late their shared life story, the two of­ten steal glances at each other. They don’t ex­actly fin­ish each oth­ers sen­tences, but it feels as if they could.

Dis­played around their cosy home in Am­pang, Kuala Lumpur are de­pic­tions of the love they share and the bond they have with their three chil­dren.

Fam­ily hol­i­day pho­tos and mo­men­tos they have made for each other over the years are neatly placed in dif­fer­ent cor­ners of their ter­race house. Lim dis­closes that any chance the fam­ily has to spend to­gether is cher­ished be­cause Hen’s job re­quires him to travel a lot.

“It’s been like that from the very start. We met when we were al­ready work­ing and so I knew what his job was like. In fact, it has made me more in­de­pen­dent and though it was tough at times, es­pe­cially when I was work­ing – to have to jug­gle work and the kids’ sched­ules – I learnt to man­age.

“At least I was home and had our chil­dren with me. I fig­ure it is harder on him be­cause when he trav­els, he is alone. So when he comes back, we spend as much time to­gether as pos­si­ble,” Lim shares.

Hen shares that it was his dream, from young, to have a mar­riage that would stand the test of time, not merely one that sur­vives but thrives and blos­soms through the years. Though they’ll reach their 30- year mile­stone next year, Hen is de­ter­mined to do all it takes to keep their fire go­ing.

“I ad­mire those who have been hap­pily mar­ried for 50 years or more and I will do any­thing it takes to have that. It’s been a goal of mine and I know that to achieve it, I have to work at our mar­riage. Whether it is chang­ing my habits to be bet­ter or ad­just­ing to sit­u­a­tions. Our hap­pi­ness is key. When we face chal­lenges, if it isn’t sig­nif­i­cant, I don’t make a big deal of it,” he says.

For both Hen and Lim, the suc­cess of their mar­riage hinges on them con­stantly com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each other, un­der­stand­ing each other and be­ing em­pa­thetic.

“We don’t har­bour any re­sent­ment or let our feel­ings of anger or dis­sat­is­fac­tion fes­ter; we talk it out. And usu­ally, if she is up­set about some­thing, I just keep quiet,” says Hen. “I don’t want to quar­rel about lit­tle things and add fuel to her fire.” Lim ad­mits to hav­ing a quick tem­per.

“I’m born in the year of the tiger and though I am try­ing to be calmer, that’s my na­ture,” she ad­mits, adding how­ever that they never ar­gue with each other or cor­rect each other in front of their chil­dren.

Above all, Hen and Lim make it a point to ex­press their love – they hold hands still, start each day with a hug and say “I love you” many times through­out the day, ev­ery day.

“We look for­ward to the next 30 years. I hope we will be as lov­ing to the end,” says Lim.

Hen, 55 and Lim, 54, say the suc­cess of their mar­riage hinges on con­stantly com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each other, un­der­stand­ing each other and be­ing em­pa­thetic. — FAIHAN GHANI/ The Star

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