International couples were the last people on our minds when we thought about love and marriage; our parents were either both Singaporean Chinese, or Chinese and Peranakan.

 

We realised that, like us, society has often overlooked transnational couples, who make up almost a third of people who tie the knot here each year. In a country where babies are in short supply, citizen-foreigner couples have children, contribute to ethnic diversity, and are an integral part of the Singaporean love story.

 

Their journeys are often rougher than those of other couples. They have limited options when it comes to housing, and foreign spouses do not enjoy the same healthcare benefits as citizens.

 

Foreign spouses also fall through the cracks of society as they face uncertain immigration statuses. They have married into Singapore, and have built their homes here, but they are in a liminal space.

 

They also have to deal with challenges like cultural barriers and discrimination.

 

We spoke to foreign brides who encounter racism and local women who put up with judgment for marrying Caucasian men. We visited bespoke dating agencies and traditional matchmaking firms. And we spent countless hours with many couples in their living rooms and over meals, listening to their accounts of romances laced with everyday struggles.

 

They often have a difficult knot to untangle, but their spirit of perseverance is evident as they overcome the adversities of marrying into Singapore.

 

These stories reminded us of the things we often take for granted and forced us to consider the challenges of relationships that do not fit within the majority profile. We hope that they will offer you a new perspective on love and family in Singapore.


‚Äč

Claudia Tan, Prisca Ang & Neo Shi Wei

Text, photos and illustrations, unless otherwise stated © 2019 Claudia Tan, Prisca Ang and Neo Shi Wei