Media personality Jade Seah believes in being truly happy in the moment more than happily ever after.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

To this day, I’m not quite sure what love really is. I used to look to my folks as examples of what love is, and what I want in a romantic relationship.

Time and experience have shown me that while love and care are a great source of their happiness, that’s not all I want – though I’ve always been open to a union called marriage.

I’ve had my highs and lows when it comes to love. The fluttering of butterflies in my stomach, that heady rush, and the warm, fuzzy feeling. 

The lows: running to the bathroom to cry midway through a wedding lunch because my then-boyfriend had broken up with me the day before, and weeping on a public bus over an ex who wasn’t true to me.

Still, I value stability in a committed relationship. But at the same time, I crave the excitement and joy that comes with a less predictable union. Thus, many were surprised when I got married. (I was surprised so many people were surprised!)

I’m often asked what married life is like – a question that’s harder to answer than I’d imagined. First, I’m happy that my husband and I have never had major squabbles about money and in-laws.

But no one really warned me about the challenges of keeping things fresh and fun in a marriage.

When I was single, I took comfort in knowing that I could break up when there were unresolved issues or when things turned stagnant. This easy option isn’t on my radar now, and at times, I feel “stuck”.

Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, explores why long-term relationships often die slow deaths. She points out that the paradoxical union of domesticity and desire are unfortunate opposites – just as one settles into blissful domesticity, other factors like desire, novelty and excitement decrease.

This is when people start to take each other for granted, and stop trying to find ways to connect – which is what spells the beginning of a slow end for many.

And any relationship needs “work”, whether you’re single or coupled. Enjoy each phase for all the joy it brings, as with every story that offers different pockets of happiness.

You know what, we just need to rewrite the stories we tell little girls about the idea of “happily ever after”. How about being “truly happy in the moment” instead?