Transnational Marriage

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Apart from arranged vs. love marriage practices, I would also like to discuss about transnational marriage, commonly known as international marriage, which refers to marriage between Singaporeans and foreigners (non-residents). According to a news article published by Channel NewsAsia, transnational marriages are considered to be “as resilient” as local marriages (marriages between citizens) despite facing challenges, such as cross-cultural differences. (see Fann S., 2019). With regards to this finding, I am eager to express my agreement that transnational families do enjoy relatively stable marriages, as indicated from the numerous transnational marriages within my family. There are a total of four transnational couples in my family, where the length of their relationships varied between 5 to over 50 years. 

The first transnational couple is my grandfather and his remarried wife (P1), whom I also address as my grandma. My grandma came from Indonesia and had met my grandfather through work. Given the proximity of both countries, they share rather similar backgrounds and cultural values and beliefs, thus, face little challenges in their relationship. Eventually, my grandma decided to settle down in Singapore and marry my grandfather. Together, they have been married for over 50 years. 

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The second transnational couple is my uncle (P10) and his wife, whose origin is from Thailand. They had met each other while my uncle was on a holiday in Thailand. Similarly, my aunty chose to settle down in Singapore with my uncle and form a family with their three children. They have been married for over 30 years. 

The third pair is my aunt (P7) and her husband, who is a Japanese. At that time, my aunt was working as a flight attendant and was on a flight duty, while my uncle had come to Singapore for a business trip and was on the flight returning to Japan. They mentioned that upon seeing one another, they had fallen in love at first sight and ended up becoming a couple only after more interactions. After a few years of long-distance relationship, my aunt eventually chose to settle down with his husband in Japan and raise their two children there. 

The last transnational couple is my maternal uncle (M6) and his wife, who is a Malaysian from Ipoh. Similarly, they have met each other through work and my aunty also chose to settle in Singapore with my uncle and gave birth to two children. 

In light of these stories, we can see that as a result of global mobility brought about by globalization, it brings about greater ease for Singaporeans to travel around and meet people of different cultures and backgrounds both locally and overseas. Hence, it is not surprising that there is an increasingly common and fairly high number of transnational marriages in Singapore, even in my family alone. The multi-nationality and multi-cultural background of the family has helped broaden our world perspective and create the foundation that sets the tone for each family member – communication, respect and acceptance, so as to overcome the cultural and language barriers faced as a result of this diversity. 


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