STOMPer Raymond's wife, Doris has been suffering from chronic illnesses for years but he has managed to take care of Doris all these years, keeping his promise taken during their marriage vows.
STOMPer Raymond shares his love story:
"All relationships require us to work hard if they are to survive the trials and tribulations of modern day's life. Relationships are often complicated. Marriages are long term. They take work and commitment - like we promised in our marriage vows.
"As with any relationship, be it in an office setting or personal encounters, every happy successful partnership begins and ends with the same ingredient – the willingness to negotiate.
"Why do we close our eyes when we pray, when we cry, when we kiss and when we dream? For the simple reason that the most beautiful things in life are not seen, but felt only by the heart.
"The ultimate wedding song, 'You by my side' brings to mind how wonderful it is to be in love. This song has special meaning for me as I have stayed committed to my wife, Doris Lau Siew Lang for 37 years despite facing huge adversities in our lonely and isolated lives.
"This brings to my mind the famous quote by Brandi Snyder who once said, 'To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.' And indeed, Doris is my whole world, and vice versa.
"What is important in any marriage is the little things that couples neglect to do - like keeping in touch through the phone, sending emails when the couples are working overseas, etc. During the period when we were both gainfully employed, Doris and I would keep in touch with each other through the telephone during the lunch hour. Those phone calls, even if it was to chat for a few minutes, kept us closer together. My wife still keeps in touch with me on the mobile phone when I am engaged in some part-time work or going about doing some errands. Staying connected helps to keep the love burning bright.
"Coping with a chronic illness or lifelong health condition is never easy. In the case of married couples, it can so easily rewrite the marriage script. Besides the illness taking a toll on the caregiver, there are also money problems such as mounting medical bills and loss of key social support that can contribute to lower marital satisfaction. The caregiver must not only slog to bring home the bacon, he must also do all the errands, the housework and whatever is necessary to care for his/her spouse. It is an enormous burden and often both partners, isolated from the world, take out their frustrations on one another. And when they can no longer deal with this extremely difficult situation, divorce seems the only solution.
"One of the most important facets about love is unselfishness. Indeed love is also about making sacrifices. True love will always adapt and adjust to the needs of others.
"If we look on the bright side of things, care giving for a sick spouse can sometimes help us to overcome adversities, and in the long run can prove to be beneficial. When we are entrusted with heavy care giving responsibilities for a loved one - task or burden, we actually learn a lot about our inner strengths or weaknesses.
"As an Aquarius, I guess, being a pretty calm and peaceful person has helped me a great deal in managing my wife's schizophrenia and depression. For when you are looking after a loved one suffering from an unpredictable illness such as schizophrenia, along with an advanced arthritis condition, you've got to be equipped with loads of patience. Doris has battled schizophrenia for 40 years, and over the last 5 years with another severe chronic illness- advanced arthritis.
"But to me, Doris is a rare gem. It is a common trend for ladies to expect the men to pay for their meals when couples are courting. But Doris is not like that. During our courtship days, Doris, after discovering I was drawing only half her salary, insisted that she paid for most of the meals when we dated.
"Many people have asked me how I have managed to care for Doris all these years. Where do I get my strength from?
"'Undoubtedly, I draw my strength from Jesus,' I tell them and then bring them back in time.
"26th November 1974
The year - 1974, when I took my marriage vows and how I must keep my promise to care for my wife:
'I, Raymond Anthony Fernando take Doris Lau Siew Lang to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.'
"Although my wife's arthritis condition continues to deteriorate and will inevitably challenge her resolve, Doris still remains happy, optimistic and always positive. That is because she's got me to care for her.
"'The one thing that has kept me going despite my turbulent health is, love - the love that my soul mate and husband Raymond has, and always showers upon me. It is with his love that I challenge all odds of my arthritis and schizophrenia conditions - and I will conquer all adversities with You by my Side... Ray,' Doris smiles and declares stoically.
I’d like to conclude this article with a poem that I have specially written for my beloved Doris. Enjoy!
"Poem: Love struck
A Valentine’s Day poem specially dedicated to my lovely wife, Doris Lau Siew Lang
My Dearest Doris,
37 years ago, I asked you to give me your hand
I asked you to give me your heart
Then we vowed to set this beautiful relationship to a good start
Tonight, on Valentine’s Day as we celebrate my 62nd birthday
Let me walk you by the sea
To breathe in the cool salty air
The breeze will caress your soft silky hair
While I look into your eyes and just stare
Let us gaze at the beauty of the sky
We will follow the path that the birds fly
There will be no worries, no woes
As we catch the sea waves that rush to the shores
A tree that has strong roots will not lose its branches
So too, our love has a solid foundation
And we pull no punches
We share happiness
We share sorrow
We will love each other as if there is no tomorrow
Our love is comparable to a beautiful melody
In you, Doris, I have found my destiny
Happy Valentine’s Day, Doris, my life-long partner
If I have to live my life all over again,
I will still choose you to be my bride,
And no other
Your beloved hubby,