Jason and Jenny first met at a friend’s birthday party in their hometown of Malacca. He was 21 years old, searching for direction in life. She was 16 years old, fresh-faced and full of zest for life. This was the start of their bittersweet life together, one which is now unfolding with Christ.
Being young and full of dreams, Jason and Jenny moved to Singapore and worked hard at their jobs hoping to carve out a wonderful life together. Jason was a highly skilled machinist in a multinational company dealing with Oil Tools. Jenny was an accountant and also in a multinational company. They took frequent holidays together and ate out regularly in restaurants. To their families, Jason and Jenny seemed like the perfect couple living the perfect dream.
However the crisis at work began to unravel the empty married life they were living for the past 10 years. In their pursuit of making money, they forgot each other.
“Even though we were living in the same house, our conversations had become very superficial.” recalled Jenny. “We didn’t know what the other person was doing or what was happening in each other’s life.”
Jenny pulled long hours at work and even took on additional jobs to make more money. On the other hand, Jason’s shift was from 7am to 4pm. When he left for work early in the morning, Jenny would still be asleep. When Jenny returned from work at midnight, Jason was already fast asleep. The only time they spent together in the week was attending Sunday Mass.
As the economy started to slow down, manpower changes were made in the company Jason had worked in for the past 18 years. Cheaper foreign labour was brought in and Jason found it increasingly difficult to communicate and work with his co-workers. Frustration and worry mounted as he thought of his financial commitments to the family.
Meanwhile, Jenny faced her own set of problems at work. A massive restructuring exercise at her company saw Jenny given a bigger portfolio without pay compensation. The 14 hours of work she was putting in daily was leading her to depression.
Each struggled with their work problems in their own silos. Eventually Jason was given the pink slip in June last year while Jenny decided to call it quits in September the same year. Initially both felt relieved that they no longer had to face the oppressive work environment. But relief soon turned into worry as they saw their bank accounts decrease and bills increase.
I never thought of giving up.
Growing up in a family with deep faith, Jenny turned to God for strength. After a few months of recuperating, she decided to take the leap into direct sales which offered her flexible working hours and an opportunity to better lives through the products she sold. Because of her bubbly personality, she was able to grow her network of business associates and customers quickly and had to travel often for overseas conferences.
Jason, on the other hand, struggled to find a stable job. He lowered his salary requirements and tried working in different industries but still nothing worked out. Frustrated and lonely, he eventually turned to a common female friend for solace.
The final blow came when Jenny invited Jason to join her on a trip to Guangzhou and found out that he had planned an overseas trip with this female friend they both knew. Jenny’s world collapsed. In the midst of the pain, both had the grace to desire to salvage their marriage.
“I never thought of giving up. It never crossed my mind.” Jason said. “We had to beg Fr Bruno for a space in the Marriage Encounter Weekend,” added Jenny as tears flooded her eyes. During the retreat, they pleaded with God to heal their wounded marriage and help them start afresh. They remembered their beginnings and saw how work had overtaken their relationship. It took a crisis to unravel the empty married life they had been living.
Now, Jason has a full-time job. Even though this job doesn’t pay as much and they have to make drastic changes to their lifestyle, Jason and Jenny are thankful. On top of attending Sunday Mass together, they begin each day renewing their commitment to each other in prayer with God.
“We are still learning, still recovering and growing in our marriage. Our dream now is to be financially stable so that we can serve in church together.” says Jason as they looked at each other.