You can say that 34-year-old management consultant, Kevin Siow, doesn't think local when it comes to looking for a life partner. In fact, most of his family members do not either. Kevin met Yen, his 32-year-old Australian-Vietnamese wife in 1999 on a holiday to Melbourne.
As for the rest of his family all, he reveals: "My brother married a Korean, my sister married an Australian-born Chinese, my father's brother married a Japanese, my auntie married an Indonesian-Chinese, and I married an Australian-Vietnamese."
While he found it hard to say why a lot of his relatives chose to marry non-Singaporeans, he ventured that one reason for doing so boils down to a sense of adventure and a desire for something different.
Here is Kevin's story:
"I met my wife Yen when I went to Melbourne, Australia in 1999 for a short holiday. My brother was working there for a few months before that, so I got him to introduce some of his friends to me.
The first time Yen and I met, she really stood out as someone who's full of life, easy to relate to, friendly and exotically beautiful. I wondered why she had green eyes and it turned out she was wearing contact lenses!
We remained as friends after that and when I decided to go to Melbourne to pursue my MBA the following year, our friendship took a further step. You can say the rest became history!
Dating her was challenging initially - we came from two different worlds - she is Australian in every sense of the word - outgoing, easy-going, relaxed, yet assertive and direct when communicating. She also enjoys her pastas, salads, and the typical Aussie barbeque.
I was a true-blue Singaporean - traditional, and reserved at times, and generally quite diplomatic. And I who enjoy my chicken rice and char kuay teow!
We had to make some adjustments in the beginning, but beyond the superficiality, the key things that kept our friendship strong was a willingness to share, commit, and our focus on sharing a journey together. Our friendship was strengthened with every day, and that laid a strong foundation for our relationship as a couple.
I made the decision to When I was about to graduate from my MBA School in 2002, I felt ready to embark on the next phase of my life - marriage. We had been dating for more than a year and were friends before that for more than three years. I felt she was the person whom i wanted to share my life after some soul-searching.
I don't think there is such a thing as "The One", but I believe there are a few principles to look out for when it comes to a life-partner.
For me it was about, finding a person with similar values, having a common vision for the future, a willingness to journey through the ups and downs in life, and a commitment to each other as we keep forgiving, trusting and giving to each other.
To top it off, she has an awesome personality - full of positivity that was very contagious, hospitable, encouraging, and a selfless and generous character. I felt she was going to be a solid partner for me and a great mother to my children in the years to come. To be honest I haven't found someone like that in Singapore!
I came back to Singapore about two months ago after an exciting work opportunity came up, after living in Melbourne for the last few years.
On adapting to a large family and a foreign culture, Aussie-Vietnamese Yen says:
I remember one particular episode when we were performing the Chinese tea ceremony at Kevin's parents house for our wedding.
I did not expect to see so many relatives, and I was not warned that I had to serve tea to everyone!
I think there about 70 family members and friends - all packed into the living and outdoor area.
By about the twentieth relative, the whole family decided we would also give out small red packets to the younger generation of family members as well. The whole process went on for about an hour, and I was exhausted and extremely overwhelmed by the end of it.
Within the Vietnamese community in Melbourne, the tea ceremony is not as elaborate.
Only my parents were involved in the ceremony while all the other guests and relatives were observers.
There are definitely more challenges you face as a married couple from different cultures.
But as you face these challenges, you begin to understand your husband's roots and upbringing, and grow together him.
We have also started a young family along the way. I enjoy living in Melbourne for its lifestyle and its focus on work-life balance. That is somethiing of a rarity in Singapore.
No, there is nothing concious about my family marrying non-Singaporeans! Instead, when it comes to looking for a life-partner, we all have different things that we look for and are attracted to.
I believe our attitude towards lifestyle, career, material needs, family and money are shaped by our socio-economical upbringing. Singaporeans have been raised and nurtured through a similar culture and system, it is inevitable that we have certain thinking and attitudes. Whilst some people are drawn towards these traits, others like my brother and I tend to look beyond that and desire something different.
I can't tell what prompted my relatives to choose foreigners - but i think to some extent it is a sense of adventure, a desire for something different amongst other reasons...
Yen had a "culture shock" after marriage. She had to get used to my very large family, which included very closely-knit extended family members who spanned all around the globe, as well as our family's culture and protocol. For example, my parents are very traditional and conservative-minded, and it took her some time to get over some of our more peculiar Singaporean-Chinese way of doing things.
But married life has been fantastic - I'm always enjoying every minute of it. And having two boys now makes me feel that family life is quite complete. My wife and I are also growing in love each new day, and that's a real blessing!
But I do not think the issue is about whether your life partner is Singaporean or not. Instead, it is the kind of values and personality your partner brings to the relationship. Some people may find Singaporeans are too similar to themselves - being kiasu or kiasi, or too result-driven, or career- and money-minded. Others may like what they see as sophistication in Singaporeans and the fact that most of us are well-travelled, educated, driven, competitive and resourceful.
Ultimately I think it's about what you are comfortable with, and more often than not, you may want to look for a foreigner as your life partner, because that is what brings out the best in you.
Meanwhile, Yen thinks that Singaporean men are generally quite driven, money-oriented, career-minded and competitive! She wishes that men here can spend more time with their children and take work-life balance more seriously.
But like me, she believes that making a relationship work is all about personality and how well a couple fit each other, regardless of nationality and culture."