My wife, Julie and I have been married for more than 6 months now. We are currently staying over at her parents’ place, while waiting for our own flat, which is scheduled to be completed in 2022. This year’s month of Ramadan is our first Ramadan as a married couple. This is our Ramadan story ?
Note: Outdoor and group photos were taken before the CoVid-19 Pandemic.
Just a little background on us, we met in 2017 and got married 2 years later. Our love for food and travelling the world knows no bounds and were the factors that brought us together ?. We have travelled to Malaysia and Japan (in early winter) as a couple along with a few of our mutual friends.
We visited Japan for the second time (this time during autumn) for our honeymoon because we love the country, its culture, and their delicious cuisine! All our trips were gastronomic adventures, in search of awesome, delicious halal Japanese food ?!
This year’s Ramadan has indeed been a challenging one for us. To start us off, the entire world is on some sort of lockdown due to the CoVid-19 pandemic. Our country, Singapore was not spared as the government implemented “circuit breaker” measures ?.
The CoVid-19 pandemic took a toll on our daily routine, especially so during the month of Ramadan. Mosques were shut and eateries only accepted takeaway or delivery orders. This, on top of the fact that, we could only leave the house for essential errands such as our weekly grocery run or if we are working in essential services ?.
Fasting as A Single Man
When I was single, especially in my teenage years, I would spend most of my time out and about during the month of Ramadan. I would help out with food preparation and participate in Ramadan youth activities at the mosque.
Credit: Ayie Amali on Facebook
Heading into my early 20s, my buddies and I would have an annual Ramadan meet up for iftar at a restaurant ?. After which, we would head to the mosque for prayers and hang out somewhere to chat.
Fasting as A Married Man
Being married and much older now, we have work commitments and have little social time for ourselves. So, every minute together is a blessing, especially being a working-class adult in Singapore. It can be a little challenging due to the country’s work culture.
This would mean, I would not have the privilege of spending my evenings with my friends every week and it gets tougher to attend overnight Ramadan mosque activities. It is even more so this year for the fact that the CoVid-19 pandemic and Singapore’s “circuit breaker” period falls during the same time as our first Ramadan together as a married couple ?.
Pre-Dawn Meals (Sahur)
We would wake up around 4.45am (Singapore time) for our pre-dawn meal, or Sahur, every morning. This is so we would not have to rush through our meals. Our pre-dawn meals everyday would differ from dates to rice with homecooked dishes ?. We would have this with a cup of milk or hot drink.
After which, we would stay awake till the call for prayer for Fajar, or Subuh. We would then perform our prayers before heading back to bed for a short nap before we start the day ?.
Breaking Fast (Iftar)
Breaking fast is a little different this year. We were used to breaking fast in restaurants, eateries or of course, the famed Ramadan bazaar back then before we were married. Unfortunately, due to “circuit breaker” measures being implemented, restaurants and eateries were all closed to diners and only accepted takeaway and delivery. Ramadan bazaars island-wide were all cancelled to prevent the spread of the disease.
This left us with only one option and that is to cook our own meals. My mother-in-law will take charge of the kitchen and cook the meals. At times, we will help out with the preparation ?.
Stocking Up on Groceries
Julie’s parents’ place is in western Singapore, so finding food here to take away would not be too much of a hassle due to the variety of Halal options in the vicinity. We would head over to the nearest supermarket and shop for groceries together, in preparation for the week’s pre-dawn meals and breaking of fast ?.
This year’s Ramadan gave us an opportunity to prepare our meals together due to the “work-from-home” measures implemented for non-essential services, which my wife was affected by. So, stocking up on groceries was essential, especially during this testing time.
Due to the “circuit breaker” measures in place, we were not able to visit my parents (my family photo is pictured above), who reside in central Singapore, let alone to have Iftar with them ?. Instead, we would check in with my parents in the afternoon or at night through voice or video call.
We were a bit disappointed that we could not spend Ramadan with my parents due to the CoVid-19 pandemic and we just had to make compromises for the health and safety of everyone and we believe this restriction was just one of the many obstacles that the Almighty has set for us. Despite not getting to spend time with my family, I gained a new one in the form of my in-laws. We learn new things about each other spending our days at home.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri / Puasa
Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Puasa marks the end of Ramadan. A typical Hari Raya Aidilfitri for me would be to start off early in the morning at the mosque, kicking it off with Aidilfitri prayers (and sermon) before visiting my maternal grandparents and relatives. Why maternal? I am a Chinese-Malay Muslim. My dad’s a Muslim convert.
This year’s a little different though. Our first Ramadan and soon to be, Hari Raya together would be spent with my wife and her parents. Due to the “circuit breaker” measures in place, we are not allowed to gather in other households including my parents’ place. We are planning to have a virtual Hari Raya session through video conference with both our families on the day of Aidilfitri. As sad as this sounds, that’s the best we can do for now due to the CoVid-19 pandemic.
Strengthening Our Bond as A Couple
Since we are staying at home most of the time, we thought of it as an opportunity to strengthen our bond as a couple. Whether it was performing our daily prayers, having our meals or watching the television together, it was truly a different Ramadan experience for Julie and me ?.
Ramadan (and the CoVid-19 pandemic) taught us how to be patient with one another and we believe for a relationship to work out, compromises and sacrifices have to be made. Marriage may be a big step ahead for me as I spent most of my singlehood out and about with my friends. When we got married, my priorities shifted. Spending time with your significant other especially during the month of Ramadan, is surely a blessing ?.
As the saying goes, it takes two hands to clap. We build and strengthen our bond as a couple through working as a team. From complicated (and sometimes frustrating) things such as financial discussion and planning to simple tasks such as cooking together, teamwork sure makes the dream work!
This year’s month of Ramadan (on top of the CoVid-19 Pandemic) has also taught us to be more appreciative and thankful of the little things we have and how crucial it is to spend time with your loved ones ?.