Category Archives: Life and Marriage

Raising Good and Responsible Next Generation

This subject is always up for debate and there are no right or wrong answers. Only bad ones. I have always stick to certain values when I start raising my kids and there are certain times I doubt if I’m doing the right things.

I am Asian born and raised in South East Asia. Hence, there are certain values instilled in me growing up by my parents and what I observed. These values are filtered and now build within my wife and me. Obviously these values are being passed down to my kids, of whom my eldest son is now considered an adult as he will be hitting the major milestone.

It is very difficult to compare and contrast one tradition over another. I can’t say Asian culture is better than Western culture or vise versa. All I can say is when we raise good responsible generation we need to use common sense.

I had good feedback over the weekend from my son when I was giving him a haircut. After this year he will graduate from Rutgers and get ready to head out on his own. Prior to that he will be heading to the West at Seatle for his internship. He told me that what I have telling him over the last years were really good suggestions and he thanked me for everything I taught him.

Being Financial Responsible

I’ve been teaching my kids of being financial responsible. While our family never shy away on spending money but we never spend lavishly. For example, we don’t rush out to but the newest gadgets or the newest cars. We spend what we can afford. And we don’t consider brand name items as must have – we go to WalMart when we can because we now we usually get good deals. Two months ago my son told me that he wanted to buy the latest BMW once he got a job. However, he told me that he no longer consider that option because he realized that the monthly car payment of $1,000 per month is too much and the money can be well spend on other important things.

Take Ownership of Self

When my kids were growing up my wife and I would check on their well beings every moment. As they grow older around middle school we started to relax a bit. As my son started to attend Rutgers I told him that I will no longer check on his education. In those years I been telling them that if they don’t take charge of their future, the only option for them to support themselves is by working McDonald’s. Having worked at a fast food restaurant during high school, my son had the experience that working in this industry is not sustainable. Now he aspires to be a software engineer and work for Amazon (he will be an intern at Amazon in Seatle).

Education is Important

Good education leads to success

Both my wife and I are not the typical Asians who want perfect grades. We let our kids experience the American values as much as we could by letting them have freedom on how they study. At the same time, we stress the importance of having good education as we believe this is the only way to get good job and may lead to good life. While some may debate that this is the wrong message to send, it is still unfortunately very true today. My son noticed this too as he found better opportunity while studying at Rutgers. He realized that some of his friends from high school who are not doing well at school are struggling – one of his friends even drop out of college and joined the Navy because he was just doing badly at the local college.

Don’t Spoon Feed – Use Force Feed

I remember the time when my son asked me to buy him a car when he turned 18. Obviously, I refused. He said he needed a car to travel to Rutgers for his education. I told him that he would be using my wife’s car but he was not allowed to use the car for hanging out with his friends. While that seems excessive he agreed to it. The only way for him to be able to use the car hanging out is to buy his own car. And that goes back to being financial responsible – because of the added pressure of financing and insurance he realized the stress of being able to afford for the car. I was surprised that he thanked me – he told me that if I’ve given his the car when the turned 18 he would not be where he is today. He has seen some of his friends who received a car for their birthdays turn out to be losers today as they have no concept of value and what is right or wrong.

Family Values

Our family of five has been very close. Whenever possible we always do things together and celebrate all milestones together. For this reason we never fight. Some may argue that some arguments or disagreements are healthy; I personally disagree. Arguments can escalate quickly and not everyone can forgive and forget easily. Our family likes to joke around and even when we have disagreements they tend to go away really quickly because we downplay them through laughter. As an example, my oldest son will be 21 this summer and all the years with his younger brother who is 3 years apart only had a verbal spat once. All my kids have strong bonds and continue to have good relationship with each other.

Every parent always worries what is the right thing to do or how to raise kids. While there are help books or various advice you could seek from friends or relatives every situation and every family is different. For me having hearing from my son that I’ve been doing things right is a good pat on the back and that I’ve done what I set out to do – by being a good parent and raise good and responsible kids.


Secrets to a Healthy and Long Lasting Marriage (part 2)

This is the second part of my blog on how to maintain a long lasting marriage. Believe it or not, the answer is one-sided and for most men, they will not like the answer. The answer is quite simply making the wife happy. I’ve thought of many angles in this topic and came to conclusion that the saying “happy wife means happy life” is very true.

Before you jump the conclusion that I may be on drugs, I suggest that you read my arguments below. My reasoning below may sound unfair to most men but to keep a marriage healthy and long lasting, they must be followed. So, without further due, let’s begin.

She is Always Right

If you are married, you should know by now that women are more emotional than men. Men are more practical in dealing with day to day problems. Women on the other hand tend to view things that fit their mental needs. If any of the issue at hand does not fit their mental block, women tend to voice their dissatisfaction. So, what do I mean that women are always right. Believe it or not, because women are emotional being, they tend to be more observant. They will see things that men tend to ignore, more like a sixth sense. No, women do not have “spider sense” but they do provide additional insight that men might miss.

Another point is when arguing with women, they are always right (even though they are sometimes wrong). When my wife and I have any disagreement, I find it easier to diffuse the argument by agreeing with her. This is not to say that I say things to “shut” her up, rather that I find that by agreeing with her, we could calm ourselves down and have a better discussion. Needless to say that we rarely have any arguments because we learn to know each other thoughts and tend to agree in a lot of things.

Husband Must Always Support the Wife

I believe this is a “no brainer” because supporting each other is an important part of a marriage. However, the husband must put extra effort in supporting the wife in all occasions. This could be life’s daily tasks to wife’s mental needs. For example, when I come home from work, I will help my wife in her cooking and getting the dinner ready. Even though I spend all day working, I will come home and handle all the dishes. Another example is my wife is now a fitness instructor. Believe it or not there is quite a drama in this field of work. I am her biggest fan and continue to support her in her line of work. While this seems unfair at many different levels for men, but trust me that the fruits of the labor come in multi-fold. Over the years I find it easier to be the supporter since it has become second nature of mine to support my wife.

Treat Her Like a Queen

Women sacrifice a lot when it comes to taking care of the family. To top it off, they bear the burden for the next generation. That includes carrying a human being for 9 months, bear the pain and ultimately carry the scar. There is no way for any men to experience the pain of child bearing. Naturally men should treat women like the queen. In my eyes, my wife is the most amazing person in the world. Without her I don’t think I could be any close to what I am today. Hence, I always treat her like my queen and continue to tell her how I love her. Sadly I’ve heard many news how men decide to have extra-marital affair because their wives do not look like before they were married.

Wife Always Comes First

One of the major reasons why wife and mother-in-law never get along is because they are fighting for the same person, the husband. When a couple get married, the groom’s mother feel that she lost her son to another woman. On the front the mother feels happy for the couple, but she secretly holds a grudge. Whenever the mother gets a chance, she will try insert herself in the marriage. Unfortunately this places the husband in a position to choose a side. I learned the hard way when my wife got really angry with my mother and I sided with my mother. The end result was I hurt my wife deeply we almost ended in divorce. Now I place my wife first and my mother come in second. I will be spending the rest of my life with the woman I wed, not my mother.

Will any of the points I raised above will guarantee that your marriage will last forever? I sure hope so but then I also know that all marriage is different. I continue to shower my wife with all the love she deserves and our marriage is stronger than ever.

Vicious Cycle of Modern Day Lives

Yes, this blog is about enjoying work and life. You can’t have one and not the other. That’s when one would either stressed out (being hating work) or failed to achieve one’s potential (being enjoyed life while ignoring everything else). Finding the perfect balance is easier said than done.

Today’s blog is about neither. It is about how everyone of us are trapped in a vicious cycle of trying to achieve something that the society expects us to do. For example, everyone in the modern day is expected to go to school, learn life skills, start working , get a career, build a life, etc. At the end of our life-cycle, we are expected to pass on our knowledge to our future generation. And the cycle begins again.

This is not so bad if there are no hurdles or life-events along the way. But God always have different plans for everyone. There is always unforeseen events that may appear and stop the plans half-way. For example, while one is doing find and having a successful career may find himself out of job and living on the street.

Well, today’s blog is going to discuss why are we all in this predicament, and is there anyway we can get out of this vicious cycle. I’ve pondered this question for years and I come to the conclusion that I could not get out of the cycle unless I decided to drop everything in front of me and live in a forest and live off the land.

Let’s build the case shall we by asking several questions.

Why do we exist

We exist today because God has plans for everyone of us, big or small. However, God does not tell us what He has plan for us. We just have to figure it out ourselves. But the problem is when we were born, we are just one of the helpless creatures with no capability of defending ourselves. We go through years of learning and training before we are even capable of being independent. We exist to be part of a larger community so we can give back to the community for years to come. So should we be selfish and say the hell with it and just do whatever we want? The answer is unfortunately no. We will continue to stick to the plan (unwritten plan) and hopefully we are on the right plan.

Why do we do what we are told

Early on we’ve already been told that we should do this and that. If we don’t we will fail in life. To a certain extent this is true because everything has already been dictated by society. For example, if a 6 year old child says he wants to be a fireman when he grows up, he cannot just wear the fire proof and jump in a building that is in fire and hope to put out the fire. No, the child has to learn all the necessary skills and when he becomes an adult will have to take all the training and exams and hope one day he will become a fireman. But what if the child decides to step out of line when he was 12 and did something different? Using my personal experience as an example, I knew that when I was in high school I want to be in the business world, but I don’t know how. But to get there I learned that I MUST get good grades, go to college, obtain certain skills, apply for jobs, go to interviews and hope that I get that job. Now after 25 years, I continue to follow the unwritten route and hope that one day I’m well off to retire. What if I decided that I don’t want to follow the plan anymore? My whole life-being, including my children’s will collapse. So the conclusion is I don’t have a choice.

What about the haves and haves not

When we start to become independent of our parents, we were already exposed to how the society works in terms of livelihood. For us to be able to get what we want in life, it will cost money. To get the money, we need to earn it. And to earn it, we need to use a third of our lives in it. Take for an example of buying a car. When I was in grade school I already wanted a car of my own. Unfortunately I learned that the car is not like a toy and costs a lot of money. When I became an adult, I soon realized that to get the money to buy the car, I need to get a job. However, at the same time I found out that what I make is not what I earn, and that means that it is much harder to buy the car. Not only that I need to pay the government and everyone in between of my hard earned money in order to get the car I wanted. The another question arise out of this dilemma – do I really need the car? The short answer is no, but society tells us we do because it bring us convenience and freedom to do what we want. So we fall back into the same cycle with no way of getting out.

As I noted earlier, the only way for us not to participate in this cycle is live in a forest and go off grid. If we live off land where no one (in this case society) can reach us, then we won’t be influenced by all the rules, systems and programs. We could be free from all the hassle and stress of the modern day lives. Unfortunately, reality hits us like a rock. Homo sapiens are creatures who seek convenience, even cavemen invented wheel and discovered fire that staying status quo would never work.

At the end is it really that bad to be in the vicious cycle? Personally I have given it a lot of thoughts and realize that if we manage our expectations and be happy with what we have following the cycle is really not that bad.

Let me know your thoughts!

Secrets to a Healthy and Long Lasting Marriage (part 1)

Can you make it last?

I am by no means an expert in this area, but having more than 21 years experience being married to the same person there are a few things I can teach someone who is having trouble in their marriage. Of course there are marriage counselor you can hire to save your marriage, but all they do is trying to find the root cause behind the trouble and solve them one by one. Believe it or not many problems in a marriage are usually cause by several reasons that I will highlight below. Hopefully my advice below can not only help troubled couples, they can be applied to healthy couple too.

One of the driving force in a happily married couple is their own experiences with their own parents. If the couple experienced happy and loving childhood, the couple’s own marriage will have a better chance of long lasting marriage. However, if the man or woman grew up in a broken family, the likelihood of him or her to maintain a marriage is slim. They tend to use their “bad” experience and apply it in their own marriage. With that being said, it is extremely important for any couple who is having difficult marriage to throw out all his or her upbringing experience and start anew. Without further due, let’s go.

Respect for Each Other

One of the biggest problems with a man and woman is they tend have different values when it comes to certain things. For example, some men prefer to watch football over the weekend while women tend to chat with their friends or maybe go shopping. Problems arises when they start to complain each other and disrespecting each other choices. When a couple start this route, the frustrations would continue to pile up to a boiling point that arguments become inevitable. When arguments start, hurtful words would start to fly and tears will follow. It is extremely important that the husband and wife should respect each other’s needs before make any unilateral judgement. In other words, try to wear each other’s shoes.

My wife and I are no different. Melissa loves to dance her Zumba in the house and she goes to any classes that interest her. Sometimes she will out at a gym for hours and may miss making dinner for the family. Instead of criticizing her of her choice, I continue to support her. Whenever possible, I would step in and help take care of our kids. On the other hand, I sometimes prefer quiet times after work. Melissa loves to talk about her day, but she learns to keep the conversation down if she notices that I am tired from work.

Overlook Each Other Weaknesses

No one is perfect. Each couple should know each other weaknesses and embrace them. Never use each other’s weaknesses and belittle them. This creates stress in the relationship and may snap overtime. The end result could be divorce or worse. For example, I’ve heard stories how the husband yells or criticizes the wife for poor driving to a point that the wife stopped driving altogether. Recently I read a news article how the husband keeps calling his wife “fat” after she gave birth to their first son.

Using myself as an example, my wife gained a few baby weight after our daughter was born. I’ve never use the weight gain in any of my conversation with her. In fact, I grew to love some of her curves. Instead of the negativity in the conversation, we were able to use the weight gain to jump start a healthy lifestyle. Today, Melissa is a Zumba instructor while I have been going to gym 4-5 times a week for the past 4 years.

Communicate and “Not” Communicate

Communication is key in a healthy couple. When things are not clear or there are any disagreement, open communication will usually cure all ills. Communication is a two way street, which includes active listening and active responding. If one spouse talks and the other shuts down, then there is no communication. The one-sided communication becomes “complaints” and “naggings” and are usually not healthy in a relationship.

On the other hand, there are certain things that are better not said because they will cause harm. When do you “not” communicate? Certain subjects that are sensitive to one’s belief should always be avoided. For example, if the husband feels the wife is “overweight”, find other means to encourage better lifestyle. Another example is my wife and mother-in-law are rarely on the same wavelength. I am always be careful what I should convey to my wife on what my mother said (especially negative things).

Sex, Baby!

Enjoying each other sexually is a catalyst to a healthy relationship. Sex allows a couple to communicates to each other that they are comfortable with each other and they enjoy each other intimately. This is also the time they let their guards down and learn from each other.

My work is sometimes stressful and my wife is usually busy taking care of the kids. We learn years ago that we should retire to our bedroom early to de-stress. If we are really too tired to do anything, we would tell each other instead of forcing ourselves to have intimate time. We learn to know what each other’s needs are and learn enjoy to each other.

I’ve heard of sex-less marriage (of which several of our friends are in). The marriage becomes a contract that lack understanding and love. The couple maintains the marriage as a duty instead for each other. The contract could end once they no longer need each other.

Have Fun with Each Other (but not at the expense of the other)

Laughter is what keeps life smiling. It is also important in a marriage – without laughter then the spark in the marriage is gone. Laughter also tells each other that they understand each other and what makes them “tickle”. However, laughter should be done in both ways instead of one way. For example, making jokes of your significant other could sometimes be hurtful if not kept in check.

My wife and I sometimes would bring up something funny that happened when we first dated. That rekindled our love and brought back good memories. I would never make fun of her directly as not only it is insensitive, but could be hurtful.

Have Kids

Children are the glue of the family. They remind us why we committed ourselves in a holy matrimony. Yes, having kids could be stressful and expensive. However, a marriage without kids seems pointless. While I respect those who rather have kid-less marriage, there comes a time one would wonder why getting married when there is no further commitment.

My wife and I decided early on that we will have kids – the question is how many. Once we have the first one, we knew we will have more. Now our children are mostly grown up, they remind us what my wife and I continue to commit to each other. There were a number of stressful times during my children upbringing and both my wife and I were able to solve them together as a team. Our children makes our marriage worth while.


These are just a few things I learned over the years after my wife and I were married. I am glad to say my wife and I continue to go strong in our marriage. There were a few ups and downs along the way but we managed to overcome them. The above are just some of the ways you can consider if you want to keep your marriage strong. In the next few posts I will go over the rests and hopefully whoever reads this will consider the above to keep their marriage life strong and forever.

I love to hear from you and let me know what works and what doesn’t.

Tiger Mom (or Dad)

Both my wife and I were born in Malaysia. So by default we are Asians by heart. I immigrated to US 30 years ago and my wife has been a US citizen for more than 20 years. So, the big question is do we considered ourselves fully assimilated. The answer is definitely yes, with the exception of one when it comes to raising kids.

We continue to rely on what we learn from our parents when we were growing up. One of the family values that we instill on our kids is what it means by true Asian upbringing, and that is what most Americans call “tiger” value.

I think a lot of people misconstrued what it means to be “tiger” mom or dad. To me, “tiger” mom/dad means continue to expect the best from our kids and at the same time instill strong responsibility in their behavior. At times we consider ourselves very strict, but at the same time we allow our kids to have certain freedom. And at all times, we expect them to do “very” well at school but without sacrificing time to explore.

I consider myself very strict when it comes to achieving their (my kids) best in their education. As a “tiger” dad, I don’t think I will ever be satisfied with mediocre grades. There is considerable debate when it comes to pushing our children when it comes to education. Most Americans allow their children freedom to “explore” and getting As in class is a secondary objective. However, I believe in setting high expectations or our children will never strive to achieve that spot.

For example, most American families will celebrate their children’s grades when they improve from C to B. While at the same time saying B is good enough and A would even better. My family is the opposite. Instead of celebrating good grades, we will say great but “not good enough”. If my kids receive a B grade, instead of celebrating his achievement I would say what happened to getting A? Setting the bar higher and higher will allow our kids to jump higher and higher.

However, I would like to point out that we are not like most Asian families in Asia that getting bad grades equal to shamed for life. We push our kids but not to the level that they fall off the cliff. We have heard news where Asian students committed suicides because they did not receive the grades they were expecting and they feel they let their parents down.

Instead we try to encourage our kids by giving them examples of life where aiming high is extremely important. We all know doing well in school means better opportunities in the future. At their early age I told my kids that they don’t want to work in McDonald’s as a career because it is not the most lucrative work. Most employees are paid minimum wage and promotion within the fast food restaurant is far and between. And my son is learning first hand because he started working at Chik-fil-a as a part-time job during high school. He hates the job because it is tough and doesn’t pay well.

Another example that we constantly told our kids are our family and friends in Malaysia. My wife’s immediate family in Malaysia were never educated. To this day, they continue to struggle economically because they are constantly searching for the next “big” money making opportunities. On the other hand most of my childhood friends who went on to higher education in Malaysia are living more comfortably because they have more secured and higher paying jobs.

It is true that doing well at school does not guarantee a bright and better future. At least getting good grades will open more doors than having the doors slam on our kids faces. So being a “Tiger” mom or dad will ensure that the doors will open wider and close slower.

Are you happy?

Achieving happiness in life is easy if you don’t sweat the little things. Always look at the bigger picture but always aim high. Life is challenging, and at times quite stressful. I’m by no means perfect.

Often times I ask myself if the life that I’m having is what I always wanted. Many people will ask the same. Over time, 28 years to be exact, I believe I have found the answer.

Life is meant to be shared. Share it with your spouse, your partner or your family. Living life alone is when life starts eating you from inside out. You will start to hate life and depression will start setting in.

I always feel blessed when I met my wife, through the grace of God – more of that in my later post. We support each other throughout our life journey and we feel that we are made for each other. We have an open communication and I learn to actively listen when she talks. Follow along as I will list some of life lesson how to keep your love life strong in my posts soon.

Through her, I found my strength to enjoy my life everyday. Sure, not everyday is perfect but knowing that she will be home taking care of the kids and the home usually remove a lot of my worries away.