Feature Articles

FPAHK offers assessment to help mature couples enhance health and marital relationship

Ref Number: ESEAOR201307d

  • Date31 Jul 2013
  • Category FPA Message
  • Targets Couple Public
  • AuthorFPAHK
  • Topic Marriage and Family

The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (FPAHK) shared the results of its pilot “Checkup and Assessment for Mature Couples” service (CAMC) at a press briefing on 31 July 2013. Initiated in December last year, the service aimed to encourage long-married couples to continue attending to their health and the relationship with their spouse.

The pilot CAMC was conducted by FPAHK from December 2012 to April 2013. It comprised a health check-up and a “MATE” (Mature Age Transitional Evaluation) relationship assessment with follow-up counselling tailored to the needs of mature couples. 25 couples (at least one partner being aged 50 or above) joined the pilot and received the service free. These couples have been married for 20 to 40 years with an average of 31 years. Age range of the husbands was from 51 to 67, and that of the wives was 45 to 60.

Sharing the results of the CAMC’s health assessment, FPAHK’s Senior Doctor Dr Sue Lo said among the 50 participants, 34 had abnormal blood test results. 4 clients were previously known to have health problems, whereas 30 only discovered their problems during this assessment. Dr Lo pointed out that abnormal lipid profile, high glucose and raised uric acid were common among mature age groups, but these conditions may be asymptomatic at the early stage. “Health assessment by blood tests is important for mature couples,” she stressed.

FPAHK’s Senior Counsellor Ms Christina Cheung said that the MATE Assessment found 8 couples fell within the “Happy Marriage” group (6 “Vitalized” couples and 2 “Harmonious” couples) while 17 couples were under the “Unhappy Marriage” group (2 “Traditional” couples, 11 “Conflicted” couples and 4 “Devitalized” couples). It was observed from follow-up counseling that couples in the “Happy Marriage” group nurtured their intimacy in daily life by spending more time together. They also enjoyed group activities with common friends. Those in the “Unhappy Marriage” group tended to avoid sex and physical intimacy. Disharmonious marital relationship and unsolved conflicts were the main obstacles to intimacy.

Mature couples were commonly concerned about financial management and health. Being the “sandwiched generation”, they have to constantly juggle the demands of tending to elderly parents, taking care of themselves while supporting their married children. Couples in the “Happy Marriage” group were in general more mutually supportive. They treasured their spouse as a lifelong partner and hence were willing to make effort to adjust to mid-life transition and face challenges in a positive manner. Those in the other group tended to maintain the status quo. They appreciated their spouse’s “loyalty” and past contributions to the family, but their relationships were disturbed by past conflicts and unhappy experiences.

“Participating couples said the assessment results helped them understand the strengths and weaknesses in their relationship, and the follow-up counselling not only allowed them to process their repressed feelings and thoughts but to listen to each other’s feelings and thoughts. The assessment reminded them to enhance their relationship by strengthening communication, mutual adjustment and intimacy so that they can enjoy an enriched and happier marital life,” concluded Ms Cheung.

Results of the pilot service showed that it was effective in raising couples’ health and relationship awareness while helping them detect and manage problems early. FPAHK announced the official launch of CAMC and a generous donation of $100,000 from the Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation to sponsor the first 50 eligible couples enrolling in the service.