Read this beautiful love story from our archives.
You’ve probably heard of the saying “Behind every successful man stands a strong, wise woman.”
Well, the strong and wise woman standing behind beloved showbiz personality Gurmit Singh, is without a doubt, Melissa Wong Virk, his lovely wife of 20 years.
After leaving MediaCorp earlier in 2015, Gurmit granted theAsianParent an exclusive interview, which you can read here.
This time, it’s his wife’s turn in the hot seat, and she shares about how she dealt with her husband’s popularity over the last 20 years and what she looks forward to now that he has more time to spend with the family.
Mother to three beautiful children (aged 17, 13, and 2), Melissa’s sparkling personality and the love she has for her husband and children shine through in this candid and exclusive interview.
“Just the five of us…”
The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q: What was the most difficult thing you had to deal with regarding Gurmit’s popularity?
A: It had to be finding time for all of us to spend together as a family.
It was the hardest when both our older children started formal schooling. They were free over the weekends or during dinner, but daddy often had work. He usually started work in the late afternoon, and sometimes went on right through the night.
Also when a production was going on, it meant very long weekdays for daddy too, which meant there was even less time to be together.
Then, there were the changes in schedules that happened frequently. Often, I found myself planning without Gurmit, and then he was suddenly available, but I had already committed to be with other people, like playdates with other mums and kids!
Also, with so much time and energy devoted to work projects, it often meant that daddy would want to chillax while the kids were ready to charge. That was also tricky.
Q: How did you feel about Gurmit being in the limelight?
A: I have been and am still very happy for him.
If I may say, Gurmit’s really talented, and he is a thoughtful performer who can envision a performance in advance. He is also at the same time very honest and knows what he cannot make happen. He would never take on something for the sake of popularity.
I remember the years before TV, and together, we were dreaming this “Hollywood” dream for Gurmit and going to various auditions.
I have always believed that he could make it big, and I have always supported his decision on this journey to “the limelight.”
The day Melissa received her degree in early childhood education – with her ‘inspirations’!
Q. Have you ever felt resentful towards Gurmit, that he was not giving his all when it came to parenting due to the nature of his job?
His busyness back then gave me a lot of space and liberty to drive this parenting car that we were all in.
Since the birth of our first baby (she’s 18 this year!), I started to learn about children, their development and education in the early years and I’m still learning.
I went from doing one Montessori diploma to completing a childcare certificate, and then to graduating with a degree in Early Childhood Education.
I travelled to the US, Australia and Italy to see how programmes for children can be run so that the interest of the child is first and foremost respected, and every effort is made to create a beautiful environment which supports the education of the child.
I was busy applying many ideas along the way at home, while Gurmit was busy at work. However, in hindsight, a car without a GPS, and with me being the driver, doesn’t get very far, or it takes a while to get there!
I only covered familiar routes, and new destinations were reached with trepidation, fear and anxiety.
Gurmit is the GPS of our parenting car. He is an insightful, sensible and creative leader. He is also very good at getting the children to do what my good intentions want without as much anxiety.
Simply beautiful! Melissa with her youngest daughter
Q: What are some of the ways in which Gurmit found time to be with you and the kids, even with his hectic schedule?
A: Through the years, Gurmit has always tried to make time for the family and for the children.
At the same time, we had to be very spontaneous with when and how we spent the time we had. There was no soccer dad, or Saturday morning walk or swim-with-dad type of things. It was mostly all mum.
With dad, the children enjoyed incredibly creative play ideas and stories. He also made the effort to find time to be with the children while I went back to school.
There were also occasions when we took the kids out of school during school terms (even though we weren’t supposed to!), just so we could make the time to go on an overseas holiday together.
And, where we could control it, we didn’t accept jobs on Sundays. However, with production and when other people’s earnings are affected, then we could not be the deciding factor.
Q: How did you react when he broke the news to you about leaving Mediacorp?
A: Well, there was no breaking of the news and it was a joint decision.
After 20 years of being married, we have slowly, but not necessarily easily, cultivated this habit of discussing and consulting each other before arriving at decisions — even decisions that seem to be about the individual.
In marriage, you really can’t have separate yours or mine. We have learned to appreciate and apply that to every aspect of our lives.
Sibling love: Melissa and Gurmit’s older children when they were just babies
Q: How would you describe Gurmit as a father?
A: Gurmit is an involved and patient father. Despite the lack of time in the past, if he made a commitment to be there for the children, we could always count on him to be there.
Gurmit loves the children above himself. It always pains him more if any of the children are in pain – physically or emotionally.
His approach to teaching the children is always from a fun starting point and he doesn’t mind clowning around to make the kids happy.
He definitely scores A-star for trying to make time for the children! At the moment, he’s trying to spend time with each of them on a weekly basis, and also together as a family.
2-week old Mikaela (Melissa and Gurmit’s youngest daughter) with her siblings’ ‘loveys’ when they were babies themselves.
He expects the children to be contented, to be thankful for the blessings we have received and to be responsible about what we do with our blessings. But at the same time, he can be no-nonsense in disciplining the children.
He does not accept angry outbursts or complaining ways, and when these happen, he doesn’t hesitate to stop it.
He disciplines with love, never with a cane. He tells the children what is not acceptable, and then follows up with a family discussion. He asks the children to reflect on why they have behaved in a certain way and alternative ways with which they could have handled the situation.
These meetings can be long, but they always end with prayers and big group hugs.
Melissa and Gurmit: soulmates for 20 years and still going strong
Q: How would you describe Gurmit as a husband?
A: Gurmit is an appreciative and loving husband. He thinks about my welfare more than I give him credit for.
Even back when he was working several projects at the same time and had little free time, whenever he did have a little break, he would offer to be with the kids and encourage me to go for a massage or a pedicure so that I had some down time.
He’s never demanding in what meals he gets and how he wants his laundry done. He is always thankful that I fixed his meals, even if I had only warmed up leftovers. He’s never imposing.
He is ever generous with giving gifts to me. Thankfully, I don’t need a lot of things, or we’d be broke! But, when it comes to me and the family, Gurmit is very generous.
He knows it makes me feel special receiving roses (yellow roses are my favourite!), so he surprises me with them regularly, and always on my birthday. He even gives me flowers on Valentine’s day when the price skyrockets!
A happy snap of the Singh family captured during a walk together
Gurmit is my partner, my soulmate, and the man I want to grow old with. He is my listening ear and sounding board. I almost always discuss and maybe over-discuss an idea, a situation or a new venture with him before I embark on it.
He’s not a talkative person, but I just love listening to him talk about anything. He’s my hand to hold and shoulder to cry on.
He makes me laugh and cry, and together we have made good and made many mistakes. With him, I’d do everything over and over again. He’s my pillar of strength.
Q: What’s the one thing that you’re looking forward to now that he’s made the choice to put his career as number two in life?
A: The liberty to plan our time together. And, we plan to spend a lot of time together!
*All images used in this article were provided by Melissa.
theAsianparent would like to thank Melissa for her time. We hope she and her soulmate are finally getting loads of time to create many more wonderful memories with their children and each other!
Do share with us the ways in which your own partner make time to be with your family and the things you all love doing together! Please leave a comment below.