I wanna hold your hand

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08 Feb 2024 | PEOPLE

I wanna hold your hand

He stepped out for work while she was in labour, but she didn't mind. He stepped up daddy duties while she was overseas for multiple work trips. Here's how this Army couple found the perfect partnership.

//Story by Thrina Tham / Photos by Chai Sian Liang & courtesy of ME4 Lim

From co-workers, to friends, to partners: ME5 Jiva (left) and ME4 Lim got married after about seven years of companionship.

She was at the hospital, having contractions, about to go into labour. Her husband was by her side. Except, he had to step out to give a work presentation on Zoom.

He had just done an assessment on supporting COVID-19 operations at a general hospital and had to present his findings back to HQ (Headquarters) Army Medical Services (AMS).

Military Expert (ME) 5 Jiva Ananthan quickly finished his presentation in time and returned to ME4 Olive Lim's side.

They welcomed their son, Dre Yeshwin Jiva, who turns two this year.

"This is the kind of thing she understands – the work, the ops. And she wasn't upset about it," said ME5 Jiva, 41, on having his wife in the military.

"My bosses were also understanding. After I ended my part, they said 'okay, I don't want to see your face anymore, go and be with your wife'," he added.

ME5 Jiva heads the Medical Company Training Section at the SAF Medical Training Institute (SMTI), while ME4 Lim, 35, will be assuming the role of Head of Plans Section in HQ AMS this February.

The couple's dates usually consist of outdoor activities and going to the gym.

From friends to partners

The pair met for the first time in the Medical Corps in 2012, but only got together six years down the road.

They reconnected as colleagues in 2015 when they were both posted to SMTI's Army Medical Training Centre. They hung out as a group of four friends, who continued to meet for meals after being posted to different units.

Even after the other two gradually stopped joining, ME5 Jiva and ME4 Lim continued hanging out.

Their outings usually consisted of gym sessions (something ME4 Lim resisted but eventually embraced because of ME5 Jiva!), dinner, and searching for good craft beer.

One night in 2018, they went for dinner at Timbre and he held her hand for the first time.

"We held hands and that's when we were like 'ok, we're in a relationship'," said ME5 Jiva.

No confession, no proposal? "Yeah, he just held my hand, and I just gave him mine," said ME4 Lim, shyly.

No Sirs, or Ma'ams

Two years later, they decided to get married in a similar fashion – by agreeing to get a house together.

"There was no grand gesture, but we decided that we're prepared to live together and also to get married, just like that," said ME4 Lim, laughing.

To keep things professional, the couple largely kept their relationship under wraps when it came to their colleagues.

"My chief was the first to know because I had to declare when we bought our house together," said ME5 Jiva. "He called me into his office and said, 'Is this Olive, our Olive?'"

"I said yes, she's my business investment partner," he joked.

Even till today, they continue to maintain this professionalism whenever they cross paths in the workplace.

"At work, she calls me 'sir'," said ME5 Jiva.

"I don't," insisted ME4 Lim.

"(Okay, it's) ME5 Jiva."

"Yes, in front of other people," she agreed.

While being in the Army together helps them understand each other's work better, the pair are also mindful about keeping it professional at work.

Taking turns to support each other

While it helps to have a spouse in the military – for one, they both work at Nee Soon Camp and can commute to work and back together when their schedule allows – the rigours of Army life can get to them sometimes.

Previously, ME4 Lim had to travel often for overseas planning conferences – and she flew out about five times last year.

That left ME5 Jiva to assume the parenting duties of their then-one-year-old. "(Our son) needed nursing so we had to find a way for him to sleep without that comfort. At night, my mother-in-law and I would take turns… I didn't really get much sleep then; and I still needed to work the next morning."

On the other end, ME4 Lim was grateful to finally able to get some rest, she admitted with a laugh.

"It was the only time I could sleep through the night. I hadn't had a night of uninterrupted sleep ever since I had Dre," she said.

"I was counting down the days to her return the moment we sent her off at immigration," quipped ME5 Jiva.

ME4 Lim with ME5 Jiva at the Honorary Aides-de-Camp (HADC) Appointment Ceremony and Appreciation Dinner last year; she served as a HADC from 2018 to 2023.

Always by your side

The two are also quick to show their appreciation for each other.

"He's a very hands-on father," said ME4 Lim. "In the morning, he'll get our son ready for breakfast. Outside, he takes care of all the playing, all the experiential learning."

"I really appreciate that on the home front. And at work, he's also like a mentor," she added.

For ME5 Jiva, it was his wife's care and devotion when he was recently hospitalised for a bad viral attack that meant the most to him.

"She shuttled here and there, asking my mother-in-law to stay with my son, and stayed with me throughout the six days, assisting me with everything, even the toileting," said ME5 Jiva.

"Apart from the many things she does, that was one of the sweetest things."

"We're an SAF couple, of course we..." What do military couples have in common? 


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