It’s not about it getting better

(Image not mine)

A story was shared about a nice doctor husband who, as a surgeon, is always on call at the hospital, doesn’t see his wife or young child often, and when he IS home, he’s so tired he just sleeps most of the time. The wife recently decided she’s had enough and left him.

It’s not like he cheated. It’s not like he was abusive. It’s not like he had harmful addictions.
It’s just that his work was very demanding, and perhaps the wife had expectations of what being a wife/mother should look like and that wasn’t being met. Is that grounds for leaving a marriage or is that a lack of understanding what marriage is?

Other than family doctors who can pretty much run their clinic hours however they like, one of the main reasons I didn’t want to marry a doctor was because of how demanding their work could be. I didn’t know (and still don’t know) if I can handle not seeing my husband days at a time or having to cancel plans if he gets a call or going on separate vacations or trying to have meaningful interaction with someone who just wants to sleep on his days off. But that’s given my personality and emotional needs…some people have done it successfully. Regardless of profession however, EVERY marriage will have unmet expectations where one or both feel like they’re getting something other than what they signed up for. What then?

If things are going through a rough patch, am I thinking, “We just have to make it through the next couple years until ____ is done“? What if after those couple years something else comes up. Someone loses a job. Someone gets sick. Something happens. And marriage continues to not be how I imagined and it continues to be hard. Year after year. What then?

I was reminded of one of my favorite books, “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” Marriage is about a covenant; it’s so not about falling in love. A friend said it really well, “It’s not about it getting better, it’s about how you’re going to learn to support each other.” I would add, “No matter how hard it gets and no matter how long it stays hard.” (Granted I’m not talking about abusive or dangerous situations here.) This really resonated with me. I can’t imagine it now, but I think  it’s realistic to expect there will be times where marriage or life could be hard for what seems to be a long while. Changes to health, employment, having or not having children, etc can really spiral a relationship downwards…and I want to have at least thought about the possibility. How will we support each other through it? How will we keep resentment or bitterness from starting or taking root if one seems to be “giving up” more than the other? How to keep ourselves from focusing on how we’re not getting anything out of this and look for an exit?

Anyone have any experiences to share?

True Love: An Exhortation

Happy 2nd Anniversary Skywalker!
Time goes by quickly, sometimes too quickly. But we’re enjoying every bit of it. I love him more now than when I said “I do.” =) Looking forward to year Three!

I’m also trying to build a tradition of reading our vows to each other every anniversary. And also reading through the message our pastor challenged and encouraged us with in our wedding ceremony. It’s easy to drift and forget. Here is the exhortation for us…but maybe it’ll challenge and encourage you too.

For Skywalker and Reigh |  By Rev. Ted Ng
April 9th, 2011

Love never fails.
These words of Scripture are for poets.
They are for dreamers.
They are for little girls who want to princesses
For little boys who would be heroes
But are they for us?
We who know the realities of disappointment
and heartache?
Do we dare dream a dream of love today?

We are no longer children who dream.
We have become hard and practical
Some of us may have even become cynical.
The fact that nearly 3 out of 4 marriages fail is sobering.
Prenupts reveal a lack of confidence in lasting marriage.
If love never fails, why do marriages fail so often?
Or does the Bible sell us false goods?
Is this talk of faith in God
of hope in a meaningful future
and this love supreme just for children?
Is this – all this is really one big sham?
A game we are all politely playing?

I say all this because
It is my duty to you, to all those present, before God
To tell you the truth as you stand on the threshold.
You take one step further with a simple “I do”
And you will cross into a land of dreams
or into a land of nightmares.
So think deeply about what you are about to do.
Your lives will never be the same again.
But then how would you know?

If there is one thing I can give you.
One God given divine truth I can hand you
as you enter this wondrous yet perilous land
It is this: True Love is a form of death.

Doomed Love
True love is not about feeling good about yourself.
It isn’t about finding the perfect person for you
like picking out of an online catalogue.
True Love was never about self-fulfillment.
It has always been about being other centred.
True love will demand everything form you
even though you ‘re not sure what you have to give.
So I will say it again.
True Love is a form of death.
I did manage to forget to tell you that
during the pre-marital didn’t I?

True Love
Do you know why the Bible says God is Love?
Because Jesus, who is God, died for us.
Jesus himself taught,
“Greater love has no one than this: that they lay down their life for a friend.” (Jn 15:13)
No one falls in love as if it were an accident.
We fall into infatuation, not love.
Infatuation isn’t a bad thing because it may lead to love.
But don’t mix the two up like we so often do.
Inasmuch I am sure you are attracted to one another,
To love is to choose to surrender your life.
Life as you have known it.
Life that is self-oriented.
Life that pursues only your own interests.
You die to those things.
You are saying, I will die within your arms.
And when you have resolved that you will begin to love.

Your Journey Towards Love
In laying yourselves down before God
at the feet of one another today,
You begin a journey in which you help each other
Shed your fear of rejection by accepting each other
Shed the pretence that you are perfect by true confession
Shed the shame of hidden things by becoming yourself.
This does not happen overnight.
It takes a marriage
The long slow turning of selfishness into selflessness.
It isn’t easy, but it is good.

Easter is the reminder to us
that life blooms out of sacrificial, selfless love.
Love, in being willing to die is greater than death.

Love Never Fails
Love never fails.
These words of Scripture are for poets.
They are for dreamers.
They are for little girls who want to princesses
For little boys who would be heroes.
But they are also words meant for the broken hearted.
The disappointed, the wounded, the grieving
The unbelieving who want to believe,
The hopeless who struggle to hope.
For those who have fallen asleep
or have forgotten how to dream
They are for you and me.
So this talk of faith in God
of hope in a meaningful future
and this love that is greater than death is real.

And so with these thoughts I step aside
And invite you into a way of living
Where lasting joy is found by giving yourself away

We “fit”

After going on and on about the myth of “the One“…how does Skywalker fit into the picture? Well he’s THE ONE! Yay!

In seriousness though neither of us could say we were so taken in the moment we laid eyes on each other that we could barely say the first “hello”. I noticed he had good posture, nice build and a strong jawline but “meh, too bad he’s from Edmonton.” He noticed a girl with big eyes and a mysterious air about her…who would later brush him off a couple times. That’s all a story for another time. We made the decision to start dating after four months of corresponding and with Skywalker asking what my definition of “commitment” was right before asking me to be his girlfriend. Our entire dating period was long distance. Even the time between engagement and our wedding was long distance. One of Skywalker’s good friends asked if he really knew me well enough to marry me and his reply was if he waited to learn everything he could about me before he took the next step, he would never end up getting married…to anyone. He knew enough of my character and faith to be able to say we’d be good, committed life partners. I felt the same way.

It sounds very cerebral but it’s not lacking in romance or passion (we’re just not ruled by it). =)

We’ll be married two years in April…which I know is hardly any time compared to those married 20/40/50 years…but we can see how we’re becoming “the One” for each other. We come across things in our day-to-day that confirms our individual quirks just “fit” together. For starters, we can build Ikea furniture together without arguements (apparently this is a test)…as well as make a great cooking team. And we continue to find reasons we’re so glad to be married to each other. I greatly admire his faith and desire to seek after God in all he does. Yes there are many times we’ve revealed each other’s selfishness, and it stings at first, but then to be able to cover it with love and to support each other in becoming better individuals, all the while becoming a closer unit…it’s a mysterious but amazing process to go through together. I feel blessed!

Skywalker and I – taken by

(Just want to share again though, that being single is better than being with someone who doesn’t honor or respect you. It is also a great blessing to be single! Never forget that.)

The One

(Image not mine)

When I was in university…I had long conversations with girl friends about meeting “the One” one day. What that’d be like. What he might be like. What fun things we’d do. etc etc. And then I grew up. The end.


Seriously though, I think we’ve got a major “soulmate” complex in our Hollywood-glamourized-romanticized culture. All rom-coms have the same story line: Boy meets girl, they don’t like each other or are with someone else already, then in some vulnerable drunken moment they kiss, and suddenly they know they’re meant to be together despite logic or reason. Passion trumps all things. If there’s struggle in your relationship or if things get dull, you must be with the wrong person. Because if you find “the One”, if you find your soulmate, everything will be easy and exciting.

Well, the rate of divorce amongst Hollywood actors should be a sign that the soulmate thing isn’t working,

I have a different theory….that soulmates are MADE not born. And that “the One” doesn’t exist…at least not in the way Hollywood has made it out to be. I believe through life we will meet a number of people who we get along well with, who we might have mutual attraction to, and who would potentially make a good life partner. There are definitely many more who do NOT and will not. But when we decide to make that commitment to marry, THEN that person becomes “the One”. It is in a committed relationship, particularly AFTER you make vows to each other in marriage, that you learn to become each other’s soulmates. And this is a daily decision you have to make. “If I’ve commited to be this person’s soulmate, how would I treat him/her?” etc.

Relationships ruled by passion are doomed to fail. It’s a bold statement…but truth is, our hearts are deceitful. Our emotions can wage war on our minds and make us do really rash/stupid/regretful/hurtful things. I’m not saying to take passion out of the picture, but it should not rule your decisions.

This means your decision to get married should also not be ruled by passion. Sometimes passion-led decions do lead to marrying the “wrong” person (i.e. someone abusive or unfaithful to begin with) but more often it leads to marrying someone who’ll take much more time and work to become soulmates with each other. Yes, I do think it’s possible to be in a difficult marriage and still make it work. But it takes mutual commitment to the marriage and willingness to be transformed by Christ. That is a critical point too, that only by being reconciled to God can we be reconciled with each other, even for the most hopeless of cases.

So…I think a good start would be to toss the idea of finding your soulmate or finding “the One” out the window. Instead work on strengthening your character so that you can be a good soulmate to someone one day. And look for someone of good character, with passion on the side, because that’s good soulmate potential too.

Very Good

That’s the Chinese character for “good”. It’s actually made up of two characters, the left half is the character for “female”, and the right half is the character for “male”. Female + Male = Good. You know what that reminds me of….

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them …God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. – Genesis 1:27, 31

From Genesis 2 we read how God saw it was not good for man to be alone so He put him to sleep and took a rib from which He formed woman. The Hebrew translation actually refers to the “rib” as “the man’s side”…or HALF of him…from which woman was formed. Both were formed in God’s likeness…male and female. Both were to reflect His glory. And when the halves came together in marriage, it was GOOD because the fullness of God’s glory could be reflected together. It’s not as though singleness is bad or that you’re only half a person if single! It takes two people fully living for God to make a solid unit in marriage. Tim and Kathy Keller, in their book The Meaning of Marriage, says this:

What, then, is marriage for? It is for helping each other become our future glory-selves, the new creation God will eventually make us. The common horizon husband and wife look toward is the Throne, and the holy, spotless, and blameless nature we will have…

Romance, sex, laughter, and plain fun are by-products of this process of sanctification, refinement, glorification. Those things are important, but they can’t keep the marriage going through years and years of ordinary life. What keeps the marriage going is your commitment to your spouse’s holiness. You’re committed to his or her beauty. You’re committed to his greatness and perfection. You’re committed to her honesty and passion for the things of God. That’s your job as a spouse. Any lesser goal than that, any smaller purpose, and you’re just playing at being married.

Hmm….I had to do some self reflection.
If that is what marriage is supposed to be, are you in a position to do it well? Do you know what personal holiness is or what it takes? Are you personally in the process of being sanctified through faith in Christ? Refined? Glorified? Can you fully encourage your spouse/future spouse to be more the person God made him or her to be? Do you have access to the strength to perservere in doing so? Are you praying for your spouse? Are you praying for yourself to be the spouse your partner needs?

Because, everything God made “WAS very good”…however we have since took things into our own hands and have walked in ignorance or outright disobedience to what God has lovingly outlined as GOOD. (Good not just for us, but for everyone we influence, and even for the environment.) And so, the consequences surround us.

It may be a bit of a stretch, but I believe we have to start with getting into a right relationship with God. When we are, and then build a right relationship with our husband or wife, who is also walking rightly with God…then our unit of society as a married couple and future family has a chance to fully live out the good that God meant for us to do on Earth. That would be very good.