35 Years of Wisdom

We spent the morning (very early in the morning) at a coffee shop with our pastor talking about married life. It’s the last pre-marital counseling session before we’re officially hitched. As promised in this post, I’m sharing again words of wisdom about marriage and relationships. This one is straight from a man who’s dealt with various couples with all sorts of marriage problems for over 35 years.

1. Listen to the heart of your partner. Not the poorly chosen words, or the tone, or the expression or body language. In the midst of your tiredness, your frustration — take a pause, a deep breath and refuse to just react to the shrilly voice or tense jaw. Listen to the heart, the motivation of the actions, and respond to that.

2. Accept that it will take a lifetime to fully understand how your partner thinks. Men and women are different. Everyone knows this and yet a lot of people still assume their partner would see things according to their point of view. It is these differences that make life interesting between a man and a woman – but patience and communication is required.

3. Temptation can come when you travel often and alone. “When the wheels are up, the rings are off” is no way to build a strong marriage. If your partner cannot travel with you, bring him/her in with you in your adventure by choosing to share every minute detail of your travels — whether it’s through skype/facetime, sending random photos of the places you visit and the people you meet, or getting a local sim so you can text each other cheaply. Be intentional in being accessible to your partner while traveling and pack in your family life with you along with your toothpaste.

4. Be aware of old family cultures. Strong family ties are wonderful but as you start out your own family life, there will need to be a break from old family traditions — holiday habits, reunions, Sunday lunches – as you create a new one for your new family. It is this new tradition that you should focus on and enrich as you build your family.

5. Be aware of the patterns your family formed in your life. Think of the things you hated seeing your father do to your mother or your mother do to your father. At some point, you will do it to your own partner. You grew up inculcated with both the good and bad habits of your parents. So just be self aware and create mental trigger points that can help you stop yourself from doing those acts.

6. The world will laugh at you if you try to make your marriage successful. It’s not considered macho to refuse hanging out with the boys for booze and chicks. Men will think you whipped if you’d rather turn in early so you can chat with your wife. Women will think you’re from the 1800s if you decide to submit and let your husband lead your family. Proverbs 4:16 says “For evil people can’t sleep until they’ve done their evil deed for the day. They can’t rest until they’ve caused someone to stumble.” Don’t try to get your validation about your marriage from the world. They’d want you as miserable as they are.

7. Know when your argument has gone far enough — it’s not worth hurting the person you love the most for a difference in opinion. Most arguments are not about right or wrong. It’s just opinions and the silliest things. You never fight about the big life issues. Partners naturally pull together in those situations. But in the small things — the color of the rug he bought was the wrong shade even after so many instructions, she cooks your favorite meal with just too much soy sauce, why does he never pick up his phone when he’s at work — in these small things, you can get careless and go too far and cause too much hurt. Ask yourself, is it worth it? Is it really that important? Is getting your way much more important than the person you love?

Fathers can give their sons an inheritance of houses and wealth,
but only the Lord can give an understanding wife. Proverbs 19:14, NLT

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