Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married (Part 2)

Hereby, I continue my previous post about things we better know before we get married 😀 Enjoy reading!

#6 I Wish I Had Known … That forgiveness is not a feeling

The healthy response to an apology is forgiveness. But what does it mean to forgive? I thought that forgiveness was letting go of the hurt, and, thus, restoring the feelings of love. But it just did not happen that way. Now, here are what forgiveness is and is not. When one of us offends the other, an emotional barrier is erected between the two of us. The passing of time will never remove the barrier. Barriers are removed by sincere apologies and genuine forgiveness. Forgiveness removes the barrier, and lifts the penalty. The Scriptures say, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has [God] removed our transgressions from us.” No longer does God demand that we pay for our wrongdoing. When we sincerely apologize and request His forgiveness, He pardons us and will never again hold that failure against us. We are instructed to forgive each other in the same way that God forgives us. Thus, forgiveness is not a feeling but a decision. It is the decision to offer grace instead of demanding justice. Forgiveness removes the barrier and opens the possibility for the relationship to grow.


To avoid misconceptions of forgiveness, here are the four things that forgiveness does not do.

1. Forgiveness does not destroy our memory.

There has been a well-known statement which say, “If you have not forgotten, you have not forgiven.” This statement is untrue. The human brain records every experience, good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant. It has two compartments, the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The hurtful memories stored up in subsconscious mind can leap to conscious mind without being requested. The memory does not mean that you have not forgiven.

We cannot completely forgive in one day. But as each day we surrender and obey God to forgive, one day for sure you will be able to forgive completely. It means simply that you are human and remembering a painful experience. But we can handle these painful memories by surrendering it to God. In your prayer, affirm your decision to forgive and seeking to foster growth in the future. Forgiveness is a daily decision.

2. Forgiveness does not remove all the consequences of wrongdoing.

A father abandons his wife and children. Twenty years later, he comes back to apologize. They can forgive him -but it does not restore the twenty lost years. All of our behavior has consequences. Negative behavior has negative consequences. Forgiveness does not remove all the consequences of wrong behavior.

3. Forgiveness does not rebuild trust

A husband who had been sexually unfaithful to his wife later broke off the affair and apologized to his wife. The wife said to her counselor, “I think I have forgiven him, but I don’t trust him.” The fact is, forgiveness does not automatically restore trust. Trust is that gut-level confidence that someone is a person of integrity. Trust in a relationship is destroyed when one partner is unfaithful. How then is trust rebuilt? By changing your behavior and by being trustworthy. Over a period of time, if you are doing what you say you will do and being open and aboveboard in all of the dealings, trust will be most likely earned. Openness and a consistent pattern of honesty can open the door of possibility that trust can be regained.

4. Forgiveness does not always result in reconciliation.

Reconciliation means “to bring back to harmony.” Reconciliation requires working through differences, finding new way of doing things, solving the conflicts of the past, and learning how to work together as a team. The length of time to be reconciled will depend largely on how long the two of you have been “out of harmony”.

Forgiveness does not automatically bring harmony in the relationship. However, it does open the possibility of reconciliation.

What if the person who has offended you does not apologize? The most positive approach is to lovingly confront them with their offense and hope that they will apologize and you can forgive. But we cannot force an apology. We can extend the olive branch and express our willingness to forgive. An apology says, “I value this relationship, and I want to deal with this problem.” The refusal to apologize says, “I do not value this relationship, and it’s okay with me if we continue to be estranged.”

There are no healthy marriages without sincere apologies and genuine forgiveness. If you learn how to apologize and forgive, you will have in place two of the major elements for building a successful marriage.


#7 I Wish I Had Known … That toilets are not self-cleaning

Gary had never considered the idea that he would be a toilet cleaner after marriage. If and when you get married, who do you think will clean the toilet in your apartment or house? In most premarital counseling, most men think that the wife will clean it, while most women think their husband will clean it. Gary grew up where the toilet was never dirty. He never saw anyone cleaning the toilet not he himself ever cleaned it. Two weeks after got married, he noticed that the toilet had dark stains. As he mentioned it to his wife, Karolyn, she said, “I know. I was wondering when you were going to clean it.” Gary was surprised. “Clean it?! I thought you were going to clean it. I don’t know how to clean the toilet.” “Well then, let me teach you,” she said.

Confusion over roles is one of the most stressful aspects of contemporary marriages. The role in your father and mother play in the your previous home influence a lot on your expectation of what your spouse will do in you current home. One young wife who has grown up in a home where his father did the vacuum cleaning and car wash would most likely think that her husband would do exactly the same thing. But what if in her husband’s previous home his mother did all those things? He would expect his wife to do so too.

The issue is many people enter marriage without ever having discussed who is going to do what after you get married. So who is going to do what will certainly be needed to be discussed earlier.

If you are seriously contemplating marriage, make a list of all the things that come to mind that will have to be done in order to maintain a household. Be sure include your vehicles and who will purchase and prepare the food, do the laundry, and vacuum the floors. Ask your partner to make a similar list. Then discuss it. Where you have disagreements, it calls for negotiation. Share with each other your reasons for the choice you made. Be open and honest as you can about what brought you to that conclusion.

After listening emphatically, then seek to make an agreement on who will accept that responsibility. If you can’t agree before marriage, what makes you think you will agree after marriage?

It doesn’t mean that you are locked into these responsibilities for the rest of your life. It may be opened for adjustments. Discussing it in advance causes you enter marriage with a better understanding on your expectations of each other.


#8 I Wish I Had Known … That we needed a PLAN for handling our MONEY

Gary and Karolin in their first three years of marriage had no money problems because thay simply had no money. As long as there is enough income to pay for the necessities, they are not likely to have marital struggles about money. But their struggles came after they had just started “making money”.

“Our Money” : Building Unity

The first foundational stone in developing a financial plan is to agree that after marriage, it will no longer be “my money” and “your money” but “our money”. At the heart of marriage is the desire for unity. “For better or for worse,” we intend to live life together. The implication is that we will share our income and work as a team in deciding what to do with our money. Incidentally, this also means that his or her debts will become “our debts,” and we have the responsibility to develop a plan to repay these debts. It also means that his and her savings will become “our savings.” If you are not ready for this kind of unity, then you are not ready for marriage.

Saving, Sharing, Spending

The second step in developing a financial plan is to agree on a percentage of income that you will save, give away, and spend. There are essentially only three things you can do with money. You can save it, you can give it away, or you can spend it. Deciding the percentage that you will allocate to each of these categories is an important step in making a financial plan.

Gary has encouraged couples to adopt “10-10-80 Plan” Save and invest 10% if your net income. The first purpose is to have emergency funds in case of sickness or loss of job. The second purpose of saving is to pay off any credit card and consumer debts that the two of you may have. The third purpose of saving is in order to make major purchases such as home and automobile. Another 10% is to be given away. The happiest people in the world are not those who have the most money but those who have learned the satisfaction of giving to help others. An early Christian text says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

The Other 80 Percent

That leaves 80% to be divided among mortgage payments (for rent), utilities, insurance, furniture, food, clothes, transportation, medicine, recreation, etc. How this is distributed is your decision. The most common mistake young couples make is to purchase a house that is beyond their income. A common guideline is to spend no more than 40 percent of your net income on housing and utilities.

Wise shopping does make a difference (important note for ladies). Another extremely important matter that needs to be discussed by every couple is credit buying. The media screams, “Buy now, pay later.” What is not stated is that if you buy now without cash, you will pay much more later. One guiding principle is notice all the details of offerings. If you have a credit card, use it only for emergencies (medical treatment) and necessities. Then pay off the balance as quickly as possible. If couple do not have a credit card, somehow it can be a problem when you get ready to purchase a house, car, or major appliance.

Another practical idea that can prevent much tragedy is an agreement on the part of both that neither will make a major purchase without consulting the other. Determine the range of of price that needs negotiation on both parts. For example, the purchasing which exceeds $100 needs agreement, and so on.

Records all the income and outcome of money well. This task can be assigned to a partner and it can change. Remember that you are a team and both team members must be fully aware of financial details.

#9 I Wish I Had Known … That mutual sexual fulfillment is not automatic

This is another area in which Gary had never anticipated before entering marriage. He thought, “I was fully male; she was fully female -and we had a high level of sexual attraction for each other. What more could we need?” He anticipated that this part of marriage was going to be heaven for both of them. After the wedding, he discovered that what is heavenly for one may be hell for the other.

No one told him that males and females are different. Gary knew nothing about female sexuality. He thought she would enjoy it as much as he did; that she would want to do it as often as he did; and that what pleasured him would also pleasure her. And he discovered too that she knew little about male sexuality.

First, Gary wishes he had known that while men focus on intercourse, women focus on relationship. If the relationship has been fractured by harsh words and irresponsible behavior, the female will find it very hard to be interested in sex. To her, sex is an intimate act and grows out of a loving relationship. Ironically, most men often think that sexual intercouse will solve whatever relationship problems may exist. One woman said, “I can’t have sex with a man who has verbally abused me.” Sincere apologies and genuine forgiveness must precede the experience of “making love.”

For women, sex begins in the kitchen, not in bedroom. If he speaks her love language in the kitchen (for example: acts of service) by washing dishes and taking out garbage, it may be a sexual turn-on for her. One husband said, “If I had known that taking out the garbage was sexy to my wife, I would have been taking out the garbage twice a day. No one ever told me that.”

On the other hand, if words of affirmation is her love language, then complimenting her on a meal or on how beautiful she looks will stir inside of her the desire to be sexually intimate with him. This is true whatever the love language of your spouse. A husband may have a satisfying sexual experience with his wife even when his “love tank” is not full, while the wife would find it extremely difficult.

Second, Gary wishes he had known that to the wife, foreplay is more important than the actual act of intercourse itself. It is the tender touches and kisses of foreplay that bring her to the point of desiring intercourse. Without sufficient foreplay, the wife will often feel violated. One wife said, “I want to feel loved. All he is interested in is having intercourse.”

Third, Gary wishes he had known that mutual sexual satisfaction does not require simultaneous climax. Orgasm does not have to come simultaneously. When his stimulation of the clitoris gives her the pleasure of orgasm, she is now ready for him to complete the act of intercourse and experience the pleasure of climax.

Fourth, I wish I had known that when one forces a particular sexual act upon one’s spouse, it ceases to be an act of love and becomes sexual abuse. True love is always seeking to bring pleasure to the spouse. It is never demanding something that the spouse finds objectionable. To violate this principle is to sabotage mutual sexual fulfillment.

Fifth, Gary wishes he had known that sex is more than intercourse. By its very nature, sex is a bonding experience. It is the union of male and female in the most intimate way. It is not simply the joining of two bodies. It is the union of body, soul, and spirit. This is why the Christian faith reserve intercouse for marriage. It is designed to be the unique bonding experience that unites a husband and wife in a lifelong intimate relationship. If intercourse is viewed only as a way to relieve sexual tension or to experience a moment of sexual pleasure, it ceases to reach its designed purpose. And it eventually becomes a mundane act of selfishness. But as the intercourse is viewed as an act of love that expresses in the deepest possible way our commitment to each other, it leads to mutual sexual fulfillment.


Sixth, Gary wishes he had known that communication is the key that unlocks sexual fulfillment. Speak openly about your desire and listen emphatically to your partner. “What could I do or not do that would make the sexual part of marriage better for you?” Do not feel rejected or even condemned when your partner speaks openly to you. If you do this in the first six months of the marriage, you will be on the road to finding mutual sexual fulfillment.

Seventh, Gary wishes he had known that the past never remains in the past. The reality speaks that the previous sexual experience often becomes a psychological barrier in achieving sexual unity in marriage. It is in contrary with the idea that sexual experience before marriage better prepares you for marriage. All of the research indicates otherwise. The divorce rate among those who have had previous sexual experience is twice as high as those who have had previous sexual experience before marriage.

When it comes to marriage, something deep within the human psyche cries out for an exclusive relationship. And we are pained by the thought that our spouse has been sexually intimate with others. It is far better to deal with past sexual experiences before marriage. When this happens after marriage, the awareness of deception often is more difficult to overcome than the sexual activity itself.

#10 I Wish I Had Known … That I was marrying into a family

The wedding will not just be the two of you. You are marrying into a family, for better or for worse. Her family does not dissapear the day after the wedding. In some non-Western cultures, parental involvement is more pronounced and overt. In some cases, the bride actually moves into the house with her husband and his parents and lives there indefinitely. His mother will teach her how to be the wife he needs. There have been so many complaints regarding this in-laws relationships:
“His mother wants to tell me how to cook. I’ve been cooking for ten years. I don’t need her help.”

“My wife’s parents give her money to buy things we can’t afford. I resent that. I wish they would let us run our own lives.”

“Her father is an accountant. He’s giving me advice on how to manage our money. Frankly, I don’t usually agree with his advice. But I try to be nice.”

“My husband’s brother is always telling him what he should do. It bothers me that my husband is so influenced by his brother’s advice. If I have different idea, he always sides with his brother.

When you marry, you become a part of an extended family. This family may include a mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, and even perhaps an ex-husband or an ex-wife. Your relationship may be distant or close, positive or negative, but you will have a relationship because you are marrying into a family.


Five Key Issues

Normally, the most intimate of these relationships will be with your spouse’s parents. So we will focus more on mother-in-law and father-in-law relationships. Here are some cases: Spending family tradition holiday, difference of habits, different expectations.

One wife said, “My mother-in-law is the most organized woman I know. You should see her closets. Every shoe is in the right place and all of her dresses are color coordinated. The problems is I’m not very organized and when she comes to our apartment, she tries to give me suggestions that she thinks will make my life easier. I’m sorry but that’s just not who I am. Besides that, I don’t have time to keep everything organized.” One husband said, “Every time I’m around her father, it’s like he’s trying to convert me to his brand of Christianity. I am a Christian but I’m not as dogmatic and pushy as he is. I think religion is a personal matter and I resent him trying to pressure me to agree with him.”

So how do you build a positive relationship with your in-laws?

1. Learning to listen

By emphatic listening, it means that listening with a view to understand what your in-laws think, how they came to that conclusion, and how strongly they feel about it. By nature, most of us are not good listeners. Emphatic listening holds judgment until you are certain that you understand what the other person is saying. It can involve clarifying questions, such as, “What I understand you to be saying is … Is that correct?” Once you have listened long enough to understand, then you are free to give your perspective on the subject.

Emphatic listening does not require you to agree with the other person’s ideas, but it does require you to treat them and their ideas with respect. If you respect their ideas and speak to them with kindness, they are far more likely to respect your ideas and treat you kindly. Mutual understanding and mutual respect grows out of emphatetic listening.

Learn the “I” language. Instead of saying, “You hurt my feelings when you said that,” you might say, “I felt hurt when I heard you say that.” When you start your sentence with “I”, you are giving your perspective. When you begin your sentence with “you,” you are placing blame and will likely experience a defensive response from your in-laws.

2. Learning to negotiate

The third ingredient to having good relationships with your in-laws is learning to negotiate differences. Make requests and not demands. For example, offer your spouse to spend this year’s Christmas with your parents but with his parents for the next year.

3. Learning Their Love Language

Learn the primary love language of your in-laws and speak that language regularly. When your in-laws feel genuinely loved, it creates a positive climate in which to negotiate differences. Nothing communicates love deeply than speaking the right love language. Gary’s mother-in-law love language is acts of service. So he painted the house for her, and she could not be unhappy for that.

Talk it over all the potential areas of conflict with your extended families and about how you will handle these issues.

#11 I Wish I Had Known … That spirituality is not to be equated with “going to church”

Many couples never get around to discussing their religious beliefs at all. But so many problems which rise within marriage are surrounding this issue. So there must be a compatibility on sprituality.

What do you think of God?

There should be one concept of God. Has God spoken? Do not assume that you are a Christian, a Buddhist, etc when you have not struggling with the foundation of your belief. Even within Christianity itself, it comes in many flavors such as, Catholicism, Protestantism, and so on. Explore your traditions and seek to negotiate your differences. To marry simply because you are “in love” and to ignore the implications of these spiritual differences are signs of immaturity.


What kind of “Christian”?

There are some people who call themselves Christians attend church only during the Easter and Christmas holiday. Other than those holidays, their religion tends to influence them very little. There are many who attend church on regular basis. There are also some who involved in small Bible-study groups and cell-groups. These people live in deep and close community with those who attend the group. There are Christians who have a daily devotional time in chich they read the Scriptures to hear the voice of God, praise and worship, thankgiving, and pray. This daily “quiet time” is the most important part of their day. Thus, it becomes extremely important to discover what kind of Christian you are dating. What is their level of commitment and involvement in the Christian community? How important is their faith to them? And what kind of impact does it have on their personal life? It is obvious that an Easter-Christmas Christian is very different from a daily “quiet time” Christian.

Religious beliefs are often accompanied by strong emotions and deeply held convictions. It influences how we make decisions in life. For many dating couples, spirituality is an unexplored opic. They simply assume that this area of life will take care of itself after marriage. But the truth is, it does not take care of itself. And it will not. It takes a common agreement far before marriage to build a strong marriage. It will save you from a lot of heartaches.

#12 I Wish I Had Known … That personality profoundly influences behavior

Morning Person and Night Person

Gary envisioned his marriage would be full of romantic and calm breakfast in the morning. After he got married, he found out that Karolyn didn’t do mornings. Breakfast was not her “thing.” In dating years, Karolyn once said, “Don’t call me in the mornings. I’m not responsible for what I say or do before noon.” Gary took it as a joke and laughed. But after marriage indeed she was serious. Gary’s dream for a quiet romantic breakfast with his wife was shattered in first month of their marriage. He was left to eat breakfast in silence, except for the songs of birds were singing outside the window. On the other hand, Karolyn envisioned what the two of them would do between 10 p.m. and midnight. Her visions included reading and discussing books, watching movies together, discussing deeper issues of life. But Gary’s physical, emotional, and intellectual motor shut down after 10 p.m. The possibility of carrying on intelligent conversation was greatly diminished after that hour. During dating, he stayed alive and engaged with her until midnight. But that was because he was pushed by euphoric feelings of “being in love.” And that does not continue forever after they were married.

This personality difference may have a profound impact upon a couple’s sexual relationship. The morning person wants to go to bed at ten, cuddle, and make love, while the night person is saying, “You have got to be kidding. I can’t go to bed this early.” The morning person may feel rejected, while the night person feels like they are being controlled. The negotiation can be like this: the night person may agree to have sex at 10 p.m. if the morning person will allow them to leave the bedroom after love-making and pursue their other interests until midnight. However, if the morning person insists that the night person remain in bed after making love, that person may feel controlled and frustrated.

A morning person will never become a night person, and a night person will never become a morning person. It’s part of our personality.

Half Full of Half Empty?

The pessimist and the optimist are often attracted to each other.The optimist sees the glass half full; the pessimist sees it as half empty. The optimist sees the possibilities, while the pessimist sees the problems. While in dating stage, personality difference may not be apparent because of the illusion of euphoric feeling. For example, the optimist tends to be a risk taker because he is convinced in his own mind that everything will turn out be find. Thus, he may suggest the two of them go bungee jumping. The pessimist by nature does not want to take risks because she assumes that the worst could happen. Therefore, she would never have entertained the thought of bungee jumping. But because she admires her lover, she is willing to do it. The optimist is thrilled to be dating someone who is adventuresome, never realizing that she has gone far beyond her emotional comfort zone. After marriage, while her husband suggests them to go rock climbing, she would strongly resist the idea or even unwilling to let him go alone or with friends. She is unwilling to be a widow if something happens to her husband. The husband will be turned off seeing her response. Why does she change? The problem is neither of them knew who the other person was before they got married. The euphoria of dating experience blinded them to this personality difference.

Understanding, accepting, and negotiating personality differences are essential in building a foundation for a healthy marriage.

Neatniks and Slobs

Some people do live by the motto “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Other people have no compulsion to put away their tooks, clothes, used coffee mugs, or anything elese. “They don’t bother me anyway.” It is obvious during dating times when we want to open our eyes. Look at her kitchen and bedroom closet and you will know which personality pattern is natural for her. Look at his car and apartment. If the two of you fall in the same category, both of you will be happy effortlessly. If you fall into different categories, then now is the time for negotiation.

The Dead Sea and Babbling Brook

This is about speech. For some people, they have the Dead Sea personality. They receive all kinds of thoughts, feelings, and experiences throughout the day. They are perfectly happy not to talk about that. On the other hand, Babbling Brook is the individual for whom whatever comes into the eye gate or ear gate comes out the mouth gate -usually in less than sixty seconds. Whatever they see, they hear, they will tell. They have no reservoir; whatever they experience, it spills over and they tell it to someone.

Often the Dead Sea will marry a Babbling Brook. Before marriage, the differences are viewed as attractive. While dating, the Dead Sea can relax. He or she does not have to think, “How will I get the conversation started?” or, “How will I keep the conversation flowing?” All they have to do is sit there, nod their head, and say, “Uh-huh.” The Babbling Brook will fill up the evening. On the other hand, the Babbling Brook finds Dead Sea equally attractive because Dead Seas are the world’s best listeners. However, after five years of marriage, the Babbling Brook may say, “We’ve been married five years and I don’t know her.” At the same time, the Dead Sea may say, “I know him too well. I wish he would stop the flow and give me a break.”

The Babbling Brook tells stories with all the details. While the Dead Seas are bottom-line communicators. They simply get to the point. They will sometimes interrupt and say, “Could you just get to the point?” The Dead Sea will never become a Babbling Brook. So the person who is married to a Dead Sea must be content to live with a pweson who will not readily share all of their thoughts and feelings. Most of Dead Seas are open when the Babbling Brook asks questions. The Dead Sea is not willfully withholding information; they simply have no compulsion to share all of their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The Dead Sea also needs moments of silence. So if the Dead Sea retreats, it does not mean that he or she rejects the Babbling Brook. If this personality differences are discussed before marriage, they are far less likely to be troublesome after marriage.

Passive and Aggresiveness

The aggressive husband or wife believes that each day is a new opportunity to advance the cause. They will aggressively pursue what they want, what they believe to be right, or what they think should happen. On the other hand, the passive spouse will spend time thiking, analyzing, wondering “What if?” and waiting for something good to happen. Their theme is, “Everything comes to him who waits.” In marriage, the couple often finds these traits divisive. The aggressive partner keeps trying to push the passive partner into action. “Come on; we can make this happen.” While the passive partner keeps saying, “Let’s wait. There might be a better opportunity later. Don’t get so excited. Everything is going to work out.”

It is certainly possible for these two individuals to build a successful marriage, but it requires the aggressor to be empathetic and understanding the passive personality. On the other hand, the passive person must allow the aggressive person to use her strength and let her leap before it is too late. If you cannot conscientiously leap with her, then hold the rope while she does so. Together you will accomplish much in life, if you learn to complement each other, rather than be competitors.

Professors and Dancers

For a ‘professor’, everything must be reasoned out. “We must have logical reasons for everything we do. If it’s not logical, we shouldn’t do it.” The intuitive person is more like a dancer. They do some things just because they enjoy them. One husband said to his wife, “The walls are not dirty; they don’t need painting again. Do you understand that?” His wife responded, “Yes, I understand that. But I don’t want green walls any longer.”

In dating phase, we have a huge desire to please one another. But after marriage, this desire does not come as natural. If you try to force each other into your own personality mold, you may spend a lifetime in conflict. We must recognize that logical and intuitive thinking are both legitimate ways of processing life. We must focus not on the process whereby we reach our conclusions but on finding conclusions with which both of us can agree.

The Organizer and the Free Spirit

The organizer give attention to the details while the spontaneous person -the free spirit- thinks, “The details will take care of themselves.” Organizers are planners; they will spend in months in preparation for a trip out of town. They will check three different websites, looking for the best airfare. They will make hotel reservations weeks in advance. They will plan what they will eat and do. The spontaneous person waits until the night before the trip and says, “Why don’t we go to the coast instead of mountains? The sun is so beautiful.” This sends the organizer into a tailspin and the vacation becomes torture.

In dating the couple may admire one another for the qualities they don’t have in their partner. But in marriage, seldom it works that way. There is always a tendency to make our spouse to be one of us. It is important to discover more of your partner’s personality and negotiate all the potential conflicts which may happen. Ask a lot of questions and be realistic for the potential problems. Do not simply ignore them.

Dating is a season where we can ask a lot of questions “getting to know each other”, observe all the details and at last possibilities to get married. The healthy dating relationship is certainly the best preparation for a healthy marriage.




Photography by Jennifer Phelps Photography

Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married (Part 1)

There has been a common ‘wisdom’ which says, “Single people always want to get married while married people always wish to be single again.” Interesting isn’t it? It raises questions such as: “Why do single people want to get married?” and “Why do married people wish to be single again?” I conclude that there must be something … so many things that single people don’t know about marriage and also so many things that married people don’t know about how to make a successful marriage. But thanks God that we will not find this questions unanswered and problems unsolved.

Here I would like to present wisdom from Gary Chapman, the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants, Inc. In his book, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married, he honestly confessed that the things he wrote down there are things he wishes he knew back then but there was no one told him. This wisdom, if wisely applied, will save us from a lot of heartache, painful arguments, and wasted time in ongoing silence in marriage. So here we go 😉 Enjoy reading! There are so many resources out there which allow us to learn from others’ experiences so that we can make a successful marriage. This common dilema should not be ours in days to come 🙂

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People do not get married by planning to divorce. Of course! However, divorce is the result of lack of preparation for marriage and the failure to learn the skills of working together as teammates in an intimate relationship.

Ironically, most people spend far more time in preparation for their vocation than they do in preparation for marriage. Therefore, it should not be surprising that they are more successful in their vocational pursuits than they are in reaching the goal of marital happiness.

The decision to get married will impact one’s life more deeply than almost any decision in life. Yet people continue to rush into marriage with little or no preparation for making a marriage successful. In fact, many couples give far more attention to making plans for the wedding than making plans for marriage. Wedding lasts only a few hours, while the marriage, we hope, will last for a lifetime.

This article is about how to have successful marriage. For individual who is not in a dating relationship and has no immediate process of marriage, this article will provide a blueprint on moving from singleness to marriage. For the couple who is dating but not yet engaged, it will help you decide if and when to announce your plans to get married. For the engaged couple, it will help you examine the foundation and learn the skills that are necessary for building a successful marriage.

This article is not simply to be read, but to be experienced. The more you grapple with the realities discussed and share honestly your thoughts and feelings on these topics, respect each other’s opinions, and find the workable solutions to your differences, to that degree you will be prepared for marriage.To the degree that you ignore these issues and choose to believe that the euphoric feelings that you have for each other will carry you through, you set yourself up for failure. There are so many other free resources which you can find in: 🙂

#1 I Wish I Had Known … That being in love is not an adequate foundation for building a successful marriage

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Over counselings hundreds of couple, Gary always asked, “Why do you want to get married?” The big reason is always the same: “Because we love each other.” Often we fail to consider the fact that our social, spiritual, and intellectual interests are miles apart. Our value systems and goals are contradictory, but we are in love. But the great tragedy from this perception of love is that a year after the marriage, a couple sits in the counselor’s office and say, “We don’t love each other anymore.” Therefore, they are ready to separate. After all, if “love” is gone, then “surely you don’t expect us to stay together.”

Research indicates that the average life span of the “in love” obsession is two years. For some it may last a bit longer; for some, a bit less. Then our differences begin to emerge and we often find ourselves arguing with the person whom we once thought to be perfect. We have now discovered that being in love is not the foundation for a happy marriage. The ‘love’ factor or chemistry is important, but they are not the basis of satisfactory marriage. There must be a compatibility in intellectual dialogue, emotional control, social interests, spiritual unity, and common values. The many other factors we will discuss later on to be a vital consideration in making about marriage.

#2 I Wish I Had Known … That romantic love has two stages

The first stage: Romantic love

Here, the couple does not have to work on the relationship. They may expend great energy in doing things for each other, but they would not consider it work, but delight. They want to make each other happy and they often do. When we are in love, the rest of the world doesn’t matter. If you are in college and fall in love, most likely your grades will decline. There are even so many people who drop out of college and choose to get married.

But there will come a time where the emotional high is going downhill and in that phase we may think, “I have married the wrong person. Our differences seem so obvious now. Why did I not see them earlier?” Welcome to the second stage of love 🙂

The second stage: Intentional love

The second stage of romantic love is much more intentional than the first stage. Yes, it requires WORK in order to keep emotional love alive. Those who make effort in this transition will reap an astounding reward.

What makes one person feel loved does not necessarily make another person feel loved. For example, she says, “I feel like he doesn’t love me,” and he says, “I don’t understand that. I work hard. I keep the car clean. I mow the grass every weekend. I help her around the house. I don’t know what else she would want.” She responds, “he does all those things. He is a hard working man.” Then with tears in her eyes she says,”But we don’t ever talk.”

When someone said, “I feel like my spouse doesn’t love me,” what are they looking for? What did they want? What were they complaining about?” Their complaints fell into five categories, the five love languanges. Everyone has a primary love language in which there is one they understand best. One of the five speaks more deeply to us emotionally than the other four. Seldom do a husband and wife have the same language. By nature tend to speak our own language. Whatever makes us feel loved is what we do for the other person. But if it is not his/her language, it will not mean to them as what it means to us.

In the illustration above, the husband was speaking the language of acts of service, while the wife’s love language was quality time. He was washing the car, mowing the grass, helping her around the house. To him, this is the way he expresses his love. Meanwhile, what made her feel loved was him giving her his undivided attention talking, sharing life, listening, and communicating. He was sincerely expressing love but it was not in her primary love language.

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The book that grew out of this research is entitlled The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. Here is the brief summary of the five love languages:

1. Words of Affirmation

The language uses words to affirm the other person. “I really appreciate your washing the car. It looks great.” “Thanks for taking out the garbage. You are the greatest.” “You look nice in that outfit.” “Your smile is contagious. Did you see the way everyone seemed to brighten up when you came into the room?” Your words may focus on the other person’s personality or the way they look or something they have done for you or for others.

If a person’s primary love language is words of affirmation, your words will be like rain falling on dry soil. Nothing will speak more deeply of your love than words of affirmation. In contrary, he/she whose primary love language is words of affirmation may deeply hurt by harsh words too.

2. Acts of Service

For these people, actions speak louder than words. If you speak words of affirmation to this person such as “I admire you, I appreciate you, I love you,” they will likely think and perhaps say, “If you love me, why don’t you do something to help me around the house?” If acts of service is their primary love language, then washing the car, mowing the grass, helping around the house, and changing the baby’s diaper is precisely what makes them feel loved. The key to loving this person is to find out what things they would like for you to do. Then do them consistently.

3. Receiving Gifts

For some people, the gift communicates, “He was thinking about me. Look what he got for me.” The best gifts are those that you know will be appreciated. How do you find out what the other person would like to receive? You ask questions and make observations. You observe the comments they make when they receive gifts from other family members. If they say, “I’d like to have one of those,” make a nte of it. You can also ask, “If I wanted to give you a gift, give me a list of things you would like to have.” Better to give a gift that they have requested than to surprise them with a gift they do not desire.

4. Quality Time

Quality time is giving the other person your undivided attention. It is not sitting in the same room watching television. Someone else has your attention. It is being in the same room with the TV off, the magazine on the table, looking at each other, talking and listening. It may also be taking a walk together so long as your purpose is to be with each other, not simply to get exercise. Couples who go to a restaurant and never talk to each other have not spoken the language of quality time. They have simply met their physical need for food. Quality time says, “I am doing this because I want to be with you.”

5. Physical Touch

We have long known the emotional power of physical touch. Research indicates that babies that are touched and cuddled fare better emotionally than babies who spend long periods of time without physical touch. Appropriate touch is loving. Inappropriate touch is demeaning. Nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch for those whose primary love language is physical touch.

Your primary love language is things you often do for others effortlesly. The language you speak is most likely the language you wish to receive. The other way to discover your love language is to find out what do you most complain about? If you often complain that people don’t help you, then acts of service is likely your language. If you say to a friend, “We don’t ever spend time together,” then you are requesting quality time. And what do you request more often? When you ask, “Did I do a good job?” you are requesting words of affirmation.

Keeping romantic love alive in a marriage requires making a successful transition from Stage One to Stage Two. Learning each other’s primary love language while you are dating will make the transition much easier.

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#3 I Wish I Had Known … Like the saying “Like mother, like daughter” and “Like father, like son” is not a myth

This does not mean that the girl you marry will turn out exactly like her mother, nor that the man will be exactly like his father. This means that you are both greatly influenced by your parents.If he has a father who is controlling and verbally abusive, don’t be surprised if in then years he has similar traits. To some degree, we are all products of our environment. Research indicates that abusive men were almost always abused as children.

You may be asking, “But can’t we learn from their poor example and change our own behavior?” The answer is yes, and the important word is “learn.” If the son of an abuser does not take specific steps to understand abuse -why his father became an abuser, and what he needs to do to break the pattern- then he is likely to repeat it. Therefore, in a dating relationship if either of you has a parent with a destructive livestyle, the responsible action is to enroll in a class, read books, talk with counselors, and discuss with with each other what you are learning. Don’t sweep these issues under the rug.

Whether we are talking about positive or negative characteristics, most of us are far more like our parents than we realize. Communication patterns are another area in which we tend to be like our parents.
For example, if you notice that her mother of often interrupts her father when he is talking and corrects the details of his story by saying such tings as “No, it wasn’t on Tuesday, it was on Wednesday” then you can expect the daughther to do the same. Perhaps you have already observed this behavior when you are talking. If this pattern is not changed before marriage, it will not automatically change when you do get married.

Because we have grown up with our parents, we don’t recognize their patterns of communication as being healthy. For us, it is simply the way it has always been. It takes someone outside the family drawing the communication pattern to our attention to help us understand why the pattern needs to be changed. Since we are influenced by our parents’ communication patterns, we are likely to adopt it as our own. The good news is that these communication patterns can be changed and the time to make the change is while you are dating.

If you observe his mom and dad arguing and you notice that his father eventually walks out of the room and leaves his wife’s statement hanging in the air, then you can expect that is the way the man you are dating will likely to respond to arguments after you get married. Unless of course, he reads this and the two of you find a healthier way to resolve your conflicts. Also observe common courtesies that your mom and dad extend to each other.

Does her father open the car door for her mother? If so, this is what she will expect of you. Is his father quiet and reserved or loud and outspoken? Is her mother independent, making her own decisions and seldom conferring with her husband? Does her mother cook meals? Does his father keep the car clean? Is her mother a stay-at-home mom or does she have her own vocation? Does his father own his own business or does he work for a company? Is her mother highly active in church activities? What about his father? The answers to these questions will tell you what you can expect if you marry the person you are now dating. If any of the answers disturb you, this is the time to discuss them openly. The solution lies either in accepting these traits or negotiating change.

Often in today’s fast-moving culture, dating couples will spend little time with each other’s parents. They come to marriage without any clear understanding of the parental model with which the other person grew up. Even when spending time with each other’s parents, they are not closely observing the behavior and communication patterns of parents. Because they cannot imagine that the person they are dating would ever adopt those negative behaviors.

If you observe each other’s parents too get to know their personalities, communication patterns, values, and especially how they relate to each other and discussed thoroughly with your dating partner, then “like mother, like daughter” and “like father, like son” may not become a reality in your relationship 🙂

#4 I Wish I Had Known … How to solve disagreement without arguing

There are no married couples who do not encounter conflicts, for one simple reason -we are individuals. As individuals we have different desires, different likes and dislikes, different things that irritate and please us. For example, Gary discovered that Karolyn liked to watch television, while he thought television was a waste of time. Why not read a book or learn something? “What has anyone ever learned from watching television?” That was his perspective. She argued that watching television was her way of relaxing and, contrary to his opinion, there was a great deal one could learn from watching television. So this become “sore spot” in their relationship that periodically erupted into a full-blown argument. In those days, Gary embraced the thought, “I have married the wrong person. Surely if I had married the right person, it would not be like this.” Some couples learn how to resolve conflicts in a friendly manner while others resort to heated arguments. They definately fell into the last category.

But over time, Gary has discovered that firsly as couple we need to accept the reality that we will have conflicts. Conflicts are not a sign that you have married the wrong person. They simply affirm that you are human. We all tend to assume that our ideas are the best ideas. What we faill to recognize is that our spouse has the same opinion of their ideas. Our ideas and perceptions of life are influenced by our history, our values, and our personality. And these factors are different from each of us.

The healthy way in processing conflicts is with recognizing the need to listen. When most of us have conflicts, we feel the need to talk, but talking without listening will lead to arguments. After you have heard and affirmed each other ideas, you are now ready to look for a solution to the conflict. The big word in finding a solution is COMPROMISE. Often we think of the word compromise as a negative word. People are often warned about compromising their values or beliefs. However, compromise in a marriage is not only positive but necessary. Compromise means to find a meeting place. It requires each of you to be willing to give up something in order to have harmony in the marriage. If we both insist on having our way, then we are back in the argument mode. In marriage it is never “having my way.” It is rather discovering “our” way.

Typically there are three ways to resolve conflicts.

1. “Meeting in the Middle”

One we have just described. It’s about compromise. You find a meeting place by agreeing to do a part of what each of you desired while each of you also sacrifices a bit.

2. “Meeting on Your Side”

This means that after you hear each other’s ideas and feelings, one of you decides that on this occasion, it is best to do what the other has in mind. This is a total sacrifice of your original idea, choosing rather to do what your spouse desires and to do it with a positive attitude. You are choosing to do what they desire as an act of love because you care about them and you see how important it is to them.

One husband said, “I agreed to have a baby after she explained to me that she was getting near the end of her fertility cycle. When I saw her heart, I didn’t want to take the chance of disappointing her. We had always agreed that he wanted to have children. I just thought it wasn’t the right time. I want to wait until we had a financial base. But as I listened to her and saw how important it was to her, I agreed that even though I had some fears, I thought I should go ahead and have a baby now. We did and I have never regretted that decision.” Sometimes the decision to agree with the other person’s idea will involve great sacrifice. However, love always involve some sacrifice.

3. “Meeting Later”

This approach says, “At the moment, I’m not able to conscientiously agree with your idea, and I don’t see a place to meet in the middle. Can we just agree that for the moment, we disagree on this? And we will discuss it again in a week or month, and look for solution. In the mean time, we will love each other, enjoy each other, and support each other. This will not be a disruptive factor in our marriage.” This is a perfectly legitimate response to a conflict when, at the moment, you cannot find a long-term solution. A month from now, things may look different or new possibilities may come to mind so that you can find a compromise with which both of you will feel good.

In some areas of life, “meeting later” can be a permanent solution, especially in areas where there is no “right” or “wrong” answer, whether it is squeezing the toothpaste tube, personal taste of entertainment, etc.

In one of these three ways, you can resolve your conflicts. The key is creating a friendly atmosphere by listening to each other and affirming each other’s perspective rather than accusing each other of illogical thinking.

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#5 I Wish I Had Known … That apologizing is a sign of strength

Gary used to adopt worldly value which says, “Real men don’t apologize.” His dad adopted it. Gary never remembers hearing him apologize. And Gary also simply followed his model. Before marriage, Gary could not imagine ever doing or saying anything to his wife that would warant for an apology. After all, he loved her. But he found out later on that the woman whom he had married had ideas, some of which he considered to be stupid. He said, “Karolyn, think. This is simply not logical.” His words would spark a sharp response and they could be on a downward spiral.

After such episodes, they would go silent and not speak to each other for hours or sometimes days. Gary did not realize that he was simply doing what his father had done. He never apologized. He blamed her for their altercations. In the early years, they did not have a good marriage.

As Gary enrolled in seminary and learned in Christian scriptures about confession and repentance, he realized that he had been deceived that, “Real men don’t apologize.” He learned that confession means to admit that what he did or failed to do was wrong. Repentance means that he consciously turn from that wrong and seek to do what is right. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Then for the next few months, Gary learned to apologize and found that Karolyn was fully willing to forgive. In time, she too learned to apologize and I extended forgiveness. Gary is convinced that there are no healthy marriages without apology and forgiveness. The reality is that all of us are human and humans sometimes do and say things that are demeaning to other people. These unloving words and actions create emotional barriers between the people involved. Those barriers do not go away with the passing of time. They are removed only when we apologize and the offended party chooses to forgive.

When you apologize, what do you typically say or do? When someone apologize to you, what do you expect them to say or do? The evidence was clear -what one person considers to be an apology is not what another person considers to be apologize. While he says, “I’m sorry.” She might think, “You certainly are. Now, is there anything else you would like to say?” She is waiting for an apology; he thinks he has already apologized. Just like love has its language, apology too has its language which differs from one person to another. Here are the apology languages:

1. Expressing regret.

“I’m sorry,” spoken alone, are much too general. If you have lost your temper and spoken harshly, you might say, “I am sorry that I lost my temper and raised my voice. I know I came across very harsh and that I hurt you deeply. A husband should never talk that way to his wife. You must be hurting deeply and I am sorry that I hurt you.”

This apology language is an emotional language. It is seeking to express to the other person your emotional pain that your words or behavior have hurt them deeply. If this is the apology language of the person you have offended, anything short of this kind of apology will seem empty to them.

2. Accepting Responsibility

It begins with the words “I was wrong,” and then goes on to explain what was wrong about your behavior. For example, “I was wrong not to plan my afternoon so I could get home early. I knew we were going out tonight but I didn’t consciously thing about what time I needed to be home in order for us to leave on time. It was my fault and I was wrong.”

The person whose primary apology is “accepting responsibility” is waiting to hear you admit your behavior was wrong. For this person, saying “I’m sorry” will never sound like an apology. They want you to be willing to accept responsibility for what you did or said and acknowledge that it was wrong.

3. Making Restitution

This apology language seeks to “make it right.” This seeks for actions from the person who made mistakes which can show that you love them. Speak their specific love language in order to make it right. Give a gift to those who like gifts, write a love letter for those who like words of affirmation, etc.

4. Genuinely expressing the desire to change your behavior

This apology seeks to come up with a plan to keep the bad behavior from reoccurring. “I will not do it again” are the words and let your actions confirm it.

5. Requesting forgiveness

“Will you please forgive me?” These words are music to the ears of the person whose primary apology language is “requesting forgiveness.” In their mind, if you are sincere, you will ask them to forgive you. This is what an apology is all about.

When couples learn how to apologize in a manner that is meaningful to the other person, they make forgiveness much easier. What most people want to know when you are attempting to apologize is “Are you sincere?” However, they judge your sincerity by whether or not you are speaking what to them is a genuine apology. That means you must learn to speak you apology in their primary apology language. When you do, they sense your real sincerity.

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Couples who have practiced both love language and apology language repeatedly will be most likely to develop a healty relationships. Do not ignore it. This will save your marriage from unnecessary pain. There are six more things Gary wished to know before he got married 😉 Discover it in my next article. To be continued…



Photos by Angga Permana Photography

The Mercy Room

Sometimes when we are treated unfairly, in the deepest of our heart there comes a ‘hope’ that the opposite people can be treated the same thing naturally. It seems like a justice to our eyes. If we trace back, this principle has been widely known since the Hammurabbi Law which introduced that we need to exchange eyes for eyes and tooth for tooth. Mahatma Gandhi opposed this view by saying, “An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind.” He got it right. Have you ever seen the hatred stops when we pay it back with hatred too? It seems like a justice … but what is a justice if we cannot make the person or even the world a better place to live on? The problem in this world is not because we are full with evil people, but because we are lacking of forgiving people. Yes, we lack of mercy.


The Bible defines mercy as not getting what you do deserve [withheld punishment]. It is forgiving though the person does not deserve it. It can also mean as pity or compassion. It would be hard to swallow, hard to do. How can we give forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it so much? I find that we as human beings tend to have difficulty in forgiving when we see ourselves as a better person than the one who made mistakes. It places us as ‘righteous’ and the other person ‘not righteous’. As long as we see ourselves in this position, we will find that we have all the rights to give punishment, judge, condemn, or at least wishing that the other person will receive their ‘karma’. In the end, we find ourselves hard to forgive.

These recent days, I have experienced what mercy truly is and that changes me a lot. Being a devoted Christian for 15 years, makes me a bit difficult to see myself as a sinner. Yes, there is no big or small sin in God’s eyes. Sin is sin. But somehow there is this particular sin which causes me to feel such a failure and unworthy. I felt like I am truly truly a sinner. Yes, I am a Christian, but I am a sinner too. And knowing it causes me to turn back again and again at the cross, gazing upon Jesus. Lord, was my repentance seven years ago genuine? And here this verse strucked me,

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent [who have no need of a change of heart]” -Luke 15:7 [NIV]


The Parable of the Lost Son

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.

After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

If you look at Luke 15 more closely, you would find that the whole passage is sharing one theme: mercy. It tells a story about a father who waited for his youngest son to come back, overlooked his sins, ran after him as he got closer to his house [noted: wealthy man on that day did not run!], gave the very best gifts and threw a big party to celebrate his return. Would you like to imagine it for a moment? In our human’s eyes the youngest son certainly does not deserve such a treat by his father. But our God, as a loving Father, has such a deep mercy to sinners. He overlooked our past sins as we want to repent. Can we overlook our brother’s or sister’s sins? Or Are we like the eldest son who thought that he deserved such treatment and his brother did not? Which one will we be?


Through my experience, I find myself as the lost son who needs Father’s mercy so much. I am a sinner, therefore I cannot judge other sinners too. You see, no one is perfect. Everyone needs forgiveness although some may never ask for it. But the attitude of the father has called us all to do the same thing. Are you judgmental? Know that the world needs mercy and forgiveness more than judgment. A relationship can only be healthy when it consists of forgivers. And we forgive because we are forgiven too.

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” -Psalm 32:1-2

Remember always, we are no better than any other ‘sinners’. We are never in a place to judge or condemn them guilty. The realization of our own imperfection gives a space for mercy to grow. God has taught us that His mercy endures forever and He longs his people to be known as merciful one. For we are more like him when we love and forgive the undeserving ones.


Photos by Axioo Photography

The Love Tank

There are times when we find it is hard to love. There are times when the bad sides of people simply wins from the battle of mind. And there are times also when the pressures of life consume us so much that we think that we have nothing left to give out to others. In short, our love tank is running low or even empty and that affects our whole relationship with others. But is it something that just happens? Can’t we do something to avoid that ‘season’ comes through in our lives? The good news is … the love tank should not have to go through running low phase or even empty. The love tank is supposed to be full every time. It is a matter of daily choice.


Many people takes love as something in which we fall into and also fall out. They treat a relationship as something that we can exit from as the feeling of love has fallen out. Our love has been based on something that is so undependable… feeling. And it does not take a longer time to make our love becomes conditional. “I love you if …” This type of love would undoubtedly has a short-time to live and will involve a lot of dissapointment and pain. So what kind of love that will guarantee a life-time span? What kind of love in which makes the individuals involved stay when other strays? I bet you can guess it 🙂 Yup .. unconditional love. A love without any demand in return.

“Wow.. could really a man able to execute such kind of love?” With God’s grace and help, yes, a man can give out unconditional love. As long as a person is willing to work on a relationship, there is a hope. So it is a matter of willingness. Loving is easy when people whom we love is loveable. The challenge comes when it comes to love someone who is difficult to love. And this someone could be someone whom you used to love in a dramatic way too back then.

I saw a very ironic sight where romance turns cold as couple get married over time. Some people say that the gap between what it used to be and what it has turned out to be is called as a reality. But I do not fully agree with that because it leaves an impression that reality is always worse from past or our dreams. I prefer making the reality as the better version of past and present time. Reality does not mean that it has to be bitter. It can be sweet. But someone has to pay the price for a sweet reality. It may cost our ego, pride, and ways of life to adapt with people whom we ‘love’.

In order for us to have a full love tank, there is no other choice but to connect to its source, the Author of Love, the Love itself, God. As long as we depend on our own strength to love, our effort will remain in vain. Our love is so limited. Humanly love is undoubtedly conditional. But God’s love is entirely different. There is nothing that you can do to make Him love you more and there is nothing that you can do to make Him love you less. His love does not depend on your performance. His love is entirely conditional.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” -Romans 5:8

God chose to love and even die for you when you did not even bother His existence.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:17-18


God’s love fills our love tank until it is full. But the question is … are we letting Him to fill it? Jesus loves you and He lives in you. Jesus inside you wants to love the difficult person whom you troubled with. Are we letting Him to? Jesus always sees a person as whom He created at the first place and whom the person will be at the touch of His grace. He overlooks sin’s accesorries and desperately longs for the hearts to become His. He is a prince who is jealous to guard His princess’ heart from the world’s grasp. Because He knows that nothing, nothing can guard it as well as Him. No treasure, no even other human being can make sure the hearts will not be broken besides Him alone. Are we letting him truly becomes the owners of our hearts?

So many of us pray for a miracle. For our family’s members to be saved, for sickness to be healed, for relationships to be restored, and so many other good things. Yet somehow, God is waiting for us to take our part in letting the miracle comes through us. God is waiting for us to sow seeds of love in stony hearts of men. God is waiting for us to remove the stone of unforgiveness and fear. Before He makes His miracle, He makes sure His sons and daughters have grown. Because what is a miracle (a circumstance to be changed) without a change of the core of our hearts?

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh [heart of obedience to God]. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.” -Ezekiel 11:19-20

“Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cake of pagans” -Hosea 3:1

God is not an angry God who forces His people to love and serve him obediently. In Hosea 2:1 He said, “Therefore I am going to allure her (Israel); I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” God is a God of love who wins back the heart of His people, sinners, to return to Him. The whole Bible is telling us a great love story between God and human being. He is desperately wants to love us and for sure being loved back is one of His priceless treasures.


God shows us that no heart is to hard to be soften. As long as the seeds of unconditional love are planted, He can make a miracle. Because love cannot fail. And love never fails.

So let His love completely fills your love tank. Fill it with a greatest weapon of all to win back God’s people. It is always easy to love when we remember that it is God’s in us who wants and enables us to do so. Our part is to sacrifice our ego and pride, remove stone of unforgiveness and fear, and get into a reckless abandon to His righteous ways.

What a wonderful world will be. When hatred ceases and ego dies, truth and love lives. A heaven on earth. A sweet reality that can come true.


Photos by Ppf and Axioo Photography

The Light at the End of Tunnel

The light at the end of tunnel is one of English idiom which means something which makes you believe that a difficult or unpleasant situation will end. Although time has passed, days turn to weeks, weeks turn to months, and months turn to years; some situations in your life may have not changed yet. But don’t worry! You are not alone! I feel the same too. I learn a lot of things in this “dark tunnel” situation. I am inspired by a line said by Habibie from the “Habibie & Ainun” movie (such a great movie about true love story 🙂 I remember that Habibie once encouraged Ainun who was homesick, felt lonely, and really sick because of her first pregnancy. He said, “We are like a railway carriage passing through a long dark tunnel. All we can see is the darkness by now. But every tunnel has the end. And at the end of it, there will be light. I promise you, I will bring you to that light.”


When troubles seem to overwhelm you, it’s tempting to think that it will never end. Moreover, if all that you can see with your physical eyes is dark and gloomy. Without light, without hope. Many people keep asking, “Why is this happening to me? Why does God allow me to experience this?” The questions of whys are so natural to pop out in this situation. Some people may think it must be because of sins that they did in the past. But they wonder what is it since they think they are good enough so far. (Well not all of bad situations is the result of your sins. Remember Joseph?) I don’t know all the whys about your situation, as I don’t know all the whys in my situation too. But one thing I know for sure is that this season will have an ending and God has a purpose of it. I am determined to end it with a good attitude and come out as a better person, not a bitter one. You see, the railway carriage will find its light later on, but it has to keep moving forward. If the railway carriage stops in the midst of the tunnel, the darkness will be its permanent season for the rest its life. Some people get discouraged in this dark tunnel and decide to give up at last. They may think, “It’s hopeless. I have prayed and nothing has changed.” Being “hopeless” is a dangerous state of mind that we ever deal with. Without hope, you lose your strength to carry on. And here is the good news. There is no such thing called as “hopeless”. With God, there is always a hope! Without God, everything seems hopeless.

“I will love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.” -Psalm 18:1-3,28,35

“Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD.” -Psalm 31:24

Hope is the light of your soul. It sees before everything becomes a reality. It lightens your day before the outer light in your circumstance appear. So even when your situations give you no reason to be joyful, you can still be joyful by maintaining the light of hope in your heart. Keep gazing upon the Lord, your source of hope and strength. Remember that there is nothing that He cannot do over your circumstance. He is your Almighty God! Almighty simply means … all mighty! He has unlimited power of everything! In this dark tunnel, it is an opportunity where you can really know who your God really is. You can experience the depth of intimacy with God more than before. God may not explain the whys behind your pain and suffering, but he promised you to walk with you in the midst of it. He is a faithful God! He will never leave you even for a second in this season. Be patient and be still knowing that our beloved God is totally in control in every situation of your life.


Last night, the LORD impressed me these verses in my heart:

This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, “declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity …” -Jeremiah 29:10-14

There are some truths being conveyed in these verses. As God determined a period of time where the Israel would be carried away by Babylonians, so does He set a period of time of your dark tunnel. Again, there is the end of the tunnel. And the gap between your now and that the end is only time. God does not allow a dark season for merely nothing. He has a beautiful purpose and plan out of it. But you have to seek the Lord. Keep pressing on, keep moving forward. The darker your situation it seems, the more you need to stick to the Lord. He promises that he will always be found by those who seek Him with all of their hearts. God is not playing hide and seek with you. He is always there in your heart. It is you who need to take one step closer to Him and He will run the thousand steps to embrace you. He wants to be closer with you more than you want to be with Him 🙂 John The Cross expressed this truth beautifully: If you are seeking after God you may be sure of this: God is seeking you much more. He is the Lover, and you are His beloved, He has promised Himself to you.

“I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me.” -Proverbs 8:17

One of the situations on my dark tunnel require me to keep loving those who may be unloveable toward me. It’s a season when I desperately ask for the Lord’s strength to accompany me each day. I also wait for the closed door of my relationship to be opened. But instead of the tough situations I am facing now, I discover how I need to grow in prayer. My relationship with God is much more intimate than before. His love becomes so real even my situations can give me reasons that I am unloved. His love has made me stronger and stronger. So the dark situation is actually a calling for you to kneel and pray. It is an opportunity to grow in depending more upon God than your own strength. Mother Teresa spoke gently, “Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself. Ask and seek, and your heart will grow big enough to receive Him and keep Him as your own.”


I know it does not answer all your whys but the the dark tunnel in your life is always an opportunity to grow more in the Lord. It can either make you or break you. It can make you better or bitter. The response is yours to make 🙂 My prayer and hope for you is that you do not give up and keep pressing on. Your hope should not based on your circumstance, but on God who can change your circumstance. The world may see it impossible, but to God nothing is impossible. Be patient, keep doing your part with all your heart. One day the light is certainly coming through the tunnel, for you have reached the end of it. You will look back at the past and thank God for what He has taught during that moments.

“But as for you, be strong and do not give up for your work will be rewarded.” -2 Chronicles 15:7

Leticia Seviraneta

Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography

Faith Based Relationship

In my previous post titled “Healthy Soul” I have discussed how we often some sort of expectations on people. We much likely desire people to change things that we dislike on them. Now I want to discuss how can we see them differently? You may say, “It is easy to speak but hard to do.” But I would like to share some truth that can help you to shift your perspective 😉


In God’s eyes, everybody is a 10. Do you believe it? If you believe that everybody is sinner, then saying “Everybody is a 10” will equal to “Every sinner, too, is a 10” Yes, your score in God’s eyes does not depend on your performance. It’s not about how righteous you are. God is your own creator. He knows you inside out. He knows whether you will sin or not, He knows all of your motives. Nothing that you choose in life surprises Him.

“O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!” -Psalm 139:1-6

“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” -Psalm 139:15-16

When God created you, He put all the potentials hidden inside of you. Sin causes His image on you to be distorted and that potentials cannot be found and grown. That’s what makes you feel hard to see everybody as a 10 with your physical eyes. They are all the “10” who don’t realise themselves as “10”. They may live without knowing who they are, why they are here on earth, what is their purpose of life, how they suppose to treat people, and so on. There are times when I, too, don’t realise myself as a 10. We have been grown by thinking that, “When I sin, I hit the lower score than before.” “I used to be so close to God, but now it is gone.” Right now, let us stop thinking of those things and start to embrace the way God sees us.


Paul knew exactly how God saw the church in Corinth. You may be able to recall the most famous scripture about love is located on 1 Corinthians 13. But the citizens of Corinthians at that time were far from the image of love. They practiced of immorality and wickedness. The culture of the city also had influenced the church. The church at Corinth continued to struggle for a very long time with basic issues concerning unity and moral living. But look closely at how Paul addressed them.

“To the church of God is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” -1 Corinthians 1:2

Paul called them as saints! Sinners are seen by the eyes of God as saints by the blood of Jesus Christ 🙂 So how are we going to apply this truth to our relationship with fellow human? I learn that each time I am disturbed by certain characters and what they do to me, I learn to pray for them. Instead of trying to change people with my own way, either by nagging or criticise them, I learn to surrender it to the Lord and let God works to convict and change their hearts. Do you realise that it takes more faith to pray your problems to the Lord than to try solving it by your own? You may not realise it, but when you correct people in inappropriate way, it does not build them up but tear them down. Instead of helping them to see themselves as a 10, you are convincing them that they are “3” or “5”. Of course there are times when we have to speak up our advices, but God gives a specific guidance regarding correcting people.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” -Ephesians 4:15

If we point out others’ weakness out of our own frustration or anger, for sure our tone, our choice of words and our body language will be less likely express love to them. We are more likely to have tendency to say “truth” because we are the one who dislike it and try to change it. This habit destroys so many relationships. People who are constantly receiving that behavior can be depressed and have a low-self esteem. Everyone loves to be accepted. And even their behavior is unacceptable for you, there is a way to communicate it. And again for me, a faith based relationship will mean that you surrender it to God and trusting that God is the one who will work in their hearts. Sometimes you really don’t have to say anything to particular person. Say it to God, and God will deliver it in His time. Sounds weird? I am a speak up person. When I apply it into my life, I feel helpless. How can you use a “mediator” to convey your message when you can speak to them directly? But this “mediator” is not a merely “mediator”. He is GOD. He is the ONLY one who can change people’s heart and your situation. I always remember what Kay Warren said, “Christianity is about SURRENDER.” I have tried this and I have experience how God delivered my message to some people (both believers and unbelievers). Will you surrender that person and your relationship to God?


“Praying for those who love you, that is sincerity.

Praying for those who hurt you, that is maturity.” -Leticia Seviraneta

This faith based relationship can be applied in every kind of relationship in your life. If you are a wife who desperately wants your husband to change in some areas (the one that you know exactly God would love to change them too), pray it to the Lord. Don’t constantly criticising him. One prayer full of faith in God is more efficient than thousands of words to convince him to change. What a truth! You may see prayer as the last effort or somewhat a passive one. Yet Oswald Chambers described prayer so beautifully. “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” If you ever want God change and heal your “hopeless” relationship, the first thing to do is to pray. Surrender them to the Lord completely. Remember that faith is believing before it is seen and believing that God can change the situation. You may find it very very difficult to see people as a 10, but with your eyes of faith, you can! You may not see how things can turn around, but with the big God you serve and TRUST, you can. Your relationship will be transformed so greatly when you apply your faith in it. Those people whom you hardly like, is one of God’s precious 10. He wants them to realise it. And he would love to use you to help them seeing themselves as a 10. Don’t tear them down with your own words, build them up. There is always something to be praised and appreciated. When you can shift your focus from their weakness to their strength, it can help you a lot. In the end, as we are on the journey on this faith based relationship process, we will find that we are the one who is being transformed! Our faith is growing stronger. People may not change, but your attitude to them will. Put your faith in each of your relationship. God works the most when we surrender all to Him.

“Go home, and let all your relatives off the potter’s wheel. You are not the potter!”

-Joyce Meyer


Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography

Healthy Soul

“A relationship will only be as healthy as the individuals in it”

Nowadays, many people become more aware for their health by doing more exercises in the gym, take rpm or yoga classes, and many more. Some men are very dedicated to restrict their foods and drink high protein milk to build up their muscles. We are more easily motivated to maintain what our eyes can see, rather than what our eyes cannot see. Not many people realise that just like our bodies need exercise to maintain its health, so does our souls too. As what you eat determines your future health, so does what we feed into our souls will determine how healthy our souls will be and how rich our relationship can be.


How is the condition of relationship in your life? Is it  satisfying or frustrating? You may feel that having a successful relationship is definitely not easy. You face lots of people with background, emotional baggages, characters, and habits that entirely different from yours. The situation gets more complicated as each people brings some sets of unspoken expectation in relationship with you. I feel you! Are you tired for all the conflicts arise and wondering how could you make the relationships in your life run well? If yes, then this article is for you 🙂

The Unmet Expectations

People tend to have expectations based on who they are and what they usually do. For example, if you are a typical of person who is always come “in time” which means you come early before the scheduled time, then you will be more likely to expect people to behave the same as you. Even “on time” would be regarded as “late” for you. Of course few people will expect differently depending on their degree of tolerance. For those who is very strict in time, people who always come late will frustrate them. Some may respond it with disappointment, anger, or just keep the negative emotion sealed in their hearts. The case will be more often found in relationship with people you live with whether your parents, siblings, or spouse. Your behaviour and character will have greater possibility to clash with theirs. You may wish that your parents will compliment your achievement, but they simply don’t express love in words. You may wish that your spouse will give you surprises, flowers, or just simply be romantic; but he is completely not a romantic guy. You may wish your children do exactly as you instruct them to do because you know it is the best way, but they want to have their way. As the unmet expectations pile up, disappointment grows. At last, all we have is our hearts are full of resentment and bitterness. No body wants to be bitter, but if we don’t exercise our soul to stay away from it, it will be hard for not having bitterness dwell in us. The right way to look at disappointment is always remember that disappointment lasts for a season, but relationship is for a lifetime. Which one is more important to you?

“We need to learn to have a realistic expectations and let people off the hook. By giving people room to be human, we can avoid a lot of heartache.” -Victoria Osteen


One thing we need to remember and apply it in our daily lives is that knowing that every person we meet in this life is never and will never be perfect. Your parents, your children, your friends, and your spouse are just imperfect humans. You may choose your own spouse because he/she fulfills your criteria’s list. But there will always a time when he/she cannot fulfill all of your expectations (moreover when you have unspoken expectations). Why? Because they are not you. As simple as that. Your ways of thinking and their ways of thinking are different. What you think is good, may not be good for them (at least at the first time you say it). Because we all are imperfect humans, if you depend your happiness on the suitability of each of your expectations with the realities you get, you will always get disappointed. And disappointed person is NEVER be a happy person. 

“I realize that I can’t make people change. I can’t force someone to be a certain way. I can only be a model for change. When I treat people the way I want them to be, that’s the seed God uses to bring about change. ” -Victoria Osteen

So what should we do with all of our expectations? Should we stop expecting from others? Not really. The problems here are not a matter of the existence of expectation but more about what we do when we don’t get what we expect 🙂 Children may whine when they don’t get what they want. Are we doing the same? Maybe we don’t whine physically but whine in our hearts? So here is my point.. If you want to improve your relationship, then the first step toward it is by being a healthy person. Even people you relate with are unhealthy or have some heart issues, as long as you are healthy, your relationship will not be as problematic as the way it is now. We cannot change people, but we can change ourselves. And here are some rules in order to have a healthy soul 😉

1. Your happiness is your own responsibility

It is true that what people say or do to you can really affect the condition of your heart naturally. But I want to shift the natural to be supernatural. Happiness is not a product of circumstances. Happiness is a choice you make on your own regardless of the circumstances. Surely it is not always easy. It is like you try to swim against the current. But if you consistently exercise your ability to choose your own happiness, it can happen. Rather than being driven by other people’s negative emotion toward you, be a driver to your own emotion.

2. Don’t let offenses hang around

A pearl is formed when a single grain of sand or a tiny foreign particle is lodged inside an oyster. If left alone, that tiny particle will cause damage to the tender mollusk. The interesting part is the oyster will immediately secrets nacre (lacquer-like substance) as a means of protecting itself. It seals away the irritation and at last forming gorgeous pearl. It doesn’t take longer time pass before it begins to cover the grain of sand with nacre. If we let offenses to hang around they will cause damage which will be harder to recover. Some people save offenses in deposits of their memory and hearts. They may not speak to the offender for quite some time. They think that it is better not to speak to each other rather than to fight. They do not realise that by not speaking to each other means they are making more holes of misunderstanding and hinder the relationship to grow. Whenever people say words or do things that hurt you, be quick to seal your heart. Don’t let it get into your heart and irritate your inside. Be quick to let go forgiveness.


3. Words and actions are equally important

Some people say that it is more important our actions rather than our words. No need to say, “I love you”. “I wash the dishes, that’s how I express love.” But meanwhile, you find him always criticise you. There seems to be always something wrong in what you do or what you wear. I have to disagree with opinion which states actions are more important than words. Words are important too. Words can either bring life or death. “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who live it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21) Your words can either build up or tear down someone. I also learn to think before speak. If we don’t do so, we are more likely to say things we will regret, moreover when we are offended. Words are your treasure. It must be handled carefully. I am a typical of person which is affected by words spoken to me so much. I am mentally drained when I relate with people who only point my mistake constantly. They think they are good and care for me. But that kind of relationship only makes me more broken. Every people needs a space to be allowed to be on their own. If we start “fixing” everyone around us, we miss the true riches we were meant to gain from those relationships. Again, words are meant to build up and not to tear down. You can give your ‘inputs’ at the right time, but be willing to let your listener to choose their own choice without making them losing their ability and right to decide.

If you cannot be happy on your own, other people also cannot bring that happiness to you. I’ve seen so many people suffer simply because they depend so much on others to make them happy. If you want to enjoy a rich and satisfying relationship, be the change you want. Be the healthy individual within that relationship. Release all your past hurts and unforgiveness. That’s what make us different from children who are basically immature. Instead of demanding from others to give to us, give what we want to others. If you want to have a good communication with your partner, don’t be the one who talk. Be the listener. Learn to see things from others’ point of view. I always believe that a healthy person will seek opportunity to give rather than to receive. They focus on others more on themselves. Of course.. it takes an exercise 😀 As we practice it daily, one day we will master it! A healthy relationship is a product of hard work! Let’s make it happen!



Photos by Jennifer Phelps Photography