“Marriage is a conception of something that is perfect. It sets the standard of excellence. Let’s all fall in love again.”
Time stood still for the 18 couples who attended the Marriage Encounter. A much-needed pause for reflection and soul searching. Aiming for perfection, every couple entered into marriage with high hopes. Their initial idea was not far from the truth of what God had envisioned marriage to be. Pastor Simon Yee remarked of God’s perfect plan of marriage: “Marriage is a conception of something that is perfect. It sets the standard of excellence. Let’s all fall in love again.” From Genesis 1 and 2, marriage is God’s idea. It is eureka when a couple enters into the covenant of marriage, with someone whom we cannot live without. These are precious reminders from a veteran marriage counselling pastor, who has been married for 33 years. The seven traits for a successful marriage couldn’t be emphasised more. They are adaptability/flexibility, empathy, willingness to be corrected, ability to give and receive love, emotional stability and open communication. The couple must be willing to commit themselves in marriage.
“Give up your right to be right.”
Testifying during the lesson on the roles of husband and wife, Daniel resonated the truth Pastor Simon taught. As a husband, the leader of the family, he took responsibility for everything. Daniel shared his testimony of how he considered his wife, Lilin. Needing quality time, they went on hiking trips together. During times of conflict, he remarked, “Give up your right to be right.” These words impacted the participants when they shared their takeaway from the Marriage Encounter. Women cannot do without affection and a listening ear. But to help their men, they have to create a happy home environment. Their success in being a submissive, supportive and sexy wife is key to being a suitable helper to their husband. This would require humility as highlighted by a participant. In modern day society where the wife can be as successful, if not more successful, in their career, humility is harder to learn at home. But the respect of the husband must be accorded to him. Like our faith matriarch, Sarah, we, as wives, are commanded to do what is right (1 Peter 3:6).
“Communication is blood to the body.”
The ability to communicate in the emotional level is a skill to be mastered. The need to feel loved and unconditionally accepted are basic needs. These needs must be met by either words or actions. Hence, practising each other’s love language needs to done regularly and best daily. It would be a commitment for spouses to find time to communicate.
As Edmund, who taught the lesson on communication towards intimacy, said, “Communication is blood to the body.” Bleeding harms the body. When couples stop communicating, they are in danger. The right way of communicating and resolving conflict requires a lot of consideration and tact. Identifying trigger points, giving each other space and time, and recognising inner hurts all take time. But when couples truly start to understand each other, they will be amazed at how intimacy can be bridged. Participants experienced this when they were given time to share about their trigger points.
“Healing is intentional.”
“Healing is intentional.” These words were lived out by Clement, Clare, Hwee Tat and Siew Boon as they shared their stories on forgiveness. “If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.” (Matthew 18:19) They had learnt through life’s hard knocks, that bitterness, guilt and unforgiveness have to be surrendered completely. As they prayed together, though the pain resurfaced, they would find strength within to forgive. When God’s supernatural joy and peace flood their hearts, healing comes. There’s no running away from unforgiveness. Clare encouraged the couples to be proactive in apologising or repenting first. Forgiveness is not based on feelings, but an act of will. The Holy Spirit will give us the ability to forgive when we affirm our forgiveness by our words. Do not dig out sins. Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.
“Beneath a shimmering moon, in a drizzle, a lovely couple emerged. With interlocking hands, they had no other concerns except each other. Unhurriedly, they walked down the river, breathing in the sweet smell of rain.” This was what a participant shared of his memorable date night at the Marriage Encounter. In his words, “I have found my tenderness.” Many of the married couples shared that in the midst of their busyness with their careers and children, they found little time for each other and intimate moments had become fleeting. Pastor Simon shared about Singapore’s sexual intimacy statistics, and reported that married couples should be intimate with one another on an average of 1 to 1.5 times per week. The wife has to learn to be more relaxed in sexual matters. A mind preoccupied with thoughts can never be relaxed to enjoy it. Hence, preparation and patience from the husband would be richly rewarded, as testified by Kim Sing and Michelle.
“God is my problem solver.”
Lisa’s marriage is a testament of how “God is my problem solver.” Getting on her knees to pray, she chose to rely solely on God to win the battle over her marital woes. Prayer is a powerful weapon that can cast down strongholds and win battles over generational curses that come against marriages. Shirley, who also shared her testimony, remarked that a life deeply rooted in God can better stand when trials come. Through the lives of Abraham and Sarah, Kenneth who taught the session on breaking curses for the family, exhorted the couples to trust God fully and not take matters into their own hands. Lest the mistake of Ishmael be repeated and become a snare for generations to come. We are responsible for our family. By partnering with God, we can dream a dream for ourselves and our family. As Shirley’s husband, Yong Howe, put it: “Couples can have success when they trust and obey God’s precepts.”
“Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”
Peter and Harriet’s successful marital ministry is the outcome of the power of agreement. Born and raised from stark contrasting background, they had vastly differing habits. However, they agreed on the need to pray together and spend time communicating. Hanging out together as a family became a norm, even with their adult children, and they look forward to their annual family vacations. The power to oneness between husband and wife lies in Amos 3:3, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” Be committed and set your motives and priorities right before God by praying together. God will then illuminate the answers you seek as a couple. When a couple prays in unity, you can expect exponential warfare breakthroughs.
“A father is a priest, prophet and king.”
Parents are often better at teaching but poorer in prioritising God’s kingdom. As God’s children, we must learn to recognise how God is parenting us daily. We must first be teachable. Stephen and Siew Ping both agreed that, “Not compromising in living out our Christian faith is what our children saw and caught.” Despite Stephen’s son, Samuel’s hectic Saturday CCA (Co-Curricular Activity) schedule, he made it a point to attend Teens Xcite service and cell. At the end of the day, fathers have to present their family before God. Pastor Simon said, “A father is a priest, prophet and king.” They are to arise from passivity, take the lead and govern. Hearing from God, interceding and praying for their family’s needs are the responsibilities of a godly father. Fatherhood is about building the right image that reflects who God is. With a relationship build on acceptance, appreciation and affection, coupled with careful discipline with the rod, we can trust God that our children will grow well. Pastor Simon’s relationship with his three lovely adult children bore such truth. Till today, they continue to embrace one another with much endearment.
“The Wall of Marriage”
Pastor Simon concluded the Encounter with the importance of building up the wall of marriage. Liken Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, couples must be diligent and alert in building their marriages.
In reflection, the participants took away the importance of discovering their blind spots and being sensitive to their partner’s needs. They resolved to put God first and trust Him in all things. They also realised that they were not alone in this journey of rebuilding as they found many faith giants to model after. These facilitators, who shared their faith journeys, continue to anchor their faith; and their service to His church has inspired and challenged many to do likewise. For the 18 couples, their journey has just begun. Dancing down the aisle, recommitting their marriage before God and partaking in the Lord’s Supper. Many special moments and important lessons to cherish and build upon. God our Father, the wisest matchmaker, must too be rejoicing.