Eugene Cho

top 10 marriage advice

Well, it would only make sense to follow up the list of my Top 10 Wedding advice by sharing with you my Top 10 marriage advice. And eventually, I should go back and share my list of dating advice.

Minhee and I have been married for nearly 14 years and we’ve learned so much. I also promise to share our “biggest mistakes.” Anyway, I’m not Dr. Phil or Dr. Gottman but here’s my Top 10 Marriage advice or rather, my 9 advice and a request for you to contribute:

1. Expectations

  • In dating and courtship and in the decision to life together, you’re ultimately agreeing to certain expectations. Not expectations of perfection but expectations of who, what, where, when, and why.  Marriage – not in a contractual way  but in a covenant way is an honoring of those expectations…
  • Which is why it’s so important that you marry the “right” person and continue “being” the right person.

2. Grace

  • Say this again and again. “I’m not perfect and my spouse isn’t perfect.”
  • If you have unrealistic expectations, you’re bound for so much disappointment. I’m not saying that we should expect mediocre marriages but we need to be realistic. This is another way of accentuating the importance of Grace.

3. Intimacy

  • Intimacy is the key and encompasses everything. On my list that makes up the grid of intimacy: Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, Social & Relational, Conversational, Moral, Recreational, Intellectual, Financial (Stewardship), and [what would you add]

4. Talk & Sex

Everything in #3 are important but two of the more vital ones (because there’s no middle ground) are:

  • Intimacy via Conversation, Talking, and Listening
  • Intimacy via Physical Touch & Sex
  • Talk a lot and have a lot of intimate sex!

5. Learn to fight well

  • This is so important. Everyone disagrees and fights. And couples that say they don’t also wrestle with lying. So, if you disagree & fight … you have to learn to fight fairly and constructively.
  • This is a separate list I’ll share in another post. But so important. Oh, so important…

6. Be a church

  • Don’t fall into the myth that Christians that marry together equate a Christian and God-honoring marriage. Two Christians that marry together usually equate to two Christians that marry together. It doesn’t guarantee anything so a couple needs to be intentional and purposeful.
  • One metaphor I like to share is that a married couple become a church in their own way. Two have gathered together and a husband and wife should see one another as mutual pastors with the privilege of exhorting one another in prayer, Scriptures, service, sacrifice, etc.
  • Pastor one another.
  • Worship together.

7. Make decisions together

  • Trust me: Everyone wants to have their voice heard.

8. Keep dreaming, conspiring, and visioning

  • Don’t let your conversations be ONLY reduced to, “So, what do we need to get at Costco this week.”
  • Everybody wants to be part of something bigger.

9. Bless one another

  • Do you know what blesses your spouse?
  • And if so, are you blessing your spouse?
  • Believe me: When you bless your spouse, blessings will be returned.
  • Build a culture of blessing.

10. What would you add as #10? What advice would you give about building a thriving marriage?

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Ecclesiates 4:9-12:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

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18 Responses

  1. Andrea says:

    I’d add that when the road gets bumpy, turn to God first. Seeking comfort from others comes “naturally” but I see it hurt marriages all the time. Your mom and your office mate shouldn’t know the intimate struggles between you and your spouse.

  2. saras says:

    You already mentioned it, but when I grew up I NEVER saw my parents fight or argue, EVER. Knowing them both as adults now, they must have done it behind closed doors! But after being married a few months, when DH and I had our first argument at the mature age of 20 I was sure our marriage was over! DH on the other hand had seen his parents argue and survive. So I’ve learned from my husband how to fight fair!:) And after almost 15 years of marriage, this has been one of our best years yet.

    I was also told to always give 50%, each person gives 50% and you get 100% together. In reality you have to give 100% every single time, every single day to make it work!

    The worse advice ever? Don’t go to bed angry! When we were young and poor and in school and had babies and were stressed to the max, we’d argue about everything. Sometimes what we both needed was a good night’s sleep and then in the morning the huge issue didn’t seem nearly as bad as it had the night before!

  3. TIC says:

    As a husband, I’m learning “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” If we look at the way Jesus loved, particularly through Mark’s gospel, we can see that he served. He washed their feet, he served the poor, he listened and ministered. I take this to heart. I serve my wife by cooking and feeding her God’s word. Doing these small acts of love makes bigger acts of love easier. This is how God helps me build a culture of blessing (#9).

  4. your friend says:

    Prepare everything through PRAYER. Everything (including point 4:-) Make prayer as natural as breathing.

  5. Adam Lehman says:

    Great list. I’m sharing it with parents and friends.

  6. Josh Rowley says:

    #10: “Don’t go to Costco together.”

    Of course, a trip there could provide an opportunity to “fight well.”

  7. I would add that when troubles come up — financial, work, family-in-laws — remember to cling to each other as partners and not as antagonists. A couple needs to fight the trouble as a pair. It needs to be “us” against “that issue” always. First find out what the ideal/goal is and then work towards it together. That was helpful for me when I was in the Air Force, and I realized that it had to be “us” against the military lifestyle.

  8. Kacie says:

    Laugh. That’s the advice my grandmother gave me, and I see it in my parents as well. Marry someone who makes you laugh and who is able to laugh even in the tough times. Being able to just enjoy life together is just crucial, and the ability to laugh after a fight or in the midst of pain is huge. I married a joker, and I do love his easy-going spirit and the fun we have together.

  9. Steve S. says:

    My pastor always said, “The best marriage advice I ever received was: to give up the right to be right.

  10. Cassie says:

    Thanks Eugene for the great list. My husband and I have committed to not voicing disagreement of the other person’s words or actions in front of others out of respect for each other. The car ride home however is open forum…

    • t-hype says:

      i’m not even married and i agree with this one!

      i see too many people disrespecting their spouses in front of other people! if a friend and i have a disagreement, i don’t even air that publicly, i talk about it with a close friend…with the intent of finding a solution.

  11. Mike Handy says:

    I have to agree with Steve S. “Give up the right to be right”

  12. pjchris says:

    Use your words. It’s too easy to fall into the “he should know what I need without me telling him” or “she should know that I love her” trap. You have not developed ESP in your years of marriage and neither has your spouse. Tell your spouse what you need or what you want them to know. Don’t assume they know.

  13. Bryan says:

    I like your list – especially learning to fight. That took/is taking us a long time to learn.

    I think it is important to remember

    remember why you got together in the first place.

    remember the vows are more about giving than receiving/demanding

    remember where your spouses car keys, shoes, glasses, wallet, and lucky pen are so when he leaves the house for work it will not so stressful (maybe that’s another list)

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One Day’s Wages

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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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