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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First day of our daughter's college years at this great school. We love you. We're so proud of you.We believe in you. Go Huskies. Go Dawgs. And also, beat Stanford this Friday. As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it.

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