Eugene Cho

the 3 biggest mistakes i’ve made in marriage

In the recent months, the other pastors and I have been teaching on the numerous aspects and layers of relationships. And recently, I had the nervous but enjoyable experience of teaching with my wife, Minhee, as we shared about our marriage.

On the blog, I’ve recently shared my Top 10 Wedding Advice and Top 10 Marriage Advice. During our sermon, we shared our answers to the following questions:

  • Three things Minhee would like to share with all the husbands at Quest and three things I’d share with all the wives at our church.
  • Three biggest mistakes we’ve made in our marriage. We each shared our own.
  • Three things we appreciate the most of one another.
  • And some final exhortations including the key to our marriage: “Bless one another.”

Several years ago, I wouldn’t have had the guts to have my wife teach alongside me – especially about our marriage. Not that our marriage is a mess in any way but I was more interested in projecting a certain image of who and what I thought I should be as a pastor – especially as the lead pastor. But when you’re a few months shy of 40 years old, you don’t care as much about projecting an image but being loving, gracious, firm, and honest in trying to care for others in the church – even if that happens at the expense of sharing your mistakes and ultimately, testifying to God’s grace over our lives.

Marriage is important. And while I’ve had the great privilege of officiating numerous weddings (including another one this coming Saturday), I’ve also experienced the devastation of destructive relationships, marriages and divorce.  There’s just too much at stake to worry about your self preservation and projection.

And it’s not just merely for the sake of others. Marriage is important to Minhee and me. She was a counselor when I first met her nearly 15 years ago and she is pursuing another Masters degree – the current one in Marriage and Family Therapy. But this isn’t about being a pastor or a marriage counselor, marriage is important to us because we have a covenant with God and with one another as husband and wife.

You can watch the entire sermon below but here are the three biggest mistakes I’ve made in our marriage:

Solo Decisions & then trying to convince her

This is pretty dumb and insulting. My wife and I are a team but there have been several occasions where I’ll basically make a decision on my own and then I’ll take it to Minhee and attempt to spin it as a group decision when what I’m doing is…trying to convince her to agree to my decision.

Who can resonate with this?

A Secret – aka Lying

During the 2nd year of our marriage, I made one of my worst decisions that to this day, I’m not quite sure why I made that decision. Bluntly, I lied. I made a financial decision alone (see above) but this time, I withheld it from my wife until that financial decision backfired and I had no choice but to tell her.

The incident set us back and devastated Minhee. It wasn’t the financial aspect that she was distraught over but the fact that in essence, I had lied to her. Needless to say, we had some very intense conversations and I needed to apologize, repent, and re-build trust.

Don’t lie. And don’t have secrets.

Not being fully present

As a long time recovering workaholic, it’s easy for my mind to wander about ministry, cafe, church, ODW, my ‘to-do’ lists, etc. On top of that, I’m equipped with my smartphone – both an ally and an enemy. While I’ve gotten much better, I’ve made the mistake in my marriage of not being fully present when we’re together and that’s not cool.

Not cool at all.

Praise the Lord for faith, hope, and love. And grace.

How about you? If you’re married, what’s one mistake you’ve made in your relationship?

Here’s the video our sermon…and we even got to sing together:

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photos credit: Hage Creative Photography

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16 Responses

  1. klstrovas says:

    There have been many and I just want to say how much I appreciate you sharing honestly about this. As someone who grew up in church then married a pastor, I really thought everyone else’s marriage was peachy while mine was falling apart, because no one talked about how hard it was.

    A relentlessly selfish heart has been my greatest marriage failure. The ramifications have been huge and hurtful. God has worked miracles and brought healing I didn’t see possible. By His grace only, we’re still married 11 years in.

  2. Josh Rowley says:

    “I’m equipped with my smartphone–both an ally and an enemy.”

    Yes.

  3. Andrew says:

    Thank you for sharing your weaknesses. One of the greatest things we can do for the church is realize how admitting our embarrassments can help the kingdom. I am currently dating the woman I hope to be my wife and I can learn from your mistakes. So thankful. And keep up the brutal honesty.

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks for sharing. I agree that too often we don’t teach about marriage bluntly enough. We need to be willing to stand up in weakness and vulnerability.

    Enjoy being married to an MFT. Haha. My wife just got her MFT degree from Northwestern and it’s a wild ride to be married to someone studying marriages that are falling apart. Like a doctor who sees disease everywhere. But it’s been so great for our marriage as she has pushed us to become a stronger couple.

  5. Josh says:

    Solo decisions with intent to convince…

    My biggest pitfall as a husband, hands down. It’s really quite divisive.

  6. Carlos says:

    Laziness. A mindset of putting out fires in the relationship rather than the hard work of investing energy to thoughtfully and lovingly be in relationship.

  7. Aaron says:

    Being FULLY present. Wow. That just happened to me this weekend and wasn’t pretty. I was there, but I wasn’t “there”. Definitely there in bodily form, but in no other form and she could see right through me. It was like a reverse doceticism… (I gotta get out of seminary quick). Thanks for sharing PE.

    • Eugene Cho says:

      Reverse docetism?

      Yes, you need to get out quick…

      It was good to spend some time with you and your girlfriend down in LA a few weeks back. She really does seem like a wonderful gal.

  8. luke says:

    Not married, but I definately see these correlated to my relationship with christ. I don’t know how many times I’ve done really stupid things without asking God and how many times they have blown upin my face. Or times where I lie to myself and God (you know the farther you are from relationship, the harder it is to identify those things), while those are tricky, learning to listen to not only him, but also yourself helps. Wow… And the last one, I have been trying the spiritual discipline of constant prayer and the difference with being present and not is crazy. Thanks for sharing eugene and Minhee. Thank you for letting the spirit share through you.

  9. David says:

    Love the honesty. I’m in my 2nd year of marriage and see myself in the mistakes you mention above.

  10. Steve says:

    I really enjoyed this article. Now that I am fifty and have been married for almost 29 years, looking back at the times I have caused my wife pain is hard to do. I appreciate your courage in taking the time to do it.

  11. jchenwa says:

    I’m mistaken everyday if I don’t love her with everything I got. I don’t know how she puts up with me sometimes; b/c she loves me so much. She’s the best!

  12. […] marriage. I am not perfect. Minhee, my wife, is not perfect as well. We have shared some of our mistakes in our marriage. I share about my funk. But having said all of this, we love one another and live by grace within […]

  13. […] We’ve learned a great deal and have much more to learn. We’ve loved and have much to love. Couple years ago, I wrote a post and taught a sermon (with Minhee) about some of our best & worst practices and decisions in marriage. […]

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One Day’s Wages

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Window seat. For the win. As leaders, we must not see ministry and family as competing commitments.  We must not sacrifice our marriage and kids for the sake of "ministry." How can we? Loving our families IS ministry & good leadership.

And on a side note, we took this goofy photo for Mother's Day last Sunday at @seattlequest. I was shocked! What in the world happened to our kids? Our 13 year old son blocked four of my shots on the basketball court yesterday. He's since been grounded... I fear that we ask God to move mountains, forgetting that God also wants to move us.

In fact, it's possible that we are that mountain. Time flies. The eldest is wrapping up her 1st year in college and the college tours have begun for the 2nd child. The youngest enters high school in the Fall. Can't say enough about how proud Minhee and I are of the kids - not just of their accomplishments but the people they are and are becoming.

But...man...we can't wait to party it up when we're emptynesters. Party at our house. It's going to be epic. Humbled. Grateful. Mindful of God's grace and faithfulness in my life. It's all grace... It's an unexpected honor to be invited back - even with some mini-drama - to @princetonseminary to receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award - exactly 25 years after starting my journey there as a student in 1992. Wow.

Princeton isn't necessarily for everyone. And to say that I loved everything about my experience would be misleading but it was very formative. Ir challenged me to examine why I believed in what I believed. It reminded me that God could handle my questions. It prepared me for a post-Christian context where I am not entitled to be heard but I had to earn the right to be heard, and of course, it taught me that all is good with a Philly cheese steak at Hoagie Haven.

No one is an island to themselves and I am certainly an example of that. Many people - women and men, young and old, and of many backgrounds - prayed, encouraged, mentored, and loved me along the way. Grateful for my professors at seminary, my many classmates, and the numerous fellow staff and co-laborers I've had the privilege of serving Christ with past and present. And of course, I'm forever inspired by my parents, my children, and my wife, Minhee. Thank you for your faith, hope, and love...and oh, for your patience. Only your family will know and see both the best and worst of you. They've seen my worst...and keep on believing in me.

Thank you again, PTS and President Barnes, for this honor. Then, today, and tomorrow...by God's grace, just striving to be faithful to my Lord and Savior...to preach and live out the convictions of the whole Gospel. Amen. So humbled and grateful to be with @catalystleader in Cincinnati to encourage leaders from all around the country about the invitation to Uncommon Fellowship.

Preached from John 4. We can talk, preach, sing, philsophize, liturgize, and spit rhymes about Samaria...but we still have to talk through Samaria.

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