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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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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