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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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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