The journey

Life is a journey, time is a stream...

Photo credit – Life is a journey, time is a stream by Photographer Poetry on Flickr

Just as we tucked Zachary to sleep last night, David said to me, “How our lives have changed forever with this little boy”.

The weight on our shoulders has just gotten heavier with his arrival.

Looking back, we never had anything to be worried about during our years dating. We had no commitments and responsibilities, and we could just do anything we wished—just so we’re having fun spending time with each other. Holidays, movie dates, dinners for two, recreational outings—everything we enjoyed was focused on us, us and us.

As years went by, it struck me that, gosh, I’m all grown up now—we got engaged, we bought our 1st home, we got married and we started living our lives as husband and wife. Even more so now that we’re parents, the duty of responsibility cannot be any more real. We’re now responsible for this little child, so no matter how tough the journey gets, we can’t give up.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” – John F. Kennedy (1888 – 1969)

Encourage yourself with this quote every time you come to a difficult and challenging situation. Take God’s cue in the direction of your journey for He is in control. Most importantly, never give up, and trust that the joy of the Lord is your strength.


Photo credit – Be Grateful by SnoShuu on Flickr

I am grateful:

  • For God for His unconditional love and His provision
  • For my parents who brought me up and raised me to become who I am today
  • For my husband who loves me with all his might, takes care of me, and watches out for me, paying extra attention during the entire pregnancy
  • For my parents-in-law who take me as their own child
  • For my brother for being…my brother
  • For my friends who are genuine and always there for me
  • For my teachers who have provided me with their guidance and their knowledge
  • For a job that I enjoy doing, and for the wonderful relationship I have with my colleagues
  • For the roof over our heads, the food on our table and the clothes covering us
  • For the country that I live in and the one that I call home

Investing in our marriage: The Power of Forgiveness

The next installment in our Marriage Course covers the power of forgiveness. In this session we discussed how can intimacy be lost, if we fail to forgive one another. Intimacy is built on trust and openness & hurt undermines trust and openness. Of course, hurt is inevitable within every marriage, but we must remember that some hurt will be unintentional. On the other hand those hurts caused intentionally can be reactions from being angry (i.e. rhinos and hedgehogs communicating with each other), retaliation and fear, resentment and guilt.


So what happens if hurt and anger are buried? A lot can happen! Physical symptoms such as disturbed sleep, lack of appetite, and even certain medical conditions like ulcers and high blood pressure. You will find that it also affects behaviour, causing one to have inability to relax, have a low sexual desire, quick temper and obsessive behaviour. Emotionally, one may lose positive emotions, fall into depression, shut down and even have the fear of confrontation. As David and I went thru the exercise in this session, we managed to identify the hurt that was in the past (a tiny issue we had before we got married) and we were able to forgive each other. The act of asking for forgiveness really sets you free and restores the intimacy. There are essentially 4 steps to restoring intimacy and they are:

Identify the hurt

  • First, recognise the way in which you have caused your partner pain and hurt your marriage (Matthew 5:23-24 ‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.’)
  • Then, be prepared to tell your partner where you have been hurt (Matthew 8:15 ‘If your brother or sister sins against you, go and show them their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.’)


  • Take responsibility of the actions and words that you may have used to hurt your partner (James 5:16 ‘Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.’)
  • Resist the urge to rationalise what you did or to blame your partner
  • Confess to God as this enables us to see the effect of our actions
  • Apologise to each other as love means often having to say we’re sorry AND it opens the way for reconciliation and healing


  • Forgiveness is one of the greatest forces for healing in a marriage (Matthew 18:21-22 ‘Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall i forgive my brother or sister when they sin against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times but seventy times seven.”)
  • There are varying degrees of difficulty in forgiving. Take Jesus on the cross and those who crucified him. Or it could also be small issues like forgetting to do something or making you late. Or it could be a big issue such as unfaithfulness. (Colossians 3:13 ‘Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’)
  • Forgiveness first and foremost is a choice, not a feeling. The question is not “Do we feel like forgiving?” but the question is “Will we forgive?”. “Will we let go of our self pity / demand for justice / desire to retaliate?”
  • You’ll be amazed to see that you will have new feelings follow forgiveness!
  • Forgiveness IS NOT:
  1. Demanding a person changes before we forgive them
  2. Forgetting the hurt happened
  3. Pretending it doesn’t matter
  4. Thinking time alone will heal the hurt
  • Forgiveness IS:
  1. Facing the wrong done to us
  2. Recognising the emotions inside
  3. Choosing not to hold it against out husband or wife
  4. Releasing him/her into God’s hands
  • Forgiveness deals with anger and resentment – although we might still feel hurt until healing is complete
  • Forgiveness is a process – we often  need to keep forgiving – sometimes on a daily basis
  • My forgiveness may benefit my partner but ultimately I’m the one who benefits by being free from the bandage of bitterness
  • We must let go of our anger and desire to retaliate even if our partner has not yet apologised to us – otherwise buried anger turns to hate
  • ‘The flow of forgiveness’ – we are to forgive our of gratitude for the forgiveness we have received.

Start again together

  • Thank God for showing you your mistakes and for his forgiveness
  • Having gone through the process of identifying, apologising and forgiving, cross out your lists of hurt as a sign you have resolved them between you (Philippians 3:13 ‘Forgetting what lies behind and pressing forward to what lies ahead’)
  • Comfort each other – we make ourselves very vulnerable through this process and it is hard to listen to the ways in which we have hurt each other
  • Pray for one another = pray aloud or silently asking God to heal your partner of the hurt you have caused him or her (1 John 1:9 ‘If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’)

This process is like a drain that carries away the hurt. Confession to God and those we hurt, together with forgiving those who have hurt us, must become a daily habit if intimacy is to be maintained. Otherwise, the drain begins to block up with unresolved hurt and anger. So remember the power of forgiveness! The next topic will cover parents and in-laws, that should be interesting!!

Investing in our marriage: Resolving conflict

Part 3 of our Marriage Course brings us to the issue of resolving conflict. Without a doubt conflict is inevitable in any relationship be it marriage, at work, or in the family. In a marriage both parties have different opinions and somehow, believe it or not, we are naturally selfish! Conflicts arise when we fail to handle anger properly. In the Marriage Course, Nicky and Sila identified two types of human reactions when upset:

Qbar (37)
Some are like rhinos – they attack when provoked

Some are like hedgehogs – they withdraw when threatened

David and I concluded that we both Rhinos. How dangerous!

When there’s unresolved conflict, it will lead to‘trench warfare’; think about a form of warfare in which both combatants occupied static fortified fighting lines, consisting largely of trenches, in which troops were largely immune to the enemy’s small arms fire and were substantially sheltered from artillery. The relationship between husband and wife should not find itself in such a war! Where conflict is, both parties have to fight out each others’ problems on the same side. Essentially, there are four principles that if practiced, can help us in handling conflict:

Expressing our appreciation for each other – make it a daily discipline, be thankful for what your partner does and be appreciative for who your partner is. When it comes to being thankful for what David does, I simply don’t measure it in gifts or in kind. I don’t hint and make him buy presents for me or bring me on holidays. If the act of love and affection needs to stem from that new designer bag or that beach holiday; then I think the relationship needs overhaulin’. How much your husband loves you doesn’t come from what his wealth can buy you (plus, I’d feel guilty spending my hubby’s money for my own stuff, let alone make hints and get him to buy them!). In my opinion being married doesn’t mean we transfer our independence to our husbands – being married simply is two independent people loving, living and spending the rest of our lives together (that means making your own hard earned money!) We both are always thankful for each other, and grateful that we put up with each other’s imperfection. We appreciate what each other has done and show that appreciation through words of encouragement thru saying things like “I appreciate you taking care of washing the dishes” or “I appreciate how attentive you are now that we are expecting a baby”.

Recognising our differences – We’ve got to recognize differences in temperament, personality, background and expectations. We often get frustrated when we try to change each other, SO don’t try to change each other! We need to seek to complement each other, look for each other’s strengths and support each other’s weaknesses. During the course, we did an exercise on identifying our differences by using a chart to weigh each issue and see how much we agreed/disagreed. We found that we were very similar in some areas i.e. our choice of clothing and appearance, how we sort out our disagreements, how we spend our money, our idea of relaxation and even if we’d like our TV switch on/off. We also identified our differences i.e. how I am particular about punctuality and David likes to cut it fine, and how when we go on holidays, I’d prefer to seek rest and David on the other hand seek adventure. Having differences doesn’t mean you’d surely end up in conflict all the time! It’s these differences that can be a source of strength for our relationship. That said, the differences shouldn’t overpower the similarities, or else you’d be thinking what brought you two together? Opposites do attract but strong differences can drive your relationship into the path of divorce.

Negotiating areas of conflict – When conflict arises, we have to negotiate rather than attack, surrender or bargain. Try working out the conflict by using these 6 steps to peace:

  1. Find the best time to talk about it (not before leaving to work or before going to bed)
  2. Identify the issue
  3. Discuss the issue rather than attacking each other i.e. avoid labeling “you never” or “you always”, use “I” statements such as “I feel undervalued when…”, listen to your partner (recall the session on the Art of Communication) and each express your views in turn
  4. Work out the possible solutions and make a list if necessary
  5. Decide on the best solution for your relationship and see if it works
  6. Be prepared to re-evaluate

While we cannot change each other, we need to be prepared to change ourselves. This includes habits of our own which cause our spouse unhappiness as well as angry reactions to our partner’s habits. Discuss with each other the most important reasons for frustration, resentment, hurt or anger towards one another. Talk about what you’d do when you get angry with your spouse. Be wary of the type of words and phrases you use that would hurt your spouse. The best way to resolve conflict is to talk about it, and not wait for the weaker party to surrender or give in. It’d just be a time bomb waiting to explode.

Learning to pray together – We should always put God at the centre of our relationship. When we expect our partner to meet all our needs, we inevitably fail each other and get hurt. These expectations lead to demands, disappointment and blame—recipe for disaster! We were created to be in a relationship with God; only he can meet all our needs. We should be seeking God’s way by praying together as a couple as this will strengthen and sustain a marriage relationship over a lifetime and build intimacy. Many marriages today involve a battle of the wills as husband and wife argue to get their own way. A Christian marriage involves a couple seeking God’s will together. When praying we should listen and respond to each other’s requests, and also ensure that the prayers are not manipulative. The closer each of us is individually in our relationship with God, the closer we are to each other as husband and wife.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 ‘A cord of three strands is not quickly broken’.

Tonight’s session will be on the power of forgiveness. Look out for my post next week!

Proverbs 19:21

I have so many plans, so many thoughts, ideas, places I want to go to things I want to do. And very often when plans/things don’t work out I feel bummed and sucky. Very often I forget that I can’t control everything; circumstances, personality, attitude, character, behaviour, condition, mentality, opportunity, surprises; everything. For example, having IncompetentColleague, for a colleague.

Ok, seriously, the last couple of months have been very challenging for me. I came to a point to examine myself to see if I was the cause of my anxiety; i.e. if I have changed. Possibly, I thought, being in a new chapter of my life as a wife, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law. And because of this status “upgrade”, suddenly all the circumstances, personality, attitude, character, behaviour, condition, mentality, opportunity, surprises are evaluated differently.

This new chapter had more responsibility, having to engage considerations from various parties, and at the end of it, keeping everyone/everything involved happy. But sometimes, you just can’t have everything your way and things will not go they way you intended it to. In Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” reminds me that no matter what plans and wants you have, we must remember that we’re not in control; He is.

In essence, we should never get lost in wanting everything to be perfect. Let life go, with the flow.