City Harvest Church founders Kong Hee and Sun Ho shared their secret weapon to a fulfilling marriage in the second instalment of their Relationship Builder series.
What is the secret weapon in a marriage? CHC’s senior pastor Kong Hee and his wife Sun Ho say it is the “repair attempts” when husband and wife find themselves in an intense argument.
Over the weekend of March 19 and 20, the Kongs continued their teaching on relationships, sharing their experiences and personal stories. They started out by noting that no one can avoid arguments in a marriage. When the argument gets intense, it is the “repair attempts” that the couple activate that will keep emotions in check.
“Repair attempts” are statements or actions, silly or otherwise, that prevent negativity from escalating out of control. Ho told the congregation how she once witnessed a couple fighting and when things got very intense, the wife stuck her tongue out at her husband.
“The most shocking thing was, the husband also stuck out his tongue when he saw her doing it. Soon, they were laughing at each other and the argument was over,” said Ho with a smile.
Every couple has its own array of repair attempts and how well both spouses execute the repair attempts depends on how strong their friendship is.
FRIEND-ZONE YOUR SPOUSE
“Happily married couples are not smarter or more skilled at managing than others,” Ho said. “It is just that they have more positive thoughts about each other than negative ones.”
“They can have different temperaments and even have frequent arguments but marriage can still be fulfilling and satisfying because of the great friendship they share,” Kong added. “It doesn’t mean that if a couple quarrels a lot means it’s a bad marriage.”
Kong and Ho shared, when they were first married, how different their temperaments and interests were. Kong was an introvert whose idea of relaxation is watching television while Ho loved spending time with her friends.
“So over time, Kong let me go out with my friends and I learned to watch TV with him,” Ho shared. “One time I watched TV with him for seven hours straight! That was an achievement for me.”
“That was nothing,” Kong responded. “One time I watched Star Wars Episodes One to Six, all in one sitting.”
Two very different people with strong opinions and can still have a happy marriage, said the Kongs. Friendship between a couple can make a marriage happy or unhappy. Deep friendship, they said, is defined as a respect and mutual enjoyment of each other’s company.
“’Enjoy’ means you want to hang out together,” Kong said. Ho added that romance does not lie in the big gestures and lavish things; it is built on the little things that a couple do together, every day.
“The keyword is ‘together’,” Kong emphasized. He went on to share that the strongest marriage is one where the husband and wife share a deep sense of meaning. They are not just getting along, but are supporting each other in the hopes and dreams.
“Marriage is two people building a shared purpose together,” Kong said. “And to do this, these two people must enjoy traveling through life together.”
Good friends share details of their life with one another. The more two people know each other, the better friends they are.
Kong and Ho shared how they knew each other’s favorite foods, the situations each of them face at work, their goals and worries in life.
“How can we truly love someone if we don’t really know him or her?” Kong said. “That is why when the Bible describes a man and his wife becomes sexually intimate, it says the man knew his wife.”
“Incidentally, when wives were asked what the main thing is that makes the sex, romance and passion satisfying in their marriage, 70 percent of them said friendship,” Ho added. “Also, 70 percent of the men in the survey also said it was friendship! That means that the greater the friendship, the more fulfilling the sex and the more intense the passion.”
FRIENDS UPDATE ONE ANOTHER
Most married couples started out as friends. The reason why they grow apart is that they stop updating one another.
“These days, the most successful app update at least four times a month!” Kong noted. “We must make it a priority to update and catch up on each other’s life.”
It is also important to give each other a major update occasionally, especially during times of transition like parenthood or relocation.
The couple noted on the transition into parenthood.
“A baby brings great changes to a marriage,” Ho said. “Two third of the wives surveyed last year feel less satisfied with their marriage in the year after the first baby arrived.”
The key to transiting well into parenthood is whether the husband transits smoothly as well. If only the wife embraces the new sense of “we-ness” and the husband still misses the old “us”, the marriage will be strained.
“The husband won’t be getting his wife back,” Kong stated plainly. “He must follow her into the new phase she has entered. He must be involved in the baby care. Only then can the marriage continue to grow.”
Kong and Ho went on to encourage the couples in the congregation to nurture affection and respect their spouse. 1 Corinthians 7:3 says, “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband”. The couple emphasized that both men and women need affection and respect.
A list of 72 words was shown on the LED screen that would describe why a man or woman is attracted to their spouse. Kong and Ho gave married congregants one minute to pick out three words for each other.
“In future, when the affection and respect depletes, we can get it back by meditating on these three things,” Kong advised.
Going back to the topic of updating each other, Kong noted that the most effective thing to do is to ask a simple “How was your day, dear?”.
“When our spouse complains about their day, don’t just offer solution, it makes them feel like you’re belittling their problem,” was Kong’s advice. “The best thing to say is: ‘Oh, you poor thing!’” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
He then emphasized that showing understanding must precede advice. More often than not, the spouse simply needs a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.
“When our partners come to us for emotional support, our job is not to tell them what to do,” Kong advised. “It is just to let him or her know that the two of you are in this together.”