Arranged Marriage

September 17, 2009
My parents

My parents

My parents had an arranged marriage in the 50s, shortly after the Korean War ended. Although their families lived within 10 miles of each other in a small town, they had never met until the wedding day.

Being in the military, my father was stationed somewhere close to the North-South border at the time. He also had a girlfriend, and according to my mom, they were living together. Gasp.

Some 200 miles down south, their parents arranged the marriage with the help of a professional matchmaker. My father received a letter from his parents, letting him know of the arrangement and to come down for the wedding on his first available leave.

He chose not to take his leave for a long, long time.

My mom had to endure rumors and gossips flying around the small town. In those days, a young woman like her, tall with big eyes, were considered ugly. Totally opposite of today! A rumor was that the groom-to-be saw her picture and was refusing to come for his wedding. How humiliating for my mom!

Then finally one day after several threatening letters from his parents, he came to town. The town buzzed with news that the groom-to-be was getting a haircut at the barber shop. Her neighbors ran to the barber shop to get a look at the long-waited groom.

A couple days later, the wedding took place without a hitch.

My father stayed faithful to my mom. During their first year of marriage, he did receive several love letters from his former girlfriend, but he always showed them to his wife and didn’t hide his past from her.

The ancient style arranged marriages like my parents’, I think, were cruel because it allowed no room for a participant’s free will. Nowadays in Korea, arranged marriages are more of arranged dates, and the couple can either agree to or refuse the marriage.


Love, Faith, and Marriage – part 2

September 3, 2009

God is love.

How I know that is because all those years when I struggled to love my husband, God loved me. He loved my husband too.

God filled my heart with His love so that I could love my husband. Slowly over the years, Andrew and I mended our relationship and built it up, hopefully stronger this time.

I survived those years of unhappiness by keeping my eyes on Jesus. For every spiritual high, there were many valleys of bad attitudes and repentances. Yet, God’s mercy endured me. His grace brought me back up again and again.

So now that I had several years to reflect on the past, here are my observations and lessons learned:

●    My unhappy marriage tested my faith. Yes, I asked all the typical questions like, “God, don’t you love me? Why are you doing this to me?”

 ●    Made me prove my faith was genuine. Whenever I wanted to walk away from my marriage, a question ran through my head. Knowing what the Bible says about divorce, was I willing to disobey God? To me, walking away from my marriage was like turning my back against God. I could not do that. I loved God.

●    Finding the Hope in a hopeless situation. Have you ever felt trapped? Many times, I felt like I was trapped in a hopeless dark place and I didn’t know when I was going to get out. During those times, I read the Bible and prayed. I found comfort in God’s Words and placed all my hopes in Jesus. Not in my marriage, not in my husband, only Jesus. And I began to rejoice in Him, delight in Him. My circumstances didn’t change. So what changed? If I ever found myself in a hopeless situation again, now I can save myself a few steps of gnashing of teeth and dramatic lamentations and go directly to Jesus.

●    Got to know God more. As I sought answers (or loop holes) from God in His Word, I got to see different sides of God and more intimately. I began to see how tender His heart is. How Good God is. Unlike human love, which burns one day and extinguishes the next, I experienced God’s constant love. I learned that our circumstances are not an indication of His lack of love. God allowed pain in my life to preserve my soul.

●    Restored relationship with my husband was an icing, not the cake. My relationship with God needed to grow, my faith needed to grow, thus giving me the unshakable confidence that I belong to Christ. That was God’s gift (cake) to me.

I know many good marriages among non-Christians. I also know many broken marriages among Christians. There are circumstances that we cannot control.

But in all decisions, small and large, it matters whether it is of faith because “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.”

Love, Faith, and Marriage – part 1

September 1, 2009

Andrew and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary earlier this summer.

I’m pretty sure both families expected us to get a divorce within a year or two. After all, Andrew and I were so young and clearly didn’t know what we were getting into.

Yes, we were ‘in love’. But the reality is, during some point in our marriage, we opened our eyes and climbed out of that bucket filled with love and wondered, “Now what?”

There were several long years where we couldn’t stand each other. Of course my sweet husband denies and says he never felt that way about me. But this isn’t his blog, and I’m telling my side of the story. So let’s say, we observed many moments of silence that lasted sometimes a month at a time.

He practically lived at work, and I resented (that is putting it very mildly) having to do everything at home while also working a full-time job. I was hurt because I felt my husband didn’t love me anymore. I cried myself to sleep almost every night.

During these difficult times, my friends were divided into two camps of opinions. Non-Christian friends would say, “If you are unhappy, you should leave him. Find someone better. Someone who appreciates you.” I’ll admit this advice tickled my ears.

Christian friends would say, “If you want a happy marriage, you need to submit to your husband. Obey and respect him.” Or “God wants us to exercise self-control, not overrun by emotions.” While these are partly biblical (bible doesn’t promise a happy marriage) advice, the wisdom was lost on me by their lack of compassion.

So what did I do?

I ran to God. I laid my heart at His feet: I hate my husband and I want a divorce. Then I read the Bible, searching for loopholes that would let me get away with what I wanted.

I found none.

OK. God said He hates divorce. So I wasn’t going to get a divorce. But I still hated my husband. I ran to God some more. Read the Bible more. Prayed for my heart to change, for Andrew’s heart to change. Cried buckets of tears. Years went by.

During those years and I was a fairly new Christian, I became very close to God. I learned to praise Him, to rejoice in Him, to place my hope in Him. And from God, I learned to love.