Andrew: One of our wedding gifts was the book 14 Secrets to a Better Marriage by Dave Earley.
Dearie and I decided to spend some of our devotional time reflecting and discussing some of the chapters of the book together so that we could start off our relationship by building a firm foundation. The first chapter of the book is, as you might have already expected, ‘Build on a Solid Foundation’, where the author identifies and elaborates on 12 foundation stones for building a good relationship. We will be sharing those that spoke particularly to us:
Andrew: The lesson that spoke to me the most was the point on complement each other. Earley writes that if we analyse the original language of the Bible, Adam’s words when he first saw Eve were a ‘joyous declaration’, because he saw in her someone that was his complement. Husbands and wives were designed to be ‘close friends and to positively complement one another as they work together side by side as equal partners and close companions’.
As I reflect on our relationship, I truly realize that Jasmine and I do complement each other in many aspects (e.g. I’m very rational, she’s more spontaneous/ I’m more logical, she’s more creative.) and in that sense – we ‘complete’ each other.
What this reminded me too is that we need to positively complement each other and not try to take over or prevent the other from doing what he/she wants to do. A simple example was for cooking this week. Being someone who likes to be in control, I kept entering the kitchen to check that all was going well, but in doing so, I was disturbing Dearie and getting in the way of her doing what she wanted to do. This was us clashing rather than complementing then. I’ve since learnt to just relax and let her do the cooking when she wants to. An important lesson indeed!
Jasmine: Another lesson that we both liked was that we cannot control draining events, but we can initiate filling events. The author suggested that every person has a love tank which can be filled by positive acts of love and kindness or drained by negative interactions. (The love tank metaphor is cheesy but the concept is quite succinct and powerful.) Andrew and I have been through many draining events in the past couple of years, such as serious illness on both sides of the family, job transitions and moving house, but to his credit, Andrew has always tried to neutralise that and keep the romance alive in our courtship by researching new cafes or exhibitions that we can go to and bringing me on lovely dates.
Another idea that the author puts forth is that men and women require different kinds of love. A man’s primary love need is respect, whilst a woman’s primary love need is affection. Even more importantly, the love that we shower our spouse with is unconditional, meaning that it is not contingent on whether our spouse gives us the time and attention that we seek. Yet interestingly enough, when I see Andrew rise up and take the leadership in our home, whether it’s taking care of our expenses, arranging flat viewings or simply suggesting that we detour to Udders for an ice-cream supper or stroll down Bedok Jetty because he "wants to spend time with [me]", it becomes easier for me to give him the respect and admiration that he needs.
We’ve discussed the different kinds of love needs in greater detail here (https://andrewlovesjazzy.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/venus-tells-all-about-mars-the-womans-perspective/). I think that this idea of no-strings-attached love is something that runs contrary to the norms of our self-seeking, self-absorbed culture, but it is key to building and sustaining a happy and lasting marriage: esteem the needs of your mate to be higher and more important than your own.
Andrew: Reading this book and reflecting on the points together have indeed started off our marriage on a good note. We do recommend this book to all married couples – many points in the book might be obvious, but they are really good reminders. Even though the book is a Christian book, the principles drawn out contain a lot of common sense and wisdom, plus there are a lot of real life examples. Earley shares very honestly and humbly the struggles he faced with his wife, which shows that marriage is certainly not a bed of roses but with wisdom and work, it can be one of the most beautiful things in the world.
Jazzy and I have had more than our fair share of issues to work through, but it’s been a wonderful month of wedding bliss. Thank you Dear for being a wonderful wife and I’m looking forward to a lifetime of joy and love with you!