From Friends to Lovers

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How this couple gave love a second chance

Marriage 2.0

By John Lim | 17 February 2022

What’s engraved on the inside of your wedding ring?

Maybe it’s the name of your spouse. David and Lily’s wedding rings have something different. Something symbolic of the journey they have taken together.

David and Lily’s marriage is unusual. They married each other, divorced, and then re-married again (to each other!) Lily jokes that it is “a bit dramatic, like Korean drama.” But behind their tumultuous love journey is a story of individual growth and change, and a supportive community.

(Before you read on, guess what the words are. No cheating! You’ll find out at the end of the article.)

Their story

At 25, they met each other through mutual friends. They dated for seven years before tying the knot when they were both 32. In Lily’s eyes, she thought marriage was the “end of the relationship. Like, okay, it’s done.” They started to do their own things.

She attributed the breakdown in the marriage to the lack of communication and time spent in nurturing the marriage. It didn’t help that both of them were insistent on their own ways, often arguing whenever their opinions didn’t match each other.

After five years, Lily decided she had had enough. She just felt so emotionally drained from the marriage. “Like working is even better than going home. Every time I finished work, I dreaded the feeling of going home because it was just very heavy.”

When Lily initiated the divorce, it was like a bombshell to David. He was initially resistant to it as he felt that they had gotten together because they loved each other.

For the first six months after they split up, he was down in the dumps. Often listless and unshaven, he would ignore Lily whenever she visited their matrimonial home.

During Chinese New Year, they happened to be watching a documentary about an ex-gambler who turned over a new leaf by going to a halfway house. Suddenly, David asked Lily, “Do you think I should go to the halfway house?”

Not wanting him to change his mind, Lily immediately drove him there that afternoon. She even went back to pick up his clothes for him.

She attributed the breakdown in the marriage to the lack of communication and time spent in nurturing the marriage.

Nine months later, when David left the halfway house, he approached Lily about what he should do next. Lily suggested that he attend her church. But after David settled down in her church and cell group, Lily left.

Thankfully, her cell leaders persisted and continued inviting her to attend their meetings. They also took pains to organise private gatherings with David and Lily. After four years, Lily began to see the changes in David.

They also gradually realised what had gone wrong in their marriage.

In 2012, four years after the divorce, they remarried. Since then, they have had two daughters, aged two and five. 2022 marks the tenth year of their second marriage.

Having had the wisdom of going through marriage with the same partner twice, what would they say are the ingredients for a healthy and successful marriage?

Communication is not only about words

In her second marriage, Lily realised that communication is not simply about the words used.

“I realised that the art of communication is actually in the tone and the delivery method as well as the words used. Whenever we want to say something, we have to intentionally tell ourselves, ‘Taste our words before we speak them.’”

She reflected, “Because we are so close to our spouse, sometimes, words may pop out unfiltered. It may end up hurting the other party, or coming across in an unintended way.”

The couple now makes time to go for dates weekly where they can air their grievances with each other. Lily even has a name for it, “Monday, our everything day!”

This intentional communication has allowed them to grow closer by working out their problems rather than sweeping them under the carpet.

Unconditional love is putting your spouse’s needs above your own.

Conditional love may result in a self-serving marriage

In a marriage, there will be times when you dislike how something is done. Even though this is their second go at marriage, there are still behaviours that trigger the other person.

As self-professed strong-headed people, their faith has helped serve as a referee for their marriage. It has also helped them find forgiveness and let go of the bitterness from the past. Their faith community’s support has also been crucial – after 12 years of being in the same cell group, they know they have support whenever they need it.

The couple has learnt to fight better now. Where in the past, they would “turn on the turbo engine and charge head on,” today, they would take a timeout to think about it before coming back again.

Lily has also made deliberate efforts to adjust her actions because she knows her husband may not like them.

Conditional love is wanting your way. But as Lily has come to see, unconditional love is “putting your spouse’s needs above your own.”

Conclusion

After going through the same marriage twice, Lily shared, “Marriage is not a bed of roses, but we believe that if we press on, there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Just press on.”

These words aren’t simply clichés for them, so they ended up on the inside of their wedding rings.

“It’s what keeps us going,” Lily mused.

© 2022 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.


Many struggle in their transition from school to adulthood. John has created a framework that allow young adults to succeed and overcome challenges in their early career at liveyoungandwell.com. He is a Registered Social Worker who works in the social services.

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