Quirky and fun college sweethearts, Steve and Joanna, have been happily married for two years. Since meeting as university students 10 years ago, they’ve gone through the thrilling ups and downs of adulthood together and have been each other’s number one life cheerleaders. Their unwavering love for one another enabled them to survive the hardest decade of their lives thus far. As a result, they geared up for the next exciting life adventure yet again - by spending the rest of their lives together.
When Steve met Joanna
It was through a Christian Fellowship event at their university that brought their fates together. Joanna recalls no initial sparks occurred when she first met Steve. To her, he was simply just the new guitarist that they desperately needed at the event. “I really thought that he was just another guy,” admits Joanna.
On the other hand, Steve remembers that it was during the event rehearsal when he noticed Joanna through a small window of another room. “All I could think of at that time was how beautiful and cute she is. And I still do,” cooed Steve. Proximity soon paid off as they became friends not long after and officially began dating a year later.
Their journey as a couple has been long, but nevertheless, an exciting one. Over the years, they’ve experienced educational milestones, faced early career demands and moved half way across the globe together.
After close to 7 years of dating, Steve took the plunge and proposed to Joanna, which she gleefully accepted. But they were in for a shock when they realized their ideas of marriage were worlds apart. Marriage, after all, was not only driven by the sense of responsibility and commitment to one another but other factors as well. In their minds, marriage became a daunting and scary thought.
To prepare for the biggest decision of their lives, Steve and Joanna began to scout for a pre-marriage counselling program. It was tough at first as they couldn’t find one that suited their needs or one that was comfortable enough for them to explore as a couple. It was only when a friend referred – who literally insisted actually – that they decided to giveThe Marriage Preparation Course at Holy Trinity Bukit Bintang Church (HTBB) a try.
Initially, Steve came into the Preparation Course thinking that it was just another marriage ceremony preparation which entails the venue, lights, music, the flower arrangements, colour coordination and looking good for the big day. Joanna had other concerns. She was hesitant that the Marriage Preparation Course, like many others out there, would require them to sit in groups with other couples and share their thoughts and personal stories – something that she was dreading having to go through.
All their worries and concerns melted away once they got on board with HTBB’s Marriage Preparation Course as it was much better than they expected.
Joanna appreciated the fact that it was kept intimate – just between her and her fiancé – as they privately discussed and slowly worked their way towards marriage. “I was delighted to find out that the 5 weeks touched on practical stuff that no one really prepares you for like conflict resolutions, finances, family, in-laws, and spending time with each other. We really appreciated the practical advice and great foundations that we got to build and agree on through our private discussions.”
Meanwhile, Steve found it extremely helpful that the course focused on developing their understanding (as a couple) of having a good foundation about marriage after the marriage day itself. “Clearly, I was in for a shock - but a good shock. During the course we had the opportunity to review both of our life's values and goals, in terms of family, finance and even what matters to us in understanding and transcribing love.”
Through the Marriage Preparation Course, they both realized that they were quite the polar opposites in both love languages and conflict resolutions. By acknowledging their differences, they learnt to look at things from each other’s perspectives. “It is not always about one person.It’s also knowing that there is no right and wrong in such things. We both felt empowered by those two things in particular and we refer to it every now and then when we do have to resolve certain conflicts and arguments,” explained Steve.
A Lot Like Love
Despite their initial worries about marriage, the love birds have been happily married for two years now. Upon experiencing the Marriage Preparation Course, they started to understand how this journey can actually be fun and exciting, not daunting like they thought it would be. They also revealed that they occasionally refer back to the Marriage Preparation Course when it comes to resolving conflicts and what love languages they need, to feel appreciated after they have a disagreement. In fact, they would highly recommend it to other couples as well as The Marriage Preparation Course allows couples to explore and learn about the big questions of marriage in a practical way and is a great investment towards building a life together.
The couple also shares their words of wisdom about marriage life too.
Steve: Marriage, at least from what I've learned over the past two years, has no recipe or magical ingredients. It all comes down to a genuine understanding that both you and your partner should be living life together and not separate from one another. To quote an article that I read before – You may know thebest recipe for marriage out there, but it’s time to throw it out and just focus on each other instead.
Joanna: Marriage is hard work. No one size fits all as there is no perfect recipe to marriage. It’s about finding that equilibrium and balance between each other. Marriage is about focusing on the what, why, who, when, and how’s of each other 101%, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week but still finding the time to enjoy every moment of it.
The Marriage Preparation Course is a series of five sessions to help engaged couples or those exploring the possibility of marriage, build strong foundations for their future together.
Nicky and Sila Lee, authors of The Marriage Book, developed The Marriage Preparation Course to help couples invest in their relationship for a lasting marriage. Over five sessions, the course will help you to learn to communicate well, understand and appreciate your differences, and prepare for potential challenges.