We have newlyweds in our midst! Hannah and Michael got married on July 16, 2016. To celebrate their exciting new season, we interviewed the couple to get their thoughts on love, marriage, dating, and experiencing God through their relationship. Read on and find out! (Note: To encourage candor, we interviewed Hannah and Michael separately for this interview.)
Q: Before you married, was there a particular thing your now-spouse did or said that made you think, “Ah! This is the person I want to marry”?
Hannah: It was a combination of things. Before I met Michael, I already knew what type of person I was looking for – someone who was: 1) a Christ believer and follower; 2) mutually interested in me as I am in him; and 3) a believer in abstinence until marriage. About three months into dating Michael, I realized that he was all of these things, so I knew he was the right person for me.
I must admit that these three “conditions” were not always my ideals. I did not always look for a Christian man. As a believer of Christ, I knew that this was not right. But for some reason, I did not feel any attraction or interest towards Christian men. Maybe my heart was immature or I was not ready for a strong relationship. Ultimately, I learned the hard way that the things I wanted and needed would not be found in the value system of a non-believer.
Michael: It was through meeting Hannah’s parents for the first time in Ohio for Thanksgiving. I know that for many people, relationship with their in-laws can be a tricky and difficult thing. But I found myself truly liking Hannah’s parents and had this desire to know them more and spend time with them. I felt peace in my heart as I spent time with Hannah’s parents that day, and knew that this was the family I wish to marry into. On that day, I asked Hannah’s parents for her hand in marriage.
Q: What new things about God have you learned through knowing each other?
Hannah: I’m learning about what it means to sacrifice. A bad habit of mine is to often think 50-50 in relationships – each person should equally give 50% in terms of support and contribution. But 50-50 is not sacrifice. My uncle told me that in a marriage, your guideline should be more like 80-80; always do more than your allotted responsibility. And I realize that he is right. If 50-50 is your guideline in your marriage, it would not work. Everyday you would become so easily irritated, thinking about what your spouse owes you in return for what you’ve done.
Michael is the complete opposite of me. He is never for 50-50 or even for 80-80. For him, it is always 100%. And he truly enjoys serving in this way. For example, Michael would be glad to cook dinner for me, doing everything from start to finish. (Me? I would want to clean and cook together.) This is a trait about Michael that I admire and aspire to acquire myself.
Michael: I’ve learned that God is an amazing creator. His skills in creation are extremely clever, calculated, and detailed. When I see Hannah, I realize that she was created just for me, and God knew exactly what I needed in a spouse. This amazes me.
Q: How has God changed your character through meeting your spouse?
Hannah: I learned to trust in God again. My journey to marriage was difficult and painful. For a long time I thought that I was forgotten – by God and by people – and I lost my trust in God in this area of dating/marriage, which was filled with doubt. So marriage is a huge answered prayer. Should another big challenge enter my life again, I know I will always look back on my journey to marriage and remember God’s trustworthiness.
Michael: I am learning to become a gentler and more caring person, and being softer in my words and action. When I first met Hannah’s mom, she told me that Hannah has a very gentle, caring, and innocent heart and that she has a childlike faith. Upon marrying Hannah, I realized this is true. So I learned that if I want to meet Hannah’s needs and connect with her, I need to speak and treat her in a gentler way and care for her in a different way than I do for all other people.
Q: What kind of husband/wife do you hope to become?
Hannah: I wish I can be like the woman described in Proverbs 31 – one who is never idle and works so hard at life. But the day-to-day life is often so tiring that I find myself wanting to just relax. My tendency to be too laid back also does not help. So I know I have a long way to becoming the type of woman described in Proverbs 31, but someday I hope to reach that goal.
Michael: I wish to become a spiritual leader who stands with God in times of difficulty. At the same time, I want to become a person who is able to show my weaknesses, and not just my strengths. Most of all, I want to be a good husband for Hannah -- someone who has a lot of patience of the other person’s flaws and keeps love in the center while being understanding of our sinful natures.
Q: What advice do you have for singles who are hoping to also walk down the aisle one day?
Hannah: I want to preface my advice by saying that when I was single, so many engaged or married people told me to just trust in God and it infuriated me. I heard the same things over and over. A recently engaged friend once told me, “Your heart needs to be right with God.” This angered me. “How do you know my heart?” I would think. So I know the frustrations of receiving what seems like cliché Christian advice.
But when I think back, I believe my friend was right. My heart wasn’t in the right place. I didn’t submit to God’s plan; I wanted to do it my way. (However, I don’t think her advice necessarily applies to everyone because nobody is perfect and our sinful hearts won’t always be right with God.)
My advice is to enjoy being single because there are things that you can do as a single person that you cannot do as a married person. Find things that make you feel happy and alive because the waiting and praying for marriage does get tiring. But the waiting is a fertilizing time. God will provide you with the energy you need to enjoy singlehood. During my season of waiting, I prayed for a good Christian community around me, and God provided in my need.
Michael: Pastor Sam gave me good advice, which I have applied and wish to relay: Focus on the one characteristic that you’re looking for and everything else will follow. Inevitably, to follow this advice, I needed to rearrange my priorities and get rid of my laundry list of what I wanted in a potential spouse. I knew that I wanted to live a missionary life for God – whether in New York City, another state, or abroad. So I looked for someone sharing this vision.
I also want to advise against “missionary dating” (dating a non-Christian when you’re a Christian) because doing so can set you up for a big disappointment. I learned this the hard way.
Never give up trying to meet the right (Christian) person for you. I know that dating life in New York is very hard. I always thought that coming to New York was the hardest decision of my life, but also the best decision of my life. It felt right when I got here. But I didn’t fit the mold of New York girls’ preference. I often thought, “How can I compete with these successful career guys living in New York?” There were times I wondered whether I should return to California where I came from, where it would have been easier to find a mate. But God kept me here in New York, and through the disappointments I experienced, He strengthened my desire for His love and renewed my trust in Him.
Keep trying, remembering that you are one step closer to meeting the right person.
Q: What are some short-term and long-term goals you wish to accomplish as a married couple?
Hannah: Our goals include raising a family, buying a home, and becoming involved in missions work. But we’re not sure where we will accomplish these goals. Michael is from California and I am from Ohio; our respective families are in those states. So we’re not sure whether we will stay here in New York or move to Ohio or California. We’re waiting for directions from God as to geography.
Michael: Short-term goal is to figure out where we want to spend the holidays: Ohio, where Hannah’s family lives; or California, where my family lives. Long-term goal is to go where God leads us. We know we want to raise a family, but we don’t know whether God wants us to stay in New York or go to Ohio, California, or another country. We are waiting on God’s timing.
My goal is to always be in the Word. I realize that because of our sinful nature, marriage can bring out a lot of our weaknesses. Only if you’re in the Word can you be stronger as a married couple to be able to accomplish your goals together.
--Interviewed by Ian Park