As with most Malaysian weddings, ours was not without its fair share of opinions. Family, their friends, and sometimes strangers would generously offer advice on what our wedding should and shouldn’t have. While they undoubtedly had good intentions, I can’t help but wish they were as generous with more important advice. You know, like how to stay married. What I wished for was solid advice from married couples. Albeit it’s years since our wedding day, I found what I was looking for then during Greg and Shaylyn Ford’s series, “Till Death Do Us Part”.
While there was plenty of content within the four-week long series that I found admirable and encouraging, it was really watching and listening to the couple present the series together that made the greatest impression on me. Personable, charming and young, they are a couple I could relate to on many levels –something I didn’t have growing up. Happy marriages don’t run in my family. My paternal grandfather had died way before I was born, and his widow never remarried. My maternal grandparents found each other through arranged circumstances (as was the case in India decades ago) causing their marriage to be one of duty. And I watched my parents’ marriage crumble through my childhood.
Hence, my understanding of marriage became a collection of my own observations of my parents’ marriage (mainly what not to do) and a romanticized dream of what life would be like with my soulmate. “We’ll be so in love that we will just make everything work,” is something my 20-year old self probably thought. But, these are whimsical fantasies that do not stand a chance in the real world.
That’s because in the real world, there are complications, complications to those complications, which all leads to a whole other level of complicated. In our four years of marriage, there have been happy times and challenges. But as I watched Greg and Shaylyn present the series together, I realize the importance of keeping the company of other married couples in our lives. More than building friendship, we also need encouragement from other couples and a realization that every couple goes through challenges. “You are the company you keep” goes the saying, and I can’t help but think it applies just as well to relationships.
I also enjoyed watching how the couple worked together in their presentation. They had a task to carry out (teach the series) and their presentation offered a glimpse into their relationship and how they treat one another. Whenever Shaylyn delivered her part of the messages, Greg would listen intently, paying complete attention to what his wife was saying. It was like he was learning from her as much as the rest of the room was. And when it was Greg’s turn to speak, Shaylyn’s attention was just as undivided. There was a seamless working relationship between them as they spoke on stage, making it evident that they genuinely respect one another off the stage as well. This made me think of my own relationship with my husband and prompt me to reevaluate how we treat and respect one another. If I don’t give my spouse the same level of undivided attention that I give to friends or coworkers, then I’m not giving him my best self. Talk about a major light bulb moment.
As the series came to an end, there were plenty of notes I had made based off the content delivered.
However, watching the couple made me realize that it’s so important to show my husband the love and respect I have for him.
Just as I took notice of how Greg and Shaylyn interacted on stage, others might be inspired by how my husband and I treat one another. And personally, there’s nothing better than helping inspire others love with the love I have.
written by: Joanne Nayagam, March 2017
Born and raised in Malaysia, Joanne Nayagam has lived in Colorado, Illinois and now calls Ohio home. While she has a degree in Actuarial Science, she decided to pursue her passion – writing. She has since written for various publications and companies. In her free time, she enjoys reading and travelling.