I grew up in a broken home that was filled with so much fighting, it felt like I was living in the middle of a war zone, with me standing on a thread, constantly worried that it would snap at any moment.

From a young age, I was my parent’s messenger. They didn’t want to talk to each other and used me as their “phone” to convey their angry messages. At times, they even threw stuff, not just at each other, but at us kids too. I’ve lost count of the number of times my siblings and I were beaten with a belt and mattress beater.

Anger, tension, and hatred constantly filled the atmosphere. I often wondered how my parents even got together in the first place.

Though I’m now able to recall this in amusement, back then, I cried a lot and didn’t know what to do. I hated everybody and myself too. When I was 15, I hit the peak of my frustration and thought I was going to go crazy. That December, I went to a church Christmas camp, with the intention of running away from home.

I didn’t know it then, but God used my desire to run away from home to make me run towards Him instead. And it was at that camp that I really felt His love for the very first time in my life. On that Christmas night, I invited Him into my heart.

Following that, I made a commitment to not “mess around” with relationships. I didn’t want to repeat the mistake that my parents made. And I prayed to God, that if it was His will, I would have only one boyfriend and he would be my husband.

Today, I am in my 30s and just tied the knot earlier this year. In case you’re wondering, God answered my prayer with a “yes”! My husband is my first boyfriend.

But the journey was not easy. Having come from a broken family, I had constructed an image of my dream boyfriend and husband. He should be mature in his thoughts, faith, and character. I wrote down a long list of qualities my dream guy had to have.

Year after year, I couldn’t find him. I started to worry that my dream guy was non-existent. I mostly saw those qualities in old married lecturers or preachers, but it’s crazy to even think about them as potential partners.

Through my ups and downs, God has taught me maturity. As I look at my own life, I realized that a person’s character is built over time. That is also why I see my “dream guy” in all those older, mature lecturers or preachers. I now see that it takes time to build happy relationships, happy marriages, and happy families!

So do I have a happy marriage now? The reality is that we are working on it and still have a lot to do. As Ephesians 4:2-3 says: “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” My husband is not perfect. He has scars and weaknesses. And so do I.

It’s impossible for two imperfect people to have a perfect marriage. Only with God’s help, can we build our love on the foundation of His love, and be able to forgive, heal, support and build each other up.

Artwork by YMI X Estelle Queck (@morethanworks)