Taking a break from a relationship can be tricky. Is it even the right thing to do? What do you do in the in-between? Is there a set goal or objective to achieve, or a timeframe for the break? What happens when we come back together?

So the break question can be a tricky one, especially since it isn’t something that’s explicitly talked about in the Bible (just as driving or using a computer isn’t — but we can still fall back on biblical principles!).

It’s why we reached out to TONG PEH MUAY after hearing her incredible relationship story at one of our Thirst Youth Nights. She’s married to Cru Singapore‘s CEO, Goh Hock Chye, and shares how taking a six-month break from her then boyfriend (now husband) turned out to be the right decision.

How did you meet your husband? 

Even though we were from the same kindergarten and primary school, we only started talking in JC after joining Bible study groups in Cru Ministry, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ Ministry.

We started dating after we reunited and actively participated in Cru Ministry in university. 

Peh Muay and her husband, Hock Chye.

Why did you consider a break in your relationship? 

I felt like my love for my boyfriend was constantly trying to compete with obedience towards God.  

To give a little context, I had just made a change in my career plans. I always planned to pursue teaching or a job as a research engineer, but felt God calling me to the missions field.

My boyfriend and I both agreed that mission work is a vocation that is very different from secular work. Hence, my future partner should have the calling to missions too.

At first, I wrestled with the possibility of marrying my boyfriend even though he didn’t have a calling to missions since he was respectful of my calling.

However, I increasingly struggled with uncertainty about our future and found it difficult to obey God’s calling for me.

Deep in my heart, I knew I grappled with surrendering my relationship because I couldn’t confidently say that I loved God more than my boyfriend. 

Hence, I proposed a a six-month relationship break. 

What factors did you consider when you discussed a break?

We decided on a break for six months since it was a complete semester in university.

We agreed to pray for each other and ourselves throughout the break. It ensured that we always involved God in the process.

Most of all, I devoted myself to spending time with God, renewing my commitment to Him and journaling my thoughts and lessons I learned. 

Were there any rules you had during the break? 

We made sure to minimise contact as much as possible.

Although we attended the same church, we were involved in different ministries.

We still smiled at each other, but we agreed to stop calling and avoid meeting up.

Basically doing none of the things we used to do as a couple. 

How did you manage your emotions during the break? 

I cried and prayed a lot, occasionally cheering myself up with comfort food like ice kachang.

I confessed my fears of the relationship ending and my feelings of loneliness to God.

Many times, I wanted to call the break off.

Being an introvert, I didn’t have many friends to turn to, so God was the one I talked to most.

I found myself being like the Psalmist, who lamented to God authentically.

My letters kept me afloat when I felt overwhelmed.

I would address letters to God and write down exactly what I was feeling, always ending with:

“God, You know the reason. You know that it’s because I love You and I want to obey You.”

Were there any revelations during the time of praying and seeking? 

I prayed for more clarity regarding my calling.

I prayed that if it was God’s will for the relationship to work out, He would personally call my partner into ministry work.

I also prayed that if God chose to lead him in a different direction, my heart would be able to let him go and stay faithful to God.

I know the process was “supposed” to be painful but it was also really such a wonderful time when I relearned how to trust God and choose Him more.

After taking a step away for half a year, God showed me that the relationship was only part of my life and not my life. 

Peh Muay and her husband are now happily married with three children.

What if God had moved differently, would you have considered the break a failure? 

It depends on what you consider a failure. To me, a breakup is never a failure; I see it as a success because it prevents greater pain down the road. I’ve seen many cases of divorce and the damage it can have on a family.

A break teaches you many things, like rebuilding reliance on God and love for Him.

A failure to me is when you intentionally ignore God’s voice and choose to go your own way.

In hindsight, I’m so amazed by how God strengthened me through the break, because I know I would not have lasted through it without Him.  

The author’s thoughts 

This interview hit me hard. Right from the start of Peh Muay’s sharing, I knew this is a woman who’s deeply in love with God. 

I got out of a relationship in the last couple of months myself, and I found myself nodding along when she was sharing about her struggles with loneliness.

In my experience, anger hits you first. I was angry at my ex, angry at friends who didn’t seem to understand, angry at God for allowing this to happen…

But most of all, I was angry at myself (I’d say Peh Muay handled it a lot better than I did!). 

Sorrow is harder to manage, and I found myself in a constant battle of repressing my feelings. I would come to God pleading for strength, skipping over the part where I surrender my pain to Him.

There’s something my mentor said at the time that always stuck with me: “Emotions should never be god in the relationship, it’s God who has to be in the centre.”

Indeed, emotions should never be the driving force of a decision. In many ways, Peh Muay’s journey reminded me of King David in the psalms: “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?”

Like David, Peh Muay kept being transparent in her conversations with God, trusting that He listens and promises peace.

I was reminded by a revelation I had during a Saturday service: God doesn’t change, we do. 

He is the same God who led us into the relationship and He is also the same God who brings us through the relationship.

He promised joy at the start and will bring joy during as well, even though it may not be what we expect. 

To those considering a relationship break, or are currently in one, pray.

Pray for a heart that finds love in God first, before finding love in a partner. And in everything, hold nothing back from God because He cares for you.   

  1. What is one thing that stood out to you from this article?
  2. Is there a lesson or principle from it that you can apply to your relationship? 
  3. What might God be saying to you today?