The decision to finally get married right after I passed the board exams was easy. Joey and I got engaged on my 21st birthday. What?! Oh yes, at 21. You would all think that’s too young. Well yes, okay, I was. Joey on the other hand was 29, 8 years older than I was, and for him, it was the right time to get married.
I met Joey when I was a freshman in college. We had a common friend I knew from church, and he was the one who introduced us. Right in the beginning, we already had a serious relationship. We both believed that once you are dating someone, you ought to be thinking about marriage already. If not, what is the point in wasting your time and energy in that relationship? So, we built our dreams together, shared hopes for one another, and most of all, sought God’s approval for the fulfillment of His plans for us. To cut the story short, we were engaged for a year and we eventually got married August 25, 2011.
As I’ve said, the decision to marry Joey was easy. He had all the qualities I prayed for… well except for the height, but that’s absolutely fine since nobody is perfect, right? Kidding aside, Joey did help me learn a lot of things when we were still dating, and that’s one of the main reasons why I fell in love with him. Falling in love was easy, although, the hard part was about to come. As much as I enjoyed his company, I wasn’t emotionally prepared to leave home.
Leaving home meant leaving my family, the comfort of my own home, the room I grew up in, and most of all the bathroom that I am used to having all to myself. (I heard a lot of horror stories about men not being able to keep the bathroom dry and I hate it! Really, really hate wet floors!). And the catch was, I had to leave town as well – I had to move to Davao to be with him.
Joey, at that time, was in charge of two major areas, Visayas and Mindanao. He traveled a lot and I knew that once I moved in with him, I’ll be left alone most weekdays, away from my family and friends, in a city foreign to me – if he needed to travel by plane. Those were the things that made it difficult but, I relied on God’s word through these verses:
1. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31 NIV)
2. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 NIV)
I held on to these verses as I left home to be with him. In the early weeks, it was so much fun exploring a new city, waking up to a husband beside you, household chores and all. It was like playing house. We felt invincible and eventually forgot to put God in the center of our relationship as husband and wife. Time passed and the romantic stage slowly turned into reality. The reality that life now is no longer about ME and everything I do must be under the authority of my husband as God commanded in these verses: Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24 NIV)
To submit is hard, really hard. I struggled and questioned a lot even though I know I shouldn’t. Due to this, small disagreements became problems and it affected our marriage. We realized this at some point and we felt convicted. (Actually, I, myself felt more guilty about this). We knew God was putting our marriage to a test and the only way we could fix it is to have Him at the center of our marriage, where He should have been all along. And as soon as we came back to Him, and set our priorities straight, God blessed us with a baby – our Matilda.
The pregnancy helped restore our marriage, our frustrations toward each others shortcomings turned into love and understanding. We felt so blessed there was no more room for bitterness, only forgiveness and acceptance. Sure, there were times we’d fight, we still do sometimes, but love will overcome it all.
Joey, Matilda and I are happily back now in Manila since April 2013. We miss Davao everyday and we always hope to come back for a vacation. After all, Matilda was born there! A Davaoeña Baby, as our friends call her. Now that we are back, we realized a number of things why God brought us there in the first place. Here are some of the things we learned:
1. God had to take us out of our comfort zone to teach us to be independent, individually, and to depend on each other as a married couple.
2. He taught us the value of money, and that our happiness should not depend on it, but on Him, alone.
3. Marriage is about a husband and a wife – families and friends are excluded. Whatever you go through in your marriage should be dealt with privately.
4. Trust that God will provide, in everything. Don’t worry, because when you do, you sin against Him. No matter how hard life might be, especially with finances, always hold on to His promises through these verses:
•But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:33, 34 NIV)
•Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. (Joshua 21:45 NIV)
Our family life is not perfect, it will never be, but it is a work in progress. Challenges will surely come and go, but we know only one thing is certain, that we will stick with each other, with God’s grace, no matter what. Let me end with the Love Chapter from the Bible:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-10, 13 NIV)