Before and After “I Do”

Last April 18, Joey and I attended a workshop by the Family Ministry in CCF Center, designed for soon-to-wed couples, as well as newly married couples. Joey and I attended as facilitators and as participants at the same time as it was our first to actually join the said event. It started at around 9am and the set up of the place was like that of a wedding reception. The Multipurpose Hall was designed beautifully with matching flowers and candles on the round tables, including a buffet set up for lunch. There were a total of 4 sessions, each with different couples as speakers, and let me share with you some of the things we have learned from them.

Session 1: I’m Made for This

Ephesians 5:31-32 New International Version (NIV)

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

In this session, the speakers were Edric and Joy Mendoza. They basically shared with us God’s design for a successful marriage, which is summarized in the Leave and Cleave Principle. In the verse stated above, we understood that it is truly God’s design that we unite as ONE. Leaving our past behind and starting a new life together as husband and wife. This also involves embracing our roles that God has set for us in our married life. The idea is that ,men should be as how Christ was to the church, which is represented by the wife. It sounds quite profound I know, but as you come to think of it, it is really simple. Christ loved us so much, (church, meaning the body of believers) that He gave Himself up to save us. This is what is expected of us, as Christ already lived as the perfect example for mankind to follow.

Edric and Joy also emphasized on the importance of commitment and communication and how this affects our relationship with our spouse. That in all things man and wife, it should stay between the two of you. We should always remember to back-up and protect each other as we are one in God, never letting other people get in the way of our privacy as a family. Yes, it is good to seek advice, especially  to our parents, but we should take note that being married means we are now responsible with our own decision-making. Anything personal between couples must remain between them, and God, to protect the sanctity of marriage. This is also best remembered as we look at an equilateral triangle, also known as the marriage triangle.

marriage-takes-three.9031440

 

Photo source: http://www.halleethehomemaker.com/2012/02/top-5-ways-to-have-a-healthy-successful-marriage/

 

Session 2: I Will “Role” with It

In this session, the clear-cut roles of husbands and wives were given more emphasis by Pastor Manny and his wife, Lisa Manansala. They specifically pointed out that the key to meeting the expectations of your spouse is by understanding your Godly roles, first and foremost.

Roles of the Husband:

  1. Leader of the Family

Ephesians 5:23 New International Version (NIV)

23 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.

  1. Lover of the Wife

Ephesians 5:25 New International Version (NIV)

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

  1. Provider for the needs of the family.

1 Timothy 5:8 New International Version (NIV)

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Roles of the Wife:

  1. Be your husband’s Helpmate

Genesis 2:18 New International Version (NIV)

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

  1. Be Submissive and Respectful to your husband.

Ephesians 5:24 New International Version (NIV)

24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

  1. Be a responsible Home-Manager

Titus 2:3-5 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

Session 3: I Get It

This session focused more on the part of effective communication, as discussed by Nono and Txuna Felipe. Like any other couple, they shared how they struggled in the early parts of their marriage, in this particular area. Both of them agree that they lacked focus when one was talking, especially when the other person was preoccupied in doing something. This eventually led to a series of misunderstandings and preconceived  assumptions, which added pressure in the everyday trials of marriage.

Proverbs 15:23 New International Version (NIV)

23 A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word!

Nono and Txuna shared 5 Principles that helped them in the area of communication:

  1. The Principle of First Response – the importance of responding vs. reacting.
  2. The Principle of Physical Touch – the importance of showing gentleness and love through actions.
  3. The Principle of Proper Timing – the importance of knowing when and where to say something.
  4. The Principle of Mirroring – the importance of how things should be said and heard as seen in Proverbs 22:17 “Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise;
    apply your heart to what I teach,”
  5. The Principle of Prayer – the importance of putting God at the center of the marriage.

Following these simple principles will help in improving the quality of our communication skills, not only to our spouse, but to other people as well.

Session 4: I Will Live Free

Colossians 3:12-13 New International Version (NIV)

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

John and Monique Ong are no strangers to us as they have already given their testimony a couple of times in different occasions. Although, hearing it over and over again is such a beautiful reminder of how God is able to turn a mess into a masterpiece, as Monique would relate it to. For you to experience the blessing of their testimony, and learn how to actually be able to forgive as God forgives, you can view it here.

In this session, they also focused on the gift of sex, in the context of marriage as well as how to keep yourself pure until the day of your wedding.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 New International Version (NIV)  

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Points to remember:

  1. Always keep your guard up.
  2. Your temptations are not unique to you.
  3. God will not give you more than you can bear.
  4. God always provides a way of escape.

Overall, the things we have learned from this whole day workshop cannot be summarized in just one blog post! It was such a well executed event and it was a blessing to be part of it. It was also a different kind of experience to be surrounded by other couples and discuss the same issues we all go through in marriage. Sharing struggles and the tips that helped us overcome is a wonderful way to learn as well. I hope to attend more seminars like this and hoping you can join us too, next time.

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Wherever You Go, I Will Go

Long distance relationships take an extra amount of commitment for it to actually work. Having the chance to experience this while Joey and I were still dating, that time might have been the lowest point of our relationship.

As soon as we got married, we made a commitment to be together daily, as much as we can. Of course, this wasn’t 100% possible with Joey’s line if work being in the Sales Industry. He needed to travel a lot to different parts of the Philippines, and that’s just really part of the job.

During those early parts of our marriage, being based in Davao, where we had no immediate family present to look out for us, it made the situation a bit more challenging. I was left in our house for most days as he traveled, whenever he had to go by plane. I could only go with him when the travel was around Mindanao since we can go by land. Yes, it was difficult. We may have friends around, but I felt sad with the set-up that we had. We had just been married and I knew in my heart that if we go on with this any longer, it may take its toll on our marriage.

Even in the Bible, husbands are asked to stay with the wife because it is crucial in the early parts of the marriage to make the relationship work. “If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” (Deuteronomy 24:5 NIV)

To give Joey credit though, I must say, he never gave me any reason to doubt him. He had always been very open and honest about where he was and who he’s with. I knew most, if not all of the people he works with and that gives me the assurance he wouldn’t do anything to destroy our marriage. Although, it is true that this set-up is really prone to temptations, I just always prayed that God will guard his heart and keep him focused on Him and the work he is asked to do.

Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. (Malachi 2:15 NIV)

Fast forward to when I got pregnant, which was 8 months after being married, Joey and I both wanted to raise our little Matilda together and we knew we couldn’t do that successfully if he would need to travel a lot. So, we prayed about it and God answered our prayer through an opportunity to go back to Manila when Matilda was just a few months old.

A position to handle the area of Quezon was the closest we can get to being in Manila so he accepted the offer. The only major catch was, he had to be based in Lucena City, a 4-hour drive from Manila. We thought, it was just travel by land anyway so we can surely go with him all the time. We then had to make a big decision whether we’ll get a home in Manila or in Lucena. Thinking about moving all over again when the time comes Joey may be reassigned some place else made our hearts set on just getting a home in Manila (where all of our things from Davao will be shipped to), and a small fully furnished place in Lucena, for the mean time.

We finally left Davao when Matilda was 3 months old and was given a month stay at a hotel for free just until we can relocate. God is really great because even though our time was short in house-hunting, he remained faithful and gave us a beautiful home within our budget. Plus, just like the 2 previous places we stayed at in Davao, we are also the first to occupy the said home! Praise God indeed!

Looking back, it was fun for most parts traveling weekly, to and from Lucena. We usually left Tuesdays and we go back to Manila by Friday. Some days, it was also very exhausting. I had to pack, unpack, do the grocery twice as much, maintain two homes and so on. It was both time and energy-consuming. And financially, it was also a struggle. But even though we had all these things to think about, we would always go back to the reason why we chose this to begin with. As soon as we realize the pros from all the cons, we will be at peace knowing we are honoring God by doing the right thing, which is by being together as man and wife.

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6 NIV)

A lot of people wondered when they heard about what we were doing. Some even thought negatively about why we were wasting our energy going with him all the time. Some might have even misjudged me for not trusting Joey enough to allow him to go on his own. What they didn’t know was this was about something much deeper. It was mainly because we wanted to be accountable for each other. I wanted to be Joey’s wife not only on weekends, but as often as I could, and that’s what he wanted as well, as my husband. Traveling was just a minute sacrifice on my end, being a housewife. Missing each other is way more difficult most especially whenever he won’t see Matilda for a while. It is heartbreaking to see him so sad.

After all that, I am very happy to let you know that Joey has finally left his previous company, and is now based in Manila for his new job. Right now, we are enjoying traveling with him to different areas in Luzon. Also, we no longer need to maintain 2 houses and our travel isn’t on a weekly basis anymore. We are glad that just like his former company, this new company is also family oriented. We are indeed truly blessed!

To close, I want to encourage you just as how I was encouraged by Rebekah. Her faith in God made her trust the plans He had for her. Though she didn’t know who she was about to marry, she readily obeyed, left everything she had, and followed her soon to be father-in-law, Abraham, to meet her future husband, who is Isaac. Rebekah’s willingness to please the Lord was indeed commendable and I admire her for what she did. And because she obeyed the Lord, she was blessed through her husband and sons. So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said. So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the cities of their enemies.” (Genesis 24:58-60 NIV)

Are you willing to be the modern-day Rebekah? Will you readily and willingly obey God just as she did? It may be difficult, but with God’s promise of  blessing whenever we obey Him, it will surely be worth all of it!

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Are You A Wife Of Noble Character?

Ever since I became a mother to Matilda, I must admit, most of my time has been dedicated to looking after her and taking care of her. Somehow, along the way, I became too preoccupied that I forgot to take care of Joey’s needs, and myself, included. – (Dedicating a special post for this!)

To be a full-time mom can be exhausting, most especially if you are doing it all by yourself. I am just glad and blessed that we have a reliable house-help to assist me, in making sure that our home is well taken care of.

One Sunday service though, the Pastor asked a very important question, that goes something like, “How much effort are you giving into what God has called you to do?”. This got me thinking, well, I do give my all to Matilda as her mom.. But then.. Oops! I forgot, I am a wife too, and that should be first! And there it was, right on my face. Flashbacks of days when Joey needed a particular attire for work which hadn’t been in the cabinet yet, shoes that should have been cleaned and polished, food or materials that he should have brought with him, but have forgotten, and the list just goes on and on and on. I felt so bad. Yes, I am 100% as a mother, but I am not even close to 50% as a wife.

I knew then, I had to do something. I had to re-evaluate myself on how I manage my time with Joey, his needs, Matilda, and the home. At first, I had thoughts like, well Joey must understand, Matilda is still very young, her needs are much more important than his. Then again, are they really? Sure, there are times that yes, that reason applies, but more often than not, with God’s grace and proper time management, I should be able to balance all of it.

I knew clearly that It has to start with something, and it has to start with me. It is hard, really, but definitely not impossible. I just want to be able to do all those things I was personally doing back when Matilda wasn’t born yet. To consistently serve him and be at my 100%, as a wife to him, all over again. Plus, I haven’t been a good home manager lately, most especially over the holidays when our schedules were really crazy. I have got to work on improving in that area too. So, the real question is, how do I do it? Where do I begin? First of all, I have already prayed and surrendered this to God, knowing in my heart that I cannot do this on my own. And then, I just started giving a little more effort into the things I have to do, looking after his interests more than my own. The result of all that, is up to God.

I am happy that somehow I have seen major improvements in the home. I have been more responsible in making sure everything is in order. The part I have to work on more now is, being able to address Joey’s needs before he leaves for work. He leaves really early, and I am honestly not a morning person unlike him. Another thing is, Matilda still wakes up in the middle of the night, at least twice, to breastfeed. Due to this, there are times I have trouble going back to sleep. But I am working on it, as promised. Hoping I’ll make some major adjustments with my sleeping habits soon, to make way for better changes. I just pray that Joey notices this too! 🙂

If you are a wife, this is something for you to think about, have you been at your BEST as a wife to your husband? For in any marriage, any husband would expect to be served by his wife without any excuses. Have you been that kind of wife lately, or ever? Read the following verses below to find out more about the characteristics of a noble wife, as stated in the Word of God. I’m surely nowhere close to all these, believe me, but with God’s grace, I know he will see me through! Because for me, it would be such a privilege if my Lord God, and my husband will consider me anywhere near a wife of noble character.

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

 (‭Proverbs‬ ‭31‬:‭10-31‬ NIV)

Bag of Beans

Meant to be Together

Three years into our relationship, Joey confessed of having thoughts about relocating some place else for work. I must admit, I felt as though our relationship will never make it. You must know, I’m not a believer of long distance relationships, so I didn’t really welcome the idea. As days passed, I realized how serious he was about it. I remember crying buckets when it all finally started to sink in. Joey’s decision to move to Davao wasn’t for a promotion or a strategic career move. It was basically because he wanted to try something new. The opportunity was just so perfect he couldn’t let it go.

Because I wasn’t in any position to meddle with his decisions, I tried to be as supportive as I could. I never told him I wanted him to stay. Truth is, I didn’t want him to blame me someday for major life decisions that he was supposed to have made by himself in the first place. I was just his girlfriend then, I wasn’t family yet.

During the first few months as we were still transitioning from our new set-up, we really fought a lot. It even came to a point where I blamed him for leaving. That it was his fault we were having problems. Had I known better, I should have trusted him and his decision to leave and just kept my mouth shut.

Months went by so slowly, and every single day felt like forever. Petty problems began escalating and being apart for so long took its toll on our relationship. We would fight, break up, and get back together. It was a vicious cycle.

A little over a year into his stint in Davao, he finally asked me to marry him. Knowing in my heart to be with him is absolutely what I wanted, I immediately said yes. Saying yes to Joey was a decision I made on my own. I did not seek for God’s approval. To be honest, I didn’t even pray about it.

In Genesis 2:23-24 (NASB) New American Standard Bible, it is stated that from the time we were created, God intended for us to have a companion.

23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. 

Because this part of our life was a bit shady, the initial year of our marriage and being together was very challenging. Joey’s work demanded a lot of traveling and most days, I was left alone in our home. Even if Davao is a safe place, it was different being away from my family. I was happy to be married to Joey, but I had a hard time adjusting because I wasn’t really prepared for it. It was then I realized God was chastening me. Because I didn’t listen to his plans for me, this was the consequence I had to face.

Our set up still felt like we had a long distance relationship in a way. Joey was home only during weekends. And like how it affected our relationship back then, it also affected our marriage. I would make him feel guilty for leaving me behind and blame him indirectly. I was a nagging, disrespectful wife to him.

In Deuteronomy 24:5 it says, If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married. (NIV) New International Version. This verse clearly states that God’s design for marriage is not for the couple to be separated but for them to be together, most especially while the union is still being established. It is expected that in the early months of being together, there will be certain trials and in order to fully overcome them, couples must be given the time to get to know one another in a much deeper level. – This right here was our problem. We disregarded God’s design for us to be together.

Undeserving as we were of any blessings, God opened my womb and allowed me to get pregnant. It was the tipping point. It was when we knew this set up will never work for us. We needed change. We realized we needed God to be at the center of our marriage and that we cannot be apart any longer. Joey then started to consider other options, ways wherein we could be back in Manila again and just be together. We believe I could not raise Matilda on my own. She needs her father and I, too, need my husband. And because God is faithful, He kept blessing us tremendously.

Joey applied for another position in the same company and he got the job. The thing is, the area he will be assigned to is based in Lucena, Quezon. It was the closest thing we got to Manila and the only way for us to be together the soonest, so we went ahead for it.

Matilda was 3 months old when we moved back and our relationship has never been better since. We also joined a couples bible study group in our church for accountability and for us to grow more in our spiritual walk. It was one of the best decisions we ever made in our marriage. After all, God, from the very beginning has designed for Man and Wife to be together. It is not only for the benefit of the couple but for the children as well.

Ruth 1:16-17  But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” (NIV) New International Version. These words from Ruth strongly showed how she honored the covenant of marriage. In these verses she wasn’t actually talking to her husband, but to her mother-in-law. It goes to show that she already had a deep regard for marriage even when her husband was still alive. In her heart she knew that this was how marriage ought to be.

We all know of stories where marriages fail because of long distance relationships, right? One of the main causes is temptations of the flesh. We are lustful human beings and that is one of the common reasons why men or even women cheat on their spouse. We didn’t want that for our family so we really sacrificed the comfort of material and financial blessings just for us to be together.

In Malachi 2:15, we are reminded of our purpose in marriage. Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. (NLT) New Living Translation

You have to understand that moving back to Manila required us to shift from the ways we used to live. We cannot afford living that way anymore since everything in Manila is practically expensive. But then again, why subject your relationship through possible threat when you know you could prevent it in the first place? Is it worth it to trade your marriage for a comfortable life? Would it actually make you happier to be able to get what you want instead of just settling for the things that you need? Come to think of it, God promised us to provide for our NEEDS. That is a promise he will never break. So for those who struggle for means to provide “enough” for their family isn’t actually trusting God’s faithfulness. Putting these truths to perspective made making decisions in our married life easier for both of us.

  • 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (NASB) New American Standard Bible
  • Matthew 6: 31-34 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV) New International Version

Yes, there will still be struggles and challenges here and there but that is God’s means of strengthening our faith. It is His way to call us back to Him. To have a relationship with Him and to put Him at the center of our lives. We have been disciplined by God many times in our marriage and individually. We went through ups and downs but one thing is certain, God never failed us. We withstood all trials because He is with us and because He loves us.

Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

I love Joey for who he is only because God enables me to love him. I am still a work in progress and it is only through God that I will be a submissive wife, who will honor and respect his authority as head of the family. For I know that in every command God asks us to do, there is a promise of blessing.

Now in this stage of our life, I can say I have surrendered my all to God and allowed Him to have complete control over our marriage. It is only through Him we are able to love unconditionally because he Himself through Jesus Christ, has demonstrated it perfectly by dying on the cross for our sins. All our past, present and future sins have already been forgiven and paid for. The only thing we need to do is believe in Him and accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. Transformation in our lives will come thereafter.

John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV) New International Version

Are you in that moment in your life where you feel lost? Are there problems in your marriage you think are beyond repair? Are you struggling with forgiveness or accepting circumstances in your life? Have you considered maybe God is teaching you something? Surrender it all to God now and listen to His instructions by reading His word. The Bible and through prayer are the only means of how God is able to communicate with us. Allow Him to help you and invite Him to come into your life to fully experience the joy of following Him.

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Leaving Home

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.

I was so clueless I didn't even realized he pulled the ring out!

I was so clueless I didn’t even realize he pulled the ring out!

It was just like yesterday. I still feel the happiness I felt when he proposed. :)

It was just like yesterday. I still feel the happiness I felt then, when he proposed. 🙂

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)

Our Civil Wedding was held in Davao.

Our Civil Wedding was held in Davao.

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.

We did a maternity shoot  when I was 8 months pregnant with Matilda.

We did a maternity shoot when I was 8 months pregnant with Matilda.

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)

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