4 Things I’ve Learned in Our 4 Years of Marriage

This entry is supposed to be an “anniversary post” for my husband and I’s 4th wedding anniversary which we celebrated 3 weeks ago but it ended up resting in my drafts folder for weeks now because of my jam-packed October especially the second half — our company’s Family Day at Manila Ocean Park, a parenting conference at CCF, Halloween preparation in our office, DIY-ing the kids’ Halloween costumes.

Anyhow, I really need to get rid of this post from my drafts so I can move on so here it goes… 🙂

I can’t believe it’s been 4 years since Joey and I exchanged our vows and I Dos and made the eternal promise before the Lord to be together forever. Four years of living together under one roof, sharing the same bed and closet (sometimes shirts or towels 🙂 ), laughing together on silly jokes, watching latenight TV series or movies together, sharing our mostly contrasting thoughts and opinions about anything under the sun, having sporadic fights and misunderstandings, helping each other bathe and clean up and raise and discipline our 2 adorable kids, learning together what it is to become a husband or a wife and a parent and many other happy/sad/crazy/proud moments and memories I will no longer list down. So please raise your glasses with me and say cheers to our 4 years of togetherness! 🙂

Since wedding anniversaries are special and only happen once a year, I was hoping to celebrate our 4th year together, just the 2 of us, any possible way — an overnight stay in Tagaytay, a spa day away, or even just a simple dinner. I even teased J before I left for work the day of our anniversary to take me out on a date that night. Hint, Hint. No, plea. Kidding. 🙂 But reality did not meet my expectation. Later that day, J asked me if we would still go out for dinner and was insinuating that we just stay home because he still had a jetlag from his US trip and he had run out of budget for our date. Okay, this made me a little disappointed not because we couldn’t go out and have dinner together as I openly hoped for and I perfectly understand any financial-related issues, but because he was leaving the decision to me on whether we will eat out or not. To me, such matters should be handled by the husband, just like how a boyfriend plans his date with his girlfriend.

And so, the upset wifey me was thinking of how I should react. If I were the old stubborn wife that I was, I would celebrate our anniversary by myself by going to the mall and shopping while bearing a grudge on my husband. “How dare him not take me out even on a simple date on our anniversary?!” I imagine that playing in my head while doing some retail therapy for my broken heart. But the transformed, more mature wife that I am now just didn’t let the situation get into me so much to ruin the rest of my day. “Breathe in, breathe out,” I told myself. I replied with unseen elegance and poise to my husband’s SMS that we could just stay home if budget would not permit but I would have appreciated if he had told that to me point-blank without waiting for me to make the decision. I knew he sensed I was irritated even if I was trying my very best to mask my frustration. After that, I wholeheartedly accepted that we wouldn’t have a date that I have been longing for in a while. Yes, wives can be reasonably clingy and demanding, too.

I went home from work that night “heart broken” but found this lying on the bed when I entered our room! I feel like teen-er again. hehe!  🙂

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Thank you, Daddy J for the pretty flowers! 🙂 Shall I smile when taking selfies? 😀

I told J what I felt about his text message and why I reacted that way and he apologized for his action. I said he owes me a date. Hehe! 🙂

Now, on a more serious note…

J and I have been married for just 4 years and there’s a whole LOT of things that we still need to learn (apart from dealing with mishaps on anniversary celebrations 😀 ) as we go on with our journey called marriage, based on the principles of God. We’re just at the beginning and we have a looonnnngggg way to go. But I thank the Lord for teaching us one at a time His design and purpose for marriage. Here are some of the important things that I personally have learned in our 4 years of marriage:

1. Marriage NEEDS Jesus as its foundation for it to grow firm and steadfast and withstand storms.
Many times I’ve heard in Sunday service messages and especially during wedding ceremonies that for marriage to become unshakable, it must be built with Jesus as its foundation. Just like our lives, it must be surrendered and entrusted to the Lord and He will be the solid Rock that will keep and hold the marriage together. To borrow Pastor Peter Tan-chi’s words on having a Christ-filled life, it will make the husband-and-wife relationship “problem or challenge proof”.

“They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.”  – Luke 6:48 (NIV)

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Photo by Studio1 Photography

I couldn’t agree more with this. When I was newly married to J, everything was so fresh and novel because beginning our wedding day, I was no longer living by myself but sharing my life with another person I vowed to be with for the rest of my life. And with this entirely new life comes the happiness and excitement of being with the person I love and care about every single day, day and night, as well as the challenges and difficulties that we as a couple will face along the way.

Admittedly, however, I personally was never really prepared to be a wife and this stemmed from the fact that when I got married, my spiritual foundation was shaky. I’ve mentioned in my previous post that I had a bumpy spiritual journey that went on until my married life. When I entered a lifetime commitment with my husband, my relationship with Jesus was stagnant. I knowingly de-prioritized it, took it for granted. Therefore, I had a very difficult time adjusting to our married life. I would always end up getting frustrated because of our differences which most of the time manifested on how I treated my husband: disrespectful with no humility and intently, no submission. There were times when J and I would have a fight, I would shout at him and wouldn’t talk to him for days. I would nurture the anger with pride instead of being humble and asking for forgiveness. It was chaotic inside of me and it translated in my relationship with my husband. Not so good.

What makes everything even more challenging is the reality that J is not (yet) a Christian and therefore, we are not aligned on our goals, specifically spiritual goals for our marriage and family. I’ve hinted or even candidly mentioned about his spiritual status in my other blog posts. He has heard the gospel several times at church and I’ve also shared it with him during the early part of our dating relationship but it just became a point of debate between us so I just didn’t shove it down his throat. But I have left this burden to the mighty hands of the Lord and let Him work in the heart of my husband because I know that I cannot “force” him to have a relationship with Jesus. Only God has the power to make that miracle in his life. All I can do is to constantly pray and strive to be Christ-like through the help of the Holy Spirit and become a good testimony to my husband.

And because we put different weight on spiritual matters for our marriage and family, it became a source of disagreement and exasperation between J and I. I would like us to go to church on Sundays but he prefers to stay at home and relax (but thank God this has changed already. 🙂 ). I wanted Big Boy J to have a dedication on his first birthday but he firmly insisted on getting him baptized in a Catholic church (I had to cede on this one to avoid further disagreement between us). I prefer the kids to go to a Christian school but he prefers a Catholic one (I pray and I’m kinda positive that he can be convinced on this one 🙂 ). And some other clashing thoughts and ideas on how we are going to discipline and raise our kids, some of which are so difficult for me to accept and compromise.

Photos by Gerard Aquino

But with all the things we have experienced so far in our young marriage, this is the most important thing that I have learned: having Jesus at the core of a marriage is like having another “Person” — a mentor, a counselor — who is always there to guide a couple in their journey of lifetime togetherness. He will direct a husband and a wife in all aspects of their marriage starting off with their individual selves, onto their relationship as a married couple then flowing into parenthood. He will enable the couple to become humble and accepting to each other which will lead to a stronger bond that will withstand the test of time. Jesus is like a glue, a heavy-duty one, a Mighty Bond, that will bind a husband and a wife together, making them inseparable, unbreakable.

As a follower of God, it is my earnest desire for J and I’s marriage to be rock-founded on Jesus. So I always pray that God will touch J for him to open his heart and submit his life unto Jesus so that we’ll share this same aspiration for our marriage. I know how it is to be like to have Jesus in my life and I’m looking forward to sharing and enjoying this same feeling with my husband in our relationship.

2. Wives MUST submit to their husbands as commanded by God.
In our marriage, God has also spoken to me so much about my role as a wife to my husband ever since I rekindled my relationship with Jesus. I am fully aware even before J and I got married that a wife needs to submit to her husband because that is what the Bible says. Ephesians 5:22-23 reveals, “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.” (NIV). But being fully aware is different from fully understanding and living this command of the Lord. For the first 3 and a half years of our marriage, I really had a hard time obeying the Lord in this aspect.

Photos by Studio1 Photography / Gerard Aquino

The struggle comes, first and foremost, from the fact that I am a Christian who tied the knot with a self-professed non-believer. I’m not going to tell the long story of our love and how we ended up together because it will merit a long discussion specially from my point-of-view as a Christian. But to make the long story short, right from the start, I acknowledged that the differences in our faith was going to be a concern in our relationship as husband and wife and on how we are going to raise our children. How am I supposed to submit to my husband who does not share the same faith as mine? How is he going to lead our family especially when it comes to our spirituality? How are we going to raise our kids when our perspectives on parenting come from two opposing poles?

Well, this is obviously the consequence of being “unequally yoked” with a non-believer (2 Corinthians 6:14-15), you might be thinking. I have learned to accept that and I have surrendered it to the Lord. But I think in spite of this sad truth, I still need to submit to my husband because that’s the Lord’s command. God impressed upon me through Ephesians 5:22-23 that I was not being the wife that He wants me to be to my husband if I purposely do not obey and submit to him. Despite J and I’s differences in our spiritual beliefs, I’m very grateful to the Lord that I do not experience persecution at home such that my husband would not allow me to go to church or read the Bible. In fact, J is very willing to come with us every Sunday at church and is the one who accompanies our Big Boy J to his Sunday School. Just a constant, earnest prayer and I believe God is doing something in his life. What I’m saying is for as long as my faith in Jesus is not compromised, I will continue to submit to my husband. Of course, I love my Savior more than my husband and He is the one that I will obey more than my husband.

Ever since God opened my eyes and my heart to obey this commandment of Him, I had peace in my heart, like I’m doing the right thing for the first time in our marriage. Irking and annoyance between J and I (or mostly from me? 😀 ) have reduced. There is less tension between us now. I have also learned to be more respectful of my husband which helped him become more confident in leading our family.

I’m still a work in progress when it comes to this aspect of our marriage but it’s my heart’s relentless prayer to continue to be an obedient, respectful and submissive wife after God’s own heart.

3. Spouse MUST be put first before the children.
When I became a mom, the term “unconditional love” became a real experience to me. Imagine a tiny little baby whose only way to communicate is through crying but then, you pour out all your love, time and devotion to him/her — getting all sleep-deprived, putting all his/her needs before yours — without expecting anything in return because the fact that you are doing all of those things for your child is already a joy in itself. It was wonderful and life changing.

And little by little, as I prioritize my child and devote most of my time on him, I have set aside, unintentionally, my husband. Nothing wrong with it, or so I thought, particularly when the Big Boy was still a newborn. Then he grew bigger and my unconditional love for my son even intensified, displacing my husband in the picture. My husband and I had rarely spent quality time together, just the two of us. Movie and dinner dates lessened. Romance had taken a back seat. Blame it on the postpartum hormones heightened by the physical exhaustion of middle-of-the-night feeding and diaper changing while my husband seemed to be enjoying snoozing soundly all night and didn’t even bother to wake up early in the morning to relieve me from taking care of the Big Boy (Felt the anguish? 😀 It’s over now, thank God. 🙂 ). In spite of the situation, still I thought, there was nothing wrong with it.

Until one day, I was browsing a Christian celebrity mom, Rica Peralejo’s blog and came across her blog entry about keeping quality family time. I was like, “What? Wait…” upon reading item number 1 of her post which says:

1.) Spouse comes before the children.  That while children are wonderful, we must not forget that a good marriage is of primary importance. Children cannot be the center of family, for without steady posts all will come crumbling down. Moreover, a healthy relationship between man and wife does not only benefit one another, but gives security to the brood; children need to be loved and led, and not made to be a god!

“Really? How come?” I was a bit reluctant to believe her point at first but I felt a pang of guilt. “Tugs!” right in the heart.

So I further read about the order of priority in the family according to the Bible and this was clarified to me when I saw the post of another Christian mom blogger that I follow, Joy Mendoza of Teach with Joy, about prioritizing and respecting our husbands. She stressed that doing so is an act of obedience to the Lord. Justyn Lang also made a great point in this article on A Biblical Marriage. She said that it is “normal” for mothers to spend their time and energy caring for their babies and go through this “survival” stage but it becomes a problem when this extends to post-babyhood and becomes a lifetime habit.

Another valid point was raised by Christian speaker and author Sheila Wray Gregoire in “Your Husband Trumps Your Children” on To Love, Honor and Vacuum that prioritizing and nurturing our relationship with our husbands will actually benefit our children:

The best way that you can love your kids is to love your husband. What kids want, more than anything, is to feel that their home is stable and secure. That security gives them the wings to grow and explore in safety.

Double, triple, quadruple “tugs!”. I should be dead by now.

Photos by Studio1 Photography / Gerard Aquino

The best and most reliable source, the Bible, tells in Genesis 2:24, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (NIV)” As Sheila Wray Gregoire pointed out, we, wives, were united as one with our husbands, not with our children and therefore, it is our husbands that we need to put first (next to God) before our children.

After learning and getting enlightened about all these, I was convicted by the Lord to revisit and change my priority from “God-Children-Husband” to “God-Husband-Children.” This was reaffirmed by Francis Kong, a well-known Christian inspirational speaker and author, when he spoke at the Counterflow Conference that J and I attended last month (will blog about it too). He opened his talk with this question: “If you are in a sinking boat and you are with your spouse and your only child, who will you save?” then referred to the same verse above. J and I had differing answers to this question, and I knew I had the correct one.

4. Marriage is an everlasting commitment between a husband and a wife. NEVER ever think of or consider ending it.
No raising of the white flag. No cutting ties. No parting of ways. No breaking of vows. No matter how mountainous the challenges you are facing as a couple. For the Lord says in Matthew 19:4-6, “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. (NIV)”

It’s undeniably clear what the Lord wants to tell us with regards to marriage: we have no right to break the bond that He sacredly and blessedly created. Sorry but once you get married, you’re tied forever. No taking it back. 🙂

Photos by Gerard Aquino

Further, in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, God instructed us with this regarding marriage: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. (NIV)”

This is my firm belief right from the very moment that I decided to marry my husband and I vow to follow this Lord’s command for the rest of my life. But I had a personal struggle concerning, again, my husband’s spirituality. I must admit that I was confused on how I would deal with the fact that he is not a Christ-follower. What should I do given that God says that a Christian should not be yoked together with an unbeliever? I cannot leave my husband definitely! But God showed me 1 Corinthians 7:12-13, To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. (NIV)”

Problem solved, thank You, Lord. Even if J is not (yet) a believer, it’s not a reason for me to leave him and get out of our marriage (not that I thought of leaving him because he has not yet accepted the Christian faith). All the more that I should stay and pray for him and his salvation. And I believe that it’s also part of my role as his wife, to pray for him to experience the wonderful gift of salvation.

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Photos by Gerard Aquino

Our married life journey has just begun but God has already revealed a lot about our marriage. But there is still a lot to learn and I’m looking forward to more marriage lessons that He will teach us along the way.

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4 thoughts on “4 Things I’ve Learned in Our 4 Years of Marriage

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