Marriage is defined as “the relationship between a husband and a wife”, but do you know that the secret to having a successful marriage is to follow His design for it?
I’m not an expert in marriage and I won’t claim to be one. ‘Coz although I’m married to a wonderful man for 8 years, I still have a LOT to learn. Fortunately, our church held seminars about how vital our roles as husbands and wives are in a marriage, we also have a Dgroup (more of this later) wherein married couples meet once a week to study His word and share our struggles and accomplishments as husbands and wives.
Two of the people who greatly impacted our married life is our Dgroup leaders Kuya Leslie and Ate Ella (The Edric and Joy Mendoza of Dubai) and I’m honored that they allowed me to feature them on my blog.
This is their story of love and real life struggles following God’s design in their marriage in the northern part of the emirates.
Years Married: 6
No. of kids: 2 and another 1 on the way
Leslie Tarun, a marine engineer, a former seaman and now an Operations Manager in a shipping company and Joela Tarun, a former financial analyst in a multinational company and now a happy housewife and a mother met, fell in love and got married in the Philippines.
Soon after their wedding in 2011, Ate Ella went back to Dubai for work and Kuya Leslie continued with his job as a seaman. This “unusual marriage set up” lasted for about a year. Then in 2012, after praying unceasingly & with the advice and help of Godly counselors (Kuya Bong, Ate Olive et al). Kuya Leslie joined Ate Ella, who’s 6 mos pregnant with their 1st child (Nathan) at that time.
The principle of God’s design for marriage
Genesis 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Being at the top of his career and having the means to provide for his family a comfortable life, coming to Dubai was one of the hardest decision Kuya Leslie has to make if they are to follow God’s design for their marriage.
A leap of faith as it may seem, not knowing what’s waiting for him in Dubai nor if he’ll be able to provide for his growing family, the only thing they can hold on to is God’s promise and His presence in their lives.
Kuya Leslie: I used to be a happy go lucky guy, I was the typical seaman who drinks a lot with my friends everytime I go home after a contract, but all of that changed when I met Joela. She gave me a heads up that she would not marry a man whose faith is different from hers, and so I convinced her that faith is not an issue for me just so I can win her. She invited me to attend CCF Service which I liked and encouraged me to join a Dgroup, where I just remained quiet, I didn’t share my life with them and just listened to them. Eventually, God changed my heart when I felt the love and care of my Dgroup leader. I began to open my life to them and became excited and interested in bible studies and attending church services. This was the start of my journey with the Lord. My faith was tested when I decided to join my wife in Dubai (after more than a year of being apart as husband and wife). I was jobless for 4 months, I received offers but they were way below my expectations and could not support a family in Dubai. At the same time, a shipping company in Manila kept on calling me to ask if I still want to work for them. I remember asking God for direction. Just about the time when we decided that I would go home, a shipping company based in Dubai contacted me for a job offer. Truly God wants the husband and wife to be together.
The will of God will never take you, where the grace of God cannot keep you.
Ate Ella: Working as a Financial Analyst in a multinational company is financially rewarding and so giving up my job was not an option for me, more so because my husband needed my help to provide for the family. I was earning way above what my husband was earning at that time. This went on for about 3 years until Leslie and I realized that it was damaging our relationship. First, I was too busy that I did not have quality time with my family. I was enslaved by my work and spent most of my time in the office. It was spiritually, emotionally and physically exhausting. I believe that this was the Lord’s way for me to realize that my priorities were not right (it should be God first then my husband, our kids, work, and ministry). Secondly, we knew in our hearts that the husband should be the leader of the family and this includes leadership in the area of finances. It was obvious to us that we were not embracing our God-given roles as husband and wife. Leslie and I prayed that the Lord will align our roles according to His design. God answered our prayer. Leslie got a raise twice within a period of six months, enough to provide for our living expense. Then Leslie allowed me to resign, from that time on, we experienced God’s presence in our lives more than ever. He never failed to provide for us. Yes, we needed to dramatically adjust our lifestyle but God took care of our needs. We released our maid, down-graded our car and became more conscious in our spending decisions. Although we still struggle with our finances, the Lord is true to His promise, God is amazing and we continue to experience His goodness.
What is God’s design for marriage?
Kuya Leslie: For me, God designed marriage for His glory and pleasure and once we realize that, we stop idolizing our own marriage. My wife shouldn’t replace God in my life. A joyful or a happy marriage is the result of serving God and not the other way around. His design is like a triangle with God at the center – the more we pursue Him, the closer we become with each other and the more we pursue each other the farther we are away from Him.
Ate Ella: God designed marriage to demonstrate His love for us. Jesus described the church as His bride and Him as the husband. In Ephesians 5:25, it says Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, and Ephesians 5:24, it says Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Why is it very important that we understand God’s design for marriage?
“We cannot enjoy God’s fullness without following his design.” – Kuya Leslie
“Since God already designed marriage for us then we should STOP designing our own marriages.” – Kuya Leslie
Kuya Leslie: It’s vital because we cannot enjoy the very marriage God designed if we don’t follow it. God is the manual or the designer, so we should do things according to His boundaries and limitations so we can enjoy marriage. I enjoy my marriage because of these boundaries that God has set in His Word, these are not “killjoy” nor “corny”. If we go beyond these boundaries, it surely will destroy our marriage. Worst of all, the impact is generational. As per the statistics, 70% of broken families also end up the same. I am not implying that if you come from a broken family, your marriage will surely fail. God can change this cycle if we surrender our lives to Jesus and let Him lead our marriage. Since God already designed marriage for us, we should STOP designing our own marriages. Do not let your marriages run on autopilot coz it’s not going to work, always refer to your manual.
“Marriage is a gift from God and every gift from Him is good therefore marriage is a good thing.” – Ate Ella
Ate Ella: Marriage is a gift from God and every gift from Him is good. Therefore marriage is a good thing and if it’s a good thing, it’s meant to be enjoyed. Some may argue since the reality is that not all of us enjoy our marriages. I believe that the secret to enjoy our marriage is to follow God’s design for it. Since the context of marriage is Christ’s love for the church, the husband ought to love the wife as Christ loved the church. The love that Jesus has for the church is the sacrificial type of love (agape), not the romantic type of love that is only based on emotions.
What are our God-given roles in marriage?
Kuya Leslie: In order for us to understand our roles in marriage, we need to know our greatest need first. A woman’s greatest need is LOVE and a man’s greatest need is RESPECT. If my greatest need is respect, then my role is to LEAD my wife – in the context of SERVANT LEADERSHIP. 1 Peter 3:7 says Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life. Men aspire authority and respect and this can only be possible if we practice servant leadership. My role is to be the SERVANT LEADER, PROVIDER and LOVER.
Ate Ella: The role of the wife is to be a HELPMATE to her husband, in other words, a counterpart. In Genesis 2:18, The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”. A helper as defined in the bible is someone who completes the husband, someone who is suitable for him. And the other role of a wife is to submit to the authority of the husband as unto the Lord. In Ephesians 5:22, it says Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. This means to submit willingly and joyfully all the days of our lives. Proverbs 31:12 says “She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Admittedly, submission is difficult, hence we need to depend on God to embrace this role.
Kuya Leslie on Leadership:
Quoting US President Harry Truman, husbands should have this mindset: “The buck stops here”. This means I’ll take responsibility for every decision or everything that happens in this house, whether good or bad and regardless of whose fault it was. Even the spiritual growth of my spouse is my responsibility and I will be accountable to it before God.
Practical Tips on Leadership
- Align yourself with God – Develop an intimate relationship with God
- Pass Godly heritage – As a leader, we should focus on passing Godly heritage to our children, it’s simply finding our purpose why we are here on earth
- Model it – Joshua 24:15 …”As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” it should start with you first.
As a leader, I pray for my family every day.
Ate Ella on Submission:
This is very difficult to apply and I’m sure all wives can relate to this. It’s easier for wives to submit if they feel loved by their husbands. However, submission is unconditional, it doesn’t depend on our mood.
Practical Tips on Submission
- Connect to God – always depend on God and not on yourself because if you do, you will surely get frustrated. Remind yourself that this is what Lord tells you to do, this is your role. God promises to bless us and even protect us if we submit to the authority of our husband.
- Proper mindset – Choose to believe that your husband decides for your interest because he loves you, even if don’t feel like it. If you believe that your husband is about to make a wrong decision, pray that the Lord will enlighten his heart and mind to make the right decision and try to make an appeal in a respectful manner, not in an insulting way and not repeatedly insinuating your views (they hate nagging). Since he is the leader of the family, He is accountable to the Lord for every decision that he makes.
Advice to all married couples, newly weds and those planning to get married.
Direction determines destination. This is applicable to all life stages. Start a relationship with God by accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. If you already have, then continue pursuing your relationship with the Lord. Know your Master, always go back to who designed marriage and abide in God’s law and design.
Settle your priorities before you get married.
- Ministry/ Friends
and Follow God’s design for your marriage.
Following God’s will, most of the time is difficult, it doesn’t always feel good, it’s inconvenient but one thing is for sure, following it is for our own good because like what Kuya Leslie said, you won’t experience God’s goodness without following Him and not because everyone else is doing it makes it right. So, I hope you were blessed by their story as much as we do because their life story is our #RelationshipGoals.