Serve the Lord, Save Your Marriage 

  It’s impossible to effectively serve the Lord when your marriage isn’t okay, especially when you minister to other couples. I suppose this is one of the reasons why it’s healthy for Edric and I to be involved in counseling, couple discipleship and speaking. Having to pour our lives into the service of others keeps us on our “spiritual toes.”

A week ago, Edric and I found ourselves arguing about something petty. But it sparked a heated discussion that soured our feelings for one another. Edric made a rule about our Siamese cats that really upset me. He declared to the children and to me, “If the cats pee or poop in the house, you will be fined P1,000.” 

The kids replied, “What if we don’t have that kind of money?”

“Then your mom will pay.” He was serious.

First of all, buying these cats was Edric’s idea. Second, we had a baby cat who was not trained yet. Third, sometimes the cats randomly enter the house because they want to be near us. I really didn’t think the fine was fair to the kids or to me.

That same evening, our older Siamese, snuck indoors and marked the TV cabinet with his pee. We shooed him out and I cleaned up his mess but the kids were distraught. “Dad is going to charge us!” 

Sure enough, when Edric found out, he insisted on me paying P1,000. Annoyed, I began stating a defense for why this was a ridiculous thing to do. In my exasperation, I even cried. Edric dismissed my dramatics as, “You are probably going to get your period soon.” (Something I never appreciate him saying. Ever.)

An hour later we were scheduled to meet with a couple to minister to them. Yet there I was, tearing up and feeling very unqualified to give marital advice. And to think this was all about cat urine! My goodness!

Dutifully, Edric and I drove to the restaurant since we committed to be there. The car ride included more discussion and debating until we parked and decided this was not the condition we ought to be in before we sat down with the couple. So Edric led us in a prayer and we asked for mercy and grace from the Lord. 

We took a pause from our argument and made it through dinner. Amazingly, as I listened to the couple elaborate on their issues, the problem Edric and I had diminished in importance. Cat urine is not a problem! (Not compared to what we were hearing.) 

In fact, I developed renewed admiration for the way Edric mediated the couple’s conflict. He really did a fantastic job at sifting through the main points brought up by both sides. Furthermore, he helped them achieve resolution as husband and wife. 

At the end of the evening we also confessed to them that we were in the middle of an argument before the dinner began. By this time, our spat seemed trivial but we sought to resolve it on the drive home. In fact, I got back into our car feeling like a completely different person than when I entered it three hours earlier, irritated and combative. We apologized and asked for forgiveness from one another. Edric also retracted his rule about the cats! Thank you, Lord! 

What changed? Edric and I had to look outside of ourselves and our marriage to meet the needs of another couple. We had to ready our hearts to be a channel of God’s blessing to them. We found ourselves united by a spiritual cause. All these elements helped to heal our own relationship. 

This has happened many times before, not just for Edric and me but for other couples we know who involve themselves in ministry as a team. God does something supernatural in a husband and wife when they serve Him together. Therefore my encouragement is to find a ministry, a spiritual cause that allows you to see past your own world as a couple, as a family. 

God created us all for something much bigger than living for one another and pursuing happiness as a couple. There is a greater, deeper and more profound joy and purpose to experience as a team, as partners in the Lord. And sometimes this greater, deeper and more profound purpose of leading other couples to Christ can also save your own marriage.

How so? The spiritual responsibility of leading people to Jesus necessitates that you both seek after Him, turning the focus off each other. And the more your eyes are fixed upon Him, the more you desire to be like Him. And the more you desire to be like Him, the more you become desirable spouses for one another!

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-3‬ ‭NASB‬‬

17 thoughts on “Serve the Lord, Save Your Marriage 

  1. Dear Joy!

    First of all, thank you so much for sending me this email. I appreciate you for that. I don’t know how you could randomly select me to comment or perhaps you send all your subscribers this kind of email. Nevertheless, I still thank you for including me. There’s no accident in this world, I know.

    Second of all, I now have your book after a mix-up at OMF Lit. The moment I got it, I right away read it and boy, I was crying a lot before I could even have my morning coffee then. I could just imagine your anguish over that nightmare of yours. I could also imagine what it was like for your parents.

    Now, to your latest post.

    It is a very good post. I like that it started with a sense of humor although that petty thing as cat urine happens every day in families.(Ours is dog poop and urine.) But I like that Christians are able to resolve differences because of God working in them. Like what happened to you. I’m sure many couples can relate to this story.

    I like this part.

    “God created us all for something much bigger than living for one another and pursuing happiness as a couple. There is a greater, deeper and more profound joy and purpose to experience as a team, as partners in the Lord. And sometimes this greater, deeper and more profound purpose of leading other couples to Christ can also save your own marriage.”

    This is also my dream and my prayer for my husband and me even if as of now, we don’t belong to any group at all. We’re Catholics and even if there are already “enlightened groups” within the church, we don’t have the opportunity. My husband works in a mining firm in Mexico right now.

    I hope and pray that you and your husband will continue to be used by God to minister to other couples. I can see how you’ve seen the rest of the white sheet and not just the red dot of your life. Praise God for that.

    Thank you for reading this, Joy.

    God bless you even more.


    (Btw, I received an email from you to comment on this and I wrote the above email. But for some reason, I got this:

    Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

    Technical details of permanent failure:
    Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the server for the recipient domain by [2607:f8b0:4001:c07::1a].

    The error that the other server returned was:
    550-5.1.1 The email account that you tried to reach does not exist. Please try
    550-5.1.1 double-checking the recipient’s email address for typos or
    550-5.1.1 unnecessary spaces. Learn more at
    550 5.1.1 10si2275503igq.45 – gsmtp)

    1. Oh strange…I wonder why that happened! Thanks for commenting here just to make sure I got your message! 🙂 Was blessed to read it today 🙂

  2. I thought I could reply to the updates you send me in my e-mail, but yeah I’ll try reaching out to you here.

    Dear Ms. Joy,

    I’m not so sure if you’ll be able to notice this, but whatever, it’s worth the shot.

    My name is Claire, I’m 21. I’ve been attending CCF since I was 7, my family goes to church every Sunday too. I have 2 siblings, Rui, my brother is 6 while my sister is 2. My reason for writing to you is because I want my story to be heard by someone who really has a relationship with the Lord. I’ve tried counselling many times, with different leaders, I won’t drop names anymore but I never really found a way out. Besides, my friends aren’t Christians. A listening ear is also a running mouth.

    I was abandoned by my dad before I even had any knowledge about the world. I really admire my mom for standing up strong for the both of us. Being a single mom isn’t easy. But even if she was there for me, something was still missing. My mom got married to my step dad when I was 12, but before she even got married she just recently ended a 7-year toxic relationship with a guy who hurts her physically. She asked for my blessing before she decided to marry my step dad now, and being 12, I still didn’t realize what life is, so I said yes, okay mom, go for it.

    It took me a long time to find out that after they got married, as soon as they were in Thailand for their honeymoon, they found out that getting married was a wrong choice due to certain issues my dad has and my mom won’t ever tell me because she says it’s not her story to tell. That quick, huh. This isn’t my story either, but I think it has something to do with how I am now as a person. I haven’t really figured it out yet, but one of my CCF counselors told me to find the root of all the things I do. Anyway, they didn’t really part ways since my dad was living alone in the Philippines, he begged my mom to stay. So my mom allowed it. They’re not romantically in love now, but they’re good friends, and we all live in the same house.

    After 6 years of being married, my mom got pregnant. It was a surprise for everyone, especially me. I always wanted to have a brother. And then 4 years after my brother, my sister said hello to earth. Not being in love and yet having babies? Not bad.

    A year after my sister was born, I found out about my mom’s adultery life. She was having an affair with a married man. Well, I guess I now know where the babies came from. Not from my dad but from her boyfriend. I became so rebellious. I was so hurt and broken. I run away from home, lived with my boyfriend for a month. I only went home because of my college graduation. And that same day, I found out everything about my parents:

    1. My dad knows about the affair.
    2. My dad knows the babies aren’t his own children, yet he decided to stay.
    3. They have their own set up that I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND; and
    4. How does this really affect me as a person?

    My mom explained that she never has any “pagkukulang” as a mother, which is true. She also told me not to get into her life because I do not have that liberty to question her. She said that as long as we are complete in the family and as long as she does not show any signs of adultery in our home, then everything should be okay. I accepted that kind of set up. Even though I know she lets the babies meet their real dad behind my back.

    Well that’s my home story. Here’s my outside story:

    I have a boyfriend. Well he was my boyfriend for a year and a half, and now we’re not really committed but we do things only a boyfriend-girlfriend do. Our relationship is toxic, he hurts me physically but when he makes up for it, I tend to forget how he hurt me. He’s verbally abusive, he makes me go crazy, he makes me want to hurt myself. Sometimes I end up bruising myself, having scratches on my face, or even ending up with scars on my body for the wounds that I caused myself. He calls me crazy, but its only because he provokes me.

    He brings out the worst in me, he makes me believe that being in a relationship doesn’t need constant communication, he makes me believe that for him to respect me, I should work for it first. He makes me think that being in a relationship is exhausting. I once told him I wanted a bouquet, because I’m in love with flowers, and he tells me that I don’t deserve it. I asked him why he never says I love you to me, and he said he’ll only say that to the girl he’s marrying. It really hurts me, but he thinks I’m just being dramatic and he finds my reasons for crying stupid.

    Aside from all the negative, when he’s being nice, I tend to forget every bad thing he did to me. It’s been like this for 4 years now, and I come in and out of church, trying to find the solution to this. My councilor told me we have to break up, but its very hard for me to let go, while my dgroup leader told me that we have a bondage that’s why. I can’t seem to have any strength to break the relationship. He’s the cause and cure. I’ve depended my life on him, thinking I can find my identity in him. I can’t find comfort anywhere. Not at home, not my friends, and definitely not with the guy I”m with now. Who am I kidding, right? I need God.

    Please tell me what to do.

    Love, Claire

    1. Hi, Claire,

      Sorry for stepping into this letter. I normally don’t read blog comments and this is my first time to even reply to one. But, I’d like you to know that even though we may not know each other personally, the pain in your words has struck something in me and I can’t help but reach out.

      What I’m about to say, I say with sincerity and truth.

      First off, I commend you for pouring your heart out.
      Next, you are not undeserving of love and respect.
      You are beautiful–scars, baggage, and all.
      Please do not feel guilty for the mess that the people around you threw you in. The guilt will only pull you lower.
      Jesus loves you. I know you’ve heard this many times, but, let me say it again.
      This time, I pray you’ll let it sink in. Down to the deepest parts of your being.
      Jesus loves you.
      You’ve been messed up, victimized, played around, lied to.
      And in turn, you’ve rebelled, run away, played around, and hurt yourself more.
      Nonetheless, Jesus loves you.
      Let no one tell you you deserve less than the life Jesus has paid for at the cross.
      Young lady, keep your head up.
      You are cherished.
      You are prayed for.
      You are loved.

      PS. I still have so many things I want to tell you, but my time is limited right now. You are in my prayers.

    2. Dear Claire,
      I’m so sorry about the wrong choices that people have made around you that have affected you and hurt you. But God is a redeemer. He can and will use everything that has happened to you for good if you keep seeking Him. As for the guy you are dating, don’t be afraid to make a stand for yourself. At the end of the day you must always evaluate whether the person you are with is someone you want to marry and raise a family with. If you aren’t confident that he really loves the Lord and desires to follow God because it’s not evident in his life, then you really need to walk away from the relationship…not just for your sake but for his. He needs time to grow and mature into the man God wants him to be. If he repeats the same mistakes in this relationship with you then it’s not likely that he will change unless the circumstances around him compel him, too. Jesus died for you, Claire, just as you are, for every flaw that you think you have, for every mistake you have ever made and will make, for every hurt and pain that you have been through. The real cure is not this man you are with, it is found in Christ, in understanding and knowing that you are loved perfectly and accepted unconditionally. God has a plan for your life and for everything that you have been through. But this man is not the right person right now. He is making you dependent upon him for strength, which is not healthy for any relationship. Besides the fact that he is abusive, the real issue is that your sense of worth and security must be anchored on Christ and his definition of who you are — beloved to Him. It cannot be dependent on how this man treats you because your joy and peace will always be conditional. Your focus will be on how he treats you. All of us women have a tendency to value ourselves based on the way we are treated by those around us. Furthermore, we all long for love and acceptance and we will fight hard to hang on to even the slightest hope of love…even if it is a facade. Real love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person which often requires sacrifice. That’s the kind of love God has for you, and that’s the kind of love He wants you to experience from a man. So don’t ever feel like you have to settle for what’s in front of you, namely, this person whom you are in a relationship with. He needs to experience healing himself so that he can love a woman from the overflow of Christ’s love, and you need to experience spiritual healing and be filled with Christ’s love so that you never ever need a man to feel complete or whole. Whether married or single, all of us women must come to that point of completeness and wholeness in Christ or we will never be truly happy in a relationship with a man. Please listen to the song of Kari Jobe — My Beloved. It’s a love song of God to all of us. I hope it blesses you…

      “My Beloved”

      You’re my beloved, you’re my bride
      To sing over you is my delight
      Come away with me my love

      Under my mercy come and wait
      Till we are standing face to face
      I see no stain on you my child

      You’re beautiful to me
      So beautiful to me

      I sing over you my song of peace
      Cast all your care down at my feet
      Come and find your rest in me

      I’ll breathe my life inside of you
      I’ll bear you up on eagle’s wings
      And hide you in the shadow of my strength

      I’ll take you to my quiet waters
      I’ll restore your soul
      Come rest in me and be made whole

      You’re my beloved, you’re my bride
      To sing over you is my delight
      Come away with me my love

    3. Dear Claire,

      I hope you won’t mind my butting in here. I felt I wanted to share something with you.

      My husband and I have gone through a major crisis in our marriage and we decided to see a marriage counselor. God has led us to a godly woman, a Christian psychologist, who helped us in our journey towards healing. Hers is a psycho-spiritual kind of counseling and the weekly sessions we took for around 6 months tremendously helped us.

      I thought you might want to go to one to help you out. As I read your story, it looks like everything you’re going through now has a lot to do with issues when you were much younger. A good Christian therapist who’s trained in counseling would be the best to help you if you are willing to go to one. Perhaps Ms. Joy can recommend someone to you.

      My thoughts and prayers go with you, Claire.

      Take care. God bless!


  3. Hi Ms. Joy.

    Couples argue even the pettiest of things and surprisingly, it could hurt us so badly especially reactions that you don’t expect like what your husband imposed about the cats. Your spiritual maturity as a couple helped a lot. Thanks for sharing. Blessings to your family:)

  4. your blog is such a blessing to everyone… please continue to inspire others.. I hope I can also have a relationship like yours when I get married….

  5. Hi Joy,

    Been a reading your blog for so long and it has helped me countless time re being a wife.

    Anyways have you read tips about raising cats? Do you have a litterbox inside the house? Is your cat male / female? how old are they? Peeing is one sign to mark their territory and this can be easily controlled by spaying / neutering them.

    I have 2 cats and i love one of them so much! (the other one – the female one is not spayed / neutered and she’s not malambing & lately is peeing everywhere. She doesn’t poop in the litterbox either but at least she poops in the corner of our unused bathroom.

    Hope this helps!

  6. Hey, Joy!

    Edric’s rule was hilarious! I could almost imagine your frustration, lol. But God allows certain things to happen. maybe it was God’s humor; I dunno. Someday, when i get married, I hope to work in a ministry and involve not just my future wife but my kids as well. Anyway, this blog reminded me to “see past myself” and focus on Jesus especially when there are people who need help. I find this entry very encouraging. Thank you for sharing. May God bless you and your family more.


  7. Hi Joy, I really admired your husband and I’m praying someday that God will provide me also someone like him. There are certain things that God will only reveal when your married. I hope you could visit here in Cebu CCF. Also, I read your book (when a good God allows a rape). It is so inspiring and I learned a lot from it. God bless you Joy and keep you. Continue to be used by God. Love you with God’s love 🙂

  8. Hi Joy. What a blessing your blog is. I hope to read your book soon. It hasn’t reached the NBS outlet near my area… I hope it will soon. Please continue to write beautiful stories about your family and about your marriage. You are somehow my mentor in becoming a wife… God bless you more!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *