Jay and I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Marriage Boosters on October 21, which was hosted at the Every Nation Building’s Main Hall. Normally, these Marriage Boosters are held at out-of-town hotels, which can be quite pricey, so, when I learned that they were hosting one at Every Nation this time, I was quick to call Jay, who was in Davao at that time, to ask him to register for us.
This isn’t the only time this event was held at our church facility, we’ve joined a couple of them before, but the idea of these out-of-town retreats is to provide couples with a break from the demands of daily life, offering precious moments away from the kids and the usual daily hustle. It’s a time for reflection on our journey as a couple, a chance to savor our togetherness, and an opportunity to address any relationship issues that may have arisen. Moreover, it allows us to realign ourselves as a couple with the path God has in store for us.
Now, before you proceed on reading my notes (yep, these are my notes!), please remember that the event was held two weeks ago, I may be forgetting some of the details already. My own insights are also included, so know that this blog is not an exact documentation of what was talked about.
There were two pairs of speakers that weekend – Pastor Emil & Crikette Abello and Pastor Patrick & Carla Mercado. The Abellos have been married for more than 30 years, while the Mercados are fairly young, with 9 years of marriage behind them. So we had two couples from different seasons sharing with us their learnings and insights through years of successful marriages.
The topic for this year is Seasons of Love, which were broken down into 4 seasons:
1. The Courtship/Honeymoon season.
2. Children-rearing season.
3. Empty Nest season.
4. Post-Marriage season.
The Courtship/Honeymoon season
The Courtship or Honeymoon season is the first few years of marriage. This is a time when you get to know more about each other, the quirks and habits, and forming habits together as a couple. You just have each other, so it’s easy to find time to be together and do things together.
I think the challenge in this season is to learn how to live and share your home, your life and your bed with another person. And having to accept the ways of that person!
I know I had that difficulty because I was used to having my own space and my own bed growing up. At one point, Jay found one of his shirts that he left on the couch in a trash bin under the sink because I had a way of doing things and on the first year, it was very hard for me to find his used clothes strewn around the house.
Of course, I don’t throw his stuff in the trash bin anymore and have learned to shoot them in the hamper and Jay tries his best to do that, as well, but you get what I mean.
The child-rearing season is when you have babies and raise them into responsible adults. This is said to be the most challenging season of all, and a time to be most intentional in carving out time with your spouse because having kids can take up most of your free time.
According to Pastor Emil & Crickette, healthy couples find the time to talk to their spouses at least three times a day.
Just to be clear, when you say ‘talk,’ it means heart-to-heart conversations, not the brief exchanges during the day that involves the daily routines like, “hon, we ran out of toothpaste.”
Empty nest season
This is the time when the children leave your home to practice their independence. Crickette reminded us that this is why it’s important to cultivate our marriages, because in the end, it will just be us with our spouses.
We are not empty nesting yet, but Pablo have turned 18 years old recently and we have let him know that if an open door comes that he will have to go and pursue something that his heart desires (Nope, not a wife yet, no! Haha!), he has our blessing.
We are actually praying for opportunities for him to see the world and experience life on his own, so we’re preparing our hearts for this.
Anyway, my point is that this is becoming more real to me as the kids grow up. My two older kids are out most days for the past two years and it takes them longer to get home from training because of the distance, so the house feels a bit empty with just me and our youngest son, Judah, until everybody gets home.
It won’t be long before Judah will also start becoming busy himself as he is turning 13 very soon.
One day, these boys are going to lead their own lives, have their own families, and although we always talk about them coming home to have dinners with their families from time to time, or calling home, if they’re abroad, we can never be sure what the future holds.
I do look forward to life with Jay and traveling with him and all that, but you know….I’m going to miss the kids a lot.
The Post-marriage season is the time when one of you will die and one will be left behind. It’s sad, but it is the reality of life. This is why we value community and friends because when this time comes, the community you built will be the people who will help you through the hard times.
So, as a couple, we must learn to do life with others and cultivate time with our church and our community. Because when the time comes, we’re going to need our friends and our church to be there for us.
I have to admit that I was a tad surprised that this was included in the talk and I think it’s good. For many years, I’ve been thinking that most of the talks were geared more towards younger, newly married couples, and we’re no longer in that bracket, being in our mid-lives and having been married for over 18 years already. So, this was a welcome topic for me.
Some time back, I realized I need to rethink my friendships at church and be more intentional about the ones I want to stick with as we grow older. But, honestly, it’s not the easiest thing, especially given our current money situation. Socializing can be costly, joining friends for coffee, or whether it’s chipping in for potlucks or hosting dinners. We’re not exactly rolling in cash right now. Still, I’m not rushing it. I’m taking it as God’s way of helping us rebuild these connections one at a time — at least with the ones that truly matter.
Anyway, I also happened to glance at the audience that day and saw a lot of older people, too, so good job for the team for making the talk relevant to all who signed up.
Pastor Emil and Crickette started their talk by emphasizing the significance of the two most important covenants we’ve entered into in our lives: first with God (Hebrews 9: 15a) and second with our spouse (Ephesians 5:31). They essentially provided us with a guide on how to remain steadfast and faithful to our vows, even as our marriages go through various seasons of change.
Crickette also stressed the importance of not harboring unforgiveness in our lives, warning us that God will not grant our prayers” when we do. (1 Peter 3:7) You may note that while the verse was addressed to the husbands, it goes the same for the wives, too, because marriage is a two-way relationship.
How to keep your covenant in the changing seasons:
1. You have to understand the season. (1 Chronicles 12:32)
You have to know when your seasons have changed. Many of the things you were doing in the previous seasons may no longer be applicable or may not be applicable at the moment — in the current season. “You have to know when something has changed!”
Crickette stated an example when Pastor Emil surprised her with a room full of balloons and flowers during their “child-rearing season.” It was a romantic gesture, but it wasn’t appreciated because it would need a lot of work cleaning up the mess and having too many balloons may not be safe around very young children.
Not knowing what is expected of you will lead to frustrations, they said.
2. Communicate with one another.
I think this is self-explanatory. One of the things I eventually learned is that when you need something done or understood, you must use words.
It took me a while to get this because for a long time, I wanted Jay to do things out of his own volition; to have the ideas I never told him about. And I would always get disappointed because he doesn’t think like me and he doesn’t know what I want or what I thought he needed to understand. This usually ended up in conflict because I would be angry at him and he had no clue what it was all about!
I realized now that we would have avoided all those conflicts had I communicated to him what I thought he needed to know and understand because he has always been willing to make me happy, anyway. But I guess, I thought things happen just like in movies and in books. Jay learned to do romance my way, somehow, but the truth is, most of those stories were written by women who hoped the men would think the way women do, hahaha!
3. Always be in a stance of prayer and spiritual warfare.
This was probably one of the biggest reminder for me and Jay. When we started out, we were always praying together. We prayed for our dreams, we prayed for our needs, we prayed for our friends and families.
I think that although God did not grant all of what we prayed for, it helped build our faith in Jesus. It was our constant praying and warring in the spiritual that we were able to go through the tough times we’ve gone through in the past, and I think that it is also what will get us through our current challenges.
Just today, Jay and I prayed together, and before the end of it, we were just pouring our hearts and our dreams to God and we just felt a huge release. There is something about surrendering all to the LORD knowing that big issues need a great God — our God. We’re doing it more and more as the weeks go by and it won’t be long before we will be able to do this every day, just as we have before.
4. Stand in unity.
The Abellos reminded us today that we are now one flesh. When we took our marriage vows, we have become one. “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand,” Matthew 12:25.
We need to remember that no matter what happens, we must act in unity. I see the wisdom of it now after 18 years of marriage. Sure, we do not always agree on everything, and it’s something we both need to work on. I can’t speak for Jay, but I need to learn to support him without resenting him. Because Jay can be quite a determined person sometimes, and there were times when I would grudgingly agree to do it his way — but then resent him along the way. We need to work on that.
More to come!
That basically wraps up my notes from the first session with the Abellos. We still have a lot to unpack so hang on tight as I work on the second part of my notes from this event; this time, from the sessions with the Mercados.
I’ve written about previous Marriage Boosters that we’ve attended which you may want to look into, if you haven’t read them yet:
Hopefully, I get the part 2 out by next week.
Look, I’ve said this before, but I believe with all my heart that when it comes to our marriages, we need all the right help that we can get. Marriage is hard and it takes more than just two people in love to get through it together. You need a community of people who will support you, give you sound advice and remind you of how powerful and redemptive God and His love is, and you need to invest in learning and relearning from other couples who have gone through what you’ve gone through and made it.
If you need counseling in your marriage, I suggest that you send a message or call Victory center at +63(2)88171212/+63(2)88176130 or email [email protected] and ask to be connected to the pastoral department.