Wednesday, June 09, 2021

5 things I learned from "No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God" by Jeffrey and Jennifer Aspacio


Since June is traditionally the month associated with weddings (in the Philippines, however, most weddings happen from October to February), we'll tackle a book on marriage this week. I picked No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God by Jeffrey and Jennifer Aspacio. Instead of a book review, I'll list down the 5 things I learned from the first book written by two of my childhood and church friends.


1. Woman was created by God to save man.

Haha! I'm half-joking. Actually, Jeff did mention in the book that Jen saved him from his foolish ways. So there's some truth there. God said it isn't good for anyone to be alone so He created a helper or a savior for each of us. No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God reiterates that that doesn't mean we should swoop in and change our spouses. We should still love and accept them for who they are.

Anyway, my takeaway from this is this helper-savior thing applies not just to man-woman, but to everyone. We need friends. We need others. I like to think God doesn't just magically rescue us from ourselves. He uses family and friends, even strangers, to help us out and lift us up with love. That's our mandate: love each other.  


2. You must be whole before you get married.

"You complete me" is a famous romantic line. I never fell for it, though. In fact, that scares me a little. I don't want a man who is incomplete and needs me to make him whole. That's an impossible task for anyone. You get married because you have so much love to give. Love - and life! - is for giving, not taking. No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God emphasizes that the wholeness of each distinct part of a marital union enhances the other. Marriage makes us better. When marriage makes us worse, that's because you were incomplete to begin with.

When I got married, it was after 8 years of dating. That's because I wanted to be sure of who I am. I was definitely sure Vince was The One for me, but I didn't want to saddle him with an insecure, frightened, whiny, immature, overcompensating girl. I waited until I was mature enough, confident enough, happy and completely in love with myself before I committed to loving him till death do us part. He was the same. In fact, he said he was glad we didn't get married when he first asked, a few weeks after we met. He said he was changing, too, and we're glad we did all those self-improvements and realizations while we were both unmarried. 

That's not to say you can't change and improve anymore when married, okay! As long as we're alive, change is inevitable. But it's easier to go through those changes together when you're both a whole person on your own. 

In my case, what really made me whole was my faith in God. His love for me was really the source of my confidence and peace. My marriage is not perfect (whose is???) but one thing that doesn't trouble us is insecurity. We know ourselves and each other so well that there is peace. Because we are both whole persons, there is no fear, no distrust, no doubt. And in any relationship, that is vital.


3. Husbands should also submit to their wives.

I loved that it was Jeff who wrote this section. It comes from a place of complete humility and - as mentioned - wholeness. He isn't afraid to say he, as the man, submits to his wife. For the world, that means she wears the pants but anyone in a happy marriage knows that a good marriage is one of equality. There is respect and admiration for each other, there is a willingness to serve each other.

"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." Ephesians 5:22-23. These verses have caused so much grief to millions of wives because people have interpreted it to mean unquestioning obedience. But as my husband always reminds me, we must always take Bible verses into context. Why did Paul the Apostle tell wives to submit to their husbands anyway? Actually, the first thing he said was in verse 21: "Submit to one another." The second was the admonition for wives to submit to their husbands which he follows up with the third command in verses 25-33: "Husbands. love your wives!!!" 

Yes, one verse telling us to submit to one another. Three verses telling wives to submit to their husbands, and a whopping NINE VERSES telling husbands to love their wives because she is the best thing that ever and will ever happen to him. Periodt! But seriously, it is more important for a man to value his wife because when he loves her completely, she will submit to him completely, too. No need to assert your dominance. Wives naturally respond to love. See, context. I am so happy No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God reminds us all of the context! Partnership and mutual submission. That's marriage.   

Many women have asked me how I can be feminist and also be submissive to my husband. You know, people misunderstand feminism so much. To be feminist means to have a choice. Women shouldn't be forced or prevented from choosing what's best for them. Before I submitted to my husband, I chose him. Of all the men in the world, he was the only one I deemed to be worthy of my love and trust. Because I know he is a good man and he loves me, I can let him be my partner in life. I can let him lead our family. Important words: "I let him." He lives up to that trust. You should know that I support divorce. When a man abuses his wife and kids in any way, then he is no longer a good leader and I believe a wife should withdraw her choice. (Note: The Aspacios don't support divorce.) 

(UPDATE: Jen corrected me and said that divorce is Biblical. "Divorce sometimes is inevitable. Even the Lord allowed divorce, because of man's stubbornness. I still believe that nothing is impossible when it comes to working out a marriage, if both are up to it, but if it is bringing harm to the well-being of either husband, wife, even kids, and everything's [been] done, divorce is the way to go. Divorce protects the spouse and children, and it doesn't nullify the union. Alimony also takes care of the children's needs. Annulment is not very strong in this, if there is at all a clause similiar to alimony. I'm not familiar with our PH law on this. But I am for divorce.")  

In the same way, Vince also knows that he can depend on me for everything, he can tell me anything, he can be what he wants to be and I won't mock him or scold him or dismiss him. He is confident to serve me and our kids because I am the holder and guardian of his peace and security. I am keenly aware that this man trusts me and depends on me with his whole being. I should never do anything to betray him. If I do, I risk losing him - and he should leave a wife like that! (Note: Vince doesn't support divorce.) 


4. Wives are precious.

"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 so that nothing will hinder your prayers." I Peter 3:7. Another verse that has caused trouble to women everywhere because people claimed that the Bible said that women are weak.

I love the etymology of the term "weaker" that No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God presents. It transforms a hurtful word into one that honors women.


5. To love your spouse is to love yourself.

Many people have a hard time with this. How can you put yourself first if you serve your spouse? How can you love your spouse if you love yourself? Ephesians 5:28-30 explains it: "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body."

Again, it's a wholeness thing. You shouldn't depend on another person to make you happy. But the most marvelous thing happens when you love your spouse and make every effort for their happiness - your spouse will do the same! So you're both making each other happy and that's so much fun, so satisfactory! It's a mutual pleasure exercise!

Again, it's a wholeness thing! If only one of you is whole, then the other will just take and take. But you can never truly fill up an incomplete person. You can try. And many husbands and wives do. But it is exhausting and frustrating. That's no way to spend the rest of your life so choose well. 

That said, and even though I said I believe in divorce, I also believe in not giving up on your marriage. Marriage can be tough. Jen wrote that it "should not be a place of struggle" but many times it can be. My own marriage went through some hard times, too (Vince denies this hahaha and says I make up my own problems when we have always been strong). Love and commitment save a marriage. So love each other. And commit! 

These are the 5 things I learned from No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God by Jeffrey and Jennifer Aspacio. Their book tackles many other topics, such as parenting and how to survive infidelity (from their personal experience bravely detailed in their book). You can definitely learn a lot more! Here are the many ways to get your copy:

For Kindle and international orders, buy from Amazon.

For Philippine readers, buy from Shopee.

To learn more about No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God, follow their Facebook page.

*Visit the blog every Wednesday night this June for my reviews of books written by Filipino mommies! Support mommies! Support literature! Support local! 

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Review: "I Am Happy" by Kim Espartero and various Filipino artists

 

June is when we celebrate our independence from foreign powers. Now that it's being threatened again, I think it's important we teach our kids the beauty of our country and our culture so that they grow up proud of being Filipino and fiercely protective of our sovereignty.

One way to do that is through books! So book review time! Today's literary feature is a small but mighty book called I Am Happy by Kim Espartero and various Filipino artists. 


I Am Happy is part of a series of books created for our Pinoy kids. The words are all about gratitude. It's really very simple. "I'm happy about this, I'm grateful for that." It doesn't lay on the patriotism too thick. It's just a happy list of things around us that we should appreciate - food, fun, sea and sky, family and friends. 


But the gorgeous illustrations on every page - each one illustrated by a Filipino artist - is a joyful exhibition of our country and culture! Nakakatuwa siya. So while you read to your child the words that hardly talk about the country itself, the pictures exploding with color and beauty will make you want to point out every beautiful thing about our country. Ipagyayabang mo talaga sa anak mo ang kulturang Pilipino - pawikan at parol, fiesta at saranggola, lechon at iba pa!    


Plus, every page encourages your child to think about what he is grateful for. It doesn't have to be about the country, of course. So the book, while short, is big on many things - gratitude for our blessings, love for country, and art and culture.


Highly recommend this book, mamas! Do buy a copy!

To learn more about I Am Happy by Kim Espartero and how to buy, check out Let's Be Super on Facebook.

*Visit the blog every Wednesday night this June for my reviews of books written by Filipino mommies! Support mommies! Support literature! Support local! 

Monday, May 31, 2021

A happy 9th birthday


Well, someone had a really good month! 


Iñigo turned 9 and we had so much fun celebrating the funniest little boy in the world! We had balloons and toys, cake and ice cream, and hugs and kisses. Just the kind of birthday party that we always have. 


I can't say much about Iñigo anymore. I'm not allowed haha He wants me to respect his privacy, but he did say he wanted Mama's friends to see how happy his birthday was. So here are a few photos of such a happy day!


It's his second birthday in quarantine. Second of a few more since vaccinations for kids start at 12 years old. He has 3 years to go. Till then, he stays home and stays safe. Lord, please let that be Your birthday gift to my not-so-little boy. Let him and his brothers be healthy and untouched by Covid forever. 


Bless him. Keep him safe. Nourish his dreams. Show him Your will for his life. Let him be this joyful and funny all the days of his life, which I pray to be full of love. Take care of my boy, dear God, on his birthday and many more birthdays to come. Amen. 

*If you do want to know what Iñigo's like, check out what I wrote about him on his 5th birthday. He's still exactly the same.