“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility”- this I learned as my wife and I journeyed together as members of Couples for Christ.
My name is Edgar Cabrera and my wife's name is Agnes. We've been married for 17 years now and we're blessed with 3 children – 2 boys and 1 girl. We were invited to Couples For Christ in 2001 but in 2004 decided to be inactive members because of some “household reshuffle or reorganization” issues. I noticed that it was after the “lay low” when problems in our marriage slowly set in. Agnes and I are both very straightforward and vocal with our feelings, and because of these characters we often had fights and misunderstandings. At first the fights would easily vanish and go away, but to my surprise we soon got into bigger fights even over small and silly things (like simple arrangement in our house or she asking me to take her out while I preferred to stay at home and watch sports and movies). Big or small fights, Agnes would easily get angry and would be shouting at me and in return I also would be getting angry and shouting back at her. This kind of relationship broke the peace in our home and family.
Perhaps because of the seed that was planted in our hearts during the 3 years that we were active members of CFC (2001-2003), Agnes and I realized that many couples (including us) enter marriage with impossible dreams and unrealistic expectations. No one could tell us about the flaws in our choice of a spouse. We were in love and our love would surmount all obstacles. Having this in our minds, we wanted to bring back the love we initially had in our lives. So we started working on it. Soon after, we understood and believed in our hearts that we still, and really loved each other even though we hated each other's characters.
In 2010, two dear brothers from CFC invited us to re-join CFC by serving in a Christian Life Program. I praise God that through this (second) CLP, we were able to rebuild a newer and better lives with this community through the power of the Holy Spirit. With this new life, the love and affection, happy relationship, commitment, loyalty, responsibility and trustworthiness were renewed in our hearts as husband and wife.
Looking at us now, we are both happy and content even though there are still some problems. But now we deal with problems with diplomacy and understanding. We handle all the issues with care so that they would not affect our happy life. Let's face it - life is not perfect, marriages are not perfect, no successful marriage is arranged in here on earth. But God, through his help, made man and woman capable of making marriages work. They do not come without effort. Problems can either make or break us. When my wife lost her job, our family dealt with great negative emotions such as worries, and disappointments. But our Lord wanted to test our faith and what we believed in. Brothers and sisters, we learned that the common denominator in our married life is Jesus Christ. Only through Him and the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us can produce this kind of love. We have to learn to submit ourselves and all our ways to the Lord and allow Christ to live in us and fill us with His holy spirit.
As my husband Edgar mentioned above, we attended our second Christian Life Program (our first CLP was in 2001) in 2010 and after that re-joined a Couples For Christ household. This time I recommitted my new life to the Lord and renewed a better relationship with my husband. I smile a lot now and I show Edgar when I'm happy. When there are disagreements, I keep silent and I just stay cool. Afterwards I would tell him my opinion in a “sugar-coated” way (because everyone likes “sweet” words!!). In this way I was able to voice out my opinion and maintain peace. This made me happy. Slowly our love for each other flourished and was nourished, and it grew to a “give and take” kind of relationship. I realized that the more I gave, the more I got. My life became colourful. He understood my wishes and started considering my feelings. He became more caring. On my part, I made it a point to understand him and make him happy. As I did that, he made me even happier and became more understanding of my feelings. I got back all the love and affection I needed from Edgar. We are both at peace now even though problems still arise.
In CFC I have learned to accept and respect others for what they are. I also learned to give more love in order to get back more love. I learned to allow the Lord to continue the process of my transformation in Christ. I believe that the Holy Spirit is working within me, lifting my heart and mind in prayer and in my marriage so that I can grow in my faith and love to be able to serve God more.
Thank you Lord for the community of Couples for Christ - for the friendship, true brotherhood and sisterhood, the life experiences we shared, the obstacles and challenges in life that we overcame and will continue to overcome. Thank you for always being there for us - listening to our problems, accepting us for what we are, ignoring our faults but encouraging us to be better people and couples for Christ! It's an amazing feeling knowing that as members of this community we are always in good hands.
To end my sharing, let me share one of my favourite Bible verses:
“Clothe yourselves then as fitting for God's chosen people. Since you are holy and beloved of him, put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another and forgive whenever there is any occasion to do so. As the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another. Let all this be done with love. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful”. Colossians 3:12
Edgar and Agnes Cabrera
Assistant Team Leader & Facilitator
Hawkesbury Chapter CLP, September-November 2014