May you be greatly encouraged by yet another victory story of how a dead marriage was resurrected after the wife took God’s word seriously and put it into practice…
How does a self-described “hard-hearted, enslaved to sin” husband who didn’t trust disciplers and was resigned to his marriage/ had stopped talking to his wife turn around to become a God-loving, wife-considerate husband who is now serving the Lord through Praise and Worship ministry and alongside his wife as facilitator for marriage seminars? Find out some secrets in this conversation with Tyrone Ongpauco [husband of Elaine Ongpauco who shared her testimony on the preceding post].
How did you come to fully surrender your life to Christ? I had a heart of stone and found ways to justify the things I was doing. God, in His mercy, extended His grace to me through a lot of people—- people who mentored and shared the gospel with me. That drew me in closer but the greatest conviction to fully surrender my life to Christ came through His word.
Through the bible, He showed me I was a broken person—- unworthy, but forgiven nonetheless.
John 15:18-19 was my point ofsurrender.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:18-19 NIV
When I read that verse, I felt Jesus was speaking directly to me. I really felt that everyone hated me during that time of my life but I felt that Jesus was extending His hand to help me.
I also felt God’s forgiveness through my wife’s forgiveness.
In the midst of your own perceived unworthiness, you found in Jesus unconditional acceptance… something that was demonstrated in the flesh by your wife who was herself fully surrendered and obedient to Christ…
The message from your disciplers and God’s word seem to agree with what your wife was hoping to happen that you turn to the the Lord.
Can you please help solve the mystery of why it is difficult for a husband to accept positively when this message comes from his wife? During the time when our marriage was in ruins, we did not yet know the roles that God outlined in Ephesians 5. I based my role as a husband on the way my father modeled it to me. Sadly, I came from a broken family, so in my mind giving up on a marriage was the norm.
Elaine as a wife was very confrontational and not submissive, which caused me to give in to her most of the time, which I resented. All this resentment built up and snowballed inside me until one day, I decided not to speak to her.
Hmmm… Woman’s curse of desiring control over husband (Gen 3:16b) backfires as resignation of the one she’s trying to control—- this is perhaps why the antidote to the curse (the command for the wife to submit to her husband 1Pet 3:1) was given as a command and not a suggestion…
From my experience of being resentful of my wife’s actions, it was really difficult to accept Christ’s message when it came from her, especially when she said it in a self-righteous tone.
I see. I’m trying to understand… if a wife is still self-righteous (perhaps because in her unbiblical assessment she has less sin and therefore more claim to righteousness), the Christ she is wanting her husband to see is nowhere to be seen when her attitude is opposite His (unconditional love/ grace/ forgiveness) ….
My negative feelings overpowered the beauty of the gospel because I was still a slave to my sin. My sin fed me reasons to justify its existence. One of the ideas was that Elaine was not the right person for me to marry. She was a spoiled woman who wanted to get her way at any cost and would manipulate me to achieve it. So anything she said was met with raging resistance from me.
I’m taking note of the word “raging…” … seeing how ineffective and counter-productive human persuasion is compared to waiting on God’s perfect persuasion…
Our disciplers had nothing but good intentions for our marriage; they gave us a lot of practical steps, held us accountable every week, and spoke to us separately. But I really had trouble trusting them because I had this distrust for Christians then. I found them weird, and overly showy of their faith (because I was brought up Catholic). I found it weird when they would sing worship songs and raise their hands! [God really has a sense of humor because now I am part of the Exalt music ministry!]
All of these created resistance in my heart to listen. Even if the messages made sense in my head, my sin would systematically disprove everything to me to still justify itself and my actions.
When Elaine was trying to share and pull me to Christ, I felt that she was trying to manipulate me into giving up my adulterous relationship. It was really hard to see truth then because I was really blinded by sin.
What about your wife’s behaviour or words hindered you from fully surrendering to Christ? Our individual walk with Christ completely differed. I was the offender and my wife was the offended. During the early stages, my wife acted more self-righteous and cynical to my relationship with Christ. This hindered our individual growth as Christians.
From a human viewpoint, the cynicism seems warranted when the husband’s decision to make the marriage work is followed by backsliding… it will take the almighty Holy Spirit’s fruit of self-control for the wife to fix her eyes on God and by faith believe that in Christ, the husband is a new creation every day, shedding off the old slowly, imperfectly, but surely as she consistently chooses not to get in God’s way (by choosing not to take the position like Satan’s, the Accuser of the Brethren [Rev 12:10]) …
Elaine would often feel justified of her outbursts and I would often concede because of the compromises I made when we were reconciling. Giving in did not humble me; instead, it made me feel resigned.
I see… outbursts, self-righteousness, and non-support during the reconstruction period hinder the mutual goal of rebuilding the marriage. The opposites—- a gentle quiet spirit, humility, attitude based on awareness of one’s own sinfulness; and support (no condemnation, blaming, or rubbing in of the past while encouraging effort in the right direction) —- may be more effective alternatives.
When you say “resigned,” do you mean “give up” on the relationship or that there was nothing else you could do to help your relationship? My sin caused me to see things in a hopeless manner. If you do not have Christ and your happiness depends on worldly things like your wife or marriage, it is a difficult situation. Resignation comes from the compounding of all the hurts and fights that come with this problem. Usually for a man, that resignation also means accepting that the marriage is beyond repair and therefore, you can give up on it.
You mentioned you were “giving in” but each time you gave in, it progressively pushed you towards giving up… A wife who gets her way (through outbursts or other direct or indirect ways of being in control) might be thinking that it is a victory when she is getting what she wants (in the short-term) but the (long-term) effect seems to be the opposite because her husband is moving towards giving up…
Why did your wife’s unconditional forgiveness work towards letting you surrender to Christ whereas when she reminded you of your mistakes, it made you feel like giving up on your marriage? When I said, ‘I was blinded by my sin,” … my sin made me believe that my marriage was beyond repair, that my wife was not the right person for me, and that separation was really okay. So when my wife reminded me of my mistakes, I perceived her actions as attacks, trying to gain control, or confirmation that our marriage was beyond repair.
It was only when Elaine focused on her own walk with Christ that things changed for us. She became more intentional, more forgiving, and not self-righteous.
She started to have joy—- that joy only Christ can give—- and it made me curious. I saw the moment when Jesus changed her heart and made her realize that her happiness did not depend on me and our marriage, but on Him.
Slowly, her insecurities and hurts faded away, replaced by this unwavering confidence in God.
This, in turn, took away a lot of pressure from me as a husband, seeing that the burden did not fall on me to make her happy and content. I wanted what she had.
My wife’s godly transformation took away all the negativity I was feeling towards her and made me realize what a horrible husband I was. Christ made me see what a horrible thing my sin had become and what terrible consequences it caused.
I remember the day I fully committed to Christ, I just told Him that I wanted to trust Him completely… to see how He could mold me and correct my life’s trajectory. I took it one day at a time, reading the bible for guidance and slowly, Jesus taught me to see things His way.
Because we were forgiven, we also need to forgive. Jesus used my wife to model forgiveness. Because of that, I fully understood Christ’s forgiveness; and this started our marriage restoration.
Can you identify specific actions from your wife that helped you towards knowing/ surrendering to Christ? I remember the time when Elaine was convicted by God that she was more of the Pharisee than the repentant sinner [Luke 18:9-14].
After understanding that no one was righteous, not even one, she became more forgiving and submissive. That day marked a big turn in both of our walks with Christ.
When I made mistakes, Elaine used to be historical. But through the guidance of the women in our DGroup, Elaine became intentional about being encouraging. This made it easier for me to repent without feeling shame.
… When the wife turns from being “historical (digging up the record of wrongs)” to instead be encouraging of any positive progress, it gives the offender space and grace to freely move in the right direction as he sees God’s unconditional non-accusing acceptance (that drew him to the point of surrender in the first place) through his wife…
It occurs to me that in the painful and difficult process of rebuilding a marriage wherein two broken people are individually finding (vertical) restoration in the Lord before they can restore their (horizontal) interpersonal relationship, both parties need to commit to full surrender to the Lord.
It must be heartbreaking for the offended wife to give up the right/ desire to at least express her pain yet it comes down to a choice of gratifying her flesh or honouring God—- the same choice Esau had to make between the bowl of soup or his birthright:
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.” Heb 12:14-16 NIV
So it seems at least equally godless for the offender to return to sexual immorality as it is for the offended to use bitter words that do not extend God’s grace, moreso if the offended wife is still the only one following God in the marriage because she is the one who knows God’s word (Luke 12:47).
How do you feel when you compare your life before and after your full surrender to Christ? Whenever I would see pictures of myself before I became a believer, I see someone so lost and captivated by the world’s treasures. I feel sad because I know my old self did not have hope. Finding the kingdom of heaven really is like finding treasure in a field! Things I considered so precious before seem so foolish now after I met Christ.
God used my wife in a lot of ways to humble me and to know more of His grace. He uses her to sanctify me daily. When I understood the gravity of my sin, I decided to change my ways but I still struggled a lot. I saw how Elaine submitted and never checked on my whereabouts but God exposed to her in various ways every compromise I attempted to hide. (Luke 18:17)
That was one way God humbled me to submit to His will. I knew He will not tolerate my sin. Realising the pain I put my wife through yet seeing her response of forgiveness and love showed me what God’s grace was.
Our marriage is not perfect. We still have our differences, daily struggles, and have different expectations from each other. It’s very easy to get angry at my wife for being so different, but how can I say that I am correct? God broke me to humble me and make me see things His way—- that all of us are His creation and wonderfully made.
My wife and I still argue at times but we have learned how to strive for resolutions. To coexist, we both have to give each other grace. This grace comes from the knowledge that I was given more grace by God (and my wife) for my sins. We all need to be gracious to our spouses because Christ Himself has given us much grace!
Testimony of Tyrone’s wife Elaine: