Husband & Wife Articles


Love Story

A peaceful home is a gift from God that we must work toward

By Stephanie Patag

Great love stories often involve tremendous conflict and heroic resolution. By that standard, the story of my husband and me is pretty run-of-the-mill. I hesitate to write this column because our marriage has been so stress free, and people may think I’m smoothing over the rough parts. But our story is real, and maybe it needs to be heard, because our world doesn’t have enough happy marriage stories.

My husband and I went through pregnancies and births, illnesses and deaths. Yet the most common marital problems – money, sex, and work schedules – haven’t been major issues.

We got married on my husband’s 28th birthday; I was three weeks shy of 22. He was very much an adult, while I, though generally prepared for marriage, had the occasional bouts of selfishness and pettiness.

We’ve only really had one major fight, if you could even call it that. Money was tight, so my husband wanted me and our oldest child to go back to the Philippines by ourselves and meet his family for the first time. I didn’t want to go, but he wasn’t taking no for an answer. I didn’t want to throw plates at him because that would be so immature, so I threw them down the basement instead, where they shattered. My tantrum was met with a mild, “I don’t know why you’re reacting that way.” My method clearly wasn’t the way to win an argument. His father died a year later, and I was blessed to see him. Since then I’ve had the overwhelming conviction that my husband doesn’t steer me wrong.

Sex and intimacy have not really been issues for us. We see ourselves – our bodies, minds, hearts, souls – as designed for each other. Through the years, we’ve simply continued to communicate along these spheres, speaking the language that we started using while dating.

My husband’s attitude about money has always been one of detachment. He takes his role as breadwinner seriously, and we do our best to live within our means. We did make some bad choices early on, but we’ve been debt free for several years now.

I did, however, go through a period of materialism. For four years I researched and designed my dream kitchen, and was deeply resentful when I didn’t get it. That day in the car when I was crying, my husband, in a firm but gentle tone, reminded me that we could either focus on our blessings, or on what we don’t or can’t have. Happiness is a choice, he said, and that one golden nugget has stayed with me since. I’m a much happier person now.

We have an unspoken rule. We don’t badmouth each other in front of others, not even our children, but not because we want to put up a facade that everything is fine at home. We have issues like everyone else, but we are so much more than our issues. The fortress we’ve built up around our home life is worth defending. Though my husband and I are both perfectionists, we know we’re not here to outdo each other. We’re on the same team, we speak plainly, and we don’t count each other’s wrongs. We’re each other’s greatest cheerleaders.

One popular meme says, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” While that’s true, a better formula is to not even take offense in the first place. We’ve learned to assume the best of each other’s intentions. Sometimes, our intentions are great, and yet we fail in the execution. That’s when we allow our sense of humor to kick in.

When I use the word “submission” in reference to my marriage, people tend to bristle and look at us in disbelief. But our common strength lies in the fact that we are not afraid to submit to each other. I trust him enough to lead me, and to lead our children.

We started out in a one-bedroom apartment, and in 25-plus years of marriage, we’ve lived in 10 homes, four states and two countries. It has been quite an adventure, but home is where my husband is, so we get lost and find our way again, literally and figuratively. Since my husband is my moral beacon, we don’t get lost for long. He follows God; I follow him.

Stephanie Patag is a homeschooling mother of five children who lives in Ohio with her husband, Alfredo. She blogs on the Patheos website.