When Everyone Thought My Marriage Was Perfect

This is the story of John and Toni Miranda. I’d like to warn you that this is so far the longest blog post I have written. So if you find yourself reading through this, God must have a great purpose for you to stumble into our story.

Today is our 22nd year wedding anniversary. Normally we travel up north to Baguio for our anniversary, but due to the typhoon Ompong (internationally known “Mangkhut”) that hit our country, we had to look for another option. I really wanted a sea side experience because the sea will inspire me to write this long overdue tribute article and the other 2 books I’m also writing (which I’m hoping to launch by end of the year, God willing).

It is this time of the year that both me and my husband take time off from our busy schedules–him taking a mandatory leave, and me not accepting any speaking and training program bookings–to reserve the week of our anniversary for our exclusive couple vacation.

So glad to have booked with La Chevrerie Resort and Spa. It was such a romantic setting to be in, and a perfect place to celebrate our anniversary! We spent the afternoon just enjoying the place to ourselves. First, we enjoyed swimming in the pool and later had their special home-made pizza for our snack. Then we went to La Brise Spa for an hour of massage at a couple’s room. We booked the massage at 5PM so that we can still avail of the happy hour for our cocktail drinks which is only up to 7PM. I wrote more about our stay at La Chevrerie here, go check out how great this place is.

After some refreshments, we started talking seriously of where we are now in our marriage and what has happened in the past. It was one of the best nights of quality talk we had that I will forever cherish.

What really happened to the marriage of JOHN and TONI?

After we came out in the open and gave our testimony at CCF Center last October 2017, which was aired online and now in Youtube, many of our friends and some strangers started asking… What really happened to John and Toni? They seemed to be a happy and perfect couple. Their family and relationship is truly admirable. But what happened?

Is this the same thing running in your minds now?

Yes, that’s how we portrayed our couple image. That’s our way of hiding the truth of pain and denial in our marriage. Not even our own children and other family members know about this. The truth is, John and I never really knew anything until…

…It took me 2 years to finally write about us. We got trapped in our fear and worry that people will judge us through this article. That people will judge and focus on the sin of what we have done instead of Glorifying GOD in what HE has done to our lives. In fact, since last May, I have been contemplating to write this. I kid you not, but as the weeks approached September, there were spiritual oppression everytime I sit down and try to begin writing. The spiritual attacks and challenges both from work and family have obviously hindered me from pursuing to write this blog post.  

But how can I not be inspired to write this? After our testimony was posted on CCF’s Youtube Channel, shared it at speaking engagements in various couple’s retreat events we were invited to, and telling about my story in my motivational talks, the overwhelming messages we receive in our Facebook accounts and emails were astounding and encouraging. Messages from wives, husbands, and some children coming from broken families, all experiencing the same situation, telling us how it inspired them to believe that God will also do the same for them. This burdens my heart to obey GOD’s leading to write a book about how He worked in us and our marriage.

Now we realized, this is no longer our story. It’s GOD’s great love story.

What happened to Toni?

In the blog I wrote last year as my last letter to my mother, I asked for forgiveness for making a vow—a vow that I will not be like her. I misinterpreted her ways as weakness for not giving herself justice for what happened in her marriage. This vow created a woman in me that strayed away from the design of GOD. I became so strong, dominant, and self-sustaining. I want to make sure I will not be stepped on and belittled—to the point that I am already stepping on the responsibilities of my husband and have not been an ideal wife to him and a good mother to my children. I focused on trying to be that woman who is not my mother. I wrote this letter to my mother to let go of the burden I have been carrying in my heart for many years, to reconcile and make amends with my mom and myself by renounce all the vows i made. This vow I made has trapped me in bondage, and I broke away from this through God’s grace and forgiveness. I am free now. I am now allowing God to make me and mold me into the woman He has designed me to be.

I am a child of God recovering from traumatic abortion, shame, bitterness, envy, pride, and immorality and seeking good reputation.  

Before I became a Christian, I had been an adulterer for ten years. I got married expecting a good life but I was disappointed. John had a good family background and I saw him as one who would make my dreams come true. But I found out that he did not want to be involved in any of their family’s businesses. It was heartbreaking to see him take a mediocre attitude towards finding a good job with good income. After our 2 children were born, we incurred more debts due to series of hospitalizations, house amortizations, and as I started a business. Being more aggressive than my husband, I wanted to prove that we could make it on our own.  But when we were already behind our payment dues, I had to find ways to settle them. During this time, John has ceased to be a loving husband. He rarely spoke to me and became irritable. Sadly, out of frustration and despair over our mounting debts, seeking attention and recognition, trying to live my vow not to be like my mother and not to be poor, I began to engage myself in many illicit relationships. I also got hooked through online chatting seeking for attention. Later on, I became a senior manager and I soon found myself competing with my husband professionally. He was still the same uncaring person to me, but remained undoubtedly a loving father to our children. With many bills to pay and a husband who was not helping any, I accepted the help from a man to open different franchise businesses. I had always wanted a well-provided life and these businesses provided it for me. I was bothered by John’s image being criticized because of our financial situation. I wanted to take control and improved the status of our family, even if it was in improper ways. I was able to succeed financially and got what I wanted however I did not have peace of mind and joy. All these time, my mother was the one taking care of my 2 children that’s why I did not experience the pressure of raising them myself. While I was busy with my own ambition, I neglected the feelings and needs of my children for my loving care.

In 2009, my mother died of cancer. I nursed hatred for my father for so long because of the pain he caused my mom way back in my high school years. He brought me deep hurt, especially that he had a child with a woman younger than I am. And what I struggled with the most was when he chose to stay with his partner knowing that my mother has been suffering terribly from cancer.

The many pressures and anguish I faced at that time pushed me to attend Bible studies.  Eventually, I was led to CCF Alabang and there accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior in 2012.  In a year’s time, my whole family became regular Sunday attendees. I eventually ended my 10-year immoral relationship, confessed to GOD, and repented, though I did not confess yet to my husband. I learned to accept my husband. There was joy and peace I never felt before. I shared the Gospel to all my employees and it was a total surprise for them because I was not really a good employer. My hurts spilled over to my employees and they became my outlet of stress and disappointments with my family. Thankfully by God’s grace, their hearts were softened. I went to different CCF classes and volunteered in ministry work. But as God was at work in my ministry, my businesses on the other hand, began losing income until I totally lost them all. In the eyes of many relatives and friends, every loss was due to our being “Born-Again.”

However, another opportunity of business venture opened for me last 2016 from another man.  The relationship exerted so much pressure, professionally and otherwise. Soon, I was no longer attending worship and Bible studies again. I was always out of the country. In no time at all, I fell into adultery again. The immoral relationship was so challenging, I got trapped and couldn’t get out. I wasn’t talking to God anymore because of guilt and I wanted to leave church because of fear that my family and church might find out.

In July 2016, I had to undergo hysterectomy and took this as my way out. During my recuperation time, this gave me the moment to reconnect with God in my quiet times.  Burdened every day with guilt while reading His word, I decided to obey and believe God again. I rekindled my faith and in September 2016, during our anniversary (yes, I know this was very painful to him, but I obeyed GOD regardless of bad timing) I confessed everything to my husband, in spite of my fears being disowned and losing my children, getting beaten and hurt by him, and receiving threats from other people not to come out in the open. My husband, by God’s grace, accepted my confession peacefully and forgave me instantly. He restored our relationship together with my kids.

Last year was a pivotal moment for me. I started a blog and an image consulting business, which became a way for me to share Christ and my skills. I also attended the Glorious Hope recovery program together with my husband and daughter. It was in this program that I finally realized I have been denying my powerlessness as I repeatedly and insanely committed my sins. I went into immorality and lying as I dwelled in my unresolved anger, bitterness and un-forgiveness. I also had envy and jealousy as I vowed to never be poor or miserable as I saw my relatives, friends, and schoolmates get the best and the finest in their lives. Many times in my younger days, I covetously wanted what they have, to the point of pretending to be someone I was not.  And above all, I had been longing for love and attention from my father whom I admired so much but who broke my heart repeatedly with his absence and unfaithfulness towards my mother. This explains why all my life I had a longing to be noticed by men and I never understood why. I remember wanting to be like my father. I admired his successful career being the smart guy that he was. In my eyes, he was good in all that he ventured into. I used to study hard just so he could be proud of me. Without me knowing it, I have created a “standard of a husband provider” based on my father’s achievements and capabilities. I was lost but did not seek God and did not know how. I realized that my view of God was distorted by images of my dad. I did not see God as my protector and provider. My desperation came to wanting to end my life not just once, but many times. Evading poverty and surviving the misery, coping mechanism of pride came in the form of ambition and desire to live a good life. And when I got it, I realized that the happiness it gave was temporary and even exhausting. But I thank God for His love that refused to let go in spite of my waywardness.

What happened to John?

My John, my dear husband is a follower of Jesus recovering from the sins of envy, anger, insensitivity, pride and sexual immorality.

He was born in a family of seven siblings, of which he was the fifth and the youngest among my brothers. His father was a successful businessman while his mother, in the early years, was also working. Since his family was quite big, his parents were focused in providing for their children’s material needs and for his eldest sister’s treatment for Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. However, his parents still managed to spend time with them during weekends and vacations.

Being a middle child and caught between two siblings who he thought were his parents’ favorites, he craved for a lot of attention. It made him irritable and always angry. While his brothers and sisters indulged in learning piano and guitar and other skills, he was always out of the house instead and for that he had many friends. He considered himself as the smart kid, but he was never really good at anything. He had feats like playing tennis, chess and a math champion certificate in second grade, but that was all.

He had a mediocre relationship with his family and found solace outside most of the time. That time he did not like his  younger sister because he thought she always went against him and his elder brother who he thought was also a favorite. Envy took the better part of him. When one of his sisters needed a kidney transplant, his brother was chosen as the donor instead of him. Again, he was envious because his brother became the family hero and got all the attention and support. He sunk in self-pity, because as a young boy, he also went through the pre-test hospital procedures, and though he was also nervous he took courage for the sake of his great love for his sister, it was never recognized by his family, and he was unaware that this “rejection” was taking its toll on him.

The bitterness he had in his heart made him decide to create a life of his own. He declined his parents’ offer to be in the family business. Just the thought of being with his siblings turned him off. Through the years, he tried to compete with them secretly but he never won. All his efforts were futile as he only managed to do better for a little while, but was unable to sustain them. And the more he tried and failed, the more he became bitter and jealous. Since he was headed nowhere, he then amused himself with beerhouses, sauna, and alcohol.

It was in 1994 when according to him he met me and  was “smitten by my charm” and candor, and knew I was the right one for him. He said I was not perfect but he found me perfect for him—sweet, hardworking, beautiful, and strong. Being married to me gave him happiness and fulfillment until the year 2000 when a series of unfortunate events happened. He was hospitalized for herniated disc, while I had a gallstone operation. Our daughter and son had bouts of pneumonia also. The hospitalization expenses set us back big time, on top of that, we also had housing amortizations to pay. We did not ask for financial help and none of his siblings offered any. His dad, however, supported his rehabilitation and gave some for the house construction.

The following year, his sister died and a year after that, his dad followed. He was going into depression for a series of frustrations and did not realize it. At work, he was bypassed and ignored many times despite his “more significant contributions.” The assets of his deceased sister were not divided equally among them, but rather given to his younger sister who also took over the voided position. This only made him more bitter, but he kept mum and hid his anger like he used to. Because he was too focused on his own hurts, he became insensitive to me. He always expected me to be by his side, and overlooked my needs and the role he had to be doing. Jealousy, hate, and envy consumed him. He became selfish and only thought of himself–his ego, his pride, and his reputation. Marriage took a backseat and we slowly grew apart from each other.

When I got a better job, he did not care that I became the better provider. And he did not care that we eventually stopped disclosing our individual activities altogether. I was going my way and he was going his.

He said he had always believed in God but he never really sought His guidance because he was too worldly and too proud. He thought that Christian life consisted of going to confession and doing good work. He performed his religious duties well, but he was really a hypocrite. He did not stand as our spiritual leader. That time He was also an unfaithful husband to me. Even as he tried to correct his mistake by resigning from his job, he was doing everything on his own. He asked forgiveness from God, but not from me. We communicated less and less.

The year 2016 was most devastating for him. It was the year when I admitted to him that I likewise had episodes of indiscretion and infidelity. He wanted to curse and hurt me but how could he when he was guilty of the same sin himself. He said he has 3 options lingering in his thought that time. To hurt me, to hurt the 3rd party or to hurt himself. He cried a lot, but my confession paved the way to his own confession. He said to ask for forgiveness was difficult, but for him it was more difficult to forgive. He wrestled with the pain and struggled so hard but he chose to forgive me. He was shocked, angry and confused, with a lot of questions running in his mind. He was blaming himself. Every night he was just crying with pain and cannot sleep. We prayed together every time he felt the pain, but it’s still not easy for him to bear. I cried and prayed to GOD for mercy and grace to help him survive this pain. I feel terrible for him for he struggled to get sleep for crying until 3AM, but he had to get ready at 5:30AM for work.

He expected peace and healing afterwards but he was tortured by sleepless nights, bouts of paranoia, and anxieties that lingered in his mind. He confided to a Christian friend and he told him to fill his mind and heart with thoughts of God so that no evil thoughts could derail me. It was then that we started to read books about marriage, have daily devotionals, and made it habit to read Bible verses. John and I were also led to a very nice couple who counseled and mentored us. His resolve to restore our marriage became more intense as he understood that not everything was lost. He felt the hand of God working within us.

John and I participated in the 2017 Glorious Hope recovery program at CCF Alabang that ran from May to October for almost 27 Saturdays with much hesitation on his part. But as the weeks passed, he discovered many areas in his life that needed to be surrendered.  The step studies enabled him to open up his whole being, his life and marriage, his defects of character, as well as his deep-seated hurts. He also came to see that even if he did not hate God, he faltered in his faith when we had financial problems and multiple health issues in the family. He learned to surrender all his pain and found peace as he sought total cleansing from the Lord. By God’s grace he now have a sober demeanor towards his siblings and he is able to feel and express his love towards his mother now more than ever. He has totally forgiven me and he has fully forgiven himself.

Knowing that it is only God who can give him strength to endure pain and resist earthly desires to experience true peace in his life, he clung to Psalm 91:1 “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

His life’s troubles may have caused him pain, but they altogether brought him closer to God’s glory. In his heart, if this journey of his can provide hope to others, he would be more than willing to help heal and give comfort to those who may have been experiencing the same.

His healing though is still in progress, but he is more confident today that he can survive the struggles for he let God take over his pain.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

What happened then?

But because I want to be freed from everything that will hold me down, in September 2017 while undergoing the Glorious Hope recovery program, I opened up to my husband the full version of my sinfulness. I laid down all my cards and revealed everything I have done from the minor to major. I wanted clean slate.  I learned that when we confess, it should be directly done to God, to your support group, and most importantly to the person offended.  We need to confess our specific sins instead of generalizing it. Generalization is one of our ways to protect our images before others to avoid being exposed. But it is only through exposing these sins to a person whom we can be accountable to, that we can be truly delivered from it and for those things to release its control over us. 

                               Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.                                        The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

James 5:16

We both do not  believe in the saying “What happened in the past stays in the past.” This mindset will never bring you healing. By God’s divine appointed time, we also confessed to our children and repented of everything. From 2017 up to this year, I also began to talk to my father about everything and we had a good closure before he died last January 2018. I have written him a letter too. Stay tuned next week when I publish it. To avoid creating a false image, I came clean before my friends and even to my colleagues as well. And now I AM FREE!!!! I am no longer trapped in the thought of who I was, what people wants to think about me, and what I want to become. I gained freedom from the big heavy chain that has pulled and suppressed my talent and GOD-given gift to serve others.

God also prepared my heart when John confessed everything to me. It was not also easy. Yet in God’s goodness and grace, He cushioned my heart. As in literally, there was no sting of pain. I have totally forgiven my husband and we both have totally forgiven not only ourselves but also all the people involved.  John and I may still be tempted to go back to every detail of what we have done and get depressed about it, but we choose to forgive, repent, make amends, and to reconcile and surrender to GOD’s will and fully trust him of the days ahead.

This decision is not easy for us.  It’s a daily battle of the mind, wrestling to fight the lies, doubts, shame, and condemnation that the enemy is trying to pile on us. But praise be to God for his protection and truth in our lives.

Today, John has become a super loving, extraordinarily sweet husband to me.  I am learning to be the kind of wife God wants me to be. Today, September 28th, we celebrate our 22nd year wedding anniversary.  I realized how much he loved me when he extended forgiveness to me because of his own love for God. This is the verse that I held on to each time I share my testimony:

“I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair. Out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.  Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.”

Psalm 40:1-3

Our marriage is flawed, yes, but ours is a work in progress. From our disobedience, we are amazed at how God has changed us from the inside-out, when we uncovered our shame, resentments, and deep-seated emotions. Each day, as we surrender to His will, we look forward to His bigger plans in our lives.

Today, we are both serving as volunteer life coaches in the Glorious Hope Ministry of CCF Alabang. We also opened our life out for other couples who may be struggling with the same circumstances in their marriage. We lose our lives every time we obey GOD in sharing our story when we get invited to couple’s retreats, motivational talks, churches, and other CCF branches. It is interesting that we get different responses, from being inspired, encouraged, enlightened to persecution, blame, and sadly, also condemnation. This was our first testimony sharing to the public last October 2017 at CCF Center.

Those who understand GOD’s love rejoice with us and glorify GOD with how He worked in our life. We are thankful to our Christian friends who stood with us and mentored us from the beginning of our struggle up to this time. We are also thankful to our siblings and family members, cousins who showed love and moral support after hearing our story. We humbly ask forgiveness to all people we have hurt during our challenging times and to those who are still hurting until now, we are deeply sorry. .

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21
My marriage and family life, as how we portrayed it in the past, is far from perfect.  It will never be. Yet God used our pain to lift other people into the center of His plan for the world. I have misinterpreted the reasons for my sufferings. I didn’t see that GOD will use our experience to comfort others. The Lord is able to bring new joy, restoring our years lost to sin or grief. John and I rejoice as we looked back on all that God has accomplished through our pain. I am very excited to wait upon His greater plans in the future.

I am now writing a book about our story, about how I discovered my defects of character, my coping mechanisms to satisfy my unmet desires, that led me trapped to this bondage of sins of adultery, financial problem, and pride of dominance. I am already experiencing strong spiritual warfare, fears, and challenges when I started writing this book. Please pray for me. Pray for my husband and our marriage, and for our children for protection, encouragement, and endurance in our faith as we continue to share our story. That we may continue to give hope and encourage married couples and families to trust and obey GOD.

It is not easy to always have the courage to share our story, because some people–even close friends and relatives–are still chastising us. However, we care for the 2, 3 or more souls out there, who need to hear this and to give them hope that GOD loves them and that He is the missing piece in the puzzle of their lives now. Only GOD can turn flawed people and broken relationships to whole again.

1Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.   And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:12-15

As I write my book, will you please pray with me? I have surrendered the publishing of this book to our Almighty God and trust in his provision and timing when it will be released.

Now as I end, we will celebrate our anniversary by heading to the beach and bask in the goodness of God to us. Oh by the way, the resort allowed us to extend our stay and have a late checkout to enjoy more without additional fee. What a blessing!

Thank you for reading all the way through this long blog. It is my prayer that somehow, it has encouraged you to keep believing that God can do the impossible. I would love to hear how this story have blessed you. Please do share this blog post if you think it can bless others too.