Man Up!

How To Fight For Your Marriage

Guest Author: Omar Ruvalcaba 

Saleama has written a lot about our marriage. You’ve learned about some of the struggles we’ve gone through – and still go through. You’ve heard a lot about me (Omar) and a lot about how our marriage went from one extreme to the other. Today, however, I’d like to share some of what you’ve learned about us in my own words.

Yes, our marriage is much better than it was years ago.

Yes, today we have a great marriage, but as you already know that was not always the case.

Proverbs 13:20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

Optimistic Life 

Me and Saleama, at one time, lived as enemies. She believes the change in our marriage started with her. I believe it started with me. But that’s the beauty of coming to a place of humility. When we stop looking at each other as the problem, we will allow Jesus Christ to lead and guide our lives. We then begin to change from the inside out, and because of that, our important relationships will get better right before our eyes.

When me and Saleama met, we were both in our early twenties. We grew up in very different cultures. I grew up in South Los Angeles. My worldview was very different from Saleama’s worldview. She grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles. I had both of my parents in my life, whereas Saleama did not. She did not have a stable childhood. Although both of my parents were in the home, my father was not nurturing. He worked every day and offered very little emotional support to my mother or my brothers. My mother depended on me and my brothers for emotional and financial support.

My mother taught us basic like skills. She taught me and my brothers how to cook and clean and take care of ourselves. Our neighborhood was rough and I was exposed to a lot at a young age. Years ago, a drive-by shooting that made national headlines, which impaired a well-loved teacher, happened at the elementary school across the street from my elementary school.

I had front row seats to the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. As a child I witnessed street fights and deaths of young friends in my neighborhood. My brother’s very best friend was murdered while outside a store. By the time I met Saleama I had been to over twenty funerals. My worldview was not a positive one. I did not trust people. I did not believe I would accomplish much in my life. I blamed society for my problems.

I met Saleama at work. Saleama was very sheltered growing up but she seemed to have this strange optimism about life in which I was drawn to. She was the first person I had met who would speak encouraging words. She would talk as if she really believed I could accomplish anything I wanted.

We both enjoyed spontaneity. As we dated and eventually married, we had this excitement about trying something new. We’d wake up and say “Hey, let’s drive to San Francisco!” And we’d do it without a plan. Years ago, I quit my job to start a business, and our crazy optimism made us believe we could do it. A couple of years ago we sold all of our belongings to move back to California for me to coach football, only to have everything fall through the cracks.

We call ourselves “The La Vida Loca Ru’s” We freely admit that our optimism has gotten us into a lot of trouble. Some of those troubles we laugh at – and some we cried!

Can’t Survive Off Optimism

Proverbs 28:26 “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”

Yes, we have great memories and a great marriage today, but in the midst of our optimism, we also have a lot of bad memories. The major mistakes we’ve made didn’t always end in a great laugh. We had a lot of arguments as well. We’ve seen our savings slowly diminish. We lost our home. We’ve been stranded on a highway with our children with a broken vehicle. We’ve been laid off – more than once. We’ve had zero dollars in the bank. We’ve had our phone service shut off. We’ve had no way of feeding our children. Before Jesus Christ became my Lord and Savior I played the blame game. Remember, at first I blamed society for my problems. I had not learned how to take ownership of my life. So I was still blaming. When we faced issues in our marriage I blamed Saleama for our problems.

The Blame Stops Here!

I am convinced there will be a time in every person’s life when they have no choice but to call on the name of the Lord. We will spend a lot time trying to do life without God, but eventually we will get to a point where we have no choice but to seek His face.

The blaming and the arguments did nothing for our marriage.

The time had come for me to “man up” and stop blaming the world.

Who was I to blame the world for my problems?

Moses had every reason to blame the world. Although his mother tried to protect him by putting him into a basket onto the Nile River to be found, he grew up without his birth mother. He lived in a foreign land with people who loved him, but they were not his birth family. Yet, through humility Moses was used by God.

King David ran for his life as King Saul, and later David’s own son tried to kill him, yet King David sought the LORD.

How about Job? A righteous man living for God and his entire livelihood wiped out in an instant.

Who was I to blame the world for my problems?

It’s not to say God does not care about our hurts and pains. Yes, God cares about the pain I had of not having my father be a central focus in my life. God cares about the hurt I felt at watching young friends die by the hands of street violence. But God doesn’t want us defined by our pain.

We still have a responsibility to live as men of God.

In Dr. Tony Evans book Kingdom Man he says: The deterioration of societies both nearby and around the world has reached an all-time high, while the clarion call for men to come forth to stand for biblical manhood has never rung louder. 

The time had come for me to stop blaming my wife and the world, and start being the man God calls me to be.

The Bible has many references to men as the spiritual leader in their home. Ephesians 5:25 says;

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

When we understand the magnitude of this verse as husbands, it changes everything in our marriage. This is not merely a nice suggestion. In these passages the apostle Paul gives twice as many words to husbands as he does to wives in the preceding verses of submission. A godly husband is willing to sacrifice everything for his wife.

Ephesians 5:26

“to make her holy, cleansing her by washing with water through the word.”

Her well-being is the primary focus. A wife can easily submit to her husband when her husband is the spiritual leader making a daily sacrifice for her and his family.

Jesus Christ sacrificed His life for humanity. Jesus Christ is the example for husbands to follow daily. Jesus Christ did not simply say “Yes, I’ll sacrifice my life.” He physically allowed Himself to become a sacrifice for humanity. He was literally beaten. He carried His cross on His beaten body. He died an agonizing death – for us. We have salvation through His death on the cross. We are to make this same sacrifice for our wife and families. It’s not enough to simply be a married man or be a father.

We must die to ourselves.

We must die to our desires.

We must die to our wants.

My Wife – My Focus

Saleama and our children became my primary focus. The sacrifice I make for Saleama and our children is not through working 80 hours a week. It is not buying them a lot of material items.

It is leading my family as the spiritual leader and by living as an example of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of the wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

I cannot tell you how many times Saleama has told me that when she knows I have spent time with God praying for our family, it makes her feel secure. In other words, when she knows me, her husband, has been on my knees for our family, she is secure.

Women need to feel secure. They need to know we love them. They need to know we are praying for them. They need to know we are seeking God for our own lives and for the lives of our family.

This is not an area I am an expert at. I will always be a walk in progress – like all godly men, but I now understand what God requires of me to lead a godly life and to be a spiritual leader in my home.

You have the same obligation in your home.

Here are some of the changes I made which changed our marriage and our family:

  • My prayer and devotion time with God.
  • Church attendance
  • Visible changes (such as the words I speak, what I watch on television, and the music I listen to)
  • In my marriage I had to learn how to walk away from arguments, even if I felt I was right.
  • I started to pray daily for Saleama.
  • I embraced mentor relationships from older godly men.
  • Memorizing scripture.
  • My father was in my home but not active in my life. I intentionally spend time with my children and especially with my son, Jaden.
  • Teaching my children the Word of God.

How exactly have these changes helped our marriage?

To be continued…

Omar Ruvalcaba