Staying Married In A Secular World: Pre Marriage

Having had celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary over the weekend, our marriage is still work in progress and this is by no means a life hack on marriage. We still consider our marriage a young one and we still have a long way to go as husband and wife. Our lives are unique and we chart out the courses of our lives through our own unique experiences and decisions. No one can really teach us how to live our lives. My reason for writing is to share our experiences in hope that others especially young people currently contemplating marriage would be inspired and get some insights and ideas.

Pope Francis in his recent post-synodal apostolic exhortation entitled “Amoris Laetitia: The Joy Of Love” mentioned that in current times, couples are postponing their marriages due to “perceived” financial instability and career. Some have even decided not to commit into marriage for various reasons.

For us, it wasn’t any different 10 years ago. We never thought of marriage until someone mentioned that like any decision in life, if we do not decide with conviction, it will not happen. I had just graduated from university and started working for about two years and with the burden of a study loan, it was very difficult to save up for a lavish wedding do. Or so we thought?

“God Will Provide”

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:19

I met my wife at the tender age of 14 years old and at 17, I realized that she was the person I could trust my life with. We dated for almost 9 years before we made the decision to get married.

Though not many of our peers were getting married at that time, those who were held very lavish and grand luncheons and receptions. The pressure and struggle were real for us. Like most, we were also under the influence of “face” culture – how others would judge and measure us. We were afraid of the expectations our parents and relatives have on us regarding this “once in a lifetime” occasion. We talked a lot about this and came to realization that what we both wanted for “us” matters more than what others would expect of us. Our wedding really is a celebration of us taking the vows to be together as husband and wife with God as our witness. The rest we brushed off as secondary and finally came to terms with the “face” culture. We also realized that starting our married life in debt will be counter productive and will not sustain us over the long haul. What really matters is what happens after the marriage and not before.

Going through the process for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the church gave us almost a year’s time to prepare. Like any huge projects we undertake, we split Project Wedding into smaller modules and accomplished each within a reasonable time frame. We came up with a timeline with all the little details needed for the wedding to materialize.

Do-It-Yourself

From the bride’s veil, invitation cards to the flower girls’ baskets, we made them ourselves. We also wanted to have pictures of us taken dressed up in our wedding suit and dress so we made them first before arranging for the photo session. The wedding photo album was just a simple package that we bought at a wedding fair. As for the wedding dress, one of my good friend’s mother was a tailor and we got her to sew the wedding dress designed by my wife – the beautiful dress is still in our wardrobe. Throughout all these Do-It-Yourself activities, we grew even closer as a couple because we were in constant communication of our likes and dislikes.

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Support Systems

EE/CMPC: “The Immunization”

There has been some good and bad reviews shared to us regarding the Catholic Marriage Preparation Course (previously known as Evening for the Engaged). I guess it depends very much on the presenting couple. Lucky for us, my wife and I was assigned to an amazing couple. They made the contents of the course very current and relevant to us. The presenting couples were very generous in sharing their private space and experiences with us.

The Witnesses: “Real Life Examples”

We are very blessed to have grown up and journey through the faith with Daphne. When Daphne and Jim got married much earlier than us and started a family, they became our role models. We learned so much through observing them living their lives together as husband and wife with God at the very center of all their struggles and triumphs. They continue to inspire us till this day.

Friends & Family: “The Boosters”

Our wonderful and supportive friends and families gave us the encouragements and strength. Their love for us truly genuine and we never ever felt judged. I like to believe that God sent us amazing people and surrounded us with the love we needed to endure life’s challenges as well as sharing our happy moments.

The Day The Church Bells Rung

Like exactly how we wanted and envisioned it to be, a wedding with God at the center of it all, the Wedding Mass played out perfectly. The choir sang like angels and the band played their hearts out, family and friends filled almost half the church, and the warmth and love was heartfelt.

The most endearing moment I will remember for the rest of my life was when one of our favorite priests walked out to celebrate the mass. He had initially went overseas for studies but had returned to the parish due to whatever reason we were thankful for. In the silent prayers of our hearts, we had wished for his blessings on our special day and God indeed worked in His mysterious ways that day.

In all its worldly sense and standard, our wedding did not in any way measured up to those of the “wealthy” and by no means “fancy”.

But spiritually, we were filled to the brim and that was all we needed.

We have no professional photographers covering the event but instead, a few friends offered their help taking regular photos. Some found their calling and later on took up photography as hobby and part-time job.

Contrary to popular and normal practice, we did not have a grand dinner reception but instead we had a luncheon at a regular restaurant. I believe we fed our guests beyond their capacity and it was an awesome gathering and fellowship with people we hold close to our hearts.

The Vows

I believe the world today tends to shun taking responsibilities and lack follow through. For many, rules are made to be broken. I am opined that we should stick to the decisions that we make and follow through. A promise is meaningless when it is not made in good faith with the intention to bring it to fruition. When we say “I DO”, we are making a conscious effort to commit and be faithful.

We were asked the following questions:

“Have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?”

“Will you honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?”

“Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?”

And we made these vows:

I, take you, to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The Fundamentals

Love is a decision

You do not decide to get married in the heat of passion, just because all your friends are doing it, or your parents are asking you to.

You decide to get married because you have found someone that you will constantly and consciously decide on a daily basis to love and cherish for the rest of your life. This MUST be mutual between both man and woman.

The journey, not the destination

We sure did enjoy every part of the preparation leading up to our wedding day. Looking back, we have allowed ourselves to do that by eliminating all the unreasonable expectations – our own and from circumstances around us.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13

In Loving Memory of Ann Dass. Your advice and sharing continue to be blessings in our lives.

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