For Better or For Better

My husband and I were recently interviewed on a local television network called GNN (Global News Network) for the show called LIFE hosted by Marlyn Feliciano Lopez. Our episode was entitled Love, Courtship and Marriage. To be honest, each word in that title is a load to talk about for just 45 minutes. The beauty about it was that we didn’t have to exhaust every single topic. Instead, we revolved the topics around what we know best… our love story. 

On set with the host

On set with the host

Many things we shared to the host were actually everyday habits that we developed and never actually exposed to each other. They were like known secrets that made us more aware of what we were doing for the other person. These habits revolved around the theme of always being better persons together. 

Throughout our dating, courtship and especially engagement, I had to always take the time out to reflect and look back at all the conversations, events and fights that we went through and wonder: Am I a better woman than I was before? Am I closer to God than I was ever before? Am I looking for ways to reach out to others more? Am I a better daughter to my mom? Sister to my siblings? Friend to my friends? Student? Employee? 

My husband also stressed the point that while in a relationship, your relationship isn’t the most important part of your priority list. It’s the fourth where number 1. is God 2. is Family 3. is Work or School and 4. is Friends and Boyfriend/Girlfriend. He warned against making your relationship #1 because when you’re young there are so many opportunities that may be missed if you make your boyfriend/girlfriend your top priority. He had a simple gauge that he mentioned to his guy friends one night: “Dudes, if you don’t see me anymore. I’m probably in a bad relationship.”

Not to mention, there’s a lot to discover about yourself – from being a college student to a member of the workforce.

My husband and I knew each other when I was in my last year of college and he was working. He revealed (only) during the interview that he was watching how I was growing as a working woman.

There is a lot of wisdom in what he did.

In college, you’re exposed to people who you would see everyday and end up sharing the same values as you do because of the classes that you took together and every other shared experience within that university. But when you’re in the workplace, you’re forced to engage and deal with people of completely different backgrounds and consequently, perspectives and world views. Although it’s a wonderful experience to see things in a different light, there is also a huge possibility for you to change those values you once held so close in college. And eventually become a totally different person from who you were just a year ago. It’s the awful truth that your (college) values could just be fleeting feelings…

Which is why we were always on our toes.

The way we changed would always change our relationship, whether for better or for worse. For better was the gauge of how we knew we were “meant for each other.” (A lot of hard work, huh?)

Our relationship during the engagement period brought it to a whole different level where we had to tackle the daunting topic: finances. There were also those serious talks about living space and dealing with both families mixed in with the excitement of the wedding and marriage preparations.

Now that we are married, we not only see whether we are becoming better people together but it’s intertwined with learning about each other and learning to delicately deal with each other’s quirks, habits and moods well each and every day.

My husband talked about how he sought advice from a priest on how to begin the first few weeks of marriage and one was to:

Learn about each other, meaning, do not get annoyed by something new you discover (in her) but use it to learn (about her). Delight in it and learn how to deal with it.

This learning business is something we will never fully exhaust until the day we die. It’s something that allows us to delight in the positive and see the milestones amidst the difficulties. Just as what Pope Francis said during the audience with the families here in the Philippines: Do not stop dreaming (about your love, your spouse, your children and your family) or you will stop loving. It will remain difficult if all you see are the rocks and humps but when you see beyond it like the endurance muscle you will be strengthening for you and your marriage then… that’s dreaming. That’s loving.

After making our vows

After making our vows

A snippet from our honeymoon is Siena

A snippet from our honeymoon is Siena

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How “You Just Know” You’re Ready to Get Married

I’m engaged to get married on the onset of the -ber months next year. *Insert unceasing silent squealing*

I count by the months and can’t wait to count by the weeks and eventually by the days – not just because I’m marrying my best friend, the man of my dreams and all other cheesy things people would describe their fiances but because I genuinely want to begin this surely challenging yet fulfilling rest of our lives together. I can’t wait to pepper our lives with cheer and hope and have children and just… give. But before I came to this conclusion I was asked several questions – from my friends and my personal mulling over the new chapter I’m about to step into.

I recently read an article about the Five Things Every Newly-Engaged Girl Will Get Asked on the Brides Blog.

Due to cultural and moral reasons, only three to four of these questions that are applicable to me.

They are the following in order:

1. When’s the Wedding Date?

2. How did he propose?

and probably when me and the asker seem like we’re getting close enough…

3. Are you going to have kids soon?

I would include another question in between 2 and 3 and it would be “How did you meet?”

Only occasionally do I get a: “Can I see the ring?” (as in the article)

Out of all the questions that I receive, there is one that I believe takes time and a lot of reflecting to answer and that’s:

How do you know you’re ready?” 

Usually, I would hear this certain question asked to couples who have been together for years. Surprisingly, they always answer with a stern and confused “You just know.”

If you’re a frustrated person who desires to know the exact details of this three worded sentence, you would forcefully shake that couple into telling you the real answer. But we too have to understand… they’ve been married for so long that after decisively jumping that bridge to the Merryland of Marriage, Singledom became way too far for them to even describe its silhouette.

Since I’m a few steps closer to that bridge (and I can opt not to cross it), I always feel like I have to defend myself to everyone who asks this question. In a sense, I still need to.

Every time, I’m asked this question, I’m forced to dig deeper and deeper into the recesses of my soul and refine my thoughts through examining my very little experiences and each time I answer… these are the common trails that I see.

Him

Like many couples, we’ve been through a lot in that meager two years together. There was a lot of adjusting, a good number of fights and even more laughter and excitement. Since we got together, he made it known to me that breaking up was not an option (even if secretly, that was my fallback.) But when he said those words, I knew I was in good hands. I was with a man who was not willing to give up and is more than willing to fight for us.

When I was proposed to, I was shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t utter a single word out of shock and thoughtlessness. The only person I saw in that moment was him. That gesture of my boyfriend proposing was when I realized he decided on me for his forever. That very gesture of wanting the commitment impressed me because I know that nowadays commitment is such a feared realm to dwell in.

There was really only one way our relationship was going… It was up to me to decide whether I was willing to take that leap of Faith or doubted our forever together.

Me

Now that I can tick the “Man of my dreams” box from the imaginary list of ‘Things to have before you get married,’ what about… me? Am I really ready to get out of the mother nest and be my own mother in my own nest?

This is when I usually feel like that the belief that those who do get married later in life are justified to be more capable of running a home.

But I beg to differ.

I am a firm believer that while young, it’s a lot easier to adjust and to learn new ways of doing things better everyday. I’ve realized that I’m going to learn mountings of things along the way,  I’m going to have lots of questions and I’m also going to screw up… a whole lot! That’s all ok! Like a good friend once told me… you don’t have to have all your ducks in a row. That saying especially goes for marital adjustments, home skills, child rearing and personal achievements.

Ok, so maybe there is no list of prerequisites for an engaged gentleman or a lady to be “ready” for marriage but I believe thoroughly in the desire to learn, that loving foresight of what marriage entails for the gentleman or lady and the willingness to sacrifice.

Even though things can be learned, an environment I desire for my home begins with me. Everyday, I make it a point to reflect and work on some habits or attitudes I have that may be bothersome to my future husband.

It’s only fair. Besides, I love the guy more than myself.

When

Why is NOW the right time?

Oh gosh, they say that the timing is always just right. Well I can’t say I wholeheartedly believed that saying to begin with.

I definitely didn’t think I was ready at all.

Just imagine, you’re a 23-year-old not a girl not yet a woman. You’re only wading in the pond of the professional world and only getting tastes of the ‘real world.’ You’ve got your dreams of studying this and that and wanting to get to know this and that hobby. You’re traveling with your friends and just enjoying. You’re in a great relationship with a wonderful man and one fine day, he went down on one knee with his starry eyes looking at you. He presented this sparkly ring. With all the beauty of that moment, it was just that, THAT moment.

After all that…  I was on my own.

I was angry that nobody gave me a heads up that I would be all alone on this. It translated to that real sinking feeling of “Now, what?” – a confusion of many if not all engaged girls.

Thankfully, I don’t look to myself to find the answer to that question. I leave it up to God.

Soon enough, this was answered by many essential life experiences that just happened one after the other. I don’t mean to put too much meaning to the happenings but these have been very personal experiences that are both terrifying and struggling. But I know each one of them has and is shaping me and my fiance to become the people we should be for marriage.

To summarize the answer to the question: “How do you know you’re ready for marriage?” – everyday, I’m made to be more ready for marriage.

…withlot of guidance from above and a dash of loving willingness.

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