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

A Candid take on Pregnancy

Announcement: We’re expecting a bundle of joy next year!

The Story

During the last leg of our honeymoon, there was something terribly strange about me – physically, emotionally and psychologically. I was nauseous all the time but I never vomited. The nausea would only stop after we ate something – whether it was gelato or cold cuts with cheese. Even if we were eating, I was always tired. We were going through the gorgeous Duomo of Siena and I just wanted to sit down on every bench while my husband was practically jumping around the place in excitement. My emotions were high and low and it was noticeable.

My tiredness was at its peak when we were on our way home. It was a 3 hour bus ride from Siena to Rome, a 45 minute cab ride from the bus station to the airport followed by an accumulated 16 hour flight from Rome to DOHA and DOHA to Manila and finally another 45 minutes from the Clark International Airport to the house. I dropped dead tired and until now I recall the feeling of being stuck in bed and not wanting to come out for days!

With all the craziness that was going on with me, I just knew it. I knew there was a person inside of me trying to get my attention and telling me “Hey, Mommy, I’m right here. I’m trying to get comfortable and grow. Sorry for making you feel sick all the time but I promise you it’s for my own good!

I went back to work a day after we arrived. After work, my best friend was my bed. Finally, Lance wanted to have peace of mind so we decided to buy a pregnancy test from the drug store. The result was POSITIVE.

The moment when the two pink sticks came out was when Lance was screaming, sweating and jumping in excitement and sheer bliss. I, on the other hand, had a silent experience with myself in an almost panic. There is a human being and he’s really in me. Well, I don’t know anything. How am I going to take care of myself since we haven’t exactly started our new life yet? How am I going to manage everything at home, taking care of a baby in my womb and working at an eight to five job? 

I’ve never in my life been so enveloped with worry and distress. The reality hit me big time. Albeit it’s natural. At the same time, there was a lot of relief that what I initially just knew was actually true and I could lead my life aware and ready to take care of the growing baby.

If my life were centered around myself and what I could do, I would forever be worried… thank goodness we started this relationship with God at the center of our relationship and until our married life. Putting back all the worry, this baby is the ultimate gift to our small family. A friend of my husband even said: “Isn’t that amazing that the love of your marriage has this as its fruit?”

Motherhood and Marriage

There is a pervading thought in this day and age that mirrors itself in media and common societal dispositions and its the “Me Mentality.” I have to reach this to be able to do this I need to build a business to be this Me. Me. Me.

Because it’s so common, I can hear the thought about newlyweds speak clearly in my mind: Didn’t you guys want to just enjoy each other first before having kids?

The tough part is that it isn’t impossible to start considering it as your own thought. Judging from the sound of what that question implies is that a couple should be selfish with one another first before considering having kids. I understand that many newlyweds may want to wait it out because of financial issues. But let’s be honest, who knows when a married couple is financially ready to have kids?

There are way too many statistics out there calculating how much a child would cost to be raised in this day and age but no statistics can be made of the miracles that may happen when they love the life they allow to live. Neither is there any statistic for the creativity and willpower parents will have to find ways to make ends meet.

The beautiful part about this pregnancy is that I am reminded that I’m not alone and my primary caregiver is my husband. He knows so well how I can get caught up in my own thoughts that one night he had to look at my eye and say: “I am not allowing you to go through this alone. Trust me. I’m here.

That’s when I knew I was really married.

Baby: The Real Deal

A few days later, we visited the OB-gyne and I got an ultrasound.

On the black and white screen, I saw the matchstick head sized baby in me. Besides just seeing, the most spectacular part about it was that the doctor recorded his heartbeat. My baby is just a month into life and he/she has a heartbeat that technology recorded. Please tell me that that is the clearest sign that this baby is a human being. PLEASE.

I was just reading a comment trail on a blog entry about how a lady shouldn’t push through with her abortion and so many of those comments were telling the blogger that it’s her choice whether to have a baby or not. One comment even implied that it shouldn’t be anyone’s business because abortion is way too overrated to be cared about. They were bantering back and forth about scientific data of fetus development yada yada yada. As a soon-to-be mother, my eyes just widened.

I know that that baby is a baby with a heartbeat. Isn’t that enough? When a person is near-death, the medics check the pulse of the patient and revives them with a defibrillator! I can’t imagine the kind of conscience a person who could end any person’s heartbeat – whether pea-sized or what society implies the right age to die. What makes this argument worse is that women are defending their “right to abort” while there are men willing to risk their name for abortion to end. This women’s right to abortion is defended with “I” “Me” and “Mine” statements. That says a lot about women’s purpose in life.

Since this is becoming a rather long update, I want to end it on a happy note. 🙂 Nowadays, it’s hard enough to inspire couples to get married but where life is concerned, I sure hope it won’t be as tough as a decision to keep life.

There is so much happiness in new life. I noticed that as days pass by the people around me are more and more concerned about my (rather, our) health and even get out of their way to make the simple things easier for me to do. Maybe other moms don’t have the same good fortune as I am gratefully receiving but I’m sure that one bad experience doesn’t and couldn’t possibly outweigh the good and happy experiences they received from those around them.

New life begets a new love.

A Day for Forever

only a dream

only a dream

Getting married is an absolute dream. It’s only been nine days since the start of our married life and I am ever so slowly leaving the memories and feelings to fade into the background of our photographs.

As I recall, it was a perfect night.

The imperfections made it all the more perfect – at least for me.

To name them: In the middle of the day, the rain poured HEAVILY. When I was walking down the aisle, my wedding gown snagged at the bottom and hit the points of my stilettos that I had to kick my dress to be able to walk steadily down the long aisle of our parish church. I didn’t read our vows well that I went onto saying “Yes, I do” before I should have and it was caught on video… See our on the day video by the great Bob Nicolas here.The reception program was already delayed and it was delayed even more because of a MAJOR glitch in the lights and sounds system.

It may sound like any bride’s horror story but the bounty of love and happiness overshadowed and covered all of the pains of the day’s apparent mishaps.

To continue: When our photographers saw my worried gaze at the intense rain, all they said was “This will work for you.” I put my trust in them and now that the photographs are out (by the uber talented team of Toto Villaruel), the day looked beyond beautiful in the photos. It looked as if it didn’t rain at all.

The dew drops sparkled for us.

In the bridal car while I was waiting for my turn to march, guests saw me and greeted me. One of them took time to whisper that this weather couldn’t have been more perfect. While I was tripping through the aisle, all I saw was Lance’s look wanting to give me a bear hug.

After making our vows and our priest declaring our marriage, Lance and I looked behind to see the parish almost full with our family and friends hooting and cheering. It was the most spectacular sight I have ever seen.

Finally, the major glitch in the lights and sounds system turned out to be a moment for intimate conversations between our guests and the roving bride and groom. After around thirty minutes, the lights and sounds miraculously went back on.

The program was knotted with the feeling that I wanted to bring to our guests – filled tummies, happy tipsiness and unending laughter. Most of all, I wanted the guests – even if they have never sat and chatted with us – to feel like they have gotten to  know Lance and I in our celebration! All thanks to Lance, his best man and my maid of honor who dedicated their time and effort to surprise me with the spectacular reception program.

Until now, I still cannot get the wedding out of my head. All the more since I wake up with the man I got married to everyday now. I am filled with boundless gratitude. I even told Lance that one of the best things about being married is the relief that it’s done and we can move on with married life! Call me traumatized but with all the crazy natural calamities and wars around the world, I now have such peace that I’m married to this man.

I know the high will fade into the oblivion of married life. Lance reminded me yesterday of this when we were talking about the unsexy topic of finances, he said: “Let me look into the future for us, my love…” While he does that, I’m still flipping through our wedding photos and repeatedly watch our wedding videos until both websites hit its fifteen thousand view.

Sharing with you my man’s ultimate surprise video during the reception that I cannot get enough of.

I don’t know how I will tread through married life but I’ll probably take from our wedding day – do my best and have a lot of trust in my husband, most especially in God who made His presence felt in the Sacrament of Marriage and who allowed the imperfections to happen for the beauty of real love to shine.

The Glamour of Weddings and the “Tipid” Bride

The glamour of weddings is in the bride being the center of attention.

She dictates the mood and decorations from what hangs on the ceiling to the mini donuts that will be served after the reception proper – oh, and the little flag with their monogram that will adorn the donuts. Admittedly, it’s exciting to get emails from suppliers about the bouquets or the mock set-ups and to attend bridal showers.  Yes, that pinterest board gets the limelight too.

Unfortunately, most pinterest boards, if followed photo by photo into an actual wedding will cost millions and maybe a billion Philippine pesos. I’ve heard of a couple who delayed their wedding for two years just because they wanted to save up for the best suppliers in the business. You can already guess that weddings around the world – including the Philippines – is an incredibly lucrative business. A friend of mine described most bridal blog features to be weddings that have no budget.

I want to be really honest. In the wedding industry, I’ll be exposing the unspoken categorization of the kinds of suppliers based on pricing. You have the High-End – a la Louis Vuitton and Prada kind of pricing, the Mid-Range – a la Kate Spade, Kenneth Cole and Lacoste pricing and the Low-End – a la fast fashion pricing: Zara, Promod and even Forever 21 brands. This is merely based on experience upon checking supplier prices and comparing bridal fair price listings. 

I might start to sound pretentious and even jealous of those who bag the high-end wedding suppliers because they can but… there is NO NEED. Getting them is not the point of having the perfect wedding. No matter what wedding blog supplies you with that kind of information is NOT TRUE and even if you can, it shouldn’t even be the point. I truly believe that anyone can have a beautiful wedding without drilling a hole into their wallet just by being very creative, resourceful and practical and sticking by those three values that will undoubtedly be brought to married life (which is the most important thing.)

I also see why most wedding blogs only feature the best wedding suppliers around.  Maybe it’s to set the standard for suppliers to have an excellent quality wedding and to set a standard of refinement and elegance for the brides-to-be of what a wedding should look and feel like. But let’s face it…

The best weddings are the ones you know were so well thought-out to the point that each person who attends feels like they’re truly part of a love story. 

Besides that, in the Philippine context, most complaints I get involve comfort of the attendants such as how the height of the decoration piece shouldn’t block the view of the other tablemates, shorten the program of the wedding (including the length of the speeches) and MAKE SURE THERE ARE COCKTAILS (I don’t know how many times I got this piece of advice.) Wedding blogs don’t talk about that that much.

Being from a country where we come across the less fortunate everyday in all its forms, I consider it unfair that more than a fraction of our yearly hard-earned salaries should go to a one-day event that will hardly support our forever or our future children or let alone, insurance.

It’s a far dream of mine… but I someday hope to put up that wedding blog that teaches brides how to be very creative, resourceful and practical and even to some extent philanthropic. I want a blog that will help brides focus on what is truly important – their life to come with their husband. A blog that isn’t so much about the fanfare but more about the values and virtues that can be learned by the couple from preparing a wedding sort of how to use this wedding as a fertile training ground for married life. A blog that will guide readers through the different suppliers and how to speak and deal with them. I want to still be able to talk about the trends of blogs but also how to get them at a discounted price and how other brides were able to stay practical. I hope to have an advice portion where brides can talk to other brides about their special circumstances and get an answer from a warm columnist.

And I will call it the Tipid (Thrifty) bride.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to How Much Do Weddings Cost in the Philippines just for you to have an idea of the range of how much a wedding would cost.

Young Love, Old Love

I was amused to read this from my friend’s Facebook wall:

Spent today with le Chinese elders… One lady in particular amused me *she’s old and spoke in Chinese*

“Rich?! Who cares about being rich? As long as you live a life that makes you happy, then you are rich! When my eldest son was born, all we could give him was Carnation milk! A little Carnation, mix it with water! Pity! Sometimes, we didn’t always have food, so what did we do?! Did I fight with my husband?! No! I just looked at him and I was happy. We loved each other. He worked hard, and that’s why I didn’t mind the money. Money does not matter. You think money matters? No. Money does not buy you over 60 years of marriage, LOVE does.”BABAM!!!

Love is abound! When has it not been? It’s all the more evident now that the summer revealed its sweltering days. Oh gosh, the heat is insane in the Philippines. I mean, I nursed a headache with coffee this mid-afternoon because of the heat. (I really don’t know why but coffee has that effect on my migraines.) Love is like this immense heat! It affects everyone.

But there’s a quality of love that we long for. It’s the kind of love that lasts forever. I’ve talked about it before in this post and I can’t help but bring it up again in even more anecdotes about old couples. I know that not a person with a heart can resist videos or stories about couples who have been married for 50-80 years and still show how they are madly in love with each other. The quality of their love is so much like good wine and aged cheese that their constancy has made their love so compelling and has gotten journalists to talk about them. The way they have grown together gives their relationship such a distinct personality that compares to no one and at the same time shares the same three-fold meaning of marriage which was that they had children together, between a man and a woman and they are clearly in it for as long as they live – sometimes even beyond the lifetimes of their spouses.

One such story is in this very charming Humans of New York video of Shirley and Moe. Watching this video brought tears to my eyes when I saw Shirley’s look of distant memory as she was trying to explain to the camera about the final days of her husband. With her raspy yet strong voice, she told the camera about the conversation she had with him when she asked “What would I do without you?”

And he gathered up all the energy he could and said: “Take the love you have for me and spread it around. A love spread around there beauty is found.”

I don’t know about you but that’s the kind of stuff that romance script writers rack their brains out to come up with.

Sometimes, these couples were made so much for each other that the world cannot bear to see them separated. That’s exemplified by this headline that reads Married Couple for 70 Years, Die 15 Hours Apart. Many other elderly couples have died the same way throughout all human history.

Everyone wants this kind of love – precisely because we were made from love! On the eve of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII’s canonization, I would like to quote St. John Paul II’s insightful and understanding perspective on the search for love from his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope:

Young people are always searching for the beauty of love. They want their love to be beautiful. If they give into weakness, following worldly models of behaviour…in the depths of their hearts they still desire a beautiful and pure love.This is as true of boys as it is of girls. Ultimately, they know that only God can give them this love. As a result, they are willing to follow Christ without caring about the sacrifices this may entail.” 

In this quote, I’m particularly moved by how he addresses the youth. I would guess it’s because of our tendency to understand the mystery of life in all its colors – the black, the gray, the white and the mesh of every color. It was his way to tell us that hey, I know what you want, I know it behind your confused eyes. I know it behind the urges of your passionate soul.I know what you want because I wasn’t just in your place. I am still an adolescent well, an old adolescent to be exactly, but I want exactly what you want too. I know where it lies and best of all, He wants us more than we want Him. Please don’t wander off another way because your search will just go awry. I know love in its truest color and it’s more beautiful that your mind can ever imagine…

It’s true. We’re always confused about why things happen. They say you have to go through something life changing to be thrown out of our horses all called pride. They say we have to love ourselves first before we get into any serious relationship. What does that mean exactly? Loving ourselves isn’t the kind the succumbs to comforts and likes 24/7 that this world subscribes to. It starts with the gratefulness of the love we already have.

I realized this after my dad passed away. Although I didn’t understand why it had to happen… I think about him everyday. I sought a father. If not a biological one, I searched for the man who loved me more than I can ever know. I didn’t know it at that time but I met Him everyday when I went to daily mass. There I realized more and more God’s immense love for me. All the good present in my life was made clear amidst the misery of no longer having a father. More than that, I saw God’s intense love for me that through a desperate situation, He asked me to look at and know Him.

Out of all the love stories born out of the heroic elderly couples, the oldest love would be God’s love for us and its constancy is present until this day.

Christian, non-Christian of all colors and races, we all know the power of old love. Even if some of the youth seem to be hopeless, they know the profundity of old love only, they don’t know where to seek it or how – but it’s possible really, I was only sixteen years old when I found that peace, in the oldest love of all.

The Promise

Being engaged is a promise to marry.

It’s all so exciting for the engaged lady because now the reason to browse through wedding blogs, create a viewable Pinterest board of wedding inspiration and follow wedding-filled Instagram accounts are justified! The dream wedding can finally materialize!

I am a proud engaged lady who does just that above! Although I have to admit, I was never for anticipating how my wedding would look like because I never really knew if I was going to get engaged or married. So… I never had a “must-have” theme or color or a dream dress or a dream venue. I just know which church I wanted to have it in. Even for the little things, I was never a big fan of anticipating really, just because it causes me a lot of disappointments in the mind and in the soul that are NOT in line with reality at all. This cycle of disappointment in the mind is something I find to be a sickness among us women. But apart from too much anticipating, I know that there is no harm in dreaming. So, at the same time, I somewhat regret not having a full-fledged wedding plan because now that it’s actually going to happen… I don’t know where to begin! Allow me to reserve the discussion of the two camps for a separate post.

Any person in a relationship or anyone coming in from a relationship can attest to the bounty of hardships that they go through. Granted that both parties have kept the relationship clean, they experience a world of different topics to discuss, things to consider and the nearness of the new beginning when they are engaged.

With that said, I found it appropriate to have our engagement… blessed.

The Inspiration

A couple in my alma mater had a very simple betrothal ceremony in our university chapel before they got married. I didn’t attend the ceremony but I never forgot it either – all I thought was: “When I get engaged… I’m SOOOO going to have a betrothal ceremony! It’s so cool!” – the excitement was that of buying a new pair of shoes.

Once I did get engaged, it didn’t take me long to bring up the idea of having the betrothal ceremony to both my fiance and my confessor.

Betrothal Ceremony?

Like many people, I thought, what the heck is a betrothal ceremony anyway?

For me, it’s always best to go through the etymology:

Let’s go to the word BETROTHMENT (from where the words betrothal and betrothed come from):  Please refer to this source for the complete article. Here are some definitions and significances of betrothment to summarize things:

From Roman law sources:  “the mention and promise of future marriage.

Pope Nicholas I defined them as “pacts of promise of future marriage.

St. Thomas referred to the engagement as a “quasi-sacramental.

Just like the Code of the Canon Law, engagement is normally understood that the two parties either (1) mutually agree with being engaged or (2) mutually agree with being engaged once the party being proposed to by the proposing .

I hope that made some sense.

There is no correct template for the betrothal ceremony. We had a blessing of engagement gifts – engagement ring for the woman and another wearable object for the man (ring, watch etc.) and there were no exchange of words. There is another article that I’ve read about an engaged couple who said their promises out loud. Another married lady mentioned to me that when she had her betrothal ceremony with her husband they even had to sign a contract!

Simply put, the betrothal ceremony is a short blessing of an engaged couple with the priest who presides over the couple.

After all the research, we realized that betrothment is a huge deal! Although it’s a tiny speck next to the caliber of the Sacrament of Matrimony, I can’t help but delight in the idea that even the engagement period can be a gift to heaven instead of just a mere fury of preparations.

Our Betrothal Ceremony

We had our betrothal ceremony on a sunny Saturday morning the day before Our Lady’s birthday. We held it in the chapel of my high school alma mater. We celebrated alongside another engaged couple and just a couple of friends behind us.

The chapel was empty until we came in. The ceremony was setup in the right most side of the chapel.

image

The massive prayer book was on a wooden rest was open. There was a bottle of holy water to its right.

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Our priest serenely brought out the Blessed Sacrament to be the Ultimate Witness of our ceremony.

The candles by the tabernacle were lit.

Once the ceremony began, the readings sweetly rang in my ear:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

image_1Father gave a short and meaningful commentary. He said that on his way to our ceremony, he contemplated on the betrothal of St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother. In Jewish tradition, bethrothment was equivalent to marriage. The only difference was that they didn’t live together yet. It was in marriage when they could formally live as husband and wife together in a home.

He gave that couple as the prime example of how they met hardships one after the other but was facilitated by the loving advise and guidance of God. The first hardship was when St. Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant. When St. Joseph thought of quietly leaving Mary, God made known to him His plan in a dream. When that was all figured out… then there was the problem of the flight to Egypt. And then in a couple of years… they lost Jesus in the temple. It was ONLY when they went back to the temple to pray did they find Jesus. Father said: during this engagement period, you will be going through a lot of hardships but to no avail even during married life you will be going through even more hardships but — not without God.

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This was an awesome reminder that hey, no one can truly love without God who is Love Himself.

I quote Fulton J. Sheen from his fantastic book Three to Get Married:

The basic error of mankind has been to assume that only two are needed for love: you and me, or society and me, or humanity and me. Really it takes three: self, other selves and God; yo, and me, and God.

Love of self without love of God is selfishness; love of neighbor without love of God embraces only those who are pleasing to us, not those who are hateful. One cannot tie two sticks together without something outside the sticks; one cannot bind two nations of the world together except by the recognition of a Law or a Person outside the nations themselves. Duality in love is extinction through the exhaustion of self-giving. Love is triune or it dies. 

The meaning of the above mentioned quote was captured by this beautiful ceremony.

I do hope that more and more couples become open to having a Betrothal Ceremony when they get engaged.

Although the preparations are what is normally highlighted, married life is ultimately what a couple gets themselves into. In the bustle and pressures of life and the life to come, we could use all the help we could get.

All photos courtesy of our dear friend, Jake Morales.

Quote: Eternal Love

I couldn’t help but re-post this beautiful quote.

“I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us [heaven]. . . .
I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.”
– St. John Chrysostom, on what a young husband should say to his bride

MY GOSH. How much more romantic can you get??? There’s so much to be said about this quote. First of all, let’s talk about who this came from.

St. John Chrysostom was known as a preacher, liturgist and theologian. He is one of the most important Church Fathers and was the Archbishop of Constantinople – the city before the 1453 Ottoman conquest.

During his time, there was a lot of turmoil just about the basic doctrine and hierarchy in the Church not to mention a lot of wars broke out for geographical conquest. You could just imagine how preoccupied his mind was!

So, how could this holy man talk about the love between husband and wife and express it so vividly that you could feel the sincerity and TRUTH run thru your skin? This guy’s encompassing love ran through the divine and he has gotten the essence of love between man and wife down better than any love song written in this century.

This just solidifies my belief that for any man to truly love a woman is to wholeheartedly and dedicated to God first. When I think of a guy and a girl who both decide to be a couple and then eventually decide to spend their lives together, there’s a lot of confetti, an exchange of rings, family and other  lovelies floating in a space occupied by the thought of endlessness – the only Person that embodies endlessness is GOD. Sure, we’ve all heard the saying: “Change is the only constant thing on earth.” Yes, on earth and in life, but what happens after life? Doesn’t it go back to a Constant (yes, with a capital C)? It’s absolutely mind-boggling – back to a love that is eternal.

What about content?

Well, a girl melts to be in the arms of the man she loves. “I prefer you to my life itself.” Seriously? Nowadays it’s just so hard to believe this because you become surrounded by plastic-faced people, men and women alike, who just love themselves more than anyone period. St. John Chrysostom is right to put this in the context of marriage because by the man being able to say this to his wife is to proclaim that through thick and thin and through intense emotions and hardships – he will love you selflessly and never leave you.

Aha and then he talks about his dreams. In this day and age, people obviously measure success from (the amount) of power, money, fame and luxury. Things that can be counted. But I do not believe happiness can be counted… true happiness is a state of being. To me, it’s when you habitually choose to choose the things that step out of your comfort zone to be able to love freely. When you love in its truest sense (selflessly) you’re happy all the time!

Then the last line: “I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.” – the meeting of the minds and hearts It seems to be this young husband only desires to have the same view as his wife in all things – about love, about life and about one another. They can definitely have different opinions about menial things but they can definitely be compromised but if it’s related to his ultimate dream of leading their love to heaven then he only wishes that they both have the same view in mind.

I just love his motion and emotion in this painting where he was outwardly negotiating with Empress Eudoxia.

I just love his motion and emotion in this painting where he was outwardly negotiating with Empress Eudoxia. (by Jean-Paul Laurens)

Perfect example of his vigor in the plight for the Truth. Empress Eudoxia at that time believed that St. John Chrysostom was directing his preaching of extravagant feminine dress to her and wanted him imprisoned. But the night of his arrest, there was an earthquake and she took it as a sign of God’s anger. If she already believed that what she was doing was unjust then she really shouldn’t have arrested him to begin with!

This is definitely one amazing saint I’ll definitely be reading more about.