Four essential factors may make a marriage harmonious, lasting, and seemingly made in heaven
By Thaddeus C. Hinunangan, M.D.
We sat in a courtroom, it was clean and well-lit, with two couples in the front rows flanked by piles and piles of papers stacked upon each other. In front of them, was the Philippine flag, and the desk of the Honorable Judge. My friend, Joanne, looked stunning in a pink pantsuit accented with subtle ruffles, and standing beside her was her husband-to-be Lemuel.
I have been to many church weddings with all the theatrics: the procession of the entourage, the bride in a big white dress walking down the aisle with dramatic music played in the background, and hordes of people and well-wishers watching the ceremony. In contrast, civil weddings are extremely brief, no nonsense, and arguably more intimate.
Only weeks ago my friend Jo sent me a message asking me if I was free on a particular date, and spilled the beans that she was getting married. Of course I made myself free. Joanne and me had a very low maintenance friendship. She was one of my college buddies, and we kept in touch through the years as we went through our different ups and downs in life. She had several unsuccessful brushes with romance as well, and had broken up with a boyfriend, last I heard. You can just imagine my shock when she asked me and another college friend Jude, to be witnesses in her civil wedding.
The judge looked at their papers, and when everything was in order, he asked them to say their vows. Holding hands in front of their parents and us, their witnesses, Joanne and Lemuel said their vows. Even when Jo made a joke that she will just send her vows via text message, I couldn’t help but get tearyeyed at the sight of the couple holding hands and saying their promises to each other in front of God and the law.
After the ceremony, we all grabbed a ride to a quiet restaurant to celebrate. It was the turn of the groom’s father to speak. I was all ears and a bit hypnotized. I lost my father early, and though he was talking to Jo and Lemuel, I listened as though he was speaking to me.
“I have been married for nearly four decades, and it has not been easy. Our love had also gone through so many trials.” His voice seemed stronger than ever, even though he looked a little frail. His wife was beside him, aglow in a red dress.
“There are four ACTS in a marriage. ACTS mean, A for acceptance, C for commitment, T for trust, and S for spiritual growth.”
“Young lady, you know my son doesn’t have hair.” He said, pointing to his son’s bald head. We all laughed. “But acceptance in a marriage means accepting everything about the person, even the qualities or attitudes you have not seen yet.”
“Commitment means sticking with each other through thick and thin. When we were younger, I had to work abroad.” He gestured to the groom and his brother. “I had to leave the kids, and it was hard. But we stuck with our plans no matter what, and stayed committed despite the distance. Marriage is ‘till death parts us’, not until I get tired of us.”
He turned to my friend. “Trust is not letting your suspicions get the best of you. You trust your partner that he will stay loyal to you and your marriage.”
“Finally, the last advice is to seek spiritual growth for the both of you. Marriage cannot thrive without God. He is the one who instituted marriage.”
The wisdom of the groom’s father made me miss my own dad. We will never have this kind of talks. So we raised a glass, the bride and groom sparkling in their newfound happiness, and the parents grateful for beholding such an occasion. It may not have been a fancy church wedding, but its meaning reverberated in our core. May the bride and groom have a long and happy marriage!
“It may not have been a fancy church wedding, but its meaning reverberated in our core”
June 2018 Health and Lifestyle