Yesterday, May 9, I and wife Malou celebrated our 38th anniversary of elopement and civil wedding (we had our Church wedding a year after). Wow, ang bilis talaga ng panahon, tatlong dekada at walong taon na pala kami! No, not 38 years of putting up with each other, but 38 meaningful years of constantly putting love into our marital life – in casual jargon, “may forever.”
Not that our marriage was perfectly hatched in heaven or was all roses. Inarguably, there were thorns as well that were inevitably stemmed to the roses.
Whilst, in nostalgic mode, our wedding anniversary at hand unavoidably breezed in a swarm of memories prompting a wistful sigh and smile on my lips – how I met Malou, and the romantic flings we had that led to our elopement ((for me, I reckon it wasn’t at all “untimely” but rather, ‘twas our auspicious destiny).
First, how did I meet Malou? Well, it’s already an open book – at least, for those who know me. She was my student (after spending 2 years of aspirancy in a sisters’ convent and was advised to finish her last year in college outside before supposedly going back to the convent) in my first year of college teaching after freshly going out of the seminary.
What led to our elopement? Let me recall.
Around two months before our elopement, we had a secret fast date one late afternoon on a bay shore (staring at the bay’s horizon, holding her hands, and whispering “sweet nothings”) and we became oblivious of time, that around 7:00 pm and having already exceeded the mandated 6:00 pm curfew time set by her Lolo to be home, I was forced to get the help of my parish priest along with my colleague college instructor, a lawyer, to accompany me and Malou back to her Lolo’s residence.
Malou is from Davao and she was then staying or under the custody of her strict and disciplinarian Lolo, who was a city councilor.
So, on that fateful night, I and Malou, my parish priest, and my lawyer colleague, were in front of her fearsome Lolo, who was clad in a night robe, and a bulging tuck on his waist which I suspected was a gun. After all the nerve-wrenching verbal exchange – the berating of her Lolo, my parish priest’s intercessory pleading, my curt apologies while standing behind my parish priest, and Malou’s unabated crying – her Lolo decidedly announced that Malou would be sent home to Davao.
This chilling apprehension of losing contact or not seeing Malou anymore if she leaves for Davao precipitated some disquieting thoughts in me. I knew I wasn’t ready yet to go back to the seminary. I knew also that I wasn’t prepared yet for marriage. But I deeply felt too that I didn’t want to lose Malou – I have fallen in love with her, I swear!
In time, thus, I knew of one solution: Elopement! I tried to hatch our elopement plan, thought out its details, and quickly worked on its needed preparations – and well, the rest is history.
Now, on our 38th year, I’d like to put in – again, not put up – the following reflections.
First, looking back on our colorful long years of marriage, I reckon that it’s the struggles, sacrifices or “thornful experiences” that we have had, more than the happy or “rosy moments,” that have made our love even stronger over time.
Second, love has no boundaries; it is truly indiscriminating and unforeseeable. I’m sure, those of my age would aptly relate to Kim Carnes’ classic song, “Love comes from the most unexpected places.” Everybody is equal before the bar of love; it is the ultimate equalizer.
Last, but not least, I never regretted any bit that I got married instead of becoming a priest. Because, just like priesthood, marriage entails total commitment or self-giving. So, from the moment I married Malou, I had to be dead certain that it has to be “till death do we part.” True love emanates from the “certainty of oneself” and “responsibility for one’s choice” – both for priesthood and marriage.
According to psychologists, there are basically 5 stages of marital life, namely:
1. Romance stage (Neither of you can do any wrong in the eyes of the other, because you’re both still in your best behavior).
2. Disillusionment stage (You start recognizing each other’s flaws and shortcomings).
3. Power struggle stage (Increasingly aware of your many differences, you fight to draw boundaries in the relationship, and even small annoyances become big issues. Thus, most couples have occasional thoughts of leaving the relationship).
4. Stability stage (You find that you have deeper feelings of love, connection and trust with each other, regardless of personal differences).
5. Commitment stage (Couples have a clear notion of who their partner is, faults and weaknesses galore…yet they make a conscious choice to be with this person in spite, or even because, of all those flaws).
Have I and Malou reached the 5th stage of our marriage? Perhaps, yes.
But, we’re not keeping it there.
We’re constantly making it fresh every day, never losing the boy within me and the young girl inside her, no matter how many wrinkles edge our eyes or entire graying (not vanishing, please) of our hairs.
Having gone through our worst and best of times in the past, the best days aren’t over – we’re always looking forward to rising fresh and soundevery morning, hugging each other, with smiles on our faces and gratitude in our hearts.
Cheers and hugs to our 38th anniversary, my forever love, Malou!