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MANILA, Jan. 7, 2013—While pop culture has played up the notion of dream weddings and so-called “matches made in heaven” then later the breakup of marriages, hardly does it focus on one essential factor in tying the knot, which is vital to the happiness of married couples: adequate preparation.
Rosie Luistro, married for 35 years this month, believes that one reason that marriages fail to work is the lack of preparation.
“Most couples whose marriages ‘failed’ entered into it impulsively or for the wrong reasons (e.g., a teenage girl who got pregnant marries the boy – both unprepared, of course – or a hasty decision based on physical attraction, which means not much time to know each other before marriage). This is precisely why it is imperative that children be constantly taught about the importance of being faithful in marriage,” she explained.
One thing that sets today’s society apart from that of decades ago is the astounding number of people filing for annulments, and Luistro attributed this partly to the fact that “there is now a greater awareness of the procedure [to pursue the annulment].”
Coupled with this empowerment with information on annulment procedures is the massive bombardment of society by media with misleading messages about love and marriage.
No such thing as perfect marriage
“There is no perfect marriage as there is no perfect love in this world,” said the mother of two and grandmother of two. “Marriage and love have to be worked on and developed in time, using whatever problems and difficulties the couple may meet, to learn virtues and thus strengthen their love.”
Luistro, who is the founding president of Alliance for the Family Foundation Inc. (ALFI), talked of exclusivity, commitment and going into it fully prepared for whatever challenges will come the couple’s way.
“Couples must know, before marriage, that it is a life-long commitment of mutual, exclusive, total, irrevocable and sincere self-giving and sacrifice. It is entered into with open eyes, by a lot of thinking, a lot of maturity, a lot of preparation knowing the other person extremely well and not just based on mere passion or convenience. Marital union between a man and a woman is part of God’s plan,” she explained.
Anita Alisaca, marking her 23rd wedding anniversary this year, also attributed spousal discontent and eventual separation to a lack of pre-wedding discernment and, in some cases, venturing into sexual intimacy when such rightly belongs in the area of conjugal relations.
Pre-wedding discernment waylaid by sexual activity
“It is my opinion that extremely difficult situations arise only if the period of discernment is ‘short-circuited’ by sex before matrimony, she said, explaining that by “discernment” she referred to “if one is meant for the married state or not, and if that or this person is the right one, or if this or that time is the right time.”
The mother of four pointed out that contraception and the push to make it so easily available even to the youth and unmarried persons should be an issue of concern since this adversely affects the decision-making of young people and the stability of relationships heading for marriage.
“Contraception [and its availability] would make sex before marriage so easy and convenient without the accompanying discernment process,” Alisaca lamented.
Even unmarried and level-headed young people are apparently aware of the indispensable part that preparation plays in the success of marital unions.
“I just shake my head and say that it is a prison for people who didn’t prepare well for their married life and for those people who are afraid of responsibilities,” he said. “If you love someone then being with that person and sharing your whole self with that someone is the most liberating thing.”
The engineer, who is engaged to be married, said he made the decision fully aware of the hardships that lay ahead – as hardships are part of life, no matter the civil status.
“Difficulties are always present in every situation of our life. It is wrong to say that those who are single are living easy lives,” Ching mused.
“Married people have to face problems unique to their marital status as well as those who are single. Based on this, I can say that I am fully aware of the difficulties that I will be facing.”
‘Divorce should never be an option’
House Bill 1799, casually referred to as the divorce bill and introduced by Gabriela Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus, seeks to amend the Family Code to include a provision on divorce as a solution to marriages experiencing such difficulties.
“Divorce should never be an option. There is no difficult situation that cannot be addressed in an adequate way,” said Luistro, adding that in cases in which the spouses living together becomes impossible, “there is a final recourse – Legal Separation. It may be the only recourse to ensure the legal rights and care of the children.”
Alisaca quietly stated that there is no situation that warrants a permission to be granted a divorce if married sacramentally. “There’s [declaration of nullity] if the marriage is void from the beginning and there are criteria to satisfy, if such is the case,” she emphasized.
“We don’t need divorce for marriages that are null and invalid even at the start,” she added.
‘Easy way out’ no boost for lifetime partnership
Ching pointed out the growing tendency in society to regard even the smallest conflicts between spouses as reasons for calling it quits and cautions against this.
“Having an ‘easy way out’ already defeats the purpose of ‘lifetime partnership’ between a man and woman. Shallow things can be an excuse to sever the relationship. Instead of fixing the problem, couples will think of getting out of the relationship because it is very easy,” the soon-to-be-bridegroom said.
“Married couples who fulfill their vow of ‘til death do us part’ will do everything to get make their relationship grow strong. I think this is the positive advantage of current set-up of marriage in our country,” he continued.
When news of the resurfacing of the divorce bill in Congress was publicized barely a week after word of the RH bill’s signing got out, family and life advocates were quick to voice out their protests, citing the irreparable damage on society that would result from such assaults on the family.
“Divorce damages the most enduring human institution – honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith,” Luistro said.
“If divorce is allowed, it becomes a valid option every time a marriage is threatened. Divorce divides. Divorce destroys the family.” (CBCP for Life)