Sunday , May 27, 2018

Surviving 15 years together before marching to the altar

IT IS very rare that couples nowadays would become lovers for a long time before getting married.

According to worldwide stats researched by Cosmopolitan magazine, on average, couples spend 4.9 years in a relationship before making a commitment to spend the rest of their lives together.

My wife and I are an exception. We were lovers for 13 years before we said “I do” to each other at the RER Catholic Church in Carmen in 1999.

The 13 years were filled with dramas, lots of them that they could fill up 10 seasons of ABS-CBN’s teleserye. But we stuck together and until now we are still together and blessed with a 12-year-old son.

When my wife, Virma, and I married in 1999, her cousin Liane Audrey Dela Cruz was one of our flower girls. LA, as we call her, was only 10-years-old at that time.

Four days before Valentine’s Day, LA got married to her long time boyfriend Deo Nathan Gabasa at the Mt. Carmel Catholic Church also in Carmen.

I did not know that LA has made my relationship with my wife an example to follow in her own relationship with her husband Deo. They have been together also through thick and thin for 15 years before finally taking their vows in a Catholic ceremony in front of relatives and close friends, followed by a lavish reception at the Rich Manor Hotel along Corales Street.

LA met her husband in high school at Liceo University. They were both members of the school’s dance troop. “Deo smelled good, I had a crush on him because he always wears nice perfume,” she said with a smile.

Deo also had a crush on LA because she was pretty and was kind and “maldita.” They became a couple on January 8, 2003 when LA said yes to Deo at the pier when she was about to go to Cebu for the Sinulog Festival.

From then on they have been together. They had many problems but their love for each other persevered. They even took up Nursing together at Liceo and continued their love for dancing in college.

In 2015, they were blessed with a son DJ that sealed their relationship. After the birth of their son, LA went to Saudi to work as a nurse while Deo stayed to look after their son. He also worked as a medical sales representative.

LA and her elder sister May were raised by their mom Linda Virtudazo Dela Cruz alone after their father Armando died of a heart attack when they were in the elementary school. She was also a nurse in Saudi before she retired in 2016.

Deo is the son of Adoniram and Mary Jean Gabasa. He had an elder sister who died of breast cancer last year.

The long relationship with my wife and LA’s relationship with her husband is a proof that a long relationship before marriage can still work.

Most couples today date for 1.4 year before moving together. They then lived together for 22 months before getting engaged and then they were engaged for 20 months before getting married. The total time living together before getting married according to Cosmopolitan Magazine is 3.5 years.

I our case, we never lived together before getting married so as LA and Deo.

But as the day of love approaches, here are some tips to consider before couples should take the plunge of a lifetime according to Cosmopolitan Magazine.

1) Money

Explore together what your expectations are of money, your uses for it, how you like to save and spend. No answers are wrong, but it's important to avoid surprises (and also conflict) down the road.

2) Sex

The only time that sex becomes an issue in a relationship is when there are differing expectations about how much of it is being had... or isn't. The important thing is to talk about how much of it is normal in your relationship and if you're on the same page, even if it's significantly more or less than is "expected," you're fine. But please have the discussion, because sex waxes and wanes in a long-term relationship.

3) Love languages

Discuss how each of you gives and receives love. If there is a difference - and there is likely to be - it can create a feeling of not being loved when it's not given to you in the way or love language you "speak."

4) Intimacy

Beyond sex, intimacy is the real foundation of a successful relationship. Explore what you'd like together, and how you would like to build on what you have. This is the vulnerable stuff, and it may take some bravery to open up. If you're both willing to deepen your connection, your relationship will only continue to bloom.

5) The future

What are your goals and visions? How might you support one another in going after them? It's ok to have very different paths ahead, and it's important to identify commonalities and areas you can work at as a team.

6) Children

With more people choosing to not have children, this is a topic that's no longer a foregone conclusion when a couple marries. Talk about your expectations around when, and if, you'll start a family, how you would approach raising your kids, and what sort of home you would like to build around them.

7) Expectations for family relationships

Getting married means you're blending two families, along with their traditions, expectations and dynamics, so it's important to talk about this ahead of time. Define how your new family will celebrate holidays and how you will choose to spend that time. Recognize that you are now a team and a family unit of your own.

8) Fidelity

This is a really important topic, even if a couple agrees that they'll be monogamous, there may be varying ideas about what that actually looks like. Is one partner expecting that their spouse will never again speak to a member of the opposite sex, or is it ok to kiss old friends when meeting them after a long time? Talk about this beforehand.

9) Fighting

There will be conflict in any relationship, it's natural. If there isn't, then the people in the relationship are perhaps not entirely engaged in it. With this inevitability, it'll serve you well to talk about how you each approach conflict. This means designing how you'll approach conflict and deciding on some strategies to employ while you're still in agreement that work for you. For instance, it doesn't work for all couples to resolve their conflicts in order to "not go to bed angry"; sometimes you won't be able to address it all before bed, and will have to agree to continue your discussions in the morning.

10) End of life

This should be an ongoing discussion, but it's really never too early to learn about your partner's preferences for care if they were very ill. This is something you can speak about with your entire family, actually, and it provides more peace of mind as the sickness and health part of the vows plays out.