September 22, 2021
The Road to Marital Bliss
My father told me when I was in my 20s that I should be more like my mother if I wanted to stay married. Apparently, he felt that his cheeky opinionated daughter could not land herself a husband, more or less keep one. Of course, him being ultra conservative and protective also did not help. He would always say no to me going out on any date. And if he approved, which he did rarely, my father gave me a 9:00 pm curfew, complete with hatid sundo.
So imagine all your barkada meeting up at 7:30pm, and one was late. By the time everyone arrived and complete, it was already time for me to go home. And If I was late for only a minute, the sermon would take 3.5 hours in the night until he was exhausted and slept. That was the reason I was single all the way in my 20s — my dad would scare all the eligible suitors away.
My father said he would agree for me to have a boyfriend once I reached 28. So I when I turned 28, I did finally formally introduce him to my third boyfriend, Benson.
Benson was an honor student from Xavier, graduate of the prestigious Management Engineering and was Chinese, the trifecta of every Chinese mother’s dream guy for her own daughter. He was a banker at ING, and was dealing with futures. There was very little to complain aside from the fact that he was far too nice for me, and wanted me to stay home with the kids after marriage. When I asked my dad what he thought, he would say, “Bah, kuripot yan.”
My father was later proven to be true, but at that time, it hurt. And when that relationship exploded a natural death, my father never even consoled me, as if this was what he wanted all along. I never introduced him to anybody else afterwards. It just seemed there was never anyone who was good enough for his daughter.
I was 33 when I finally met Sidney via eharmony.com, an international dating site. At that time, my father was sick with cancer and was physically less protective of his daughter than usual. I remember Sidney would pick me up at night after my father went to bed. We would go out, have a coffee, and he would then take me home, climbing our tall gate to let me in back home at night afterwards. It was sneaky but it was the only way our relationship could have flourished.
Sadly, my father passed away three months after I met Sidney.
On his wake, Uncle Jun, my father’s best friend jokingly told my now husband, “Ang talino mo talaga. Inantay mo muna bago mamatay si Val bago mo niligawan si Tina.”
It was the most inappropriate thing to say at a wake, but it was also the truth. I don’t think I would ever get married if my father was still alive.
A lot of people believe that the road to marriage is smooth and romantic. When Sidney finally proposed after a year of dating, my mother cried and my only brother punched the wall in anger. Not the most conventional way to offer a sister a happy congratulations, but at that time, they may have wanted someone else… or anyone else for me. And so it was with trepidation that I would organize my wedding day, surrounded by family who were not looking forward to seeing me married.
The church was also against our upcoming nuptials as well. Sidney was annulled in his 20s, and his first wife was still alive, and that created a problem with our Christian church, who believed that One should not commit adultery. And it was kind of adulterous for a man to remarry when his first wife was still alive. So the pastor and church elders prayed for us and reflected on our situation. We were so afraid they would refuse to marry us if the Holy Spirit said so. A week later, they finally agreed. And our premarital counselor Pastor BJ Sebastian finally married us on June 1, 2014.
To be honest, I never realized getting married was this hard.
Initially, I thought that all you needed was a guy to fall in love with you, court you, propose to you and then you lived happily ever after. I never realized that getting married was such an arduous adventure especially when you have your own family as the villains, the church as the contrabida. You’d think it’s all about the “I Do” at the church, and that was that. But before the “I Do,” there were so many obstacles lying in front of you, that it’s enough to call the entire thing off.
I didn’t though. And it was all because of a dress. Specifically, my wedding dress.
I bought a wedding dress off the Internet, and upon seeing it, my well intentioned future mother in law said that she wanted me to add more sequins on it to give it more bling. So there I was, gluing sequins on my dress every evening two weeks before the wedding, in addition to coordinating the venue, the flowers, the bridesmaids, and my friends who were flying in all around the world for my event.
At first, I did it alone, feeling sorry for myself for gluing a gazillion sequins onto a stupid dress.
The problem with gluing sequins is that once you start, you have to finish because otherwise, you would have a wedding dress whose left side was full of sequins and the right side looking plain as day. It was terrible. I hated myself for even agreeing to do it given the time and resource constraints. I glued those stupid sequins for 5 days, when finally, my fiancée finally took pity on me. He took a tube of glue and we glued the sequins together. It took us a whole of 5 more days to finish the stupid thing, but we finally finished it.
The sequins actually never made that big of a difference on my wedding day — actually, nobody even mentioned it. However, having my now husband beside me pasting all those sequins onto a dress gave me the encouragement that I was marrying the right guy for me.
Today, I am a mother of two beautiful and healthy kids. Despite my father’s ominous prediction, I am still happily married to my husband. Ironically, my mother and brother somehow changed their minds along the way, and they love my husband more than they love me. And I think I have to thank God for not allowing us to see far ahead into the future. Because if I knew just how troublesome it was just to get married, I would have run away so fast and have merely been happy in settling to be single.
Oh, and I thank the wedding dress for reinforcing my belief that the marriage was the right one for me.
Note: This is my writing assignment for my Memoir Writing Class with Rick Olivares. If you wish to take his classes, you can contact him at (5) Rick Olivares | Facebook.