I tripped and fell last Wednesday. It happened as I was on my way out to the parking area. I was walking when I looked over to the right side (without stopping) to check if there were any oncoming vehicles. I totally missed the parking buoy (a steel post mounted on a round cement block used to cordon off reserved slots) at my left side and tripped on it with my left foot. In the split second that I had left to realize that I was falling, I desisted from using my left hand (where I knew my engagement ring sat) to cushion my fall. Yes, I managed to process that as I fell. I instead twisted to the right and let both knees take the beating. The end results were as follows: a bruised left wrist (thankfully, the ring was unscathed), three quarter-sized gashes on my left knee and a five-peso-coin-sized gash on the right. Nice. Here I am, four months away from my wedding, limping and with four potential scars on my prized stems.
After cleaning up, crying, negotiating (that there just be more pain in exchange for no scars) and more crying, I sat and wondered why the heck I didn't just stop walking first before I looked right to check for cars. I could have easily done so. I realized it was because I didn't want to lose time by slowing down or even stopping. Wasting time is my least favourite thing to do. I don't like wasting people's time and I equally dislike it when people waste mine. But now that I think about it more, slowing down is not always a waste of time.
I have spent the past eight months planning for our wedding and I have not slowed down one bit. With my mobility significantly clipped, I am now able to take time to focus on our spiritual preparation for the wedding. I had almost forgotten that we bought a book entitled 101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged by H. Norman Wright. I confess that we bought it a week after we were engaged. Still, it has proven to be a useful tool in getting to know each other better. I still remember when the book asked us to complete the following sentences: "A husband should ..." and "A wife should..." The silence that preceded each answer was golden. It was then that I realized how a lot of expectations are often not articulated. Those articulated are often said after the expectation has not been met and already coupled with disappointment or condescension. We have not completed answering all of the questions in this book. With the down time I have been handed, I am determined to go through the list and answer more questions with JP.
I was pleased to find out that St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori (a.k.a Magallanes Church) again offers a pre-cana seminar for couples who intend to marry there. Attendance at a pre-cana seminar is among the requirements of the Catholic Church for marriage. JP and I immediately signed up for their March seminar.Legally speaking, couples are also required to go through marriage counselling before they can be issued a marriage license. A certificate issued by a priest, imam, or minister authorized to solemnize marriage under Article 7 of the Family Code or a marriage counselor duly accredited by the proper government agency is required to be submitted prior to issuance. While the failure to attach such a certificate will not result in the outright denial of one's application for a marriage license, the effect is that the issuance of the marriage license will be suspended for a period of three months from the completion of the publication of the application. The delay is supposedly intended to give the couple more time to think about their decision to marry. Clearly, both the Church and the State want couples to be absolutely sure of their decision to join in matrimony.
Late last year, JP and I heard about Discovery Weekend. Several couples we know have gone through it and have raved about the experience. According to them, it is a weekend retreat for engaged couples aimed at helping the couple get to know each other better. Couples have come out of this retreat with a clearer understanding of their common goals as well as their differences. I like that it is a three-day commitment and not just a half-day thing. While quality and not quantity is the measure, I think that a whole weekend is conducive for serious marriage preparation and introspection.
JP and I are seriously considering going on both the pre-cana seminar at Magallanes and the Discovery Weekend. Admittedly, we had a short courtship and the decision to marry came very quickly for us. While our year-long engagement has given me ample opportunity to get to know him (and even myself) better, I think that sometimes we don't ask each other the right questions. Professional help appears to be in order.
It is a great expression of love to want to get to know yourself and your future spouse better. Preparation should not be limited to the pre-cana seminar or marriage counselling. It is an active choice and a responsibility. Some issues are touchy and difficult to resolve and there will be times when the best thing to do is to agree to disagree first. Perhaps with my own marriage fast approaching, God saw it fit to slow things down a bit for me. Having fallen to my knees (literally), there is no better thing to do than to prepare and pray.