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As a servant of God, Rev. Clem E. Guillermo seemed to have taken it upon himself to guard the institution of marriage God established since the beginning of time. Nearly a month since Kuya Clem’s homegoing, the esteemed counselor’s legacy to both engaged and married couples through his premarital and marital counsel remains cherished by those who have benefited from his ministry. We are privileged to have literature that contain the wisdom that he shared, including these questions for engaged couples, translated to English and excerpted from his book, Handa Ka Na Ba sa For Better or For Worse? (CSM, 2015)
As the -ber months approach, many engaged couples are preparing to tie the knot in what seem to be the new “marry” months of December-January. As they do, it would be good to consider the questions the late esteemed marital counselor, Ptr. Clem Guillermo, encouraged engaged couples to ask themselves and their partner to assess their readiness for married life.
For a lifelong commitment, the unhurried time you commit to answering these questions thoughtfully, truthfully, and prayerfully is time well invested. Answer this first separately from your fiancé/e by writing down your thoughts in your journal. Regroup with your fiancé/e after answering to discuss areas that have yet to be resolved. Keep an open heart and let God speak to you in this process.
1. Is it love? How long have you known each other? How well do you know each other? What, in all truthfulness, attracts you to him or her? What do you enjoy doing together? Are you acquainted with and accepted in his social circles – his family, friends, workmates? Do you enjoy conversing with each other? Are you able to be honest with your feelings to each other? Are you growing together in your faith? Are you well-acquainted with each other’s culture and family backgrounds? In what ways are you similar or alike? How do you honestly feel about your differences? Does he or she meet your standards? Does he care about you, your family, your faith, your education, and your growth as a person? How has his or her presence in your life affected you as a person – have you become a better person, or the opposite? Have you been in each other’s lives long enough to know that you truly love each other? Have you prayed about this person and this relationship? What is God’s will for you?
2. Maturity for marriage. Starting a family entails a lot of responsibility and maturity. Are both of you responsible individuals, able to handle the responsibility of caring for one another and for children? Are you and your fiancé/e hardworking? Is he a man/ woman of integrity? How about you? Do you recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses? Do you know each other’s deepest, darkest secrets? Do you or he/she have unresolved issues that require counseling? Are there “quirks” (tendencies, anger and temper issues, dependencies, sinful habits, proneness to substance abuse, uncomfortable closeness with the opposite or same sex) you see in the other person that you need to discuss? Is this a kind of future you are willing to live with, or is this enough reason to postpone, rethink, and pray about your decision to marry? Do you each have a growing personal relationship with God? Have you submitted to His lordship and the counsel of His Word? Do you have similar bottomline spiritual values? Is there a mature married couple who can act as mentors for the two of you?
3. Readiness to move forward. Are you ready to separate physically and emotionally from your parents to live life with your spouse? How about him / her? Where will you live after the wedding? Will you be able to live comfortably and decently on your salaries? Does either of you have financial obligations with your family? Would you or your fiancé need to let a widowed parent live with you? Have you discussed with the parent who will be living with you regarding leadership in the family? Are you faithful in giving your tithes and offerings to the church? Are you both physically fit? Any physical consideration or medical concerns about childbearing? Health conditions you need to discuss before marriage? Have you discussed how you would work together and/or divide tasks among yourselves with regard to work, house chores, child rearing and discipline? In what ways would you like your spouse to show you consideration and support? Have you discussed and agreed on what your rules would be in terms of having “me” time and time with friends? Is working abroad (whether one or both of you) in your plans? If so, how do you plan to strengthen family intimacy?
4. Marriage realities. Are you ready to accept the changes and new limits that married life would bring? Are you ready to surrender your “rights” to your own salary, schedule and other “freedoms” as married life demands, even your career – if this is what raising a family requires? Are you ready to consider your spouse in all of your plans? Prioritize your spouse over your parents and siblings? Are you ready to try to get along with your new family? Have you discussed your boundaries and rules with regard to giving assistance to relatives?
5. Fulfilling your marriage covenant. Are you prepared to give your marriage the proper respect it requires as part of God’s plan? For the groom-to-be: Are you ready to love your wife the same way Christ loves His Church? For the bride-to-be: Are you prepared to submit to your husband as the Church submits to Christ? Are you ready to love and cherish your spouse exclusively, for life? Are you ready to fulfill your promise to love your spouse for as long as you live through whatever trial, upheaval or change that comes your way? Are you ready to stand on your promise to love and to cherish your spouse “for better or for worse”, “in sickness and in health”, “till death do us part”?
In making such a lifelong commitment, it is best to enter in with open eyes and with a common commitment anchored on solid ground. Marriage requires a lot of help from God. Thus, it is best to discuss and resolve potential concerns with the help of a premarital counselor before deciding whether or not to proceed with marriage plans.
Handa Ka Na Ba sa For Better or For Worse? by Rev. Clem E. Guillermo is published in conversational Filipino. It is published by Church Strengthening Ministry and is available in bookstores nationwide. It will also be one of the featured titles in the CSM booth (#71-76) at the Manila International Book Fair at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex on Sept. 12-16, 2018. Visit www.csm-publishing.com or any of their social media pages (@csmpublishing) for more information.
Michelle Joaquin is the editor-in-chief of Familywise Asia and is wife to Boris and mom to daughters Ysobel, 18, and Julia, 12.