Renewing our marriage vows here in Cana

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

Dateline: Cana, Israel. Today, together with  other couples who are joining this pilgrimage to the Holy Land, my wife and I will, in a few hours from now, renew our marriage vows. We had been married for thirty-seven years already and today, we shall promise to each other again, that we shall remain faithful to each other, we shall love, honor and protect each other, '' in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, till death do us part'.' We were married on December 23, 1978 in the beautiful Sacred Heart Church. Then Governor Eddie Gullas and former Governor Francisco Emilio F Remotigue were among our ninongs. My cousin, now Monsignor Rolando Abad Jimenez and two other priests solemnized our marriage. It was a beautiful wedding. But the marriage has been, to us, more important than the wedding.

Marriage, we firmly believe, cannot last without genuine love. And love, to us, is not a feeling, not even an emotion, but a decision. The heart has its role. But a true and lasting love is a function of the mind. It is a determination which is an exercise of the will. We believe that those who consider love only as a feeling are more likely to have a shaky relationship, one that is bound to stumble and fall when subjected to the many pressures of the world. I married at the age of twenty-eight, an age which, during my time, was considered quite late for marriage, albeit today, such an age is deemed too young for the very serious decision to wed. Today, we will repeat our promises to each other here in Cana, where our Lord Jesus Christ Himself instituted the sacrament of matrimony.

Today, we have five children, three boys and two girls. Three of our five children are already married. Our third child, Josef Rey, was the first to tie the knot with the love of his life, Kate, in 2013 in Saint Jerome Church in Alabang. Joyce Mae, our second child followed when she and Terence Randolf, her boyfriend for ten years exchanged marriage vows inside the Saint James Cathedral in Ayala Alabang. The third to get hitched was our eldest, John Paul, who got married  last month, with his sweetheart for twelve years, Ayin, in a very beautiful church, the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Vie in Las Pinas City. The only unmarried children we have are Jeremiah who is so close to his beloved Lhara, a tall international Emirates flight stewardess, and our angel, Jiza Mari, whose boyfriend Dino is an Alcoseba with roots from Carcar.

Our family considers marriage a very important, very valuable, and sacred institution. We also deem the family as essential to our lives, more than any other thing, more than any other relationships. In fact, my credo in life indicates how important marriage is to us, saying: "I work hard in my job but I put God in the center of my life, and my family as my priority. There is no success in career, in business or in profession that can ever make up for failure in marriage and in the family." In choosing our friends, our associates, our relationships, we consider the quality of family life as the most important criterion and standards. When everyone is gone, when all others shall have abandoned us, it is the family that remains.

And so, today, as we renew our marriage vows, we share the ''secrets" of a long and lasting relationship between husband and wife. First is mutual respect and trust. There can be no stable and strong marriage when the partners do not have a true and abiding respect for each other. No husband and no wife should ever speak ill of his or her spouse. The wife should never contradict her husband in the presence of third persons even when the husband is wrong. The husband should never correct his wife in public even if she is wrong. Corrections should be done privately and strictly between the spouses. This is an absolute rule, no ifs and no buts. It is better to hear an error or a mistake than to put the other spouse down.

The second rule is absolute faithfulness and loyalty to one another. I need not expound on faithfulness. It is self-explanatory. Loyalty, on the other hand, means that the husband should take the side of the wife even when the husband has to stand opposite his own parents or siblings. So also with the wife. She should stand side by side with her husband even against the world. Once a husband allies himself with his own mom or dad or brother or sister against his own marriage, that act of treachery is unforgivable. Once a wife opposes hero own husband and sides with her relatives, therein ends the loyalty. Thereby the marriage starts to die. Today, my wife and I shall renew these vows here in Cana, where it all began. Weddings are important but it is marriage that really matters most. I should know by now, after 37 years of being married and staying in love with the same woman.

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