“While our friends were enjoying their carefree, spouseless freedom, my husband and I were busy learning how to change a diaper, how to use the feeding bottle sterilizer, and how to burp a baby.
While our friends were partying the night away, we were singing a lullaby to put the baby to sleep.
While our friends were fretting about what to wear or where to go to for a date, we were worried sick about what the future holds for our children.
While our friends splurge on gimmicks, fashion and travels, we were striving to make both ends meet.
While our friends marked their calendars with fun activities, ours were with visits to the pedia and with our baby’s milestones.
While our friends could afford to adopt devil-may-care and happy-go-lucky attitudes, we had to face each day with purpose and determination.
While our friends were enjoying their youth, we were building a family.”
At age 19, Alain and Amy’s world was constantly filled with such sentiments.
You see, they were still in college when they learned that they were expecting a baby. So much in love with each other and thinking that it was the most responsible way to address the issue at hand, they decided to get married.
They soon realized, however, that plunging into marriage was no walk in the park.
They were completely dependent on their parents for financial support. They were devoid of any plan for their growing family (with three children after barely three years of marriage). And their emotional immaturity and difficulty in adjusting to their new life together were taking quite a toll on their relationship. The occasional petty quarrels that soon turned into frequent fights drove a wedge between the two young, idealistic lovers.
Alain was still finding it hard to let go of his vices and barkada. He could not yet fully grasp the fact that he was no longer single and, as such, had to get his act together. With no clear career plan, he was hopping from one job to another. Amy, on the other hand, resented her husband’s childishness and habitual gimmicks that she soon turned into a nagging wife. Alain would go out with his friends, Amy would nag, and Alain would go out more. For a time, that became a vicious cycle that constantly gnawed at their relationship — a cycle that the two thought would cause their downfall as a married couple.
For years, nothing much had changed in the Andal household. Alain was an on-and-off bum while Amy was a stressed-out nag. Nonetheless, the two made the choice to stay and make things work. After all, they loved their family, they were committed to their vows, and they wanted to prove to everyone, especially to their parents, that not all teenage marriages were bound to fail.
When Things Turned Around
With age came emotional maturity. Gradually, things started to get better with the Andals as they got older.
Alain eventually broke free from his vices; he learned to value work as an indispensable means to fulfill his responsibilities to his family, and he started to realize and acknowledge his wife’s many positive attributes and silent sacrifices. They both became more sensitive to each other’s needs and supportive of each other’s quests for personal growth. Most importantly, they grew together in faith and love with the Lord. That spiritual growth was what propelled them to nurture their relationship more as husband and wife and to be grateful for the simplest blessings that they receive every single day. Alain was and would forever be thankful for his wife’s enduring patience, dedication and selflessness. Amy would always be humbled that the Lord chose her to witness Alain transform from a carefree boy to a principled and responsible man — and knowing that she somehow contributed to that transformation would forever be a source of personal pride.
When Regrets Turned into Lessons
What Alain and Amy have learned from the past 23 years of living together under one roof is that regrets last only for so long. When couples manage to get past the crucial and difficult times, and when they both choose to stay even when things get rough, regrets ultimately turn into beautiful lessons.
All the doubts, insecurities and fears that once paralyzed them to inaction and killed any chance of realizing their dreams, all the imperfections that marred the perfect love they found in each other, all the wrong choices and bad decisions that adversely affected their lives — all those were the things that put their love and faith in each other to the test. Those made them a lot stronger as a couple and solidified their relationship as a family. Those are what brought them to where they are today. Above all, those left them with valuable lessons that they want to impart not just to their children, but to all the young men and women who are now in romantic relationships.
- Don’t rush. There is a right, if not perfect, time for everything. When you’re in your teens, you should be enjoying your youth and figuring out what you really want to do with your lives. You should be discovering your potentials and testing your limits. You should be exploring all the possibilities laid before you. Don’t ruin it by messing around the heavy and serious stuff that are meant only for adults.
- Plan ahead. Choose a career path that you will follow and don’t let anything distract you from your goals. Make the achievement of financial security one of your priorities. You need to be prepared for any eventuality.
- Remember that things are gonna get better. If you have your back against the wall right now or if something doesn’t happen according to your carefully laid-out plan, be assured that God has better plans stored for you. Don’t despair.
- If you decide to marry young and you realize that the road you chose to take is littered with a multitude of difficulties, the best way to overcome those is by going through them together, hand in hand. Don’t let disappointment, frustration, envy, jealousy, hurt and other ill feelings consume you and take permanent residence in your heart.
- Always bear in mind that God will never leave you. He will never fail to strengthen and guide you if you only make Him the center of your relationship.
When Goods Things Happen to those who Persevere
23 years into their marriage, Alain and Amy are now living a happy and contented life.
They are both active in their church organizations and are devotees of the Apung Mamacalulu where they go to mass every Friday. They have discovered their common passion which is exploring the outdoors through running, hiking and biking. They have already finished marathons and climbed mountains together. Individually, they are pursuing their personal dreams. Alain is a professional educator and guidance counselor, and is now working on his PhD in Psychology. Amy is an auditor for a company in Pampanga but is also contemplating on finally taking the board exam.
As parents, they find great pride and joy in the knowledge that they have been able to raise God-fearing, respectful, socially-responsible and goal-oriented kids. Their eldest is now a CPA and is working as an auditor in an accounting firm. Their middle child graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree of BS Psychology and is now in her 1st year in Law School at San Beda. Their youngest is currently in her 3rd year as a Medical Technology student and is also doing well in her academics. They have another cared-for daughter (a bonus from above, actually) who is also an academic performer in grade school.
But, what they consider their most gratifying accomplishment so far is the relationship they managed to develop with their children. All their kids treat them like their “peers with boundaries.” They talk about anything under the sun — what bothers them, what they’re passionate about, their thoughts and aspirations and, yes, even about their romantic relationships.
Finally, let me end this story with Alain’s Facebook status update on their wedding anniversary.
23 years of being married to Amy, and I have all of these:
- A son who is a CPA
- A daughter in Law School
- A soon-to-be MedTech daughter who is seriously considering being an MD
- An add-on daughter who is top 2 in her Grade 8 class
- And an ever loving, agelessly beautiful and always patient wife who made all of the above possible.
Thank God, I’m one of the luckiest and richest Guys in the world!