I take you to be my wife/husband
Ignatius: The flipside of “take” is “reject”, which hurts each of us and our relationship. So this “take” is unconditional. I accepted Florence as is, with what she has and brings to the marriage. Through our marriage this is a constant reminder that I shouldn’t think of changing her but change myself to accept her “faults” and what she loves, such as her family. These days, I’ve learnt to enjoy travelling with her family as this gives us more reason to be together.
Florence: Taking and accepting each other is ongoing. For instance, I was converted after we married in church. I realised our marriage won’t be complete if I didn’t share his faith and want that for the children too. I used to wonder why the vows emphasised “taking” and not “giving” until I appreciated that God is there. He did the giving at the marriage. We are God’s gifts to one another, proven many times in our life.
I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad
Ignatius: We have been blessed with more good times than bad. Perhaps we didn’t see so many things being bad, as there is usually a silver lining in every cloud. We face setbacks and disappointments as challenges to mend and to be better. Like when Florence lost her job for a while, it was a break to be together and to love the resilient side of her. We trust that as a team, we can contend with adverse situations and differences and cushion the pain and distress.
Florence: I believe the good times are to fireproof our marriage against the bad times. I’m happy we learnt not to be complacent but to keep our relationship strong, especially in filling up our emotional or love bank. I was worried when Ignatius was retrenched, but we prevailed through it together by accepting that as a new way of life for us, especially through prayer.
In sickness and in health
Ignatius: Going through treatment for my throat cancer was a most intimate experience of drawing strength from each other’s presence and prayers. Her staunch support and devotion and our faith in God made all the difference and I never gave up hope. Seeing that Florence personally cared and suffered along with me was harder to bear than the pain and discomfort of therapy. That spurred me to behave and give my best to recuperate. How much more grateful I feel today towards her and to God as well as our Marriage Encounter community.
Florence: I learnt not to take each other’s health for granted, especially when there was an immediate recurrence of the cancer. Sickness is frightening but when it happened to Ignatius, I was amazed at the strength we drew from one another and our will to survive it together. I was thankful too that we had a strong community of friends to support us.
I will love you and honour you
Ignatius: Communication is our lifeblood. We keep that flowing through our written dialogues and shared activities like dating, walking and involvement in Marriage Encounter. Learning to love each other’s things and people breeds respect.
Florence: It means putting myself in his shoes, something I realise was helpful during his experience with cancer. Also mean what we say and say what we really mean. Try to make each day more exciting and interesting, like laugh at his jokes, care for this looks, going to market together and push our frontiers of opportunities, especially those that open up with my impending retirement from work, like making better use of senior concessions for movies and gallivanting around town, serving together in church and attending programmes, travelling with different people, and having fun with grand nephews.
All the days of my life
Ignatius: Try to love each other a bit more each day. And if any day is dreadful, there’s always the next day to make up for it. There’s no retirement in marriage until God calls for it. Till then, each day is a wedding day in a sense, and we are called to be a sacrament.
Florence: At our age, every day is a blessing and never dreadful. I’m thankful we are in good health and relationship to enjoy the days ahead. And I’ve Ignatius to share each day as the children are grown. It helps to have events on your calendar to look forward to.
Read more : We are one flesh and one body