Starting the Year Right
More than a year ago, Joey and I welcomed 2017 apart because of a family tragedy. I was needed in Manila and he was left behind in Bacolod, and because of this, without outrightly talking about it, I think both he and I wanted to more than make up for that separation by going beyond just welcoming 2018 together.
We did something we’ve never done before: we went on a self-designed (meaning, most of the time nakahilata lang kami, hihi) planning / praying / husband-and-wife-quality-time, two-night road trip date to Dumaguete from Bacolod. Joey enjoys long, scenic drives while I, who am to be honest, an introvert, also quite revel in being “far from the madding crowd”. Add to that the promise of pigging out, beach time, and the relaxing, small- and old-town feel of Dumaguete, what better way to start the year, right?
But beyond gorging on Hayahay pizza, queuing for Sanz Rival, and finishing our current Korean drama, Joey and I got to work on that trip’s most important task: identifying, discussing, and aligning our plans and goals for this year, both individually and as a couple. It was an exercise on finding out and sharing about the things that matter to us most at the current time, based on desires impressed by God. After all, beyond romance, marriage is teamwork, a partnership, and it involves working together and supporting each other toward a set of mutually agreed upon goals, and most importantly, praying for and with each other in the journey towards their realization.
We took it to heart, our wedding vows, when we said, “Grant us, O Lord / to be one heart and one soul / from this day forward / for better, for worse / for richer, for poorer / in sickness and in health / until death do us part.” (From the Catholic missal)
And in Genesis 2:24: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh”.
One flesh, one heart, one soul. And in our understanding, this extends to being of one mind, having the same purpose, working towards the same good. Marriage vows are not just for the romantic, I-will-love-you-until-the-day-i-die sentiments we all so long to hear because we fear being abandoned, it’s also a promise to BE ONE IN EVERYTHING, from the big, lofty dreams to the practical nitty-gritties that make up our everyday lives.
Why, you may ask, was this exercise necessary? Would it even work because we are two different individuals with different jobs, motivations, etc?
The first and utmost reason I could think of is the reward in obeying itself. I speak to my fellow Christians when I say this, and perhaps some of you will agree: I believe God loves it when He joins two people together in marriage, and when these two do everything they can to be one, as was His command, as He has designed marriage to be, I believe God delights in it! Wouldn’t you want to please our Creator, our Source of all that is good?
Second, aligning and agreeing upon a shared set of goals automatically gives you and your husband a well-crafted direction for the year. We all know that life loves to throw us curveballs from every angle, and when these distractions happen, all Joey and I need to do is to go back to our drawing board, and say, “Nope, that trip won’t cut it for our budget this year”, or “Yes! That totally coincides with our August goals, go for it!”. It makes couple decision-making a lot easier, and since both of you have mutually agreed on and okayed these priorities, there is no need for reconsiderations down the line unless absolutely necessary.
Third, the new year is always an opportune time for reflection. What you wish to do more of this year, what you wish you hadn’t done the past year, and how all these would affect/have affected your partner. It is absolutely necessary for husband and wife to hear each other out on their most meaningful plans or desires, so that each can throw in all that s/he can to support it, for supporting each other is an expression of love. Like for me, this year will see two launches in my career: my blog and the new album, “electro sitti“. With Joey being made fully aware of these, he has promised to help me out as best as he can. As for Joey, his first half of the year will be mostly concentrated on training for his full Ironman come June 3, and I, in turn, pledge to fully support and work my schedule around this as well. As a couple, we plan to finally start building our house this year, and that would definitely eat up both our time, savings, and perhaps, patience, so planning and preparing mentally and emotionally for this undertaking is also vital.
Lastly, and perhaps, most importantly, couple prayer time at the beginning and end of every new year is a must. Joey got this from his family, and since he is now my head, my spiritual leader (as Christ is the head of the church, Eph 5:23), we’ve begun this practice of giving thanks for the year that was and dedicating our plans to the Lord since our first year of marriage. I always look forward to our couple prayer time even if it’s just on the regular days; nothing else gives you a glimpse into your husband’s soul more than hearing him speak directly to God. Indeed, I love and cherish these times of laying everything upon the Savior’s feet together.
This trip was a perfect way to start our year, I thought, and as we made the drive back to Bacolod, Joey echoed this when he said, “Okay ‘tong trip na ‘to. Gawin natin ‘to ulit mid-year. “
Looking forward :)
Thanks for reading and a Happy New Year, everyone!