A woman’s heart really holds an ocean of secrets.
I recalled that quote from the movie Titanic as I was pondering on my friend’s recent annulment. The cause you might ask? Physical abuse – what else?
I know I sound nonchalant about it but I’m not. It is a serious issue but it’s something I was expecting from the supposedly “uneducated, lower class” members of the society, and not from the supposedly “strong and mighty.” You see, she has been my neighbor for so long and we played together as kids. Then at 17, she eloped with her boyfriend amidst the frustrations of her family. I guess it really was not a good start wasn’t it? They married a year later and for the next ten years, none ever suspected that she was a battered wife, meaning not only the constant hitting she got – but also the threats of being killed if she talks about all the things she knows and sees in his family. The husband’s family is one of the prominent businessmen and political figures in the city so I assumed she was very happy. It’s what she has always dreamt of anyway – to become prominent and rich herself. So when the annulment was approved, that was the only time she was able to talk about her marriage. One of the things that struck me was when she said that the man she married is the exact opposite of the man she eloped with. Never in her wildest imagination has she ever conceived being married a monster. She bore it out for ten years – always pretending that everything is all right, even in front of her family members. But I guess even the back of camels break with a heavy burden. I’m glad she reached that point.
After we talked, my mind also wandered off into the past – my engagement almost 5 years ago. I barely talked about that incident to anyone so I’m surprised that I’m even writing about it now. I suppose it’s one of the oceans of secrets I’m now willing to let go. It’s not that I feel bitter about it. In fact, I feel as if that belonged to another era. Anyway, I found some sort of parallelism between what happened to my friend and what could have possibly happened to me. The similarities are actually uncanny!
What drew me to him was the power and authority he holds in society. He comes from a family of businessmen and politicians in one of the places in Manila. I have to admit I was fascinated by the world he lives in – including the many bodyguards who never left us even on our dates! For almost a year, I was the envy of many girls. What made me smile though is the fact that he was not exactly handsome – just rich and powerful!
Things started to change when political turmoil rocked the country. That was the time I saw his true colors. In the face of the glittering world and image he tried to project, is a world so dark and rotten. Unfortunately, it was also that time that we got engaged. I became more keen and observant about him and the more I got to know him, the more I wanted to get out. I guess God was on my side because one incident led to another and soon I broke free. That was perhaps my first realization of what it means to be really free!
And why am I telling this? I just want to drive my point that marriage is not supposed to be taken lightly. One of the reasons I got the courage to back out two months before that wedding was an advice from an old lady who told me that marriage entails the total acceptance of the other person including all the skeletons in his closets, thus communication and openness is vital even from the beginning of the relationship. If you can’t accept this, or if what you see does not agree with the values you treasure, then don’t get married. She further said that it says in the Bible that man cannot live with bread alone – but she goes on to say that man cannot live with love alone either! It takes a combination of respect, trust, fidelity, financial responsibility, right values, humor, a sense of spirituality, and a positive outlook to make a marriage work. Furthermore, a couple in a marriage indeed becomes one, but each should also give the other person some space for personal growth and development. Otherwise they will both end up stifling one another. They will journey together as one – but individuals just the same. If all these are present, nothing else matter s – not age, not race, not culture, and not even irate family members!
I suppose I belong to the conservative side. Marriage is supposed to be preserved at all times and divorce or annulment are supposed to be the last resort and should only be used if necessary just like in the case of my friend I mentioned earlier. This is the reason why I believe that marriage is not supposed to be rushed or to be taken at the whim of romance.