I spent the whole afternoon packing two separate suitcases for two completely different people heading towards two completely different places. Even the purpose of our trips varied, I was traveling for leisure while he was traveling for business. To cut the story short, we both ended up with travel itineraries for April 6 but with planes headed on opposite directions. I packed for the humid weather of Hanoi while simultaneously packing for my husband who’s about to enjoy the sweater weather in the US of A. Patrick left at 3AM for Subic yesterday for a full day shoot, leaving me no choice but to take care of his suitcase agendas. Lucky for me, Patrick is very low key and easy. In fact, I always choose to pack his maleta for him so I could inject some sort of semblance of fashion. If I were to leave him to do the packing on his own, he’d have 10 baseball caps, 2 tshirts, and his ailing socks or what my dad calls every guy’s “Medyazzi Butazzi” (you’ll have to say it in an Italian accent for it to be funny). While packing last night, I actually had a “I’ve turned into my mom” moment. I suddenly conjured up memories of my mom laying my dad’s polo shirts neatly in a Samsonite and filling up a pouch with toiletries. I don’t think my dad has ever packed in 30 years! It’s my mother who does all the packing while he does all the tetris-ing in his PC. hehehe.
I always try to over-prepare when I pack but with the limited luggage space, editing becomes inevitable and there are things that have to be taken out to make room for more important schtufff. Even after traveling for decades, there’s always this unsettling feeling whenever I pack my suitcase. There’s always a voice inside my head that says “You’re missing something” or “I think you should pack more shirts” or “Are you sure those shoes will match all 7 outfits?”. And true enough, no matter how well prepared I think I am, something out of the blue happens and I just end up sighing “Oh well.”
This little exercise of packing and preparing for a trip has made me contemplate about marriage. I had an interesting chat with one of Patrick’s best friends, Joey, who happens to be single. He mentioned his dad’s quote that went something like, “Don’t wait to be stable to get married. When you get married, things will get stable naturally.” And I totally agree. To be clear, especially for the young people out there, please practice some sensibility in approaching this statement. I’m not saying you should just marry the cutest guy in the office because he’s cute and he thinks you’re cute too. Can “cute” put food on your table and can you pay your Meralco bills with “cuteness”?? HA??? I tried, it didn’t work. Just look at this face, cuteness talaga ang kayamanan ko.
I guess his dad’s statement comes from years of experience and elderly wisdom. Prepping for marriage is just like packing for a trip: you do your research, consult people who have been to that place, you try to cram in all the essentials in that tiny suitcase, and psych yourself to experience new things. As much as you try to prepare for this trip, you never really are fully ready for it. That’s how entering a marriage feels like too. You could have a house and lot, a decent pool of savings, a brand new car—-but these things will only take you so far, you will still find yourself overwhelmed with the whole adjustment of marriage and you will be just as clueless as the guy who got married with just 5,000 pesos in his bank account. Sure, having enough money when you tie the knot brings comfort and makes it a bit easier to cope—but money is NOT the only fuel that can power up your marriage engine. There’s mutual respect, consideration, cooperation, selflessness, perseverance and of course LOVE.
My single friends always quiz me about marriage preparation and I always tell them that I’m just as unlearned and inexperienced as any average Joe. I guess it’s only YOU and YOUR PARTNER who can pack your own suitcase for marriage. You will know what to edit out (past issues, insecurities, previous lifestyles and bad habits, etc) and what you should make room for (core beliefs, non-negotiables, principles, family values). You could pack some tools to make the most out of your trip (money, steady careers, decent home, insurance, parental advice) and you can also add a few extra treats to make it more enjoyable (care and understanding, common sense of humor, same hobbies/interests, physical and intellectual chemistry). Whatever you pack into this suitcase should be able to sustain you for a lifetime, so pack wisely. You will also encounter some doubts along the way “Am I missing something?” or “Did I prepare enough for this trip?”…but there’s a certain threshold wherein you just have to trust yourself and your partner enough to complete the preps, zip up the suitcase and actually board the plane. If you spend too much time packing and unpacking, you might actually miss the flight! THE BEST JOURNEY you’ll ever embark in! As long as you are both headed towards the same destination (which I pray is towards a Christ centered and fulfilling marriage), then you have nothing to fear. It won’t be easy, but it will be the trip of a lifetime!
So if you’re in a relationship right now and are wondering if you should take the next step, remember that it’s YOUR suitcase to pack. So don’t go asking family and friends to “pack” your suitcase for you, it’s something you and your partner will have to prep for together with God’s guidance of course. For my single friends, start packing as early as now. Think of the things you NEED and WANT in a relationship, especially those non-negotiables—things you feel God is telling you to pack in your side of the suitcase and things you’d like to share with your future spouse. God is ready to take you on a grand adventure at the right time with the right person, you have your boarding pass already you just have to be patient in waiting for your flight call.