“You’re too young to get married!”
“Are you sure about your decision?”
These were the words I heard for months. And yet, on the 17th of May, at the age of 22, I got married. Obviously, marriage is not a simple decision a person makes in his or her life. One has to consider it thoroughly before pursuing that decision full of the unknown. The traditions, values and culture we live in have a role to play in its consideration as well.
Getting married at a young age is something common for the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often called Mormons. Some people may see it quite absurd, weird or unpopular. In fact, it is not what our culture generally accepts here in the Philippines. Now, let me tell you why I decided to get married earlier than most and what cultural aspects I had to ponder about.
Thinking about Responsibilities
When friends asked me, “Why are you getting married so early?” I laughed and just jokingly answered, “True love” But of course, it is more than that. I see why they ask me such questions. We Filipinos are known for our deep appreciation for family. We want families to be happy. Much of that happiness comes from love, financial security, and being responsible for it. We want to make sure that the family we are going to build after marriage will be bound together with strong and loving ties.
I’ve learned in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ that we all have in ourselves, an innate potential to be a responsible husband or wife and father or mother. I have much yet to learn to become a good husband and a father, but the Lord will help us because marriage is a commandment He has given us. He knows we will make mistakes and that’s how we learn and become better. Because He loves us, He will not allow us to fail if we are faithful.
Being Mature in the Society and for God
There is a common saying among those who have walked on this country earlier than us,
“Papunta pa lang kayo. Kami, pabalik na.” (You are just about to embark on this journey. While we, we are already coming back from the journey.)
Maturity is not just about being a grown-up. It means really knowing the twists and turns of a situation, the detours should it be a wrong road, and the U-turns if at all possible. Our society respects those who have this maturity. I may not appear as mature enough to get married in the eyes of many in my culture, but God has granted unto us the freedom to choose according to the knowledge we have attained so far in this life. The decision to marry, when carefully considered and prepared for, is honored by God. And when we do our very best to cherish our marriage, He will bless it to be a successful and a happy marriage!
Faith versus Uncertainty
It took me four months to prepare for my marriage and they were filled with anxieties, second-thoughts, and doubts. There were also excitement, eagerness, and heavenly assurance. But my thoughts weren’t at all consistent. For the most part, it was of fear and doubts. The future is just so gloomy or so I thought. No wonder my relatives were all shocked with my decision. But then I remember, Thomas S. Monson, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, “Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.” Faith is trust. Faith is hope. My faith in Jesus Christ to help me in this decision carried me through these months of uncertainties.
One thing that also made me unsure was the life I am leaving behind. I was enjoying the single life. Not many things to worry about. Carefree. I am working. I can buy what I want within my means. I am also supporting my family back home. Lastly, I am a student. Life was just so fun! But I didn’t know until now how great life is with a loving spouse. I just can’t describe the overwhelming feelings of joy, gratitude, and love with the life I have right now – a married man.
The Culture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
If there is one thing our ancestors forgot to tell us, but were very obvious in their actions, it is that they enjoyed and appreciated life more when they were married and had their family of their own. Filipino culture with regards to marriage and family is a culture I will always be proud of. I have a firm testimony that the Lord appreciates the traditions, values, and culture of strong families. Some people might see me or others who married young, as people who are going against the current trend of the society. But my decision to get married in my 20s to start a strong, happy and gospel-centered family is a decision based on the faith in the gospel principles of Jesus Christ. And whatever circumstance you are in now when it comes to family or marriage, the gospel will help you to achieve your righteous desire.