Norman and Marissa Tapangco have been married for 17 years and have three kids ages 16, 14 and 6. They are active members of both Worldwide Marriage Encounter and Couples for Christ, and are a certified natural family planning couple teaching for Serena Canada. In light of Marriage Sunday taking place on February 9, the couple reflects on the joys and challenges they faced five years into their marriage.
1. You've been married for 17 years, but let's look back at the five-year mark in your marriage. What joys were you experiencing after five years of marriage?
Five years into our marriage, we were already blessed with our second child. This was the year we were stabilizing financially and relationship-wise, and our children were getting sick less often! We had jobs that let us to support our family, including sending both our children to daycare and enjoying some simple pleasures. We had some sense of relief in terms of our family's future.
This was the year Marissa's dad was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. We needed to be with her parents quite often to offer emotional support and assist with medical appointments as well as everyday needs.
While trying to help Marissa's parents, we had to start establishing a consistent routine for the children as they were starting school.
It was hectic but we just went with the flow.
We also found ourselves thinking of either moving closer to Marissa's parents or just moving in with them in order to ease the back and forth and achieve a consistent routine for the children. Unfortunately, this did not come to fruition before her dad passed away.
3. What kind of impact did children have on your marriage?
Our first child was a honeymoon baby. This put a lot of stress on our new marriage. Marissa was grieving that her plan to go back to school was not going to happen. We were not prepared at all for this life change. We did not even know how to live together, never mind raise a child. Our jobs were not so stable and we did not have much of a financial cushion. Concerns of job stability and child care costs became major stressors that affected our relationship.
4. How did faith strengthen your family after five years of marriage?
Our faith in God was very instrumental in keeping us together. We both were heavily involved in a religious community prior to getting married and continued to be members after we became husband and wife.
We valued the sacrament of marriage and held onto God's teachings about love, forgiveness and service. We made efforts to access supports such as marriage retreats and prayer groups when times were rough.
Even today, we repeatedly try to improve our communication and address attitudes or behaviours that displease each other. Most importantly, we try to make prayer a consistent practice in our household.
5. Do you have any advice for couples journeying together through this stage of marriage?
Marriage is a covenant that we make not only to our spouse but also to God. When times get rough, it is helpful to look beyond how we feel or what we think about the situation. We need to try to realize what God would like us to do and how He would like us to respond to what is happening. Forgiveness and respect are key regardless of how upset we may feel.
The Celebration of Marriage Mass will take place on Sunday, February 9 at St. Isaac Jogues Parish (1148 Finch Ave., Pickering) at 3 p.m. Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, will preside. All couples are invited to attend but seating will only be reserved for couples celebrating their 25th, 40th, 50th and 60+ wedding anniversaries. For details on Marriage Sunday, including the Celebration of Marriage Mass, please visit https://www.archtoronto.org/marriage.