Long time friends of mine would have heard me say, “There’s a good reason and symbolism for why the Registry of Marriage (Singapore) is on top of a hill – Fort Canning Hill. It’s because it is a truth universally acknowledged that the road to marriage is uphill…. And after you’re married, it’s downhill all the way!”
I don’t know about the second part, but there is some truth to the first.
I saw my Dentist this week and he told me “Marriage is like a Siege. Those who are inside wanna get out. And those on the outside wanna get in.”
When we finally decided that we would like to be together, I brought PL to a lunch hosted by my cousin with all my paternal relatives… well most of them, and introduce PL to them all.
PL and I LOVED my Aunt T. who shamelessly told us that we don’t have to get married and just live together. She is a WISE woman. Shameless, but Wise.
Part of me would like to follow her advice, but… I think loving someone means wanting to give them the best opportunities, and the best social standing, and the best reputation. Which is not to say a common law union is not feasible. It just postpones some of the problems. 🙂
So we bravely (if rather conventionally) faced a marriage.
But I had not yet met her parents. So we arranged for a Sunday Lunch with soft food (Oasis restaurant in Toa Payoh Garden), so her grandmother could join us to. I met my mom earlier and brought her to the restaurant. It was the last weekend in Sept 2012.
I was going to formally ask her father’s permission to marry her, and even practiced the phrase in Mandarin (as he did not speak English), but before I could ask, either her mother or the father asked us when we would be getting married.
We had also discussed this, and so we said, in about a year’s time. We were thinking Oct 2013.
Why so long, asked her mother.
It takes time and there are things to prepare, replied PL.
But you don’t need a whole year, her mother persisted. This was all in Mandarin.
At some point, her grandmother asked if we could get married before the Chinese New Year (Feb 10 2013).
Impossible! We replied.
Did she think that I had gotten PL pregnant or what? What’s the rush?
Some time later, I asked PL if her grandmother gave her a present on her birthday (Dec). PL said no. Her grandmother only gave her one gift and that was the Ang Pow during Chinese New Year. In the course of our bantering, I asked if she would give me an Ang Pow on CNY too, after we were married, and PL pointed out that after we were married, we would be ineligible to receive ang pows (only unmarried people get ang pow). So I would only get an ang pow on our wedding and that was the first, last and only time I would get an ang pow from grandmother.
And so it dawned on us that the reason she wanted us married before CNY is to relieve herself of the Ang Pow burden. She would give one last ang pow at the wedding, and would not have to give anymore this CNY.
What a sneaky old goat!
So PL’s Catholic, and I was raised one (my Baptism Certificate search will be covered in another post), and so a church wedding will kick off the day’s events. So in discussing this with her parents, the father asked if the groom would pick the bride up (in line with Chinese custom) to bring her to church.
PL’s mum is a smart woman and had deduced from watching American movies that the groom does not pick up the bride but instead waits at the church for the Bride. She remembered that in one movie, the bride ran away at the last minute (Runaway Bride?)
She must have been thinking, “Dumb ang mo custom!”
Her father must have concurred because he said it wasn’t right or seemly for the groom not to come fetch the bride.
I said I would come fetch her to the church. We can blend Chinese and Catholic conventions and customs. Not a problem.
Of course, it could simply have been that PL’s father was afraid that she would run away and then he and his wife would be stuck with PL!
“Dumb Ang Mo custom! How can you give the bride a chance to run away! She should always be under supervision!”