By Lisha Gomes | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 26, 2020

One wedding and then another one! This is how it all began for Julius Fonseca and Philomena D’Souza. Julius’ sister, Bridgette, was getting married and Philomena who was living in the neighbourhood was around to help Bridgette. That was in 1964. Five years later, Julius was walking down the aisle with Philomena by his side, at Mount Mary’s Church, Bandra, Mumbai!

In 1969, they first promised to love each other before God and their families. Five decades later, Julius and Philomena have kept the love between them alive and have set an example to their two children, Sharon and Sherburn, four grandchildren as well as their extended families as today, they once again whispered “I do” at the Eucharistic Celebration at 7:30 am at Mount Mary’s Church. .

This Church holds a special place in their hearts as this is where they got married, celebrated their Silver Jubilee, Golden Jubilee and all other anniversaries in between, whenever they have been in India. Both speak their heart out to Opening Doorz, as they reminisce about their love that has lasted the test of time. While Julius (79) does most of the talking, Philomena (76) nods in agreement as they go down memory lane to the time they first met, to describing life as a family and love as it should be…

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Love found its way…
Julius and Philomena lived in the same neighbourhood and would often run into each other every other day. Their real journey together, however, began when Philomena came home to help Julius’ sister with her wedding preparations. “That was when we really started noticing each other, catching tiny glimpses and eventually fell in love. Even though courting was not a very common thing and love marriages not very widely heard of back in the day, our families were still very supportive and encouraging towards our relationship and that was another thing that helped us grow to love each other more,” says Julius. “We did have curfews and boundaries, but our families knew each other so they were happy for us. And when we decided to get married they were the happiest. So, five years after we fell in love, we promised to stay together on January 26, 1969.”

Here come the hot steppers…
In any marriage, children bring in the joy and change the equation of a marriage. There’s more to give now than ever before—more of your time and emotions and energy and what have you. Same was the case with Julius and Philomena. “We have two children, Sherburn and Sharon. One year after being married, we had our first child and that was when we had to make a few changes in our lives, we never had major problems where our children were concerned, so the changes and sacrifices were worth it. Before marriage, both of us were working, so there was never a problem of finance for us. Even after marriage when our children were in college, we moved to the Gulf and our children were here, but they always managed their studies and took care of everything. Time with the kids flew by and before we knew it, they were getting married.”

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Family, our big priority…
“Before we moved to the Gulf, spending time with our children was a priority to us. A family trip during the holidays, everyday mischief and fun was our way of spending time together. We took our children everywhere we went. We were never in favour of leaving our children with a maid. We never lived in a joint family, but stayed close to each other as we were from the same village in Bandra. Our parents always took our children for vacations and every Sunday we had to visit our parents, because they wanted to meet their grandchildren on Sunday. Also, all the Fonseca’s would have a get-together very often. Our families have always been supportive and always ready to extend a helping hand and this is one of the reasons spending time with family has always been important to us.”

Fighting problems together…
“We never spoke to anyone about our problems, we always tried to understand each other and solve the problem. When we realized a problem was getting out of hand, we would say, “let us discuss this tomorrow” and the next day we were able to discuss it with a new perspective. We loved each other and so we always tried to understand the other person. Handling the house was not only one person’s job; I never felt superior to my wife and we treated each other as equals and helped each other in every area of our life.”

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Crumbling marriages after and intense ‘love affair’…
“Love is not an off-the-counter product. When you are in love before marriage, things are different. After marriage, to keep the love burning and the respect growing takes effort from both the partners. The reason so many marriages are breaking up today is because of lack of communication. Couples are not able to communicate their feelings and problems with one another. There are always arguments and they find it difficult to understand one another. They are not ready to see the other’s point of view and share the burden. They find it difficult to realize that both of them have problems and both have to help each other with those problems. Today, couple are finding it difficult to adjust.”

Antidote for crumbling marriages…
“Couples need to learn to understand the problems of the other person. When you take your weddings vows, you clearly say ‘for better or worse’ so when you’re married, you need to take the burdens that come with it and need to share your burdens, because that’s what you both promised on your wedding day, at the Altar with Jesus as your witness. One of the first things to do is, buy a house of your own and do not stay in your parent’s house. Sort all your problems by yourself and do not let outsiders know what is going on in your house; it’s best to keep your problems to yourself. If problems get out of hand, talk to a Priest, never family or friends.”

Marriage is a union between two people…
“Marriage is a union between two people. When families get involved, things sometimes take an ugly turn. Yes, it is important to get blessings from both the families before marriage. Couples should tell their families about their relationships after being sure they want to spend the rest of their lives together and nothing should change that decision of theirs. But, I believe, the families should be kept out of issues you face as a husband and wife. Unless, of course it is absolutely necessary! More often than not, it is the families that ruin a good marriage, not letting the couple sort out their differences.”

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Julius and Philomena with their children and grandchildren

The final word…
“Something I would like to end with is, always understand each other, love each other and never fail to stand by and care for each other. You can work through anything if you love and understand each other.”

When quizzed on the latest trend of children burdening their parents with their children, Julius says, “Of such children, I would say they are selfish; they are only thinking about themselves. They should understand their duties and realise their parents are getting old and help them enjoy their future instead of burdening them with looking after their kids. Once in a way, if grandparents have to look after their grandchildren, if there is an emergency, I can understand. Primarily, I believe it is the duty of the parents to look after their children and not the responsibility of the grandparents.”

Also Read: Celebrating Anacleto and Esmeralda Fernandes
Also Read: Celebrating Marshall and Philomena Sequeira

 

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