By Lisha Gomes | Opening Doorz Editorial | November 16, 2019
A day before Valentine’s Day in 1966, Dominic D’Souza and Philomina Gonsalves pledged their love to each other, at St Thomas Church, Goregaon. February 13, 1966 will forever be etched in their minds when they walked down the aisle with their respective parents. Fifty-three years later, that spark is still alive in their eyes as they sit together, sharing their wisdom.
Three daughters, ever-supporting sons-in-law and five grandchildren later, Dominic and Philomina’s love for each other only continues to grow as they still hold on to their promise taken at the Altar in the presence of God and their families. A relationship that started off as an arranged meet has now set a benchmark of love.
Dominic (83) and Philomina (75) settle down for a chat with their granddaughter, sharing their secret of the oft-heard phrase, ‘And they lived happily ever after…’
“Prayer, love and understanding,” is what has been the foundation on which they set their marriage, way back in 1966. “Never let your love fade away,” is the advice they leave us with.
Fifty three years together… where did all this begin?
PHILOMINA: My father’s aunt, Maria, introduced us by talking to Dominic’s mother and then we met and got married. There was no much courting before marriage; our parents agreed and so we agreed. I guess life was simple then.
Fifty years is a long time in a marriage. What is it that you both did together to make this relationship last?
DOMINIC: The most important thing to make a marriage work is to love each other and never let your love decrease. You must always understand, care for and communicate with each other when something bothers the relationship. One important thing for us was we always pray—praying together and understanding each other got us through all our ups and downs. Even though we had an arranged marriage, our differences never caused us to drift apart and we stayed together and today, 53 years later, our love has only grown stronger.
Obviously, there would have been storms in your life; can you share some of the difficulties you faced in this long journey?
PHILOMINA: No marriage is bed of roses and yes, we too had certain difficulties. Our biggest problem was finance. We lived in a joint family and Dominic was the only working member; that meant he was not only taking care of us, but even his mother, younger sister and brother who were still in school. He used to give his entire salary (which at that time was just 110 rupees) to his mother to run the house. Even after we had our first two daughters, the same thing continued with him giving his entire salary to his mother. By the time we had our third daughter, thankfully things changed a little and his siblings started working and things got easier. That is when his mother told him to use the salary for his family.
Were there many changes to make after the birth of your children?
PHILOMINA: We are blessed with three daughters who never fail to make us proud. Looking back, our daughters were never a problem. Even though we lived in a small house and had a lot of people living in the same house, they all studied and did well in life. They helped us with whatever we asked them. When our daughters grew up a little I went to work abroad for four years because of our financial situation. It was a very difficult decision to make but my girls managed to take charge of the house in my absence.
How did you’ll manage work and family life? Do you think not spending time is one of the reasons this generation is finding it difficult to maintain relationships?
DOMINIC: Yes, family time was a must for us and there was never a day when all five of us didn’t spend time as a family. Family Rosary was a must; our daughters kneeled down every day at 8:00 in the evening and prayed the rosary, except for the four years my wife was working abroad. We also took them to the park very often in the evening once we had completed our work for the day. Also, even though we had a financial problem, the five of us used to go for three trips every year. Because I was working for the railways, and I used to get three trips per year! Today, my daughters have been to almost every corner of India. Even now, all our daughters with their husbands and our five grandchildren meet very often and spend time together as a family. Spending time as a family has always been a priority to us.
What do you feel is the biggest reason we are hearing about so many divorces in this generation? What is different from the times when you got married, and what in your opinion has changed?
DOMINIC: In our generation, most of the marriages were arranged marriages, so the parents always looked for people of the same caste and religion. Nowadays, most marriages are love marriages and sometimes not from the same caste, so traditions and cultures differ and sometimes it is difficult to fit into a new culture which could lead to broken marriages. Too much of alcohol consumption could lead to fights which go out of hand and are another reason marriages are breaking. Also, couples today are not spending time and praying together. For a marriage to last, praying together as a family is very important.
Who do couples should speak to when they are having problems in their marriage? Should they consult a third person or just speak among themselves?
DOMINIC AND PHILOMINA: Couples should always talk to each other and solve their problems; they should not let outsiders know their problems. Couples should also try to understand and communicate with each other.
Compared to your days, technology has become very advanced, we feel handicapped without our phones and other technology; do you feel this increase in the use of technology has some role to play in crumbling marriages?
DOMINIC AND PHILOMINA: Technology is good and bad, like if people are working abroad they are able to keep in touch with their families. But today, because of technology, people are very busy on their phones that they do not spend time with their families. We did not have a TV, we used to sit together and eat our food and talk to each other. Today people watch TV whilst having their meals. So where is the time to talk to each other? There is a complete breakdown in communication and that is one of the reasons for crumbling marriages today.
You had an arranged marriage; do you think it’s better to get into an Arranged Marriage, as opposed to a Love Marriage?
PHILOMINA: Arranged Marriage worked out for us. All our daughters have had Love Marriages, and it has worked for them. So we have seen both the marriages work. In today’s generation it is better to have Love Marriages because it is better to know a person well before getting married and you should love the person and know you can spend the rest of your life with the person before getting married.
Is there any advice you’ll want to give the couples of today, considering you have gone through 53 years of a successful married life?
DOMINIC AND PHILOMINA: Always discuss your problems, never fail to pray, stick with each other through all the ups and downs, always spend time together and most importantly never let your love for each other fade away—let it only grow stronger as the years pass.