Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 21, 2002
Faith, friendship rise above differences
Coming from different cultures strengthens marriage
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
Emerson and Betty Rawding's marriage is living proof faith and friendship can transcend cultural differences.
This Millwoods couple - active members of St. Theresa Parish - looks back on their 21 years of living together and said, "If we didn't share a common faith and if we didn't start as friends, we don't know how things would have worked out."
Faith is a major player in their marriage.
"I would be a lot weaker emotionally if I did not have faith," said Emerson.
The 55-year-old president of Blue Bull Corp. Ltd. said that after so many years of being married, he doesn't pay much attention to the fact he wed somebody from another culture.
"You become one. . . . And if you're happy together, people see that."
The couple, introduced by a common friend, became friends first. Betty was four months pregnant and just going through a divorce. Coming from the Philippines and of Chinese lineage, Betty found herself alone and frightened.
"Em was kind enough to bring me to Church, to my doctor and that's how our friendship developed."
This friendship became the foundation of their marriage and they wed when Bruce, their 21-year-old son, was born. Emerson became his father.
Going to Church and participating in the celebrations has always been part of their lives, although they did not celebrate or receive the sacraments because, at that time, they were not yet married in the Church.
Betty's previous marriage was annulled, but she decided not to get her present marriage validated right away.
"Once you've been through one marriage, you're quite careful the next time around. You don't get a second annulment."
But as their son was about to celebrate his First Communion, Betty thought "'I'd really hate to see him go up there alone when it's Communion time.' That's when I thought we better get married in the Church."
It was an important step in their relationship, said Betty, since "sharing the same faith is the bridge."
Having gone through life's expected health and financial problems, Emerson agreed, saying, "If I did not have my faith and she did not have her faith, we probably would be apart. We have complete trust in God."
A few years ago, Emerson underwent multiple bypass surgery. He was in a coma for four days and doctors said he would leave the hospital in a wheelchair.
Surprise! He rebounded and was back to work in a couple of months. The couple attributes Emerson's recovery to prayers offered by friends and relatives. Such an experience deepened their faith and strengthened their relationship.
Then there is another important relationship - Emerson's friendship with his in-laws. "There's a good support system within Filipino families," Emerson said.
That was a challenge for him at first when he realized that when he married Betty, her family became his too. "I like her family: they became friends and not just relatives," he said.
Although not a major concern, Betty said the language barrier could come into play at times. When her family gets together, conversations tend to divert to her mother tongue. "It gets even worse when we visit our family in the Philippines," Betty said.
That's okay with Emerson. "It's just a joy to be with them because I know they care about me: it's just that I don't understand what they're saying."
Betty believes open-mindedness is important when one is marrying someone from another cultural background, advising them to "focus on the positive side of things and familiarize herself or himself to the spouse's culture."