“Many couples prepare for the wedding, but not for marriage even though the latter is more important,” says wedding solemniser Joanna Portilla, who has solemnised about 3,000 marriages over 15 years.
She continues, “I strongly believe that attending the marriage preparation programmes (MPPs) will be beneficial to new couples. By going for these programmes, couples can learn tips and solutions on managing and overcoming the issues that come in a marriage“.
An educator by profession, the 51-year-old has been married for two decades and has a 15-year-old-son. She is a member of the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) Alliance for Action to Strengthen Marriages and Family Relationships’ (AFAM) Focal Area 2, which supports young couples through marriage preparation and enrichment programmes, as well as conversations on issues such as fertility.
She’s also a council member for the Families for Life (FFL) Movement, which aims to build strong and resilient families, and rallies like-minded individuals, families and organisations to strengthen family bonds through large-scale events, national celebrations and online digital campaigns.
That’s not all — she’s also one of the licensed solemnisers participating in the Journey with You (JOY) pilot programme by the Registry of Marriages (ROM), chosen to mentor newly-wed couples in their first year of marriage. She meets with couples before their solemnisation to share advice on marriage and family life, as well as encourage them to attend a marriage preparation programme. “I also stay in touch with them after their solemnisation to see how they are adjusting to married life,” she adds.
We glean more insights from Joanna on the most important conversations to have before marriage, why she’s an advocate of marriage preparation courses, her thoughts on prep-nups, and her best marriage advice.