Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What is a Relationship?

“It takes 3 seconds to fall in love. It takes 3 decades to get along.” These are the first TWO lines of a TV ad that got stucked in my mind. The first statement seems true and fascinating. The second seems true but very frustrating. Would it be better to fall in love in 3 seconds and get along, say, in 3 weeks and live happy for the rest of your life? Can you imagine after 30 long years of living together the partners or spouses have not yet come to terms? Surprising yet this happens—not to some but to numerous relationships. In a lot of cases this period is too much, too long. Sometime in between, the relationship fails and is somehow put to an end. For others who have the capacity, they elevate their cases in court for the annulment of marriage so both parties can go on with their lives separately.

The Americans cannot outsmart the Pinoys. If they have “irreconcilable differences” as ground for divorce we have “psychological incapacity”—unbelievably the most common reason used by local courts in annulling marriages. For me, such excuse for an annulment is ridiculous in the superlative degree. Individuals who plea “psychological incapacity” in exchange of marital freedom should then be required to confine themselves to a mental asylum!

To begin with, a person with a sound mental condition possesses a deep comprehension of what s/he just stepped into, in this case it is relationship and marriage. Thus the pertinent question, “What is a relationship?” It is simply a voluntary agreement between two parties to be involved with each other with the intention of starting a family of their own in the future. Probably the next most logical question to ask now is, “What is marriage?” It is simply taking a vow (of course, with your own free will) to spend the rest of your life with the person you love. This, however, requires affixing your signature on a legal document called marriage contract witnessed by your ninongs and ninangs. And does it end here? Of course not! This is only the beginning—the start of an intricate journey to family hood, you know—raising children—that kind of stuff.

Once I brought up to my family the idea of having the marriage contract renewable every year. Katulad ba noong contract sa pag-upa ng apartment. They would not want to agree with me. I told them that this would be to the benefit of both spouses. If the relationship is not really working and all efforts to straighten things out have been exhausted then all you have to do is wait for the expiration of the contract and be free. How do we deal with a husband whose favorite past time is bringing out the pugilist in him (a la Manny Pacquiao) and inflicting physical injuries complemented by verbal abuses on his wife? How about the wife who spends much of her time playing mahjong in her amiga’s house and virtually abandoning her responsibilities as a wife and as a mother to her children? Then there is also the issue of infidelity. The spouse can get out of the situation without the hustle of filing for legal separation or annulment. So much for the “dark side” of a relationship for this might give a second thought to people out there who have immediate plans of settling down.

Let us venture into the world of a successful relationship. I have no knowledge of any existing formula for this nor have I read one. It is at best, I suppose, to observe, play by ear, and apply a lot of common sense. Sometimes it is not always intelligence that plays a vital role in our lives. Sometimes common sense is more than just enough. Life is taking a lot of chances. It is, I might say, a gamble. We live in a world where taking chances becomes an integral part of our lives. From the moment we were brought forth into this world to the day we find ourselves in our final resting place, we gamble—we take chances. True enough, when we marry we take a lot of chances--we take a lot of risks. The least we can do, however, is to up the chances of its success.

When we talk of love it should be an unconditional love. It is expecting the unexpected. Your partner will only start to reveal his/her true color the day after your marriage. You take your partner who s/he is and what s/he is. It is akin to a product ad with the supporting line “where is, as is.” You cannot expect your partner to morph into someone you wanted him/her to be. This would mean a disaster. Give some; take some, after all marriage should be symbiotic. Give your full respect and you will earn yours. Trust your partner because the stability of the marriage depends largely on trust. Practice altruism—how I wish altruism is like a common cold that could infect each and every one of us then maybe we can have a “clean” government run by “clean” public officials. Maintain an open line (two-way as in two-way radio) of communications. If you’re wrong admit it, then make amends. Do not hesitate to forgive. As they always say, if God can forgive why can’t we? Give the best of everything to your children. You owe it to them. Remember, they were not given the opportunity to choose their parents.

Now, imagine this—you are old and gray walking on three (not two feet), one hand holding a cane and the other squeezing the hand of your long time partner. You stroll on the green grasses in the park approaching the famous “Nothing Hill” bench and then you both take your seats and watch the golden sun setting in the bay. In an instant came all your children and their husbands and wives and all their children. All your children, now all accomplished, staring at both of you—wishing they were all like you!

Would that not be a spectacular sight to see?

Note: I wrote this article in 2005 and sent it to the Phil. Daily Inquirer for their “High Blood” column and this was the response I got:

“sir wilfrido, thank you for taking the time to write an article for the inquirer. but sir, the high blood section of the inquirer only caters to those in their 60s (onwards). the editors are still trying to come up with a column for those below 60. it's been a long-standing rule sir and we cannot make any exception. --tin-tin ang”

I was only 54 years old then.

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