He says "it's warm." She says "it's cold." He says "it's short." She says "it's long." He says "it's difficult." She says "it's easy." He says "Let's pray." She says "Let's."
How do two people so different from each other stay together for 50 years?
My father and mother disagree on everything (well, almost!) under the sun. Yet they managed to survive 50 years of marriage. How, in the world did they do it?
Well, let me share with you 10 lessons I learned from my parents:
1. THE SECRET OF LIVING TOGETHER FOR 50 YEARS IS LIVING APART FROM EACH OTHER
My mother stays in Pampanga from Monday to Friday. She only stays with us during weekends. No, they are not separated by choice. They are separated because my mother's work is based in Pampanga. Her territory includes Olongapo as well. I cannot imagine the two of them staying in one roof for more than 1 week. It would be the start of a civil war!
2. THE BEST WAY TO WIN AN ARGUMENT IS TO AVOID IT
When my father and mother starts talking to each other, I look at my watch and wait 1-2 minutes. Expect an argument after that. And when they do, nobody wins!
3. THE BEST WAY TO AVOID AN ARGUMENT IS TO PLAY DEAF AND MUTE
I often tell my mother "just don't comment anything when tatay starts talking to avoid any argument. Pretend you didn't hear anything." Better said than done, actually. My mother is the only person I know who can talk 24 hours straight without damaging her vocal cords. You can turn off a radio, but not my mother when she starts talking . . .
4. WHEN YOU WANT SOMETHING FROM YOUR SPOUSE, ASK FOR DIRECTLY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU WANT AND YOU WILL SURELY GET IT (Need I say more on this?)
5. THE SECRET OF BEING HAPPILY MARRIED IS TO ENJOY THE COMPANY OF YOUR FRIENDS
My father walks everyday at 3:30AM with his walking buddies. He swears that this daily ritual sustains his life. He enjoys talking and laughing with his friends. That's what makes him happy and we are happy that he has a group (actually he has 3 other groups--the tennis players, small prayer group and his co-Extra Ministers of the Holy Eucharist) that keeps him going. At 82, this makes him fully alive.
My mother, on the other hand, is constantly surrounded by her staff, managers and agents whom she enjoys working with. She used to tell me "when you enjoy what you're doing, you're no longer working." True enough, at her age of 73, she's still as enthusiastic as she was 43 years ago when she joined Philamlife.
6. Practice the "FORGIVE AND FORGET" Principle
In our home, this means the offended forgives--the offender forgets. When my father shouts at my mother, she forgives him even though he doesn't ask for forgiveness. He, on the other hand, forgets right away why he shouted at her. It's as if nothing happened.
7. THE FAMILY THAT PRAYS SEPARATELY STAYS TOGETHER
Don't get me wrong. We do pray together whenever we're together but precisely because we're only gathered as one family during weekends, we pray separately. My father has his own community. My mother has hers and I have mine. We all have different communities but hey, we're still together.
8. THE LENGTH OF MARRIAGE IS DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL TO THE TOLERANCE LEVEL OF THE WIFE
I can never measure my mother's patience because it is simply unmeasurable. Mine was limited to 5 years. And that's it. One more day and I will break into pieces.
9. THE GREATEST GIFT A FATHER CAN GIVE HIS CHILDREN IS TO BE FAITHFUL TO THEIR MOTHER
When I tease my mother "konti na lang kayong hindi pa nababaril sa Luneta". She would stand by her principle that she could take anything and everything except a husband's womanizing. According to her, only one philandering mistake by my father and she would leave him. Well, we never got the chance to know whether this would really be the limit of her patience because after 50 years, not once did my father cheat on my mother.
One word that covers it all. Every problem has a solution. When a situation presents no solution, then it is no longer a problem. It is the reality of life. You just have to accept it. Period.