Thursday, April 5, 2012

55 Years and Still Counting (HOW TO SURVIVE 55 YEARS OF MARRIAGE)

55 years ago today, a handsome bachelor from Cavite and a young midwife from Pampanga pledged their love and fidelity for each other with the Sacrament of Matrimony in the progressive town of Marbel, South Cotabato (now Koronadal City).

The man was the eldest of 5 while the woman was the eldest of 10.

How the two of them managed to be alive and sane after 55 years of fighting is something that even me cannot comprehend.

My parents are not the typical couple that you encounter everyday.  In fact, my family is not the typical family that you encounter everyday.  But then again, who can say what is typical and what's not?  What could be normal to some might not be normal to the rest of the human race.

As Jackie of 97.9 FM radio aptly put it:  "Lady, you've got 2 choices:  Remain single and regret it for the rest of your life or get married and wished you were dead."

I was driving when I heard this and I almost hit the car in front of me because I was laughing uncontrollably.

Until now, I still laugh whenever I think of this joke.

Back to my parents.  Below are weird tips on how to survive 55 years of marriage, based on what I learned from my authoritative father and vivacious mother.

1. According to my dear Tatay, he chose Nanay because he's the silent type and nanay's the type who loves talking and entertaining other people.  So if you're still single, choose someone you're opposite.

2.  My parents are exact opposites of each other.  Given a positive situation, my father will still find something negative about that situation.  Given a negative situation, my mother will surely find something positive about that situation.   I guess the cliche "love doesn't consist in looking at each other but in looking together in the same direction" didn't work for them.  They always look in opposite direction!

3.  Tatay turned 87 last Nov. and nanay will be 78 this May.  It's an advantage on my father's part because his wife is much younger than he is.  While he's already weak, his wife is still strong to take care of him.  So if you can find a partner 10 years younger than you, you're lucky!

The problem with them now is this:  At night tatay cannot stand the cold in their bedroom so he goes out to the living room to sleep.  That's the disadvantage of the big difference in age.  You won't grow old at the same time.  Hence, your adaptation to changes in temperature will also vary.  Funny how my father behaves now.  At night he goes out to the living room to sleep on the rocking chair but during the day, he stays inside the bedroom to eat his merienda because according to him, it is colder in the bedroom.

4.  My parents don't agree on anything (well, almost!)  When he says its cold, she'll say its hot.  When he says its short, she'll say its long.  But when he says let's pray, she'll say yes, let's pray.

My advice is:  Agree to disagree.  Don't even dream of convincing your partner.  If you want something, ask for the opposite of what you want so in the end, you'll get what you want.

5.  Both of them are happily married.  Simply because they are happy with their own sets of friends.  Tatay used to have walking buddies, tennis mates, Charismatic brothers and sisters, and co-servers in the Special Ministry of the Eucharist.  Nanay on the other hand, enjoys the company of her staff and agents and fellow managers.

6.  In relation to no. 5, Tatay is now going through depression because some of his friends are no longer alive and he has been retired from his beloved Ministry while my mother is now adjusting from being a career woman to a simple housewife,  Life in our household has been crazy lately because of these kinks and transitions but as the saying goes . . . all these will pass.

While it's healthy to have friends who will support you through and through, your happiness should not solely depend on them.  Remember that your family will always be there to stick with you no matter what.

7.  My parents survived 55 years of marriage because they lived apart from each other.  No, they were not separated by choice.  Nanay was assigned in Pampanga and had to work there from Monday to Friday and stayed with us only during Saturdays and Sundays.  I used to believe that my mother will never retire from Management but by God's grace, she is technically retired -- officially!  Now that they are finally together in one roof, I will do everything in my power to prevent a civil war. (I badly need your prayers too!).  I don't know how to pull this off but I will.  I must.

8.  I don't know who said this but should be the guiding principle of every husband:  "the greatest gift a father could give his children is to be faithful to their mother."  For the past 55 years, my father never cheated on my mother.  How do I know?  Because my mother vowed that one wrong turn is enough for her to leave my father.  And they are still together now.

9.  My parents are like cats and dogs when they talk to each other.  A simple conversation always ends up in an argument.  But what I admire with them is this:  They forgive and forget.  The offender forgets the harsh words said, and the offended forgives naturally.

10.  If there's only one rule that could describe how a marriage survives 55 years, it is ACCEPTANCE.  Never try to change a person according to what you perceive him/her to be.  As my mother always say, you can no longer erase the black and white stripes of a zebra.

In closing, allow me to share with you these 3 guidelines (ABF) given to us by our new company president:

1.  Accept the Brutal Fact.
2.  Aspire for a Better Future.
3.  Act with Bold Faith.