Sunday, April 10, 2016

Leaving without Moving

   It was said that the best thing one can do for the family is to make the co-parent happy.  That sounds easy, but marriage is difficult even when there is genuine deep love.  Mutual respect, a common religion, intellectual compatibility, financial stability and being blessed with genetically beautiful and intelligent children, having all of those do not guarantee a happy marriage. 

   There is no divorce law in the Philippines.  The premise of the anti-divorce law is to keep the family together.  That argument worked well in the past decades.  However, in this age of information and technology, it’s hard to be ill-informed about the options open to couples in other countries.  The funny thing is that, even if there is a divorce law in the Philippines, the deeply ingrained culture of staying married for the children’s sake would keep it together. 

   The unhappily married man’s recourse would be to cheat and keep another family tucked away somewhere.  His other option is to suffer and make everyone else feel it.

   I know of unhappily married Filipinas who found a way to jump ship without anyone noticing.  They are those who work until late, till they are cross eyed in exhaustion.  Then, they come home to dutifully bury themselves in house chores.  They pretend that working themselves to death is their lot in life.  As a result, their homes are clean and presentable.  Their children are intelligent and disciplined.  Their bedroom is dark and cold. 

   These women take pride in providing for their family, some better than their spouse.  With or without education, they find a way to support the family, thinking that if they earned enough, the spouse might be emboldened to leave.  The opposite usually happens.  He sits back and enjoy the privilege.

   While the rest of the world is turning, the Philippine family life has stood the test of time.  Mothers who wished their daughters would have a different life, decades later, found their daughters in their own shoes.  My mother once advised me “If you’re not happy, leave.”  The pull of culture is stronger far than we.  My mother died seeing me stay unhappily married.  But unlike her, I left without actually moving out.  It's called 'open marriage, Philippine style'.  It's when both husband and wife discretely enjoy 'other partners' while at the same time keeping a happy family facade.  That lasted 25 years before I got the courage to be truthful and actually walk out.  

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