[Opinion]: Marriage’s Spider Web

When I was young, I pictured a marriage life was like living in a castle with your prince who will pamper you with golds and jewelries. Well, this perception was changed when I was twelve years old and since then, I learned how complicated and tiring a marriage life could be. Lots of contempt, harsh words, and perhaps infidelity that happened between a husband and a wife in a marriage relationship. So, I said to myself, “Uhmm… are you sure you want to get married one day??”

With that change of mindset, I embarked on a faraway journey. I pursued a degree in a faraway land in hoping that maybe I was wrong and maybe I got something out of this decision. The reality was that I got sort of “unique packages” from my trip to a faraway land. Studying and working abroad definitely taught me many good things, but at the same time my view in marriage has not changed even though I removed myself from the “hot” zone. What more interesting was that I ended up working in a field that required me to observe and interact with married couples. I personally found this fact amusing because I didn’t specifically asked for it, but it was part of my job descriptions. I often wonder if perhaps this is God’s will or something.

Thanks to my job that I slowly was able to make lists of the tricks that could be implemented by anyone who is in the marriage relationship to maintain a healthy marriage life. These 10 tricks can help couples to clean up their marriage’s spider web. We know how tangled and yucky a spider web is, and unhealthy marriage life looks like that spider web.

Trick number 1 is both sides must have equally genuine effort to maintain healthy and loving marriage life. If there’s no effort then it will be quick to see a rupture in a marriage relationship. The key is both you and your spouse must exercise equal effort. Two are better and stronger than one.

Trick number 2 is stable income. Having a stable income in a marriage life is very important especially when children are present in the family. Strictly no gambling! Gambling not only affects your income, but also damages your marriage.

Trick number 3 is to have one same faith in a family. This is a sensitive topic, but if it is possible for a husband and a wife to have a same faith then please do it. This should be your priority when you plan to get married, what if he/she wants to practice a different belief, can I handle it? This type of talk is more important than talking about how much dress you need to spend on your wedding day. There are plenty of good reasons why couples who plan to get married must take a pre-marital class through their religions/beliefs. So, don’t skip the class!

Trick number 4 is to share similar goals. Leading a marriage life but you and your spouse have different goals will look like a plane whose pilot and a co-pilot argue about which destinations they should be heading to. Can you imagine what will happen with the plane? It can fall and threaten those who are on the plane because the pilots do not share same final destination in their minds.

Trick number 5 is to be realistic. This means getting real. Face the issues, find the solutions, and solve the issues. Don’t dwell on too much “what if” and “he/she should have known.”

Trick number 6 is to avoid infidelity at any cost. Engaging in this type of activity means you hurt yourself and those who live with you. This includes do not watch porn movies!

Trick number 7 is to learn to forgive and let go of grudges. This is hard but one must keep learning to forgive and to not hold grudges if you want your marriage lasts longer and also to keep your sanity.

Trick number 8 is to keep the love sparkling. Just remember the old time when you tried to win his/her heart. Do the same thing like you did in the past to cheer him/her.

Trick number 9 is to share responsibility in a household. Make a list of chores for you and another list for your spouse. If you have kids, share the chores with them, too.

Trick number 10 is to have a flexibility. Cannot be too rigid. Sometimes, it’s ok to go with the flow or do something outside the daily ritual.

Those are 10 tricks that could straighten and hopefully clear the spider web out from your marriage life. It takes effort and that’s why both sides must show efforts and do it with full and open heart.

Do Your Best Because You Never Know How Short Life Could Be

Last month, I was shocked by the news of the sudden death of someone whom my family knew very well. He has always been a good person in my eyes, so I was completely surprised to learn that I would not be able to see him again. Thinking about his children even made me feeling sadder. I hoped his children could handle this situation well because I could imagine how scary it would be for them to continue their lives after their father’s death.

Four years ago, my Dad was hospitalized for a week, and throughout that week, I cried on and off. It never crossed my mind that my parents could leave me alone in this world permanently. That one time event has changed my point of view about life and specifically preparing life after someone’s death.

Events, such as serious illness and death are not the things that I specifically receive in school. Thanks to age and maturity, I learned to understand these events wisely. Out of the things that I read and heard from people, getting over the regret feeling is the hardest one. Too often, we do things without thinking of the consequences, only later we regret from not doing it the way we should be. I’ve heard so much from relatives how sorry they were from not taking time to listen and spend time with their loved ones while they were still alive.

This new understanding has then shaped the way I interact with my parents and do my everyday activities. I started to pay attention to my parents’ health and do extra miles in my own way to ease their burden. Of course, we still have disagreements here and there, but I have done at my best to make things better for them, as possible as I could. Likewise, in my own personal life, I learn to not take things too personally. I also learn to always think pros and cons before saying and explaining something to clients. Definitely, I have more things to do while I am still alive, and I try to do each of it with genuine heart. This is because I don’t want to feel bad later on. It is because I understand that life is precious and so I must use it wisely.

I Learn How to Love and Forgive from My Son

*All the names and characters in this story are fictive. This story is written to increase awareness about Autism and to encourage people to be mindful when they meet someone who has Autism.*

I remembered how happy I was when I learned that I was pregnant. I was married at 35 years old, and my in-laws were worried that I would have difficulty to conceive a child. My marriage itself is kind of outside the norm in our Asian culture, mainly because I am married to a guy who is four years younger than I am. My husband is a loving guy who treats me equally. He allows me to work and do things that I like to do. In short, our marriage is a happy marriage.

I gave birth to a cute baby boy at 36 years old. We named him Jeremiah, and we celebrated his presence by throwing a fantastic party. Jeremiah grew healthy, and his milestone was on track. At 2 years old, I noticed something odd with Jeremiah. His speech skills seemed to regress. He used to wave and call me “Mama,” but his words were disappeared. We took him to a child psychologist and were advised to take ADOS test. The psychologist suspected that Jeremiah might have Autism. I cried when she said that, but I braved myself to take the test. Four weeks later, it was confirmed that Jeremiah had mild Autism. I cried every night for about a week. I tried to tell myself the result was wrong, but I also recognized that he lost his speech and he became avoidance. Our daily schedules were changed ever since we found out that Jeremiah had Autism. Therapists were coming in to our house and we also transported Jeremiah to see another therapist outside home. I signed up for ABA courses. I even attempted to put Jeremiah on a strict diet. However, my husband was against this idea. He said we better kept him in behavioral therapies instead of strict diet.

Jeremiah started to talk a bit at four years old. We were able to put him in a regular school, though it was a hard work. My husband used everything he could do to keep Jeremiah in school. We demanded his school to give Jeremiah extra lessons to catch up missing work. It was an exhausting process, but we would not give up for Jeremiah.

Bad words about me started to show up, as soon as people learned about Jeremiah’s Autism. They blamed me for bringing bad genes. I wanted to smack them, but I knew it wasn’t appropriate. Jeremiah knew when I was sad. He would come and hugged me tightly. He said “It’s ok, Mommy.” When the school called me to inform that Jeremiah had a hard time in the classroom, he would look at me with teary eyes and said “Sorry, Mommy.” Parents who did not know about Jeremiah’s diagnosis often blamed me for not teaching rules to him. However, parents whose children also have special needs, though it is not Autism, understood my situation. We made a group chat via WhatsApp, and we shared tips. This group chat has supported me to survive and raise Jeremiah. I deeply thank my husband who against all odds and difficulties, he is always on my side.

Jeremiah is 17 years old now. He will graduate from high school next June. We are not sending him to a college. Instead, we bring a teacher in to teach him baking and cooking. Jeremiah loves baking cookies. Ever since he was young, he enjoyed watching Food Network and asked me to buy ingredients so that he could bake and cook. We plan to sharpen his skills and hope that he could earn money through baking and cooking. Through Jeremiah, I learn how to love unconditionally. He is teaching me to forgive those who talk bad about us. Jeremiah is a loving child. His Autism does not stop him from being a lovable person and most importantly do not block him from pursuing his passion.

The Return of Hans

**All names and characters in this story are fictive.**

The last time Susan spoke with Hans was on Christmas day, 5 years ago. Hans is neither her best friend nor her special friend. He is simply a mutual friend, but he has been around her for 8 years. Susan doesn’t say much to him because she thinks if she has no special interest toward him, she should not try to get his attention. On the other hand, Hans occasionally sends a random message on important events, like birthday and Christmas. Not every year, it’s only when he feels he wants it.

Susan has been keeping herself busy with her job as a hospital director. Seeking a love mate is not her priority. She thinks getting married is a hassle and even if she decides to get married, finding the right guy seems a hard task for her, perhaps even harder than running a hospital. She fell in love twice in her life, but Cupid was not on her side. She had a nice guy back when she was in school, but she decided to let him go because she thought it was too early for her to commit in a romantic relationship. Hans was among the guys whom she was introduced with when she was in a college. Hans was a serious guy at that time, and perhaps still, and this somewhat scared Susan. A friend asked her why she did not want to date Hans, and Susan said Hans was too serious and appeared to be rigid. She disliked that kind of feeling. Too much expectation. Susan left every possible romantic relationship up in the air with any guys who is fond of her. This becomes her expertise. Love life is just not her thing, and she can’t explain why.

After so long not talking each other, Susan was surprised to hear news from Hans. Their conversation was about holiday activities, and as usual, Susan kept it short and simple. Two weeks after their first phone talk, Hans sent him a message. This time he said, “Hey, I will be back home for a vacation. A short visit, a week. Would it be okay if I visit your workplace when I am in town?” Susan kept that message, not sure what she would say. This morning, Susan replied. “Ok. Come to my workplace. I’ll send you the address.”

Three weeks later…

Hi, I’ve just arrived this morning. Are you busy this afternoon? Can I stop by?

Susan replies immediately. “Sure, How about 1 o’clock?” I have free time about an hour and after that I’ve got to see a client at 2.”

Yes. That sounds good to me! I will visit my sister after that.”

Hans’s little sister is married already, and she has three kids. Her little sister is a chatty person. Her personality is the opposite of Hans’s personality.

Beep..beep…

Yes.”

Maam, your guest is here. His name is Hans. Should I let him in?

Yes.”

Hey, Susan! Long time no see! You are looking great as always and doesn’t change that much since the last time I saw you.”

Hahaha.. how are you Hans? How’s life on the other side of the earth?

Both Susan and Hans are studying in the United States. They both worked in the States, but in different cities. Susan left home for good, while Hans remained in the States.

So, this is your office. Looking nice and you have a nice view from here.

Thank you! So, what’s up?”

” Nothing new. I saw your travel pictures on Instagram. It looked like you traveled to different places. Meanwhile, I worked like a hell. Your last picture on Instagram made me to come home.

What???

“Yes, I’ve always read your captions. The last picture made me booked a ticket. It’s last minute. But, it feels good to be back home.”

How long are you going to be in town?

A week. I have a few important meetings next week, so I must return to work next week.”

I see.”

Hm, are you dating anyone right now?

Nope.”

Why? You are not young anymore, you know?

Yes, I am aware of that, but I like to live this kind of life.

Are you serious??

Susan doesn’t know what to say. She smiles. She wonders why this guy is here and asks such a direct question.

Susan, I am here because I have been thinking of you all these years. The last time you rejected me was my devastating moment. I was mad at you, so I didn’t look for you for a while.”

“I see. I am sorry.”

However, you are always on my mind. I even remember your birthday. So, I still text you even if your answer is short.”

“I know. I am sorry again for giving you a hard time.”

“No, you don’t have to feel sorry. So, this is the reason I am coming home. I want to ask you to go on a date with me. What do you think?”

“Susan, listen to me. We both are not young anymore. You have impressed me so much years ago and still. Don’t you think we should try?”

“Hans, thank you for expressing your feeling. Can we talk about this another time?”

“Susan, what are you waiting for?”

“I just need more time. You come home and suddenly ask this type of question. I am not ready to answer.”

“Sigh. Fine, Susan. Let’s talk about it later. I’ve got to go. Let’s meet again before I fly back to the States.”

“Sure.”

Hans is still a guy with straight forward personality. Susan, again, feels the pressure. The same kind of pressure that Hans asked him years ago.

Susan remains quiet. She meets Hans one last time before he returns back to the States. They eat together and spend hours talking about almost anything. Hans could date another girl, but he insists on dating with her. Susan doesn’t get it, but Hans is a good guy. Even if she doesn’t end up with Hans or when he is giving up on her, Susan hopes that he will find a nice girl who will treat him like a king and treasure him like a diamond.

Should she accept him? Should she say no? Susan does not know when it is the right time to say “yes.” Her mouth is just so hard to say it.

Precious Life

Love the life you currently live.

Love the work you do.

Love the people with whom you work with.

Love the people who have been with you through up and down.

Love the God who creates you.

Love the talent that God has been given you with.

Love your body, mind, and health.

Live, love, laugh and give thanks.

Look Forward

I look forward for the days when daily life is running smoothly and no worries.

I look forward for the freedom of doing things I want to do without bothering what people said to me.

I look forward for the time when I could feel peace and joy all around my body.

I look forward for a moment when harsh words are not ringing on my ears.

Look forward and keep believing.

Should?

Should a woman marry someone?

Should a guy marry someone?

Should we marry someone just because others think we should get married?

Should we worry with what others say to us?

Shouldn’t we choose the life we want to be?

Shouldn’t be okay if solitude life is good for now?

Shouldn’t be fine if marriage life with kids are not our priorities?

Should or should not is our choice. We should be able to decide our lives, what we want to do, with whom we want to live with, and more.

Sip It Like You Drink Your Coffee

Our lifestyles resemble coffee brands.

Our life issues remind us of the sizes of coffee cup that we choose when we drink coffee.

The way we handle the issues is similar to how we drink our coffee. Some like to sip it while it is still hot, fresh brewed. Some like to wait for a few minutes. Others like to drink it cold.

Eventually, each of us will sip and finish drinking our coffee. Life issues may not all gone completely, but it will slowly dissipate just like when we drink our coffee. It takes time.

When I am Old and Gray

When I’m old and gray,

… I will celebrate my journey of life.

… I will cherish my moment here and now.

… I will reminisce all of the hard work that I’ve done.

… I will share my life lessons to younger generation.

When I’m old and gray,

… I will enjoy the slow pace of my life.

… I will do one thing at a time.

… I will thank people who have been supported me all years long.

… I will give thanks to God who gives me strength and wisdom.

After 37 Years

May 3 marks my parents’ 37th wedding anniversary. 37 is a big number for them and for our entire family, because it takes so much love, pray, forgiveness and healthy mind to be able to lead a life as a husband and wife in today’s dynamic society.

I have learned from their marriage is that the continuity and strength of our family is built based on a teamwork between parents and children. This means that each of us has a responsibility to keep up with every tiny aspect in our family, whether it is a happy or sad moment and to try at our best to keep our family together.

I have also learned that the acts of verbally saying “I love you sweetheart” between married couple is not enough. They need to do more than that because the reality of marriage life involves acceptance, support, fidelity, forgiveness, finance, and the ability to move forward as a team of husband and wife. Putting this together, we could picture an image of husband and wife as ship’s captains with children as crews, together they sail and conquer the sea.

Now that 37 years have passed, my prayer to them and to our family is that we continue to support each other and lead a simple healthy life. I also pray that each of us continue to learn let go of grudges and forgive more and enjoy the moment.