[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.

Love Without Borders

Lela wakes up with the sound of birds chirping outside her window. She has unusual dream, a kind of dream that she never expected it. Today is her birthday. She is officially 34 years old and has no intention to celebrate it. Feeling lazy on her birthday, she grabs her phone to check if her parents called her. Instead, she sees 100 notifications. All of them are birthday wishes. Lela feels shock as she spots a message from her long lost friend, doctor. His real name is Dave, but Lela called him Doctor.

Hi, Lela! It’s me, Dave. How have you been? I am back home. Happy Birthday! Can we meet?

Lela doesn’t sure what she should type back at him. Her mind wanders to the last time they spoke to each other….

17 years ago….

“Hey, Lela! You must check this out,” said Anny.

“Whaaat?? Don’t you see I am busy???” replied Lela.

“Come on! Look! Our school got a new transfer student yesterday, and he is super smart.”

“So what?” said Lela.

“Well, he is smart and has a good body, like the one you see in a movie.” said Anny

“Hah! You are ridiculous! I’ve got to go. I have to help my Mom cleaning the house.”

“Lelaaa!! You are so boring!”

“Hahaha” Lela swings her bag and kisses Anny’s cheek.

Lela is the youngest child in her family. Her older sister is already in a college, and Lela is excited to start her college, too, next year. She wants to be a nurse, so she makes sure she gets accepted at the nursing program. She is not interested in discussing any other topics except nursing program.

Lela meets Dave for the first time during science lab. Dave is her lab partner. Earlier, Anny has been telling her that Dave is the guy she told her about the other days. Lela glances at Dave, and she doesn’t see anything spectacular from him. She admits that Dave indeed has an athletic body and doesn’t look nerdy just like other typical smart boys. The problem is that Dave is a straightforward guy who will point every mistake Lela has made during lab, and this bothers her so much. Dave criticizes Lela almost about everything, up to the point that she swears she won’t meet Dave again.

The turning point of their relationship happens when Lela is coming to school with a pale face. She insists to come to school despite of her diarrhea because she doesn’t want to miss a test. In the lab, Lela hardly could concentrate because she feels dizzy and weak. Dave notices that Lela doesn’t look well, and when he sees that Lela is fainted, he quickly catches her and brings Lela to clinic. Lela thanks Dave for helping her, and they become friends since this moment.

Lela and Dave argue less during science lab as they become friends. They often chat at the cafeteria after school is finished. Lela later learns that Dave wants to be a surgeon like his Dad. He hopes to attend a medical school in the University of Pittsburgh. Dave tells her that his Dad is a doctor, too, and he graduates from the University of Pittsburgh. He wants to follow his Dad’s footstep.

Lela and Dave occasionally do movie dates and dine out whenever possible. Dave convinces Lela to apply for the nursing program at the University of Pittsburgh, so that they could stay together. She agrees to apply for the same school, but fate says something else. Lela is not accepted at the nursing program. She feels devastated and decides to take one year break joining Peace Corp. Dave feels bad, too because he is looking forward to spending college years together with Lela in Pittsburgh. Right before sending Lela off to India for Peace Corps, Dave gives her a Tiffany’s key pendant. He tells Lela that the pendant is a promise from him to her that he will wait for her.

One year post Peace Corp…

Dave nervously stands among other people outside the international arrival gate at JFK airport. Lela is coming home after completing her Peace Corp assignment in India. He spots Lela and quickly waves at her. He hugs Lela tightly. Lela gets tanned skin, loses a lot of weight, but still has pretty smile. They spend one night in New York before getting on a bus to Pittsburgh the next day. While on the bus, Lela tells Dave that she has been applying for a school in the Fall. She decides that she wants to be a teacher, so she applies for the special education program in New York. Upon hearing this, Dave feels disappointed because again, he wants Lela to stay close to him. Acknowledging Dave’s feeling, Lela explains to Dave that her feeling towards him won’t get affected by the distance between them. The distance between Pittsburgh and New York are not that far, visiting each other shouldn’t be an issue. Dave remains quiet as Lela said this to him. Inside, he just dislike the idea because he wants Lela to live in the same town with him. He has no worries with his school because he knows that he is excelled in this part, but living separate from Lela somehow worries him.

September that year

Dave helps Lela moving in to the dorm. They spend the rest of their afternoon strolling around the city. Dave asks Lela to come to Pittsburgh during homecoming weekend because he wants Lela to meet his parents. The last time Lela met Dave’s parents was on the high school graduation. Dave’s face looks exactly like his Dad. His younger brother was still in middle school at that time. Dave is a family man and will prioritize family matter above anything else.

Lela enjoys her school and life in New York. New York’s lifestyle suits her life preference because it allows her to meet people from all over the countries. She secretly signs up for another summer global program in which she will work abroad for three months. She has not told Dave about this because she knows Dave won’t like it. Lela is debating whether she should tell Dave about this, or maybe convince him to attend the program.

The homecoming weekend is here. Lela finally meets Dave and his family. It’s a good weekend for Dave because he wants Lela to meet his parents. Dave is very organized and well-planned, while Lela is a free spirit, does things when she feels she wants to do it. This becomes one of the major issues in their relationships.

Lela tells Dave about her plan for Summer before she is returning to New York. She asks Dave to join with her. Dave refuses to do it because he will start his medical shadowing that Summer. He lets Lela to fly solo because he knows there’s nothing he could do to stop her. Lela’s next stop is Indonesia. She will teach students with Autism through Global Autism Project in rural area in Indonesia. Lela begs Dave to visit her in Indonesia so that they could visit Bali before going back to the States. Dave doesn’t say much.

Every time Dave sends Lela to a foreign country, his heart aches. He kisses her forehead and tells her to be careful. Lela smiles and waves to Dave for the last time before proceeding to the immigration area.

Dave stops picking up Lela at the airport. He is quite busy with his medical school. They don’t talk each other until Christmas. Both of them realize that the spark between them is fading. Dave’s mind is occupied with school and getting ready for his residency. Lela, on the other hand, is busy with her global mission to educate children with special needs in developing countries.

Despite their fading relationship, Lela manages to attend Dave’s graduation. She is proud of him and is admiring his work. Dave is moving to New York to live closer to Lela. He doesn’t want to let go Lela. Moving closer eventually doesn’t fix their stranded relationship. People said high school love usually doesn’t last that long. This apparently is a true scenario for them. Lela and Dave agrees to take a break after six years of dating. Dave remains working in New York. He pursues a speciality program in New York, while Lela is working as a teacher in Brooklyn. She travels abroad every Summer. They don’t talk much, but still manage to see each other every major holiday like Thanksgiving and Christmas. One night, Dave calls Lela and asks to meet. Dave tells Lela that he will join Doctors Without Borders. He gives Lela a wooden box and asks him to open the box tomorrow morning.

The next day, Lela opens the box. Inside, Dave left instructions to ask Lela to open the letter one day at a time. Lela cries as she opens the first letter.

Hi Lela, how are you today?

I must be on the plane en route to Africa. I never been to Africa before, so this must be exciting, right?!

Do you miss me? I missed you that much the first time you were off to India.

Ok, that’s all I have today.

Kiss and hugs,

Dave.

Dave left 730 letters for Lela. Some letters were blank, some were filled with poems, and some were photos they were taken years back. Lela and Dave lost contact after that because Dave apparently extended his job contract.

Here and Now, present time (2018)

Lela’s mind is back to a reality. She types back to Dave.

Hey! Are you in New York?

I heard from your brother that you finally finished your specialty program last year. I was in Australia for the past 2 years. I taught special education and just returned back to the States early this year.

Yes, we can meet.

3 secs later, Dave is texting…

Yes, I am in New York.

Do you want to meet in Laduree cafe downtown? Today, 6 pm?

Lela types back, Suree. See you!

Lela feels nervous as she has not seen Dave for a long time. Lela spends her day searching for a nice dress to wear. She decides to wear a green-jade color dress. She still wears the pendant necklace that Dave gave to her long time ago.

Dave waves at Lela. He looks a bit old, while Lela still looks the same just like the old time. He wonders how that’s possible. He hugs Lela and wishes her a happy birthday. They enjoy dinner together, and before they leave the cafe, Dave presents her with a Tiffany’s box. Lela opens the box and sees a ring. Dave tells her it’s a birthday gift. He also expresses his desire to reconnect their relationship, now that they both are living in the same town.

Lela nods her head. Reading 730 letters that Dave left for her convinced her that she and Dave will reunite once again. And when they reunite, she will stay with him, and so she fulfills her promise.

34 is not a bad age. She gets her long lost soul mate. Her old high school crush. The one she used to miss days and nights. Time and distance prove that a true love eventually will bring you back to the same person.

Epilogue

Lela and Dave hold their initimate wedding in Bali in December that year. The wedding is attended by their family members.

Humble Christmas Tree

I have been wanting to have a Christmas tree ever since I was a kid. It did not happen for various reasons, but I kept wishing and hoping that I would get my own Christmas tree. Every year, during holiday season, I said to myself “One day, I will have my own tree.” I keep repeating this sentence every year, until today. Yes, today, after years of longing, I got my own humble Christmas tree. I called it humble Christmas tree because it is a gift from my own Mama. 
Finally, after years of waiting and debating whether it was necessary to buy a tree or not, I have this humble Christmas tree. 

Hello Christmas tree! 

I love you! 

Thanksgiving: Past, Present, and Gear up for 2018

Thanksgiving, which marks the beginning of the holiday season, always leave me with mixed feeling. This particular mixed feeling has been remained the same from time to time. It’s always the combination of happy because Christmas holiday is approaching and sad because this season reminds me of someone and something I have been wanting so much. Although the memories of past hope and love stay intact, time heals the wounds and disappointments. 

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the courage and mercy that God has been given to me. I surely could not make it this far without His kindness. It took a big courage to go back on track and build a strong foundation of a new life. I’ve learned that there is a beauty in every imperfect situation. This realization could and will happen when we acknowledge our weaknesses, ask for His guidance, and move forward. Once we move forward, we cannot look back on our past too often because we could forget what our goals are. 

We could look back on our past once we achieve at least 80% of our life goals. When we reach that point, we could compare and contrast, and then redefine our life purposes. 
Happy Thanksgiving!
Keep spreading the love because our world will remain and stay healthy when each of us share love with others

Love is Confident

Certain songs remind you of certain people and events. This happens to be true in my case. I listened to Piano Guys on Spotify earlier and as I was listening to their songs, my memories traveled back to my school years. The songs reminds me of the time when life was around job searching and idealizing the characteristics of good guy according to my standard. 

I met a fellow classmate during my school years who patiently accompanied and waited for me for 2 years. I enjoyed his company and we got along really well, but I was not able to say “yes” to him. I was in tears when he forbid good bye, but I told myself it was meant to be gone. I’ve always convince myself when the time is right, I would be able to say “yes” to the guy who proposes and/or initiates a further relationship with me. 

Years after that teary moment, I’ve missed some other critical love moments in which a family member was partially blaming me for not making a move. Work has been my savior during those periods of time. If I am perhaps unlucky in this love segment, I shouldn’t fail in my career. I could lose one, but not both. Thus, this has become my new life motto. 

Listening to Piano Guy’s songs made me to think and look back on what I have dreamed and wished in the past. The dream has always been love and career go hand-in-hand. I know for sure what I want to achieve in my work, and deep down, I know I choose the right profession. Similarly, I want the same feeling of confidence when it comes to love. I do not know when I will meet the right guy, but if the time is right and it is meant to be, I will meet that person, and so I will be able to say “yes” to him. 

Love is patient, pure, and confident. When the time is right, it will be beautiful. 

“Give it to God and Go to Sleep” 

I love hearing the phrase  Give it to God and go to sleep because it teaches me to let go and let God take control of my life. 

The phrase is also a reminder that God is our creator and thus, He is the one who has the power to make changes according to His will. 

Each of us carries our own “cross.” The word “cross” in this context means problem, worry, or illness. The more problem we have, the heavier our “cross” are. We could try so much, but at the end, we have to let God carry half of or perhaps the entire cross for us. The process of letting God to take control is tough because it demands us to fully trust God. It is easier for us to memorize Our Father prayer than to allow God to guide us.  

Little do we know that God could and will do amazing thing for us when we fully surrender to Him. 

So, will you give your “cross” to God and let Him handle it on behalf of you? 

Christmas Comes Double This Year 

Christmas is a special holiday to me mostly because I am a big fan of a Christmas tree. I am longing to have a pretty Christmas tree in my house ever since I was a kid. The problem is that there has been a lot of consideration every time I want to buy my own Christmas tree. As a result, I end up not having it until now, though, deep down, I want to have my own Christmas tree. 
When I have my Christmas tree, I surely will light it up days and nights. I will not get bored staring at my own Christmas tree because it looks simply beautiful to me. I will feel warm, safe, and joyful just from looking at the tree. 

Lifetime partner is like a Christmas tree to me. I long to have a lifetime partner, but I have lots of things to do and other issues to consider, and so, just like my Christmas tree situation, I am still not getting a lifetime partner. The desired feeling that I wish to have from my lifetime partner is similar to the feelings I described when I stare at my Christmas tree. Warm, safe, joyful. 

People say we should believe in the magic of Christmas, and so maybe, perhaps, I finally have a Christmas tree and will be able to share the joy with my lifetime partner on the Christmas Eve. Perhaps Christmas comes double this year. Maybe, maybe, never say no. 

6 Definitions of Love

Instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day every February 14, it would be great if we spread the culture that everyday is a Valentine’s Day. 

I also think we need to continuously teach and model for others what love truly is. Our words and actions should represent what love is, such as caring for one another and asking for forgiveness. Active discussion in topics related to love, such as almsgiving, happiness and family bonding will help us to understand when and how we should apply love in our daily lives. Again, love does not have to be a relationship between a male and female, it could be between parents and children, between friends and coworkers. We should spread more love than hate. Our world will be so much healthy if we practice love. 

Here’s my 6 definitions of what love is:

  1. Love is listening to each other without judging.
  2. Love is giving a surprise kiss on a cheek. 
  3. Love is saying “I am sorry” genuinely.
  4. Love is multiple acts of kindness and thankfulness.
  5. Love is 0% jealously 100% support.
  6. Love is seeing and acknowledging one’s true heart first, not physical appearance. 

Faith, hope, and love, and the greatest one is love.

  
p.s. This picture is also posted on 1001diarycollections in Instagram. 

Ways to stay positive 

It takes great amount of exercise to practice “I could do this, and there’s a way out” attitude. It’s because you will be challenged and criticized by people (nearly) all the time. Therefore, learning to control your emotions during this time is crucial to avoid unnecessary argument. Most importantly, you also need to filter constructive from non-constructive messages. Keep the constructive messages to improve your personal self development.

I honestly say that this entire process is not easy, but it is feasible. It’s a part of being a grown up living in the challenging and unpredictable environment. I am writing this to remind you to stay positive in dealing with any difficulties/challenges. Last but not least, I encourage you to have quiet time each day whether it is in the morning or at night to meditate and/or pray. As much as we want to improve ourselves, we also need to improve our spiritual life. Understanding that God is in control help us to slow down, think thoroughly, and find the solution. 
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