I’m way overdue for my 2nd quarterly reflection about marriage (supposed to be written on our 6th wedding monthsary but we celebrated our 8th yesterday) but I thought tonight would be the best time to write about it, while sipping red wine on the sides, enjoying Karlo’s signature hotdog and onions as pulutan, listening to Wave 89.1 Dreamsounds playlist in Spotify, all while being in a completely confused state in our life.
My first quarter reflection listed 10 things but I’ll cut this down to 7 today because I have pretty longer explanations for each point.
- Reversal of roles is not a bad thing. I’ve been asked recently how I feel about me working full-time while Karlo does the cooking and house chores. I answered back saying that I’m totally fine with it. I’ve always imagined myself as a career woman while Karlo sees himself as a house husband looking after our children, but we grew up in a traditional culture where things are done the other way around. I’ve been in several humbling situations before where, when asked if I knew how to cook or bake, I would say no and I’d receive a judgmental stare plus a long sermon about how mothers are supposed to know these life skills. I’m getting there in terms of being comfortable in the kitchen but now I feel more at peace knowing that as long as Karlo and I talk about where we stand in terms of our roles at home, what other people would say or comment really matters less this time.
- Talking about money matters is very important. I’m raising my white flag in the financial arena and give all the credit to Karlo. While I’m bringing home the bacon (for now), I still rely on Karlo’s sound judgment in terms of how he handles money. I learned from Karlo, that while it’s more convenient to get a free phone on a 2-year mobile plan contract, it will still cost less if I get a new phone outright by cash and not on credit. It was a significant amount deducted from my savings in one go but at least I don’t have to worry about paying $110-120 a month and being tied to a contract for 2 years. Also, I suck with managing my finances but with constant reminders from Karlo, I’ve always lived by the principle to fully pay my credit card whenever possible and not drown in credit. Lastly, while we do maintain a joint everyday account where we get all of our living expenses from and a joint savings account, we have agreed between us that it is okay to keep separate savings accounts. At least if there’s a personal item we wanted to splurge on for ourselves, no one has to feel guilty of getting it from the joint fund. We don’t want to surprise each other with red flags in terms of financial responsibilities down the track, so it’s good as early as now that we set things straight in terms of how we handle money.
- Let go of unnecessary things and keep the essentials. On the 3rd of September 2016, we did our annual spring cleaning but this time, we got rid of 14 bags worth of unused items by donating everything to charity. FOURTEEN FREAKIN’ BAGS sitting at home, accumulating dust and using up so much space for the past 2 years that we’ve been here. It was appalling at first to find items we brought from the Philippines in 2014 which we haven’t even worn nor used while we were here. I’m the type of person who finds it hard to let go of material things. It seems to me that each material thing evokes a particular type of memory or feeling of some place or some one at a particular point in time. But here’s the thing with accumulating too much memories… sometimes you reach a point where you just simply LET GO and MAKE ROOM for the more important things. I would consider that spring cleaning a milestone in our marriage, at least for me personally, because more than the letting go of 14 bags, it also felt like letting go of emotional baggage in a way. After that day, our unit felt lighter, my mind felt clearer, there was less clutter, and our outlook looked brighter.
- Weekends are golden. After I’ve officially completed my Masters degree this year (hooray!), I went on to do full-time work. Prior to coming to Australia for studies, Karlo and I had our own businesses to manage and time to spend with each other wasn’t really much of an issue. But being employed here in Australia made us appreciate our weekends more. Weekends would mean quality time being with each other – whether it’s just staying at home for a whole day doing a marathon series and ordering takeaway, doing the grocery and laundry together, going out to the park for a walk, catching a movie at the cinemas, or exploring a new place in a different suburb. Sometimes it would mean saying no to friends’ invitations but if you’ve only got 48 hours to fully focus your attention and time on your spouse, wouldn’t you be doing the same thing as well to enrich the marriage? Well, we wouldn’t say no to invites where +1s are welcome though 😛
- Deal with difficult conversations head-on. I’m not a confrontational person. The thought of being blunt, direct and straight to the point is like a kick in the guts. But I realised that you just can’t live your days steering away from the issue, making detours here and there, beating around the bush. Before you know it, you’ve wasted precious time that could have been spent evaluating pros and cons or using the time for productive exchange of ideas, thoughts and perspectives. Karlo and I have done it my way (non-confrontational) for 3 months – mindlessly watching a series episode one after the other on weekends or after every dinner. But then circumstances happened recently that we had to resort to doing things the difficult way. October has been particularly a heavy month for us in terms of life decisions and how to move forward but there was no other way except talking about it and facing it head-on. We had to ask each other questions straight to the point, and consider all avenues possible. As October ends today, we’re just glad that we did it the difficult way. As they say, nothing worth having comes easy. And I hope this crucial step that we’ll be taking soon will be worth it in the end.
- Believe in the magic of beer, cider and wine. For 8 years, Karlo has become my official drinking buddy. Before, I’m easily knocked out with 1 1/2 bottles of beer. But as time went by, Karlo has taught me the art of ‘social drinking’, how to do pacing and how to maintain the stamina for drinking. Lol. But on a more serious note, drinking has not only become our way of bonding with our friends but it also served as an effective way for us to release our inhibitions, to let loose and to foster an open and honest communication between each other. If you see me and Karlo drinking one-on-one more often, it would most certainly mean that we have a crucial decision to make soon. Our plans to put up a business, to study in Australia, to get married on a leap day, etc were all decided upon over San Miguel Beer and Red Horse, trust me. Well except the leap year part though. That was made over apple cider and Heineken. And now that we’re about to move forward with another huge decision, we just made that decision tonight over red wine.
- Commit to your decision together as one. This dilemma would’ve been easy to resolve if it was an individual decision to make. I could have done it my way and Karlo could have done it his way. This is where the challenge of marriage comes in. Our recent dilemma was extraordinarily hard because this time we had two very different views and answers. Each one’s perspective had very valid points, which made the dilemma even more complicated. But in the end, we resolved to agree to one decision. It’s not just compromising or meeting halfway, but having the firm resolve that the decision to embrace a particular path has been agreed upon by the both of us and not just by one. If worst case scenario that this path fails, no blaming, no pointing fingers and no ‘I told you so’ moments will take place because we’ll look back to this day and we’ll remember again that this decision has been committed by the both of us and not just by one. How to commit to a decision as a team? Refer to points 4, 5 and 6 😀 It’s a challenge in marriage but a beautiful one I would say.
…Effect of wine is kicking in, laptop is now at 5%, Karlo is already snoring and I’m getting sleepy now as I’m writing this. I started writing this post in a completely confused state but I’m publishing this post in a completely resolved and clearer state. All thanks to 4, 5 and 6 again. Good night world!