|Picture of a Happy and Loving Family By God's Grace -- Daddy Dong and Mommy Nikka with Reuben, Andre, Therese and baby Isabelle -2013|
"I am in a very unhappy marriage. I am just staying for the kids."
"If it weren't for the children, I would have left him a loooooong time ago."
"I really want to leave my husband, but I pity the children. I don't want them to grow up fatherless."
"I won't be the first to go out of this pathetic setup. I don't want to be blamed for a broken home, but if he leaves me/us, I will not beg him to stay."
These are just some of the sentiments that wives express when they feel seemingly trapped in a bad or loveless marriage. Most wives are extremely unhappy already and would leave in an instant were it not for the children. These are wives who despite their unhappiness and despair are actually very loving and selfless... when it comes to their children, that is.
In such a setup, are the children indeed benefiting from the parents staying in a marriage, just for them?
I do not know who it was among my teachers in high school who said it but it stuck with me that:
|Partners and Best Friends|
Coming from a family wherein my Mama and Papa almost never talked to each other, held hands, or did things together, I could attest that this was beneficial to me in some ways but was also devastating to my identity and self-esteem growing up in most ways.
|Life of the Party Mama and Usually Grumpy Papa|
On one hand, it showed me the value of staying it out through thick and thin (although there were some instances when Mama wanted to pack up and we actually did pack up once (!) because she got very jealous and enraged by my Papa's supposed extra-marital relations.). Having married and together parents, even though they almost never showed affection nor fondness towards each other, made me view marriage as a walang iwanan (nobody leaves) relationship. [Their relationship didn't start that way though. I unearthed some love letters of Papa to Mama wherein they were actually very much in love, way back in 1973, pre-marriage. I don't know what happened in the course of their relationship. :( ] Because of this, even if sometimes Dong and I had misunderstandings, never did it cross my mind to get out of the marriage. I knew I was in it for the long haul.
|With baby Nikka (me) in happier times, 1976|
|My complete family in my HS grad- 1992|
|My small family minus Mama - 2004|
Eventually, Mama's negative feelings regarding Papa, (although to her credit, she never told me about it but I felt it) made me view Papa differently. When she died then in 1993 when I was 17 and my sister was only 12, it was as though we were left under the care of a near stranger.
Staying in a loveless marriage seems very martyr-like. Pang-telenovela. (One for the soap operas.) It is a sad reality though that more and more Filipino marriages are trapped in this setup.
Should the husband and wife really stay in the marriage, even when they couldn't wait to leave it?
1 Corinthians 7:10-11
1 Corinto 7:10-11
10 Ito naman ang iniuutos sa mga may asawa, hindi mula sa akin kundi mula sa Panginoon: huwag makipaghiwalay ang babae sa kanyang asawa. 11 Ngunit kung siya'y hihiwalay, manatili siyang walang asawa, o kaya'y muling makipagkasundo sa kanyang asawa. At huwag rin namang palalayasin at hihiwalayan ng lalaki ang kanyang asawa.
(I am only addressing here "normal" problems of misunderstanding, miscommunication or giving up of both parties to make the marriage work. If the marriage has EXTREME SERIOUS PROBLEMS of abuse, one has to seek outside help. Staying in such a setup is not ideal. Physically removing oneself from it may be the best solution, till the problem is solved or addressed.)
1 Corinthians 7:39
|Wedding Day, April 1975|
1 Corinto 7:39
|Visiting Papa's dead mother at Loyola|
39 Ang babae ay nakatali sa kanyang asawa habang nabubuhay ito. Kapag namatay ang lalaki, ang babae ay malaya nang mag-asawa sa sinumang maibigan niya, ngunit dapat ay sa isa ring nananampalataya sa Panginoon.
It is believed that every family has its own "dysfunction", some more dysfunctional than the rest. Ours was a very odd, unusual and uncomfortable setup. Papa, Atty. Ruben "Butch" Cleofe, the hotshot corporate lawyer who won most of his cases in court, was seemingly mute at home. Mama, Thea Cleofe, the lively, funny, super charming TV executive who made everyone feel at home, was quiet and serious at her own home. This was NORMAL to us growing up. All fun and happiness happened outside the home. Only deafening silence and extreme seriousness prevailed in ours.
|Lolo Senen, Papa, Mama, Nanay Mercedes and Tatay Gaudencio all with their Creator now. 1975.|
I write all this not to deface or defame my parents, but to show that in spite of and despite what happened between them, they chose to stay it out. Whether it was because of us kids or other reasons, the good thing is that they stayed together till death did they part.
As a child of parents who fell out of love or whose love seemed trapped deep within because of layers of resentment and failed expectations, that was more than enough ACTION that spoke louder than mere WORDS for me. It showed me that no matter what happened/what happens, one has to remain married to one's spouse, and only DEATH would/will keep them apart. I just find it so heartbreaking though that they had to endure all that pain, sadness and disappointment in their short lives, simply because nobody made the first move to humble himself/herself sooner rather than later...
|Last ditch attempt to live - faith healing in Baguio 1992|
The Lord willed to take Mama back to His Arms on November 25, 1993, just one day before my Papa's 44th birthday.
My prayer for you precious sisters in Christ who are in difficult circumstances right now is to fix what needs fixing now and humble yourselves while you still have time, because no one knows the day or time when God will call you back Home. This will not be possible though to do alone! One could not rely on oneself. We need the Lord to change our hearts and humble our spirits and renew us. Hold on to the faith, sisters! God can and will change hearts, but you have to allow Him to enter your hearts first.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
4 At papahirin niya ang bawat luha sa kanilang mga mata. Wala nang kamatayan, dalamhati, pag- tangis, at paghihirap sapagkat lumipas na ang dating mga bagay."
May we all be richly blessed!
|Mama Thea Salvador Cleofe, writing my name on some sandy beach in Europe, 1978 (Jan 30, 1950-Nov 25, 1993) I love you so much Mama. Rest in God's Arms.|