Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Beleaguered Dad

A friend recently confided about his family life.

His family is falling to pieces, he says.

He fights with his wife over the littlest things. “She knows which button to press to trigger my anger,” he cries. She demands, she nags, she controls – all because of jealousy.

It is bad enough that he was at loggerheads with her. But that his children have become distant, almost hostile was something he could not take.

He loves his kids to death, he says. They are the reason he works “my ass off” at a full-time job and double consultancies. So he can send them to the best schools, buy them their hearts’ desire, take them out to fun places.

He thought it wasn’t fair all of them were taking their Mom’s side.

I responded with sympathetic little noises until I remembered something I read about dads which I repeated to him: “The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”

The question “Do you?” hung in the air.

My friend turned purple and couldn’t speak for a minute. Then he excused himself and left my room.

Love, romantic love, is often a “novelty” that passes.

People decide to marry to spend more time together. But they find soon enough that things come between them . They are separated by the morning coffee, the evening news on TV, the sometimes problematic children. By dirty plates piling in the sink. By utility, insurance, and credit card bills.

So couples fall out of love eventually. But it is at this point that they can truly love. A love that’s no longer a feeling (a helpless one) but a decision (a willful one).

Husband and wife choose to love, even when the loving feeling has run out, for many good reasons. It is the right thing to do. It is the mature, the courageous thing to do.

And it is the best thing they can do for their children.

(first published in Pinoy Moms Network and expanded for this blogsite.)

64 comments:

julie said...

Am I first again? :D

Yes, domestic chores and responsibilities. I can relate to that. But who can't? For husbands and wives to stay together for a long time, they should go beyond those seemingly trivial issues and focus on the more important ones. And what are these? These depend on the values, priorities and level of respect the couple have, for themselves and for each other.

The story of this man sounds familiar, have you written about him before, in one of your posts?

How are you dear MRC?

auee said...

If someone planning to marry reads this, they'll either reject this or be very scared of the prospect of not feeling the love that they know.

Before I got married I always said Love is hardwork. It doesn't just exists on its own, that overtime if not sustained, it dies away.

I believe your words 100%. I'm still a hopeless romantic still wishing a lot of "nonsense" that I hope/hoped hubby would just do or figure out on his own. But at the end of the day, if you want something done right, you do it yourself or at least let yourself known. Our marriage is still very young & we still have a lot to learn, I always hope & pray that we never tire of keeping our love alive.

MrsPartyGirl said...

hi annamanila, as usual, very well said. i, too am a romantic, but i am not hopeless. :) my marriage is young but our love is not so blind that we couldn't see our way towards forever. we know it takes a lot of work, as well as takes a conscious desire to make it work. we can't be in love forever, but we can choose to love for always.

i hope your friend gets through this.

exskindiver said...

My dearest dearest AM,
this is as usual beautifully written.
what a great reminder for those of us plugging away at a life that is often filled with routine and necessity.
at a time when steve and i are about to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary, this is a very gentle reminder and nudge in the right direction.
thank you.

exskindiver said...

on a side note,
i just saw the time stamp of my comment.
it is now sept.21st there.
martial law anniversary.
i remember it clearly even though i was 6 yrs old then.

Noemi said...

I know this too well and have written it a lot of times. I am now in my second wind in my marriage. The change started in me, the individual. And then my husband. After all, a marriage is composed of 2 individuals.

lady ce ss said...

yes, yes. true! sadly, many dads/fathers forget this and instead look to other women for comfort and attention. then the problem gets bigger. the mothers/wives become angrier, the children more hostile.

Toe said...

Marriage is too big for us mortal humans. We should pray for our marriage for it to grow and strengthen.

I agree with you that it is during those troubled times when one truly loves and when one's love is tested.

Naks naman! Kala mo kung sino akong expert. :)

But I do recommend regular honeymoons. ;)

diogenes said...

I am losing friends in blog mist. No?

Jerry said...

The best thing a dad can do for his kids is to love their mom. Thank you Annamanila, I will remember than when the time comes.

Jigs said...

This was so heart breaking. It is so hard to keep a marriage going these days. I am so happy my parents are some of the few who kept it going even though they had their own share of rough patches.

Thank you for still visiting my blog Annamanila. I consider you and your blog of the few rare gems I have found in this blogging world. Your blog is always an enjoyable and educational read, specially for someone like me. Thank You. :)

Gypsy said...

One more point that scares me off marriage--that the novelty (romance) DOES wear of!

SexyMom said...

cannot be said in a much better way. part of parcel of every marriage are the rough and bumpy times. what happens if at the start of something slight, couples break off? but for marriages to work--it takes two. couples should take every effort to keep the marriage going even if the romance wears off, as they are now talking of family--it is not only themselves that matter--there are the children who complete the set. and that encompasses love--loving someone regardless of, and despite of.

melai said...

out of topic... I just saw your sidebar about ukay-ukay.. I remember i just bought more than a dozen of oldies long playing album in a garage sale here..as in very old which includes one from the twenties .... My aunt asked me why I bought that..sabi ko wala lang. Now I am planning to buy a turn table for that :)

about your entry...there is conflicting argument running on my mind ....one agrees with your last two paragraphs and one is thinking how to save the children without compromising the husband and wife's personal choice since one is falling out of love.

Hi :) just dropping by :)

intsik said...

thanks you for this post! and it is indeed true that marriage goes beyond romantic love.

i sometimes find no reason to marry at all (although i never intend to be). im thinking of this possiblity of finding no reason to marry for my friends who were thyinking of getting into the circle and those who justw ent out of it.

ewan ko dear. i believe marriage has to be more than the physical commitment. it has to be more than reason. :)

Abaniko said...

Dad should know that money, gifts and other material things may not be enough for him to get close to the kids. He needs to spend time with them. His mere presence sometimes is enough. Of course, he needs to have a good relationship with the wife too.

annamanila said...

Yes, Julie. I wrote a version of this story for PMN months ago. I expanded it for this site.

Yes, domestic responsibilities have a way of taking a toll on romance. Alas.

I am okay. A bit busy but am fine. How about you? I hope you have recovered from that unpleasant encounter with Ms. H.

annamanila said...

Auee!

You're 100 per cent right, too. If someone told me at the start of my marriage the romance would wear off, I would have laughed at him or her.

I want to share this wisdom with my children this before any one of them gets married ... but will they believe me?

annamanila said...

Mrspartygirl!

Way to go. Be a romantic but not hopelessly or blindly so. Cautiously and realistically romantic maybe, if thats not a contradiction. All best in your marriage!

annamanila said...

Exskindiver!

Congrats to you and Steve on your wedding anniversary. May the magic last forever and it will as long as you choose -- both of you. It is a commitment di ba, but only mature and emotionally stable people can make such serious and foreverforever commitment.

Sept. 21's signiicant nearly escaped me. Thanks? haha

annamanila said...

Yes, Noems. The story of how both of you gave a chance for your marriage to work out again is amazing. I am sure a lot of your readers have picked up wisdom and lessons from it.

It takes two people to make it work and only one to destroy it.

annamanila said...

Lady Cess!

Yes, that's how it begins .. you know the cycle. Unfortunately, some spouses (not only husbands ha) don't. They'd say they are just out to inject some spice into their lives, as though they cannot spice up their married and family life.

annamanila said...

Toe!

Yes, a God-centered marriage will make for strength and durability, for as you say humans are just too weak and vulnerable.

Honeymoons to spice up a marriage. Of course.

You are more expert than you'd be willing to take credit for, Toe.

annamanila said...

Dio!

No, you haven't lost this friend in the blog mist. Was just too busy to bloghop and your posts are well ... too commercial lately to comment on. :)

Here's to friendship.

annamanila said...

Jerry!

I am glad this post is of value to prospective husbands and dads like you.

annamanila said...

Jigs!

Hats off to your parents for sailing through rough waters. You're lucky to belong to such a sturdy family.

Thanks, Jigs. I visit your blog because I enjoy and learn from it too. :) You're a gifted writer.

annamanila said...

Gypsy!

It does wear off if you don't work at recharging it. But if I know, you can do it! Just find the right man who will be committed to it too. It is possible! serious.

annamanila said...

Sexy Mom!

Yes, loving despite of, in spite of ... that's very important. Of course, you'd know too. :)

annamanila said...

Melai!

Wow ... vinyl records from the '20s. That's amazing. And you'll try to find a turntable too! That would be quite a collection. There are a few people still collecting them you know.

I know what you mean about personal happiness. My prescription is a general one. There are of course marriages that are damaged beyond redemption and one should not hesitate to get out of one.

I tried to get into your site, but no luck. :(

annamanila said...

Intsik!

I think you know that very well -- a marriage cannot be built on physical attraction alone. The surface prettiness fades all too quickly.

annamanila said...

Abaniko!

Right. The fact that he is around means he is happy at home. It is enough. The other great daddy qualities and behavior will follow.

snglguy said...

All I can say is, marriage is definitely not for everyone. Especially to those who expect too much from their partners...

Do I sound jaded to you? ;-)

evi said...

i am moved by this...“the best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”

there's no amount of wealth that can replace love and respect.

Leah said...

Romance is indeed a novelty, one i wish never passes by. But somehow it does.

It takes two to tango so best if both partners strive their best.

annamanila said...

Snglguy!!

You are saying marriage is not for you? You may be right, but then you may be wrong. You can try again to find out. But it may be too expensive (and I don't mean just pesos) experiment.

Anyway keep yourself open. Who knows?!

annamanila said...

Evi!

Very well said ... theres no amount of wealth to replace love and respect. :)

annamanila said...

Leah!

Yeah. We begin a marriage believing and hoping the magic will last because otherwise why would we enter into it. But my piece is saying it can last ... it's a matter of stubbornly committing to it.

Mixednuts said...

I can only pray that my hubby and I will never fall out of love.

Hootin'Anni said...

I think so many times these days is that people marry for lust and not love! They don't think of the days/months/years ahead. It's all about giving and sharing a relationship not taking what relationship they get for an overnight fling.

Annamanila said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annamanila said...

Anni!

Exactly.

There is this confusion between the 2 L's which the young are liable to.

Wasn't there a song that goes: love like youth is wasted on the young?

Annamanila said...

Mixed Nuts!

Couples try their best and let God do the rest. That, I think, is an unbeatable combination.

Major Tom said...

I have been advised before that love in a relationship often pass away as years go by but respect between the couple may not, and this becomes important in any marriage. Maybe, success in marriage should not be conditioned upon the premise of love or "the feeling of love" for somehow, the kind of love couples have while they were still new, wouldn't be appertaining as the years go by. But respect is something that can exist for far longer.

Congratulations by the way to the new baby in your family.

Annamanila said...

Yes, the romance passes, Major, but as you say, but respect, tenderness and common family goals are good enough ties that bind.

Thanks for your congrats! the baby is doing fine.

rowena said...

Hi Annamanila, heart-breaking story indeed. So the husband just fall out of love? That's why marriage breaks up when one partner consumes all the time working and bringing in the money and forgetting to keep the love alive in the relationship...Truly, money can't buy happiness.

pining said...

I think it's up to the couple to make that "magic" work, being sympathetic and complementary helps too :-)
and kids are like double edged sword, methinks...it may get in the way of romance or it can have a binding effect

mari said...

for me love is still a decision, mature love that is. the romance will fade. but true love endures. it takes a great amount of commitment to sustain a marriage.

Annamanila said...

Rowena!

Money can't buy happiness nor love. That's the lesson the guy in this story should have drawn and learned. I think only love begets love.

Annamanila said...

Pining!

Yes, children can bind or separate. I like the way you phrased it -- double-edged sword!

Annamanila said...

Mari!

Exactly! It takes maturity to make and stick to the commitment to love and to hold, for poorer, for richer ... from this day forward ...

myepinoy said...

This may not be related to this post but I just want to share this:

from Anthony de Mello On Waking Up

Most people tell you they want to get out of kindergarten, but don’t believe them. Don’t believe them! All they want you to do is to mend their broken toys. "Give me back my wife. Give me back my job. Give me back my money. Give me back my reputation, my success." This is what they want; they want their toys replaced. That’s all. Even the best psychologist will tell you that, that people don’t really want to be cured. What they want is relief; a cure is painful.

niceheart said...

Isn't that a variation of what Dr. Phil McGraw always says on his show: The best gift parents can give to their children is taking care of their relationship. Or something to that effect. :)

Annamanila said...

Myepinoy!

What you quoted is quite related to what I posted. The Daddy in the story ostensibly wants advice on what to do to improve his relationship with his wife and thus with his children. But is he willing to give up whatever it is that has come between him and her (assuming there is)? Does he really want to change in a meaningful way to save his marriage? Possibly, he has "toys" he doesn't want to give up. He came to me about his problems not really to listen to what he could do to resolve them but to get collaboration that he's really an aggrieved husband being treated unfairly. All this are just speculations of course. :)

Annamanila said...

Niceheart!

Aha! Certainly, this piece of wisdom about fathering has been said before so many times in so many ways and will now and future be repeated. As I said in my post, the quote "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother" is not mine but also picked up from somewhere I don't remember. :)

ScroochChronicles said...

Hi Annamanila!! I've been wanting to comment but your comment page simply refuses to pop out on IE.

Anyway, I remember reading this on PMN. I can't remember what I wrote on my comment so I'll just write a new one.

I have great respect for the sacred vows that we take when we decide to get married. Not only does it bind us in the eyes of God, those vows bind us to each other and to the family that we are going to have. Love and understanding are not the only 2 ingredients for a happy marriage. It takes respect, honesty, and trust as well.

Great post, my friend. Made me think again :)

annamanila said...

Scrochcookie!

Wonderful! You know what -- I have just come from your site and posted a commented there -- about the thundering waters of Niagara. Then I went back to my site and found your comments waiting for me. Ergo, we were visiting each other's site at roughly the same time. Talk of being in sync or same frequency, huh!

Na-enjoy ko ang Niagara virtually! Ty ty.

ScroochChronicles said...

Ok..I'm reading this and getting a "twilight zone" moment. Tuni-nuni-nuni-nuni. Hehehe :)

annamanila said...

Awww. Magchat na lang kaya tayo. haha. Aren't you on gmail?

Munchkin Mommy said...

hi annamanila! it's my first visit here. i got here via mrspartygirl's site. :)

may i just say that she (mrspartygirl) is right in saying that you write beautifully, make that gorgeously! i sure am glad i hopped over to your site and consider me your newest fan. :)

annamanila said...

Munchkin Mommy!

Awww. That's the nicest thing anyone said about my blog for a long while. TY.

Will visit you soon.

Heart of Rachel said...

I remember reading this article and it's nice that you have shared it on your blog.

Natawa ako sa comment ni Cookie sa taas. :)

Jap said...

"The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." - wow. I wish my dad knew this.

I've been with my lover for 11 years now, while my parents' marriage lasted for only 8 years.

I agree with you, Anna. The only secret to a long and lasting relationship is to stop looking for that feeling of "in love" because it never lasts. After that, you keep the relationship. "In love"? It's nice, but I've been there, done that.

annamanila said...

Rach!

Run out of ideas for this blog, so I recycled this piece from PMN, with some enhancements.

lol .. funny girl talaga si cookie.

annamanila said...

Jap!

Awww. You love, no longer just in love. Splendid.

Yup, I wish more husbands and dads would take this to heart. There will be less unhappy or broken marriages, ano?

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