In my last post, I shared Dondon & Margaux’s telenovela-ish love story. I think everyone who has read it agree that it was a pretty epic how they serendipitously found each other again despite all the seeming obstacles.
DISCLAIMER: I usually write my articles- in two-part series. But their experiences are so poignant, so relatable and so and enriching that I couldn’t bear to cut any more than I already have.
In short, brace yourselves, there’s Part 3!!! Hehehe. It’s seriously worth the read though guys!
But before any of that, here’s Part 2:
THE REALITY OF MARRIAGE:
Dondon: All my friends who married ahead of us would warn us of annoyances that would come when we got married. I didn’t believe them. How could Margaux and I ever do wrong together?
Margaux: Although we had already known each other a very long time before we got married, iba pa rin pala talaga pag magkasama na kayo sa isang bubong. There were so many of these small but irritating things that began to creep up into our marriage.
Dondon: There is the proverbial toothpaste. I don’t know why she has to press it from the middle and not at the bottom. Then there was the shower- she keeps the shower setting so that it goes straight to your face full blast when you open it. Those were just the petty ones that I annoyed me.
Margaux: It wasn’t long before I judged that things were changing from the time when we were on a romantic high. Things like; he doesn’t look up from his cellphone anymore when I talk to him. Ngayon yung text back sa akin “k” nalang, minsan wala pang sagot – eh dati rati napakasweet ng mga reply sa akin.
Now it was so difficult to find a time para makapag-date kami, sometimes months go by without even a quiet dinner together. Eh bakit dati halos araw-araw kami magkasama?
Dondon: Needless to say, living happily ever after soon became a fantasy. The honeymoon glow started fading. The laughter getting fewer, the irritation and the frustration getting more pronounced. My happiest day ever getting more and more hard to beat.
Dondon: All the irritants, annoyances and hurts continued to pile up. All the disappointments and loneliness influenced my behavior towards Margaux. I became more detached and disconnected.
Our conversations were pretty much limited to necessities. Jokes to each other were quickly judged as insults and offensive.
I did not know what to do. I chose to talk less instead. I was afraid that talking to her would eventually lead to more arguments and hurts.
This is difficult for me. I am not one to shut up if I think something needs to be said. I need to settle things now! Hindi mamaya! But I assumed she would snap at me at the slightest provocation, so shut up nalang ako.
Margaux: As time went by, I grew to resent Dondon more and more. My mind would be so consumed with “sama ng loob” that by the time Dondon would get home, we would be on the brink of fighting already. Most of the things he would say or do, I interpreted as a choice either for me or against me.
Dondon: Then we got pregnant – it wasn’t part of the plan just yet. All the joy of having a baby was overshadowed by the terrible mood we were both in.
My dreams of just dropping everything and going to the beach together remained a dream because everything else appeared more important.
My expectations of myself to be the provider felt so heavy with all the responsibilities of a household. All of these became more frustrating because coming into this marriage, I thought that I had the proper training witnessing my parents successfully do it.
Margaux: The expectations I had on myself began to break down too. I felt miserable and dominated every time Dondon made a complaint about the household – how he doesn’t like the food, or how things should be done another way.
Here he was providing for our needs and I could not even fulfill the role of “queen of the household” properly. Before we were married, I was independent and in control. Now I saw myself as inadequate and powerless. Aside from being lonely, I was feeling more and more disappointed, not just with him, but with myself.
LIVING SEPARATE LIVES:
Dondon: I found myself getting busier at the office, choosing to go home late and eating out on “meetings”… and as if that was not enough, I involved myself with other responsibilities that would keep my mind on other things.
I played leadership roles in a number of organizations. I felt needed, people looked up to me, people listened to what I had to say and I felt appreciated. Most of all I was able to argue and even fight because I wasn’t afraid to confront there. Sa lahat ng pinagkaabalahan ko, pinapansin ako, minsan pa nga pinapalakpakan.
Ano ba naman na marinig ko lang kay Margaux that she appreciates how hard I work to keep our family comfortable, or let me know that she needs me, or kahit nga hanapin lang niya ang mga luto ko para sa kanya at sabihin na masarap, ok na rin yon.
Instead all these things I expected in this relationship, I don’t get from her anymore. Nakakalungkot talaga.
Margaux: When he would come home late, instead of telling him that I missed him, I would lament that I was no longer important to him. In my mind, ang laki ng atraso niya sa akin. Marami siyang excuses para di umuwi.
Eh ako, no choice. Obligado ako kasi sa akin lahat ang bagsak ng concerns sa bahay at sa mga bata. I thought was this a partnership? I thought we would grow this family together? How come I felt more like an employee than a wife? My anger and resentment just kept building up.
Dondon: Doing things on my own became the norm. While before, ganado pa ako to be with her with our common responsibilities like going to the children’s doctors, now, I just let her go by herself. Same is true for the PTA in their school.
Margaux: The times that I would get to force him to participate in a school activity of one of our kids, I doubted his sincerity. I expected him to be as willing and enthusiastic as I was, but all I was faced with was a warm body glued to his phone and often glancing at his watch, ready to jump out at the first opportunity.
I wondered, bakit sa alumni ng school niya, he would drop everything for them? Eh yung para sa mga anak niya, pahirapan? I began to doubt that he still wanted to be part of this family.
All I needed to hear was Dondon’s appreciation of all I was doing for our family. I needed to be affirmed that I was not alone in this. I needed to know that although he may not be present, he was still aware and grateful. But with his absence and silence, I felt abandoned and forgotten.
I also resented how he would consult with me less and less with regard to our finances. When I stopped earning my own income, and focused more on volunteer work, I seemed to have lost my vote in the decision-making. The more it reinforced the feeling that I was just a hired hand in this enterprise we called a family.
Dondon: Before, we would often have meetings and talk about our finances together as we plan out our expenses; now, bahala na, kanya kanyang diskarte.
I remember one time we were out shopping looking for a big electric fan and other things Margaux needed to buy for the house. I saw a giant trampoline hanging on the ceiling. I always dreamed of having one as a child. It was right there calling me as if I had my name on it. After easily justifying to myself that it is my gift for the kids, I got one. I completely disregarded her opinion on how WE should spend OUR money.
More and more I started to decide on financial matters on my own. In my head, I guess I was thinking, as long as my family isn’t hungry there is no problem I will do what I want to do with MY money.
Margaux: As all these disappointments and unmet expectations piled up, it led me to be more aloof and distant towards Dondon. I became less of a wife and more like a project manager. The project was running the house and raising the kids, and I did this with cold detachment. It was business, nothing personal.
I mostly withdrew from emotional and physical intimacy. I was too exhausted from working and taking care of the kids. I couldn’t even keep my eyes open to hear his kwentos. Maybe it was my way of getting back, or maybe it was my way of avoiding getting hurt.
Dondon: I felt more distant from Margaux. The kids hardly played with me. I felt empty at home. My disillusionment deepened. It was a vicious cycle- the lonelier I felt, the more I involved myself with other things until everything gets overwhelming.
Family life seemed to be just on auto-pilot. My lifestyle placed a strain in our relationship so much so that I found the atmosphere at home suffocating. Ayaw ko na nga umuwi minsan kung hindi lang ako pagod.
Margaux: I easily found diversions so I could forget the loneliness and isolation I was feeling in our marriage. At that time, they did not seem like diversions. I had pretty good reasons to be busy.
I had my hands full caring for our 4 kids. Then there was the house – dealing with staff, repairs, groceries. Of course I had to attend to my kids and the house – no question about that.
Then I had my work. The foundation I had set up was growing. We were reaching so many children and families. I was helping thousands – how can you argue with the importance of that?
These dominated my thoughts, words and actions. The face I wanted to show Dondon was that I was ok without him, “hindi kita kailangan”.
Dondon: At this point in our marriage though, I was agonizing with the thought that we had reached a dead end… and so soon in the marriage. That was very sad and painful and in fact, too embarrassing.
The times I was alone, I could not help but reflect on where we are. I ask myself, where did I go wrong? I am supposed to know what to do? Is this all there is to my marriage, just coasting and letting life take over?
Where is my best friend? Nasaan na si Margaux who would talk to me for hours over nothing? Where is Margaux who would laugh with me and my corny jokes? Nasaan na ang Margaux ko na sasadyain kong humanap ng traffic so that I could spend more time with her? Has she changed? Perhaps I too have changed? Is there still hope or ganito na lang ba talaga? Maybe not separated but definitely apart. What happened to my best days ever?
Margaux: With all the disappointments I was going through, disillusionment started to set in. Dondon and I seemed to be living in two separate worlds. Whenever I would watch him happily laughing and talking to other people I would wonder, “how come it’s so hard for us to even do that with each other?”
From a couple so in-love, not able to stay away from each other, we became two uninvolved strangers living under one roof and sharing the same bed. Late at night, as we lay in bed with our backs turned against each other, I would ask myself: What happened to our once beautiful and loving relationship? I longed very much to touch and embrace Dondon, but my disillusionment would get the better of me. Is there still hope or are we doomed to live our separate lives?
PART 3 TO BE CONTINUED IN NEXT POST