You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

My pieces are usually products of single thoughts that I could have easily posted on twitter. But since the 140-character rule takes away my liberty to unload my somewhat complete thoughts on a specific topic, I would normally draft an article and take my sweet time to add my points when they come to me until I finish the whole thing.

I am no writer but I try to write as much as I can. Not to please anyone but to let out the restlessness to write about anything that inspires me; may it be a qood quote, a witty remark or in this case, the reason behind the face of a close friend with a beautiful smile but sorrowful eyes.

Let her name be Elize.
Elize is a wife to Robert and a mother to an 8-year old boy named Aldren.

A few weeks ago, together with two other friends, I went to the lunch birthday celebration of Elize’s sister-in-law in Elize and Robert’s humble but very nice abode somewhere in the east of Manila. I hadn’t seen Elize in a long time because she had been busy with her officership training in the company she’s been working for for 17 years. It is a 9am to 5pm daily training for 6 months in a branch office where she has difficulty taking the commute going to Robert’s office so they could ride home together. 

And so I heard that one night, Elize didn’t find a ride going to Robert’s office.

I was half-taunting when I asked her after lunch, “Elize, I heard you walked a good distance from Makati to Mandaluyong?” Then I followed it quickly with a serious question, “Why didn’t you ask Robert to pick you up instead? ” to which Robert replied “But I was already in Mandaluyong.  It’s not practical to go to Makati anymore.” And she replied to me, “If that’s the way he thinks, will I even bother to still ask for it?”

There was something in that exchange.  And I thought I needed to find out.

Makati to Mandaluyong is a good four kilometers. For those who are into physical fitness, this may not sound a big deal at all. Pfft, 4kms. Easy.
And this would have qualified as rewarding exercise if you’re not wearing office shoes, you don’t expose yourself to danger and air pollution and you have had something to eat for source of energy.

I had the chance to be alone with Elize that day when all of the girls took a drive to buy some food for takeaways. Out of curiosity I asked, “Elize, what was that all about?”

And a litany of sentiments was brought to the surface.

Elize and Robert have been married for ten years. And to think that’s not enough time to know each other, and accept each other’s flaws and all, they were together for five years before they decided to tie the knot. Oh, and they had known each other for two years before they were even romantically involved. Now, do the math.

Given the number of years knowing each other, and still have sentiments about your relationship,  I would say the amount of time being together is not always the gauge to full acceptance. But it somehow gives us a glimpse of how it is going to be.

We have always known Elize to call the shots in mostly anything that concerns their relationship, their marriage, their family. Robert has always been the passive type. But he never fails to provide for the family and make sure that everyone has a roof over their heads. Aldren gets the best education because tuition fee is also part of the automatically-deducted sum from his monthly income.  And he pays for a few utility bills. Other than those things, there is nothing else. As far as I know.

Elize has been ranting about Robert’s lack of romantic gestures to her being the wife,  and occasional father-son bonding moments outside their house that’s starting to feel like a cage to their child. He is so disciplined that he imposes stricter measures to himself not to spend anything more than what he is programmed to spend for.

But more than the financial concerns, Elize worries about Robert not being capable of making a stand as the man of the house. If he’s not told what to do, he could just get so immobile.

Marriage is not as easy as it sounds, especially for those who think it’s a great escape from a miserable life or those who feel that the relationship has reached a standstill or those who want to secure their future. I do not condemn these reasons because I think we know what we want and we can justify our decision for these wants. But together with these reasons is a promise.. a daily commitment to love, acceptance, understanding and forgiveness.

I know for a fact that every marriage has its own petty, dirty secrets. Some couples just decide not to launder their ugly stories in public.

I remember someone getting all curious about marriage and I said it’s still pure luck. You never really know what your partner is like until you live with him or her.  All personality traits are magnified. The good becomes better. The bad becomes worse. And you could live with it for years and years but it doesn’t take away the fact that one day the truth just becomes unbearable that it just hits you from nowhere.

I used to think that the very reasons that brought two people together could eventually be the same reasons to break them apart. Too much familiarity becomes the cause of complacency. But then again, only time can tell.

There are things that we can live with or can live without, or things we cannot live with or cannot live without.   We should know where to draw the line. When a person steps beyond the line and forces us to bend our non-negotiables, then that’s the time we take a seat and rethink the whole thing.

I am being realistic when i say that effortless happiness is the key to living a peaceful, loving and content relationship. And though it may sound idealistic for some, it shouldn’t stop anyone from exerting effort to take a shot at happiness again.

Because after all these years, what has changed really? Is it his ways? Or is it your heart?

-ImAShellCracker,  112913