M: Hannah is in her late 40s and has been dating Arnold for three years now. He is thoughtful only when he likes it. He also communicates with her according to his terms. Believe it or not, it can be as infrequent as just once a month. And sometimes, it’s just “K.” When she brings the subject up, he’d say he’s got issues and it is her duty to understand him. But isn’t it his duty too, to understand her? Last week, he did the unexpected — he proposed. She said yes. But only because she wants to get married. Now she’s asking what our take is on her situation. Well, there are loneliness and insecurity issues and the belief that a relationship is the solution to a problem. We can also factor in the external social pressures to get married and the belief that “I will fix him.” Women are especially guilty of all the above. Why is this so? One of the reasons is because our society is built for two. Although statistics say that there are more single adults than married adults, everything around us is designed for couples. Look at resort advertisements to lure tourists back as the economy is opening up. Everything is priced and promoted as double occupancy.
DJ: Mine is quite the reverse. I’m used to receiving invitations that say, “We have one seat for you.” People already assume I’m attending weddings, or any gathering for that matter, alone. Does it bother me? Sometimes. The cool thing is I relish quiet nights with a book to keep me company. I find meaning in hiking up mountains to bring sustainable water connection to schools that are remotely located and are at times forgotten. I’m choosy too, with the company I keep and conversations I engage myself with. Probably it also comes with age. Is it a perfect life? Nope. But am I happy? Yes. Thus, I don’t suggest for Hannah to settle just for the sake of getting married. Sure, staying single is not for everyone. But for anyone to change his or her status, it should be based on reason. Marriage is not for someone who chooses to do things only when he or she feels like it. Especially communication. Marrying someone is a commitment. For better or worse. I don’t suggest for anyone to blindly ignore certain red flags just to have a ring around one’s finger.
M: Churches and society have strong beliefs in the family (and it should) but these tend to produce an unfortunate and unnecessary counter message — “you have to be married to be okay.” How many of those who are single have to cope with family members who ask, “you’re not married yet?” or get comments like “but you’re so pretty. What’s wrong with those guys in Cebu?” There’s the implication that if you’re pretty, you certainly should be married.
DJ: One priest I know is notorious for asking me when I am getting married in front of strangers whenever we see each other in baptisms he officiates. I learned to answer his questions with a smile. One society figure also asked me at a civic gathering why I’m still unattached with a tone that implied that something must be wrong. You know what the funny thing is? She can’t even make her own marriage last. I’m not saying she is a bad person. What I know though is her own life should have kept her busy enough to even have the time to analyze my civil status. What I recommend for Hannah is to take a step back and see how life has been. No one lives a perfect life. Gaps are quite normal. Marriage is not the only solution to fill in the blanks. I think every relationship — particularly with someone we live and even sleep with — should be mutually beneficial. Sometimes we give, sometimes we take. Not in exact proportion but healthy enough to be considered a partnership. Because if it’s a drain, then it’s likely to be a relationship that’s hard to sustain over time.
M: We have to trust our gut about the people we marry. If there are red flags, Hannah can politely excuse herself from the relationship. Some women who don’t walk away when they are not treated right start to make excuses. They settle just for them to settle down.
DJ: I don’t suggest Hannah to settle. Either Arnold wakes up to the fact that she’s worth a lot more or she should.