by Nathan Chua
I had a recent interview with the crew of Failon Ngayon for their weekend documentary, about the new proposal coming out of the lower house of congress, authored by the speaker of the house Pantaleon Alvarez. A quick glance at the grounds for both legal separation and annulment, shows a number of reasons that the church and state will accept, for both processes to ensue.
For this interview, I was asked the question of when it is time to acknowledge that a couple is better off apart, than together. Bluntly speaking, when is it time to give up? This is never easy to answer. Most married couples come to me with hopes that things can be worked out. At the same time, I and the couple are very aware of the amount of work and difficulties, that a separation would entail.
If there was a compelling reason to say goodbye to a relationship, I guess it is when one no longer values the other. The response that I usually hear from experts involves the loss of respect. I have no reason to disagree with this. However, if there was a better word that can describe something that unhappy couples lose when the relationship becomes very unstable, it is the loss of valuing one another.
Since I started this blog in a negative note about ending relationships, I think you, my readers would like to end it on something more positive. If valuing your lover or spouse is so important, how come my partner never seems to feel that I do value him or her?
Here are a few tips on how to show your spouses or loved ones that you value them:
- Try to look as clean and good looking as possible to your partner. This shows that you take ownership of what you contribute to the relationship. It tells your partner that you do not want them to love someone, who is difficult to love because of their sloppy appearance and inadequate hygiene.
- Say it as much as you do it. Of course, nothing beats actions. You are always going to be measured by how you behave. However, you must remember that talking and speaking your mind is also a deed. It’s good to let the other know that you love them and care for them by saying it as often as you possibly can.
- Transport yourself into your partner’s world. Although you can’t stand his or her favorite things to do, join him or her occasionally. A little sacrifice can get you a long way.
- Show and say your appreciation. A little thank you is always welcome. Make your partner feel appreciated and he or she will feel valued and important. Even just a long, loving gaze can do the trick.
Hope these simple tips can help you in your relationship with your spouse. There is nothing more moving than to see one person sacrifice his or her own needs to help another.
by Nathan Chua
Before I even begin talking about this touchy issue, I would like you, my readers to know, that I fully respect all opinions to the contrary of what I will share with you here. Like many other things, there are simply no easy answers to the problems we face negotiating through life’s vicissitudes.
Truth-telling can be tricky when we talk about it within certain contexts. More common among these situations where people struggle between being transparent or not, are instances of infidelity, or giving the dire news about someone’s imminent death. There are those, especially from some religious groups, that advocate for total transparency, that the old saying, “What they don’t know, won’t hurt them,” is unconscionable or unfair.
However, like most things in life that do not have easy answers, many also believe that telling the truth about a terminal disease or an affair may prove to be detrimental. In the case of an affair, there are studies cited that it is more likely for male partners to leave a relationship when they are the offended party. The revelation of a terminal disease may prove life-enhancing to one, but despairing to another.
I guess, the stand here is no different from what I have believed to be the best practice in therapy, which is to let the suffering individual, make his or her own decisions based on the prevailing circumstances. For it is the client who knows more about the people involved and the surrounding circumstances, than the therapist.
Frederick Humphrey, Professor Emeritus of Family Studies at the University of Connecticut refers to therapists who, by their influence or stature, encourage or even push their patients to truth-telling, as “Verbal exhibitionists.”
I often meet clients who treat me as some sort of expert in their lives, like I knew something about them that they didn’t already. These types of questions put tremendous pressure on a therapist. I often recuse myself from answering such questions, for it is in my opinion, the clients who are most equipped to provide such answers for themselves.
As in other things in life, there is always an option to keep a secret, a secret. There may also be instances when truth-telling can be liberating and useful to a relationship. But one thing I can guarantee for people who see me to seek advice on what to do, I will allow you to make decisions of your own liking, based on what is best for you, and the people around you.
by Nathan Chua
As I join couples and families in their efforts to improve their lives together, I am beginning to see the wisdom in employing an old marketing slogan from a popular sports brand, “Just do it.” Much of the struggles that couples experience is not that they don’t love each other anymore, but they seem to have lost the ability to feel loved, or be loving.
There are many instances wherein couples think that they have to feel something, to do something. How can I be loving if I don’t feel like it? Unfortunately, the more a couple waits for the feelings to come, the more time is spent on waiting for something that needs acting upon.
This is probably one of the instances when acting or behaving a certain way, comes before the feelings of love. One only needs to go back to the courtship days, when each wants to outdo the other in expressing love. Even if you didn’t like to do certain things, you would do it to win the affections of the other. We do it to bring feelings of love.
So what should couples do to make them fall in love again? Just do it even if you don’t feel like it. No matter how wasteful you think buying those flowers is for your partner, just do it. No matter how much you don’t like expressing words of appreciation or tenderness, just do it.
Another common objection to this idea, is that people often feel it’s faking it to be someone you thought you have not been for so long. “It would feel fake if I were to change into a kinder, more appreciative and transparent person,” as many would say. Well, we can turn this statement around by saying that what you or others have considered to be your personality or style of relating, maybe just you faking it. The real you, is the one who wants to be more expressive, and who wants to act more consistently with how you feel inside. That self has been in hiding because of being hurt or shamed in the past, by the people you entrusted those genuine feelings and desires to.
Just remember you’re doing it because you want to keep the feelings of love. And if the law of averages applies, you will most likely receive the same loving acts in return. Furthermore, just do it because this may be the real you, who has been hidden from sight for so long…for that real you may turn out to be the better, more likable you.