So did anyone catch the latest episode of DH, when Lynette ended her almost-affair with her new chef? The last scene with her muffling her cries in the bathroom while her husband talked through the door about how much he missed her – didn’t it just break your heart a little?

Last night, Lokes and I had dinner by ourselves since he was going to be gone for three weeks starting today for work. We got to talking about loyalty and faithfulness, which really had nothing to do with him going away. It just came up.

We have a rule, Lokes and I, an understanding of sorts, that if either of us were to ‘make a mistake’, we would be honest with each other the moment ‘the mistake’ happens, because we believed, very truthfully, that our marriage and love for each other and our family, is strong enough to weather through any storm.

We are also very practical people, in our unwavering belief that human beings are flawed. Everyone makes mistakes. It is our willingness and determination (or lack thereof) to make things right that ultimately defines us and our continuing faith in each other. The husband who come cleans about his cheating, for example, because he wants to win his wife and family back, and the betrayed wife who, despite what everyone says, is willing to trust him again because he had told her the truth before she found out.  

Take this episode of DH, for example.

Watching Lynette cry silently in the bath, mascara running down her face, the guilty tears of someone who made a mistake but not really, her desperate need to connect with a life removed from being a mother and a wife; and to observe (the superb acting by) her husband: the look of renewed hope on his face, believing that he had succeeded in chasing away the competition, the fierceness of his love and determination to keep his family together despite knowing that his wife may very well have had cheated on him – all this really touched me because it is so hard, in real life, to do the right thing. To go so close to the line and not cross it. To mourn the found and loss of passion with the wrong person, at the wrong time. To reconcile desire and morals. To try and hold on to that soft, calm voice in the storm raging in your brain while your heart beckons in deadly sirensong.

If a marriage takes work, then holding a family together takes even more. As obvious as it may sound, surprisingly few people truly understand that. Most think it all happens as it happens. That nature finds a way to weave it all together. In a way, it does, but the fabric comes a part after a while, and it is up to us to keep it together.

Knowing more than a handful of people today who are going through painful divorces, it is hard to have faith in the institution. However, watching the fictionalised dramatisation of a marriage tested by the stresses of parenting, time and temptation, it reminded me that some marriages do survive. Like that of my parents’. Like that of my in-laws’. Like that of my Koo Ma’s and my aunts and uncles back home. Loveless marriages, all of them? Hardly. Theirs is a different kind of love we young ‘uns have yet to understand. Theirs is a love tested again and again by time and temptation, by poverty and betrayal, by neglect and oppression.

And yet here they are – 30, 40, 50 years down the road, and still together. Not by divine fear. Not by pure luck. Not even by mere love. I don’t know what it is, but here’s my theory: Perhaps it is only those that have been tested the most, survive.