Archives for category: Imperfect Wife

Driving to Seattle yesterday, Lokes and I had one of the most fascinating ‘conversations’. You see, I like to pluck uncomfortable topics out of thin air the size of rocks and then throw them at him. Just to kill time, yea?

In fact, we had two or three such debates and amazingly, none of them ended up messy. I even had him convinced I was right on TWO of the topics. Which is pretty crazy if you know our track record for irreconciliable differences.

So one of the ‘rocks’ I threw at him yesterday was “If we ever go our separate ways, would you get married again?”

His answer? A typical ‘no’. You’d think I should be relieved or even flattered.  

Are you kidding? I was humiliated.

“What?! Why?!”

Taken aback by my obvious (and irrational) displeasure, he blinked, “Why not?! I thought you’d be happy that you’d be my last wife!”

This is SO about making me happy.

“Well, it says to me that our marriage is so horrible you never want to go through another again!”

“Come on, no! That’s not what I mean. Besides, IF ANYTHING EVER HAPPENS TO US (after six years, our friend has mastered the art of careful clausing), I’d have our kids to deal with. Why would I want to get married again?”

So it’s the kids.

“Well, it’s insulting that you won’t get married again because I think you think it’s just too much work. Besides, don’t you want someone to spend your old and withered (spiteful emphasis on things rotting and dropping off) years with?”

“I don’t see why I need to get married again. Doesn’t mean I don’t want a companion. I just don’t want to get married. Why are women so preoccupied with a piece of paper?”

“Because SOMETIMES (I’ve mastered it too), one party of the relationship needs to be reminded now and then that there are real world consequences for mistakes they make. In an ideal world, women will NOT need a piece of paper if the men would keep certain things to themselves.”

And then we launched into the age-old debate of how a healthy relationship does not need a binding agreement and legally enforced consequences. Who was for which? You’ll be surprised (or maybe not) to learn that Mr. Either Very Naive or Thinks All Women Are, is for the notion that ‘real’ loving relationships can withstand anything, and that if you need a piece of paper to ‘secure’ it, then your relationship isn’t ‘real’.

I, on the other hand, think that’s a bucket load of crap. It’s like playing game with men (and some women) where they never have to play fair because, well, there are no penalties for cheating. I for one think it takes all the fun out of it. It’s fine if everyone involved agrees with the concept but most of the time, one party takes it more seriously than the other.

Secondly, we live in a land that, most of the time, upholds rule of law, laws that apply to governments as well their peoples. Why? Because in truth, we are human and in our innate human-ness, we all have the capacity to be sneaky, dishonest and selfish (as much as we’d like to believe that we don’t all in the name of love). At the end of the day, relationships with only two major parties, particularly ‘romantic’ relationships, require a third party to help work out a resolution. It starts of with a couples therapist and most of the time, ends with the law (and unfortunately, lawyers). Why? Because we can’t bloody well govern ourselves, that’s why. It’s just not fair.

Like it or not, two human beings who agree to play a game with rules, these rules need to be spelt out. They need to know that there are consequences and compensations when one plays unfair.

To get married or not, to sign that piece of paper or not, it all boils down to one simple question: Do you want to start playing fair?

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt thus far, is that marriage isn’t for wimps, that’s for sure.

And I’m no wimp.

Benjamin Franklin said that. I should know since I Googled it.

Yesterday morning, driving the girls to gymnastics, the husband and I got into one of the most interesting conversations ever.

The issue? Infidelity. A few friends of ours are going through divorces now (that’s more than one, yes) and there really is a significant difference between how Americans and Malaysians in general deal with issues of infidelity and how they factor into a divorce (or not).

In Malaysia, it is still the 50s in terms of social progress (and we’re proud of it). An act of infidelity is pretty much the dealbreaker. In general, if an affair has been had, the consensus is that either something is wrong with the adulterer (the horny bastard/bitch!), or the spouse (who ask her to be so fat?!) or the Other Man/Woman (the horny bastard/bitch!).

If children are involved, then most of the time, the general public would be more biased for the victim, fat or not.

And yet, here we are, a country that practices polygamy (and it’s not only Muslims, which I know for a fact). As such, an act of infidelity does not always end in divorce (which might be why our divorce rates are still considered low). Here, a man simply marries the Other Woman (who then automatically becomes less evil) or carries on in broad day light, over and under his existing marriage. As my old aunt would say (being the second wife herself), ”men will be men”, as though being male is a terminal affliction and to for a moment believe that he can be something else, is akin to believing your dog will once and for all cease his humping just because you’ve cut his balls off.

Here in America, divorce is comparatively common because 1. polygamy is illegal and 2. wives don’t normally tolerate lifetime affairs. 3. You’ve got therapy.

I think there is a very simple difference as to when you should try and make a marriage work, and when not to, when adultery is the issue.

If my husband cheats because of something he’s not getting from me because I chose not to give those things to him, consciously or otherwise, then to me, that marriage is worth working on. Yes, he did something very hurtful and selfish, and I would never have done what he did no matter what I wasn’t getting, but the truth is, I am partly to blame. If he is willing to give it a real try, then I am obligated to. Off to couples counselling we will go.

Whether or not it will all work out is another matter.

However, if I cheated because I’d simply grown tired of an increasingly unattractive husband, and wanted something new and exciting and fresh (e.g. an entirely different human being of the appropriate gender, size, height and personality), and because I constantly need a level of love, attention and worship that is humanly impossible to deliver without having my man constantly breaking into song on bended knee below a window sill among a small congregation of woodland creatures, then I don’t think I should have a second chance NOT because I don’t deserve it, but because what good would that do? My heart has changed. I have changed. And a change of heart is decidedly harder to reverse than a change of mind, I think because these past few years with the same man has made me realise how unready I am for permanence. And now, I must be honest with myself, and with my children, and I have to go.

Of course, I’d first have to admit to all these things. That is the hard part.

Even simpler is the wisdom of My Mother, who told me once that it is always better to find someone who loves you more than you do him.

Unfortunately, I have neither the looks or the stomach to pull such a thing off.

Fortunately, I didn’t need to.

I do not have the perfect marriage. But who here does?

Like many people in the ‘business’, we put on our facades and hide our the true state of our unhappiness because that’s what mature people do.

Certainly, because we have so many close friends and family who read my blog, venting my frustrations here would certainly cause a lot more concern than these disagreements deserve.

Plus, it really isn’t our culture to discuss these things openly. The concept of talking to a couples counsellor or a relationship therapist is as American and foreign to us as cherry pie. In Malaysia, paying someone to listen to your personal problems pretty much means you’re at the end of the line, and that you’ve taken the need for a stranger to fix your problems as a last resort. Aka, no hope liao.

Like all couples, we have our good days and our bad days. We are two very different people even as we are very alike. I am emotional, sentimental and explosive. Lokes is very logical, coldly calculative when it comes to attacking an issue and tends to stonewall during a conflict. I’d say we are a very typical married couple.

And unlike this couple, having kids was the event that brought up even more of these differences, so much so that there were many times I’d wondered in our almost a decade of being together, that how we could have actually survived being together for so long.

That said, I love my man very much. And after all that we’ve been through, in the hierarchy of who in the family comes first in my heart, there’s the kids, him, and then me. Of that I’m certain.

And I will always remember these words at the end of the day. That it is not how many arguments we manage to avoid, but how many we manage to overcome.

His words.

Love you babe. Don’t freak out when I leave for Chicago.

Lokes came home yesterday.

And as he started unpacking, he asked me to close my eyes because he had a surprise for me.

Sort of a way to make up for all the time he’s been gone – and is going to be gone.

And when I opened my eyes, there it was.

In all its glittering glory.

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Isn’t it just…beautiful?

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Look at how it catches the light!

 

Here, let me wear it. Goes really well with my wedding ring:

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Oh yea, that oughta do it. 

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. 

The more I read, the more I’m convinced. Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech killer, might’ve suffered from a very severe, untreated, never-diagnosed case of Selective Mutism?

What would happen if enough of the troops in Iraq refuse to fight in the war? Lokes and I discussed this on the drive home yesterday. This morning, we heard this on NPR. Coincidence?

Breastfeeding doesn’t halt obesity. Damn.

We have not watched a single episode of American Idol this season. I wonder why.

Life of Pi is a surprisingly interesting read. I’d thought it would be dry (as all Man Booker Prize winners go, *snort*) but I am enthralled.

My scabbed knee still hurts like a bitch but I am still up for more netball this Saturday (the Seattle women’s netball team is competing in LA this weekend – wish them luck!).

I found a library book I thought I’d lost. Woohoo!

Raeven has two boys ‘fighting’ over her in school. They’d literally pushed each other today over who got to stand next to her. Mortified as I am, am also a little amused.

Skyler will NOT sleep in her own bed and has been coming over every night. It’s exhausting.

I bought some beef for stewing. Any suggestions?

This morning, strutting around town.

Lokes: You look good in that blouse.

Me: Yea? You like it? I got it yesterday.

Lokes: Yea? You look sexy (best growly voice).

Me: Yea? Thank you!

Lokes: It has a nice shape to it. Makes you look more…more…(hand gestures animatedly over stomach and waist)

Me: Less fat?

Lokes: Yea! Very shapely!

Me: Gotcha.

 

I would love show you said shapely, sexy blouse but I don’t want to.

My sense of smell is returning.

‘Coz I smell something foul in the room.

Like a forgotten diaper.