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7,671 days of Defying Labels and Expectations in Love

In a world overshadowed by judgment and labels, our love story is a testament to the depth of a person’s character and the power of seeing beyond surface appearances. It all began with a courageous decision—to follow my heart despite the expectations, and critiques of others.

Twenty-one years ago, I was advised to “end things with my now husband,” labeling him as a “drunkard” and a “struggling broke media professional.” While there was some truth in those words, I was struck by the hasty judgments made without truly understanding someone’s worth. It was then that I decided to pursue the man I saw as deep, intelligent, and genuine, regardless of a prominent female media personality’s narrow view of him. Of course, I cannot drop her name here—that would stir up all kinds of speculation and have everyone buzzing with questions, so let us leave that in the rear-view mirror.

His Tale…

Once upon a time, there was a young boy who walked countless kilometers just to catch a glimpse of a television in a neighbor’s house. Fast forward, this same boy, little did anyone know, would grow into one of the most influential and multi-awarded TV News Personalities in all of Northern Luzon, if not the Philippines. His upbringing denied him the comforts of a typical childhood, yet it ignited a fire within him to strive for excellence. Despite a childhood devoid of comfort, he embraced every challenge, fueling his relentless pursuit of excellence. His story made me fall in love with this man who I call ‘My Papakoy.’

His story, however, often goes unnoticed by those who only see the surface and are blinded by superficial perceptions. While others may have sought a partner who could provide lavish luxuries, I made a different choice. I stayed with a man whose inner radiance outshines any worldly possession.

My ‘Not-So-Fairy Tale’ Tale…

While many girls dream of a fairy tale romance, mine unfolded like a snowflake. Instead of being granted a Prince in a White Horse or a Knight in Shining Armor, I found a co-warrior. Transitioning into motherhood brought forth a unique set of hurdles. In a society where success is frequently measured by external accomplishments, embracing motherhood in my early twenties came as an unexpected twist. To be candid, the journey was not without its dark moments. I grappled with feelings of depression, struggling with the reality of becoming a mother at such a young age. It weighed heavily on my spirit, casting shadows of sadness and envy as I watched peers of my age revel in their youthful freedom and boundless opportunities. Nevertheless, I welcomed it with open arms, re-framing it not as a deviation from my trajectory but rather as a fresh, empowering odyssey. Graced by God, I have found a man who has been my rock in those challenging times.

While we are far from perfect, allow me to share the TOP 10 insights we have earned along the way:

1. See Beyond Labels: Resist the urge to let societal judgments dictate your life’s choices; instead, seek the deeper essence of a person beyond labels. In short, “huwag judgmental”.

2. Mutual Respect: Treat your spouse with respect. Marriage extends beyond the confines of romantic love. Always hold each other in high regard. Recognize the inherent worth and dignity of your spouse as an individual, separate from yourself. Value each other’s feelings, opinions, and boundaries.

3. Embrace Challenges Together: Confronting challenges as united partners strengthens your bond and deepens your connection and problem-solving skills. When couples overcome challenges, it promotes personal and relationship growth. By facing struggles together, couples can cultivate a partnership capable of holding up against the unavoidable peaks and valleys of life.

4. Practice Open Communication: Honest dialogue is vital. Argue if you both need to express your emotions, tell it like it is. Shooting straight allows partners to address issues and grievances straightaway, preventing feelings of resentment from aggravating and damaging the relationship over time. When you squelch your anger and pain, it can potentially lead to elevated stress levels, which have a direct impact on increased irritability, and hatred that could cause conflicts and breakdowns. After the dialogue, resolve the issue together. Tip: Never go to sleep angry.

5. Find Joy in the Journey: Parenthood, careers, and marriage are integral parts of a couple’s voyage. Embrace both the highs and lows and try to find joy (at times this is easier said than done) in everyday moments. We have different love languages; for us, cleaning and improving our abode, cooking family meals, and doing the laundry while listening to Gary V’s playlist, “Warrior is a Child,” “I Will Be Here,” and “Take Me Out of the Dark,” or resting while I watch my favorite K Dramas and him “snoring” after less than 5 minutes of reading the subtitle (LOL) are our love languages, and we always find sparks of joy with this stuff together.

6. Be Their Number One Fan, Supporter, and Cheerleader: When my husband initiated the journey of starting his own media group, he faced skepticism and doubts from many. Proudly, I stood by his side as his faithful and genuine ally. I wholeheartedly showed that I believe in his vision and goals, offering constant encouragement every step of the way, and cooking him hot delicious meals every single day. I was his defender and co-warrior in this venture, ready to shield him from any fast-deadly bullet. As his better half (ball and chains at times), I know that my support serves as a wellspring of strength and inspiration, guiding him to navigate adversity with constant determination.

7. Admit When You’ve Done Wrong and Apologize: Well, doing this is one of the most difficult things todo, I know, right? However, it is an essential act. Pride can indeed be a silent killer in marriages, often preventing open communication and understanding between couples. Acknowledging your mistake promotes respect and understanding, turning conflicts into chances for growth and more open communication.

8. Enjoy Physical Intimacy: Flirt with your spouse (in private). Recreate that magic by flirting with your spouse, making him feel that you still find him irresistibly attractive and desirable. We have different cute and naughty ways, so enjoy whatever makes you ‘kilig.’ You can explore this better than you think. You can DM me for more tips. Just kidding!

9. Prioritize and Invest in Your Relationship: Amidst the demands of parenthood and careers, make time for each other. You cannot go wrong with quality time spent. Go out on a date or travel if you can.

Today, June 7th, 2024, while you are spending your precious time reading this article, we are somewhere in Hanoi, Vietnam, sipping that famous egg coffee in one of the quaint cafes celebrating our 21st anniversary. Remember, dating reignites the spark of romance, reminding you of the love and affection that originally brought you together. Dating provides open communication. A happy spouse fosters a happy life.

10. Put GOD at the Center of Your Relationship: If you do this, you invite His wisdom, love, and guidance into every aspect of your relationship. We might not be that religious, but we make sure that we both are very spiritual. We pray for everything.

What I have shared is not a ‘one size fits all’ guide – there is no universal blueprint or template for a relationship or marriage. I do not claim to be a perfect wife, nor is our marriage without flaws, but I offer some insights in the hope that they might help others on similar paths.

As I reflect on our 21 years together, celebrating this milestone feels like a blessing and a challenge. In a time when many marriages are struggling, and divorce is increasingly considered for various reasons, soon the Philippines will be more open to the possibility of ‘divorce’; we are blessed to be supporting and loving each other moving forward to that thing called ‘road to forever’. No judgment with many failed marriages because we all have different stories to tell.

To all married people out there, remember that maintaining a loving relationship can feel like plotting a course on a battlefield. If you are not mentally strong, emotionally stable, and well-equipped with the right resources, you risk losing everything. Marriage is about finding a delicate balance, and to make it work, you need to work things out together. Respecting, supporting, understanding, and loving each other through every challenge makes a world of difference.

And to the woman who said, “wala kang future kay Dhobie” (no future with Dhobie). I am thrilled to have proven you wrong and at this very moment, we are happy to explore the beauty of Hanoi, Vietnam on our 21st celebration of friendship and partnership. Cheers!

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