In my previous post I made it clear how culture shock can eat away at your happiness and, ultimately, your relationship, if you, as the “Culture Shock Philippines” book says EXPECT the other to accept and understand “the most basic things you act upon and you are comforted by”, if you, in other words, expect your wife to relinquish the cultural traits she has been acting upon, up until now, and she is familiar and comfortable with, to suit the Western model of marriage you are comfortable with. It comes down to being a giver vs a taker in the relationship.
ACCEPTING people and their culture THE WAY THEY ARE is vital. But for a relationship with a Filipina to THRIVE you need much more than just STOP RESISTING her culture. As I have already mentioned, you need to LEARN TO CELEBRATE THE DIFFERENCES AS EXCITING AND INTERESTING, in other words to not just SHIFT FROM FRUSTRATION TO ACCEPTANCE BUT FROM FRUSTRATION TO CURIOSITY. If you stop RESISTING her culture your relationship may “FUNCTION” but if you want it to “THRIVE” you have to go way beyond mere (and perhaps reluctant) ACCEPTANCE.
It has been said that “WHEN YOU CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT THINGS, THE THINGS YOU LOOK AT CHANGE”.
Your relationship with your Filipino Spouse will not CHANGE WHEN SHE CHANGES and parts with her culture, it will CHANGE WHEN YOU CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT IT. Your relationship is not the way it is, it is the way you think, the way you PROCESS the reality you experience.
How did I shift from frustration to childlike curiosity? By deciding to TURN THE VERY THINGS THAT USED TO CAUSE FRUSTRATION INTO AN OPPORTUNITY TO STRETCH THE BOUNDARIES OF THE “LITTLE ME” WHO WANTED SOMEBODY ELSE TO FIT INTO “THE MOST BASIC THINGS I WAS COMFORTED BY” and I started asking myself new questions such as: “what’s great about the kin-group culture?”, “what can I learn from it?”, “how can I turn the challenges of dealing with my foreign in-laws into a great opportunity to raise the level of my emotional intelligence, become a better communicator?”, “how can I learn to view this situation as an incredible opportunity to get better at building rapport, learn to give my wife space, learn to yield?”.
An intimate relationship with a Filipina is NOT THE WAY IT IS, IT IS THE WAY YOU ARE. We see our reality, including our relationships through a filter and the filter is HOW WE DECIDE TO PROCESS OUR REALITY.
By asking myself new questions and by shifting from frustration to curiosity everything changed and it changed fast, no more “groping for a bridge”.