“Utang-na-loob” and how it may Affect your Marriage

Here in Italy there are Filipinos who have been working for the same employer for 20-30 years. Even if better job opportunities show up, many Filipinos, whom I know, prefer to stay with their “amo” (employer) because, perhaps, 20 or 30 years ago he or she helped them with their permit to stay in the country or helped them to petition their children.

There are Filipino women who, after marrying an Italian citizen, refuse to leave their employer, even though their husband has a good job and their Filipino wife could, theoretically, have more free time for the family or, even though, as wives of a European citizen, they qualify for the Italian citizenship that would allow them to find better job opportunities or go into business.

The reason? “Utang na loob”. Filipinos have a very strong sense of “utang na loob” which means “debt of gratitude”.

Somebody did them a favor 20 or 30 years ago and they feel obliged to repay this person for a lifetime.

This is the reason why many Filipinos stay with the same employer or send money home to support various relatives who, somewhere along the line, took care of them (perhaps their uncle raised them while their parents were working abroad and so on).

So, if you marry a Filipina you need to take into account that your wife may be paying back her “debt of gratitude” to her employer or to some relative in the Philippines.

This is one of the many aspects of the Filipino culture that you need to understand without judging.

The secret of an outstanding intimate relationship is giving, yielding, seeing things from your partner’s point of view and respecting what’s important to them.

You may not care about who did your wife a favor a few decades ago but TO YOUR WIFE IT DOES MATTER and a loving husband comes from a place of UNSELFISH LOVE AND EMPATHY that gets him to LEARN ABOUT AND RESPECT THE ASPECTS OF THE FILIPINO CULTURE THAT MAY, TO SOME EXTENT LIMIT HIS “ENTITLEMENTS” AS A HUSBAND.

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