Striking a Balance Between Preserving one’s Values and Acceptance in a Western-Filipino Marriage

As I’ve said a few times in my posts, during my most difficult times, when I was struggling the most with culture shock, I immersed myself in a deep study of books and blogs about relationships and I stumbled upon a concept that sounded a little abstract at first and difficult to apply in my marriage with a Filipina. I am talking about the concept of “acceptance”.

An idea that appeared really absurd to me was a phrase that I read in a book by Eckart Tolle entitled “The Power of Now”, where he touches on the contrast between ego-driven relationships vs love-driven relationships.

What the book says, in part, is “the moment that judgment stops through acceptance of what is, you are free of the mind. You have made room for love, for joy, for peace. First you stop judging yourself; then you stop judging your partner. The greatest catalyst for change in a relationship is complete acceptance of your partner as he or she is, without needing to judge or change them in any way. That immediately takes you beyond ego. All mind games and all addictive clinging are then over”.

To me this idea sounded kind of weird. Nevertheless many books on relationships seem to validate this idea.

To me accepting all behaviours of my Filipino partner, without even trying to change the most seemingly destructive aspects of the Pinoy mentality, seemed to be unrealistic and all the more so because the “Culture Shock Philippines” book by Alfredo and Grace Roces, speaking of this idea of viewing things from a Filipino perspective, raises this puzzling question: “If all i do is …adjust my behaviour to my hosts then what will i be contributing to the community…can i be actor enough to be false to what i value to be right and good?”.

So, I asked myself: “if I heed the advice of totally letting go of the need to change my Pinay wife, what will I be contributing to her life? How can this marriage get to the next level?”.

Nevertheless I decided to go for the bet of trying out the “acceptance” approach and, before long I started noticing huge changes and my wife became much more ready to meet me half way.

The reason, I think, is that the more you attack Filipinos the more they get matigas ang ulo or stubborn. By letting go, at least for a while, of the need to condemn, criticize and attack, they themselves naturally begin to cooperate.

The bottom line is: accepting does not mean that your Filipino wife does what she wants and you accept everything, even if she sends all your money to her relatives to buy them the latest i-phone while you work 12 hours a day and can’t even pay the bills.

In my experience “acceptance” turned out to be merely a temporary softening of my approach that lead to a mutual letting go of rigidity and being stuck in one’s position.

I’d like to conclude this article by quoting an ancient sage who said that ‘the supreme good is water that nourishes all things without trying to’. A soft water-like approach is more likely to make inroads in a matigas ang ulo character while a stiff and rigid one only breeds further katigasan ng ulo.

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