The Challenges of Being Married to a Filipina: Being too Righteous

One of the sentences that I read in the “Culture Shock Philippines” book by Alfredo and Grace Roces, my main source of information about my wife’s culture, is that many foreigners who have regular social interactions with Filipinos begin to “bash the environment that they themselves have chosen to inhabit”.

Many foreigners who deal with Filipinos (including myself at the beginning of my intimate relationship as well as my interactions with other Filipinos) begin to find fault with many aspects of the Pinoy mentality and, as the book says, they develop this “antagonistic attitude” that gets them to retreat into the protective shell of their culture thereby erecting all sorts of barriers against the “habitat that they themselves have chosen to inhabit” but that is getting more and more difficult to get along with as it requires, as the book goes on to say, an extraordinary ability to “micromanage” differences that are often “subtle and microscopic” and therefore even trickier than the ones that are more “upfront”.

I have found myself in that kind of predicament and the principle that has helped me a lot to let go of much of my rigidity toward the Filipino culture is something that I heard from a relationship expert who asked the question: “do you want to be right or do you want to be in a relationship? Do you want to be righteous or do you want to be in love?”.

Interestingly, even an ancient scripture says something along the lines of “be righteous but don’t go overboard”. King Solomon, one of the wisest man who ever lived penned these interesting words in Ecclesiastes 7:16: “do not be overly righteous….”.

I strongly believe that the success of an intimate relationship depends upon following high standards and I think that by following the highest standards available, namely God’s standards, a marriage can hardly go wrong and all the more so because those standards are cross-cultural and apply across the board.

Filipinos, Italians, as well as other races share the same humanity and the same underlying psychology and so the only way a bridge can be built is by tapping into this cross-cultural wisdom that trascends the various local cultures.

On the other hand though, because each culture is different and because Filipinos, as well as other races, are so set in their ways, intruding into their culture with a heavy handed approach could result in “bashing the environment that one has deliberately chosen to inhabit”.

So, although I am convinced that, in order to succeed in a relationship, following the “right” standards is vital, I’ve learned that an interracial intimate relationship calls for an extraordinary ability to balance doing the right thing with being more loving than righteous under certain circumstances.

Another ancient scripture says that people would rather die for a “good man” than for a “righteous one” and the Greek word e·pi·ei·kesʹ, which is translated “reasonableness,” has been defined as meaning “not insisting on the letter of the law”.

So both ancient wisdom and many modern relationship experts agree that one of the core principles behind healthy human relationships is that being in a loving mode is often wiser than being right all the time and surely this insight is vital in an interracial intimate relationship.

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