What makes an intimate relationship truly intimate is the experience of deep connection and total vulnerability.
And so, in the context of this blog post, I will be using the word intimacy, not in the sense of sexual intimacy, which is without a doubt a powerful component of a deep connection, but in the broader sense of into me see or, in other words in the sense of an intimate relationship being an environment where husband and wife are fully vulnerable, transparent, honest and free to communicate their deepest fears, hurts, expectations and other emotions without any fears of being judged, blamed or hurt in any way.
Is it possible to achieve this level of into me see in a relationship with a Filipina?
Well, obviously each person is different, but, generally speaking, the Filipino culture has some aspects to it that may make the achievement of a high degree of into me see rather challenging.
The “Culture Shock Philippines” book by Alfredo and Grace Roces, that I often quote, says the following about face to face sincerity in the Filipino culture: “Filipinos have an entirely different expectation when it comes to face-to-face ‘sincerity’. In this situation, promises and pleasing half-truths are important tools to avoid wounding amor-propio, because smooth interpersonal relations always take precedence over other values”. And it goes on to say: “It is safe to say that a non-Filipino should take with a grain of salt what is promised in a face-to-face situation because Filipinos themselves always do. To establish the measure of sincerity, reiterate and obtain reconfirmation of the commitment several times, as well as act immediately to formalise and make irrevocable a verbal commitment. It is at this point that the person’s ‘sincerity’ is tested, because if he hedges or does not act straight away, the promise and the ‘yes’ have been granted just to please you”.
Why is that?
The book gives this answer: “The importance of amor-propio (self-esteem) is one reason, but equally important is the kin-group world of Filipinos. Rather than value individualism, each Filipino sees himself at the centre of a kin-group universe: parents, grandparents, children, uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins, in-laws, compadres and comadres. In an open conflict, one wounds not just an individual but the whole kin group”.
How does this apply to an intimate relationship between a foreigner and a Filipina?
My analysis here is this:
A Filipina wife definitely loves her foreign husband and wants to please him, but she LOVES AND WANTS TO PLEASE HER EXTENDED FAMILY AS WELL.
She may be moving on the razor’s edge of TRYING TO MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY and this INEVITABLY ENTAILS THAT SHE ENDS UP SAYING ONE THING TO HER HUSBAND AND IT’S OPPOSITE TO HER RELATIVES in a number of circumstances.
So a Westerner who is married to a Filipina may conclude that into me see and total honesty, transparency and vulnerability fly out of the window in this kind of relationship.
I have come to the conclusion that, even if a foreigner is in a relationship with a Filipina who falls into the category of the one who seems to be dealing in half-promises and half-truths to please both the husband and the entire kin-group, deep intimacy, honesty and transparency can still be achieved in this kind of relationship.
But this requires hard work and radical openmindedness on the part of the husband.
The reason why a Filipina who is married to a foreigner may come across as one who is dealing in half-promises and truths, and, therefore, as one whom it is hard to build an into me see level of connection with, is because many foreigners who marry a Filipina do nothing or too little to go deep into the Filipino culture and, as a result, they “bash the environment that they themselves have chosen to inhabit”, as the “Culture Shock Philippines” book says.
When a Filipina, who comes from a culture where there is no such thing as an “independent agent” who gets married and forgets all about his or her family and where an individual is part of a vast universe of intricate interpersonal relationships, feels that her foreign husband is resisting her efforts to balance the marriage and her obligations toward her extended family, yes she may get to the point where she deals in half-truths and into me see flies out of the window.
A book I read a couple of years ago entitled “Communication Miracles for Couples” by Jonathan Robinson says that when we resort to blame intimacy disappears.
If a foreigner who is married to a Filipina attacks her kin-group culture and, for example, blames her for sending money to the Philippines or for other aspects of the Filipino culture that he finds it difficult to grasp, she will close her mind and the relationship will be characterized by a lot of half-truths that make transparency and intimacy impossible.
So the solution is estabilishing a level of trust where a Filipina feels that her foreign husband understands, accepts and appreciates where she is coming from.
Blaming, attacking and bashing your foreign spouse’s culture will never get you intimacy.
It took me years of deep study and committment to create this level of trust and, what my experience teaches me, is that, yes, it is possible to create real into me see with a Filipina and get her to get past her cultural conditioning and create an environment where intimacy is not just a bedroom thing but it spills over into every aspect of the relationship, but it takes effort and openmindedness on the part of the foreign husband to get to that point.