My Addictive Wanderlust: When the Urge to Travel Becomes a Problem

Travelling alone in the Philippines

I am an Italian man who is married to a foreigner.

One of the reasons why 20 years ago I stumbled upon the foreign woman whom I eventually married is because I am well-travelled, I speak more than one language and therefore, when I first met my wife, I was able to communicate with her because she was new here in Italy and she couldn’t really speak my language.

Also, because of my travelling experiences, I was open to other cultures and I had plenty of experience in interacting with people from diverse backgrounds.

But, while my desire to explore other countries and cultures was the very thing that got me to get to know my wife and eventually marry her, this very desire became a huge stumbling block in my relationship.

WANDERLUST VS BASKING IN BEING

To make a long story short: I love travelling, or, more honestly, I actually crave it, so much so that before I got married I couldn’t stand the idea of letting a single year go by without visiting at least one foreign country and I couldn’t even stand the idea of letting one week go by without  going at least on some excursion even to a nearby medieval town, a lake, a forest or whatever (and we’ve got an abundance of amazing places to explore in my region).

My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t care at all about travelling and I mean at all.

I think that there are three underlying reasons why this is the case:

She left the Philippines at a very early age and became an OFW or Overseas Filipino Worker and, therefore, she associates the idea of travelling to other countries to the idea of migration and being severed from friends and relatives, while I was born in a first world country and I associate the idea of travelling to adventure and the possibility to broaden my horizons.

Another reason is that my wife comes from a culture that is very people oriented and family oriented while us Westerners are more goal oriented.

But a deeper reason is that she has an incredible ability to enjoy little and ordinary things and bask in those things without having to distract herself and necessarily go somewhere to feel fulfilled which is a skill I don’t have at all.


HOW AN ECCESSIVE CRAVING FOR ADVENTURE CAN RUIN A RELATIONSHIP

My wife’s concept of vacation is pure rest and nothing more.

I, on the other hand, have an almost neurotic and compulsive need and urge to go somewhere else.

Few days ago I made a post where I mentioned that my wife and I often go somewhere out of town for the sake of our relationship as a couple.

My idea of going somewhere to spend a weekend together is somewhere in Europe like Prague, Paris or even further away while her idea is somewhere as close as possible, even if this entails renting an apartment here in town or in a very close lake resort or anywhere else that entails moving as little as possible from home.

I have learned to compromise and, therefore, I now travel much less than I used to do in the past.

I was actually forced to compromise because the gap between me and my wife in this area was becoming a big problem in my relationship which took me years to fix.

I realized how serious this problem was after my first trip to the Philippines.

My first trip to the Philippines was my first opportunity ever to visit a tropical country.

Until then I had seen nothing but almost every single corner of Europe, I had never visited any other continent.

I had made amazing trips to the far North of Europe and other amazing places but I had never been to the tropics before or, as I said, I had never been anywhere else outside Europe.

So I was expecting to do a big deal of snorkeling and see plenty of coral reefs, explore jungles and remote waterfalls and do everything else that a European would expect to do in an exotic paradise but I pretty soon realized that my wife had no intention whatsoever to show me around and take me on a tour of her amazing country.
She wanted to do nothing but visit old friends and relatives.

So, because some Filipino friends of mine who live in Rome were in the Philippines on vacation in that period, I left my wife and went off on my own to meet with them.
I took a bus from the bus terminal in Cubao (Metro Manila) and headed North to the Ilocos Region where I met with my friends who took me to a lot of beaches in Pangasinan, to the Cordillera Mountains and to a bunch of other places.

It is not as if I hadn’t seen anything of the Philippines while with my wife: we had actually been to the One Hundred Islands (only for one day), Tagaytay and few other places. But I was eager to see more, as the Philippines offer much more than that.

The problem is that, few months  after my trip to the Philippines, I realized how selfish I had been and how I should have put my relationship ahead of my cravings for adventure.

Once I realized that my urge to travel all the time, not only in the Philippines but also here in Italy, was driving a serious wedge between me and my wife I began to seriously ask myself: “why do I have this urge to travel all the time”, “why can’t I just appreciate little ordinary things as my wife does?”.

AN ADDICTIVE WANDERLUST CAN BE A REAL NEUROSIS

I came to the conclusion that my urge to always experience something new or different was a real neurosis and that I had to become more grounded in being, not only for the sake of my relationship but also for the sake of having a more balanced mindset.

I once stumbled upon a book where I read that our relationship with the present moment defines our relationship with life itself and it became pretty obvious to me that my urge to always go somewhere else was closely tied to my underlying inability to bask in the present moment and enjoy the little things that are the bulk of an intimate relationship and of family life.

I understood that what makes a marriage great is not those ecstatic highs that I hoped to experience with my wife somewhere in Palawan or Boracay but rather the everyday ordinary little moments that my wife seemed to be happy with and that I was failing to fully enjoy.

NEVER STAKE YOUR LIFE ON THE PURSUIT OF ADVENTURE

Another reason why I am reconsidering my relationship with travelling is that I am 53 years old and I am facing old age and, maybe, disease in the future.

What would I do if I lost my eyesight or I got sick to the point of not being able to go anywhere anymore and being bedridden for life?

If travelling is so addictive for me this means that when that part my life is over my whole life will be over.

I can’t run this risk so I’d better learn from my beautiful wife how to be more grounded in the here and now and enjoy the amazing little things we experience every single day while they last and view those extatic highs that we from time to time experience when we travel somewhere as a bonus and nothing more.

REAL FULFILLMENT IS HERE AND NOW

Granted, travelling has enriched my life beyond measure and I also owe the fact that I have met my wife to my travelling experience.

Travelling is an incredible opportunity to broaden my perspectives and enjoy the beauty of life but so is reading, so is buying a microscope and staring at the magnificence of a cell or even staring in awe at my own hand or, as I said, enjoying the beauty of ordinary moments with my wife and my family.

I am seriously introspecting and trying to get to the root cause why for so many years I couldn’t be still and just bask in being without needing to distract myself and go somewhere else to see more or something different or new.

My wife is helping me a lot in this regard and I am very grateful that I have met this amazing woman who has taught me what it is like to put a relationship and the little yet amazing things that characterize it ahead of the flimsy highs that adventures offer.

What Is the Standard of Beauty in the Philippines?

Mga Babaeng Pilipina ay mga “Perlas ng Silangan”

As husband of a Filipina I have been puzzled with this question “what is the standard of beauty in the Philippines?” for a long time because, as you may expect, I am focused on making my relationship thrive and one of the ways I can do that is by meeting my Filipino wife’s standards among which there is the Filipino standard of beauty.

A husband has to be beautiful from the standpoint of his wife and viceversa and if one is purely focused on inner beauty and is careless about outward appearance while the other values outward beauty (in the broad sense of the word, meaning also dressing, etiquette and manners) a lot there is going to be a mismatch.

So what is the standard of beauty in the Philippines?

Because I have been in a relationship with a Filipina for 20 years now, I have come up with my own analysis and my own conclusions about the Filipino mentality and one of the things that I have repeatedly mentioned in my blog is that Filipinos tend to be more drawn to situations that create a state of masaya (temporary happiness induced by external stimulation) than by things that create a more permanent state of maligaya.

P.s. this is what I wrote in Tagalog a few months ago about this subject in https://wp.me/paeiS4-vi

“Bilang banyagang asawa ng isang Pilipina, isa sa mga bagay na napansin ko sa mga Pilipino ay na marami ang mahilig sa kung ano ang nagdudulot ng pansamantalang kaluguran.

Ang Pilipinas ay punong-puno ng mga fast-food na restaurant, mga malaking karatula na nag-aadvertise ng lahat ng uri ng gadget o ibang bagay na nagdudulot ng pagiging masaya.

Maraming mga Pinoy na kilala ko, ay mahilig manood ng maraming TV, mag-Facebook, kumain ng junk food at iba pa.

Ang lahat ng mga bagay na ito ay may kinalaman sa kung ano ang tinatawag ko na pansamantalang pagtatamasa ng kaluguran.

Actually, sa aking pakikipag-usap sa mga kaibigan kong Pinoy, mas naririnig ko ang salitang masaya kaysa sa salitang maligaya.

Sa tingin ko ang pagiging masaya ay ang isang pansamantalang kaluguran na pwede lang tamasahin kapag may libangan, masarap na pagkain, sex o ibang uri ng bagay na pumupukaw ng kaluguran.

Ang kaligayahan naman ay isang mas namamalaging kalagayan na hindi nakakadepende sa pagkakaroon ng libangan, pagkain o iba pa.

Ano ba ang punto ko at ano ang kinalaman nito sa pagkakaroon ng isang matagumpay na romantikong relasyon?

Bweno, ang punto ko ay na mas magiging matagumpay ang isang romantikong relasyon kung ang hinahanap natin sa ating kabiyak ay kung ano ang nagdudulot ng namamalaging kaligayahan sa halip na basta lang ang mga bagay na nagdudulot ng pansamantalang kasiyahan.

Ang isa sa mga bagay na, batay sa nakikita ko, ay baka sobrang mahalaga para sa mga Pilipina ay ang panlabas na hitsura at ang pisikal na kagandahan.

Dahil tiyak na darating ang araw na maglalaho ang pisikal na kagandahan, maliwanag na ito ay isa sa mga bagay na pwede lang magdulot ng talagang maikli at pansamantalang yugto ng kasiyahan sa relasyon.

Para makapagtamasa ng permanenteng kaligayahan na magtatagal kahit magkasakit ang ating kabiyak o kahit ano ang mangyayari sa kanya o sa atin, sa tingin ko, mas mabuti mag-invest sa pagtatayo ng panloob na pagkatao para talagang maranasan ang isang matibay na relasyon.

Bweno, ito ang aking opinyon lang bilang isang banyagang asawa ng isang Pilipina at syempre naman ang bawat isa ay may karapatan na piliin kung ano ang kanyang gustong makita sa isang partner.

Ang masasabi ko lang, batay sa aking karanasan, ay na ang sobrang pagbibigay pansin sa hitsura ay nagdudulot ng kabiguan sa bandang huli”.

How to Deal With an Emotional Filipina

The Philippines have a hot and humid tropical weather and quite a few people there seem to be a little hot tempered or, as they say in Tagalog, mainit ang ulo.

Emotionalism is one of the hallmark characteristics of Filipinos and….of women in general.

Many relationship experts have come to the consensus that the best way to deal with emotionally charged people and situations is by keeping one’s cool and by keeping on showing kindness so that strong emotions will slowly but surely melt away.

Like many concepts that relationship experts across the planet talk about, even this concept of treating with kindness a person who is treating you lousy is nothing new, in fact it is very old.

A passage from the New Testament reads “do not render evil for evil…but keep on conquering evil with the good”.

A similar concept can also be found in the words of Socrates “then we ought not to retaliate or render evil for evil to anyone“, providing further evidence that human psychology was designed in such a way that loving relationships (not just romantic relationships but all kind of human interactions) are only possible when one of the two partners breaks the pattern of anger by raising above it to the point of showering it with kindness in circumstances in which showing kindness is a very counterintuitive move.

It has been said that success comes from counterintuitive moves, we succeed in every aspect of life including intimate relationships by going against the grain, by going against what our psyche naturally wants to do.

What our psyche naturally wants to do when someone lashes out is to vent back but that kind of behavior only calls forth further anger.

The Philippines is one of those cultures where, generally speaking, people quickly overreact when provoked and there are drivers who carry a tubo or a knife in case someone cuts them off.

So a Filipina comes from that kind of environment where the degree of emotionality is a little higher than in other countries. Yet there are cross-cultural gems of wisdom, that can also be found in modern psychology and relationship coaching, that can make a world of difference.

Indeed success in anything in life comes from counterintuitive moves and one of the most effective counterintuitive moves is conquering evil (well, an angry spouse is not “evil” but the pattern of lashing out creates pretty lousy situations) by raising above it and becoming masters at showing kindness in an emotionally charged situation.

Indeed the One who created human psychology knew better and I can say from personal experience that this principle does indeed produce amazing things.

Do Filipinos Really Need to Work Abroad?

The first time I visited the Philippines I met C. (I am not going to reveal her name for privacy reasons), a young lady who used to be some kind of au pair in my mother in law’s house.

She was studying agricultural engineering at the Bulacan Agricultural State College.

C. is now a successful engineer and she also travels abroad for work, she was in Japan recently.

What struck me is that I saw C. ‘s house that is situated in a nearby barangay close to the Sierra Madre Mountains and I noticed that her parents’ house is the simplest of homes which evidently means that she is from a very poor family. Her parents’ house is one of those “patchwork” homes made out of different materials including hollow blocks that are not coated with plaster and that have a metal sheet as roof.

C. is not the only Filipina I met in the Philippines who never thought of moving abroad and if a very poor lady like C. can do it this means that many more could do it.

It is true that life is tough in the Philippines but while people like C. are masipag (industrious) a lot of Filipinos ay nakatambay lang, they just hang out aimlessly. Sometimes you can spot them sipping hard drinks while being engaged in kwentuan or maBOTEng usapan.

So by being masipag and staying away from bisyo some Filipinos could actually make it in the Philippines, not necessarily becoming as successful as C. but at least managing to create a situation where they have a decent life and, more importantly, don’t have to leave their family members in the Philippines to go to work as seamen or somewhere in places like Hong Kong, Saudi or even in wealthy Europe, U.S. or Australia.

As I have already mentioned in this blog, I know Pinoy families here in Italy that had a very hard time reuniting and, actually, even when they managed to obtain the entry visas for their spouse and kids, they kept living apart from them because they were working live-in while their family was living in another apartment.

As husband of a Filipina, and observer of the Pinoy culture and mentality, what strikes me is that Filipinos are very religious and their religion is theoretically all about “family first”, I mean that the Bible talks about being physically present to raise and train one’s kids and it also says that it is better to eat vegetables in a house where there is love (and by the way veggies are good for you, I’ve lost 30kg by going green….) than a fattened bull (or maybe baboy, I have never heard about Filipinos eating bull) in a house where there is no love (perhaps a 10 square meter basement in the mansion of your employer in a rich country where you only communicate with your spouse and kids through internet).

I actually know a Pinoy family that left Italy for good and moved back to the Philippines and they are doing pretty well (and when they left they had neither a mansion in the Philippines nor big savings). He is a guy who has no bisyo whatsoever and is very masipag and has a “family first no matter what” mindset.

Becoming an OFW is definitely not the only option and even if you do become an OFW I am here to tell you that there is a very big chance that the cost and the pain involved could turn out to be far greater than the gains.

So, mag-ingat….

90-Day Fiance’: Does it Work?

A few days ago I bumped into an American documentary series called “90-day fiance'” that is about couples that have applied for a fiance’ visa to get to know each other, and I watched the story of a 58-year old American man who got a 19-year old Filipina to spend 90 days in the USA to find out if they could get married.

Here in the European Union there is no such thing as a “fiance’ visa”, therefore the only way you can marry a Filipina whom you have got to know through Facebook or through some other kind of long distance courtship, is either by going to the Philippines yourself or by getting her to come to Europe as a tourist.

The second option is quite difficult because, in order to be given a tourist visa into a EU country she has to prove that she has plenty of money in the bank (which most Filipinas don’t have) otherwise you have to guarantee for her with your money (but someone who works in the Italian Embassy in Manila told me that this is only possible in theory, as they are extremely strict when it comes to tourist visas).

This having been said, what I have to say about getting a Filipina to visit your country to explore within 90 days if you should marry her or not is that it can hardly work that way.

As I have already mentioned in the past, my wife was already living and working in my country when I started courting her and we got to know each other for 4 years before we got married, and to this day, after 15 years of life together as a married couple, culture shock is still a challenge and we still have to work hard to maintain a thriving relationship.

How can it work if you only have 90 days to decide?

Well…..the choice is yours.