Can a Strong Introvert Marry an Extrovert?

A typical Filipino social gathering

My wife is Filipina and she comes from a culture that is all about pakikisama, a Tagalog term for togetherness.

I, on the other end, need, cherish and actually crave plenty of solitude and prefer associating with few selected individuals to having a lot of friends and going to large social gatherings.

I love solo hikes and I also love sitting alone on park benches or simply being shut away in my room to read for hours on end. And I love going to a cafeteria or a restaurant with maximum one or two very close friends and engage in deep conversation.

The Filipino culture is, on the other hand, all about large social gatherings, music, dancing and karaoke, chit-chatting and sharing.

The Filipino idea of togetherness fosters a spirit of bayanihan, a spirit of communal cooperation and help which is such that the whole community helps when of its member needs practical help.

So how can I, a very strong introvert, sit well with a Filipina who comes from a culture that is strongly oriented toward connecting with a lot of people?

Well, not only have I discovered that an introvert man can sit well with a woman who comes from a culture that encourages much togetherness but I have also found out that an extrovert person actually needs an introvert partner and that an introvert and an extrovert complement each other rather nicely.

Here are some reasons why I think an introvert like me can thrive in a relationship with an extrovert and make it work rather well.

Introverts are not hermits, they just prefer few and high quality relationships to many shallow ones

The Filipino idea of togetherness has a lot of great aspects to it, like the spirit of bayanihan that I have just mentioned.

On the other hand, because Filipinos definitely prefer large social gatherings to socializing with one or two people at a time, relationships tend to be rather shallow.

In my life I have always had very few friends but those people have been my friends for decades.

I have always preferred fixing misunderstandings and working on improving my relationships with those few people to running away from them when things don’t work out

There are people who seem to have plenty of options because they have plenty of shallow relationships with a lot of people so they always have someone else to turn to when they get upset with a particular person.

I prefer to maintain my relationships with the people whom I care about and make them grow to turning to other people when things don’t work out and this personality trait has stood me in good stead in my marriage.

I have been through a lot of misunderstandings and conflicts in my relationship (like all those who are in a marriage) but I have entered this relationship with the idea that there is no plan B. My wife is my best friend and the relationship has to work and I am committed to raising the quality of it every single day.

And, because I have very few friends outside the relationship, I can focus on my marriage without too many distractions from a lot of people who claim my time and attention.

Introversion Breeds Peace Within and Without

Because I need and cherish solitude I can easily leave the scene of a heated discussion without suffering too much because I can be just as fulfilled while alone as when I am interacting with my wife (or with any other person).

Also, choosing to deliberately isolate myself on a regular basis, by carving out moments in which I write in a journal, gives me the opportunity to reflect on what’s working and what’s not working in my relationship and come up with solutions I couldn’t come up with if I were always socializing.

Contemplation and inner work breed more self-control and peace of mind in general and create an internal environment that can hardly coexist with conflict.

An Introvert Gives Space

Because an introvert needs space he is also more likely to give space and giving space is vital in an intimate relationship.

I need a lot of space and I am willing to give my wife space, to the point that I am willing to allow her to spend even one or two months in the Philippines while I stay here (and this has already happened three times since we got married).

An Introvert is Rich Internally and Therefore is Less Clingy

A strong introvert doesn’t enter a relationship because he is desperate about finding a spouse.

As I have already mentioned, during my moments of solitude I can be just as fulfilled as when I interact with people, or, more accurately, I feel even more fulfilled.

I fully enjoyed my almost four decades of singleness (I got married at age 36) so I was not really clinging to the idea of finding a marriage mate, I could perfectly function alone.

And, because one of the hallmark traits of a thriving marriage is giving, those who don’t enter a relationship because they badly need companionship have more to give, or, at least, have less to take.

The Downside of Being too much of an Introvert

So, being an introvert has, without a doubt, stood me in great stead as far as my marriage is concerned.

Yet I must admit that sometimes I push my need to be alone too far and my being too much of an introvert borders on selfishness.

Not only does my wife connect with a lot of people to just socialize with them: in so doing she actually helps a lot of people in many practical ways, which is something that I definitely need to work on and that I am learning from my Filipino wife.

So I think that an introvert and an extrovert can definitely learn from each other and not view each other as incompatibile.

I am the most introverted person you can imagine, I am, in fact, the peak of introversion while my wife comes from a culture that is the polar opposite of it and yet we manage to function rather well.

My experience shows that a relationship between an hyper-introvert and an extrovert is possible and if I can be in a relationship with an extrovert everyone else who is in a similar position can.

So, yes, a strong introvert can perfectly be in a relationship with an extrovert and my experience is the evident demonstration that this is definitely the case.

How to Get Your Partner to Change

My wife is Filipina and one of the hallmark traits of Filipinos is that they can be a little matigas ang ulo, a Tagalog expression meaning “stubborn”.

Filipinos definitely resist change and are rather set in their ways and rooted in their mentality that, more often than not, is at odds with the Western ways and this may create a lot of friction in a mixed-race marriage between a Westerner and a Filipina.

On top of that my Filipino wife and I, like all couples, have different personalities and different viewpoints about a bunch of matters and have different ways to handle problems and situations.

So there are plenty of areas in which we can’t see eye to eye and things I would definitely like her to change.

People resist change

I have read a lot of books and blogs about how to get other people to change and I have tried different methods but I have come to the conclusion that the reality is that people can hardly be changed and not only because my wife comes from a culture that is particularly reluctant to making any changes: a lot of other people I interact with including my Italian relatives and friends or people I work with resist change.

For example my mother is no longer able to work and lives on a meager old age pension and yet she doesn’t want to sell her big house by the sea that is a big money pit and is eating away at what little money she is receiving from the government.

My employer is losing clients and money but he is not willing to change anything about the way he runs his business and is not open to any suggestions.

So it is not the case that my Filipino wife is stubborn and resists change while everyone else I interact with is ready to change: we live in a world in which pretty much everyone is reluctant to making changes.

And yet we only focus on how our spouse is not willing to change and get pissed off at them and we forget how everyone else around us has basically the same flaw.

I myself resist change

But, even more importantly, I have realized how I myself struggle to change and it took me years or even decades to part with some of the negative habits that I have eventually managed to conquer (like overeating for example) so how can I expect other people to change?

I myself struggle to do it and often come up with all sorts of excuses for why I am not changing.

So, after years characterized by many arguments and failed attempts to get my wife to part with her quote-unquote “destructive” Filipino habits I have made a honest self-examination to find out where I have been ineffective and to what extent I can realistically expect her to change and to what extent I must just accept and learn to appreciate the things that will probably never change.

I remind myself that in much the same way as there are things I want her to change there are things she wants me to change

One of the reasons why my wife resists my attempts to get her to change is probably because, for many years, I viewed myself as the responsible Westerner who has his priorities straight and my wife as a person who comes from a less developed environment so, from my point of view,  the things she wanted me to change were minutia and peanuts while the things I wanted her to change were the big stuff.

This is probably true in some areas (like money management for example) but if I continue to operate from the idea that the things I want my wife to change are important while the things she wants me to change are insignificant we are going nowhere.

As long as I view the things she wants me to change as minutia peanuts and the things I want her to change as vital there is no chance.

So the first step I have made is removing this idea and accepting that we are even: she is not changing the things I am requesting her to change and I am not changing too a lot of things she wants me to change, period.

 

Why am I not changing the things my wife wants me to change?

Once I made this admission I started looking into the reasons why I am reluctant to changing the things she wants me to change because those must be the same underlying reasons that keep my wife from changing the habits I want her to change.

 

I have found out that there are three underlying reasons why I have never seriously worked on the things that my wife wants me to change:

  • I have pretty much already mentioned one: I consider the things she wants me to change to be minor and unimportant so I dismiss them. So I have asked myself: “couldn’t it be the case that in much the same way as I dismiss the things that are important to her as minutia she also views the things I want her to change as unimportant?
  • The way she goes about asking me to change: she doesn’t simply request me to change, rather sometimes she raises her voice like all women do.

Filipinos give a surface impression of being maamo or mild-tempered but they can get rather emotional.
When she raises her voice, no matter how right she is, I close my ears. Who is right or wrong flies out of the window, I just don’t want to hear her because I feel like she is attacking me and by attacking me she accomplishes nothing.

So it has to be the case that one of the reasons why she doesn’t change is the fact that she feels that I am attacking her.

Now, I struggle to see myself as one who attacks because I rarely lash out and lose my cool but by thinking a little harder what I have realized is that I attack nonetheless.

I perhaps do it in more gentle and subtle ways but I still attack, criticize and make her wrong.

Preaching, attacking and criticizing doesn’t work with me so how can it work with her?

  • She doesn’t see the positive things I do and my positive intentions and only focuses on what I did wrong. And, again, this keeps me from wanting to hear anything she says about how I am wrong so nothing changes. By honestly examining my approach I have realized that I have also focused my attention way too much on the most irking aspects of her mentality and demanded change without really coming from a place of appreciation, at least for her positive intentions.

I Remind Myself How Hard it Was for me to Change the Bad Habits I Managed to Change

I have become more aware of how my being pissed off at her lack of willingness to change is directly proportional to my lack of awareness of how much I still need to change and how hard it was for me to change and how many times I failed over and over and over again.

It is true that I have made some major changes in my life but 99% of my weaknesses are still lingering and I have not even scratched the surface of real change.

I have made huge changes, sure, for example I have developed healthy habits and lost tons of weight but it took me 25 years to pull it off.

So by becoming more aware of my weaknesses and how hard it was for me to change I take a more compassionate and less demanding approach

Always Come From a Place of Appreciation

If I view my wife as fundamentally flawed there is no hope so I force myself to dwell each day on at least 3 things I appreciate about her, as many relationship experts suggest, and I am doing it seriously, I do it first thing in the morning without missing a day.

In much the same way as the rich is getting richer because he is building on top of what he already possesses I can only expect positive outcomes if I see positive traits and positive intentions in my wife and I see her as fundamentally well-meaning and good rather than fundamentally flawed.

So this is what I want to share today about the insights I have had about how to get my wife to change.

I am not trying to come up with some sort of ultimate guide on how to get your partner to change, as I am still in the process of figuring it out for myself and I haven’t accomplished a lot as far as getting my wife to actually change some of the things I want her to change, but I have made a lot of mindset shifts that are helping me to look into the underlying reasons why it is so hard to get my wife to change and to get my mind around the idea that there are things that might never change and things that my wife must not necessarily change for me to be at peace.

 

What Women Want in a Man

The reason why I am addressing this topic is because I entered my relationship without having any clues about how relationships work and about how women think and what they really want.

I had to figure it out years down the road and this caused me a lot of unnecessary problems.

There is actually one thing I figured out before committing and that is that women are incredibly drawn to men who have plenty of options and don’t actually need a relationship to be happy.

I was that way at age 32, when I met the Filipina who 5 years later became my wife: getting married and setting up a family was the very last thing I wanted because my life was very very comfortable. I could afford to travel abroad up to three times a year, I was saving up for the future, I was engaged in a very rewarding international volunteer work and I had plenty of free time for my passions like hiking and a bunch of other things that were filling my life with a lot of pleasure.

So I was not really desperate about getting married, let alone having kids.

When I bumped into the woman whom I eventually married I basically told her that I liked her a lot but I didn’t want to give up my freedom.

What I started noticing was that the more I tried to push her away the more attractive I became which led me to draw my first conclusion about what women want in a man:

  • they want a man who is not needy and who has plenty of options

In other words they want a man whose life is much bigger than the relationship itself, a man who will not fall into the darkness of despair should his wife die or leave him, precisely because his life and life purpose are more than the relationship itself.

This was the first and only insight that I had about what women want in a man before even committing to my wife.

But apart from this early insight there a lot of things that I had to figure out by trial and error years down the road.

After only about one year of marriage, it became pretty obvious that I was not really meeting my wife’s needs.

I used to think that if I only could get my wife to give me a list of what she wanted then I would have given her everything she wanted on a silver platter.

I started to naively push my wife to spend long weekends together once in a while and I tried countless times, to no avail, to get her to use these opportunities to get clear about what we wanted from each other and I was suggesting to her to sit down and take pen and paper so that she would give me a list of what she really expected of me and I would do the same, such that we could get crystal clear about what we expected of each other.

This never happened (and never will).

  • I realized that women want their man to figure out what they want and they will never be the ones to give you a “grocery” list of the things they want so that you can effortlessly know what these things are and give them to her.

We did actually have plenty of long weekends together but I never managed during those weekends to get her to do what I thought was right, namely to get clear once and for all about what we both wanted and write it down on a “list”

So, after years of chasing my tail around in circles, the second conclusion I was able to draw about what women want in a man is that they want a man who has enough sensitivity to figure out for himself what they want and need. Directly asking them pushes them away.

Another insight that I have acquired is that for a woman

  • little things are more important than big ones

A little thing that drives my wife crazy, if I fail to do it, is that she wants me to always, and I mean always, close the lid of the toilet’s bowl no matter how early I wake up to go to work, how in a hurry I am because I have to rush to work and how many hours I need to work.

In my mind if I am making the huge sacrifice to get up early and support the family I can afford to neglect a little thing like closing the lid of the toilet’s bowl. Not so from the standpoint of my wife! The huge sacrifices I make for the family count for absolutely nothing if I fail to honor the little things that are important to her.

Another thing that, based on my experience, women want in a man is:

  • they want a man willing to give them emotional connection when they need it not when he is ready and they want a man who is willing to push aside even important things like necessary and urgent work

Last Friday night, for example, I received a very important WhatsApp message from a potential new client but, between 9 and 10 pm, I usually give my wife a massage. Well, she made it clear that in that moment the massage was more important than getting that new client…

  • Presence of mind: we got a new dog and my wife is trying hard to train this unruly dog and she needs me to watch if there is any cats around when we walk the dog but I forget and I forget and I forget and get distracted and she can’t stand it.
  • They want to be heard and they don’t want a man to give them solutions

and all the more so because my wife is Filipino.
She comes from a culture where men themselves don’t think in terms of solutions and are rather emotional so offering solutions to an emotional Filipina and trying to get her to think in rational terms when all she needs is emotional connection doesn’t work. It doesn’t work with a Filipina and I am assuming that it doesn’t work with women in general.

  • They don’t like when you measure what they blame on you against what they are doing wrong or in other words they hate it when you make them wrong in response to their lashing out.

They can make you wrong all day long but you are not supposed to mention a single thing they did wrong.

This is, more or less, the list of things that, based on my experience with a Filipino wife and on my personal judgement, women want in a man, or at least what my wife wants in a man, which, I assume, applies by extention to more or less all relationships.

I will create a part 2 of this post should I come up with more insights….

La mentalità filippina: “ningas kugon”

Tipica costruzione filippina con il tetto in “kugon”

Ningas Kugon significa più o meno “fuoco di paglia” ed è, fondamentalmente, la tendenza tipica dei filippini ad eccitarsi all’idea di un progetto per, forse, una settimana o due, al massimo pochi mesi.

I filippini gettano le fondamenta di un progetto, poi cambiano idea e gettano le fondamenta di un altro progetto.

Quindi, ad esempio, potrebbe accadere che la moglie filippina di un occidentale proponga al marito di trasferirsi con lei nelle Filippine, prospettandogli di investire in un’attività economica che servirebbe a sostenersi finanziariamente.

In seguito potrebbe cambiare idea e, forse, decidere di rimanere nel paese occidentale del marito (dopo aver speso un bel po’di soldi in un progetto che poi rimane lettera morta). Dopo un po’ ‘potrebbe riconsiderare di nuovo di andare per sempre nelle Filippine. Quindi ripensaci di nuovo.

Più spesso che no i filippini non hanno una missione di vita e una visione chiara. Intraprendono miriadi di progetti che svaniscono facilmente nel nulla e non si concretizzano.

A chi sposa una filippina questo potrebbe costare soldi inutili.

Ad esempio, circa 15 anni fa, mia moglie avviò una specie di mensa di fronte al Bulacan Agricultural State College e fece trasformare il piano terra della sua grande casa in una sorta di ostello per studenti universitari, perché dovevamo trasferirci lì per sempre.

Da allora c’è stata un’alternanza di momenti in cui voleva seguire quel progetto e momenti in cui sembrava essere più interessata a stare qui in Italia e (dopo 15 anni) non so ancora cosa succederà in futuro.

L’espressione ningas kugon descrive in modo appropriato questo tratto filippino: ningas significa sostanzialmente fuoco mentre kugon è fondamentalmente il materiale utilizzato per costruire il tetto di un bahay kubo (una tipica costruzione filippina in bambu) che è, essenzialmente, erba cogon, un tipo di materiale che si accende molto facilmente e, dopo poco si spegne.

Nel mondo occidentale siamo generalmente più inclini a fare piani a lungo termine e seguire tali piani mentre, come ho appena detto, la maggior parte dei filippini sono esattamente l’opposto.

Quindi, per chi fosse interessato a sposare una filippina, una delle tante cose da prendere in considerazione è il fatto che fare piani a lungo termine con una moglie filippina potrebbe rivelarsi estremamente difficile.

How to Experience “Real” Adventure in the Philippines

Driving in Manila is a real adventure

(I stumbled upon this old post that I had not categorized when I created it so I am reposting it)

The Philippines has so many remote islands, jungles, rough roads and so on that the opportunities to experience adventure at its peak are endless.

I’ve had the chance to visit remote parts of the Sierra Madre Mountains where there is not even a trail and where the NPA hide.

Yet, scuba diving, bungee jumping, driving a jeep on a rough road leading to some remote waterfall, hiking in a jungle etc are certainly not the only ways to experience adventure in the Philippines.

You don’t by any means need to go to some remote area to experience adventure: just try driving in Manila during rush hour (that in Manila practically means almost any hour) where cutting in lanes and tailgating is routine or even in the province where buses overtake cars or buses in a curve and you have to resort to your best driving skills to avoid a crash, or try walking alone in some slum area like Tondo or Quiapo (I’ve experienced Quiapo by night) and you will experience “adventure” in the real sense of the word.

But even more adventurous is being married to a Filipina as the various aspects of culture shock that I’ve abundantly touched on in this blog can turn your relationship into a real “adventure” that can cause other kinds of adventures like swimming among the sharks or hiking in a trail infested with cobras or pythons to pale in comparison.

You will find yourself dealing with mainit ang ulo, hinanakit and other highly emotional traits of Filipinos or moving on the razor’s edge of trying to budget your money while sending substantial amounts to relatives in the Philippines (not my situation but it can happen to some) who expect help and those things definitely qualify as “adventure”.

But if you are willing to view the bumps on the road, the challenges and the obstacles as an opportunity to step up emotionally your relationship with a Filipina will definitely offer you an opportunity for an exciting adventure, a ride second to none.

So here is my top five list of adventures one can experience in the Philippines:

  • Tondo by night
  • Quiapo by night
  • E.D.S.A. Avenue at rush hour
  • Your Filipina’s relatives who ask for money
  • Your Filipina’s mood when she is having buwanang dalaw (menstruation)

Have a great time in the Philippines!

Mabuhay!….or mamatay

My Perspective on the Car Culture in the Philippines

Traffic in Manila

Trapik and usok

I remember getting up one morning at 4 am to go from San Ildefonso, Bulacan to Tagaytay.

Here in Italy people get up that early to avoid being stuck in traffic and all you can find on the road at 4-4,30 am is few people who work night shifts and little more.

Sure enough, even in Bulacan, the National Highway was clear at 4,30 am and so was the North Luzon Expressway. But when we got to the toll gate and entered the E.D.S.A. Avenue……… naku po(gi) grabe ang trapik! (“my goodness, traffic was a heck of a mess”).

It took us more than 5 hours to make it to the South Luzon Expressway as traffic was not moving an inch on the EDSA but, once on the South Luzon Expressway traffic was smooth again and we made it relatively quickly to Lake Taal.

But why are cities and even much smaller towns in the Philippines so jammed with trapik?

One reason is certainly the cronic lack of adequate infrastructures but, as a foreigner married to a Filipina, my idea is that way too many Filipinos often use cars, tricycles and jeepneys unnecessarily.

The palengke of Barangay Pinaod where my wife is from is only situated less than 500 meters from my wife’s house and yet people would rather flag down a tricycle than walk.

My idea is that one of the root causes (besides of course lack of an adequate rail system) of the trapik and usok (“smog”) problem lies in the deep-seated car culture of Filipinos or, more in general, the sasakyan (any means of transportation) culture.

I am one of those who used not to have a car and I had no desire whatsoever to have one, I walk a lot and I love biking.

Yet, after marrying my Filipina, things changed for me because of the car culture of Filipinos (at least the ones I interact with).

I remember being repeatedly told by many of my Filipino friends “Italyano ka, bakit wala kang kotse?” (“You are an Italian, how come you don’t have a car?”). For them mayaman (“rich”…..well, I am not rich but many Filipinos here only have dealings with their rich employers and so in their mind all Italyano are mayaman or rich) equals dapat may kotse (“you have to have a car”) and if you don’t you are tanga (“very stupid”).

Not all Filipinos have a car here but the ones who don’t have one are simply the ones who, right now, can’t afford one but, as soon as they can, buying a car is their number one priority, also because here trains and buses don’t take you to every single corner of the city and you can’t avoid walking at least few hundred meters to get to the bus or metro stop and we don’t have any tricycle service here…

As for me, simply going out for a walk with my wife (as I used to do with my old friends) doesn’t compute, going out equals going to a restaurant (or anywhere else) always by car.

So the strong car culture of Filipinos (or sasakyan in general) and lack of willingness on the part of many to walk even a short distance is largely responsible, I guess, for much of the trapik and usok in the Philippines but it seems to me that wherever they go Filipinos carry the car culture with them.

I have noticed that there is a debate going on in the Philippines about modernizing jeepneys, some would like to modernize them, some resist the change, but modern jeepneys don’t have wings and can’t fly and, even if they introduced electric jeepneys they would still jam the roads.

And maybe building new skyways invites even more cars.

I am not an expert so I can’t suggest long-term solutions but I think kaunting lakad (“a little willingness to walk a bit more”) would help reduce usok and trapik at least to some extent.

As for me, the bright side is that I can at least rely on the diskarte (“ability to creatively fix things”) and the bayanihan spirit (“helping one in need”) of most of my Filipino friends to fix my car at almost zero-cost….

A Filipino friend of mine spent the whole afternoon fixing a few issues my car had and he didn’t even want any money….I had to insist to give him something

Are Westerners More Sincere than Filipinos?

A typical house compound where different family units belonging to the same extended family live

The “Culture Shock Philippines” book defines the Filipino culture as a culture that is “people oriented” while Western cultures tend to be more “goal oriented”.

So the question “are Westerners more sincere than Filipinos?” must be viewed in the light of the “people oriented” over “goal oriented” frame that Filipinos operate from in almost every situation.

I have already touched on this aspect in my article about the Filipino concept of sincerity and, again, I must give credit to the “Culture Shock Philippines” book by Alfredo and Grace Roces where I got this idea from that greatly helped me understand my wife’s psychology. https://buildingfilipinowesternbridges.com/2018/09/19/dealing-with-the-filipino-concept-of-sincerity/

The book says something along the lines of ‘a Westerner doesn’t hold back from telling it “as it is” if a CAUSE or a higher goal is at stake. For example a Western boss will likely not think twice before scolding a secretary for arriving late at work and even if she cries he will keep scolding her because the cause of punctuality is more important than her feelings and if she gets hurt so be it’.

Filipinos prefer keeping SMOOTH INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS and, more often than not, would rather sacrifice a cause than hurt somebody.

How does this knowledge affect your intimate relationship with a Filipina?

Often you have to put a “smooth relationship” with both her and her family above other goals and values.

For example, it might happen that your Filipina spouse will try to please both you and her extended family, even if this entails saying one thing to you and it’s opposite to her family, because SMOOTH INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS always take precedence, and I have seen it happening countless times.

So when your Filipina seems to be dealing with you in half-truths, as Filipinos often do, the question “are Westerners more sincere than Filipinos?” should be replaced with “how is she trying to move on the razor’s edge of trying to be both loyal to me and to her family or to other fellow Filipinos?”

Another thing to remember when the question “are Westerners more sincere than Filipinos?” arises in your mind is that probably us Westerners tend to be more straightforward in one to one relationships but in my country, as well as in most Western countries, politicians, business people, advertisers, car dealers and many others deal not just in half-truths but rather in plain lies.

Here in Italy politicians promise new jobs (like a former prime minister who promised 1,000,000 new jobs in few years), new infrastructures, better social welfare and lower taxes (which is a very tall order to fill, as social welfare is supported by tax payers) and many other things but once they secure for themselves their 12,000 € a month wage or above, all those promises turn out to be propaganda at most.

When you buy a second hand car here in Italy, car dealers or former owners sometimes lie on the actual mileage and some pass off cars with many miles as slightly used and mechanics sometimes do more repairs than what the car actually needs and if you don’t have some diskarte and have limited knowledge of how a car works, they will most likely cheat you (a mechanic tried to charge me 90€ to change two LPG filters that barely cost 10€ each).

So here in Italy, as well as in much of the Western world, people often deal in outright lies but often Westerners who interact with Filipinos get mad at their perceived lack of sincerity and so did I for many years.

Also the Tagalog language has a rather limited vocabulary to talk about such diverse concepts as “sincerity”, “faithfulness” and “loyalty” and, as I have pointed out in my article on the word tapat https://buildingfilipinowesternbridges.wordpress.com/2019/04/02/faithful-or-loyal-tapat-or-tapat/, they only have one word to talk about people who are merely “faithful” and those who are actually “loyal” (or people who show up as sincere without necessarily being truly loyal) and not just “faithful” and, therefore, the distinction between those diverse concepts is difficult to highlight in Tagalog.

So, sometimes, for the sake of being “faithful” (tapat) to everyone Filipinos may sacrifice being “loyal” (also tapat) to a higher cause. But that also happens in the West, it is just that we can be very good at saying things in somebody’s face in the name of loyalty to a higher cause like punctuality and so on but we are also very good at forgetting all about other higher causes (and even one to one sincerity for that matter) when money and self-interest are at stake.

So, are Westerners more sincere than Filipinos?

I have come to the conclusion that us Westerners, and particularly us Italians, have little to teach to Filipinos when it comes to sincerity.

Marrying a Filipina in the Philippines

My personal experience teaches me that, whenever possible, it is cheaper and easier to marry a Filipina in a Western country than it is to marry her in the Philippines.

The only instance in which your only option is to marry a Filipina in the Philippines is when she lives in the Philippines and there is no legal way to get her to a Western country.

If she lives in the Philippines and she doesn’t meet the requirements to get an entry visa to a Western country or she was a clandestine immigrant in your country and she got caught by the police and expelled, and therefore it is very unlikely to get her to return to your country in a legal way, your only option is to marry her in the Philippines.

Yet, based on my experience (both with the Italian and the Filipino bureaucracy) I’d say that the option to marry a Filipina in the Philippines can be complicated and, obviously, more expensive so, whenever possible it is much easier, if one has the chance to do so, to get legally married in a Western country and this can generally be done by either marrying one who already lives in the West (legally or illegally) or by finding the way to help her get a fiance or a tourist visa.

If a Filipina does live in a Western country as a clandestine immigrant, generally speaking it is not a problem to marry her.

Let’s say that undocumented Filipinos here in Italy (and Filipinos in general) are not viewed as a threat so it is highly unlikely that they get expelled, let alone physically deported (I mean put on a plane at the expenses of the government that can barely afford to deport those who pose a real threat).

Here in Italy marrying an undocumented Filipina is very easy and the authorities never ask an illegal foreigner to show her permit to stay in the country while going through the legal process of marrying a local citizen. All they need is their passport, their birth certificate and the certificate of singleness and that’s it, no one will ever impede the marriage if a Filipina is an illegal immigrant (which happens very rarely by the way here in Italy as most Filipino workers do have a permit to stay).

What about helping her to get an entry visa to your country to marry her where you are and avoid the hassle of going through the Filipino bureaucracy?

As far as I know, US citizens can bring their Filipino fiance to the US by means of a fiance visa but here in the E.U. this is apparently not possible.

As far as I know this kind of visa expires after 90 days which, I guess, is too short a period of time to get to know a Filipina properly, given all the things that a Westerner needs to weigh, like the relationship with the extended family, the fact that her relatives might need financial support, having or not having children and so on.

What’s possible here in the E.U., at least theoretically because European embassies are very strict when it comes to issuing Shengen visas, is to apply for a tourist visa, but that would also only be valid for 90 days.

So, getting a Filipina to a Western country either through a fiance visa or a tourist one to eventually marry her in a your country is the easiest way to avoid extra bureaucratic issues but it doesn’t give you much time to get to know her properly.

You can of course visit the Philippines multiple times as a tourist and go there back and forth multiple times, if you are retired or otherwise have no work obligations and have the money to do so, and that would, of course, give you more time to evaluate whether to marry her or not but for common mortals who need to work and cannot take much vacation time this can be hard.

If a Filipina was expelled from a Western country or there is otherwise no legal way to get her to come to a Western country to get married, the option to marry a Filipina in the Philippines is the only one available.

As I’ve said earlier, marrying my wife here in Italy proved to be a very easy, cheap and straightforward process.

Marrying her in the Philippines would have been way more complicated for me.

The main reason, at least based on my personal experience, why it can be very difficult (or even impossible in some cases) to marry a Filipina in the Philippines is because the Philippine Government requires all foreigners to provide a “Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage” from the embassy of the country where you come from and in some countries (like mine) this certificate is not easy to get.

This certification affirms that there are no legal impediments to the foreigner marrying a Filipino.

I have read somewhere that the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines provides U.S. citizens the opportunity to sign an “Affidavit In Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage,” a self-certification that the U.S. citizen is free to marry in the Philippines.

The Italian Embassy does not provide the opportunity to sign said affidavit and, as a result, an Italian who goes to the Philippines to marry a Filipina in the Philippines has to get there already having that certificate.

The big problem is that very few government officials here in Italy know that this kind of certificate even exists.

After having been told by the Italian Embassy in Manila that, if I wanted to get married in the Philippines (an option that I was considering at that time), I had to produce the Certificate of Legal Capacity, I went to the local town hall asking for the certificate and they said “what is that? We have never heard of that!”.

I called back the Italian Embassy explaining the situation but they insisted that there would have been no way for me to get married in the Philippines without that certificate.

I went to the town hall multiple times and I even, eventually, bumped into an official who admitted that he had heard about that document but his colleague (the one in charge) just didn’t want to help, she maintained that they have never issued that kind of certificate, they knew nothing about it and therefore there was nothing she was willing to do to help.

So, the bottom line is that I had to discount the possibility to go to the Philippines to marry a Filipina, namely my wife. I could have hired a lawyer and eventually found the way to get that certificate but that seemed to be too much of a hassle.

I did everything in Italy and it cost me nothing, the legal process was fast and smooth and I didn’t have to produce any “Certificate of Legal Capacity”, just my passport, birth certificate and few other things.

So, if you choose to marry a Filipina in the Philippines because there is no other legal way to do it in your country, before getting too emotionally involved, make sure that your country’s bureaucracy doesn’t get in the way and that you can easily get all the papers that the government of the Philippines requires.

Also make sure that, if she was previously married, her previous marriage was legally annulled (there is no divorce in the Philippines, there is only the possibility to annul the marriage).

So, before exploring the possibility to marry a Filipina in the Philippines, consider first (in my opinion and based on my personal experience as an Italian) if there is a possibility to avoid going through all the complicated bureaucracy and get her to your country and marry her there and only, as a last resort, do it in the Philippines.

Getting married in Italy was no-cost and easy for me.

Of course I don’t know the bureaucracy of each Western country so you’ll have to find out for yourself depending on where you live.

Marrying a Filipina is already a challenging experience, it can turn out to be an amazing relationship but there are many cultural challenges that are going to arise, so I recommend avoiding unnecessary legal complications if possible.

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.

Acceptance vs Tolerance in an Interracial Intimate Relationship

Few days ago I wrote an article about the role of acceptance in an interracial marriage.

Some Westerners who marry Filipinas (or who otherwise interact long-term with Filipinos for some other reasons) begin to shoot upon the reality that they themselves have willingly chosen to embrace, or as the “Culture Shock Philippines” book puts it, develop a frustrated and antagonistic attitude and live “marching to the beat of a different drummer in a place where there are no drums” thereby feeling ill at ease.

The only cure is acceptance and almost all relationship experts talk about it.

But what does acceptance really entail in an interracial intimate relationship?

Many Westerners who marry a Filipina probably go through the process of getting to know her without seriously weighing their readiness to deal with the inevitable culture shock that is going to show up before long.

What makes things trickier in a relationship with a Filipina is what the above mentioned book says in the introduction: “the elements that produce culture shock for the foreigner…are often extremely subtle and microscopic. Only upon accumulation does the full impact reach the bone”.

In other words the real magnitude of culture shock is hard to discern in the early stages of the relationship and so many Westerners go through the relationship underestimating the challenges that lay ahead and perhaps thinking “I’ll figure out how to deal with it somewhere down the road” and, sure enough, because it is not quite that simple to “figure it out somewhere down the road”, a culture shock that they didn’t quite anticipate hits hard and they find themselves ill-equipped for it and many react by putting on an antagonistic attitude.

The Filipino culture is filled with things that create friction in a long-term relationship with a Westerner, and in my blog I have abundantly mentioned many of them, from the bahala-na approach to things, that Westerners view as serious, to the relationship with the extended family and many others.

Yet, a Westerner may seek out relationship advice and stumble upon this nice concept of “acceptance” that may appear a little outlandish at first but it kind of begins to make sense as one dwells on it and tries to figure out why it is important.

So a Westerner may go: “I have made my mistake there is nothing I can do to change this situation I don’t like but I care about the relationship so I’ll find the way to accept the unacceptable and tolerate bahala-na, the role of the extended family etc”.

But you see, this is not acceptance: what you are doing here is you are tolerating and showing resignation”.

You are no longer “bashing the environment that you have chosen to inhabit” openly but you are still doing it in your thoughts and that is everything but acceptance.

Real acceptance, the only kind of acceptance that can make a relationship like this work, is when you figure out ways to appreciate what’s positive about the things you are just trying to tolerate.

Maybe you are a staunch saver while your Filipina has this bahala-na or casual and easygoing approach to money and you can’t stand it, what could you possibly appreciate in this kind of scenario? Maybe your Filpino wife’s spontaneity and enjoyment of life and her greater ability to enjoy the moment compared to us Westerners.

In my experience what really got me to figure out ways to develop real appreciation for things that I would have done much differently, had I never married a Filipina, was commitment and the idea that marriage is sacred and that it has to work no matter what.

It has been nicely said: “if you must you can”. What is a must happens while shoulds rarely happen.

Commitment may sound like a far-fetched, outlandish and wishy-washy woo-woo concept in our modern culture where marriage is viewed as nothing more than a trial period.

Yet the idea that the “two will become one flesh” and that what has been “yoked together” should not be unyoked is, in my experience, the most powerful driving force to look for ways to get past culture-shock and embrace loving acceptance, a kind of acceptance that is not mere tolerance or resignation.

After all many who scoff at the idea of commitment in marriage commit to other things like financial goals and chase after these goals with a pitbull-like attitude because they view these things as musts.

I’ve found out that a similar attitude is vital in an intimate relationship and all the more so in an interracial one.

I’ve found out that the One who created the marriage arrangement knows better and that if you operate from the idea that “you must” you definitely can successfully work your way through massive culture-shock and find countless ways to appreciate what you can’t stand or barely tolerate and make your interracial marriage a success.