Marriage and Family
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
Is Marriage less valued today or it is just viewed differently?
“Marriage and the way we view it today, differs greatly from the past. We no longer have to be married to be a family. Our views and opinions on marriage and its meaning have changed considerably. Marriage isn’t necessarily less valued, it’s just viewed differently”.[i]
My childhood –
I remember when I was growing up, I have seen in the eyes of my father the love for my mother. It was not about touching each other in front of us their children. It was more than that. It was about care, respect and thoughtfulness. We are a family of ten people in a household of a small house with one bedroom which was assigned to my parents. All of us their children slept in the living room or we call it “sala”. Filipino language is a derivative of Spanish language, by the way.
In the evening after supper of rice and fish, my mother, as a routine would spread the mat made of dried leaves woven together. This mat is very good in the tropics because the temperature is warm. The mat provides a cool feeling to the body. My mother would line up our own personal pillow and she would start to count if everyone was in. These are one of the many priceless moments in my life that I treasure in my heart.
My growing up years –
As we grow older, the carrying cost of a large family put a great toll on my father. My mother who has basic learning in sewing asked my father if she could learn a bit more of the fundamentals of sewing so she could help out in the growing needs of the family.
I realized now, that my being an accountant (CPA)[ii] is not that much of a difference from my mother who was an became tailor. She had helped father in sending us to school by her new found “career”. I really admire my parents especially my father who has to his credit, elementary level of education equivalent to the grade sixth level. Yet, from my father I learned to memorize by heart, “The Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln[iii] in my sixth grade. My love of reading comes from my father. In the household where money was scarce, books were the least in the budget so to speak. Yet, any material that my father could take hold, he brought to the house and we took turn in reading. When electricity has not reached our household yet, my father and I would share a light from a single candle, he on the one side of the table, I on the other side, reading books that mostly very worn out and could have passed a thousand hands and eyes yet knowing that the knowledge and the wisdom in that book were still the same and did not diminish. At midnight, my mother would tell us to go to sleep for tomorrow is yet another day to tackle on.
My household responsibility –
As the second in a brood of eight and the eldest of the five girls, the domestic chore was on my shoulder. At thirteen, my job every Saturday was to take out the kapok[iv] cotton that were our pillows, washed the cases, and in the afternoon put the kapok cotton back in the case for a week of usage. These were about twenty pillows to washed, and putting back the kapok cotton was not simple. I have to sew the edges of the case because in those days zipper was expensive. Washing machine was unheard of, then. Even until now, with the rising cost of the electricity, you seldom see a household with a washing machine. The truth is, until today, I love to see clothes hanging in the clothes line under the sun.
Not a perfect household –
Just like any household, ours was not perfect. We kids had our own misconduct sometimes, yet the values that we have seen in our parents always put us in place. Our parents disagreed once in a while, or may have fought every now and then.
One day, my father, after receiving his salary envelop for the week with a five peso bill inside, (this was the minimum amount you will received if your salary was less than any deductions for advances or anything), he picked up a salary envelop of another worker that could have slipped from the man’s purse or bag. When it was so tempting to keep the salary envelop to himself for he knew that the five pesos in his pocket will only last a day, he turned in the envelop to the proper authority. I am proud to say, that these traits in my father, honesty, can be seen and felt in us his children today. I am not surprised when I observed these traits in my kids too. I always believe that what we have seen and observed in the formative years of our lives have a great impact in our behavior in our adult lives.
The Traditional Society where my parents lived –[v]
What happened then to my own marriage, (I am a separated mother of two) as compared to the married life of my own parents. My father and mother got married a little after the World War II. In fact, the money that was used in the wedding ceremony of my parents, was the war damaged money[vi] paid for by the government of Japan to the residents of the Philippines. They were very young then, my mother could be in her eighteen and my father in his twenties. I have seen how successful through my own eyes, how successful the married life of my father and mother. In fact, I inherited from my mother how to be a good homemaker and from my father how to be a good provider.
What went wrong with my own marriage -?
How then, with everything in order; there was money to run the household, a comfortable house to lived on, kids went to good school, my own marriage failed.
My mother stayed in the house to take care of us. It was not easy to run a household of eight children where money was scarce, if none at all, where as I, was receiving a fat check every pay day. My job then requires a lot of extra time in the office, so I need to hire a helper in the house. Not one but more than one to compensate my absence in the house. What happened to my own marriage?
The Industrial Society in which I live –[vii]
In my time, I spent four hours or more driving, to go to the office which was like thirty six kilometers away. Not far, in fact very near if not for the on-going construction of the South Luzon Express Way[viii] that went on for years. By the time I reached the house the kids were fast asleep. Everyone had their dinner and I had my own dinner on the way home, or, I have eaten my dinner somewhere.
My own family lives in the industrial society as compared to the traditional society during my parent’s time. Industrial it is. The kids got their own gadgets of technology in the early years of their lives compared to what we had in my time. Barbie doll[ix] was to my daughter Melissa, while paper cut doll was for me when I was her age. Looking back, the joy of cutting old newspaper to make a paper doll with friends, was the most enlightening moments of our teenage lives. While doing this, we shared stories about our cute crush that happened to pass by. These stories are told in hushed tones so nobody could hear especially our mothers, most importantly our fathers. Now a day’s boys and girls meet in the internet, set a date and instantly engaged in the global view of everyone.
In the Sociological perspective – my marriage was a good example of a stable marriage –
To the Functionalist perspective[x] my own marriage was more stable than my parents. It had the six basic needs for the survival in a society.
- Economic production – having two pay checks in a family has a lot more advantage in just one.
- Socialization of children – my kids were involved in every activity in school or outside of school.
- Care of the sick and aged – money was not a problem then, I took advantage of it and in my medical insurance I have included my father and my mother as my added beneficiaries.
- Recreation – we are on every get together, outdoor party, weekend gathering with friends and families. All of us in the family have our own bikes.
- Sexual control – the marital sex was in order
- Reproduction – I have two children, Martin and Melissa.
My parent’s marriage had none except for sexual control and reproduction, yet their marriage lasted a life time. Why then, after ten years, my marriage failed?
The Conflict Perspective[xi] – Struggles between husbands and wives – There came to the point in time that my husband and I did not speak to each other anymore. I did not realize it, but a lot of water has gone under the bridge; the truth is, most were my own mistakes, errors and doings. In the struggle of everyday living, the most important thing, I missed out. The dinner time, the bed time of the kids, helping their homework,
( I hired a good teacher for this), just a simple family conversation, I missed to do. During those times, I could be in the office trying to balance the books, could be with some friends hanging around after a day of hard work waiting for a break in the traffic, or just trying to beat other drivers in the very crowded highway going home.
Could be parenthood put a toll on my marriage -?
In my Sociology book, after the first childbirth, the woman has experienced decrease in marital satisfaction.[xii] I can say I was one of them. After Martin was born, he was the center of everything. Even the baby carriage was inside our room. I could not bear to think of my son in another room without somebody to check on him. The carriage was on my side of my bed where I can checked on his breathing every now and then. I wanted to make sure, my son is still breathing while I am sleeping.
Use of databases to study what happened to my marriage –
In The Social Ecology of Marriage and Other Intimate Unions – framework of marriage:[xiii]
- Society – how the couples function in a society they belong, that marriage is an interpersonal system and must be seen and viewed as a small group.
- The individual spouses – the psychosocial and the physical attributes of each individual which shape their individual and collective efforts to maintain a successful union.
- The marriage relationship – the behavior of the couple; that the individual couple and the marriage itself are dynamic, they as a couple evolve overtime.
My husband is eleven years older than I. I like older men. The problem started when he decided to retire early and stayed home. All of a sudden, I went home alone in the evening. On the other hand, when there was an over load of work, this was kind of a release for me. He did not have to wait for me. While in the house, he took care of the kids. I was relieved. He still had our baby sitter/housekeeper to assist. Without our knowing, the space between us just grew farther and farther apart. ”Parenthood not only changes the extent and nature of the time spouses spend with each other, it also affects how frequently they pursue activities with friends and kin.” (Social Ecology of Marriage and Other Unions)[xiv]
“Both the Wide-Angle View of Marriage and a close up lens maybe used to create a rich, comprehensive portrait of a marriage relationship. The use of a wide-angle lens brings macro behavioral patterns into view and shows how couples spend their time together and apart. The use of a close up lens brings into focus micro behavioral patterns – the details of husband-wife interaction.” (Social Ecology of Marriage and other Unions.[xv]
On the wide-angle lens, I can say that ours did not show a good view. We did not spend more time together anymore and more so, I wanted to spend more time with my friends. On the close up lens, worse, we did not speak with each other anymore, we were not angry at each other. It’s just that on my part, there was nothing to talk about.
On Marriage and Love by Emma Goldman – I quote a paragraph by the author in her definition of marriage:[xvi]
“Marriage is primarily an economic arrangement, an insurance pact. It differs from the ordinary life insurance agreement only in that it is more binding, more exacting. Its returns are insignificantly small compared with the investments. In taking out an insurance policy one pays for it in dollars and cents, always at liberty to discontinue payments. If, however, a woman’s premium is a husband, she pays for it with her name, her privacy, her self-respect, her very life, “until death doth part”. Moreover, the marriage insurance condemns her to life-long dependency, to parasitism, to complete uselessness, individual as well as social. Man, too, pays his toll, but as his sphere is wider, marriage does not limit him as much as a woman. He feels his chains more in an economic sense.”
I am not sure where I stand in this statement because no matter what happened in my married life, I am still an incurable romantic. I hope that one day, I can get out of this chain and find my own happiness whatever it is /whoever he is.
In the US where divorce is allowed, the rate of the divorce rate has doubled in the last twenty years. On the outset, we may tend to believe that marriage is not important anymore, but looking more closely, couples just wanted to get out of a poor relationship and opting for better ones. In the past divorce was frowned upon, and couples were expected to carry on regardless of whether they are happy or not.[xvii] In the Philippines, divorce is not allowed. For some Filipinos, this is acceptable. Most Filipinos are self sacrificing people . This is especially so, when there are children involved. On my part, I am guilty yet relieved. I believed it worked both ways for us. I am not saying that another relationship will be a better one. I am not in a position to say that now. Or could be that remaining the way I am now is a better option.
In the traditional society where the marriage of my parents belonged to, their partnership was strong, in contrast to my own weak marriage under the industrial society.
Is it then the condition of the society around us that helps make or break my own marriage or is it nature’s way of love fading away after sometime that breaks up a marriage? I don’t know.
Is it also possible I did not value more my own marriage to give way to the demands of the Industrial Society in which I live? Or, I viewed my marriage as not a promising one and I followed my instinct and retreated from the relationship? I don’t know.
What I know, I have two beautiful children, Martin 26 and Melissa 22 “living” with me.
[v] Sociology A Down to Earth Approach – Marriage and Family by James M. Henslin
[vii] Sociology A down to Earth Approach – Marriage and Family by James M. Henslin
[x] Sociology A Down to Earth Approach – Marriage and Family by James M. Henslin
[xi] Sociology A Down to Earth Approach – Marriage and Family by James M. Henslin
[xii] Sociology A Down to Earth Approach – Marriage and Family by James M. Henslin
[xiii] The Social Ecology of Marriage and Other Intimate Unions by Ted L. Huston, source Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol 62, No.2 (May, 2000), pp. 298-320
[xiv] [xiv] The Social Ecology of Marriage and Other Intimate Unions by Ted L. Huston, source Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol 62, No.2 (May, 2000), pp. 298-320
[xv] [xv] The Social Ecology of Marriage and Other Intimate Unions by Ted L. Huston, source Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol 62, No.2 (May, 2000), pp. 298-320
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