Advice to Young Married Couples
When the daughter of a friend announced that she will be getting married and chose as her principal wedding sponsors two members of our drinking dabarkads* but not me, I was a little hurt. Actually, since there were only four guys in our group to choose from, it was pretty painful. Hahaha. [*dabarkads – a mutation of the word barkada referring to the group of friends who arrived on the same boat]
I guess I’m not the type of person that people readily think of as a good Ninong, which just tells you that people really don’t know anything. For the information of all concerned, I give the absolute best wedding presents. I may not give Christmas gifts or pasalubong but I take godfather duties very seriously. Plus—and here’s the biggie—all the couples who did make me their wedding sponsor remain happily married to this day. Granted, I have been Ninong on only a handful of occasions, but a 100% batting average is hard to argue with. If you truly mean your vows, shouldn’t you surround yourselves with people who will help you keep them? Just asking.
But I am not one to hold a grudge. I wish the young bride and groom all and only the best; and as proof, even if I am under no obligation to do so as I was not considered godparent material, I would like nonetheless to share with them today one of my most valuable pieces of advice—
Beware the question “What do you want to eat tonight?”
You have just entered the Twilight Zone! Nothing is as it seems. It may sound innocuous, even solicitous, but it is an inquiry fraught with danger. Think about it. Countless boyfriend-girlfriend relationships and mutual understandings have been wrecked by this query and the failure to answer correctly. Boy “A” had his heart set on Shakey’s pizza when Girl “D” said she wanted to go to El Comedor. Or, maybe Petra felt like having mangga’t bagoong while Juan-Carlos, who had recently learned the meaning of “pikot”, could only think of drinking beer. What choice did these incipient couples have but to break up?
You may argue that, One, in the context of Philippine marriages, however, divorce is still not allowed and, therefore, the dangerous dinner question can be asked without serious consequences; and, Two, it is not unfair to assume that married couples have passed a certain threshold of compatibility that would make the subject question less likely to cause problems. I would counter that the previous run-on sentence is simply stupid and a waste of reading time.
We really only have to consider the following theoretically true-to-life exchanges:
Loving Wife: Ano’ng gusto mo kainin, Darleng?
Hapless Husband: Nilagang baboy, Dee.
Loving Wife: At saan ako kukuha ng baboy? Ha? Ano ako? Magician? Sana kung may trabaho ka, makakabili ako ng lahat ng masasarap na ulam na hinahanap mo pero tulog ka lang naman ng tulog buong araw ‘tapos naglalasing ka sa gabi. At parang hindi mo alam na hindi healthy ang baboy! Lalung-lalo na sa mga baboy na kagaya mo . . .
Young Wife: What do you want to eat tonight, Sweetie, chicken or beef?
Clueless Husband: Fish.
Young Wife: Arghh. (grips knife tightly)
Thoughtful Husband: Where do you want to eat tonight?
Thought-less Wife: Ewan.
Thoughtful Husband’s Thought Balloon: Ayayayayay
Caring Wife: What do you want eat tonight?
Careful Husband: Whatever you want.
Shouting Wife: I’m asking YOU!!
Take it from me, kids. Patience is a virtue. Communication is key. Food conquers all. And love means always having to say you’re sorry. Sometimes you can look into each other’s eyes and know that tonight is taco night. No questions asked. Other times, despite the four-bar cellular, wi-fi, Bluetooth and infrared signals bouncing around your house, you can’t seem to get in synch. Your stomach snakes crave something savory, while her taste buds scream for sweetness. You want to honor your Spanish heritage, but she feels like Japanese. You need carbs, but she’s gone keto.
As I said, be wary of the big question. There is no right answer. Silence is a possible answer but it’s wrong, too. After you screw up, all you can do is continue the conversation. You keep trying. And you accept that in marriage there are problems that have no solutions. You simply have to want to stay together so much that it does not matter.
[To my nephew Jon and my new niece Eve, remember: It’s the principle of the thing.]