July seems to have been the wedding month of the year for us, having flown to Manila for a destination wedding in Tagaytay a day before flying out to San Francisco then back to Singapore for another wedding.
In light of this love month, I though I’d write a marriage-related post. I’m not going to wax being an expert and all that jazz, but, when asked, there is one bit of advice I always share with people before tying the knot:
Learn to be alone and live alone.
Having lived in a family-oriented society like the Philippines, it is the norm for everyone to live with their parents until they get married. More so, it is still common for people to be married and still live with parents.
When I was 25, I moved out and lived on my own — alone.
And when I say on my own, I refer to absolute financial independence and everything that comes with it — chores, bills, rent, housekeeping, the works. This was considered highly unconventional and is still so until today. Back home, some people might “cheat” about their independence by having their nannies come over and cook for them and store stuff in the freezer good for a week.
Whenever I used to tell people that I lived on my own, I got the following questions:
1. WHY? (By the way, this “why” will morph into another question when they find out that you’re over 30 and single, and that you’ve been married for four years and still have no kids)
2. How can you live without a helper?
3. Does your mom pay the rent?
My answers to the same questions are as follows:
1. Why not?
2. Because I live my life like other regular people on this planet.
3. My mom stopped paying for everything once I was done with university.
Based on the statistics on WordPress, it might seem that a good majority of my readership might find this post rather mundane but really, moving out as a “young”, single person back is not regular practice and will most likely be met with a few questions.
But what does this have to do with marriage? Simply this.
As a child, we lived with our parents. We grow up, we still live with our parents. Then we get married and we live with our spouse, and sometimes with one or the others’ parents. Where is there actual room for only our self? To some, the concept is unnecessary and I do not wish to impose anything on anyone. But this is my own personal journey and it is my own enlightenment which might come in handy to the right people.
When we get married, our time is no longer ours, space is shared and roles may need to be played out. When there are children, life will revolve around babies and children while juggling responsibilities as a wife, and/or career. I think having lived with yourself can benefit a life-long partnership.
There are merits from that sacred circle I created for myself as a single woman who carved a life for herself:
A sense of industry, and accountability for choices I made.
I found my own groove and circumstances were simply on my own terms.
I owned my time and space.
I discovered my own voice, found my feet and learned to have faith.
I dealt with silence and learned to live with the company of myself.
The wedding is not the marriage, where things are covered in falling petals and we walk around to our own personal soundtrack. When things don’t go our way, there is less need to whine, bawl our eyes out and feel sorry for ourself over what could otherwise be a trivial matter.
To live with yourself gives you a chance to trust yourself a little bit better because you know for a fact that things do pass and when they do, you will still be okay. We can bring a little more of ourselves into the marriage and in return, learn to respect the space of the other.
That golden moment I experienced after having lived on my own is something I can smile about, and it’s time and opportunity I can never buy back.
But most of all, I learned to be my own self and know myself a little bit better. It’s not a guarantee of anything better but to have this nugget of wisdom in my heart is hopefully one of many great gifts I can, perhaps, bring into a marriage.