I’m not sure what it is about being married but it seems that to my friends, at least, my wife and I are resource persons in the art of building and maintaining long and stable relationships. I guess being together for eight years will do that to you.There was one point I thought of breaking up with my then-girlfriend, just because I thought I would be better off starting over again with anyone else. “Don’t do it,” advised my friend, Des. “Why give up something you already have for something that you want when they’re both the same thing?”
Personally, I don’t think that it’s true (us being relationship gurus), our relationship being as complex, rocky, and unstable as any other. My friends have saved my relationship more times than I can count (mostly by knocks on the head). I’m just as lost as any guy with a girlfriend.
“I don’t feel like we’re married,” said Wifey while on the way home from school one day.
“Why’d you say that?” I said with a chuckle. After all, we had been married for the better part of a year when she blurted it out.
“I still feel like you’re my boyfriend and not my husband.”
“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”
“I don’t know. I feel like nothing’s changed since we got married.”
“That’s good, because if you do feel like we’re married then our marriage is in trouble.”
If there’s one thing I’m scared of in marriage, it’s that we get stuck in that married family rut, where we stick to our own corners of the house, and pretend that the other doesn’t exist. It’s happened before and it almost ruined our relationship.
“I know. At least we’re not stuck in a rut,” and having said so, she leaned on my shoulder.
And so it came to pass that late one night (pretty close to morning actually), I got a message on my phone from one our closest friends in class, Kat.
“How do you know if you’re in love?” (translated from text speech)
Kat just happens to be a charter member of NBSB, SSB, SMV, and all these associations that deal with not being able to relate to people in relationships just because she hasn’t been in one. Ever.
At any rate, you don’t expect questions like these from someone who’s more machine than law student, especially at 4 in the morning.
So I call her.
“Do you expect me to answer your question with a TEXT MESSAGE?” I’m almost screaming, but not quite.
“Quite frankly, yes.” I can swear she’s smiling on the other end.
“Life is not a Question-and-Answer corner in Candy or Cosmopolitan, Kat. It depends on what you mean by ‘love’. If you mean like what my wife and I have, it takes years before you can have a definite answer, if only because we all have to go through that icky goo-goo eyes phase.”
Goo-goo eyes. Not to be confused with the pop-rock band that sang the love theme to City of Angels. It’s when you do nothing but swoon over the object of your dreams, now that you know that you’re the object of their dreams too. Nothing you can do and nothing he/she/it can do can ruin how you feel. Nothing, that is, except time. Eventually, time will turn this “love” into “hate”, and then you’ll regret ever thinking that you chose to spend the rest of your life with that someone. It’s when you still choose to love that person in spite of that hate, that’s when you know you love someone.
“Well, in that case, how did you know?” Oh my. Kat’s treating this scientifically, as if you can explain love in empirical terms.
“I knew I loved my wife when I could stand her hair on the bathroom drain.”
Chammy called the other night, ecstatic.
“Kiko, Kiko, Kiko, KIKO!!! You’ll never guess what happened!”
“What is it? Did you finally have lesbian sex?”
“You asshole. It’s bigger than that! I’m finally over HIM! He’s a jerk! I can move on with my life now!”
Him would be Mike. Mike is an advertising copywriter who was Chammy’s main squeeze when they were both in high school. I say main squeeze because Chammy squeezed many men in high school, until she met Mike. To use a phrase, Mike made an honest woman out of Chammy.
Sadly, old habits die hard.
It wasn’t long before Chammy slept with another guy behind Mike’s back. Since Mike and Chammy went to a small high school, it wasn’t long before the fit hit the shan. In the end, Mike decided he’d had enough, that he just couldn’t trust her anymore, and so they broke up.
In the ordinary course of things, that would’ve been the end of the story but since Mike was the first guy Chammy ever figured she loved, she’s always kept Mike on a pedestal. It’s funny that way because even though she’s been through more men than the Arabs have numbers, she could never have that perfect man. Until the other night, that is.
“He’s such a jerk! First off he calls me, saying he wants to talk to me because his girlfriend just broke up with him, crying and all that shit, but what he really wanted was for me to give him a mercy fuck! The nerve!”
A mercy fuck, by definition for the unitiated, is when a woman has sex with a man just because she feels sorry for him.
(Only men, I think, would resort to such cheap tactics but women have been reported to do the same.)
Anyway, I’d been trying to convince Cham for the past three years or so that Mike was just as bad as the next guy, that he couldn’t be as good as she made him out to be. I don’t know whether it was denial on her part or whether she just couldn’t let go of the picture she had of Mike in her brain, but through the years, she’d still sing his praises even though she’d become something of a meantime girl to him.
Hence the call.
“I’m so happy, Kiko. He’s obviously SO not the person I thought he was. He’s just as sick as the next guy! I’m so free! We need to go out and drink! I’ll pay for your beer. I’m that HAPPY.”
“Does Karl know?” Karl is Chammy’s boyfriend of over two years.
“Of course not, silly.”
“I’m hungry,” I told my wife at four in the morning last night.
“What do you want?”
“Anything that’s there, as long as it’s ready to cook. Eggs, if we still have any.”
“You sure? You’ll die of a heart attack one of these days. That’s your third egg already.”
“I need my protein. Staying awake late and all that.”
I’m sure I’m forgetting something, I just don’t know what it is. As I stare at the empty and unplugged water cooler, it becomes glaringly obvious.
“Do we have anything to drink?”
“Nothing. If you want any Coke, you’ll have to buy it from the Mini-Stop downstairs. Do you have money?”
“No. The money’s with you.”
It’s the third time we’ve done this ritual in three days. I hope it doesn’t qualify as a rut. It feels very couple-y, though. I just don’t know if it feels husbandy-wifey.
“Here. Go downstairs and buy Cherry Cokes. Be quick.”
“Do we have enough money?”
“Not if you get your photocopy subsidy tomorrow morning.”
We could go into a fight about how we’ve been dipping our hands into the photocopy fund pretty often lately, or how insufficient our funds always seem to be, or how we always seem to be fighting or worrying or arguing about money, but we don’t. It’s too tiring to argue. We’re already stressed out enough as it is.