8 Years and Counting

My wife wrote the sweetest lines on my Facebook homepage today. Turns out, hundreds of posts flooding my page from different friends can’t drown these 4 simple lines:

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If that does not bring “butterflies in your stomach”, give you “goosebumps”, or “make your heart beat faster than normal” if you are myself, I don’t know what is!

I am first to admit that when I got married I wasn’t (with absolute certainty) sure why I was getting married. My heart was in the right place but I didn’t really understand the real purpose of a marriage. How could I really? I had no idea what was going to come our way or how we would handle it. I thought I was tough enough to endure anything by myself.

8 years later I have a whole different perspective on why marriage exists.

In the first 8 years we have been married we have had more than our fair share of change. We have changed jobs, friends have come and gone, we have battled serious health issues and been heartbroken when loved ones have died, and so much more.

Today, we woke up married for 2,921 days in a row. Some good days and some bad days. More good than bad because I had her to help me. Although our personalities are wildly different, she is my biggest fan, quietly cheering me on and supporting me every single day. Marriage brings out who you really are. Sometimes it’s not very pretty. You can only be narcissistic for so long before you get called out on it. Marriage is like being in therapy every single day. You are constantly improving and striving for better from yourself and out of the relationship. As I reflect on the last 8 years, I am proud of how far we have come and how much we have grown as a married couple.

In 8 years we have changed together and as individuals. We try our hardest  to exert an effort to stay engaged with these changes because no amount of guessing or assuming can prepare you for how your spouse will actually be through any storms that you go through in your marriage relationship.

Through all the times of uncertainty, discontent and disappointment the only thing that remained constant was my wife. That was my light bulb moment. That’s why marriage exists. Life is sweeter when you have someone to help you get through it. Together. To witness your life, to keep you strong when you don’t think you can be, to keep you grounded when you’re flying high, to tackle decisions from all angles.

Someone that will remind you when you are lying in bed in a dark room crying your eyes out about some heartbreaking failure, hurtful mistake or regrettable moment in life, and being one with you, she’ll hold your hand and tell you she is sad and affected too. Which truly brings you to the truth that life isn’t always about you, luckily when you’re married it’s about someone else too.

P.S.: This post is dedicated to my wife and to all those people out there who were blessed with someone to walk with in life.

Love is a Choice

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My wife and I have known each other since early college years, but didn’t date until much later towards graduation. She has her eyes set on someone else as was also I.

Yet the moment we catches each other’s attentions, we had only dated a couple of weeks before we realized that we were madly in love and started making major life plans together. And since then, it has been a crazy blend and mixture of smooth-sailing and roller coaster ride types of relationship between the two of us unto the day of our marriage. On and off relationship, countless disputes and quarrels, so many memorable traveling experiences, emergency situations, family occasion and social gatherings – all assortments  of good and bad things that could possibly happen in a relationship.

Lately, my wife and I had this “conversation” about how we now “see” and consider each other respectively. And by “see” I mean Love. Do we still love each other as much as we did earlier in our relationship and into our marriage?

The more I think about this type of conversation the more I’ve come to realize that loving someone—or choosing to love someone—is actually (at times) an extremely challenging yet the most beautiful thing about Love.

I’ve heard it said that real love is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person.

It’s true.

When all the butterflies have fluttered away and your wedding day becomes a distant memory, you will discover that you’ve married someone who is just as imperfect as you. And they, in turn, will come to learn that you have problems, insecurities, struggles, quirks—and body odor—just as real as theirs!

Then you will realize that real love isn’t just a euphoric, spontaneous feeling—it’s a deliberate choice—a plan to love each other for better and worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health. Of course, you don’t choose who you’re attracted to, but you definitely choose who you fall in love with and (more importantly) who you stay in love with.

Our society places a lot of emphasis on feelings. It teaches us to be spontaneous about love. We are taught that we should always follow our feelings and do whatever makes us happy. But feelings are very fickle and fleeting. Real love, on the other hand, is like the north star in the storms of life; it is constant, sure, and true. Whenever we’re lost and confused we can find strength in the love that we have chosen.

Besides, life already offers us plenty of spontaneity: rejection, job loss, heartache, disappointment, despair, illness, and a host of other problems. We simply can’t abandon ship every time we encounter a storm in our marriage. Real love is about weathering the storms of life together.

When my dad had a stroke four years ago taking away his ability to walk and was confined to a wheelchair, my late mom (whom we lost September last year due to cardiac arrest) took care of my dad. She helped him do everything—from getting around the house and visiting the doctor, to helping him take his medicine and bathe.

In speaking about my dad, my late loving mom once told me, “It hurts me to see him like this. You know, when I got married I thought that everything would be smooth sailing. I never imagined that I take care of him like this every day. But I do it and I don’t mind it—because I love him.”

Love is so much more than some random, euphoric feeling. And real love isn’t always fluffy, cute, and cuddly. More often than not, real love has its sleeves rolled up, dirt and grime smeared on its arms, and sweat dripping down its forehead. Real love asks us to do hard things—to forgive one another, to support each other’s dreams, to comfort in times of grief, or to care for family. Real love isn’t easy—and it’s nothing like the wedding day—but it’s far more meaningful and wonderful.

I recently came across this wonderful quote: “No one falls in love by choice, it is by chance. No one stays in love by chance, it is by work. And no one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice.”

This is what I’ve noticed; whenever my wife and I run into a problem in our marriage we do our best to choose love. While we’re certainly not perfect, the love we share today is more real and more wonderful than anything we had ever anticipated.

So, whatever spontaneous storm may come our way I plan on loving my wife.

My resolution after the conversation I had with my wife is that if you truly love someone (and they truly love you), commit to that love and plan on it being hard work.

But also plan on it being the most rewarding work of your life.

Photo source: http://wallpapercave.com

 

#BUILD

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If you’ve seen the movie The Bucket List, then you probably was also inspired to have your own bucket list. Since the movie was shown in 2007, I suppose many people are now already on the process of fulfilling their respective lists. Or may be some few lucky ones have already accomplished their list.

For the benefit of those who have not yet seen the movie here’s a synopsis: The movie traces the journey of two terminally-ill men, portrayed by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, who helped each other complete their bucket lists apparently before they die. The things they did included skydiving together, flying over the North Pole, visiting the Taj Mahal in India, and riding motorcycles on the Great Wall of China. But what ultimately brought both of them their greatest joys were not the things that money could buy. They were to do with the relationships that they reconciled with the people they care for.

Although it has been said that “you can’t really tell what a person is like till his coffin is nailed”; there are things we can each do that can shape the man on his dying bed, so to speak. What we have established, accomplished, shown, spoken, fought for, and many others we did in this lifetime, define who we really are. They define who we are to ourselves and to other people.

To me a bucket list is most FULFILLING when it is not just all about things physical or only about “I, me and mine”. Which led me to ponder on these 3 significant questions:

Imagine your funeral.

  1. Who will be there?
  2. What do others think you stood for?
  3. What will they say when you are dead?

To my opinion, the answers to these questions definitely matter after we’re gone. Even though it won’t really matter to us anymore by the time (we’re dead) but these impressions  will somewhat keep us alive in the hearts and memories of the people we’ve left behind. Our life is our legacy to this world.

Have you tried making your own bucket list? If you intend to make one, you could try to consider this:

Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement prepared a farewell message to his Scouts, for publication after his death. He carried it in an envelope marked “To be opened in the event of my death”. In it, he shared, “… Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best.”

Every single one of us I believe was given the great opportunity to be born and live in this world. Every single one of us is likewise endowed with different life circumstances at varying levels of convenience. However, as life sometimes wills, our lack (challenges, sorrows, hurts, frustrations, pains, et al) especially should not limit or restrain us from experiencing life and having the opportunity to make others experience life thru us and with us as well.

POINT: We should build or design our individual lives to include others.  Build on yourself and while you’re at it build also on your family, close friends, acquaintances and to the rest of the humanity within your means and your reach.

Instead of walls, build bridges that connect to people. Write a list that counts or if you already have one, modify it to have even just a little bit of impact to others.

 “LEAVE THIS WORLD A LITTLE BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT”. At least to the people close to you. It doesn’t have to be the whole world though 🙂

Good luck!