Archive for the 'Marriage' Category

A Story from A Broken Heart

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

As a sequel to my previous post “Till Death Do Us Apart”, I have received a heart-felt recount from a dear friend who is still going through the agonizing process of divorce.  After reading her “diary”, all I can think of is that when one writes from the heart, the words could move mountains.  Please read on.


Never Thought I Would Become A Statistics

             Broken Heart by Hypermania37

2008 was a life-altering year for me – as I moved out of the marital residence to begin life on my own while going through divorce proceedings.  Like any other divorcee, I never thought this would happen to me. I certainly didn’t enter the sacrament of matrimony to just see it fall apart.  But it is happening, and it has brought and continues to bring surges of emotions I never thought I had.

Rainbow of Mixed Emotions

I was literally dancing on the streets the day that I moved out – to me, it symbolized the beginning of a new life.  But after a few nights alone, I wondered whether I made the right decision.  To compound things, I wasn’t sure what to do with the time I had.  People say one should learn new things, or do something you enjoy, reconnect with friends, make new friends – but in my case, there was a part of me that occasionally wanted to be alone in my thoughts.  There was a part of me that wanted to sit down and be lonely from time to time.  Time for mourning, they say.

I think everyone is a little lost after a divorce… There’s such a mixture of feelings going on; sadness at what was lost, anger at how it happened, a desire to rebuild, a fear of getting hurt again, a need to be loved and to show love, a protective instinct for our children… I think all that makes us confused and confusing to others.  There were times I thought I was emotionally imbalanced – as I found myself giddy one minute. then crashing without warning within the next five minutes.

Maybe it was a desire to be understood, or to compare stories, or to receive empathy, or to gather advice on post-life divorce – or maybe it was just to feel ‘normal’ and not ‘damaged merchandise’ — it was amazing how all of a sudden, I gravitated towards divorced or separated men or women.  I guess there is truth to the saying that “Birds of the same feathers flock together.”   I didn’t shun my married friends, but I do remember not wanting to be in a family or couple setting over Thanksgiving – and instead opted to hang out with a girlfriend who broke up with her boyfriend of 6 years at around the same time.

March Forward – The Only Way

So what went wrong?  There is really no one reason – it is a festering of words said and unsaid, actions taken and untaken.  And my best advice to myself right now is to count to 1 from 10,000 — backwards and twice.  This storm, too, shall pass.

P.S. You know the rule.  Would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Broken Heart – Photo credit to

Till Death Do Us Part?

Friday, March 20th, 2009
Photo by Hannamonika

Photo by Hannamonika

2008 – A Year of Metamorphosis

2008 was a year of metamorphosis for many people.  In my limited circle of friends and families, we collectively witnessed or experienced the death of our loved ones; some lost their jobs due to the recession; others tied their knots with the love of their lives.  One theme stood out the most was couples who had vowed “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part” had to sever their ties due to irreconcilable differences.

Needless to say there are different variations of the divorce process and story.  To use the word “painful” is really an oxymoron.  The one question that keeps popping up in my mind is that how a couple’s relationship could deteriorate from loving each other to a state of despise and animosity?

Why Broken?

I guess the answer is not that simple.  These are some of the probable causes for divorce:

  1. Couples do grow APART.
  2. Having children has added another layer of complexity to a healthy marriage if not managed properly.
  3. Relationship with step-children poses a challenge for many second-time marriages.
  4. Financial stress definitely takes its toll.
  5. Stumbling upon a new interest of love or infatuation tends to be another cause.
  6. Complacency in the relationship can rock the boat “slowly”, but “deadly”.
  7. Middle-life crisis by men and women can drive people to make drastic changes and to transform their lives for better or worse.
  8. How about  rejection or denial by the hostile in-laws from the get-go?

Undeniably, divorce is a modern phenomenon in the Western culture.  Sadly enough, people in the Orient have caught on with this trend as well.  Long gone are those days when couples remained married for 50 or 60 years whether or not they were happy with each other.  In this day and age, I am not sure if remaining to be married based on formality is the right model to exemplify either.

At What Price?

In the end, what was the price to pay by all involved, especially those children? Is grass really greener on the other side?

P.S. By the way, for those who are in the process of or had just gone through the major shift from marriage to being single again, please check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir entitled Eat, Pray, Love – A woman’s spiritual pilgrimage for an entire year in three diverse countries: Italy, India and Indonesia. These three countries represent her pursuit of pleasure, devotion and balance respectively.   It’s definitely an interesting and thought-provoking read.

What Are the Ingredients to A Happy Marriage?

Friday, February 13th, 2009

secret-ingredients-1Recently I was asked by a dear friend a familiar, yet an unexpected question, “Is there something called happily ever after?” in marriage?

I was somewhat surprised by the question in the context of our conversation.  I had to pause and think about where her question came from.  Then she proceeded by inquiring what are the secret ingredients to my marriage.

Let me digress for a minute. For those of you who don’t know me, I am Chinese and married a Caucasian, a white guy or “Gui Lao” (an endearing way of saying “foreigner” in Chinese) for the past 14 + years.  I am not the one bragging, or even talking about my personal life in a normal course of conversation.  I tend to enjoy listening to other people talking more about their ups and downs in life.  I really can’t pin out exactly why I am the way I am.  Perhaps, my friends often have more challenges in their lives and they need to bend my ears; or I am just a private person; or any issues or problems in my life are not that insurmountable.

Obviously my friend was not going to let me off the hook on this one.   I thought for a few seconds and here are some thoughts to summarize what has worked well in my marriage:

1. Respect Each Other in Terms of Time and Space

My husband and I are good at providing each other “space’ and “alone time”.  Both of us have our own circles of friends and have our unique hobbies besides the common ones shared by the both of us.  For example, my husband enjoys skiing and plays the piano.  On the contrary, I love shopping, reading lots of books and walk with my friends.  None of us has the tendency to restrict each other’s schedules and both of us are very understanding of the differences and needs.

2. Support Each Other’s Endeavors

Professionally and personally we make our best efforts to support each other’s endeavors and new pursuits.  My husband does an exceptional job in pushing me to actualize my potential and never once would he feel threatened by my so-called success.

3. Intellectual Curiosity and Exchange

I wish you could be a fly on the wall to listen to our dinner conversation.  It’s very rarely that we talk about just the mundane events during the day.  More often than not, we talked about the books we’ve read/listened to during the day; new things we’ve learned; and new ideas that we are inspired by.

4. Emotional Stability

One great advantage of getting married at a later age (in the 30s for me) is that we have matured so much emotionally.  There is no room or inclination to play the little mind games to manipulate a given situation for personal gains.  We understand that each of us will have our “up” days or “down” ones.  When one experienced a bad day, the other would be there to support by assessing the situation and putting things into perspectives.

5. Attitude Towards Money

I know in real life, many couples would have plenty of occasions to argue or fight over money matters.  Who is spending more on what?  Who is the irresponsible party? etc.  For our marriage, we share a joint account completely and both of us contribute to the best of our capabilities.  Both of us have the discretion to spend money on what we choose to within a reasonable limit RESPONSIBILY.

6. Relationship with the In-Laws

I am forever grateful for having such a healthy relationship with my in-laws.  Culturally, it is vastly different on the relationship with the in-laws.

In the Western culture, I see my in-laws a couple of times during the year and we show our ways to celebrate each other’s special occasions.  It is very common that in-laws here don’t tend to interfere with their children’s life and decision-making.

On the contrary, in Chinese culture, dealing with the in-laws, especially as a daughter-in-law, is one of the most monumental tasks due to the sheer ambiguity of your in-laws’ life versus yours.  In China, it is still not that unusual that two or more generations live together under the same roof.  The elderly tend to “participate” in the children’s lives too willingly. Inevitably there will be more opportunities for frictions between the generations due to generation gaps, and value systems towards many aspects of life.

7. Play Our Part

As a couple, we function as a team.  After all, a family is a microcosm of a society.  We have our loose definitions of division of labor and responsibilities in our daily chores and we complement each other by utilizing each other’s strengths.

8. Trust Is the Foundation of Every Successful Relationship

Lastly, but not the least, is the trust we have for each other.

I don’t want to pretend or sound for a nino second that we have THE perfect marriage given the divorce rate of the first marriage in the United States is 50% or higher.  What I may offer is:

Healthy Relationship = Trust + Respect + Understanding + Compromise (when needed).  Don’t forget to water and fertilize it, either.

What has worked well in your marriage?