Glory be to the wife

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

By all indicators, Jose is a great guy doing so well in his career, raking in large amounts of cash through his multiple income streams. He is in top shape, built like a tank and friends are envious of him because he has everything going for him at his mid-life point.

Jimmy is good looking and he was clearly around when God showered talents and charm, and he is more than popular in the different fields of work that he’s in.

Ed, on the other hand, was much older, outspoken, feared, respected and independent. He dominated his industry and his reputation made him a role model and a champion for the underdogs.

Fred meanwhile was an ambitious, driven, hungry young businessman who looked for every opportunity, collected contacts like stamps and dressed in the typical fashion of modern-day tycoons and attended every business event he could just to “network.”

Competitive as they all are, they actually share something in common. Each man’s wife spent years or decades being stuck at home, diminished or denied of their dreams and deprived of the recognition they so richly deserve for their sacrifices and contributions to the success of their husbands. They were once young, beautiful women who were the center of attention until the babies came, their husbands’ careers picked up and suddenly they were left behind to become someone’s “Old Lady.” It all seemed pretty normal until years after, each wife decided to move on, move out or kick their husband out. And now those men have another thing in common: They no longer have a wife.

I have changed names, jumbled circumstances in order to protect their identities, but none of that would really make much of a difference because in the end, what they share is now quite common and a serious misfortune. Ironic that I use the term “misfortune” for men who are clearly rich and well-off, but yes, they have a common misfortune. Aside from being separated from their respective wives, more often than not, when you lose your wife, you lose your kids and sometimes the family home. A house or a flat you can rent or buy, but not a home.

They’re honestly shocked to find themselves “separated,” they are fully convinced that they were doing the right thing working so hard to provide for the needs and comfort of their family. They find it unfair to be blamed for their wife’s unhappiness, given the fact that they too have denied themselves many things and opportunities in the pursuit of material security for their families.

Most of us readily assume that these marital disasters were collateral damage of adulterous relationships; some yes, some no. Truth is, that part often comes much later in the series of mistakes that people commit.

What comes first are the wrong assumptions and role playing based on traditional positions. We romanticize personal sacrifices made by wives and mothers with songs like “The Wind Beneath My Wings” but frankly, being under someone’s armpit or standing in the shadows sweeping the floor is not cool and not part of any partnership deal. Cooking meals and cleaning toilets and diapers is not a career choice or cause for perpetual rejoicing. Having to listen to your “partner” talk about his plans, great deals and excitement alongside the socials with the rich and powerful is equivalent to talking about the buffet dinner to someone experiencing involuntary hunger. Songs like “You Raise Me Up” may be dramatic recognition of a person’s value to us, but songs and calendar-driven deliveries of cakes, flowers or special dinners come too little too late in marriages that have essentially suffered droughts of equality, recognition and bled out from lack of respect.

I’ve entitled this article “Glory to the wife” because that’s precisely what needs to be done in this day and age. Husband or wife, as the case may be, our other half needs to be involved in our daily lives, especially when it comes to recognition and not just in “appreciation.” It sucks to hear the reason: “We simply grew apart.”

When I write my articles or column, I regularly mention my wife Karen and my daughter Hannah. They are cited not as examples but as part of my thoughts and my life. I share their ideas, issues and suggestions not as an “add on” to my opinion but integral to what I am and what “WE” stand for. They are part and parcel of everything I do and NEVER EVER compartments or just some parts of. Their sentiments and views matter as much as their needs.

Karen is an integral part of every episode of AGENDA on Cignal TV because she is the technical director, she is involved in coming up with topics as well as suggested guests because I VALUE her views and inputs. And for CTALK, every opinion column I submit must first be proofread and checked for editorial content and relevance. She is both editor and audience and my first accountability partner. She and Hannah both keep my ego in check as much as they try to lift me up when needed. We don’t just share ideas, we run through them together.

Equality is not just about housework or business but enjoying the experiences, opportunities and rewards. The saying “No one gets left behind” applies to family and spouse and not just the Marines. Whenever and wherever possible, I bring Karen and Hannah to events, socials as well as on work-related trips at our own expense and where they work out something on the same schedule so that we are still together and making time to enjoy when we can. The goal is to live a life together while being working partners in making a living.

“Ohana means family – Family means no one gets left behind.” – Lilo & Stitch

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