Marriage as ‘heroism’


Dr. Jun Ynares Dr. Jun Ynares

A few years ago, a friend from high school texted me this message:

“How did you manage to survive?”

That friend of mine had always been a jokester. His text message was intended to greet me and my wife Andeng and to wish us well as we marked our wedding anniversary.

“I more than survived,” I remembered replying.

“I succeeded,” I added, putting in a smiley after my reply just to make sure my buddy did not think his joke had offended me.

My wife Andeng and I have now been married for 15 years.

I realize that, to many, this could be quite an achievement. In today’s hurried, high-pressure world, many marriages break up before this milestone is reached. Others just attempt or do their best to “survive” the marriage, as my friend puts it. That would, of course, imply that marriage is an “ordeal” that married couples may just have to go through.

Andeng and I decided early in our marriage that we would make it work.

Making it work during the past 15 years has not been easy. The fact is making it work has been harder for us. We are a couple who are in the public limelight. Isolating ourselves and our children from the caring eyes of loved ones, and the prying eyes of avowed haters is a major task.

Andeng and I face the daily battles of competing demands from family and our roles in the community we serve.

This has become a bigger challenge now that Andeng is the chief executive of our famous city.

She is now putting into public service use her vast experience in managing her family’s longtime business – a production enterprise that demands a lot of her talent for organizing and mobilizing creative people and resources.

Today, she plays the main role. I am now part of the supporting cast.

Still, our roles are exhausting, particularly during this time of a pandemic.  They entail meeting a lot of people every day, solving complex problems, dealing with relationship and human behavior issues. There are times when almost nothing is left from our vast reservoir of physical and emotional energies.

During such times, married couples could get into each other’s nerves. Both husbands and wives have to be conscious that they could be using each other as an outlet for the frustration and pressure other people give them. That would be unfair, but that does happen.

Given our respective situations, Andeng and I knew a long time ago that we will have to make the marriage work. We agreed and made a commitment to make sure that we are able to balance the demands of marriage, parenthood and the demands of work and public service.

That is easier said than done. Just like other couples, we may have compromised that principle on many occasions and have had to quickly get back on track.

Marriage, therefore, may require some degree of “heroism.” The “heroic” part of it is sacrificing – giving way to each other’s preferences, shelving our separate dreams to work for the aspiration we share in common.

Marriage also requires teamwork. So, my wife and I have gone through the same process that teams go through to become exactly that – a team.

Dr. Michael Hall, the internationally renowned author presents a clear process of how individuals become a team. There are four stages, he says: form, norm, storm, perform.

Here’s how he explains the stages. First, the members of the potential team are enlisted. It is formed. Then, the members agree on how things are to be done and how they are to behave and relate to each other. That’s how they “norm.”

Then, they allow themselves to go through intense testing to see how the norms survive trials. That’s going through the “storm.” Dr. Hall says “storms” are essential because they guarantee that the team can eventually “perform.”

Andeng and I formed that team on November 19, 2005. That was when we exchanged wedding vows at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Manila Metropolitan Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila.  It must have been 4 o’clock in the afternoon when I said “I do” to become part of that team.

Andeng and I started “norming” as soon as we realized that our circumstances would not allow us to have a “quiet” family life.

We have gone through many “storms.” These storms tested our commitment to our norms: election campaigns, controversies, political conflicts, disagreements and the task of raising up two beautiful daughters in a high-pressure environment.

The “storms” tested our individual capacity for “heroism.”

We have weathered these storms. Overcoming them have made sure that we can perform our roles in our family and community.

Our parents, relatives, friends, and colleagues in our profession and in public service walked with us during our “storms.” They have helped us make sure that our team norms pass the test with flying colors. We thank them for the valuable moral support.

I would like to thank my wife Andeng for 15 years of teamwork.

Here’s to many more years of working on the same team with you, Andeng.

But who’s counting?

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