What my grandparents taught me about marriage


If you were to ask me who my ideal married couple is, that would be my Wowo and Maymee. This is a picture of my grandparents in their younger days. They made having a happy, loving marriage look so easy!

Wowo and Maymee in their younger days

My late grandfather was a soldier. He stood tall and proud, walked briskly even when he was past his eighties. He had a booming voice, one that you’d be really scared off especially when he was upset. Despite his stern appearance, this colonel was also a loving, and dare I say it, mushy husband.

He adored my grandmother. When she was hospitalized once, he painted her toenails while she was lying in bed. During a costume party, they came as a Japanese couple – he a brave Samurai warrior, she a demure geisha. When they were asked to present themselves, he wielded his sword, pretending to impress her with his samurai moves. My grandmother giggled like a school girl.

My grandmother was straightforwardly sweet and mushy towards him. She’d giggle at all his jokes, hold his hand and gaze at him adoringly. She’d prepare his favorite dishes. She’d regale her children and grandchildren with stories of how he swept her off her feet again and again.

They showed their adoration for each other in public. They’d share a kiss when glasses would tinkle during weddings, even if the wedding was not their own. They would look at each other always, always, always, with so much love.

What does this have to do with my own wifely steps? A lot. My grandparents loved each other so much. You can only love each other that intensely when you take care of one another genuinely. That’s what they did. It was clear to me as a kid. It resonates with me now as a married woman. Take care of each other as much as you can, everyday and always.

I’m remiss at that sometimes. When it was just my husband and me, I would cook for him, prepare his dinner, prepare his clothes, etc. It was not an obligation but a desire to genuinely take care of him. When the baby came, husband stuff became priority #2. It was all about the baby. Then it became it was only about the baby. I’d be very tired by the time he got home from work that I couldn’t and wouldn’t even talk to him. When we’d talk it was all about baby things and family chores.

We loved spending time with the baby, but we also missed spending time with just each other. There was no more Husband and Wife, just Mommy and Daddy. Needless to say, it put a strain on our marriage. Were we drifting apart? Were we losing interest in each other? Were we boring each other?

It got better after one year. To be brutally frank, we’re still getting there. No, we weren’t drifting apart. Nor did we lose interest in each other. No, we weren’t boring each other. We realized we were growing, evolving as a married couple. I was, and am, growing as a wife.

Today, I still take care of the baby the whole day. But when my husband comes home I’ve re-learned to take care of him too. I prepare his food, prepare his clothes, put toothpaste on his toothbrush… those insane little things that kept us giddy about each other before. The change in pace was not because I’m not as tired anymore. Heck, I’m even more tired now with the toddler running around a lot. What changed was perspective. What changed was the desire to make things work better, to put as much love into the little things that make him, us, happy.

I saw that in my grandparents. There were big and small expressions of love. Big like the kiss they shared in front of hundreds of people during my cousin’s wedding. Small like the medicines my grandfather would lay out for my grandmother or the merienda she’d prepare for him everyday. Wowo and Maymee are my inspiration for my own wifely steps.

My husband and I still hold hands, and perhaps will drive our kid nuts with our affection when he’s a bit older. Whether it’s big things like going on dates together (even if it’s just at the grocery deli) or small things like preparing his medicine at night or laying out his pajamas, I’m learning that you should as much as possible put love into the things you do for another. Then no task becomes daunting, no chore too trivial.

No wonder my grandparents made having a happy marriage look so easy! Everyday I’m learning that with sincerity and genuine eagerness to take care of each other, every step taken, both yours and his, builds a stronger, more loving marriage. Everyday I’m learning it’s not as hard as it seems.

12 Comments on What my grandparents taught me about marriage

  1. cel
    August 10, 2011 at 6:34 pm (13 years ago)

    I like your quote: Take care of each other as much as you can, everyday and always.

  2. Toni
    August 10, 2011 at 6:36 pm (13 years ago)

    Cel: Thank you!

  3. ibyang
    August 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm (13 years ago)

    lovely post. very inspring.

  4. Mommy Fleur
    August 10, 2011 at 8:31 pm (13 years ago)

    Ms. Toni, may i repost this as one of my prep entries for our 2nd year anniversary next month?

    I feel relieved that other husbands and wives with a new baby experience this. Akala ko on the way to separation na kami ni hubby kasi halos di na din kami naguusap because of our little girl. No more time with each other.

    Thank you very much for posting this. Madami talaga ako natutunan.

  5. sheng
    August 10, 2011 at 9:39 pm (13 years ago)

    I should do that too, put toothpaste on my husband’s toothbrush, haha!

  6. Len
    August 11, 2011 at 2:23 pm (13 years ago)

    This is so true. Sometimes you “forget” your spouse once the kids arrive. Marriage really is hard work, but like you said, if you “put love into the things you do for another”, then everything comes easy. May you have many many more love-full years with hubby!

  7. jher
    August 11, 2011 at 2:42 pm (13 years ago)

    This is so touching, Toni. Will repost and share ha. I know some couples who would be inspired by this, and that includes me and my H! 😛

  8. Cherrie
    August 12, 2011 at 6:42 am (13 years ago)

    I must say, perfect timing. Me and my hubby are having a rift right now. As in we are not talking to each other for a day already! I believe it’s his fault for failing to understand me and he believes it’s my fault for failing to do my responsibilities to him. I don’t want to think of separation, coz that’s the worse thing. Even just thinking about it makes me cry. But just by reading all your encouraging words, makes me want to make the first move and apologize, and compromise. Thanks Ms. Toni :)

  9. Mom-Friday
    August 12, 2011 at 11:15 pm (13 years ago)

    What a beautiful tribute and insightful post!
    I am also guilty of having that “just mommy and daddy” roles for years now, and lately, I’ve come to realize I’ve neglected taking care of hubby’s needs too. Time for change! Thanks for these reminders :)

  10. JMom
    August 29, 2011 at 10:35 am (13 years ago)

    I love seeing older couples who are still affectionate with each other! I keep hoping that we’d be like that too, someday. I think a key to remaining affectionate is to make it a habit… like making sure to never part without that goodbye kiss or hello kiss when you get together again at the end of the day. It takes only a minute, and whether you are snapping at each other again a few moments later as to who is going to do what for the kids or some other mundane thing, there’s always that goodnight kiss to look forward to when everyone is tucked in :)

    Very nice post, Toni!


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