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Dear Doc Holmes and Mr Baer:

I am a manager at one of the restaurant chains here in the Middle East.  Many of the waitresses working here are also from the Philippines, like me. The minute I met Diana, I knew she was different from the other Filipinas who worked at my restaurant.

Now I know why.  She used to be a Psychology teacher when she was in the Philippines and I was formerly a -seminarian.  We both love to discuss philosophy.  I am in love with her, and she feels the same.

I’ve been separated from my ex-wife for six years now, though not legally (annulled). We have three kids.

The problem is, we keep on arguing about the difference between “may asawa ka,” (you have a wife) as she always claims and “kasal lang ako” (I am merely married) as I defend myself.

She is convinced that loving me is WRONG but for me, six years separated is quite a long time already. I can’t blame her, Doc. She was raised by a very conservative family and as a psychologist and a teacher, people around her, especially her family, expect her to act MORALLY and RATIONALLY which contradicts our situation as I’m “still married” and she’s single.

Doc and Sir, it’s not as if I’ve become completely immoral. How can I convince myself that she is indeed right and we should stop this – or how can I convince her that I’m right and there’s nothing wrong with our relationship?

Thank you po.  Eric

…………………

Eric,

You raise a number of significant issues but more interesting are those that you do not raise, namely:

1)        Why after six years of separation have you still not annulled your marriage?

2)        How can an ex-seminarian have your sort of doubts?

3)        Why did Diana allow this relationship to develop this far?

I can think of various reasons for not getting an annulment, such as opposition from your wife, concern for the children, recognition that your conscience cannot accept the sophistry of the current canon law approach to annulment. I can also suggest that you have progressed from seminarian via ex-seminarian to agnostic or atheist. However, the fact is that you have not told us your reasons, and whatever they are, they are extremely unlikely to convince a conservative family that you are – or ever will be – a stellar choice for Diana.

More interesting, however, is Diana’s attitude to your relationship. According to you, she is convinced that loving you is morally wrong. Yet this psychologist professor, raised in a conservative environment and trained to be rational and moral, has permitted the relationship between the two of you to develop to the stage where she is in love with a man whose status she herself describes as “may asawa ka.” Surely, a woman who truly believes that it is immoral to go out with a married man would not start a relationship with one, much less allow it to reach the point of “falling in love”?

The only explanations I can come with to justify her seemingly hypocritical behavior are either that she has simply been mouthing the beliefs of those around her without truly subscribing to them (good news for you!) and has now found the pressure to conform to be overwhelming (bad news!); or that you conveniently “forgot” to tell her you were still married until she was already in love with you.

Of course, all this is in the past and you are concerned with the future. You yourself admit that to date you have been unable to convince her of the ‘morality’ of your relationship.

As you cannot change her, but you can change yourself, you have to decide firstly whether her beliefs are genuine. If they are, then, respect her decision and terminate the relationship. If they are not genuine however, the saying that applies is ‘all is fair in love and war.’ This is war and you must battle so that her love for you comes out the winner.

Best of luck, JAF Baer

Dear Eric:

What can I say except bilib talaga ako sa asawa ko.  Everything he’s told you I agree with completely, especially the part where he says she may have fallen for you because you “forgot” to tell her you were married until she fell in love with you. Many Filipino men don’t even bother to tell their girlfriends, and their awakening is so much worse because it comes from someone else.

It is always a wonderful experience to find one’s “soul mate,” but it must be even more so when least expected: in the middle of an arid desert, you provide each other an oasis of love.

You are a former seminarian and she is a former Psych major. You’ve both been trained to look at man as more than the sum of his parts, as more than someone who merely works to feed himself and his family and to enjoy life’s pleasures.   It must be lonely to be in an environment where you cannot share all these views with people.   And then, when you least expect it, you meet a kindred spirit.

Boom, crackle, pop!!

You fall in love. Of course, you do.   We love people who make us feel our very best selves.

Your very best selves are academics and philosophers, discussing the nuances of what it means to be human, and admitting that the fulfillment of your dreams includes the other’s being in it.

This is what love is all about. After all the hardships that push one to be an OF, you both must’ve felt you were in Paradise at last.

Alas, as in all gardens of Eden, a serpent or two slithers.

I imagine hers was the realization that your having a wife is in the active voice. This is not something that merely happened without your cooperation. You made it happen.

Your having a wife is worlds apart from “kasal lang ako,” which can only be uttered by a man who refuses to take responsibility for having a wife and kids.

She’s finally realized that your relationship is pure folly. You will end up breaking her heart, if you haven’t already.  Worse, you will make her feel a fool to have ever loved you in the first place. UNLESS…unless you stop discussing, get off your tuches and actually do something about your previous relationship.

I doubt Diana insists on an actual annulment. That would depend not only on you, but also on your wife. And Diana is a reasonable person.  She would only ask what is in your remit to give:  Proof you’ve taken responsibility for what you did in the past and for what — and who – you want in the future.

Because  she’s right.  May asawa ka na. You started being a husband when you promised, before God and man, to forsake all others from this day forward… including the days and the times you’ve spent with Diana.

You are definitely not “merely married” (kasal lang).  I don’t even know what that means: That you paid for the marriage license and then you were both free to go your merry ways? But if you have three kids together, you must’ve gone your merry way only after some time with your wife.  And who takes care of these kids now? Their everyday needs?    Whose salary, stock dividends puts food on the table and clothes on their backs?

If you (entirely or partly) do so, then you aren’t “merely married” in the sense that it makes no difference to your current life and what you can offer a current partner. If you don’t help, well, this only confirms your irresponsible ways, doesn’t it?

You mentioned in your letter that: “The problem is, we keep on discussing the difference between ‘may asawa ka,’ as she always claims, and ‘kasal lang ako’, as I defend myself.”

Actually dearest  Eric, the problem is much bigger than that. The problem is that discussing is all you do, period. But the time for mere discussing is over. It’s time to decide:  Do you continue philosophizing or do you finally put your money where your mouth is?

Having a wife is not a mere theoretical construct, no matter how much you pretend it is. Hopefully, you will decide what the best thing to do is and then actually do it!

Good luck.  MG Holmes

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