Marriage Isn't 50-50

By Sarah Aterrado - December 30, 2023

For this year's year-end post, Jan takes the center stage. Again.


It was around January this year when I noticed one of my fingers started swelling. I thought it was just a simple case of a sprained finger. But one inflamed finger led to another, until I could not twist open a bottle of water anymore. Five of my fingers looked like sausages. Both my wrists have become inflamed too. Of course, I had it checked and I was initially diagnosed with Reactive Arthritis.

Aside from the corticosteroids that I am taking which have nasty effects on my mood and weight, I was also on strong painkillers albeit, at most, they can only reduce pain—still leaving my hands in their most useless state. I could not drive. I had a hard time putting my clothes on. Heck, I could not even open the door on my own. It was that painful. And it went on like that for 6 months. It's been almost a year since I was diagnosed and I am still in pain right now, but not as much as I was back then.

Needless to say, Jan is the one doing almost everything. 

Picture this. He starts his day early in the morning to drive Rhett to school and he'll end the day putting our toddlers to sleep (back then, their bed time was at 12mn). His working hours are flexible. So as a team lead, it could also mean he can have multiple meetings in a day that can start as early as 7am and go as late as 11pm. In between, he does most household chores. And even though he assumed being solely responsible for Chris (paligo, pakain, and all), he still helps me with Isabel. I am without a job right now and I could have made myself useful, but then I have to become an additional burden to him because he has to assist me with anything that would require my hands. We have no yaya or house help.

I know he is exhausted (an understatement). But I have never, not once, heard him complain. Never nanumbat o nagparinig. If anything, he'll just throw me a hug, give me a massage, surprise me with any food that will make me feel better, and even encourage me to attend media events or go out with friends. Siya na yung pagod, pero ako pa rin unang iniisip niya.

I suppose a 50-50 marriage, on the surface, seems to make sense. You stay married because you are both putting the same amount of time and effort into the relationship. But with what's happening to us, I realized a 50-50 marriage doesn't always work. When you want to go the extra mile, 50-50 is definitely out of the equation.

I am not a marriage guru nor have we been married long enough to give advice. But in our 4 years of marriage, I learned that you both have to GIVE OUT YOUR ALL every day and pick up the slack when the other needs help. You fill in the gap because you are a team. You are co-piloting one flight now. So either you both fly or you both nosedive to the ground.

I think about how I must be highly favored for having been given someone so selfless. I can barely give 10 and he has still given 100%—unconditionally. I stand amazed at his love for me during the good times. And that love has been magnified in these bad times. 

Now I fully understand when they say that husbands should lead. When you think about the husband leading, don't picture it as you being bossed around, that you always have to obey and never have to disagree, or that one becomes inferior to the other. But rather, picture a man who is willing to serve and put everyone else before himself. 

In our culture of marriage, nakakawala ng angas yan. It is oftentimes recognized by the derogative term "under the saya". But Jan chose to lead with humility and kindness, and it is creating a chain reaction in this household. He has been setting the bar high for our children. He is leading by example, showing our sons how a man should treat a woman and what traits our daughter should look for in a man. He has already done so much for me and this family, even stepping up in roles that aren't his. 

As for me, I want him to know that he is appreciated and I want to do things for him too. However, for now, when there's not much I can do, at least I can let the whole world know what kind of husband and father he is. He deserves this recognition too.

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