Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Guest Post: 'Should I stay or should I go?'

Learning Curve contributor and guest blogger KOH SOO LING writes about what happens when women are confronted with the choice of moving on or staying put in a marriage wrought with problems. She offers tips for staying strong in this situation.

Koh Soo Ling in Coole Park, Ireland

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 


Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same, 


And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back. 


I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- 
I took the one less travelled by, 
And that has made all the difference


Robert Frost

This poem has been well used to depict many things and one of course is about matters of the heart. How many of us have been caught in the predicament of having to choose one or the other or having to stay put or to move on? No one can give you answers but ultimately you have to decide because therein lies your happiness and your future. The scenario of whether to keep on surviving in a family or to live your life is present and very real. We may not want to talk about it but someday sometime we will need to take stock or forever live to die in a world of the living.

As with every major move taken there are advantages and disadvantages. It takes great resolve and determination and courage to step out, to analyse and to decide. I am talking about marriage and divorce. Traditionally for a married person there is only one road: staying put. This is well and fine when things are in order.

But the difficult part is even if the world collapses you are expected to stay put because marriage comes as a package and there is no back door. I speak mostly for the woman who often puts others before herself, particularly her children. But reality says there are two roads: staying put or moving on. So we weigh the pros and cons. This may be simplistic but generally true.

Staying Put in a marriage wrought with problems

Advantages

  • The family is intact. The children are spared the physical and emotional pain of separation especially if they are still young.
  • There is a 50-50 chance that things may improve through hard work, communication or divine intervention.
  • There will be no condemnation heaped on you from religious bodies, family and friends.
  •  There will be praises for you as the unsung hero who has brought the family through.

Disadvantages

  • Lots of stress, tears and unhappiness.
  • Feelings of being shortchanged.
  • Feelings of being taken for granted and advantaged of.
  • Always wondering about the road not taken.
  • Possible ‘cold wars’ during retirement years when both of you can no longer communicate. Your responsibility of taking care of the kids is over as they have flown the nest. You are 2 strangers living in a hotel called marriage.
  • Possibility of problems remaining as they are with no change. Worse, more problems may occur.
  • Tendency to escape through fantasy, real or cyber relationships with the opposite sex because consciously or unconsciously you are seeking to fill the void in your soul.
  • Tendency for other males to gravitate towards you because the void in you will manifest itself unknowingly.

What do you need if you choose to stay put

  • A resilient spirit, a non-complaining spirit, knowing that God is your best confidante and anchor. Do not   wash your dirty linen in public. Confide in very close friends only.
  • Cut off ALL intimate relationships with other men or women, real or in cyberspace which are robbing family time, husband-wife time. Such relationships can be a crutch, a fantasy. All three (husband, wife, other person) will feel cheated and hurt.
  • Work at communication. Seek professional help if necessary.

Moving on to preserve your sanity

Advantages

  • A sense of freedom and joy that you have not felt for years. A liberation indeed from the shackles. The yoke on your shoulder has been lifted.
  • No additional burdens, worries or unpleasant surprises from him/her.
  • A time to explore new and better relationships.
  • A time for your children to be more matured, more responsible, more realistic and kinder and appreciative towards others.

Disadvantages

  • Feelings of anger, sadness, depression, helplessness, loneliness, and guilt. You will need good friends for support and go for a ‘guilt-free’ programme. Self help programmes are available via the internet. 
  • Children may not be able to accept the new situation. Solution: start preparing them now. Click here for more.
  • Religious institutions and friends will condemn you. Colleagues will gossip. This is when you find out who your true friends are. Solution: delete all wounding mail. Trash belongs to the trashcan. You don’t need anyone’s approval for what you want to do, esp. so when the person hasn’t walked the mile with you. Confide in people who care enough.
  • Independence: Everything is in your hands now – the leaking faucet, the fused wire, the punctured tyre, income tax returns etc. Solution: start being independent: get contacts for technicians, plumbers etc. You might be fleeced by unscrupulous people out to make a fast buck from a divorcee…….but what is a little money lost compared to sanity of mind?
  • Pain: The whole process of divorce is painful. Leaving or seeing the other pack the bags and leave. Meeting in court. Seeing him/her pick the children up after the divorce. If both parties are agreeable, divorce in Malaysia is granted after 6 months. If one party contests, the tug-of-war will last 2 years or more. The cost varies. The longer the proceedings take, the more expensive it is.
  • Adjusting to divorce is a process that takes time, so allow yourself time to heal and remember to focus on one day at a time.

What do you need if you choose to move on?

  • A lot of will power, focus, independence and determination. Knowing that you have thought it through carefully and given your best shot. Knowing that you can walk away without regrets or fear of condemnation. Knowing that you deserve better, a piece of heaven on earth.
  • Some people who genuinely care for you.

Helpful reminders

  • You only live once and you are responsible for your own happiness. Whatever road you take, be at peace with God.
  • Do not be affected by what others say or think. Your life is yours, not theirs.
  • In a relationship, both parties should live. If one party is living while the other party is dying, which party do you want to be?
  • God loves you no matter which road you take. Going to heaven or hell does NOT depend on good or failed relationships.
  • Take some time out to think. If you go somewhere faraway for a few weeks, you will see the big picture, and that will help you decide the road you wish to take.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

All about white stuff

I am in the mood, dear Reader, to test your knowledge about white (read "North American left-leaning, city-dwelling white folk") popular culture.

Question 1: Why do some white people stay in for breakfast on a Sunday morning?

Question 2: Why do some white people like not having a TV?

Question 3: Why do white people love Japan?

Three questions will suffice to illustrate my point. If you don't know the answers, I will offer you a preview.

Answer 1: White people love their brunch places but some have breakfast at home on a Sunday morning for the simple reason that they want to read the Sunday edition of The New York Times.

Apparently reading the newspaper will make them look good on Monday morning when they need to impress their co-workers by telling them about the latest books in the Book Review section or a discussion of a thought-provoking issue in the Magazine section.

Answer 2: Some white people like making other white people feel bad and not having a TV is one way of making themselves feel good about their life and life choices.

When other white people talk about Casey James, Crystal Bowersox and Andrew Garcia, among other American Idol (Season 9) hopefuls, those who do not own a TV will smugly say: "I didn't see it, I don't have a TV. That stuff rots your brain."

Answer 3: White people love Japan for many reasons. Sushi is one but it goes beyond food. All white people either have taught/will teach/wished they had taught English in Japan. It is a dream for them to go overseas and actually live in Japan.

Besides filling their need to travel, it also helps them to gain important leverage over other white people at sushi restaurants when they can say: "This place is pretty good, but living in Japan really spoiled me. I've had such a hard time finding a really authentic place."

My three questions were based on the observations of Christian Lander, author of the book Stuff White People Like: The Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions (2008) (see photo of book cover above).

The answers (which have been slightly adapted) were excerpts of passages from the book. I recently got my copy from Amazon.com after unsuccessfully searching for it in book stores in Kuala Lumpur.

Reading it was a hilarious way of spending my Sunday morning and afternoon.

Lander's comments on the "supposed habits and preferences of the pale-skinned"  first appeared in his blog, also called Stuff White People Like. It was and still is immensely popular. A white person had forwarded me the link and it got my attention.

Some love it: "Oh, lord, it only hurts because it's true! Love the blog". Others find it "offensive and racist" while The New Republic describes it as "weak satire".

Yet Lander, a PhD  dropout, is "gently making fun of the many progressive, educated, upper-middle-class whites who think they are beyond ethnicity or collectively shared tastes, styles or outlook," writes Gregory Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Times. "He's essentially reminding them that they too are part of a group."

Lander admits that "the things I post are all the things I like too!" and that he is calling whites out and "poking fun" at himself.

As a non-white person, I find Lander's take on white popular culture refreshing.

I also see non-white people doing some of the things that he illustrates.

There is no escaping globalisation.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Simon Cowell: Is this love?


Simon Cowell
One of the world's most eligible bachelors is getting married. Yes, I am talking about Simon Cowell, the best known judge on American Idol. 


His recent engagement to American Idol make-up artist Mezghan Hussainy ended weeks of speculation about his relationship with the Afghan-born beauty. The couple are expected to get married later this year. 


What does Hussainy, 36, have that the others don't? Only Cowell, 50, can answer that.


According to Cowell's UK rep Max Clifford, Cowell and Hussainy "are very suited". She is independent and speaks her mind. And the sharp tongue Cowell "likes that". They have known each for a long time and began dating last year. 


Other reports note that Cowell is a lot happier these days. Is that why his  criticisms of contestants on this season's American Idol seem softer? Cowell continues to offer comments of aspiring idols' singing abilities in his usual acerbic style but sounds less harsh somehow. 


If I am feeling generous, I would say that his recent remarks were tempered with compassion. Now I know why. Hussainy is making the wealthy Brit very happy. He is even talking about starting a family


When did the light bulb pop for Cowell? I really would like to know his "aha" moment when he realised that "this is it". 


People marry for various reasons not all of which are romantic. Men and women have been known to tie the knot for convenience, money or fear of growing old alone. 


What is your reason, Cowell? His mother, according to The Inquisitr, was "delighted" but "shocked" when her son told her that he was planning to settle down.


Still, it is reassuring to know that Cowell is not the confirmed bachelor that he appeared to be. It is said that everyone has a soulmate. Apparently Cowell has found his.


Mezhgan Hussainy
      
Pictures: New Straits Times (Simon Cowell) and Mail Online (Mezhgan Hussainy)