By Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.
“How did you manage to survive?”
That was the question a friend from high school asked me – in a joking manner, I hope – after sending me a text message greeting me and my wife Andeng on our 12th wedding anniversary.
“I more than survived,” I replied.
“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.
So, my wife Andeng and I have been married a dozen 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 not make it an ordeal. We agreed to make it work. Yes, marriage is something that couples have to work on together so it could work.
I have to admit that making it work during the past 12 years has been easy. The fact is making it work has been harder for us. We are a couple who lives in the 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 society and in business. I am the chief servant of a famous city; she helps run her family’s longtime business – a production enterprise that demands a lot of her talent for organizing and mobilizing creative people and resources.
Our respective roles in business and society are exhausting. 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.
It is easy to get into each other’s nerves. We both have to be conscious that we could be using each other as an outlet for the frustration and pressure other people give us. That would be unfair, but that does happen.
Given our respective situations, my wife and I knew a long time ago that we will have to make the marriage work. We agreed and committed ourselves to the fact that marriage and parenthood would come first before the demands of work and public service. Of course, that is easier said than done. We have compromised that principle on many occasions and have had to quickly get back on track.
Marriage 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 and advocate of meta-coaching, presents a clear process of how a team becomes such. He enumerates four stages: form, norm, storm and 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.”
Our team was “formed” on November 19, 2005. 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 had gone through many “storms” which tested our commitment to our norms: election campaigns, political conflicts, disagreements and the task of raising up two beautiful daughters in a high-pressure environment.
We have weathered these storms. Overcoming them have made sure that our team can perform its role, deliver on its tasks and achieve its goals.
I would like to thank our parents, relatives, friends, and colleagues in our profession and in public service who have walked with us during our “storms”. They have helped us make sure that our team norms pass the test with flying colors.
I would like to thank my wife Andeng for 12 years of teamwork. If we were a basketball team, she would definitely be the point guard. She understands plays, strategies and she does “distribute the ball” well.
Here’s to many more years of working on the same team with you, Andeng.
But who’s counting?
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