Sunday, 12 March 2017

International Women's Day.

I went out to buy tea this morning for myself and coffee for my wife. When I returned home, I struggled with my tea and dropped it. Splash! - the cup broke and all the tea fell out...ALL!

I was left with a hole in the cup and a very dissatisfied grown up man. I nearly threw a hissy fit, and by that, I mean a long-drawn sulk like a boy whose toy just got snatched away.

But then, my wife came out. She is a homemaker. She makes up the home. I suspect it's much more than that. And she puts me to shame on this.

Like clockwork, she calmly cleared the spill, wiped it dry, every drop of it, and then the next thing I heard was the door closing. She had gone to get me a new cup of tea, unsolicited. The grumpy 47-year-old me is finally pacified. I felt loved - really.

Today is International Women's Day. And women are many thing to many people. They are called by many names.

Duterte once "boasted on a compaign trail about having two mistresses but added that the women would not cost taxpayers much because he kept them at cheap boarding houses and took them to by-the-hour hotels for sex."

Maybe the President was just kidding, but the reality of many women, young girls especially, are no laughing matter. In some places, they are not even worth the prize of a family owned cow.

But the uptrend is that the images of women are changing. The papers today attest to that. They are climbing higher in the career ladder, making more inroads in man-dominated fields like science, engineering, research, banking and investment. And they are making waves.

Yet the glass ceiling in the form of prejudice and perception are still there. Research scientist Dr Tan Yen Nee says, "It can be difficult, but as women, we can endure and embrace the challenge."

Tracy Woon, vice-chairman of UBS wealth, says, "Women who make it to the top spend so much time working hard that they don't have as much time to share their experiences. Guys have their boys' networks but women often also have to worry about family on top of work."

Lesson? Just one.

In an interview, Dr Kanwaljit Soin recalls, "My husband knows I like my career and sometimes jokes that I am not a housewife. I said, "Of course I am not. I am married to you, not the house.""

This is her marriage advice to newly weds: "The burden of care has to be shared equally...If you want to get married, choose a man who is a real partner and a co-partner. Not just a wage earner."

This is so true. I am basically not a traditional husband with a traditional mindset that views a woman's place ought to be at home, taking care of the kids, preparing meals and cleaning the house.

But my wife has been a homemaker for the last 14 years while I bring home the bacon. If the roles are reverse, I will gladly embrace it, and she will support it. Both roles - bacon and cooking it - are indispensable and equally essential to making a house a home, and nurturing the kids whole.

The thing about marriage is, as what Dr Soin said, you are married to a person whom you love, and promise to grow old together in a jealously protected covenantal relationship, and not to the house, or to an idea of marriage, or to your job, your status, ego or pride.

Marriage is coming out of yourself to embrace and serve the other, and not expecting the other person to come out to embrace and serve only you. Love is mutual; self is unilateral.

So, if you put the person whom you love and devotes to first before everything else, you will never go wrong or be disillusioned. Somehow, things will work themselves out even in the most trying of times - when the challenge of life stretches you mentally and emotionally to breaking point.

And because love is transcendent, the reciprocity of love will go beyond petty misunderstanding, personal insecurity, self-seeking attention, vain imaginations and the me-first mentality.

So, bear Dr Soin's advice in your heart. Marry a real partner and a co-partner, and not just a wage earner. The difference here is the devotion. One devotes to self and demands to be understood at all costs. And the other devotes to the other person and seeks to understand by sharing the costs. Cheerz.

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