Filipino couples understand that when they marry one, they marry the entire clan, including the mailman tito & Filipino grocery-owner, tita.
Makes sense, family is so important to Filipino women (of course with men too) that it “gives her goosebumps when you can laugh with her mom longer than she can, “ a Caucasian husband once shared with me.
These kilig ( a quivering excitement feeling inside) moments are what builds friendship in the beginning of the relationship. According to John Gottman, a renowned Psychologist in the realm of couples counseling , this getting to know phase is called building love maps.
They are basically stuff we knew about our partners back when we felt lovey-dovey with them.
They are little things we pick up around the likes & dislikes of our partner, say, that thousand island dressing & his burger don’t mesh together or how many splenda packets you want in your coffee.
They are little things make big impacts in a relationship. According to the Gottman Approach to Couples’ Relationship, the everyday small things are what makes a good enough relationship.
According to Gigy & Kelly in the California Divorcen Mediation Project discovered that 80% of the time, the major cause of divoce is that people have become emotionally distant & drift apart.
In the Gottman approach to Couples counseling, the focus is not merely on resolving conflict but on building friendships, sharing dreams, a shared vision and to find ways to others-soothe. The word self-soothe is a common concept in the Western culture. The ability to find ways to calm oneself through external internal locusts of control.
LOVE MAPS FOR THE FILIPINO COUPLE
Filipino women have one of the highest interracial marriages among its Asian counterparts. Interracial Filipino couples may have a layer of complexity in terms of negotiating cultural nuances.
However, I’ve seen that in some Interracial Filipino couples (one of the partners identify as Filipino) who have fluency in gentle, verbal communication use this cultural difference as a variance for deeper connection.
I observe that this depends (although not solely but greatly) on the ability of the Filipino partner to express their needs and narrate cultural differences in a less emotionally charged position.
Love Maps are like treasure maps where you find jewels and gems along the way as you move closer to the actual Treasure Chest of your relationship.
What’s fun about these love maps is that finding the treasure chest is as rewarding as finding the smallest gems along the way. Sometimes, you even forget the treasure chest hunt. (image of a treasure map)
For Filipino Couples/Interracial Filipino Couples who want to grow in love, finding time to nurture your love maps will help keep you on track.
But if you feel lost & dissatisfied with your relationship. And, often thought to yourself-
But you weren’t like this before.
You used to be…
You’ve always been___. But now_____.
I’ve always felt____with you but now I feel____.
If finding gems along the way seem like an awkward and daunting task, there is hope.
When you don’t know what these gems look like, they may be glaring you in the face while you ask yourself frustrated,
“where are they?”
The following tools are specific on building your love maps, meaning your friendship with each other using the Gottman approach, a research-based intervention based on studying thousands of couples with diverse backgrounds.
I have modified them to fit the need of the Filipino Couple or Interracial Filipino Couples.
If you feel you need couples counseling in Fairfield, Vallejo, Suisun, Vacaville area or on-line, leave me a message here.
SETTING THE TONE FOR LOVE MAPS
If you both have been used to greeting each other grumpily in the morning. Suddenly asking questions about-
“Honey, what would you like me to make for dinner today?” may sound like a martian talking to a prehistoric dinosaur
Both will be stumped to see each other. AHhhhh!
In fact, start by putting your partner in a more positive light. Both of you need to agree to do this. So, a pre-talk about moving your relationship into a different direction is a prerequisite.
List down how you feel in your relationship today and make sure to use “ I Statements.” These statements talk about YOU rather than YOUR PARTNER.
Some statement starters are-
- I feel _____about our relationship.
- I’m confused about how we became so easily irritated with each other. I don’t know how to solve this and I need your help.
- I want to feel good about our relationship but I don’t know where to start. Do you have any suggestions?
- I feel ____because it’s important to me to feel connected to you. Do you mind figuring this out with me?
I want to warn you that if you’re in a toxic or volatile relationship, the need for outside support whether with a coach, a therapist, a pastor is one that I highly recommend.
If you can’t get past the prerequisite of you both agreeing to move your relationship in a different direction, it will be very difficult to build your friendship back again. But, support is around the corner if you think your relationship is worth a try.
Do your research and seek out a Couples Therapist who you can trust. If you have any questions about Couples Counseling in Fairfield, Vallejo, Suisun, Vacaville or on-line, send me a message here.
If you both agreed to take some time for Couple’s Care, try this exercise for a week. The aim of the exercise is to allow you both to see each other in a more positive light.
Please note that both of you need to answer these questions. You may share your answers with each other daily, every other day or accumulate to a designated “sharing day,” for example, on a Saturday.
Recommend to print and write down your answers or just jot down the questions and answers on your notebook.
LOVE MAP QUESTIONS FOR FILIPINO COUPLES
Building your friendship is a foundational skill that can take your relationship to blah to a good enough relationship.
No relationship is free of any conflict or at least an irritation here and there. Taking the time to notice gems and jewels in your own relationship is a start, a journey but is not a destination.
Looking for gems in the beginning will feel like the chore you hated to do. But As you do them, you’ll notice your attitude slowly changing from the chore you hate to the hobby you can’t wait to get back into.
Yup, finding gems in your relationship can be an immensely rewarding experience for you and your partner.
For Filipino Couples/ Interracial Filipino Couples who may not have the upbringing of expressing emotions openly or who may see ALL conversations as confrontations, take heart. The 50 Questions: Love Maps for Filipino Couples is designed to help you learn more about you and your partner rather than put a blame on anyone.
Here are sample questions you can start asking each other. Access your 50 Questions: Love Maps for Filipino Couples here.
- What do I fear the most?
- Who is my favorite & least favorite relative?
- What would I change about our house if I can?
- What profession would I be in if not the one I’m in right now?
- What type of music will make me dance?
- What’s my favorite Filipino food?
- What Filipino cultural practice do I like the most?Hate?
- What’s my favorite color?
- What causes me stress lately?
- What do I hope to achieve/goals in the next 3 years?
You can ask these questions not just once with your partner. The more you do it, the more you get to know your partner and build on your friendship. It’s great to use them on date nights too! Leave me a comment and let me know how they worked out for you.
There is this myth that relationships take a lot of work. As they do take effort, it doesn’t entail though the bullet size sweat on your furrow you imagine when hearing this phrase.
Effort can simply mean being conscious and then making the conscious effort to grow in love in spite of.
In the Filipino (traditional) family context where emotions are not always freely expressed, & where our attachment styles may differ from our partner, it is never too late to build friendships that last a lifetime.
Love maps are foundational in every relationship. When you know what gems you’re looking for, taking notice takes less effort.
Don’t forget to snatch your 50 Questions: Love Maps for Filipino Couples.
Sa uulitin (‘till then),