“Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by this Code.” (The Family Code, Title 1, Chapter 1, Article 1)
A lot of my high school classmates are now married, are getting married or are planning to get married. I guess we’re at that age. Alas! I’ve always been the black sheep of the batch.
Aside from the fact that I still don’t have a boyfriend there are many other reasons why I cannot see myself marrying someone or anyone before I turn…. maybe 35? Getting married before 30 has never been part of my bucket list. Come to think of it, I don’t recall getting married at all as ever being part of my “Things to do before I die,” “Life Goals,” or “Dream List.” Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with getting married. I, personally, would prefer a long and committed relationship with someone I love rather than go on several dates and have several flings. I am not that fling-kind of person. What irks me most about getting married is not the fact of it but the institution itself and all the presumptions that come with it. Getting married in the Philippines, especially for women, has become so ingrained in our culture that people like me who think twice before doing it are deemed abnormal or worse, insane. That fact alone makes me not want to get married just so I can break that social construct but, who knows? Maybe one day I’ll meet that man who’ll change my mind.
Anyway, back to my qualms about marriage. Even before studying law I’ve had my own apprehensions about getting married. Mainly because I felt like it will curtail my freedom as an individual. I also felt like it will force me to put on an apron and be the good old housewife that I know I will suck at. I guess watching too much teleseryes that time got me thinking that once a woman marries she loses her individuality and even her own identity. Now that I have grown up I know better but then society always says otherwise.
As I studied the law I realized more questionable facts about marriage that I have issues with aside from those that are not related to law at all. Let me list a few of them here, some legal, some personal:
1. The default property relations.
Under the Family Code those who get married after its effectivity (August 3, 1988) will have property relations governed by the Absolute Community of Property (ACP) if they do not execute a marriage settlement before getting married. Basically ACP means that all of your individual properties, including those you owned before marriage, are deemed part of the conjugal properties. Meaning, all of your properties (past, present and future) belong to you both. I mean, why? I personally think it was better before the Family Code because conjugal properties are only those that are acquired during marriage but now we have this. Does the law really think that having all properties co-owned by both the spouses can make the marriage stronger? I think it further leads to quarrels.
Statistics show that most domestic problems stem from financial hardships. Having joined properties allow one party to squander the other’s creating resentment because they do not have separate properties to offer them financial security in case the other person decides to risk it all. For me, it would be best if some of the properties are co-owned while some, especially those acquired before marriage or by inheritance, are left for the individual to serve as security. In that way quarrels about money are lessened.
Now there is a way to do this and that is by creating a marriage settlement before getting married or a prenup in colloquial terms. However, in the Philippines, prenups are not seen as practical. In fact it is widely frowned upon since it is seen as one person not completely trusting his or her soon-to-be spouse. I mean, what? It’s worse if the prenup comes from the female side. Unless you’re Kris Aquino, your future in-laws will definitely question your commitment to your partner with a prenup proposal. That is the kind of backward thinking that I hate the most.
2. The use of the husband’s family name.
Many women do not know this but it is not legally required for a woman to change her maiden family name and adopt that of her husband’s when they get married. A woman, under the law, MAY use her husband’s surname or append it with a hyphen. The word “may” connotes that it is not mandatory. A woman is allowed to not change her name even after marriage. So it’s not legally correct to say that the woman is already Mrs. [so and so] right after the wedding ceremony ends. It doesn’t work like that. If I get married I won’t be changing my name even if I know the repercussions to it are great. That is primarily the reason why I want to do that.
People are so used to believing such “fake news” about married women’s names that if they find out that you retained your maiden name they will not only be shocked but will probably look at you with disgust and disdain. Like, “Why? Don’t you love your husband?” As if true love can be measured just like that! Anyway, if I do get married that will be my primary advocacy — to educate women that there is another way of doing things, that you have a choice and to never let society dictate what you want to do since you won’t be breaking any laws anyway.
3. Weddings, and the amount of money wasted just by having them.
A friend of mine recently went to a wedding and she found out that the couple spent over half a million pesos just for the ceremony itself. My cousin recently got married and he spent all of his savings to give his future wife what she always dreamed of, a lavish wedding. Whenever I hear about such things, I cringe. Half a million? How many investments can you have with that money? How many trust funds for your future children’s education can you open? All of your savings? WHHHYYYYYY?????? Maybe I am just practical or stingy when it comes to money but spending half a million pesos or all of your savings on a one day event is so over the top for me.
They say that the expenditures go into many traditional stuff like having a pre-wedding photo shoot, a really lavish wedding gown, gowns of the bridesmaids, flower girls, suits for the groomsmen, etc. Do we really need all that stuff? Why do we need a pre-wedding photo shoot? For invitations? Why not just print actual words on the invites and don’t include photos? Having a lot of bridesmaids and groomsmen, even flower girls, can we do away with them too? The only ones important are the maid of honor and the best man anyway. A lot of the expenditures for weddings that are supposed to be traditional are for me unnecessary. Also, why invite over a hundred people?
If I do get married it’ll be small, simple and certainly not worth all of my life’s savings or half a million pesos, maybe just ten percent of that amount. All the money saved will probably go to a trust fund or a frozen account for our children and maybe for emergencies because you never know what will happen in the future. So, really, weddings? Even a civil one is fine with me. The most important thing is not the ceremony anyway. It is the promise that both of you make to commit to each other, to love, respect and care for one another until death do you part. Extravagant weddings are so superficial.
4. Do I really need to have my own children?
By the time I get married, if I do, it might be too late to have children. I also do not want to get pregnant that late in the game because it may cause physical hardships with my condition but I might change my mind if the time comes that I really want children of my own but for now I am looking for other options. Let’s just adopt!
There are many children out there that are abandoned and need a family. There are even thousands of refugee children who need a home. Instead of contributing to the rapid population growth of the country why can’t we help those already alive to live a more fulfilling life. Ever since high school I have always wanted to adopt a child and help him or her become a good citizen and the person he or she was meant to be. If I happen to become affluent enough I might adopt several children aside from having children of my own or just simply adopt! Having your own children is an outdated concept when what the world needs are not more children but more happy and well-cared for children who will make the future better.
5. The “you must stay with your children!” mentality.
I mean I get it, children need maternal love but do I really need to be around all the time? I have worked so hard and so long on my career just to give it up because I already have a family. Uh-uh, no way! Can’t I just have both?
I am not housewife material. I may be a home-buddy and an introvert but I am an absent-minded and an unorganized one. I cannot maintain a home without someone’s help. Just look at my room! I’ve always seen myself as working and taking care of my children only after I work. During that time, the nannies will take care of the children. Many find this apprehensive. Does being a mother really mean that we have to give up our careers? I just can’t.
I’m fine with having children of my own but I also want to be a career woman. To do that I cannot stay and take care of the children all the time. If I do I’ll just get frustrated and maybe resent my life. I would probably end up regretting getting married and having children and we don’t want that. I will never follow that path of abandoning my personal aspirations to start a family. I’m just not that kind of woman.
6. Same sex marriage is still not allowed.
I believe in free love. Although I am not part of the LGBTQ+ community I would love to see their love be recognized in our otherwise backwards country. I believe that they must enjoy the same rights and privileges that married men and women have because their love is the same, it is universal. It is time to amend that Article and make it more inclusive.
I will not prolong my discussion on this subject because I am not an expert nor do I have the adequate knowledge to talk about the plight of the LGBTQ+ community. I will just end by saying that once marriage in the Philippines truly celebrates all forms of love then I’d probably believe in it more.
7. There is still no divorce in the Philippines.
Many would probably think that this counteracts with me wanting stronger and more committed relationships that are not founded upon superficial things. In my opinion, it’s not. Let’s face it, in the Philippines many people get married just because they have to. Without the benefit of divorce people who get married without thinking about it much are stuck in that marriage. It’s very hard to get annulled in the Philippines unless you’re public figures and have a ton of dough. The reality is there are marriages that won’t work out. Having the option to get out of it (that is not as hard as annulment or declaring the marriage null and void, OR as inadequate as legal separation) should be available. I accept the fact that some people are not rational when it comes to feelings of euphoria and love. They act irrationally. Studies actually show that people who are in love experience delirious moments due to the changes in their brain structures so I won’t fault them for that. It is natural and sometimes uncontrollable. There are some people who can minimize the effects and be able to think rationally despite being deeply and madly in love but that is such a rarity. Let’s not bank on that.
Aside from unwise marriages, there are those that are stuck in abusive relationships which developed over time. It may be that their spouses (women can be violent too) were loving and kind when they first got married but situations change and so do people. There may be times that the once loving relationship turns into a really violent one. In such cases, legally you can apply for Legal Separation but legal separation only allows you to live separately. The marital ties continue and you cannot re-marry if one day you meet someone whom you think will treat you better. Annulment nor declaring it null and void is not an option in such situations because the cause did not exist before or at the time of the marriage but subsequently after. That’s the difference between Annulment, Declaration of Nullity and Legal Separation which most people mistake often especially in many Filipino dramas and movies. They even incorrectly mix up the three. For such situations, getting divorced is so much better.
To be clear, I want a divorce system that is not as easy as that in America. I want one that still has some exceptions just to avoid paper divorces. For now, I’m not really sure what those exceptions are but I’ll continue to think about it and perhaps come up with a divorce system that helps people in tough relationships but at the same time protects the sanctity of the marital union. I hope that such a system is possible.
8. Women need to get married.
Growing old alone, especially when you’re a woman, is a major no-no in Philippine culture. It is seen as unfortunate and lonely hence the race of many Filipino women to get married before “mawala sila sa kalendaryo” (literally before they turn 30, owing to the fact that most months have only 30-31 days).
This has never been my problem. I have even prepared for a future where I’ll be single for all of my life and I think it’ll only be lonely if you believe that it’ll be. Sure, I still want to have a special someone to spend my life with but that’s because I WANT it, not because I NEED it. When I do decide to commit myself to someone it’ll be because I chose to be with that person, because I love to be with him and spend my life with him. I think that’s how marriages are supposed to be. You should get married because you want to not because you need to. I am someone who when I dive, will dive right in and swim, maybe become a mermaid and live in the water for all of my life. When I love someone, it’s because I really want to love him for the rest of my life.
If it doesn’t happen to me then it’s fine. That only means that I did not find that person that I would want to spend my life with. I will not just chose a random person or anyone that could be suitable and livable with. It should be someone I really want to be with. It would also be fine if we never get married but continue to stay in a long and fully committed relationship. What is important for me is the commitment, never the title.
For all the reasons stated above, I know that I do not see myself as getting married any time soon. First, I need to be stable enough to start a family — financially, mentally and emotionally. I am not at that point as of the moment. Maybe my friends who got married are but I am not there yet. I have a lot more to experience and to achieve. I do not want to get married and resent it later because it will prevent me from doing the things I really want to do in my life. One of my friends always ask me when I’ll get married and every time she does that I always find myself wanting to slap her in the face just to get my point across. I have other bigger plans that are more important right now. It will come once it comes but for now, I want to focus on becoming the better version of myself for each day that passes. For now, it’s the SINGLE LIFE for me.