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LILIAN DIPASUPIL KUNIMASA

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 7/15/2015 |




Songsoptok: Marriage is a lifelong symphony with one central theme but the music is played in anew everyday’ – this is a rough translation of a line from a short story by Rabindranath Tagore. Do you feel that this comment, made in a period dominated by Victorian romanticism, is true today?

LILIAN: It makes me smile everytime I hear someone say that marriage is not as it was before. How is it different? In essence, marriage is a union of two people to address a need or needs that shall be satisfied by the union. Addressing such need is the lifelong symphony and everyday each one discovers more about each other, readjusting the way they interact with each other everyday depending on the situations they face. Now, has that changed today? I think not. Only the lifestyle changed, not only in marriage but in evertyhing in our society. Still it is with the same theme, the music just changed from waltz to hiphop. 


Songsoptok: What, in your opinion, is the real chemistry of an intimate relationship? Do you think that the social institution of marriage is based on that chemistry?

LILIAN:  Respect, Trust and Sharing. Any relationship can not be intimate without one of those. Let's face it, even then and now, one can have intimate relationship without marriage, and have marriage without intimate relationship. And I mean intimacy not only in physical sense. It can be spritual, intellectual or financial relationship. Marriage gives each spouse the legal right to enjoy those intimacy, for the society to respect the relationship's right to do so, and the security of either spouse that such relationship has the stability and protection that is guaranteed by a social institution.


Songsoptok:  What according to you are the main factors for keeping marital relationship alive and healthy?

LILIAN: Only one. Commitment to be one. If both see their relationship not as of two poeple but one, each one will do his/her best to nurture the relationship. Both will do anything to let the other grow, be satisfied and happy. The reason why a relationship dies or be on the rocks , is that both do not see themselves as one.


Songsoptok: Very often we see that a happy marital relationship results when one of the partners surrender to the other’s ego. Do you think this is how it should be? Especially since it is most often the woman that surrenders to the man, or more generally to the patriarchal system?

LILIAN:  No. A happy relationship is a symbiotic one. Outwardly, we may say a woman surrenders to a man's ego and both are happy. Yet, it is either the man himself surrenders to the woman's ego unseen by others, or both are truly unhappy. It is nature's law, if one wishes not to be spiritual. Respect, Trust, and Sharing. That is true in any relationship, much more in marriage, where the spouses affect each other's life on a daily basis.


Songsoptok: Tolstoy said in his story THE KREUTZER SONATA “... a marriage without love is no marriage at all, that only love sanctifies marriage, and that the only true marriage is that sanctified by love”. We all agree that this is how it should be. That there should not be a tragic end to any marriage. What is the reason then for the increasing number of divorces in all societies?

LILIAN:  The oneness is gone. I believe in individualism when it comes to accountability, but not in commitment. Love has been twisted and misunderstood by people, now days. We have been so focused on the I, MY, ME concept that we can not see beyond our own needs, wants, convenience and situations. When we encounter "inconvenient' situations, we lose our trust, our respect and sharing. We refuse to understand the whole picture. You spoke of divorce. How many times I hear people saying, there is an increase number of broken homes because of divorce. In my country, divorce is not recognized, yet separation, legally or not, is also increasing. They say that it is because women today are economically independent. Does it mean that marriage is based only on economic dependence? I was economically disabled when I got separated then divorced in another country. They say it is because women are more of independent, un nurturing mind set. I never was, and still am not. Lol


Songsoptok: By the word ‘marriage’ we generally think of a well defined relationship built on the tenet of spending the entire life together. Do you think that this in itself creates a type of suffocation which leads to break-ups and divorces?

LILIAN:  The reason one gets married in the first place is the idea of spending the  entire life together. Suffocation comes not from the idea of being together in a life time. Suffocation comes because one or both are no longer happy with the kind of relationship they are having. It is easier to find fault in the system or the institution rather than admit that the fault lies in the two people having the relationship. I know that because I do that too. When asked why my marriage failled, I find it easier to blame both our countries' laws and culture rather than admitting we had a weak foundation. 


Songsoptok:  In a very general way, marriage is understood as the cohabitation of man and woman with a view to reproduction. Can this narrow and very physical dimension be the essence of marriage? Doesn’t the success of marriage depends also on a communion between the personality, psychology and above all the soul of the married couple? What is your opinion? Do you think that in modern society such a definition of marriage is relevant and realistic?

LILIAN: That 'reproduction' view is a very narrow minded understanding of marriage. I frown on it, for I see many failed marriage because of it. How society despise women and even men incapable of producing a child. How very young couples are pushed to have children even if they are not yet emotionally, physically or financially capable of resposible parenthood. Marriage IS a "communion between the personality, psychology and above all the soul of married couple". In my society, I still see the pressure by the society on couples to bear children.

Let me throw back the question to all, when has it ever been relevant and realistic view for marriage to succeed, there must be children?  In rich society , it is so there would be heirs to pass their acquired worldy possesions or their trade in life. In poor society, so there would be more helpers to work and earn for their large family. In worst cases, be it in rich or poor society, children are like beast to be traded or sold to highest bidder.  


Songsoptok: It seems that in today’s society the clash of personalities, especially within marriage, is an unpleasant reality. Almost 100 years back, D.H.Lawrence said in Lady Chatterley's Lover “The modern cult of personality is excellent for friendship between sexes, and fatal for marriage”. In other words, he thought that the development of woman’s personality is actually a hindrance to successful marriage. What is your opinion? Do you think that it is the inability of the patriarchal society to tolerate the independence of women the main reason for the marital conflicts in today’s society?

LILIAN: Are we saying that men are still so insecure of their own standing that they cannot tolerate the independence of women? Unfortunately, that has been my case often. Men wanting to control my thoughts and actions. Men not wanting to admit I am right in certain situations. Men who wish me not to suceed in any undertakings I find interest in. One friend advised me that in order to find a new husband I must act dumb and weak personality. Is the problem with the 'independent' women or the insecurity of men?  Social pressure of machoism, of being a knight in shining armour to hapless virgins, of being stronger and better than the women they choose. I think Men themselves should decry such pressure pllaced on them by the society. Gender equality is something that is still so difficult to accept by the society.  Women and Men still tied to the Slave mentality even at this era.  Respect, Trust and Sharing of life and everything in it... the  essence of marriage. So how can women's independence be a reason for marital conflict idf both respect, trust, and share with each other?


Songsoptok: Do you think that society perceives a divorced man and woman in the same way? Most of the time we see that the woman is blamed for not making the necessary compromises. So the implicit assumption is that the success of a marriage is directly related to the woman’s capacity to compromise. What is you view?

LILIAN: A divorced man is a freed man from the marriage cage. A divorced woman is a failure. I think that is still a universal misperception. It takes two to enter into a marriage, two to make a marriage work and still two to make a marriage fail. A sucessful marriage is when two are equal with a give and take relationship... Both giving and both taking.


Songsoptok: Do you think that divorce affects the conscious and the subconscious of the children? What, according to you, could be the effect of a divorce in their adult lives, positive or negative?

LILIAN: It depends on what kind of marriage and family living they have. Married couple living together but always at each other's throat and having the children sponge up all the violence and bitterness. Is that healthy? Divorced parents competing for their children's attention, blaming their children for estranged parent's faults, or neglecting the children totally. Is that healthy? It is not whether the parents are divorced or not. It is how they present the other spouse, the realiities of life in a positive or negative way that affects  the concious and subconcious of a child.


Songsoptok:  Generally it is the mother who takes care of the children following a divorce. Although children need their mother more while growing up, what kind of impact can the absence of a father figure have on a growing child? So what according to you should be the role of the mother?

LILIAN:   A child needs both a father and mother image in their life. What is the role of a mother? To be a responsible parent, just like the father. A typecast role is essential in the past, when only men can engage in business or paying employment.  A single parent, be it a father or a mother, must assume both parental role.


Songsoptok: What according to you could be the impact of the growing number of divorces on the next generations? Or do you think this is the way tomorrow’s society will evolve?

LILIAN:   The question is what is the impact on the next generation by the current generation's self focused attitude. As long as we remain so self-oriented, uncommitted and irresponsible, tomorrow's society will be something to worry about. What are we teaching to the youth about relationship?  How are the children perceiving our selfish attitutdes? Are they getting absorbed by such values? Or are they rejecting our foolishness and want to make a change. That shall determine how tomorrow's society will evolve.


LILIAN DIPASUPIL KUNIMASA: POET


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