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Compatibility Issue Numero Uno

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“My husband finishes in less than 60 seconds”, a Filipina lady sadly shared about her Kano husband at a pot-luck. Another Filipina tried to brag about her Kano husband, “My husband goes for 60 minutes!” After a good bit of discussion the group of ladies came to the conclusion that 60 seconds is preferable to 60 minutes. I did not overhear this conversation and if I had I would not have understood it anyway because it was in either Tagalog or Bisayan. My wife told me about it after the party. My wife said she made no comment on my longevity, so I think I will leave that out of this article. The truth is that most Filipinas I know would rather have a fertile man who is a dud in bed than an infertile stud. This article is not about sexual compatibility; it is about verbal communication compatibility. If the picture and the opening of the article tricked you into reading…sorry and please feel free to stop reading now and move on with your life.

Questions in place of answers

“Dear I want to help you with the laundry. Should I fold or hang these clothes?” I asked my wife hoping for a Yes or No.

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My wife replies, “Whose clothes are those?”

“Our boys.” I answer, “Do you want me to fold their clothes?”

“How long have we had children?” inquires my love.

“Well the older is twelve; do you want me to fold the clothes?” I ask for a third time.

“What have we always…Where are you going? Aren’t you going to help with the laundry?” my wife questions as I open the door and leave.

“No.” I answer. Sometimes you have to take a tampo.

Is the message getting through?

Is the message getting through?

That’s OK

“Honey, do you want some ice cream?” I ask my beloved as I spy an ice cream vendor in the Island City Mall.

“That’s OK.” My honey replies.

I repeat the question a few times rephrasing slightly and get the same response. This goes on for a while, but long story short I to this day do not know if my wife wanted ice cream or not. I do not know if saying, “That’s OK.” is a yes or no. Do you?

Yes means:

  1. I hear what you said.
  2. I would like to have, but….
  3. I understand why you wanted me to do something, but…
  4. I wish I could help you, but…
  5. I am concerned.

This list could probably go on for a long time. If you want to add to it feel free in the comments section. One of the most frustrating instances was when I was helping my wife to be to get her Fiancé’ Visa and I asked if a form had been filed. I was given a simple, “Yes.”, by a family member, but it had not been filed. I ended up making a number of calls and un-necessarily and wrongly yelling at bureaucrats over the phone. I don’t think I was really being lied to it was a communication problem.

He or She

If you are listening to a Filipino telling a story and you think you hear the wrong gender pronoun being used try to understand, be patient and be kind. The confusion is not related to lady boys, which the Philippines seems to be famous for all though I think the actual number of lady boys is actually much lower than a lot of people think. My understanding is that in most or all Philippine languages there are no gender specific pronouns. Listeners are supposed to use context clues to know the gender. My advice is use context clue to figure out which is which silently. Do not correct your wife in public.

Solutions

Well, I think I defined the problem pretty well. Now for solutions….I got nothing, zilch, nada, sorry out of stock. I am not sure why, but Filipinos seem to avoid answering simple yes or no questions. Part of the problem with trying to get a yes or no answer from a Filipino is that most Filipinos seek to avoid confrontation. Another part of this is due to the way spoken communication is viewed in the different cultures. In most Western cultures the primary reason for communication is to exchange information to get something done. In Filipino culture the primary purpose of spoken communication seems to be entertainment and building relationships. I ain’t knocking Filipino culture. I understand why it is what it is. That does not help much though. If any reader has any solutions please share with the rest of us.

Since I made a free will choice to marry someone from another culture, I try to be patient, keep calm and am trying to figure this out. I have not yet after 14 years, but I will let you know if I do. Part of communication issues is also male versus female, I think, but since the majority of Western/Filipino relationship the Westerner is male and the Filipino is female this is a big issue. About the only time foreign significant others hear, “No”, from their Filipina mate relates to the opening of this article. If they have already fathered children, then they are of little use now are they. Oh well….

Question of the Day

What do you think is the biggest compatibility issue facing couples where the man is from a Western country and the lady is from the Philippines? (Communication, Sex, Money, Children, Religion, Birth Control, Other)

Jay Stainback

Jay Stainback lives in Raleigh, NC, USA and is hoping/planning to retire to Bohol in about 10 years. He is married to his beautiful Filipina wife Juliet whom he met on-line. They were married 12/7/02 and have two boys’ ages 9 years old and 5 years old. Jay has visited the Philippines 4 times the first time 1 week, the 2nd time 2 weeks, the 3rd time for 3 weeks, the 4th time 4 weeks spending most of their time in Bohol.

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Al Cruise
Al Cruise
5 years ago

I can relate. There are funny and quirky things that arise. I love my wife so much and just just never mention the small things that occur because the big picture is perfect. Now my story. I let my wife take care of all the paper work because she is better than me. I got a letter in the mail to appear in court as a witness for someone’s hearing. I gave it to her asking her to file it ( it stated to bring the letter when I appear for Court ) saying I would need to bring it… Read more »

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Al Cruise

Hi Al,

Thanks for sharing your story it added a lot to the article!

Peace

Jay

Richard
Richard
5 years ago
Reply to  Al Cruise

hahahaha

ouel
ouel
5 years ago
Reply to  Al Cruise

Ha ha. I’ve been married 38 years and can relate. I think similar things have happened to me dozens of times. Some things just can’t be explained!

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
5 years ago

Jay; What you pointed out is so true! Because of the noise and confusion going on around us on a ship, sailors have developed a phrase to clear that up. The term Aye-aye Sir is simple and covers most situations. The order or request is given, when it is received it is verified by responding with; “Aye-Aye sir” Which means: I heard that order, I understand that order and I will comply with that order! No further talking is required. The word order can be replaced with the word request. The confusion that existed in the past had ended with… Read more »

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the commenting and adding your wisdom from 25 years of experience!

Peace

Jay

Rusty Fox
Rusty Fox
5 years ago

All so familiar! Another point of communication difficulty is multi-part questions, or more than one question at a time. Something like, “Are you going to Nanay’s, and if so, when?” will get some kind of a reply to one part or the other, but never to both. And this is more than just at home. Is information so valuable that you can only let somebody have the barest minimum at any one time? Because I can never get the whole story at one time – it’s slower than extracting a nail with a rubber hammer! One tiny bit of information… Read more »

hgb
hgb
5 years ago
Reply to  Rusty Fox

Jay, I Loved the opening of your article. I had to look to see if I was actually reading an article from LIP.

I’ve got to believe Filipinas hear something different as a yes or no answer can be an “OK or chicken” It can be frustrating at times.

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  hgb

Hi,

I am glad you enjoyed the “hook”. I always try to start with something to grab the readers attention. The reason I started with the sex part is because on a previous article I was talking about compatibility issues and I could not no matter how many times or how many different ways I tried get the commenters to understand I was not talking about sexual compatibility. Iam pretty sure the commenters were not Filipino, so communication problems seem to be somewhat universal. Thanks for the comment!

Peace

Jay

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Rusty Fox

Hi Rusty,

Thanks for the comment! You are right that you have to take the good with the bad and for both of us the good is a lot better than the bad!

Peace

Jay

Bob Hausen
Bob Hausen
5 years ago
Reply to  Rusty Fox

I never, never, ever get more than one response at a time. I have to learn to stop with the multiple question inquiries…….

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Bob Hausen

Hi Bob,

To be honest, I must be part Filipino because if given a bunch of questions at once I don’t respond to some or I say “No” reflexively until I have time to think about a request. I think Filipinos tend to say :Yes” reflexively and that leads to confusion.

I agree it is best not to ask a lot of questions at once and I confess I do sometimes.

Peace

Jay

Luke Tynan
5 years ago

Very true. At time very confusing when trying to complete projects.

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Luke Tynan

Hi Luke,

Thanks for stopping by and adding your two cents!

Peace

Jay

Jim Hannah
Jim Hannah
5 years ago

60 Seconds, LOL. I think my marriage, or perhaps my wife, doesn’t fit into the apparently”typical” scenario. Maybe she’s trying to kill me, but if she didn’t get “dealt with” at least four times a week, and none of your sixty second business, she’d be er…somewhat grumpy…to say the least. But we do have another British/Filipino couple who are friends, and I once heard him groan..”Oh…it’s her Birthday today…and before you know it, Christmas will be around again”. Take from that what you will! Yes or No answers. A tricky one, but you gotta phrase the question right, and follow… Read more »

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Jim Hannah

Hi Jim,

Thanks for sharing! Yeah, I tend to overgeneralize. Follow up questions are important for sure.

Peace

Jay

Al Cruise
Al Cruise
5 years ago

One other thing about the gender. I noticed exactly what you are saying, he or she. Now she is working in a nursing home she is telling me stories daily of her adventures with the elderly, and I notice it almost with every story. One sentence she will refer to a person as she the next sentence the same person is he. She is from GenSan so speaks Cebuano and Tagalog . I asked her in the Cebuano language is there a word for a specific sex and how do you refer to a person. She said no on the… Read more »

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Al Cruise

Hi Al,

After awhile I got used to figuring it out and I highly recommend not correct your lady especially if others are around.

Peace

Jay

Al Cruise
Al Cruise
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Thanks Jay , yes I would never correct her anywhere I just let her stories from work flow and am just glad to hear them.

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Al Cruise

Hi Al, Ah yes the stories, I thought about including the stories in the article, but decided to leave it out. My wife will sometimes start a story by, “Don’t get mad at me, but…” Then I will hear a long drawn out account. I used to try to guess at some point what happened or what she did or kind of ask her to get to the point, but I learned to just listen. Often there is no point to get to. The point of the story is to entertain. This actually is not a bad thing. She tells… Read more »

Al Cruise
Al Cruise
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Thanks Jay , Great article it really got the people talking. Sorry for the late response I am on a desktop and it may be 2 to 3 days between logins, driving my smartphone friends
nuts.

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  Al Cruise

Hi Al,

My 12 year old makes fun of my flip phone all the time, so I can relate. I always like to try to get a discussion started. I write more to learn than to teach. Glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for commenting!

Peace

Jay

ouel
ouel
5 years ago
Reply to  Al Cruise

Siya (Tagalog) is “he” or “she”. My wife constantly uses the wrong pronoun when speaking in excellent English, but I’ve learned to cope. Dontcha just love it!

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  ouel

Hi Ouel,

Thanks for the information! I sometimes wonder if my wife doesn’t make the mistake semi-intentionally to force me to listen more closely, because when I am listening intently and giving undivided attention to her, I can understand what and who she is talking about, but if I am only half listening. I get confused. I have learned to if all possible stop thinking, doing or listening to anything else and focus on my wife with good eye contact when she is telling one of her “amusing stories”. She has trained me well!

Peace

Jay

ouel
ouel
5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Jay, I completely understand. We are liked well-trained dogs! Al

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  ouel

Hi Ouel,

Some would say I am p*ssy whipped. To that I would reply I would rather be p*ssy whipped than pistol whipped or whipped by anything else. I love my wife and it is funny how we grow on each other. I have caught myself say, “That’s OK.” to questions that really needed a “Yes” or “No” answer lately.

Peace

Jay

RT Cunningham
5 years ago

I’m still correcting my wife after more than 30 years, more than 20 of which was in the USA.

As far as the sex thing goes, just call me Al Bundy.

Jay
Jay
5 years ago
Reply to  RT Cunningham

Hi RT,

Thanks for sharing, but even though I have reached the point in my life that I no longer care what others think of my ability to perform, I don’t think I would compare myself to Al Bundy. Enjoyed your allusion though. It made me smile.

Peace

Jay

Jay
Jay
5 years ago

Hi Caroline,

Thanks for sharing a Filipina’s perspective! For a lot of foreigners not answering is frustrating. I understand your desire not to have a conflict is part of your culture, but that can sometimes lead to problems.

Peace

Jay

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