On January 6, 2024, I stood as godmother in the beautiful wedding of Robi Domingo and Maiqui Pineda held at the Diocesan Shrine and Parish of San Isidro Labrador and the North Polo Club in Pulilan Bulacan. Robi and Maiqui are college batchmates of my oldest son Martin. Maiqui is part of what they call the Thursday Group, six Management students who would hang out on Thursdays, some of them happened right in our home. Later on, Maiqui also produced some of my Youtube videos in 2021 (Click links to see videos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). I met Robi through Maiqui and a couple of interviews we’ve done to discuss FQ. My youngest son, Anton, also worked with him as Myx VJ, and my second son, Enrique, is his Financial Architect. So, our family knows the two of them quite well – individually and as a couple. Like their other dear friends and family members, we were also praying for them when they encountered their major challenge in the middle of their wedding preparations. (Click here to read Maiqui’s account of her health challenge.) The wedding turned out to be not just a celebration of their love but also their courage. Congratulations to my inaanaks (godchildren)! Everyone is just very happy to see how Maiqui is recovering and how well they pulled off a beautiful wedding ceremony and a super fun party.
For today’s article, I wish to share some pieces of Ninang advice I’ve given them during our face-to-face conversations, viber messages, plus more. These are not specific steps that you should take from 1 – 10, but important concepts that will help you navigate marriage. Feel free to come up with your own style. This is also written in the hope that other young couples who just got married or about to get married may learn from them as well. January is the peak wedding month in the Philippines, so the timing is perfect.
1. Remember homeostasis. Robi, you graduated with a degree in Health Science and both your parents are doctors, so you may be familiar with this. Homeostasis is our body’s self-regulating process to maintain internal stability. This is an important reality to keep in mind when we view happiness and satisfaction in our marriage and life in general. You just came from an epic wedding and your spirits are now so high. Remember that we cannot stay forever in a high emotional state; otherwise, we will overheat. It’s the same when we encounter very low points, homeostasis will help us get back to equilibrium. Embracing this concept will help married couples appreciate the highs and lows of life.
2. Gottman’s Magic Ratio of 5:1 for a successful marriage. Married doctors John and Julie Gottman who have studied marital stability and divorce prediction over the last 50 years have come up with this research-based ratio for a happy and successful marriage. The 5:1 ratio means that for every 1 negative feeling or interaction during conflict, it was observed that there are 5 or more positive interactions among happily married couples. This is not to make you keep a score card, “O ininis mo ako, you need to make me happy 5x!” but more of an observation of successful couples that even while arguing, they may also be laughing and teasing each other and showing other signs of affection. And this is because they have already made some important connections. Keeping this ratio in mind can help couples maintain that healthy positive to negative balance needed for a successful marriage. It’s very much related to the Behavioral Economics concept of Loss Aversion, our tendency to feel the impact of a loss a lot more than the impact of a gain, so let’s keep those positives coming.
3. Loyalty and Priority. You both come from closely-knit families and that is good. These close ties have made you prepare well for your own family. There will be times when you will encounter conflicts between your families. Should you keep your loyalty to your original family? Or to the one you’re building now? Who is now your priority? I think you know the answers to these. You are lucky that you will be living on your own right from the start. This makes things more manageable because I believe that “there can only be one queen.” But for others who are still living with parents/in-laws due to whatever reason (affordability, family tradition), just have some ground rules on this matter and communicate them well with the kings/queens of your household.
4. Manage your Love Tanks. You may have different love languages and it’s best if you know each other’s language. This way, you can help fill them up – both your own and the other’s. Remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Also know what the other’s top needs are. Generally speaking, women have these in their top needs – financial security, connection, affection, while men have admiration, physical intimacy, companionship from friends. Find out what each other’s needs are so you can help each other avoid the pitfall discussed in our next item.
5. Beware of the Missing 10%. This is how I describe what usually causes infidelity. Nobody goes out there looking for an extramarital affair. They happen unintentionally, one coffee meet-up too many, or maybe one online message from that teenage crush or TOTGA (The One That Got Away) that may lead to “what if” imaginations. The usual story is this: Unfulfilled needs and/or insecurities may drive one spouse to someone else because of the need to satisfy that missing 10%. This is very dangerous, and later on, the erring party will realize that the 90% he/she already had was thrown away just to fill up that missing 10%!
6. Be each other’s PR Manager. We often hear couples make fun of their spouses in jest, “Our marriage is like a workshop. I work, she shops!” or something similar meant to be a joke but may have hurtful effects, or worse, undue bad publicity for the spouse being teased. Instead, find ways to inform others of the good qualities of your spouse.
7. Dating and Communicating. Regular dates, preferably on a weekly basis, keep the communication lines open. This becomes more precious once the children start coming. Remember, you are each other’s priority and this should show in your respective calendars. Establish your preferred way of communicating, including conflict resolution. Both my mom and mother-in-law advised us to resolve our problems between the two of us, and just involve outside parties if we couldn’t possibly resolve it on our own. We’ve heeded their advice and it has worked well for us. Find out what works for you. Come up with steps if you wish – e.g. Do you resolve a conflict within the day no matter what time it is? Or do you wait for cooler heads to come back before proceeding? Whatever it is, always assume the good intention of your spouse.
8. Marriage needs something beyond human capabilities. #Forever between two flawed individuals in a flawed world is humanly impossible if the spouses will rely solely on their own human strengths. This is why you had the blessing of God in your marriage. Let Him continue to lead the way.
9. Parenting Matters. When your bundles of joy start coming, you will again be faced with another set of challenges – parenting – what I consider the most demanding, and also the most fulfilling mission in life. You will hear so many different views and pieces of advice from so many well-intentioned loved ones. Just listen to them and use the ones you think will work best for you.
10. Be a High FQ Couple. Money is an enabler and exaggerator and you are both better off with high Financial Quotient. I think you are both well on your way to being a High FQ couple but for our readers, may I just enumerate the quick steps to a High FQ:
- Take the FQ Test to know where each one is in terms of money knowledge and behavior. (Click here.)
- Do the Childhood Money Memory Exercise. This will help you understand each other’s money beliefs. (This is found in chapter 4 of FQ Book 1.)
- Enumerate your respective top 5 core values. They may not be exactly the same, but now that you are a family, it is also good to come up with a common set, while keeping your individual sets. This is important because the true purpose of money is to fulfill our core values. (This exercise is found in chapter 5 of FQ Book 1.)
- Understand the law of money that governs your marriage. If you didn’t sign a pre-nuptial agreement, you are governed by the Absolute Community of Property. (To know more about this, click link.)
- Prepare your Balance Sheet. This is just a simple listing of your assets and liabilities. Remember, when you said “I do,” you didn’t just become one heart and one soul but one Balance Sheet as well, unless you signed the pre-nuptial agreement.
- Monitor your expenses in the best way you can. You may wish to come up with your family Income Statement to pair with your Balance Sheet.
- Have an annual Family Goal Setting. Your wedding date is great as it is close to New Year, the time when we are all hopeful to start with a clean slate. You may opt to assess your goals on a quarterly basis. (To those who want to have their copy of the template for the High FQ Goal Setting, send email to FQTeam@FQMom.com with subject High FQ Goal Setting Template.)
- Observe the three basic laws of money. (These are found in The Retelling of the Richest Man in Babylon and FQ Book 1.)
There you go. And as I mentioned earlier, all these are guidelines and it’s really up to you, which ones you wish to apply, tweak, and make your own. Marriage, although not meant for everyone, is an exciting journey. Now that you’ve found each other and sealed the deal, it’s time to make it work to the best of your ability with God’s blessings and the support of all your loved ones.
Congratulations and best wishes my dear godchildren!
This article is also published in Philstar.