Becoming the Man I Want to Marry

It is said that a woman models the man she is to marry or her choice of life partner on her father (or a parent). I’ve always wondered if there’s credence to it and it has led me to examining my own orientation with my father.

What I Remember

My father was a Civil-Structural Engineer. He built the best Kites that won him competitions. He played Saxophone. He was a good singer and dancer. He would always blare classical music like Tchaikovsky, Elgar, to name a few; big band music like Glenn Miller; and latin music like Perez Prado, using his big customized speakers at 6 am every day to wake up the household. He was a good cook and loved his alcohol (beer, wine, whisky). In fact, he had me taste beer at 5 and at 14, got knocked me out after 3 shots of Gordon Bleau Martell Cognac on NYE 1995.

He stood/sat straight with impeccable posture. He always looked dapper with clean, shiny shoes. His hair brushed up and over to the side (sometimes with a part). When he fashioned a mustache, it was always trimmed. I remember I’d always cry before he left for work and begged him not to go.

He was a wide reader; enjoyed watching documentaries; and talking conspiracy theories.

He had a legendary temper. He only acted on it when provoked which wasn’t often. He would subject my older brother to corporal punishment on account of disobedience or irresponsibility befitting of being the eldest and male at that. He never laid a hand on me and my older sister (I’m the youngest in a brood of 3).

He didn’t have many friends and often kept to himself. He would often fall asleep whilst hearing mass at church. His idea of relaxation was to go on long fishing expeditions. He loved his orchids. He raised his own chickens. One time, he found a snake in the backyard in the act of swallowing one of his chickens whole…he skinned the snake and had accessories made out of it.

What I Admire
He was practical; a man of common sense; tech savvy (by that I mean he was always first with the latest gadgets and electronics); and a problem solver.

He built things with his hands and fixed things on his own.

He could animatedly talk for hours about any subject with so much passion. It was fascinating.

He was principled. He told of us of the many times that rich contractors would attempt to bribe him with luxury cars and huge sums of money in exchange for him blindly signing off approvals for erroneous projects. He proudly turned them down and said, “I will never feed my family with illegitimately earned money.”.

It is said that the way our brain creates memories is unreliable especially if emotions is involved. So how I remember my father to be, was that really him? Or did I just romanticize the idea of him? I asked my siblings if any of what I wrote above about our father was how they remembered him too. They concurred..

Of Time

My father was an Overseas Foreign Worker (OFW). When I was 5, he left to work for the Sultan of Brunei and came back home permanently when I was 28. For 23 years, we only got to see him twice a year for 2 weeks at a time. Cumulatively, I only got to spend 358 weeks with my father until he passed away in 2009. That’s barely 7 years in total.

He wasn’t physically present during my crucial formative and growing up years. Though we often exchanged letters and talked on the phone regularly, clearly it wasn’t enough.

Of Reality

Though my parents were married for 35 years, my father cheated on my mother numerous times. I have quite a few half-brothers and half-sisters who I’ve heard of but never met. I had knowledge of my father committing these transgressions; he’d be forgiven for each one; and he’d do it all over again. My primary exposure to betrayal of trust was front and center.

Daddy Issues?

Facts: I have never been married and I have been tested by life (READ: “My Problem with Persuasion” and “Raising a Man and the Fear of Failing at Motherhood).

Once, I asked someone, “Do you think that I have Daddy issues?”. He answered with a question,”Have you tried psychotherapy?” (apparently he has and swears by it). I stopped short at telling him that I’ve yet to see the value of paying someone to listen to me rant then tell me what’s wrong with me (when I already know). I have my true friends who act as my soundboard to talk my issues out (rarely happens, I often keep my problems to myself). I’m open to what other people’s thoughts are as guidance, but my best counsel is myself. The decision on how to act or what to do is always mine to make. That goes without saying that for failures, I’m to blame.

Admittedly, I have issues. But who doesn’t?

Much of person-building is an odd convergence of genetic predisposition (evolutionary psychology); life conditions; and arbitrariness. There is never just “one reason” for anything. That said, a woman’s model for the man she is to marry or choice of life partner is not solely the father (or a parent).

Plasticity

We’re a product of our collective life occurrences, interactions and relationships. We assimilate and create our value/belief systems. We recognize patterns and remove ourselves from destructive loops through early detection. We all have the capacity to be molded and continuously alter ourselves in response to experience (say, injury). It’s survival.

A young man once asked his father, “Father, how will I ever find the right woman?”. His father replied, “Forget finding the right woman, focus on being the right man.”

All I can say is, I’m so focused on being the right woman that I’m becoming the man I want to marry. Frankly, I don’t know how I feel about that yet…