Australian men and Filipina ladies can often form the most wonderful and happy marriages. The cultures of Australia and the Philippines have some similarities, but more areas where we blend nicely together and make something even better. I suppose the main factor is those couples who have a fierce bond of loyalty and a refusal to give up during tough times.
And yes, there are areas where couples clash….and fight….and simply don’t get each other. And the more that couples get annoyed and frustrated, the worse it gets. Issues about money and issues of divided loyalty between new family and husband and old family back in the Philippines, these are often fuel that makes fires happen in an Australian Filipina marriage.
But everyday issues that lead to couples just not quite getting-on as well as they should, and not getting each other? The stuff that leads more to frustration and less often to large fights? Here’s one big factor. The issue of mind-reading versus open communication!
Expecting a man to be a mind reader
Filipinos are rarely direct in their communication styles. Filipinos rarely “spell it out” through fear of disrupting the harmony. It’s called pakikisama, and it means maintaining harmonious relationships even if it means accepting something that’s not correct.
Australians? We’re blunt, and fairly proud of it. You never have to wonder what an Aussie means, because mostly he will just tell you. It varies between individuals, of course. But it’s more the accepted thing in Australia to tell it like it is.
Where couples clash? When you get a blunt and direct Aussie who only understands directness, and a Filipina who adjusts and filters what she says or doesn’t say, because she’s worried about causing offense.
What ends up happening? He does something she doesn’t like. Or he asks her if she wants to do something she doesn’t like. She doesn’t complain. Or she says OK. He thinks “Isn’t it nice that she likes watching porn videos! We’re bonding!” because she never says anything. She’s quiet. Maybe she has a tampo about it the next day. He’s utterly confused as to why, because he assumes everything is fine. She SAID it was all fine.
What happens with her? SHE thinks “Why didn’t he know I didn’t like that?” She made all the signs. She didn’t smile much. She looked away or turned away. Or she assumed he actually DID know, but didn’t care that she didn’t like it. She thinks he’s insensitive, and gets very upset over it. And he hasn’t a clue what the issue is.
The end result is she thinks he’s an uncaring insensitive pig, and he thinks he married a crazy woman. Or writes it off as womens moods and something to do with hormones. It certainly doesn’t bring a couple together.
Communication basics for Australian Filipina couples
First of all, you both need to understand your cultural differences when it comes to communication.
- If we think it or feel it or believe it? We say it!
- And we think all others do the same. What someone tells us, we tend to believe literally.
- If they think, feel or believe something? They think carefully about what won’t cause offense, disharmony or any hurt feelings and they say that instead.
- They are very good at “reading between the lines” and guessing (NOT always right, take note) what a person really thinks, feels or believes.
- When confronted with bluntness, they assume that person means something else, or maybe that the person is really angry and what they’re showing is just the tip of the iceberg!
You need to encourage your lady to speak her mind, and let her know that it’s safe to do so and you need to welcome direct expressions (even if you don’t like what you hear).
You need to learn to read body-language and tones of voice and facial expressions, and tread cautiously if you think there may be a problem.
You need to get to understand her culture, and realise she comes from a totally different background.
- She’s unlikely to like porn!
- She no doubt loves her family, despite their faults. Just because you don’t speak to those relatives of yours that annoy you, don’t expect her to do the same.
- She will have different comfort foods to yours, and will probably always prefer stinky dried fish to a fantastic Aussie meat pie (puzzling though that may seem). And she will crave rice like you crave bread and potatoes.
It’s unfair to expect a man to read minds when he’s never had to do so. He’s grown up with people telling him exactly what’s on their minds, and never needed to learn that skill.
You need to practice expressing yourself and saying what you really feel, think and believe.
And that means expressing yourself BEFORE you become angry.
And never make a VALUE JUDGEMENT! A value judgement means deciding if the action and therefore the person doing it are BAD, because you don’t personally agree with it! Example? “He watches porn. He’s a filthy pervert, and he’s watching it to insult me!”
A better communication scenario
Him: “Darling, would you like to watch Drag Racing Disco Dollies Do Dubbo? It’s a porn classic from the 1970’s”
Her: “No, not really”
Him: “Are you not really fond of porn? Or is it because it’s Australian, and you don’t understand the accents?”
Her: “No, it’s not that. I’m not used to it, and in the Philippines the men who watch it are usually the ones who cheat on their wives. And it’s hard to see my husband admiring other women.”
Him: “You know I’d never cheat on you.”
Her: “Yes, I do trust you. But it just gives me an unpleasant feeling. I’d rather we did something together we would both enjoy.”
Him: “Thanks for explaining that to me. I understand your feelings. OK. What would you like to do?”
Her: “Let’s watch The Life and Music of Air Supply for the next 4 hours!”
Apart from ending up watching Air Supply (YUCK!), it ended peacefully and in a positive way. No one had to guess. No one had to believe that the poor-guesser was doing it because they didn’t care. No one was attacked or insulted. No one needed to go on the defensive when attacked by an angry person accusing them of having bad intentions. Learn some new ways, and your Australian Filipina relationship will only get better and better.