Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
The urge to share this topic in a public medium has been stewing in my mind for quite some time now. It was always a tug-of-war because the whole idea of “living In” is rather taboo in the Philippines; and of course, there’s a part of me that wants to stay out of trouble. When people found out about my situation years back, I knew I was judged for it (sad to say, some of my friends did, too). Being in a “live-in” relationship could stir controversy, especially within the confines of a traditional Chinese family residing in the Philippines (that’s like, a double whammy).
I guess, I’m finally ready to talk about my experience as someone who’s lived in with her boyfriend. I would like everyone to keep an open mind as they read this, as every situation is different from the other. In the end, the choice to participate in a “live-in” relationship is ultimately based on one’s values and outlook on life. Some may agree with me, some may disagree, and I’m writing this not to champion “living in” or to say that it is the better decision. I’m just here to share my experience. People may have had their thoughts about me, but I brushed them off because I knew myself well enough to choose what I felt was right.
You could say I was born into a conservative Chinese family. My dad is Chinese who kind of went against the traditional grain and married my mom, who is a Filipina with a bit of Spanish blood. My grandparents imposed the “Great Wall of China” towards me at such a young age despite most of their children ending up with non-Chinese partners. I’d overhear them ranting about this, and I’d feel really troubled by it because my own mother wasn’t Chinese!
My dad was also keeping a close eye on me, especially when it came to grades and boys I dated. My mom, on the other hand, was the exact opposite—to give you an idea, she raised me to be individualistic and to take responsibility of my own actions. There came a point when my dad and I drifted apart, and he only eased up when I graduated from university.
I’d go on trips with boyfriends (either with friends or out of town), but I never thought of living with them until I met my husband. When we were still dating, and I eventually told my mom that I wouldn’t be going home (or rather sleeping at home) as often as I did, she understood what I meant. We had a talk about responsibility. She told me that as long as I was sure, and as long as I was ready, then I should do it. I’ll never forget that. Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies. My dad, my grandparents, and some of my relatives would air their grievances under their breaths, but I knew what I was doing.
Don’t Do It If You’re Not on the Same Page
Here is the disclaimer, though. When my then-boyfriend and I decided to live together, it wasn’t like we spoke about it. We just enjoyed each other’s company so much, and we were both on the same page about being together forever that the “living together” situation just happened.
In a way, we treated it as some kind of practice ground for when we got married. I always had commitment issues; he was always a million sure steps ahead of me when it came to his certainty in a lifelong commitment.
I wasn’t—I was a negative million steps behind, but living with him allowed me to be more vulnerable, and it opened my eyes to his antics, his habits, and his cooperation. Just to let you know, I won’t let any man dump his chores on me because “I’m the woman,” so it was nice to know that we were also on the same page when it came to that.
I believe that should you decide to commit to a “live-in” situation with your partner, you should both be ready and have a clear-cut picture of where your relationship is heading. It really is a big commitment, and now that I think about it, it takes a lot of maturity, too.
I am so big on personal space (I love love LOVE it), and we got into fights because I didn’t know how to maneuver my way in an unfamiliar situation such as this. Imagine, having a whole room to yourself, and now, you’ll have to share it with someone else! It got uncomfortable at times, I let my emotions get the better of me, and I ended up being whiny and downright mean—I’m just really grateful for my husband’s patience!
How It Worked Out for Me
I got together with my boyfriend (now husband) when I was 25, and we got married on our third year anniversary. We started living together not long after we started dating in 2014. As I always tell people when they ask about our story—it was really, really quick. But to tell you the truth, I feel I’ve known him longer, which in return, made me more sure about him.
Living together with someone I loved in a romantic and intimate way taught me how to be less selfish and more understanding. I stopped being a brat, learned to do chores, and upped my responsibility game. If I could dish out some cons, a huge one would be the uncomfortable feeling of adjustment—and maybe how people start looking at you (especially those who come from more conservative backgrounds) when they find out. It affected me a bit, but I learned to deal with it. I mean, it’s not a very conventional Filipino setup, but it worked for me.
It allowed me to be more at ease with the idea of commitment, and it deepened the meaning of responsibility and owning up to my actions. I struggled with the idea of marriage (I didn’t plan on getting married ever), but this experience made me more open to it. Of course, if you and your partner have no intentions of getting married but enjoy living with each other (because hey, it’s really fun!) then go for it!
They don’t call it a modern romance for nothing. Society is always evolving, and we are finding new ways of adapting and doing things. Perhaps, relationship setups are one of them. Everything happens on a case-to-case basis, yet we could be so quick to judge without knowing the full story. I admit; I used to feel uneasy when I’d hear stories of non-married couples living together (more so as I went to a Christian school), but now, I bite my tongue, because I can see how unconventional situations could actually work and even bring out the best in someone. At the end of the day, it’s all about values and what you hold important in your life. To me, it was to open myself up to a person I loved and give this commitment thing a shot. I thought I could learn a thing or two from a “live-in” situation, and guess what?
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Marian Hukom