No, I’m not talking about me. I’d just like to share two things:
Back in the 1980s, I was with former officemates and an old couple, the lady was our boss (ex- for me because I was by then paralyzed and had stopped working) when the husband or boyfriend of an officemate (again, ex for me) said it’s important to have I-Quit money. Having been out of the employment loop, I asked what he meant. And he said it meant savings to tide one over once one resigned from work one could not longer stand without having to go hungry till the next job.
The said incident came to mind when I read the article of Ms. Barbara Gonzalez, “How to be Happy”. Essentially, she prescribes, and I agree with her, that wives even should have I Quit money for when they want out of a marriage plagued by infidelities (or spousal abuse – this point I add – not having been discussed by Ms. Gonzalez. One thing too which she dwelt on and I totally agree with her is leaving a marriage where the heat is excessive, in a manner of speaking – a view contrary to what a priest told her friend, a view contrary to what many staunch believers in the sanctity of marriage adhere to – to hang on to a marriage no matter what. No way, I say. No way, Ms. Gonzalez, I think, likewise believes. Lest I be accused of putting words into her pen, following is her article. (I cannot stress more how important it is for a wife to have her own financial kitty that will enable her to up and leave when push comes to shove. really. I Quit money empowers.
How to be happy
You know, now that I live alone, I find I am often happy. What is the secret to my happiness? I often wonder.
I tried marriage once. I was unhappy. The issue of equality between men and women was always there getting in the way. I could not stand it and finally gave up. Then I tried living-in with someone else. That did not work out for me either. In the end I decided marriage or similar was not for me. I decided to live alone first with my children and when they all grew up with nobody but me.
About three weeks ago I heard an announcer on the radio quoting Bishop Oscar Cruz as saying that all Catholic wives should be capable of forgiving their husband’s infidelities. If I hadn’t been pushed away by the Catholic Church starting with Father Oscar Cruz’s rejection of my church annulment application a thousand years ago, this statement would have pushed me away. This business of forgiving only the husband’s infidelities is basically unjust. It is decidedly one-sided. I know that when the women are the ones who fool around men cannot take it. And the relationship finally ends.
Actually I am at a point in my life when I don’t care anymore. I am not married. The institution and I do not get along because I don’t like one-sided rules. I am happy living alone without having to deal with anybody’s idiosyncrasies except mine.
But I have run into girlfriends who lament the state of their respective marriages. One’s husband has just retired and that leaves them a lot of time together, which apparently drives them both up the proverbial wall. So they have big fights. Sometimes they get on each other’s nerves so much they shout at each other at the top of their lungs, so loud that their children and grandchildren come in and intervene. But she laughs a lot when she tells me the story and she says she still loves him. They still care about each other a lot only he makes her crazy. I’m sure if I were talking to him he would say she makes him crazy. I just giggle. See, I don’t have that problem. I live alone.
When I retired, I didn’t know what to do. So I began to knit again and to make jewelry. Making jewelry can be quite a messy craft. You have a table and it is full of your clutter – tools, wires, many beads because you’re always mixing and matching. I leave my workroom cluttered. No one complains. Because I live alone. I don’t bother anybody but me. When I tire of my craft, I tidy up myself.
I have another girlfriend for whom my heart bleeds. She is past 70 but does not look it. This late in her life she has confirmed that her husband was chronically unfaithful to her and has finally admitted all his infidelities including children so she is oozing with anger. She wakes up full of anger. She showers seething with anger. How could she have wasted her life attending to him?
“I suspected his behavior all along but I could not confirm it. Now he admits it to me but he is sick. He has had a major operation. I want to throw him away. I am so full of anger,” she says. “I cannot forgive and I cannot forget.”
How long did it take me to forgive and forget? I ask myself. Have I forgiven? Yes, I suppose I have but forgetting is a separate question. I can be like an elephant. I never forget. But at least I had the courage to break the laws when I was much younger. When I found out about the infidelities, I took matters into my own hands. I went back to work. I found my source of income and I left with my children and took care of us. I did that in my 30s when I was still young enough to craft a career.
I believe that is the answer to all of women’s problems, to their inequality concerns. Earn your own money, then you can tell whoever is making you miserable to get out of your life. A person’s primary responsibility is to herself. First you must love yourself and make yourself happy. That’s difficult because we were never taught to love ourselves. Then you have enough to give to another person. But when that person begins to torture you and make you extremely unhappy, then you can leave him and go on with your life.
So now approaching 69 I live alone, and as I look around at my friends, I am the happiest. The only reason I see is I broke many man-made rules. Maybe breaking those rules is the real secret to happiness. Think about it.
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