The Importance of “Scheduling” Displays of Affection in a Romantic Relationship

One of the traps that way too many couples fall into is that things like kissing, making love and other displays of affection become irregular and are left to chance.

We tend to think that displays of affection should only take place when we feel like kissing or making love but, once a couple has entered the stage of going through the motions, feeling like kissing or making love happens very sporadically.

A powerful idea I have recently stumbled upon is the idea that kissing (or making love for that matter) should be part of a consistent routine that we stick to whether we feel like or not .

In much the same way as a person who wants to sculpt his or her muscles sticks to a workout routine regardless of whether he or she feels like working out, a couple that wants to keep the relationship alive and thriving should consider things like kissing or making love as part of a schedule.

Yesterday I bumped into a very interesting post from “The School of Life” (https://www.theschooloflife.com/thebookoflife/a-new-ritual-the-morning-and-evening-kiss/) that, partly, says:

When we kiss we are tapping into a central channel of emotional connection. Intimate physical contact affects us in a way that’s both distinct from, and in many ways superior to, words or ideas. We are sensuous creatures to at least the same degree as we are rational ones: a smile or a caress can therefore reassure us far more deeply than can an eloquent phrase or a well-articulated fact (‘of course I love you…’). As babies we were soothed by touch long before we could understand language, and we therefore continue to need physical contact to believe, truly to believe, that we have a place in another’s life.

Normally a kiss follows from a tender feeling: we have an emotion first and then we express it. But there’s another way our minds can work, a way in which a feeling follows from an action. The morning and evening kiss should hence come first, independently of whether or not there is as yet a tender emotion. But then, almost for certain, if we go through with the kiss, the emotion will occur (it’s very hard to kiss and feel nothing). We may need to make that rather odd-sounding move in love: a small effort.

The morning and evening kiss should be a ritual. A central feature of rituals is that we do them whether we feel like doing them or not. The kiss should take place even if you’ve just had a rather sarcastic argument or if you are racing to an important early meeting – or if you are feeling resentful. Better feelings will follow“.

I couldn’t agree more: when kissing (and I think the same principle applies, by extention and even more so, to making love) is left to chance it happens so irregularly that the relationship stagnates.

Speaking of making love, I once read that the former supermodel Cindy Crawford said that she actually schedules sex with her husband because her life is so busy that it is very easy to leave this very important part of a relationship to chance.

A very powerful way to avoid leaving such important parts of an intimate relationship at the mercy of wishy-washy feelings is by creating consistent actions that, as the above mentioned website says, will be followed by better feelings and better feelings are the fuel for more kissing and love making.

If we fail to do that chances are that two of the most important pillars that separate mere friends or roomates from a thriving couple, namely kissing passionately and making love, become so rare that the relationship becomes dull.

Planning a Trip to the Philippines

San Ildefonso: ang “perlas” ng Silangan
Sa Kabukiran around San Ildefonso and part of the “Buenavista”

If you marry a Filipina you’ve got the opportunity to visit the “pearl of the Orient”, one of the most beautiful corners of the planet.

However, as I’ve already touched on, there is no guarantee that, by visiting the Philippines with your Filipino spouse, you will indeed have the chance to see pearl-like sceneries.

My wife comes from Barangay Pinaod which is part of the municipality of San Ildefonso, in the province of Bulacan and San Ildefonso is not that much of a “pearl”.

It probably used to be some kind of pearl because the Spaniards called it Hacienda Buenavista and for good reason because San Ildefonso is situated on a slightly elevated place that offers a 360-degree view of the Bataan Peninsula, Mount Arayat, the Sierra Madre Mountains and….the cloud of smog that covers Manila. However, nowadays San Ildefonso is not that much of a place and it is certainly not the kind of place that justifies spending 14 hours in a jumbo jet to get there. I come from a world-class tourist area in Southern Italy and surely I cannot settle for spending one month in San Ildefonso doing nothing but counting the calabau passing by.

The problem with many Filipinas is that, once they get to their home town, it is extremely difficult to convince them to travel around the country to satisfy the eagerness of their Western husbands to see the Perlas ng Silangan. Many Filipinas, once they go home just want to stay home.

So, my idea is that, unless your Filipino wife comes from a beautiful area that is already worth the trip to the Philippines, you’d better plan ahead to make the most of your vacation.

I think the best strategy is (once you land in Manila) not to leave the airport at all and immediately take another plane to go directly to a tourist spot like Coron, Palawan, Siargao etc and only after you have enjoyed a “proper” vacation you move to your wife’s village because chances are that once you get there you’ll stay there and you won’t be able to move your wife even if you try to lift her with a crane….

OFW and Real Estate in the Philippines: Does Having Big Mansions in the Philippines Make OFW Rich?

Backdrop view of Capri Island from my house’s terrace

I am spending a few days in my house by the sea in Southern Italy, a house my father bought 50 years ago.

It is a big house situated on the top of a hill overlooking the sea and the famous Capri Island, a world-class tourist destination.

My parents’ village is situated somewhere between the towns of Sorrento and Amalfi and it is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places on earth, as beautiful as the Mediterranean at its peak can get.

Despite the beauty of the area, my wife and I live in Rome and so does my brother and his family, because work in this part of the country is only seasonal and can almost only be found in the tourist sector. Most people who have a house here live elsewhere, some live in Rome, many others live in the rich and industrialized Northern Italy or perhaps in Switzerland, Germany, Australia and other wealthier areas.

So, while having a house like this is great, the reality is that maintaining it is extremely difficult both for me and my brother, as we both have a wife and children and have a house and bills to pay hundreds of kilometers away.

Turning this house into a rental business is not easy either because it would entail spending huge amounts to do the necessary makeover and neither me nor my brother have that money. On top of that there are taxes to pay.

So, under many aspects, my situation is like the situation of many OFW who have a big house in the Philippines but they live and work somewhere else.

I know OFWs who share their apartment with another family or work live-in but they have a mansion in the Philippines that turns out to be a liability because it only takes money out of their pockets.

Because I am pretty much in the same situation as those OFW, I can understand why many OFW struggle financially: they work hard to maintain a huge liability in the Philippines.

Unfortunately having a mansion by the sea has nothing at all to do with being rich (if you live from paycheck to paycheck), actually it is the exact opposite and only creates the illusion that you are wealthy when, in fact, you are actually poorer than one who has a simple life and can certainly afford to travel more, save up more and has much less anxiety and concerns.

How to Live in a Constant State of Gratitude for Our Partner

Right now I am sitting on the terrace of my parents’ house in Southern Italy overlooking the island of Capri and I am sipping a cup of coffee.

Having a house in a place like this where millions of tourists come every year is a great privilege indeed.

Yet I am noticing a tendency that my mind has, and that most of us have, namely the tendency to focus on what could be better in this situation and I am saying to myself something along the lines of: “this view could be more amazing if my mother didn’t hang the clothes she washes and didn’t cover part of the view with those lousy clothes”.

In other words, instead of focusing on what is already amazing, namely the fact that I have a house in a place where a lot of people would love to have one, I am focusing on what is annoying, we all do that.

Last Monday my wife and I had an amazing date in a WOK restaurant. What made it amazing was the fact that our conversation was all about what we love about each other and it was just something that we badly needed to strenghten our bond.

Yet I couldn’t resist the temptation to focus on how that meal would have been much better had we enjoyed it in some more romantic setting (I had been trying to get my wife to spend a weekend in Tuscany and have that kind of romantic dinner there for months but to no avail).

So what often keeps us from living in a constant state of gratitude and appreciation for the partner we have (and for the good stuff in general that we have in life) is the thought that there is always something that could be better and that our present situation does not match our perfect ideal.

As I continue to sip my coffee and enjoy this amazing view, I try to become more aware of how the key to enjoying an amazing relationship, and life in general, is by injecting myself fully into the present moment and let it wash over me with the least amount of resistance.

Senior Citizens in the Philippines vs Senior Citizens in my Country

The Philippines is one of those countries where elderly people are taken care of to a much greater extent than here in Europe.

When one grows old in the Philippines the extended family takes care of his or her material needs and all the more so if some members of the extended family work in a rich country.

However in many rich countries where Filipino OFW live and work, elderly people often have to fend for themselves.

In my country there is no such thing as the extended family that takes care of you when you grow old and, on top of that, the government is cutting back on social welfare and stretching the age at which one is allowed to retire from work.

Right now in my country you have to be 67 to be able to retire and, generally speaking, one cannot call himself or herself a “senior citizen” and expect any favorable treatment unless he or she is 65 or above.

In the Philippines one is legally viewed as a “senior citizen” at age 60 but many Filipinos whom I know stopped working much earlier and are now been taken care of by their sons and daughters.

One of the reasons why in the Philippines people seem to age sooner than people in my country, at least the ones I know, has much to do with life style and the fact that, because they know that somebody will eventually take care of them once they become “senior citizens”, they don’t take much proactive action to adopt a healtier lifestyle.

I am not trying to generalize, I am just reporting what I observe around me (I am not talking about my mother in law here: she is 71 and still does a sideline job and she exercises every morning, but most elderly Filipinos whom I know are extremely sedentary).

Generally speaking I observe that in my country, because old people expect little or no help at all from the extended family and there is no way to predict what the government will be able to provide for senior citizens 20 years from now, more and more old people try to keep themselves as young as possible.

Yesterday my mother called up my uncle who is 79 years old to get him to come to her house in Southern Italy and do some odd jobs.

My uncle, at age 79, still works as a plumber and, before he goes to work he goes to the hut that he built himself by the beach, and where he stores his canoe, at 5,30 am and he spends one hour out in the sea on his canoe, then he goes to work.

When he reached age 65 he even refused his pension check as he wanted to keep working.

And my uncle is one of the many in my parents’ village who exceed age 80 and are still able to work.

The reasons why people in this part of Italy stay healthy and strong are easy to understand if you visit the area (I am talking about the Sorrento Peninsula): clean air, plenty of fresh vegetables, lots of legumes and whole grain cereals and a hilly territory that forces people to walk up and down several times during the day.

This is the exact opposite of what happens in the bayan or barrio in the Philippines where people have a very sedentary life, do a lot of kwentuan, drink plenty of alcohol, watch much TV, there are many fast-food chains and shopping malls and people eat plenty of white rice and pork meat and way too few vegetables.

I am a believer in the idea that elderly ones are worthy of “double honor” but I also believe that each one must do his or her best to cultivate habits that minimize the risk of ending up depending on the extended family or on society.

My 79-year old uncle

My uncle’s hut and his canoe
The landscape of my parents’ area

Naples, Italya: Ang Maynila ng Europe!

Nasa daan ako patungo sa bayang ko sa timog ng Italya at nag-stopover ako sa isang lunsod na halos katulad ng Quiapo at Tondo. Ang bayang ito ay walang iba kundi ang bayan ng Naples.

Anu-ano ang mga pagkakatulad?

  • Magulo ang trapik at medyo binabale-wala ng mga dryber ang mga batas.
  • Masikip, magulo at maingay ang mga kalye at puno ng mga street vendor na sumisigaw.
  • Maraming mga kariton boys.
  • Maraming mga mandurukot at may mahabang kamay, subalit may malaking pagkakaiba sa pagitan ng mga mahabang kamay ng Tondo o Quiapo at ang mga taga-Naples: kung turista ka sa Quiapo o Tondo may malaking posibilidad na lalapitan ka ng isang mandurukot, kung turista ka sa Naples tiyak na lalapitan ka ng mga mandurukot….

Filipino Products in Italy

My Filipino wife, like all the other 50,000 Pinoy who live here in Rome, easily finds all the tsitseria she wants to feel at home.

Filipino tsitseria can be found in the various sari-sari stores run by Filipinos, as much as it can be found in those run by Chinese or Bengali people.

Before I set foot in the Philippines for the first time in 2008, I was already very well acquainted with Boy Bawang, Pancit Canton, Lucky Me, Ligo Sardines etc., as I had entered the relationship with my wife back in 2000, so I already had an 8-year experience with all sorts of tsitseria products and various Pinoy brands of processed foods. It almost felt like I hadn’t really travelled to a new country and when back from the Philippines it felt as if I had never been there…..