Take Two: Lissa Sumpaico and Gary Abello Lissa never expected to meet her future husband in a bar, of all places. She would much rather dive in the ocean or bask under the sun than hang out in a noisy, crowded room. But because it was her friend’s birthday, she figured she might as well make an appearance. And her life changed that night. She had met Gary and they eventually fell in love. But a few years later, trouble began brewing when Lissa, already in her mid-thirties, wasn’t hearing anything about marriage from her boyfriend.
“It's such a cliché now when you think about it,” she shares. “But I wanted a timeline on when we'll get married (in two years, in five years, and so on). When Gary couldn't give a timeline because he was going through a difficult time in his life—his dad just passed away after battling a very long illness—and he couldn’t think that far into the future, I took it to mean that maybe he didn't want to get married, or couldn't see himself married to me. And I couldn't handle that uncertainty as I was of the mindset that I was in my mid-thirties already and if the guy I was with couldn't give a plan or identify a timeline, I didn't want to waste my time or my heart anymore.”
So they broke up. Despite (or maybe because of) attending a Discovery Weekend to see whether they were really making the right decision.
However, they still continued to see each other. “Of course, the nightly telebabads and the daily running text conversations were gone,” Lissa says. “But we'd still see each other. And I made another deadline in my head that if Gary wouldn't bring up or be open to the discussion of getting back together by the last day of 2012, I would stop speaking with him and seeing him completely.”
But Gary surprised her by beating the deadline and asking her to get back together with him. Not only that -- he had a timeline prepared for her. They are getting married next month and Lissa says, “We are more considerate of each other's needs and space this time around. We've learned to rely on the other's strengths. And we know what things each of us is good at and we're able to complement each other. There's a lot more flexibility and give and take this time. And I think the time we spent apart made me realize that I really can't control everything, no matter how much I want to. And that letting go and relying more on Gary doesn't make me a weaker person. It actually helps me see beyond myself and I'm able to give Gary the space to be present to support and challenge me into becoming the best possible version of me. And I hope I'm able to do the same for him.”
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Family Ties: Kat and Joel Limchoc When Kat met Joel (whom she calls Limch), she was 21, the single mom of two-month-old baby Zoe, and starting a new advertising job. She remembers that when she laid eyes on him for the first time, she thought to herself, “He’s kinda cute…” She was still with the father of her baby, however, whom she stayed with till Zoe was three and a half years old.
She and Joel remained friends all that time and because they both lived in the south, she would often ride home with him. “I was a few months single when we decided to take a trip to Australia to visit our friend,” Kat shares. “What was intended to be a buddy trip turned out to be where we would have our first kiss.” This year, they are celebrating their tenth year anniversary.
Because Joel had been Kat’s friend for years before they began calling each other Sweetie, he already loved and accepted Zoe as part of Kat’s (and eventually, his) life. “Limch has always been a good stepdad to Snow (Zoe’s current name),” says Kat. “He is loving and supportive and generous. Snow’s real dad, Wings, is still in her life and we remain good friends. Limch is also cool with that.”
The challenge began when they had their own daughter. Snow was 13 and she was worried the baby would be the new center of attention at home. “I think my mistake was telling Snow that things would not change when Limch and I got married and when we had Liv,” says Kat. “Because that’s not true, things will change and that’s the way life is. I should not have set false expectations. What I instead should have said was that my love for her would not change, that my heart would simply expand to house my love for her, for Limch, and her new sister.”
Today, because Kat makes sure she spends quality, one-on-one time with her, Snow is a confident young adult who, according to her mother, “has learned to define her life according to her own rules (changing her hair to all colors of the rainbow is one manifestation) and is now more comfortable in her place in the family. She is a good ate to Liv who of course thinks her ate rocks!”
Forgive and Forget: Rice and Butch Simpao Rice knew the moment she’d met Butch that he was the man she was going to marry. Even if they were what their friends called yin and yang, their differences made things exciting between them. However, after having been married for a few years, these differences were no longer fun and they started causing ugly fights.
“I knew at that point that leaving him was the best solution as we didn’t want our kids to see our worsening fights,” recalls Rice. “It was quite hard though as we both loved each other. We were so used to being together.” She left him several times, but she would keep going back because her sons missed him. The last time was the most difficult.
“Our three boys were super close to him,” she explains. “I would often talk to my two boys—who were 10 and seven at that time—if it was all right to leave Dad and they would always ask me to stay. So I stayed and tried fixing things with my husband until it reached a point where I was left with no choice. I remember my eldest talking to me and saying, ‘Mom, it’s okay to leave now. We will be okay.’” She got her own place with her boys and did not talk to Butch for several months.
Rice decided to forgive her husband because she missed and loved him, and her sons did too. But her biggest motivation for forgiveness was her trust in God and as she says, “knowing that He is in control.”
They reunited and were able to make things work because they both “realized that we both have to fix ourselves,” she adds. “It is so easy sometimes to point the finger at our partner when we should look at ourselves first. When we both fixed ourselves and prayed for each other rather than nagging each other, things were so much better. We are now always willing to forgive and accept each others’ imperfections.” They also acknowledged the primary need to fix their relationship with God. “Once the vertical relationship is fixed,” says Rice, “all other relationships naturally follow.”
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All My Children: Mia and Jay Jaranilla When Mia met her second husband, Jay, things were still very complicated in her world. “I was trying to fix my life first because I was a single mom to two kids and owned my business,” she says. “So I took it a day at a time and made sure the kids were good and secure before I made a move. I made sure my two kids, both below 10 at that time, were okay and understood the big changes that were happening. They were my primary concern.”
Mia couldn’t do this alone though. She needed the cooperation of her ex-husband in this matter. “Their dad and I resolved a lot of things and made sure we were on the same page when it came to the kids before we dealt with our own lives,” she shares. “It was important at this stage that we were still a team when it came to parenting. I didn’t want my kids to feel it was their fault or that they were the reason for the changes.”
Upon reflection, Mia says her marriage to Jay is very different from her first one. “The big realization then was I, or we, were just too young,” she reminisces. “In hindsight, the circumstance of how and why we got married would not work. Now that I have matured, I look at things differently, from a whole new perspective. Plus, given the fact that when I decided to get married again and move out of Manila, things got better. I also noticed that we got tighter as a family.”
She doesn’t think she is in a position to give advice to other women who are thinking of remarrying because every experience is different, but she says she was able to get through the difficult parts by taking it one day at a time. “Don’t be too hard on yourself,” she adds. Prayer is also a big factor in how she overcame her problems. “It will be a bumpy road ahead, but in time things will fall into place.”
Ines Bautista-Yao is a wife, mother of two little girls, and author of young adult, sweet romance books—that’s why writing this article was so much fun for her! She blogs about life and motherhood (mostly motherhood since that’s what her life is right now) at www.theeverydayprojectblog.com.