Marriage for Convenience

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Dear Inday, Dear Andi,

I hope you will be able to help me with my situation regarding my husband, Kenneth. I met him when I attended the wedding of my cousin Teresita who married an ‘Americano’ named Tom, Kenneth’s friend. He and I would always see each other as we were both invited to every family gathering Tess and Tom celebrated right after they ‘tied the knot’. Ken would give me so much attention that somehow, I knew he was very attracted and interested in me; or so I thought. I now feel his personal, ulterior intentions. My mistake was my unwariness, about involving myself in a mixed marriage that the predicament I am now in, gives me no choice but to seek help.

To get to the gist of my story, the three months of attentiveness and ‘devotion’ of Ken for me paved the way for us to follow in the footsteps of our Tess and Tom, on the altar. Not quite as solemn as theirs, if I may comment tactlessly, as our wedding was a Las Vegas “dream chapel”, as Elvis stood in front of us (an impersonator of course), to officiate our union. My parents felt disrespected having missed the ‘most important day of my life’ As Ken said, he will simply send the cost of the airfare to soothe their ‘hurt’ and since it will also take too much time and expense to bring them to America with the peculiarities of the immigration process.

While I admit to my own personal intention of acquiring citizenship the “fastest” way, my intelligent mind took no regard for my contradicting heart and put “love” in the equation and now I suffer the consequences of a marriage for convenience.

We stayed at a very plush hotel by the strip for about one week as the honeymoon ended, literally and figuratively.  He carried me into his three-bedroom home and brought me to a small room to say, “Put all your clothes and things in here since my closet can only fit my things.” I felt the privacy would do good so I can be as messy as I can be having my own closet, so I did not make a big deal about it. He then went to the second room to knock at the door; and as it opened, a teenaged boy asked “What?!”

Ken introduced him as his son, Oliver. “He is staying with us for a while as his mother said she needs time for herself to get back on track with her job.” Ken explained, and all I can do is smile and say “Hello!”. Oliver tilted his head looking at me ‘head to toe’ and said “Hey!” and shut the door.

I asked Ken why I never met Oliver nor was he ever mentioned within our whirlwind courtship and why he was not even in our wedding and he simply said “…because he just arrived a few days ago as we were booked for our honeymoon and I did not want to disrupt our celebration so I picked him up from the airport and brought him here and went back to you at the hotel.”

I took his excuse as if there was nothing, I could do about it anyway. He then took me to the master bedroom and said, “This is our bedroom, but I hope you will understand that sometimes I need privacy so I might ask you to sleep in your own room for your own privacy too.” I looked at him bewildered, but I took it as (maybe), it was a “cultural” thing. I realized I may have to get to know more about being married to an ‘Americano’.

“Make sure you brew fresh coffee ready for me just before I leave for work, you understand?” Ken instructed me. (Of course, I “understand”!) Oliver would look through the fridge and grab something and out the door, he would go without a word to me every day. I would go about the day cleaning and cooking to wait for 7:00 o’clock pm to see my husband park his car from work, give me a quick kiss, change, and have dinner with me. I was glad he loved my dishes but asked me not to add anything that would make the whole house smell “fishy”. I understood of course but that was a common “rule” in every household anyway.

I would clean the entire house daily, cook meals, do the laundry, and Iron his clothes crisp. He gave me a credit card to use for grocery and household needs, but with specific instructions not to use it for my personal needs as he gives me cash to buy what he calls my “caprices” but limited to things for hygienic needs; my clothes are bought when he buys tools from Walmart, and he would need to “approve” it.

I was able to convince Ken for me to work at a local pharmacy as I have a degree in chemistry from my education in Manila. With my salary, I can send money to my parents and help them with expenses they cannot afford and to care for them as they went through the hardships in financing my education. Ken said he has a responsibility to his son and me as his wife but cannot afford to support my parents. Yes, Oli is still with us after three years; Ken said Oli’s mom abandoned his son completely and he can’t cut him off and do the same thing to him. At best, Ken said he can send his old clothes and mine, to my parents every Christmas to the province as I send a Balikbayan box.

I have compared my relationship with Ken to Tess’ Tom and I feel envious that my cousin was luckier to have a husband who shared his closet, and brings her to office gatherings while I never even met Ken’s boss. Tess would shop at mall stores and even enjoy fine dining restaurant treats from Tom and more importantly, now have two darling babies. Ken and I are still childless, and I can’t figure out why Ken and I still agreed to wait until we are ready for a child.

I am now a citizen and I feel lucky to have married someone who did not “beat me up when drunk”, nor had any gambling problems. However I seriously feel, and now realize that I am simply a solution to a domestic need. I feel like I am the housemaid with ‘intimate’ privileges.

I will selfishly say I am not happy because there seems to be a need for reassurance that we married because we love each other; but knowing that we both married in view of necessity, we are both guilty of using each other. Being a woman however, I am not sure if having a child is the answer; it might even worsen our situation adding to his thrifty concerns, not to mention limiting my options to end this empty relationship with him or just count blessings.

We had a serious conversation about what I felt thinking it might help my concerns and Ken became angry and started to speak harshly if, and when we even have a conversation. The situation has confirmed that I am simply a domestic companion and a child is not even something I can look forward to distracting me from my notion of being a “relief” to his sensuous needs. I think I need to do something to lessen this burden I feel every day.

Should I file for a divorce?



Dear Regina,

I believe you have already thought of a solution to your unhappiness. You simply need to validate your intention for a divorce. You have initiated a dialogue with Ken which is worthy of praise in clarifying your suspicions of being taken as a domestic companion with “benefits”.

I can only advise you to examine further your deeper feelings for Kenneth, to find out if you might have learned to love him in the process since you have managed to stay with him for three years. Subsequently, has he learned to love you too? Taking into account, however, that he is not yet open to having a child, did he mention a time when he feels you are both ready to have one? He might simply fear the additional expense of having a baby, which is every man’s concern – married or not. If he shows indication that it is definitely out of the question to have one – ever, then maybe that would be a benchmark to confirm your conclusion that your relationship is on a dead end.

Seek advice from your parents too as they will pacify your emotional decisions while helping you know what they feel about your situation. Seek a lawyer too who can help reevaluate your position over and above your sentiments with his professional assessment of your situation.

Inday and Andi