10 things I taught my husband.

By Estella

If you read the previous post, you probably wondered what His Royal Highness learnt from our relationship. Here’s what I taught him:

1) You are not your parents. Both of his were overweight gamblers. Even if they were svelte  social icons, I would still say the same thing. We have the right to determine our individual paths through life and what worked so well for them, might not work for us.

2) You can say No. Being from the East, we want to be as agreeable as is possible. We bend backwards and accommodate everyone from our meddling in-laws to people down the street who mind our business but quietly seethe inside. It’s better to risk being seen as belligerent, then to be dragged through what you have no interest in.

3) Speaking up is not rude. Most Asians equate being loud with being rude. People need to be able to hear us. Speaking at an audible level saves them from saying, “Pardon” over and over. Perhaps in the West, people equate being softly spoken with being unconfident.

4) Say whatever is on your mind. Asians are very direct with each other, but find it hard to broach topics with Caucasians without taking a roundabout route. We expect that they know what we are alluding to, but our intent is usually lost in a haze of semantics. This is especially true for His Royal Highness since English is not his first language.

5) Putting your own interests first is not selfish. His Royal Highness is at times, simply too altruistic. If he hadn’t married me, his family would have made away with all his money and he would be embittered by the many people out to use him.

6) Cars are a waste of money. Typical boy that he is, he says he needs to drive a flashier car once he becomes a consultant as that will inspire confidence in his patients. I tell him that if a car can inspire confidence in anyone, they would have to be as shallow as a puddle for a new car loses 30% of its value the moment you drive out of the dealership. In addition, an expensive vehicle costs you an arm and a leg just to service. Often, I can tell how much one has in the bank just by the car driven.

7) Big houses are also a waste of money. You can see a consistent theme here, can’t you? Big spaces cost more to buy, more to maintain, more to heat and cool plus there’s all this furniture you need to buy in order to prevent the space from feeling cavernous. Many say that children need room to run around in but think about it: do you want a child running about your house knocking over all your ornaments and precious keepsakes? Besides, there’s such a thing as a public park.

8) Things last only as long as they are maintained. Whether it is houses or cars or that new shirt you just bought, everything requires constant upkeep. Even relationships need to be nurtured in order to keep alive. If you dislike the amount of effort called for maintaining what you’ve got, then you might not have it for very long.

9) Expensive and good quality are distant cousins. Being royalty, His Royal Highness likes the finest of everything. From numbers 6 and 7, you can tell that I’ve put my accounting degree to some use by doing the math before opening my wallet. The fact is, you can live very well for very little, so why should you pay through your nose for just about everything you touch? I remind him that some of our most enjoyable meals have been cheap ones, just as some of our most expensive ones, total rubbish.

10) You live on through your child. Perhaps I shouldn’t add this to the list because it is something he is still learning. Since he has his own career – one which takes up most of his time – he sees success as being solely in relation to himself. I tell him that the greatest career success would mean nothing if he failed our daughter. He likes to ask me, “Do you not think I love my daughter?” I always answer, “You do, but not as much as I would like you to.”


10 things I learnt from my husband.

By Estella

His Royal Highness and I are very different people and it is precisely for that reason our mental exchanges are so stimulating. Here’s what he taught me:

1) The poor are not necessarily bad. I argued criminals were typically poor because hunger and deprivation can drive a person to dispense with their morals. He countered by saying that his uncle and aunt are poor but the most morally upright people he knows.

2) Those most likely to come to your aid may be racially different to you. Growing up in racially-sensitive Malaysia, where everyone has friends who are ethnically different but still tends to trust most those from within their own ethnic group, I contended that our closest allies are of a similar racial profile. After all, isn’t it in familiarity that empathy grows? He countered by citing numerous examples of when racially different people were more helpful than those from our ethnic group.

3) Being smart is no guarantee of success. While some might think it insensitive, he points to yours truly as a shining example of being very smart but utterly unsuccessful. I like to remind him that as a support person, my success is actually his, but it is true, on my own and of my self, I am unsuccessful.

4) Persistance pays. He’s had many setbacks in his career. A lesser person would have said it’s too hard and walked away. Instead, he’s borne the indignity of multiple failures with fortitude and emerged victorious.

5) How to be the bigger person. He’d rather lose an argument than lose a relationship. As a result of letting others get away with their thoughts and actions – some erroneous – his relationships are a lot more enduring than mine.

6) To¬†give more than you get. It’s a very privileged person who gets to help another out as not everyone is in the position to do so. However, you have to make a distinction between someone who genuinely needs help and one who just wants to piggyback on whatever you’re doing because there are many users out there.

7) To be proud of being different to everyone else. Like me, His Royal Highness has never been part of a herd. However, while I’ve constantly felt out of joint with society for marching to my beat, he takes immense pride in marching to his.

8) To filter my thoughts before speaking. Most who know me well would concur that I have somewhat confronting views. What I now realise is that not all of those views need be shared with everyone else. The socially acceptable ones I air on this blog, the more contentious ones, I keep to myself.

9) Doing nothing can do a lot for you. I often like rushing off to activities on weekends. He likes to sit around and just take it easy. I tried doing it his way last weekend and found myself more refreshed and looking forward to the week ahead.

10) The other is not the enemy. In fact, the other is probably a friend, but when you argue, that’s the last thing you remember. Learning to be less defensive helps you to hear the other person out and embrace life without turning everything into a battle.