[Two Pronged] I want to move back to the Philippines; my wife isn’t sure

Should he stay or should he go?

 Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

Dear Dr Holmes and Mr Baer,

I am a doctor of medicine (specialization: endocrinologist) in LA, a Filipino, who has been living in LA for the last 15 years. I suddenly have a big desire to go home for good. I came here originally for post graduate work in Endocronological medicine.

I loved living in LA; I love the pace, the many options open to anyone with the money and the first world feel to it. Praise the Lord, I was offered a job in the hospital I trained in. I have been working in the same hospital ever since.

My wife is also Filipina, but she was born and raised here. She was a nurse when I met her, on the same hospital I work for. I now earn enough – praise God even more than enough – so she can stay home and look after our children.

We are happy here in LA, but I feel the pull of my homeland. I am now 40 years old, but my family has lived in Davao for over 50 years. They have many friends and family there. They are asking me to come home, reassuring me that I have many opportunities in the Philippines I do not have in LA. This would not only be in medicine, but in other areas as well (maybe business, or even politics).

When we were last in the Philippines visiting my family, my wife felt comfortable only at Bonifacio Global City [in Taguig]. Even Makati seemed too old for her. We can afford to live there, but my wife is still afraid she will be homesick. Her family is all in LA already.

How can I convince her that moving there is a good choice?


Dear Glenn,

The fact that you have chosen to write to us seeking arguments to convince your wife (let’s call her Ana) to move back “home” suggests that to date your own efforts have proven inadequate. So what is the current position?

You want to return to the Philippines, despite being happy in LA, because you feel the pull of your own country. Your family wants you to come back too, telling you there are plenty of opportunities for you even outside medicine.

Ana, however, views the US as her home. She has lived there all her life and all her family lives there too. She does not share your desire to return to the Philippines, having neither been born here nor grown up here. It may not be as foreign to her as say, Kenya, but it is foreign nevertheless.

For this reason she is very apprehensive about leaving LA for Metro Manila, and is probably worried that family pressure might even see you all move to Davao eventually, a dubious prospect for someone who already rejects Makati as “too old.” 

So in essence, you are homesick in LA and Ana is worried that she will be if you move to the Philippines.

You make no mention of the impact of this on your children. If they are very young, they will probably adapt quickly. If they are older however, the changes – schools, friends, language, people, customs etc. – will require careful management with some uncertainty as to outcome.

On balance, based only on your email, it seems unreasonable to expect your entire family to uproot itself so that you can indulge your desire to “feel the pull of your homeland,” a feeling that they do not share. However, you may have understated the depth of your desire to return home when discussing a possible move. If so, demonstrating it to your family may help to win them over.

Best of luck,

JAF Baer

Dear Glenn,

Unlike Mr. Baer, I shall not consider the possibility that you may have understated the depth of your desire to return home. In fact, most of my letter will focus on this very desire and its basis. You ask “how can I convince her that moving there is a good choice?” This is not where my expertise lies, Glenn. What I can do, however, is help you examine your motives more closely. This might lead to your and your wife’s realizing that you have the same life goals.

The first – and continuing – impression I got reading your letter is that you want to come back to the Philippines mainly for yourself. This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you do not disguise it as anything else.

And there is no need to do so in theory. Self actualization is a worthwhile goal, as is leaving a legacy, hopefully for good rather than evil—but that is your decision to make, not mine. Even an accumulation of wealth and worldly goods could be, if not a particularly laudable, at least a reasonable goal; again, as long as you do not pretend this is not what you are after, the way any run of the mill politician does.

I shall do as I asked you to: be honest about why I am answering you the way I am. It seems clear you want to come back to make use of your family connections and perhaps, get a position, elective or appointed, in the current administration.

Frankly, I cannot think of a fate worse than death, but it’s what you want and that is what matters most.

I think you should be honest with your wife. If you are lucky, she too will have similar desires and will willingly accompany you now that she knows what your true goals are. Alternatively, she might suggest that you go first, with she and the children following after you achieve your goal.

Should she not feel otherwise, then it will be no worse than it is now… except that you have been honest with her. In my clinical experience, honesty and openness count much more than a plea to support you in your desire to come back to your roots.

May your decision not have any adverse unintended consequences!

MG Holmes

– Rappler.com

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