DISCLAIMER: @matahatigraphy was our wedding photographer. They gave us the raw and the edited pictures, but for this post, I can't find images that I wanted from the latter. Therefore, I took out a few pictures from the former and tweaked them myself. If you have a keen eye for photography stuff, I'm sorry if the following pictures hurt your eyes!
I asked myself a question before I got married, "Will emotional affection between husband and wife last for a lifetime?". Tony Stark once said, "I guess we'll find out".
What relationship is about?
For me, a relationship is all about trust, patience, and empathy. I didn't know that before -- I had to learn them the hard way. It sounds like an excuse, but my family didn't provide me the best environment to learn about emotional intelligence -- it simply didn't exist (and probably still doesn't). Anger was forbidden, sadness was forbidden, just keep up a mask of a happy face all day to prevent further problems.
Moreover, since the "culprit" in my parents' house was a woman, it was really hard for me to fully open up to the opposing gender. I was afraid of getting a person with her traits. Love was a topic that I would tread really, really carefully. Yes, I had crushes, but I kept questioning myself, "Is this love? Or is this lust?". I think I was being paranoid, while at the same time, I wanted someone who could match my puzzle piece. I was conflicting with my inner self most of the time.
Fast forward to May 2016, I got the internship that enabled me to do my thesis defense in September. Little did I know, the woman who I would fall in love with also worked in that company. It all started when I accepted the part-time offer after finishing my internship there. I thought it was a great chance to improve my "actual real job skills" because my gaming career was going nowhere.
My wife -- her name is Hawa -- she used to drive her own car to the office. I learned that the distance between her house and my living place was not that far, it was around 15 minutes of walk. One day, I wanted to join her on a ride back together, so she could drop me somewhere on her way home. The first one was not intentional, but soon, it became a habit. I was lucky she didn't mind.
We started going to the office together as well, where she would pick me up at "my pickup point". During the ride, we talked with each other, ranging from casual topics to more personal ones. I got to know her as a person instead of just a colleague. We discovered each other's vulnerable selves. My mind began to question, "Is this the one?".
However, my pessimistic side said, "Hahahaha. No. She is just like that woman, why did you even think about it?".
So, yes. My hopeless self won again, though its reign was short. After my graduation, I went to a conference called ICoDSE 2016. There were a lot of my friends who got into that conference as well, hence it was a great time (at least for me). We went to souvenir shops, where I bought a pair of sandals as a gift for Hawa. To this day, I don't know why I had the willpower to do it.
I arrived back in Bandung and took a day off (if I remember correctly). The next day, I gave Hawa the sandals. I must say, for me, who was quite cold towards the opposing gender, I melted seeing such happiness on her face when she received the gift. I think that was the moment where my "paranoid fortress" began to crumble, and so it did.
Since then, it was a slow-but-sure ride. We got closer and closer until we were "officially" together in March 2017. I thought slow buildup to the relationship would mean that we understood each other. I couldn't be more wrong. It was the moment where I began to learn 3 important things in life: trust, patience, and empathy.
Learning the hard way
Patience and Empathy
When I just started being together with Hawa, one of the words that would describe me most was rigid. Everything was binary in my eyes. It was either true or false, there were no in-betweens. As a result, we had some good "fights". However, we always made up after each one. We resolved them and created action plans on what to do should similar problems occur in the future.
With that said, there were kinds of stuff which we couldn't change overnight. Pushing them wouldn't help, either. We needed to understand that it wasn't easy to change. Hence, we learned patience and empathy together.
My monochrome life was beginning to have colors because of her.
Then, it was trust. Thankfully, we didn't have to go through fights to learn this. We just trusted each other when we had to maintain Long Distance Relationship (LDR), as I was about to pursue my Masters at the University of Melbourne, while Hawa was to pursue hers at Institut Teknologi Bandung.
We scheduled a weekly video call, which was a bit tricky with Melbourne being 3-4 hours ahead of Bandung. There were times where I or she was busy and couldn't make it, so in that case, we scheduled it at a different time. Although it was only once a week, we always kept a tab of each other every day with text chat. We made sure to respect each other's boundaries because we both knew that each of us had a lot of stuff to do in our daily life. I think this was significant for us as we didn't want to annoy one another.
In March 2019, I had a chance to travel to San Francisco. It was a bit tough for both me and Hawa because we had never experienced 14 hours of time difference before, even though it was only for 8-9 days. My daytime was her nighttime, and vice versa. Although we could still text each other, we couldn't do our usual weekly video call schedule, because my times and her times didn't match. To make things worse, I also bought a SIM Card that wasn't compatible with my phone. Therefore, 2G was all that I had unless I was connected to a Wi-Fi.
Every day, we tried to find good and matching times for both of us with no luck. However, a few days before I flew back to Melbourne, I was free in the morning with a Wi-Fi connection (yay!). That was also the time she could have a video call with me, and so we did. All in all, it was a good experience for both of us.
People said that one of the hardest struggles came before the wedding event. Well, they aren't wrong. There were times where I would be emotionally broken, but Hawa was always there for me. She trusted me, even when I didn't trust myself. She was the light that gently gave me the strength to move forward. She was/is a strong woman, and I am the luckiest man alive to have married her.
Emotional affection and the three aspects
For me, emotional affection is invisible, but I can feel it. It feels warm. It feels gentle. It feels nurturing. The 3 aspects above, trust, patience, and empathy -- they are probably the most important kinds of affection which made us love each other. When you are trusted, you feel good. When the other person is being patient with you, you feel good. When the other person empathizes with you, you feel good.
When these 3 components exist together in a household, I believe only a harmonious family will flourish.
At the time of writing, it was around 1 month and 14 days since I got married to Hawa. The GIF above was made from a website that I made specifically to count how long has it been since our wedding. Although I know "monthiversary" is not a thing, I thought it was cool seeing all the numbers change together at the same time. Now, I kind of understand why anniversaries are a big deal for some people. It is a life milestone.
Now, let's get back to the beginning of this post: "Will emotional affection between husband and wife last for a lifetime?". Well, that website is also made to keep track of it. For me and my wife, I really want to prove that the answer is yes. I want to keep trusting her, I want to keep being patient with her, and I want to always empathize with her. Hopefully, only death will sever our emotional affection -- so the timer on that website will keep ticking.
For the closing words, I would like to ask myself and my wife, "When we are old, will we still see each other as we did in this picture?". Again, I really want to prove that the answer is yes. The road will be rocky, our emotional affection towards each other may be tested, but I think the outcome is indescribable if we stay strong.
I have mentioned about harmonious family earlier in this post. That is the outcome. That is our goal. A happy family where happiness spreads to all family members. A family, no matter wherever they live, every member of it will always call it home. Home is not always about the location, it is not always about the building. It is about the people who live inside it.