Husbands, a word please?


On the eve of my 20th birthday, I wrote in my journal that it was very exciting/scary to be entering the decade where I would probably be getting married and starting a family, cause, that’s what happens in your 20s, right? …With only 3 months left of my 20s, I either have a lot of work to do these next 90 days, or have to accept that I was incredibly naive and flat out wrong with my teenage prediction/perception.

While there are a variety of reasons why I “missed” this mark (most of which will be covered in a blog post or short film at some point ), a big reason is that I have an equally naive concept of what getting married means and results in. And I would be the first to call bs on myself, I mean what do I know? I’m sure one’s perception of love and life totally changes once the vows are made and children arrive, and this is what this post is about.

I wish I had more communication with married men. Not just the surface “Yeah married life is totally different” “no one’s ever ready for kids” “happy wife happy life” stuff… I mean, real, honest communication. When I do talk to young husbands and fathers it’s taboo to ask some of the harder questions. It’s even more taboo for them to answer them on the real. And even older men, I don’t feel comfortable asking certain things because I fear what deep scars or secrets I could be knocking on.

Have your feelings changed? Do you still think about someone in your past? What do you fantasize about? Who do you fantasize about? How do you not act on them? ..or, have you? Why do you stay? When you do have doubts, how do you fight them? Sure you were madly in love when you first got married, but what’s it like being held to a decision you made 5 yrs ago? 10 yrs, 20 yrs? Have you not changed? …Would you change anything?

Am I over complicating things? Do these issues not occur? Is it actually much simpler than I’m making it to be? “Chill out kid.”

I believe that as male animals we have primal desires that are suppressed because we are civilized and have evolved emotions. I believe that as intellectual humans we develop within our own life span and what we feel and believe rarely stays constant. So how do these men do it? And I don’t ask that question like it’s impossible. I literally want to know what makes them able to do something I don’t fully understand yet. I think when they are trying to be polite or good role models they’ll answer something about “I don’t miss that life”, and “what they’ve built together”. But is that all? How much is attributed to active choice, how much is it true love where they can’t see themselves with anyone else?

I’m not questioning the validity or authenticity of the answers. If it really is some special ingredient or level of “love” I have yet to grasp, that’s awesome. I can’t wait to get there. But perhaps I want to know that there isn’t that special ingredient. That despite being madly in love, thoughts and desires will always arise and are dealt with. I don’t think men want to admit these faults, they don’t want to disclose these secrets.. but I really don’t think they should be secrets, because honestly, there’s no secret. People’s minds and hearts wander constantly. Own up to it and tell those of us who haven’t gotten to where you are how you manage. Share your knowledge, share your struggles. It could possibly help both sides.

I’m a flawed man, I’m a scared man. But I want to be above these fears and doubts. I want to be confident in my future. A vow at it’s core is about confidence, no? Or is not having confidence the reason why one needs a vow? I think the only way I can make these promises and enter that next stage of life is to learn how to love, desire, yearn, miss, and let go of people in the right amounts. Is my first mistake believing that husbands and wives have found that balance?


32 thoughts on “Husbands, a word please?

  1. I’m no husband, but I’ve been in a long term relationship and I’ve felt and asked everything you asked. Guilty! And over the years, both of us have definitely changed, but I guess what kept us for so long is the strong bond that was formed by being friends and growing up together. There’s no special ingredients to a relationship, I feel. Just a whole lot of trust and a balance of everything else 🙂

    ❤ Karen

    ps//Like I've told my single girlfriends, the universe will send you the special one soon and you will know what I mean.

  2. While reading this entry, a singular question came to mind: why does the concept of loyalty so hard for you to grasp? I have only been married for a month, but I’ve been with my husband for 8 years. Neither of us held any form of desire for a different life or different person. I think longings are only there when we don’t feel content with what we have. My husband and I are the lucky ones who found our balance, our joy. There is no secret. If you wander, if you have desires yet met, then your life carries a void that wants to be filled. When you’re with the right person, that void would be no more.

  3. Not a husband, not a man, and not married, but I identify with your questions nevertheless. It is something that I have been struggling with recently being in my late 20s as well and almost hitting 3 on the first digit of my age (though not as soon as you). 🙂 I strongly recommend a book written by Tim Keller, a book called ‘The Meaning of Marriage’. He shares his honest struggles from a foundationally important perspective, and you may find most of the answers to your questions in there. Hope this helps. 🙂

  4. I’m probably the last person who should be responding to this post; I’m obviously not a husband. I’m not married or even in a relationship, and while I’d like to be married someday, I recognize the very real possibility that it might not happen. But I do love. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my students. I’m called to love all people. And the people who seem difficult to love remind me that love is a choice. It’s a decision we make every day to say, “I care about you in spite of everything I know about you.”

    I think believing that love is just a feeling or an emotion is what makes it easy to walk away when challenges come or doubts and temptations rise. We justify infidelity by saying, “I’ve fallen out of love with you” when what we probably should be saying is, “I’ve chosen to love someone else.” We are all deeply flawed and broken people – and our relationships are going to reflect that. But thankfully love and marriage don’t require us to be perfect. They just ask us to continue caring for each other despite our brokenness.

  5. I will be a married man in just a few days time and I can say that all of your questions are ones that I too have thought about. Especially recently. I know that married life won’t be perfect, as dating for 10 years has been far from perfect, but that’s okay. Having questions and fears about the unknown is normal. It’s being human. I can’t say if you’ll ever find that special person, but just because you aren’t married within your 20s I would in no way say you “missed the mark.” You never know what life is going to throw at you. And life is never the same for two people.

    If you ever have questions, you know where to find me. Ask away.

  6. Phil, in brief, unmarried women are just the same. We ask the same questions. We ponder the same thoughts. We carry the same fears and struggles. Thing is, everyone’s different, and surely you understand that. There’s not much that you’re missing other than timing. When it’s your time to be married, you’ll know it. And then, you’ll reflect back on this post and be able to answer all of those questions. Asking about it can help, like you say, but it can also add noise to your own natural way of finding out the answers you’re looking for.

  7. Wow, for real with the cliché thought process Phil? 😦 By the time you’re beyond blown away by the fact that your #forevergirl stood next to you on the altar, which you will be, the only thing you’re ever going to wonder is how possibly will you ever be enough for her . . . #truestory

  8. I’m turning 23 next week, but I’m engaged and planning to get married in January of 2016. I’m still scared sh*tless about it.

    I think there are a lot of expectations that come with marriage – particularly loyalty – that are hard to understand until you are at that point. Marriage is not just an institution now. It’s a Disney movie, and it’s all about the romance. Soul mates. The one. Undying, unconditional, unwavering love. I am not a romantic, but my fiance is. I have a really hard time with commitment because it feels like I’m closing so many doors to so many possibilities. My fiance on the other hand has thought about forever since we first started dating. We have broken up and made up many, many times, yet here we are, together today and planning to be together forever. Or at least as long as we can make it.

    I’m only going to speak for myself. I don’t think I’m going to stay the same; I don’t believe I will feel the same 5 years, 10 years, or 20 years down the line. I haven’t even made any vows yet and I’m already doubting, wondering if this is the right thing to do or if he is the right guy to be with. If you asked me if I think he is my “soul mate,” my honest answer is no. I don’t believe he is “the one” and I could very well be in love with somebody else. In fact, if I HAD to choose someone as my soul mate, it wouldn’t be my fiance (ha! and at this point, I’m sure a lot of people would be screaming at me at how wrong this is). But marriage to me isn’t just about the romance or the chemistry.. it’s about building a life together, and life is so much more than romance.

    He is not my life and he is not my world, but I want to be with him because he makes my life better and fuller. It’s about friends, it’s about family, future kids, and yes, it’s about money. Between the both of us, it all has to work.

    I know down the line that we are going to fight, it’s not always going to be pretty, and sometimes I will feel like I don’t love him (because how could he be so stubborn!!). Even if he doesn’t, I’m going to think of people from my past and I’m going to wonder and fantasize and possibly feel regret. In fact, these are all things we already do, but we also apologize, forgive, and move on. That’s enough for me.. that at the end of the day, we still choose to keep building our lives together and be better. That’s why I still choose him.

    My only vow is to keep trying. As long as being with him makes us both better, then I will keep trying. I chose him because I believe we can build something wonderful, and if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay too. It’s not an ultimatum; this is not life or death. I’m sure there are people who get married because they are “completely in love” whatever that means. Actually, I take that back.. there are definitely people who feel “completely in love” and my fiance is one of them. I’m just not one of those people, but I know that and I’m okay with that.

    Wow, that felt good to get out.
    Thanks for giving me a place to put this 🙂

  9. Thanks for your thoughts, Phil! (Totally legit.) I’m sorry some folks here seem to think you’re not allowed to ask questions because they’ve seemed to have figured it out! Anyway, I think it’s about love and commitment. Ah, words words words. Yes there is the honeymoon lovey dovey beginnings, but the true test is when life gets hard… dull… boring… repetitive… when something/someone else looks more interesting. Hopefully the love (and not passion or lust) has grown since the lovey dovey beginnings, but the commitment and appreciation and respect are what keep you grounded. And also if life becomes mundane or “boring,” I feel like people often blame the other person for the failings of the relationship when it takes two. In short – I don’t think anyone ever goes into it having all the answers. It’s not something someone can tell you but you have to live it and learn and love and grow. In addition, shared faith can be a powerful glue for the relationship. 🙂 Blessings Phil as you figure it out.

  10. I guess it works both ways. You may ask everywhere and anyone with all these questions and get pretty good answers. However, the best answer is always within yourself. AND the best answer is you gonna work it out together with the significant one. The answer is always there, it’s just the matter you are not quite there to see it yet. I know it’s frustrated and it sucks, but you gonna love it. (that’s the beauty of it) With all the questions you having now, and all bunch of new questions you gonna discover when you entering 30’s, or maybe 40’s….. it will come into whole picture soon. There’s no exact ingredient for it, but it has a formula that only she and you can work out together, and that’s what people said chemistry. I’m sure you gonna find the formula, some significant day. (because you are a nice guy..and a wise one) You may not have to control it, just let the life live it up. Ride with it…’s sucks (and it’s fun) but you gonna love it. ( :

  11. So fitting that I came across this today as well:

    Seems like others have been pondering the same things you have. And perhaps this may shed some light on the answers you’re looking for. I hope it does, even just a little bit. 🙂

  12. I’m not a husband, not a man, and not married, to echo lauwxt above, but here’s my take on the whole thing (I’ve been through that thought process too). I don’t believe in soulmates, I believe that you could find a number of people in the world with whom you are compatible. And then, if you happen to meet one of them, you might decide to get married. Some people (lucky people) will marry someone and never feel attracted to anyone else ever again. Some may struggle, sometimes, because we are all human and we might feel attraction for someone else. But to me, once you decide to get married, once you decide to say those vows, you abide by them, and you stay with the one you’ve sworn to stay with, you try to make it work. You push the other attractions away, not because they aren’t attractive or better, but EVEN IF they are more attractive or better, because you have taken a vow. So I guess, in a way, that answers your question about whether not having confidence is why we need a vow. In my opinion, yes, it probably is.

  13. You might enjoy the film “Take This Waltz”, it dealt with a lot of the doubts and life/love satisfaction thoughts that I think we all experience:

    “Take This Waltz’s real subject is the fallacy of trying to grapple with disappointment. We’re set up to expect perfection. ”Once you find someone,” Polley says, ”you’re not supposed to feel empty or like there’s something missing. That’s bewildering and we think we have to go fix it.” Rogen, speaking in Toronto, echoed Polley’s point of view. ”Life is inherently a little depressing,” he said. ”Some people fill that void with religion; other people fill it with constantly trying to find something exciting and passionate. Some people just accept it and find joy within those parameters. To me, that’s what I think when I think about what this movie is about.”

  14. I’d like to know the answers to your questions as well. Feels like there’s no “satisfactory” answer yet. Then again, everyone may find their own definition or truth, according to their own personal makeup and circumstances. As for the rest of us waiting on the sidelines or not yet reaching that milestone, we can only wonder. There’s a quote I stumbled across, and it really reminded me of this post: “FAITH is being certain of what we do not see.” Sometimes, you just have to take that leap of faith, believe in what you know is true, even in the absence of perfection, and allow yourself to explore a whole other part of life. Also don’t forget to forgive yourself when you make mistakes, but try not to fck it up. Lol. Alright, good luck.

  15. I love this. Like Camille said, the core of marriage vows is not confidence, it’s faith. It’s faith that the love you share with your significant other WILL stand the test of time. That even though doubts may surface and there are times you will want out, you will continue to choose to love this person you chose and stick by them and you faith they will do the same for them.

    I also echo what others have said, finding the right person will make marriage seem like it’s the place you WANT to be at. That despite the high divorce rate western countries (and even Asian countries) nowadays face and all the uncertainties that marriage brings, spending life committed to your significant other and telling the world about it seems like the best thing ever.

    I’ve only been married 3 years and I’m a wife, not a husband, but I truly love my husband and being married to him. Do I sometimes wonder if I’ve made the right choice marrying him? Of course, I think it’s only human to wonder “what if?” But I know when push comes to shove, even if shit hits the fan, he will be by side.

    All up we’ve been together just over 10 years. We have lots of fun together, we share same interests, have the same faith and always makes each other laugh. We aren’t glued at the hip and both have our own groups of friends and are also content to be alone. When we have bad days when it seems marriage was the worst idea ever, we take a step back, a deep breath and think back to why we chose each other in the first place. We apologise, we admit we are wrong, we learn to laugh at our mistakes and we continue to promise to stand by each other, always.

  16. My thoughts on commiting to marriage:
    1. There is no secret ingredient, as Po realized in Kungfu Panda. There’s also no certain level of love or “sign” or whatever that will give you the assurance that what you’re about to do is absolutely right. I don’t care what zodiac or star sign you are or what the I Ching says. There is no absolute guarantee. No solid tangible sign that marrying this person will be the right thing to do.

    There is however a feeling, an intuition that maybe it is the right decision. And you know you could be wrong but you dive in. Some will call it faith, others maybe confidence. Whatever you call it, when you have it, it gives you the courage to dive in, to risk your heart, because that is how you want to live, how you have decided to live, because what you’re looking for is more than the assurance that you will not make a mistake (I mean sure nobody wants to be wrong about lifetime commitments and you do need to be careful, but at some point you do need to make a decision on whether or not you’re gonna dive in), what you’re looking for is the willingness to risk being wrong and being hurt for love.

    2. Desires for other people arise. Thoughts about other people arise. You will find other women hot. But so what? Thoughts are just thoughts. Desires are just desires. The one who commits isn’t so easily swayed. Know that they are there when they arise, acknowledge them, then let them go. Repeat as many times as you need. If you absolutely must get your rocks off and jerk off while fantasizing about someone else to retain your sanity then do it. Then let it all go and move on. Not to be crude but do what you can to stay faithful and sane. I have had serious crushes on other women. Haven’t cheated once. My secret? Nothing. I just know myself very well. So I set boundaries for myself. J watch myself around women I am attracted to. I’m still friendly but I mentally place a wall between us. And I don’t get drunk with them. Neither do I go out of my way to spend time with them.

    I should tell you at this point that I am a bastard child. My sister and I were born out of wedlock. So I made up my mind early on that whoever I married, I would never betray her. That’s been a very big influence on my attitude towards marriage.

  17. Have you read about Dan Savage?

    Assuming you ask husbands because the heart of your question goes to “what makes a relationship last?”

    (funny video, warning slightly crude though :P)

  18. Marriage isnt just about the feeling of attraction between a man & a woman… There are stages in the relationship where those chemistry(whatever u call it) will start to die, just like in your video “Stranger, again”. Im not married, but i came from a broken family & have been through alot of “divorce process” of close friends/families. Most married couple i knew said being single is so much better(over 95%)! Ironically, singles wish they are married. Personally, I’m not anti-relationship, but I do have a realistic view on them. To summarize it, do not ever start a family unless you are ready to be selfless. It isnt just abt feelings, but it is about commitment to “lose yourself” for the sake of the innocent victims – The children, they dont talk but they can feel everything thats happening.

  19. Phil, are you a Libran? Because I swear I could have written this post myself. I don’t know if you’re interested in astrology at all, but I think it’s a trademark of Librans to keep comparing, always sitting on the fence, always looking for something better…basically we have serious issues regarding the fear of missing out. At the end of the day, Librans need to learn how to balance their lives, and learn how to make a decision and stick to it. I’ve experienced this my whole life in everything I do, always gripped by this fear that if I go left instead of right, I’ll miss out on what could happen if I had chosen to go right. I’ve acknowledged that I have a major fear of commitment (career, friendships, romantic relationships, health, everything!) and am actively trying to work on it, because in my life I have been paralyzed by indecision and have lost everything and have stunted my own growth in the process. It seems to me like you may be experiencing similar issues, so my advice to you is to look within and work on self-love and whatever issues you may have with self-esteem, fear of commitment etc.

    Sincerely, a female Libran 🙂

  20. Dear Phil,

    I find it interesting we sort of have the same fears and I’m across the world from you. From WFW videos, I never would have guessed that this cheerful-happy-go-lucky guy experiences some of the same worries I do.

    I’m 26, not married, not a man and not currently in a relationship. I do find myself worrying sometimes that I might get married too late…or not at all. I find myself worrying that I don’t know if I’ll find the ‘right’ guy, if I’ve been doing something wrong, if I’m too introverted, etc. Basically I worry about “missing the mark” but for different reasons.

    But I always reach one conclusion: What’s the rush? In the Philippines, mid 20’s is usually the marrying age among my peers, but I found along the way that I’ve been having this naive view about marriage – that it must follow a ‘timeline’. I’ve asked the same questions as you and naively thought I’ll figure those out in time and once I do, I know I’m in the right state to get married.

    But I find it’s not so simple.

    In my family, I’ve seen infidelity and other long seemingly-happy marriages disintegrate. And these couples had it all – money, stability, children, etc. They’re at the point where they can answer your questions, but their marriages didn’t work. I found that there really are no guarantees. No signs or “secret ingredients”.

    Maybe it’s okay to have those questions and it’s okay to be naive right now. There’s no trial run for marriage. Maybe you’re just going to cross that bridge when you get there.

  21. I know this an ‘old’ post to be commenting on, but the questions probably haven’t been resolved in your heart & head yet so I’ll comment away.

    I faced these questions myself throughout the past few years, but they became more focused and clearer to me in this same way you have written in March of 2010. I started hungering for answers and searching for transparency and just truth. I thought I knew what marriage was enough at the time, but having gone through everything these past 4 years…I can safely say I knew nothing about marriage. I’m still learning.

    I say all that just to encourage you in your own search for truth. These married people aren’t faking it. I recommend just as lauwxt commented that you read The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller…no scratch that, get the audio book if you can. It takes time to digest these chapters and books. But what started my own journey was reading For Women Only…maybe start with For Men Only, the companion book her husband wrote. It would add to your work to ser even better the differences between how men and women think. And that is huge in any marriage. That chaism.

    But all that, aside, I’m praying for you brother. If you don’t make time to do any one of any one of the suggestions of these comments then I’ll just leave this last one.

    You started Wong Fu Productions forever ago and just yesterday. I remember watching that video of the three of you clarifying that you were still together. That actually, you had all moved in together in LA and you’re going to keep making videos. Something about how good Chipotle is too. But that is the decision you made. Together. It felt right and you’re still together. Ups and downs. YouTube comments and world tours. You guys make this decision every day to stay together. You have each grown, but you’re each the same and different from those three boys sitting there telling us you’re going to keep making videos together. Apply those marriage questions and doubts here. What makes you stay? What keeps you from breaking off to do your own solo work? You each have your own takes and styles, what makes you help someone else share their story? We’re all tempted to only care about our own story being told. We are all tempted to sin, what keeps you from sinning? You vowed to make videos together, no longer considering ‘only’ what you want, but what is best for preserving our vow to each other. There is no shortage of offers. If anything it exponentially has increased. The phone you buy at Walmart has a better camera then back in the day. YouTube didn’t really exist. Marketing and sharing stories was through Xanga blogs at best. What keeps your eyes on your own paper? It was a decision you made together and it was the right fit. You had peace making that decision. Worries, doubts, whatever, you made it in faith. Together. You took the chance that it was going to work not knowing for certain, but having faith and peace in that decision.

    It’s the love of sharing a story together that keeps you together. May you find that one day in marriage too. Wong Fu has been marriage school for you so far. Just keep searching for truth and you’ll find peace.

    Thanks for sharing all your stories this past decade+
    Many of those stories helped connect dots in my own journey to figurong out what marriage is. Thanks again. I’ll keep praying you find answers to settle your head’s doubts on this.

  22. Hi Phil!

    A marriage only makes sense when its meant to reflect the unconditional love Christ has for His people. Maybe you should check out how Christ loves us to get a better understanding of how God has ordained a marriage to be like.

    “You have ravished my heart,
    My sister, my spouse;
    You have ravished my heart
    With one look of your eyes,
    With one link of your necklace.”
    -Song of Solomon 4:9

    Been through my fair share of relationships and I can only say man (including myself) will fail. We can never love someone unconditionally like how Jesus does. But we can be vessels of His love for our spouses. 🙂

    “We love, because He first loved us.”
    – 1 John 4:19

    And even so I’m not saying we will never fail, but as we behold His love for us, we will be transformed into His image.

    “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
    – 2 Corinthians 3:18

    Joseph Prince – Jesus’ Passionate Love Unveiled I…:

    I hope I didn’t lose you halfway through the verses. Sorry I think I sound kinda preachy here. #sorrynotsorry 😉

    and nope, not a husband. :p

  23. im no husband but i feel the lasting relationship is a matter of how satisfied, willing, passionate, open, accepting, present and appreciative you are in the person. The temptation would be non existent even if there’s someone else whos similar and better. How you could seamlessly positively respond even in emotionally driven heavy arguments…that you’re vulnerable or raw in your exchange without being hurtful.

  24. Not a husband….but I am a married person in my 20s who now has a baby. I think love and commitment are a choice….and even after the intense feelings have simmered, if you “love” someone, you make a conscious choice to make things work. Like anything else in life (friendships, your career, etc), love requires maintenance….and I do feel that the key to a lasting relationship is the will of both parties to constantly keep working at their relationship. In many ways, we have all been set up to fail because of what society and the media makes us believe “love” should be (eg. Fairytales, diamonds, endless passion, exotic vacations, flowers, etc). Marriage really is about sharing LIFE together…both good and bad.

  25. phil, you do deserve the happiness, the commitment of true love and of marriage~~ when you think/question that deeply, it is kind of hard to find the exact answer which you are searching/longing for. (to interrupt, the surimi sticks at german supermarktes for dip/salate taste much better than those in asian supermarktes which need to be cooked first…… yummy as snacks!!! i am falling in love with it~~~~~) as ture friends, it is already hard wo find, and for the ture love which may last for the entire life, it is much harder. how to make a promise for a life long (for everyone/everything is chaning all the time)? but there is still hope in it! 三观~~ if you get it in chinese~ and even in the end it does not hold forever, in the moment, when you two are willing to this commitment, it is great~ i am losing my point… do not really know what my point would be… but phylosofically, the moment, is what decides/defenites the relationship/time/expierence~~~~~~ AM I MAKING ANY SENSE AT ALL????

  26. My simple comment would be: Phil, you’re overthinking. You just haven’t found the one.

    My another comment would be: I’m just like you. Everyday I convince myself that I keep thinking of too many things because I haven’t found the one. I’m not a man and not married. I had a guy best friend who got married few years ago. I say “had” cause we lost contact. In the first year of his marriage, I kept asking him, “So how’s marriage? Anything different?” He said, everything’s the same. But I couldn’t help to catch his tone that, he says that to comfort himself. Or maybe I was just hallucinating.
    He had a complicated history before he got married. I know his story and I didn’t know if his wife knew. Some things are better left unsaid, that’s what people keep telling me. But knowing that each guy has different story, I’m scared to think what my future husband’s back story will be. Did he marry me cause he settled? How would he be sure it’s me? How am I gonna trust that his old flame wouldn’t spark some time in our marriage?

    You’re a guy, Phil. I don’t know whether you’re still active in blogging. I do like getting a glimpse of your Inside Out’s “Sad” personality. Please do another blogpost if you’ve found the answer. Cause I wonder will there come a time when I stop questioning these things.

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