"Tigilan mo na bisyo mo kundi iiwan kita!"
You've probably heard this line from your girlfriend before. No matter how hard you try to explain that quitting your vices cold turkey is difficult, she can hardly get your point. Of course, you love your S.O. and you don't want to lose her for such petty reason. So what do you do now?
First, know her reason. Ask her calmly why your vices bother her so much and try to understand where she's coming from. (No alcoholic family member? Ex has a history of addiction?)
To make it easier for you to understand why she's persistent about this request, we decided to go straight to the source (women) and asked them this: "Why do you want your partner to quit his vices?"
Danica, 26 and currently in a relationship for more than six years now, says: "My boyfriend is a heavy drinker since high school. I want him to stop because he goes really crazy whenever his drunk. It comes to the point na minumura niya ako and the next day he would act like nothing happened."
Lorraine, 28, says she wants her partner to quit his vices because her dad died due to failure of kidney because of his addiction to alcoholic beverages and cigarette smoking. "I was just seven years old when I lost my dad. My whole family was in pain for years. I don't want that to ever happen again. But sometimes men just don't get the point that we, women, are just concerned with their health."
Jessey, 32 and married for three years now, says: "The problem is that some men just don't know how to drink moderately. Laging sinasagad kahit alam na hindi na kaya. And, of course, we already have kids. It's not nice if they see their dad intoxicated."
Meanwhile, Dr. Tyler Ong, PsyD, MS, a Cebu-based clinical psychologist, and family and marriage therapist, says it's best to talk about the issue immediately. If you keep on avoiding it, this could probably affect your relationship over time.
"It starts with irritation at the repetitive complaints of the women either verbally or nonverbally (facial expressions of disgust or contempt). There have been instances of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) resulting from such encounters. Other times, the couple drifts apart, shutting out each other all because of cigarette smoking or alcohol consumption."
You need to be transparent with your partner about how you feel about her request. Don't just say "yes" when you really disagree.
"Talk it out. I understand this is difficult for the average Filipino man to even initiate. Unfortunately, this is the most direct and least complicated way to solve the issue," Dr. Ong says.
But don't try to sound like you're defending your smoking (or drinking) habit. Your girlfriend would most likely shut out your next sentences. When explaining your side, one of the best things to do is to stick with the strategy called sandwich procedure.
"Start with a positive, insert the negative, and end with another positive (sandwiching bad news in between good news)," explains Doctor Ong.
"For example tell her, 'I understand you are concerned and I share your worries also. I will try my best to stop (POSITIVE). But please don't expect that I should stop immediately because it's also hard for me to do that. I've been using cigarettes/alcohol for quite some time and I can't just quit one day (NEGATIVE). So I'd like to ask for your help in quitting. What if we agree that we can set a quota every month regarding my smoking/drinking and we lower it every month, while you monitor me? (POSITIVE)?'," he adds.
If this doesn't work, it would be best to seek the help of a professional third party.
Dr. Tyler Ong, PsyD, MS is a clinical psychologist, and family and marriage therapist. For consultation, you can visit his clinic at 317 Medalle Bldg. Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City.
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