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Marriage means being BFFs

By BARBARA GONZALEZ- VENTURA, The Philippine STAR Published Sep 04, 2022 5:00 am

Now I think I really got the lessons My Unfamiliar Family taught. First, never mind if you have nothing to write about. Do not write about a Korean series until you have finished watching it.

Second, so that’s what “graduating from marriage” means. It doesn’t mean saying goodbye and never seeing each other again. It means that marriage goes through stages that sometimes alienate mates but they still grow old together. Early in the marriage they have profound misunderstandings they choose not to talk about. They plant it like a seed, water it constantly, until it sprouts.

Then make it grow, bloom, bear fruit. They don’t talk much to each other because they care about the children. They have suspicions but they don’t discuss them with the mate. Husband suspects maybe wife is having an affair with the owner of the fruit stand. Wife suspects husband has had an affair or a series of affairs because he doesn’t come home as early as he used to. They each live in their own imaginations bordering on hating each other more, but trying not to show it. This continues until, one day, wife has had enough and declares graduation from their marriage.

So many lessons learned on love, marriage and parenting from the K-drama My Unfamiliar Family.

By this time the children are in their twenties. They have sensed some discord at home so they either side with their father or with their mother or they don’t know whose side they’re on so they look for work outside their home and talk with their bosses the way they cannot talk to their parents.

But events happen. When wife announces graduation from the marriage, husband hates it, gets depressed, announces it to his workmates. He decides to kill himself. He collects sleeping pills in a bottle. Then one night he heads off to the forest to drink the sleeping pills and die. But when he gets there, he drops the bottle and spills the pills. He decides not to drink them but as he tries to retrieve them he falls, hits his head and damages his memory. He thinks he is 22 years old again.

He is missing for a while. His wife panics, looks for him at work. While there a young man comes looking for his father. “Is my father here?” he asks a close friend who is talking to the wife. When he sees the wife, he panics and limps away. The wife has heard him look for someone he calls “Dad.” She concludes he is her husband’s son with another woman.

It’s like adding cornstarch to gravy. The plot continuously thickens, gets messier, but the wife cannot abandon her husband whose temporary amnesia has made him 22 again and deeply in love with her. In the end we find out that she is not having an affair with the fruit man but does volunteer work for sick people, his wife among them. The guy with the limp is not the husband’s son out of wedlock but a boy he ran over once. The boy lived with his grandmother. The husband didn’t want to go to the police so he took care of the boy, pretended to be his father to make up for the permanent limp the accident had given him. 

Slowly husband and wife begin to talk again. They stop living together but go out on occasional dates. He introduces his wife and children to the limping boy who calls him “Dad,” who has a son of his own, whose wife has left him. This sort of rocks the family as a lot of other events rock the family, but in the end everything gets more or less balanced.

It’s like adding cornstarch to gravy. The plot continuously thickens, gets messier, but the wife cannot abandon her husband.

Wife says she wants to go on a vacation, take a long hike by herself. I don’t know if she says it but I think it’s to find her real self again. He tells her to go and have a good time.

That’s the turning point. He actually understands her. She goes but they talk to each other on their laptops every night. They become friends again.

I have oversimplified the plot, left out around a hundred subplots that involve their children’s lives, the children’s individual relationships with their parents, with each other, and with their own friends. Korean movies are similar to our movies. They have many subplots, so many other dramas that should not be missed. I wonder if all Asian movies are the same. Some of the situations are similar to American situations with people living together but I think what makes them Asian — Korean or Filipino or whatever — is the tenacity of the relationships between husband and wife, parent and child, brother and sister, daughter’s husband with parents-in-law, daughter’s with her mother-in-law. It’s like trying to trace an extremely complex spider’s web. It’s really fun to watch.

But I think that is the secret of a successful marriage. In the end — or is it a new beginning? — you are not only friends again, you are BFFs. Best Friends Forever!