Here at Down Under Visa we deal with partners, ie. Australian Filipina couples with the intention of the lady from the Philippines to Australia to be with an Australian man. It’s either with a partner visa or with a tourist visa with the intention of turning it into a partner visa later. Sometimes it’s a lady bringing a man over. Sometimes a man and a man, and sometimes a woman and a woman. But most of the time, Aussie man and Filipina lady. So I’ll explain things from that perspective, however the same principles would apply for all relationships.
Our role, as most would know, is getting Australian partner visas for the couples, as well as tourist visas for couples and family visas too. We’re not relationship counselors and we certainly don’t give “dating advice” and we’re not matchmakers, but we believe in marriage and we like to see successful relationships. And we want to see partner visa applications go all the way through, obviously. This is our job after all.
The perils of long distance relationships
Distance in relationships is a killer. Long distance tests any relationship. You don’t see each other as much as you would like, and you seem to spend a lot of time trying to find each other. You get the dreaded phone message “The subscriber cannot be reached. Please try again later” or the Smart version rather than the Globe. Lines are bad. Relatives interrupt. There’s always noise. And because you can’t see each other, you get things wrong because you think the worst. You misunderstand tones of voice and choices of words. Insecurity gets the better of you.
Cross cultural misunderstandings
I’ve had a website up for years now devoted to just this topic (www.filipinawives.com.au) to help existing couples to better understand each other, which you should look at if you haven’t already. You WILL misunderstand each other! You…or she….will say or do something that has a totally different meaning to the other. And unless you both make a concerted study of each other and each other’s culture to understand what the other one actually means, this could easily tear you apart. Making an active study of your future life-partner is the most important study you can ever make.
No partner should be dominant
The cliché of the brutal, grumpy old chauvinist who wants a bowing, scraping Asian woman to boss around? HAH! You came to the wrong country, my friend! Filipina ladies are a tough and resilient lot. Sweet and gentle with a deserving man, yes. But if the man doesn’t deserve respect, she will soon tire of boorish behaviour. I have to say, we don’t see very much of this with our Down Under Visa clients, really. Most of our Australian men sponsors are fairly gentle and sensitive characters often with a deep longing for a marriage for life which requires a partner capable of seeing this through.
Honestly? When we DO see domination problems, more often we see the opposite of the above. We see spoilt girls who take advantage of soft-hearted men, and we see these poor men trying so hard to appease them every time they have a big tampo (cross between a sulk and a tantrum). Feminism has taken its toll, and many an Aussie man is fearful of asserting himself even when he should. BIG difference between being dominating and being assertive! It’s not the way, girls! Aussie men will only put up with it just so long, and their patience will run out. Don’t play games with the man you say you love!
Jeff’s relationship-survival advice
Men: Watch your tempers and your words. Filipinos usually control their tongues, and outburst of anger and accusations can wound deeply. And again, make a study of the Filipino culture. Look up Perry Gamsby’s books on Amazon, and read! Visit the FilipinaWives website and read! Take a few deep breaths before you say something you will regret later. And don’t expect respect based on being a man only. Make sure you become and remain a man worthy of respect! And understand that her life in the Philippines is very different to yours, especially in regard to families. Don’t expect things to change instantly while she’s still here.
Ladies: He met and fell in love with a sweet and simple lady. Don’t change because you have a foreigner man and/or an allowance. Don’t become maarte and be makulit (she knows what this means!). He’s there to take care of you, but you’re also there to take care of him. It’s a two-way street. That means don’t treat him as a bank for you and your family to enjoy! Always put HIS interests ahead of those of your relatives. Always be honest and sincere with him. No games, because he won’t understand this and he won’t like it. No lying, sneaking or manipulating. Always talk straight, and not in riddles. Australian men are patient only up to a point. Don’t push too far.
Both of you: Be very aware of the stress and the worry that distance and partner visa applications will cause you both. You’re both going to be worried about the application failing, and there’s a good chance you may take this out on each other. Don’t! Learn to control yourselves and to think before you speak. (Don’t take it out on Down Under Visa either, thanks!) You should be helping each other and being THE source of comfort and support during trying times. You’ll get through this if you remain united always.
And be aware of cultural differences in how things are done and approached. And remember practical considerations like the need to go to work, and family responsibilities, and time taken to travel and stand in lines (which can be very lengthy in the Philippines). Family pressure can be intense too, and can be hard for Filipina ladies to deal with. And Australians don’t have the same approach to supporting families and supplying endless amounts of money. Ladies, don’t let your family take advantage of the supposed “rich white man” or you will lose him.
And before you ask us to cancel an already-lodged visa application or to stop preparing the visa application, think very carefully. My usual practice is to ask couples to wait a week or two before confirming that they wish to pull the pin. I would say 4 out of 5 times, they manage to work it out thank goodness. Think about whether you’re letting distance, cultural misunderstandings and visa-stress get to you before you write off all you’ve been working toward.