Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lessons in love and life from Miriam Quiambao

Yesterday, after wading through ankle-deep floodwaters along Ortigas Avenue and then having a dinner of spaghetti, warmed over chicken and some Milo, I sat down to read a Marie Claire magazine (Philippine edition) which had Miriam Quiambao on its cover. I did not buy the magazine, okay? My sister brought home this September 2006 issue, okay?

You probably know that Miriam Quiambao represented the Philippines and became first runner-up in the 1999 Miss Universe competition. She became a media celebrity after that, and her idyllic wedding in Boracay to a guy named Claudio was aired on local television. Her marriage has broken up however and she has returned quietly to the Philippines.

In that Marie Claire article written by Lara Parpan, Miriam candidly reveals the reasons why her marriage broke up. Here they are from Parpan’s interview:

  • “I prepared for the wedding, not for the marriage.”
  • “I was at that point in my life when I said: ‘Here I am. I’ve achieved my dreams career-wise. What’s next?’ I wanted to have a family …And here came this guy who seemed to fit my ideal – he could provide for me. All women look for someone who can provide for them.”
  • “I wanted to change my husband. I married him for an ideal that I created in my mind. Not for who he was.”
  • “I understand that for a guy, his priority is his work. But I felt neglected at times because when he got home, we didn’t get to talk much. We lacked those deep conversations that really bond couples.”
  • “The attraction between us was instant and I fell in love. He proposed to me three weeks into the relationship.”
  • “That’s when we were having difficulties with the long-distance relationship.”
My Family Matters website became online in December 2005 and since that time I have received more than a thousand e-mails and blog comments, mostly from women whose marriages have either already broken up or about to be. Let me share with you some of the things I have said to these women in crisis. Please take note that in this discussion, I do not wish in any way to put Miriam in a bad light or to belittle the heartaches she has gone through.

From Barbara to Miriam

Barbara DeAngelis is a well-known relationships expert whose book “Are You The One For Me?” became a New York Times number one bestseller. I do not subscribe to Barbara’s lifestyle or views but some things she said in her book really make sense in light of Miriam’s experience. For example, Barbara states in page 85 the seven wrong reasons for someone to be in a relationship:
  1. Pressure (age, family, friends, etc)
  2. Loneliness and desperation
  3. Sexual hunger
  4. Distraction from your own life
  5. To avoid growing up
  6. Guilt
  7. To fill up emotional or spiritual emptiness
You probably guessed it right. Barbara’s reason number seven applies to Miriam’s case. Miriam had achieved everything she had set her eyes on and what was lacking? Ah yes, a dashing prince, a fairy-tale wedding, a family …

Miriam mentioned that she and her husband, while courting, had a long-distance relationship. Barbara, in page 309, characterizes long-distance relationships as a Toxic Time Bomb. She says, “The goal of two lovers in a ‘normal’ relationship should be to become more loving and intimate with one another. The goal of two long-distance lovers becomes to see each other.”

Miriam also said she and her husband lacked deep conversations and emotional bonding. Barbara states in page 197 nine fatal flaws to watch out for in a partner. Number seven in her list? “Emotionally unavailable.”

The cuddle chemicals

Miriam also stated that she and Claudio fell in love instantly and that her husband proposed to her three weeks into the relationship. At this point, you probably should read my article “Love Potion No. 9” where I discussed what the so-called “cuddle chemicals are and how they impact our relationships. These chemicals are dopamine, oxytocin and vasopressin. Vincent du Vigneaud won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Chemistry when he discovered, isolated and synthesized oxytocin and vasopressin.

Secular writer Eve Salinger says that, at the beginning stages, when a man and woman start getting attracted to each other, the human brain produces increasing levels of “dopamine” and “norepinephrine” that create feelings of exhilaration and lovesickness. Salinger says that as the romantic relationship loses its initial exhilarating buzz, “dopamine” and “norepinephrine” are replaced by “vasopressin” and “oxytocin” which promote bonding or a warm, fuzzy feeling between the man and the woman.

These chemicals are reactive, meaning they don’t just kick into our systems for no reason at all and hold us hostage to their effects. There’s always first a stimulus - food, a breathtaking scenery, an attractive guy (okay, okay, you can use me as an example!) – that sets these chemicals into action. In one study for example, when women in good marriages were asked to think about their husbands, the oxytocin levels in their blood increased. The stimulus was the pleasing thoughts about their husbands, and the effect was increased oxytocin levels.

What are the practical applications for you in knowing all these things about the cuddle chemicals? Well, when you meet someone attractive and interesting (okay, okay, if you insist, you can use me again for an example!), the sparks will start flying but that’s only because of dopamine kicking into your system. Don’t jump to the conclusion that you’re truly falling in love. Give yourself time (lots of it!), and in a more stable emotional climate, you can better evaluate what your feelings are for that person. The exhilarating, romance-filled days will not last. That’s because, as researchers in neurochemistry say, the dopamine-fueled hyperactivity can damage the brain.

One, two, three …

 In her Marie Claire interview, Miriam stated that she and Claudio had only known each other for about a year when they got married. Drs. Les and Leslie Parrot in their book “Relationships” point out that the lifetime of most romantic relationships is only about two years, with a break-up occurring on the third year. Why? Well, they say that a man and a woman in the first year of their relationship are blind to the faults and defects of each other. Reality only sets in during the second year of the relationship, and the couple begins to notice the negatives in their partner’s attitudes, character and personality.

So how do you find true love?
Radio Bible Class has a booklet entitled “
How Can I Know Who To Marry?” that discusses steps for choosing the right partner in life and marriage. Available in print or online, this article by Kurt de Haan uses the Old Testament example of Isaac and Rebekah in helping people discover who the right man or woman is. It’s a great read and I recommend it to you.

The only problem however is that, if you are familiar with Isaac and Rebekah’s story, they started out so well and yet, decades later into their married life, they ended up favoring one child over another, with Rebekah deliberately fooling a blind Isaac into giving Jacob the birthright that belonged to Esau.

Loving toughness for singles

  One book I have read several times and which I have recommended to people who have asked me for help is Dr. James Dobson’s “Love Must Be Tough.” In a chapter entitled “Loving Toughness for Singles” (pages 201 to 213) Dr. Dobson discusses sixteen suggestions that will help unmarried men and women to conform to the principles of loving toughness in matters of the heart. Number one in Dr. Dobson’s list (and which you know by now, applies to Miriam’s case) goes like this: “Don’t let the relationship move too fast in its infancy. The phrase ‘too hot not to cool down’ has validity. Take it one step at a time.”

Earlier on in this chapter, Dr. Dobson stated, “It is of highest priority to maintain a distinct element of dignity and self-respect in all romantic encounters. I have observed that many relationships suffer from a failure to recognize a universal characteristic of human nature. We value that which we are fortunate to get; we discredit that which we are stuck. We lust for the very thing which is beyond our grasp; we disdain that same item when it becomes a permanent possession.”

Making marriage last a lifetime 

I have cited the book “Fit To Be Tied” by Bill and Lynn Hybels numerous times in this blog . As I have said before, I do not agree with a lot of Bill Hybels’s theology and methodology. In terms of relationships and marriage, however, “Fit To Be Tied” is probably the best book I have ever read. I highly recommend it to you, whether you are single, engaged to be married or already married. I wish Miriam had read this book before she had gotten married.

I love “Fit To Be Tied” so much that I have already bought three paperback editions of this book. I gave the first two copies to friends as wedding gifts and the third copy is circulating among my Bible school students. I have a hardbound edition of this book which I bought from a second hand stall in SM Centerpoint two years ago. I am planning to give this book as a gift to the love of my life. She is the second most beautiful woman in the universe. The most beautiful woman in the universe is, of course. Angel Locsin. The third most beautiful woman in the universe? Well, who else but Pia Guanio. The fourth? Okay, okay, come to think of it, Miriam Quaimbao is it.

Wishing Miriam well

If I remember correctly, Miriam slipped and fell during the Miss Universe competition. But she picked herself up and moved on to win as first runner-up. Miriam’s marriage has broken up but she has picked herself up and is moving on. Miriam says in the last part of that Marie Claire article, “I’m now learning to love myself, respect myself and honor my preferences. I don’t have to change myself for someone else. I just have to be comfortable with who I am, warts and all.”

Well, well, well, lessons in love and life from Miriam Quiambao. Perhaps the profoundest thing I can ever say to Miriam is, “Go, girl!”


  1. can i ask for counsel attorney?
    i have post a message in the comments section of your article about "surviving marital infidelity". your article there was last 2006, so i post a message here in your current article to ask for your time to read my message in your article, "surviving marital infidelity". i can really relate to with your articles here in this site.
    can you please take time to look at my message there in your article, "surviving marital infidelity"? i just wanted to know what you have to say regarding my husband's infidelity.
    please attorney, thank you so much.

  2. automatically sends me an e-mail every time a comment is posted. The date of the post or article does not matter. I will reply to your comment within this week. Thanks.

  3. hello Attorney, im into Common law marriage for almost 7 years now, My common law husband is still working for their annulment in his previous marriage, the annulment was already filled in court 3 years ago, but until now we're still waiting for the court's decision. As a woman i just want to know my rights when it comes to his assets and liabilities? My common law husband wont allow me to work,so im just depending to him. I'm afraid that someday maiwan ako sa ere and going no where. please help. thank you..

  4. 1. The property relations between you and the man are governed by Article 148 of the Family Code. The said article states:

    In cases of cohabitation not falling under the preceding Article, only the properties acquired by both of the parties through their actual joint contribution of money, property, or industry shall be owned by them in common in proportion to their respective contributions. In the absence of proof to the contrary, their contributions and corresponding shares are presumed to be equal. The same rule and presumption shall apply to joint deposits of money and evidences of credit.

    If one of the parties is validly married to another, his or her share in the co-ownership shall accrue to the absolute community or conjugal partnership existing in such valid marriage. If the party who acted in bad faith is not validly married to another, his or her shall be forfeited in the manner provided in the last paragraph of the preceding Article.

    The foregoing rules on forfeiture shall likewise apply even if both parties are in bad faith.

    2. Your live-in partner cannot prevent you from working or exercising any profession or engaging in business. This is a violation of RA 9262 “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004” specifically, economic abuse. Please read my RA 9262 posts in

  5. Hi attorney, this site was really touchy, well it catches my attention maybe due to same experiences i have read.i think i also need some passionate advice,the one which can enlighten my mind. at my the age of 19 i already got married, well i may say that an "accidentally marriage".. a lovely beach wedding ceremony. honestly, that day of my wedding i am not yet ready to do so, but i am already pregnant. after 1year married i decided to separate because of verbal and emotional abuse. hinayaan lang nya ako attorney knowing that we have a baby. he was a CPA financially stable. he didn't support my baby's needs so i stop studying and forced to work to support our needs. until now, he doesn't care instead he continues texting me discouragement wordings and trying to make me feel worthless. well, i just want to know my rights, attorney what should i do? i admit that sometimes i feel in love with other men, but the worst thing is that i am legally married and that act of having relationship with other is a sin. please help me, please enlighten my mind. naguguluhan na po kasi ako...

    thank you po.. i'll wait with your reply.

  6. Please surf to my Legal Updates blog and read my articles on RA 9262 Anti-Violence Against Women (look for the links in the sidebar). As to having your marriage declared null and void, please read the Frequently Asked Questions section of my Family Matters website

    Please also read my Legal Updates blog posts:

    Amy Perez case: Psychological incapacity in annulment of marriages

    Sexual infidelity or promiscuity does not constitute psychological incapacity

    Irreconcilable differences not a ground for declaring a marriage null and void

    What happens in an annulment case if the respondent fails to file an Answer?

    Please also read my post in this blog on “Biblical grounds for divorce” (look for the link in the sidebar.

    If you want people to pray for you for whatever your needs are, please follow this link to a prayer room for men and women:

  7. for my own opinion as long as both of you have fear in God,nothing can break your relationship,once u enter on relationship always put god on the center.
    God will guide the relationship


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