Class struggle within marriage

By Tin Bartolome

Posted at Jan 30 2015 03:07 AM | Updated as of Feb 07 2015 03:18 AM

In my youth, the concept of class struggle often evoked images of masters and servants, landlords and tenant farmers, dictators and the oppressed. Perhaps lacking in experience and exposure to the world, I never entertained the idea that two people in love, once married, could possibly find themselves doing a balancing act between their respective families.


Google defines class struggle as ”the conflict of interests between the workers and the ruling class in a capitalist society, regarded as inevitably violent.” While Marx actually meant economic class in discussions of class struggle, class struggle within the marriage actually encompasses both social and economic stratifications or differences. The conflict lies in their opposing interests--is it not the same thing?

Couples become involved in a tug-of-war between the two families. Emotional blackmail (appeal to pity, debt of gratitude and) and disinheritance are the instruments of war commonly used. At first, the struggle may not be obvious but as things get more serious, war could break out.

Even before the wedding day, disagreements emerge as opulence is what one family wants while the other would prefer simplicity. It is the lack of compromise and insistence on what one side wants that start the war. Star Cinema’s Wedding Tayo, Wedding Hindi captured that conflict so well during the pamamanhikan and the two mothers’ complaints about their respective gowns.

Having been ninang to thirty couples (and more are scheduled this year), I would say I am a veteran “wedding eksena” witness--some funny, some dramatic--and others downright cheesy! Every detail is attributed to the event being “once-in-a-lifetime.”


Sometimes, I wonder if feminism would ever win over romance or practicality over tradition. They’re not opposites, so I would consider a good balance perfect! The thing is, weddings are rituals and as such, are bound by tradition. We are allowed to tweak it a bit and no one will ever be jailed for unusual attire or writing erotic vows.

I think it’s the socialization process that influences our choice of details for this ritual. But our economic stature limits such choices. In the end, how much money we can spend on a wedding pretty much determines what choices are available, and our upbringing will play a big role in putting priorities in order. In the Philippines, the groom’s family traditionally spent for weddings. This may no longer be true, perhaps because in many instances, the bride’s family augments the budget, especially when they have a specific traje de boda or reception in mind. In the province, it is not uncommon to have two to three receptions: at the bride’s house, the groom’s, and a catered affair at a venue in the churchyard or nearby places.

Post-Wedding Struggles

Allow me to describe my own wedding, one I consider devoid of class issues. No elder played any part in the arrangements. When we were thinking of postponing, a friend who had already filed his leave at the office said it would be difficult for him to be granted another one. My father and mother-in-law were both out of the country then and my father-in-law was out of town, so my mother opted not to go as she said it would be unfair if I had a parent with me. So, what we wore, where we held the reception and who were invited were all our choices. It was very intimate--and funny. And the struggles we took on after our wedding were those imposed by the class we belonged to, the traditions that support it and the people who did not understand what bound us in the first place.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.