IN Spanish, Soledad means solitude. There are some activities that are designed for more than one person, such as diving or golf. In the Army, we were trained to always have a buddy during patrols and combat operations. In relationships, the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 7:2, tells us that “each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.”
However, there have been times where being alone is a good thing. It can broaden our perspective, like when Moses, Elijah, Jacob and Jesus practiced solitude in the Bible. I know of a few real-life Soledads. Mon Soledad is a self-made businessman who is blessed with a lovely wife, Cristina, and three handsome sons, Martell, Raynall and Ram. Raynall was one of the first graduates of a newly revised training curriculum for immigration officers when I was in the Bureau of Immigration. He is now the alien control officer in Baguio City. Mon is the uncle of then-Councilor Shalani Soledad. Mon was technically single until he decided to get married only after these three boys were way past their adolescence. Saying that being “married” is just a status, Mon never felt “Soledad” during his unmarried years. In our most recent talk, he said the key to a successful couple is not material or ceremonial, as in wedding rings or a marriage certificate, but mental or emotional, as in commitment.
Marriage does not necessarily lead to commitment, but commitment can lead to marriage. I have seen a few married couples that remain uncommitted. Some “wisely” end up divorced. Others choose to spend the rest of their lives miserably, married in paper, but divorced in practice. Being married can be wonderful, as in the case of Mon and Cristina. Author and blogger Katie Hendricks said a relationship can be like a garden whose benefits, such as “beauty, peace, tranquility, and safety”, allow true intimacy to grow. But to get to that garden and experience all of its benefits, Hendricks said couples need to unlock the door using a key called commitment. Hendricks said, “This beautiful garden of intimacy is not opened just because you are married. It’s opened because you are willing to do what it takes to keep it alive and growing.”
In the case of Mon, he has consistently shown true commitment to his partner—though not yet his wife—by looking after her needs, paying attention to her wishes and doing what it takes to make her happy. During all the years Mon wasn’t married, he stayed committed by never thinking about separation or being with someone else. Mon never even took the relationship on a day-by-day basis. He was “all in” emotionally, although in paper he was not.
I know of one beautiful lady in her mid-50s who has chosen to remain in solitude because of the fear of being hurt by another. She is afraid that if someone truly gets to know her, he may end up not liking her. Commitment unlocks the barriers to a healthy relationship as it makes us feel safe yet vulnerable, sharing our colorful past, our present day fears and our aspirations in the future.
In the business setting, Philippine Airlines (PAL) has recently launched a 10-point commitment program to showcase PAL’s Buong Pusong Alaga. Among these 10 action verbs (connect, project, delight, update, communicate, engage, recap, listen, apologize and appreciate), one worth emphasizing is to communicate. We have to be clear in what we say, say what we mean, and never use hurtful words to the people we swore to stay committed to serve. PAL is committed to truly represent the Heart of the Filipino, as the current work force is being trained and indoctrinated how to nurture the key to any healthy relationship—that is, commitment.
In PAL, or in any other business entity, the work force can stay committed by simply never thinking about being in some other company. Recruiting officers should look at those applicants with some “all in” mentality at the onset, although it will be difficult to assess a person’s commitment in any job interview.
In business, the first step we need to do if we want to succeed in whatever goals we set for the company is to make all employees commit. Commitment will make us move together toward one direction and focus our efforts on one mission. In love, whether we are married, single, in a relationship or anywhere in between, commitment promotes trust and intimacy as it helps us “prevent our fears and past hurts from sabotaging our happiness”. In Genesis 2:18, the Bible says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” We were never designed to fly solo, even if you are a Soledad.
For questions and comments, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.