Two decades later, Lea entered a new stage in her life, adding wife and mother to her list of significant roles. Lea married businessman Robert Chien in 2004 and gave birth to their daughter Nicole in 2006—all while continuing her stage career. She recently played Fantine in the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert in October 2010. She has also recently been nominated as a finalist for the Female Network Womanity Awards.
Coping with such a multifaceted life isn’t easy, but years after they first said their “I do’s,” Lea and Robert are still going strong. With such a busy lifestyle, how does Lea still find time to make her marriage work? Read on to see what life and love lessons she has to share.
1. FIND A MAN WHO LOVES YOU COMPLETELY.
Lea recalls how she first heard the term “Madonna-whore” from her English class in Ateneo. “I don’t remember exactly what [my professor] said but it was something about how men could not [accept] both personas in one woman. And why not? Why not?” Lea then explains that men often paint a picture of their partners as saints while “the other woman” fulfills their wild side, when the truth is, their wives can just as easily fulfill both roles. “I’m fortunate my husband makes me feel like a woman,” she adds. “We have our massage oils, we have our candles, and it’s great, it’s wonderful to be with someone that understands that there is that need. And has no need for someone else.”
2. LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY.
“There comes a point when you accept the person for what he is. You love that person unconditionally,” Lea shares. “When that happens, that couple has reached the state of grace. The aspiration is to get to that state of grace where nothing matters anymore. Whatever happens in your married life as a couple, you’re able to weather because you’re working as a team.”
3. DON’T GIVE UP JUST BECAUSE YOU ENCOUNTER PROBLEMS.
Problems and disagreements between spouses are a natural part of getting to know each other and making a life together. The next time you have an argument with your man, don’t think of it as a sign things are not going to work out for you—or, worse, the beginning of the end. Instead, see it as an opportunity to make your marriage grow. “I think everyone goes through at least one relationship drama in their lives,” Lea says. “You have to have that because without it, you will not appreciate something steadying, placid, and solid.”
4. MAKE ALLOWANCES FOR EACH OTHER.
Lea’s busy schedule doesn’t allow her to see her husband as often as she wants to, but that doesn’t make their marriage any less strong. “When I got into [technical rehearsals] for Cinderella,” she says, “we [Robert and I] hardly saw each other. I was stuck in the theater for 12 hours a day. . .That was probably a little difficult. But it’s something we both signed up for. It was part of my job. It’s something he understands, thankfully. He always kisses me before he leaves and I kinda feel it.”
5. REMEMBER YOU ARE A UNIT AND WORK ACCORDINGLY.
Two years ago, Lea wrote about the joys and trials of marriage on her blog. “In an ideal world, a marriage is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s never about one or the other anymore, but of the two as a unit and a team. . . Realistically, it’s about two imperfect beings attempting to reach a state of divine perfection together. And in this real world, not everyone is successful. However, I believe that it’s enough to try, and try very hard.”
(First published in Marie Claire, as “Hot and Unbothered” by Lara Parpan in October 2008; adapted for use in Female Network; photo courtesy of PEP.ph)
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