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Wife chooses to be meek at home

"I bark orders at work, but I'm as meek as a mouse at home," says the director, who requests that we do not use her real name.

She believes her husband is unaware of the efforts she has taken to hold on to their marriage.

Mag, 33, admits: "Sometimes it gets hard to play the 'xiao nu ren' ('little woman' in Mandarin), but I love my husband.

"I know he feels insecure. His self-esteem and ego have both taken a hit."

She says her husband's personality started to change soon after he was retrenched in late 2009.

"He started to drink heavily and would stay out late. Then he'd make snide remarks when I am paying for our meals, like 'ya, ya, you are the rich one'," recalls Mag with a grimace.

Mag's husband was jobless for nearly two years and by the time he found a job, he had to take a 50 per cent pay cut.

She declines to state the nature of his job, just that he is working in the service industry.

"With the pay cut, it meant that my monthly $12,000 salary is three times his.

"He was unhappy and threatened to quit several times. I had to keep encouraging him to stay on."

AGREE EVEN WHEN UNHAPPY

Mag admits that on days when the situation gets tense at home - usually on the occasions when they have to make financial decisions - she does not oppose what her husband says.

"This is even when, in my heart, I am going, 'That is so stupid,' but I'm smiling and agreeing."

When her maid's contract ended last year, Mag decided not to hire another one: "My husband had always complained that I depended too much on the maid to do the household chores.

"He compared me with my sister-in-law, who was working and managing the housework along with (bringing up) two teenage kids without any help."

She smiles wryly, then says: "I still remember how when I 'asked' him if he minded that we don't get a maid, he replied 'no' with such a big grin.

"And the next day, he actually sent a bouquet of roses to the office with the message 'I love you'."

That was, Mag says, a cue that her approach was correct.

"I don't mind turning into a mouse when I am back at home, or waiting on my husband. I do it all because I love him very much."