Category Archives: marriage

A Girlfriend Spirit

The singer Ciara posted a video from a pastor whose message was about the “girlfriend spirit.” And while some people assumed she was bashing unmarried women, I chose instead to focus on the video’s message.

This is a message I’ve talked about before. In my case, that girlfriend spirit threatens to rear its ugly head in my marriage whenever the hubby gets under my skin or on my nerves.

When you are a girlfriend you willingly say or do whatever is on your mind and, most of the time, with no regard to the other person’s feelings. I think this happens because it’s much easier to leave the relationship when you’re just dating. It’s easy to tell yourself that another man is right around the corner so if your antics makes this man leave, you can always move on to the next situation.

When I was dating my husband, I was insecure, jealous, petty and my love language was sarcasm. (I was never all of these things at once, but having any of these characteristics is exhausting for whoever has to deal with them.) When I got married, I promised myself that if, at any time, my behavior resembled that of a girlfriend, then I needed to stop and reevaluate.

I won’t pretend like I am the perfect wife because there is no such thing. I can admit to some pretty petty behavior just last month. But I realized that a girlfriend will justify her behavior while a wife will quickly come to the conclusion that she is in the wrong and actually apologize. Saying I’m sorry sucks but I’ve gotten more comfortable with admitting fault.

And to be clear, having the girlfriend spirit is not bad if that’s what you want to be. The point of the original video was to speak to those women who long to be wives but are still holding on to girlfriend tendencies.

If being a wife is something you want to be in the future, then you will have to let some stuff go. You will have to change your approach. And you will have to actively decide to let some of that petty stuff go and learn to express yourself in more productive and mature ways.

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Mrs. Me Too

 

That “Me Too” hashtag circled the Internet a while ago and every day since, we have heard accounts from victims that claim this director, that governor, or this actor sexually assaulted or abused them. The accounts just keep coming and each one is more disturbing than the last.

I will admit, I have turned a blind eye to many of them because they are just so great in number. From the few I have read, I realize that sexual harassment was not something that was explained to me when I was younger.

I got the bare facts. No man should force you to have sex, and that was it. It wasn’t until reading these accounts, and the accounts of friends, that made me realize that I have faced sexual harassment several times as well.

I won’t bore you with the details of men who have cat called, or drove past me and smacked my butt but I will tell you about one incident that I had forgotten about until just this week.

When I was writing my first novel, I would visit open mic spots in the area to be inspired by the poets and poetry I heard there. I always supported them and purchased their CDs or books and it drove me crazy when I would see typos on their material. That was the beginning of me freelancing as an editor.

For one of the poets, I became his editor as well as his marketing consultant and I helped him sell his material after his shows. In one instance, I acted as his chauffeur and drove him across state lines to a gig. Afterwards, we walked to my car and he got in on the passenger side. When I opened the driver’s side door, and started to get in, I noticed that he had pulled his penis out of his pants. He didn’t say a word. He just stared at me and waited for me to make a move.

It was the most random thing ever. Be clear readers, this person and I never dated, flirted, kissed, anything. In fact, he was engaged with a baby boy at home. I was stunned and confused and felt so disrespected as I thought we had a working relationship. I got out of the car, closing the door behind me, and refused to get back in until he put his penis away.

The drive home was silent and after that, I slowly started distancing myself from him. He never brought it up or apologized and I’m sure it’s something he’s completely erased from his mind, as I had up until recently.

Because there was no physical contact, I didn’t register this as harassment at the time. I just saw it as a stupid thing that some guy tried to pull on me.

Now, I have all of these questions. What did he think would happen? What about me made him think I would be open to doing something with him? Was this his plan all along?

Those questions will never get answered as I know now that the answers are irrelevant. What matters now is that I, like all of the victims/survivors who have come forth, be honest about what happened and put the blame where it belongs: on that man who took it upon himself to put me in an uncomfortable position without any regard to me or my feelings.

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A Woman’s Right to Choose, A Man’s Right to Change His Mind

I am a loyal viewer of The Real talk show and this week co-host Jeannie Mai announced that she and her husband were getting a divorce. The pair have been together for 13 years and have always appeared to be happy and in love. Jeannie has publicly talked about their disagreement when it comes to having children. While both agreed in the beginning that children was not for them, down the road her husband changed his mind.

I just finished reading a fictional book with the exact same premise and I made the mistake of discussing this topic with my own husband.

In his mind, any woman that gets married knows that having children is part of the deal. He thinks that women that don’t want to have children, or at least adopt, are selfish. He thinks that if a woman is faced with a decision like Jeannie or the character in the book, then it’s a no brainer: she should have children for her husband.

I COMPLETELY DISAGREE!!

First, having children for anyone other than yourself is stupid, plain and simple. If you genuinely don’t want to be a mother then making the decision to have kids could lead to resentment toward your husband or your children. Everyone would end up miserable and you could end up getting divorced anyway.

Secondly, I know plenty of women that do not want to have children so I have to believe that there are also some men that don’t want children either. Children are great but being a parent is not for everyone. Think of all of those stories of children who have been neglected, abused, sexually assaulted, or even killed at the hand of their parents. I respect you more if you make the choice not to have children as opposed to having children knowing you won’t give them what they need.

In the book I read, tensions between the couple rose and they decided to have a trial separation to figure out what each really wanted. The great debate became: Should the woman be blamed for not doing what it takes to make her marriage work? Or should the man be blamed for changing the previously agreed upon plan for their lives?

This was a hot button topic on the radio and all of the listeners, who were all women, believed that Jeannie should have children because it’s her job to make her husband happy. I was appalled that not one person seemed sympathetic to her and her feelings and really expected her to go against her heart to please someone else. As a wife, you are supposed to do what you can to make your partner happy but that goes both ways. And I don’t think their happiness is supposed to lead to your own personal misery.

It is a sticky situation with no clear victims or villains. At the end of the day it’s about doing what’s right for yourself.

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Living (Part of) My Best Life

I was thinking the other day of the phrase “living my best life” and started to wonder if I was doing that. I can honestly say that I am living my best life as a mommy. My babies are healthy and happy and I have since stopped beating myself up when I make mistakes or when plans fall through. I work hard to make sure my children feel loved and show love to others and I try to talk to them more than talking at them. I am not a perfect mommy and it took me years to let go of the idea that such a thing existed.

But in dwelling on this I had to admit to myself that I am not living my best life as a wife. I have been married now for almost four years and I am still learning how to be the kind of wife my husband needs. In the beginning, I was naïve to believe that all he needed was sex on a regular basis and home cooked meals every week but it definitely goes beyond that.

I have to remember to adjust my actions to his ever changing needs and desires. It’s the little things that I do or don’t do that makes all of the difference. For instance, my husband recently went back to school and has classes twice a week in the evenings. He asks me to fix him a snack to eat during those three hours and as small as a favor as that is, I still forget to do it sometimes. I am not beating myself up about it but I know that if he was one of my children, I wouldn’t have forgotten even once.

Even my prayer life has been lacking when it comes to him. I pray for his health and for his safety on the job but I tend to not go beyond that. But thankfully God is opening my eyes and making me see things in a different light. My husband is the sole financial provider of our family and while he never lets me see him sweat, and we always have money for food and bills, I know there have to be times when he gets worried. There are times when he feels stressed beyond reason but instead of showing it, he just makes it work somehow. I love him for that and I realize that I take for granted how much pressure he puts on his shoulders.

Even when it comes to sex, I am not living my best life as a wife. I tend to wait for him to express his desire and, in doing so, I forget that he needs to feel desired as well. I never want him to feel like I am not attracted to him or that initiating our intimacy is yet another duty he has to add to his plate.

These revelations are constantly coming but I am so grateful God gave me the type of husband that loves me beyond my numerous flaws. And I love that both he and God are showing so much patience as I try to figure out how to give my husband, and my family, the best of me.

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My Past, Her Future

When I first met my husband, I was 21 and he was 22 and he told me that he never planned to get married. Marriage was the furthest thing on my mind at that age, and so was any romantic relationship quite frankly. I had been home from college for four months, was still living with my parents, and was trying to find a full-time job. I was meeting guys but none of them stayed around for longer than a minute and I full expected my now husband to disappear as well.

Cut to the present day. The hubby and I were discussing some of the more troubling relationships between our friends and in most of them, the men are controlling, domineering, or just plain disrespectful to their wives. While I sympathize with the wives, my husband’s line is “Those women saw those traits in their husbands before they got married. It’s their fault for ignoring the signs. You can’t change a person.”

If the younger me had taken this advice, I would have believed him when he told me that he would never marry. I would have cut my losses and continued to live my life. Who knows if I would have gotten married at all?

We broke up about a year into dating because I decided I wanted to be celibate. I knew all along that having sex before marriage was wrong in the eyes of God, but at some point the conviction hit me hard and I knew I had to stop having sex. My then-boyfriend/now-hubby was not on board and told me point blank that he was not interested.

At the time, being celibate was something I believed in and while we were apart for almost a year, eventually I went back to him. The relationship and the sex resumed like nothing had happened. My hubby’s take on this experience, “We had already been through so much at that point that you didn’t want to stay away from me. You loved me too much to let me go.”

Loving a man isn’t wrong but at the time I didn’t acknowledge that I let go of my beliefs just to be with a man. I put my love for him above my love for Him and for some reason that didn’t bother me.

To be clear, my then-boyfriend/now-husband never made me do anything. He was always honest and up front with me. Looking back on who I was then, I can admit I was desperate and just a little pathetic to put myself in a situation that could have easily led to heartbreak.

There was no way to know that the situation would turn out well for me. Obviously, at some point, my husband changed his mind about marriage but this doesn’t always happen.

I do agree with him with it’s important for both men and women to pay attention to signs from the people they’re dating. And we need to be realistic about what we are willing to accept and what is a deal breaker.

I am choosing not to beat myself up for the person I was. Instead, I am going to use my experiences as learning lessons for my daughter. She will be taught to hold fast to her beliefs and her convictions. No matter how in love she thinks she is, her self respect and her commitment to honoring God should always come first.

My happy ending is not the norm in these types of situations. And at the end of day, I want her to always be proud of the decisions she makes.

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Never Stop Loving Me

One of the worse things you could ever do to your spouse, is to give them a reason to question your love for them. Marriages are built and sustained on a lot of different things but love is and should always be the foundation. If it’s not, then that is normally the beginning of the end.

My husband’s love language is physical touch and so he shows love to me by kissing me when he enters a room, hugging me when he walks past me, and always finding some reason to touch me. But when he’s mad at me, the last thing he’s thinking about is showing me any kind of affection.

Back in the day, if we had a disagreement or an argument about something, our go-to reaction was to give each other the silent treatment. I was used to these silent treatments lasting for a few days, so when he got angry with me a few weeks ago, I was ready and prepared to endure his silence.

During this time, he barely spoke to me unless he had to and there was no more hugging and touching, just a peck on the forehead or cheek before I went to bed. But on the second day, he sought me out before he went to work and gave me an actual kiss.

“Where did that come from? I thought you were mad at me?” I asked him.

“I am but I didn’t want you to think I didn’t still love you. I realize that it’s not fair to stop kissing you just because I’m upset.”

Sometimes he really amazes me with the growth he’s made as a husband. I appreciated him for being honest with me, true to himself, and aware of how his actions might make me feel.

If you claim to love a person, that love does not easily go away just because you’re mad, disappointed, or whatever. Especially when that person is your spouse, no matter how they’re making you feel, we still have to show them some love, no matter how much it pains us.

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