The Devil’s Foothold

Angel on shoulderSo I’m in a deep conversation with my BFF and we talked about watching characteristics that could sabotage one’s future. I told her if it’s not a pattern maybe there’s nothing that needs to be said just yet. She said not so because she is looking way down the line and can see the self-sabotage on the horizon. When she put it that way it became very clear what God was saying as she spoke. She saw where the devil could create a foothold that would eventually become a stronghold. In order to stop it from coming to pass, it has to be nixed while it was still in seed form. It made a whole lot of sense.
It has been made evident through the actions of every person who has ever walked the Earth (with the exception of Jesus), that imperfection is something that can’t be avoided. In spite of that, Galatians 5:22-23 makes it clear that as believers, we are expected to cultivate the fruit of the Holy Spirit in order to consistently work towards becoming Christ-like. Now this is not about being good so that we can get to heaven because our righteousness is not in ourselves but in Christ (Romans 3:21-22), but rather understanding that a life in the spirit requires the death of the flesh (Galatians 5:24). It doesn’t happen all at once but it’s a lifelong process that takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

In addition to what we must cultivate in our character, there are certain traits that are emphasized we must not espouse; unforgiveness (Colossians 3:13), anger (James 1:20), and pride (Proverbs 8:13) to name a few. When we stew in those characteristics we create an environment where the flesh rules and the spirit has to jockey for supremacy. The Bible says a little leaven leavens the whole lump (Galatians 5:9), so all it takes is a drop of negativity to go unchecked to create a whole loaf of jacked up bread.

And this is where we have to keep it real. A lot of us are too comfortable always being angry, bitter, resentful, unforgiving, attitudinal, manipulative, over-emotional, ungrateful, entitled, violent, and a host of other things that erode the goodness we have worked so hard to cultivate. This is not to say we aren’t human and feel some kind of way from time to time, but when we allow that negativity to take up residence, we roll out the red carpet for crop failure later on. The wheat and tares will grow together!rusty-winter-wheat

A lot of you may be wondering why you used to be happy about life and now you feel numb inside. Is there a negative emotion you refused to pry out of your heart because you let it sit for years thinking it was okay? Or what about always needing to take someone’s head off for a minor offense? Is it because you didn’t work on emotional discipline so that you can stick with the “That’s how I am” false narrative? Negative emotions can give birth to mindsets and emotional patterns that could arrest our development, ruin blessings, and hinder goodness from coming into our lives. Remember the story of King Saul in I Samuel 17:57-18:16 where he was so jealous of David that his intentions for him grew murderous? Instead of Saul enjoying the blessing of being king, he allowed his heart to be hardened and set himself up for failure. Like Saul, when good things happen we may not even recognize or enjoy them because we are so busy scowling in Jesus’ name. One day we may look up and wonder how we got to such and such a place, not realizing it started a long time ago going along its merry way unchecked. We may say that life is no longer exciting or positively eventful without doing some self-work to see if we are actually repelling serendipity. It’s like people who complain of not having any friends, not realizing they carry a constant aura of mistrust and suspicion from past hurts.

Lastly, this is especially for those who are called to–or are active in–ministry. Let me tell you, I have seen this dynamic happen with my own eyes where leaders who do not cultivate the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives wind up perverting their gifts. My uncle told me that we all have something inside of us that can operate righteously and unrighteously, so we most work hard to err on the side of the righteous. If not, the trustworthy pastor can operate like a witch. Instead of leading he controls and manipulates. The prophetess can be given to a lying spirit because her heart is not right and she is too puffed up in pride to work on her shortcomings. I’ve seen many people with good intentions pervert their gifts because they allowed dangerous emotions and lines of thinking to enter their space and stay there. No bueno.

That’s about all I have to say. I’m going to take some time tonight to reflect on areas I need to work on, watch for weeds, et cetera, et cetera. This life is work but it’s good work. And keep the devil’s feet off your couch!

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Amen.

Marriage Series Part V: The Good Wife

BrideHello Readers! In this final segment of the marriage series I interviewed a very good friend of mine who is the epitome of a good wife. She sticks by her husband through thick and thin, prays for him, and makes sure her house is in order so that there is peace in the home. Despite her busy life as a professor, writer, and doctoral student, she embraces a traditional marriage life by cooking great meals, keeping a clean home, and looking good for her husband. And because she clearly shows her devotion to the health of their marriage, her husband does his share as well to make sure he has a happy wife so that he’ll have a happy life! Let’s get into the interview.

 

How long have you been married?

I have been married for 3 years now.

How did you two meet?

We met at church on several occasions however we finally communicated when we happen to be seated next to each other one Sunday morning. We were both surprised! Then during the service the pastor said turn to your neighbors and say I love you. I hesitated but he said it quick, lol! The pastor said you never know that may be your husband or wife. After service we exchanged numbers and later he arranged to meet for lunch. God is definitely in the details!

What did you do prior to meeting your husband in preparation for marriage?

In preparation for marriage, I asked God to prepare me through prayer. I also took several months looking for scriptures in the Bible that pertained to marriage and studied them in order to align myself. I spoke to several married women that I respected and who were at different levels in their marriage to gain some knowledge/advice. Finally, I cleaned up my credit (besides student loans) and started cooking more so my husband wouldn’t starve.

Share some things you learned about marriage growing up.

Growing up in a Caribbean household I learned the importance of prayer, communication, partnership, providing affection, and caring for the household in marriage. My dad would often share how to care for a man and what not to do. My mom would often say you better learn how to cook and clean but she never spoke of intimacy in marriage. That was taboo for her.

How did those perceptions change after marriage?

After marriage I tried to be this super wife and apply all the advice I was given, which did not work at all. I became overwhelmed trying to impress my husband and he hated it. I realized that I had to create my own story and including my husband was key. My husband grew up in a household where he saw his mother cater to his father and he always said he did not want his wife to do this. My husband asked me to tell him how he could help me because we were a team and in this together. In the beginning it was tough for me because I could be a bit controlling when things are not done my way or in the time I expected. I had to let go and when I did it paid off.

What does it mean to you when the Bible states a wife should submit to her husband, the husband is the high priest of the home, etc.?

To me it means I am to respect my husband and remember that he is the leader of the home. I am not to try to take or replace his role. At the end of the day it’s all about the chain in command. My husband will have to answer to God and I will also have to give an account for my role as well.

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Explain your role in your marriage as it relates to supporting your husband, household duties, etc.

My role in my marriage is to support my husband. I do this by praying for him, being that listening ear, working with him and not against him, and providing constructive criticism that will better him. I also make sure that my home is a place of peace. When it comes to household duties, we share the roles. However, the kitchen is my domain. I do all the cooking but I make all efforts to teach him how to cook as well just in case I am unable to.

As a professional woman with a doctorate degree on the horizon, how do you feel playing a traditional role in your marriage with your spouse as the head?

My professional advancement is certainly for the betterment of my family. My spouse has been there for me from the start of my degree. If I advance he advances as well.

In every marriage there will be times when a spouse experiences disappointment, anger, resentment, etc. How do you manage to deal with things when they are not so perfect?

Hard times can really bring much stress to a marriage. At times they are unpredictable but require lots of patience. To manage we pray, at times fast, and find scriptures to cope. I also speak positivity and remind my husband that trouble does not last always.

How is your relationship with your in-laws and how do you manage to be involved with your spouse’s family without having anyone overstep their bounds in your marriage affairs?

One thing I was very specific about when I prayed for my spouse was the relationship with my in-laws. I asked God that I would fit in and forget that they were in-laws, always remembering that they are family. I can honestly say that the Lord answered my prayers. Nevertheless, space is important. There is a good balance.

Does your spouse have children?

Yes, just one.

Explain what it’s like being a stepmom?

Being a stepmom is not easy. However, the key for me was to establish respect on both ends and to build a relationship with my step daughter without trying to over step my boundaries. In respect to my step daughter’s mother, I am courteous. If there is interference or no cooperation, my husband handles it. There are times when you can tell the child is being influenced being a teenager by the words used or actions taken. In such cases I take the opportunity to speak to my step daughter and allow her to process her actions and make it clear that it will not be tolerated. One thing I remind myself is “It is not the child’s fault”.  That is why I make efforts to help her feel comfortable and treat her like she was my own.

Is it really a big deal to not be the first to give your husband a child? Why or why not?

For me it’s not a big deal. As long as there is a balance of time given to each child, I’m fine.

Share the importance of your spiritual life in your marriage.

Having Christ as the foundation of my marriage has certainly assisted me. Marriage is a beautiful thing but can be very challenging, especially in the beginning. I believe my marriage is definitely a ministry and it is all about how God can be glorified in it. I also believe God allows us to go through certain situations to use us as vessels to help someone else.

Based on your experiences mentoring women who are newly married or engaged, what do you find to be the most common impediment women have when it comes to how they treat their significant others?

Every experience is certainly different. However, based on my experience common impediments include the lack of communication and intimacy. The smallest things can cause a major argument. For me, in the beginning of the marriage the major issue I had with my husband was the fact that he never put the toilet seat down. I did not realize how much I was annoyed by that until I started slamming the seat and yelling at him. I had to understand that when he was a bachelor he never had to share the toilet seat with anyone. I had to decide if I was going to let it affect me or if I would simply take a piece of toilet tissue and put it down myself. Once I started to put it down myself and totally let it go, my husband started to put it down. He doesn’t remember to do it every time but when he does I appreciate it and thank him for doing it. Lack of intimacy is also a major issue which can cause problems. Sometimes the woman expects the man to read her mind to know exactly what she is thinking at all times (I was guilty of this). I find that it is important to share with your spouse what you like and don’t like. Knowing your spouse’s love language is also helpful and will allow you to comprehend where he is coming from.

Why do you think those problems are prevalent?     

I believe these problems are prevalent because of a lack of patience and the refusal to remove self from the marriage (Me-Me-Me mentality). Many individuals come into a marriage with preconceived notions and expectations of what it should be like, and later realize marriage requires work and patience. Others view the marriages of friends and wish that theirs were the same, but don’t realize that no marriage is perfect and all have issues. The key is the way you decide to handle the issues, whether it be family meetings or counseling, something needs to be established early on.

Let’s shift to the fun stuff. What special things do you do that make your husband want to come home?

My husband loves to eat (what man doesn’t). I would prepare his favorite meal plus dessert. I also make efforts to keep up with my looks. I think this is very important because it is so easy to get comfortable and forget that men are visual. Keeping up with your looks also gives you confidence. I also like to plan something small whenever possible to make him feel special like a trip or a small gift just because. I realize that men like to be appreciated just as much as women do, the smallest things go a long way.

What things do you do outside of the home to keep things fresh? 

Exercising is huge for me to stay toned. At times I would invite my husband to join me in a walk or run, and it really gives us a chance to reflect, plan, and bond. Going to a nice restaurant and getting dressed up is something else we enjoy and allows for more bonding. Sometimes I look for free or cheap events around town to get us away from the day to day.

Any final words you want to leave with readers?

Marriage is a beautiful institution that God has created and does require lots of work. No marriage is perfect because no individuals are perfect. You will certainly learn more about yourself in addition to your spouse daily. Communication is certainly important. However, trust must be established. Having God as the foundation will not make everything go smoothly, but it will provide you some reassurance that everything will work out according to God’s purpose as long as both husband and wife are aligned in His will.

Marriage Series Part IV: The Good Husband

Hello Everyone! Let’s take a break from the ladies and hear a man’s point of view on the topic of marriage and what it means to be a good husband. And before you think this brother is too good to be true, I have known him practically all of my life and can attest to the fact that he is who he says he is.

Shawn WeddingElder Shawn Everette Rogers is a singer, songwriter, and audio engineer residing in Baltimore, Maryland, but his edgy, in-your-face lyrics still carry the aroma of Long Island, New York where he grew up. Shawn Everette Rogers combines urban contemporary Christian music with a quiet storm brand of soul and worship music. With influences from a variety of music styles such as R&B, gospel, and praise and worship, his signature sound is destined to capture the mind, soul, and spirit of people from vast musical taste bringing them to a common point of truth.  Check out the links after the break for great music. Let the interview begin!

Share with readers what your spiritual beliefs are.

I am a Christian.  In today’s society that statement has become very blurry. My definition of a Christian is one who follows Jesus Christ, the Jewish teacher from the 1st century, and lives a life that reflects the whole of the biblical account in modern society.  I accept the scriptures he taught from, which we call the Old Testament, hold them to be truth and depend on His Spirit to teach me how to live them out today.

How did your beliefs factor into your search for a wife?

I prayed for a wife.  I was hanging with a young lady as friends for a few months before I started dating my wife.  My spiritual father at that time pulled me to the side and said “You need to pray for a wife and tell God exactly what you are searching for.” I thought that was bold but I listened.  I prayed and asked for some specific things.  Now I have to admit some of the things I asked for were, well, shallow. But come on I am a guy!  We do need to know what interests us.  Now my Godfather was a Pastor so I thought this was crazy but he said “Be specific. You want to wake up in 10 years, roll over, and stare at your wife and smile.”  Yes, I too thought to myself “Ummmm WOW!” So I knew I wanted a Christian wife.  There was no desire in my heart to marry someone who did not love Jesus.  That is just asking for heartache and conflict.  As I look back over my marriage, I can clearly see it was God who knew much better than me what I needed.

When you met your wife, how did you court her and what things did you do or say to let her know you were serious about her? At what point did you know she was The One?

Now this is where the fun begins!  Can I say from the start this is my story and it may not happen like this for everyone?  The point is when we trust God He knows exactly how to pull it all together. As I stated earlier I did pray about finding a wife.   I have to say I always loved the idea of being married and having a family.  I first met my wife about three years before we got together. Fast forward two years, she began attending the same church I attended and I watched her dance on the praise team. I remember being in the sound room and one of the guys said, “She is a sweet and beautiful girl, and some dude is going be blessed to marry her.” The thought, “Wow, the man that marries her will be a happy dude!” was in my head every time I saw her.  At an organizational function I mentioned to one of her sorors how beautiful I thought she was and she said “You know she is single now.” I did not think anything more about it because she always gave me the B.L. (blank stare). Now I told you my Godfather told me to pray and I did! I was specific saying, “Jesus please let my wife be someone committed, who wants children, loves you, loves me, and all the spiritual stuff.” Finally I said, feeling sheepish, “I like long hair, fair skin, and it would be interesting if she had brown eyes.” A few weeks later God gave me a dream. When I awoke I knew the dream was about my wife.

It may have been a few weeks later, I was getting on the bus to go to work and as I stepped on my future wife was on the bus. Now we had never talked since the first day I said hello when we met three years prior. She really didn’t notice me at all at church.  This day on the bus when she saw me, she said her heart jumped.  She smiled at me with the most welcome smile. We sat and talked for the first time on that bus ride.  That same night after church we got the same ride home and I asked if I could call her.  She said yes and we began to talk on the phone.  After about three months she asked if I thought she was my wife.  I said yes.  She said “how do you know?”  I told her about the dream and all the things God showed me so I would be clear when my wife came into my life. That dream was a confirmation that put in my spirit the assurance of who she was when we got together.  I really believe she was my miracle from God to tell me no detail in your life is to small for Him to be involved in. We were married in six months after meeting on that bus.

Now in the 20 years we have been married I have found that I was clueless to what I really needed in a spouse.  There are so many things that have come up in our lives that have been trying.  In every circumstance we have found we are just what each other needs.  Only God can do that.  He looked into what I needed and provided that along with the things that were just heart desires.  What an amazing God we serve.  I did learn after we were married that my friend I talked to at the organization function told her I was fond of her.  I had no clue she would do that or any hope this women would fall in love with me.

What things did you do in preparation for being a husband and father prior to marriage?

First let me say if someone is not at an age to get married there is little point in dating.  The process of underage dating is a set up for emotional barnyard rides, unneeded heart decay, and hurt that constructs moats and castle walls in fields of mistrust around the heart that may take years to undo.  It can be the foundation of major issues in marriage.  The potential for promiscuity sky rockets because intimate relationships will progress.  It is the natural order of them. Make lots of friends, go out in groups, and get to know people, their personalities, keep your emotional wits, and pray. It is then you will have a broad canvas to work with when you are of age and mentally ready to find your spouse.

I can’t stress enough how detrimental premarital sex is even if it is with the one you marry.  Saving yourself (as the first) for your spouse will give you years to learn and explore new things for the first time.  There is an amazing spiritual and emotional bond in that.  It will also save you from fighting demons of your past, abortions, shame and mistrust.  Now I want you to know that the above is what I learned through experience after the fact. In the midst of a wonderful marriage I so often think how much richer it would have been had I known then what I know now.

As a husband of 20 years and a father of four teen-aged boys, I can say the only thing that prepares you for the journey of marriage and family is Jesus.  So, often I feel unprepared, lost, inadequate, unworthy, clueless, blindsided and dumb.   Through all that I know God loves me, loves my family and because it is his will that we succeed. I can hope in Him despite all the above.  The sweet, teeth jeering icing on top is that I LOOOOOOVE my wife and kids.

How do you problem solve in your household and who has the last word? Why?

We spend a lot of time together watching TV and eating dinner as a family.  We attend church and do family stuff.  Dating is a consistent part of our marriage even if it is a date night at home with a movie and some popcorn.  We argue and learn how to resolve issues and through that we have really come to understand that we are committed to one another.  We don’t always have to agree but my wife is big on order and will say to me, “God has set you as the head so it is your final decision.”  She says, “These are my thoughts but the outcome rests on you as the head.”  I have learned to consider things much more carefully because I realize my family will be affected by my poor or great decisions.  I thank God for a wife that does not try to take over, but lovingly and with great wisdom shares with me her thoughts and then prays for us.  She has really helped me to understand what true love is in marriage.  I don’t have a problem saying my understanding was severely lacking.  One of the greatest benefits to marriage is it will show you who you really are.  God through marriage helps us to cultivate humility.  We realize our faults and imperfections as our spouse is a mirror reflecting back our image.   We need to use those truths not to build walls but to build bridges and doors to our inner most person and to our spouse.  We should allow our spouse to point out those rough edges and help us become what God wants us to be.

What things do you do to make your wife feel special?

I make her feel special by buying her flowers, watching movies/ TV shows that she likes, listening to her (as best a man can), praying for her, working hard to provide for her, being compassionate to her, coming home to her and only her, making the Bible my road map to life, including her in decisions, trusting her, holding her in my arms as they were made for her, and every day trying to love her better then yesterday.

What things do you believe a wife should do in general to make her husband feel needed and wanted?

I think the Provebs 31 woman is a good example.  1 Peter chapter  3 is great. It states:

“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives,when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

If more women understood that the above is what a GODLY MAN needs, life and family would be good.  Now I capitalized GODLY MAN because the Bible says husband love your wives as Christ loves the church and (gave himself for it) died for it.  As husbands we should be treating our wives as our own flesh.  We don’t hate ourselves or abuse ourselves or cheat on ourselves.  Why should any man expect reverence from his wife in whom he is not being loving to? Remember marriage is a mirror reflecting back at you.  Now men give love (women want to be loved) and wives give respect (men want to be honored).  That is the broad stroke and there is blending of other stuff in those two things.   If we look out into the world men don’t love their wives and women disrespect their husband, and that is really the root of problems in marriage.

Share with our readers what it’s supposed to look like when a man is into a woman.  

This is a hard question because you have to spend time finding out what makes your woman feel loved.  It is most important that you are willing to take the time to find out what makes her melt like warm honey. It is time consuming and frustrating sometimes because women can be emotional.  That’s not a bad thing; it is by design.  We as husbands need to be man enough to take the roller coaster ride and hang on for all the steep dips and head snapping turns knowing all the while that that is part of the fun.  It is a journey well worth taking.

Please give advice to the brothers who need to understand what they must do if they are serious about finding a wife.

  1. I think men who are serious about finding a wife need to first pray. Be serious about finding God’s purpose for your life and then allow God to bring you someone who will complement that. Examine your calling and ask if you do get married will it add to or take away from your purpose.  For example, it will be hard to raise a family as an entertainer.  If you are never home or don’t have time to be there, is it really smart to start a family you will not have time for?
  1. Deal with your demons. Be real with God and yourself about your past and let God heal you from it. Don’t bring mess into your marriage. Get rid of the ideas of old girlfriends, secret rendezvous, and pornography (marriage is soooooooooo much better), and be ready to commit to one woman.
  1. Be determined to submerge and stay in the water (water meaning marriage) no matter what or don’t bother getting in. Never have a plan B for your marriage.
  1. LOVE HARD. BE HUMBLE. I cannot tell you the amount of things I found out after getting married–both good and bad– about myself, my spouse, and life.  I don’t think one can ever be prepared because there are so many ways life can come at you.  What is most important is to STAY COMMITTED, TRUST GOD, PUT GOD FIRST, YOUR WIFE SECOND, AND LIFE THIRD.

ShawnTo learn more about Shawn and his music:

Shawn Everette Rogers Facebook

Sound Cloud-Shawn Everette

ITunes-Shawn Everette

CD Baby-Shawn Everette

Marriage Series Part III-Life After Divorce

Broken heartFor Part III of the Marriage Series I interviewed a 40-something (ask her and she’ll tell you she hasn’t reached her 3oth birthday yet!) mom, writer, teacher, entrepreneur, and woman of God. What is unique about this interview is she shares her perspective as a woman who does not believe in divorce, and therefore fought for her marriage even when the handwriting was on the wall. She shares insight into her relationship with her ex-husband from the time they met up to when she received a revelation that she will be alright! Please take time to read every word of this very candid account of life after divorce.

How long were you married? How many of those years would you say were good years and what made them that way?

I was married for 15 years.  I remember the first year being a really good one.  I was still excited to be married and we did a lot of date nights and traveled so the element of fun was still there.  We had intermittent good times over the entire 15 years, such as the birth of our son, the purchases of homes, and couple’s moments.  The sex was also great so many of the serious problems were trivialized or pushed to the side.  We were stuck in the newness of our relationship.

When did you begin to notice signs of trouble that would impact the longevity of the marriage?

If I could be perfectly honest there were signs of trouble before we even got married that weren’t properly addressed by anyone. I said properly addressed because they were noticed and discussed but not in the right way.  Things that I noticed about him that I felt needed to be changed I would bring up but to the point of nagging (they were frustrating) and not really seeking real solutions for change.  The problem was that he didn’t want to change so his issues remained.   The issues he had with me he was perpetually nonverbal about.  He basically ignored them and repressed them in his mind and allowed them to ultimately turn into resentment for me (he had a huge passive aggressive personality).  Furthermore, certain issues that I brought up during our premarital counseling sessions with the pastor of our then church were dealt with so lightly that I began thinking maybe the problem was me and that maybe I was being too sensitive.  That unfortunately was not the case.

At that point were you fearful that things would continue to spiral or felt that they would pass?

It was ongoing. Our marriage was troubled from the beginning.  We argued about everything.  At the end of the day we were just two different people who viewed life differently.  When I met him he expressed a desire to get baptized (he wasn’t a Christian) but in retrospect I think he only did it to please me.  His heart wasn’t in it and his walk with God showed that.  Towards the end of or relationship he was really degrading about my faith; making fun of me, calling me a dreamer, and vetoing any ideas I had for a better life for us.    He finally took off his charade of “Christianity” and stopped praying and going to church.  Long before that I started to see that he and I were unequally yoked and didn’t feel the same way about God.  How can two walk together unless they agree?  He was masquerading as an angel of light yet his heart was so far away from God.  I learned the hard way that just because someone goes to church doesn’t mean they love God.  I was caught up looking at the outer appearance of the man and never evaluated him the way God does; by looking at the heart.

You can’t just jump into something and think it will work itself out later.  My ex-husband didn’t turn into these things.  He was like that from the beginning but I only saw in him what I wanted to see.  I closed my eyes to the truth for years and made excuses for him until my son too started feeling his father’s negativity and neglect for him.  That’s when I woke up.  I started to see that our relationship was broken because I was with a person who didn’t want to be a husband or a father.  I used to pray for God to change his heart and make him into a loving husband and father until the day I realized God will not go against His own Word.  God tells us to not be unequally yoked in any relationship but we ignore His truth thinking that we can pray and make people change their ways. That’s witchcraft.  It’s manipulation to use God to try to turn the frog into a prince, especially after not seeking Him first in the selection of that mate.  God never said to seek Him second after you try it your way and fail.  He said to seek Him first.  When we stopped having sex and he began to happily plan his life without me, I knew our relationship was over.

When did you begin to realize that things would not repair themselves?

My ex-husband told me he wanted a divorce and would be filing. That didn’t happen for a year.  I thought in the meanwhile things would change.  I thought we had a chance.  We weren’t arguing and had even begun to co-parent our son better. Even though our relationship seemed to be improving, his attitude towards wanting a divorce never changed.   I prayed relentlessly and kept the hope he would change his mind.  Even when he presented me with divorce papers I had hope things would change.  I wasn’t seeing the truth.  Then one day I asked God a very specific question about myself and then went to sleep.  When I woke up He had given me my answer in a dream.  I meditated on the answer for a month then I told my husband I was ready to sign the divorce papers and did with no regrets.   What God had told me let me know that things between us would not repair themselves.  So I stopped fighting it.

Since there’s two sides to every story, how do you think you may have contributed to the disruption in the marriage?

I misdirected my focus to my ex-husband making him my God. At the time I worried more about pleasing him than pleasing God.  I was an emotionally delicate woman due to issues in my childhood, and I looked to my husband too strongly for acceptance and validation.  When he couldn’t meet my emotional needs I felt further rejection and abandonment.  I put a heavy burden on my ex-husband that he couldn’t possibly bear.  It was not his job to understand me, fix me, or make me whole.  I thought it was.  Because of that I was hard to live with at times.  I was wrong for that.  In the time just prior to the divorce I became the wife I should have been from the beginning.  I learned about submission, and being a wife and not a mother to him.  Financially I supported the household and he was a stay-at-home dad. I stepped back and gave him space to make his own way.  Later in the marriage he got a job where, for the first time ever, he made enough where we were able to split all the bills 50-50.  I finally had money to spare and could do nice things for my son and me.  He couldn’t be lazy any longer because I no longer enabled him.  We were finally operating as a team, at least financially.  With all these improvements he still felt he would have a better life without me so he continued to pursue the divorce.

Since you do not believe in divorce, explain the spiritual dilemma you experienced trying to make things work when your husband was ready to give up.

Well, it felt like a nightmare.  I was trying to respect God by honoring my wedding vows (for better or for worse) and he was literally hell-bent on doing the opposite.  I felt like I was being forced into a divorce and into a life I did not choose.  Spiritually there was so much conflict.  Would I be punished for participating? Would my blessings be cut off? Worse yet, how could I explain it to my son that his dad was divorcing me and not him (kids take divorce so personally) and that we would no longer be a family? That was the hardest part.  Remembering how my son cried when my ex-husband told him we were getting a divorce.  Now he would be a child of divorce.  How would he handle that? After thinking about how divorce would affect my son I also started thinking about how it would affect me.   I got into the Word and started studying what it says about divorce.   From what I read it looked like I was being forced into becoming an adulterer if I ever remarried or worse, that I would have to be single forever to prevent from sinning.  That was a horrible thought.  I felt I was being punished.  I cannot say that I am very clear on the biblical rules for divorce.  My only concern was if I would be able to marry again biblically.  After directing this question to my pastor and key people in my life, and also studying divorce as it pertained to mixed marriages (union of a Christian with a non-Christian) I felt at peace in knowing that I could in fact remarry without guilt.

How did you come to terms with the dissolution of the marriage?

As I said before I knew a year in advance that he would be filing for divorce.  That helped a great deal.  I got the opportunity to learn to live without him while we were still living together.  We had moved into separate rooms and became more like college dorm mates.  I could grieve for the loss of my marriage without the inconvenience of experiencing the accompanying physical loss.  I found a new church and committed to membership.  I grew closer to God as my faith increased.  That church became my marriage counseling and anger management all wrapped up in one.  It became my destiny.  I was using God’s word to help me heal and it was changing me at the same time.   I became alive again.  I saw me as an individual for the first time in 15 years and not just the identity-less silent partner I had become in my marriage.  I started pursuing my own dreams.  I quit my job so I could homeschool my son full-time (I had already been doing it part-time), started my own business in media, wrote my first novel, bought my dream car and made plans to move back to my home state where my family was.  As my faith in God increased I got stronger emotionally.   I stopped making my divorce about me and rejection and hurt and pain and fear.

The divorce was uncontested.  I showed up to the trial and made up my mind that I was going to leave out the court room the same way I came—at peace.  My ex-husband was bitter throughout the entire trial, which was surprising to me since he was the one who filed. While waiting for the case to be called I excused myself to feed my parking meter, gave a homeless girl $3, fed his meter, came back, got divorced, threw him the deuces sign and went and got my hair done.   There were no tears.  So to answer your question, I came to terms with the dissolution of my marriage by losing dead weight and growing taller.

 What spiritual counsel did you receive regarding your situation and what impact did that have on the outcome?

I received spiritual counsel from the Holy Spirit Himself.  I never went to marriage counseling.  I went to church. I went to every Sunday service and every midweek service for 12 months straight. I jumped into the Word of God with both feet.  I recorded my pastor’s teachings on the gospel of Jesus Christ and the topic of faith and I listened to the recordings practically every day for a year.  I made my situation more about my relationship with God and not my divorce.  It was always in the back of my mind but there were so many wonderful things I was learning about my walk with God that I stopped paying attention to it directly.  Jesus became my friend and counselor as He said He would, and when I did feel like crying I would cry to him and it helped.  I didn’t cry a lot though.  I am one of those people that get up quickly when they fall.  I don’t nurse heartache and I never feel sorry for myself.  I had to go on living for my son’s sake and the new life I had forged.  By renewing my mind, I became transformed. The rest is history.

 If you knew then what you know now, what might you have done differently during your courtship with your ex-husband?

Hindsight really does have 20-20 vision.  If I knew then what I know now I would have outrun Forest Gump!!! I would have never married him.  I would have seen through his nice-guy act and would have been really honest with myself that I deserved better.  Not that he was a bad person but he was needy.  I would have not taken him up as a “project” to mold and make him into a man. That was not my job to do.  He was one of those really co-dependent people that never took the opportunity to take care of himself.   I had told him before we got married that he needed to get his own apartment and live on his own for a year (he was living with his mother at the time) before we got married.  He would have learned about responsibility and accountability.   I should have stuck to that plan.  We got married only after nine months of courtship (no premarital sex) and he moved directly from his mother’s house to mine.  He went from being her problem to being mine.

As life always goes I have a good friend with a really goofy laugh who told me back then not to marry him but I didn’t listen to her.  As a matter of fact, we kind of didn’t talk for a few years after that.  We lost years but we’re back on track now and If I could I would tell her I am sorry for not listening to her.  And that I blame her (just kidding).

 Explain how you thought of yourself as a wife and woman when you realized divorce was inevitable.

At the beginning of my divorce saga I wasn’t feeling very confident about being a wife or a woman. I felt unloved and rejected.  Halfway towards the middle I realized that I was a prize and that there was nothing wrong with me.  I was aware of the dark path I had started to go down and quickly got back on track.  God then spoke to me in a dream and gave me a life changing message that revised my outlook on my divorce.  The exact quote is in my upcoming novel so I won’t use it here, but He basically told me not to expect more out of people than what they can give.   My ex-husband had very little to offer to me or our son.  It wasn’t his fault.  He was just deficient.  In terms of the divorce he honestly did what he felt he needed to do for him.  Things like commitment and perseverance were honestly too much for me to expect from him.  It just wasn’t in him.  And I’m cool with that.  To this day we are not friends (I think it’s whack to remain friends with an ex-husband—let it go!) but we are co-parents and do not hesitate to make decisions on behalf of our son.  We text more than we talk and my son has his own cell phone so he can contact him directly without going through me.  Preferred!

Did you hold on to the marriage out of fear of being alone or feeling like you may have failed?

I held on to the marriage because I don’t believe in divorce. I didn’t want to be out of covenant with God.  Underlying all of that I also didn’t want to be another statistic.  Everyone in my immediate family is divorced.  I really didn’t want to be the next one.  Things like being alone or feeling like a failure made up a small part of my thinking.  I love my own company and my marriage had really failed from the beginning.  Sad but true.  In my heart I really didn’t like my husband and I wanted a divorce, but I was willing to fight for my marriage to the very end.  I was willing to work on fixing it.  In the end he did me a favor.

What are your thoughts about being single again after 40?Broken heart bandaid

When I hit 40 I’ll let you know.  Just kidding! I think being single again after 40 is actually better than being single at any other time.  At least for me.  There’s less of an urgency for me to get back into a relationship.  Been there, done that! Without sounding like a narcissist I really do enjoy my own company.  I am a business owner now so that takes up a lot of my time and focus.  Furthermore, I already have experienced being married and I already have a child so I am less aware of a biological clock ticking.  The motherhood and wife factor have both been demystified at this point.  I will remarry again but won’t put myself out on the dating scene—dating a hundred frogs hoping one will turn into a prince.  That’s totally random.  I am more sensitive to finding a “mate” this time than finding a husband.  Finding a husband is something you feel pressured into doing because of age, time, and social pressures.  It’s an action.  Finding a mate is a revelation.  It’s the moment you realize, without any outside pressure, that the guy you’re interested in is the right one, and is the one with all the right spiritual qualities that makes him a great choice. He’s the one you should have married in the first place if you were honest with yourself and weren’t so impatient.  You have evaluated his character and see that he would make a terrific father to your already present child.  You two appear to have been made for each other.  Even with all his quirks you can see how he fits into your life to complement it.  Here’s the best part—even though you feel convinced that this guy is the one, YOU SAY AND DO NOTHING!  You go on living your life.  Building your own dreams.  A man that finds a wife finds a good thing… You let him find you this time.

 What advice would you give to women who are in a challenging situation and want to fight for their marriage? It’s hard to speak on this because every situation is different and every challenge is different. I would say first and foremost that if your challenge involves physical abuse and a potential loss of life that you have to get out of that situation immediately because God is not in it, marriage or no marriage. Leave first and pray later!  No man is worth being beat up for.  God did not call you to be a martyr for domestic violence.  Now if this is not your situation then thank God you haven’t experienced the worse.  Everything else you will get through.  Seek God first.  Your marriage is in trouble because God is not in control of it.  Be honest and open your eyes.  If God is in your marriage it can’t fail.  It’s failing because you and/or your husband are in control, not God.  You manipulate him, he manipulates you, you want your way, he never gives in, etc.

Wives learn to submit to your husband.  Submit is a tough word for many woman because we were taught that it means being weak and giving in to everything all the time.  That’s not biblical submission.  Biblical submission is power for women.  It means you learn to shut your mouth and stop telling your husband off every time he upsets you.  You stop saying things out of character and giving up your power.  Instead when you feel that your husband upset you, you take your fragile heart and your broken feelings and dump everything you were going to say to your husband on God.  Get it all off your chest (just delete all the expletives! Lol).  Cry, snot, yell but do it with Jesus.  Your husband was not designed to be a carrier for your emotional breakdowns. After you finish dumping your heart aches on God pray for your husband that he will learn to __________________ (you fill in the blanks).  Then give God space to work.  Now when you have calmed down and you are no longer emotional go back to your husband and say, “Sweetheart, when you spoke to me like you did earlier I didn’t like it”.  He gets to now process your real concerns and not your hurt feelings and you can rationally talk to a solution.

It’s time to keep your focus on God and stop pretending that He called you to be a wife only. He called you to a purpose in Him single or married.  Find out what you were brought here to do and pursue it.  Start getting your act together.  If you are looking at a divorce realistically start preparing for it.  Start paying off your debts, save money, write a book, scale a mountain, hug your children, but whatever you do don’t walk around sad and depressed like you have no hope.  Jesus is your hope.   Take back your power and start living your life.  You never know what could happen in your marriage while you are restoring your focus.  He may pull his stuff together too and seek reconciliation or he might leave.  Either way you will be stronger.

Heart

Photo credit-Google Images

Marriage Series Part II: Single and Ready

Hello Everyone! The first interview in the marriage series received a lot of FB likes and reads. Thank you so much for supporting and providing your feedback. Let’s keep up the momentum as our  next interviewee shares her thoughts about being single, relationships, and her desire for a strong marriage.

yes-i-m-single-t-shirts-women-s-t-shirtThe following interviewee is Loudeline, a young, witty, and beautiful educator and budding entrepreneur in Abu Dhabi. She is a believer who has strong faith in God and an uncanny ability to see life with a positive outlook. Like most women she desires a suitable mate, and despite having experienced some failed dating relationships she still believes there are good men out there. Loudeline will share a little about herself, her dating choices, and how she does not give in to the bitterness many women do when they have been betrayed.

Please tell readers a little about your dating life. How do you meet men?

My dating life is currently at a standstill. On the other hand, at one time I entertained the idea of online dating. I used Plenty of Fish and Tinder, but both of those applications yielded the same results: men who are just looking for a good time or just a good night. I dated a guy in the city where I currently live but that situationship recently came to an end.

I usually meet men casually at different social events, we engage in conversation, exchange numbers and attempt to build a friendship/relationship. If you ask my best friend I’ve dated the same guy just with different names.

Does the fact that you’re educated and independent appear to be an obstacle for you in relationships?

No, not at all. I believe that those are two of the qualities that most of my exes loved and appreciated about me. Furthermore, I have dated men who are well educated, confident, and strong and didn’t shy away from me because of my audacious personality. Surprisingly, it seems that my vulnerability scares them more than my independence.  Not everyone can stand the rain.

What do you look for when you date as in do you automatically date with the intention to find out if the man is a suitable mate?

I date with the intention to find a suitable mate; I am 32 years of age and I am not just looking for  a “good time” with anyone who is not my husband. This is probably why most of my relationships die out after 9 months or so. If his actions, words, or intentions don’t mirror that of a man who wants me as his wife, I usually take the high road and end things or vice versa. Common said it best, “It don’t take a whole day to recognize sunshine.”

How do you determine that?

I determine that by listening and paying attention to their actions. Often times people tell us what we do and do not want to hear; words are very powerful. I know we have been trained to look at people’s actions, but I look at both. If someone tells me they are going to slap me, you better believe I am going to put my guards up. I am not going to wait for them to whack me across the face to take them seriously.

What things do you do to prepare yourself for marriage?

Honestly, this is a great question and the answer is that I pray. I pray and ask God to prepare me for my husband. I know often times we pray for him to send us someone, but I am praying that when he sends my husband, I am ready to fulfill my duty as his wife, cheerleader, friend, confidante, personal chef and more.  Outside of the spiritual realm I choose to invest a lot in getting myself together. Currently I am paying off debt, investing my resources into small business ventures and such.

In relationships where you have experienced infidelity, what signs let you know it was going on?

First let me explain what infidelity is to me. Infidelity is spending quality time with someone else whether it be by a phone call, text message, or casually going to the movies with another individual that is not your significant other. Some people feel that infidelity is when someone sleeps or engages in some type of sexual activity with another person. No, once that individual breaches my trust they are being unfaithful.

For me the signs were they started to fail at the relationship. They failed at answering or returning phone calls in a timely fashion, they failed at keeping their word when we made plans, they just stopped investing towards us because they started to invest their resources towards someone else.

Have all your relationships end on a sour note?

No, not all of them. Some of my relationships ended on a positive note. We made it to a point where we knew our relationship had expired, so we opted to break up and go our separate ways and with some we just met at the wrong time in our lives.

As you reflect on those relationships, do you realize there were red flags that were dismissed? What were they?

Yes, there were definitely red flags but I decided to keep fighting. They stopped making me a priority and started making excuses like, “I can’t make it this weekend for your cousin’s graduation”, but graduation was only 30 minutes away and his schedule was free. “I can’t take you out this weekend, because something else came up”, but no real explanation on what “something else” was.

When things like this happen to women they sometimes blame themselves thinking there was something they must have done, they weren’t good enough, etc. Describe your initial thoughts when your trust was betrayed.

Not to sound arrogant, but I know I’m good enough so that thought has NEVER crossed my mind. Honestly, I just believe that some men believe that life is a buffet (cheap BOGO kind of buffet) versus a nice classy restaurant, where they can enjoy just enough without diving into gluttonous behavior. I only blame myself for overstaying my welcome. My initial thought, “Why did you fight to hold on to something that was done and over months ago?”

How were you able to overcome the disappointment and still hold out hope for love?

Sounds crazy or a bit cliche, but music and seeing success stories. Chrisette Michele-whom I’m still upset with-has a song titled “Best of Me”. Now I appreciate the entire song, but this portion of the song still allows me to hold out for love.

Can’t be the time to be begging/Can’t be the time to plead

My momma made me much wiser/What’s mine will be just for me

I’m trying hard just to focus/I’m trying hard to sleep

Promise I’m glad you’re happy/When it’s my time it will be

Look I’m moving on, oh oh oh

Loved you, lost you/Thought I’d give you

All the best of me/We departed

Broken hearted/I need to be free

What we had was/Oh so lovely

I’ll swallow my pain/It’s my time to

Find the best of me

Furthermore, he was just a boyfriend; this man wasn’t my husband nor the father of my kids. So why should I allow someone who played such an insignificant role in my life, to have such a major impact on MY life?

What signs would you tell women to look for when a man is not invested in the relationship?

As we all know, there’s no sure recipe to this thing we call love, but the lesson I learned from my most recent stumbling block is that we know when someone is no longer investing towards the relationship.  You know, often times we say he isn’t consistent. Well, that’s not completely true. If he is consistently not investing his time, energy or resources into you or the relationship, he’s being consistent. If he consistently makes  excuses for not being able to spend time with you, but he’s willing to spend time with everyone else, he’s being consistent.

I recall a conversation that I had with my male best friend and he said it most plainly and simply that if a man is not willing to sacrifice anything for you, he’s not the one for you. He went on to say that if he has money and he’s buying you gifts and trips, that’s not a sacrifice for him, but if he deliberately chooses to skip his boys night to take you out to dinner, then he’s sacrificing for you. He has money, but in this scenario he doesn’t have much time.

What do you think it’s supposed to look like when a man is interested?

When a man is interested he makes you a priority and not an option, he wants to be immersed in your life, and he wants to immerse you into his. He gives to you not only mentally, verbally, emotionally, physically, and  financially, but he gives to all aspects of your life as well. He wants to make you happy and making you happy comes easy for him.

I asked the last interviewee why does she think women compromise or settle in relationships. I pose this same question to you.

We do this because family and friends tell us that’s what we should do. I had a friend, and although she is near and dear to my heart, tell me “Your standards are too high; it seems like you want this fairy tale ending that doesn’t exist.” When she told me this I was flabbergasted because we tell people to reach for the sky in every aspect of their lives, but now here she is telling me to settle for the man that I want to wake up next to for the rest of my life. I honestly thought she had lost her marbles. People tell us to settle because they assume we are not happy being single. However, honey let me tell you that being single is not a disease. For me, it is an opportunity to focus on me and make myself better. We have to stop letting and allowing people to discount our worth.

This is an opportunity to share why you think you would make a great wife.

I think I embody the skills and the attributes that a good wife should posses. My skill sets include but are NOT limited to the ability to cook, being well organized and efficient, a great conversationalist, and wonderful with kids.  I am smart, kind, ambitious, selfless, patient, I love unconditionally (a gift and a curse), family oriented,  I know how to express my needs and wants effectively, and I’m spontaneous.

Stay tuned for more interviews in the Marriage Series!

*Photo Credit from Google Images-SpreadShirt

Marriage Series Part I: If I Knew Then What I Know Now

wedding-rings-on-bible_2592353Evening folks. For a long time I wanted to do a marriage series with women who have practical wisdom to share that will help those who want to tie the knot. There are so many books about how to be single, how to find a husband, etc., and to be honest I am not sure how helpful they are. I have not read any for the simple fact that I do not believe there is a formula for getting married. Staying married, well, I’m all ears. Anyway, I often hear people say they prayed and fasted, others made a list, and still others said they worked hard on themselves and when they were ready God sent them a spouse. Then there’s those who did not pray too hard, or fast, or did any special work on themselves and are in long-lasting marriages. When the rubber meets the road, there are many ways to meet and keep, and experience appears to be the best informant of what and what not to do.

My first interviewee has been married for over 10 years and is still very much in love with her husband. Despite this, there are things she wishes she knew before she got married that would have determined if she would have even married him at all. Her husband is a great person with a generous heart, but over the years their marriage has been met with some challenges. In this candid interview she shares some of her struggles and answers questions to provide wisdom for singles as they consider jumping the broom.

What were some of your ideas about marriage before you transitioned from Miss to Mrs?

I always imagined that when I got married I was going to marry my soul mate, someone who I could rely on who would always be there for me, love me unconditionally, respect me, and have the same dreams that I have. Someone who would take care of me, be my best friend, my confidant, my secret-keeper, and all of the above. Someone I could sit on the porch with later in life sitting in the rocking chair reminiscing about what our life was like. Good, bad, indifferent, or otherwise.

What kind of advice were you given about marriage when you were single?

The only advice that I got from family was, well, my grandmother always said you should love who loves you, not necessarily who you love. I don’t think we ever really spoke about marriage in my family.

In general how close to your ideal did you come in your marriage?

In general it’s not too far off. There’s just certain things that kind of rub me the wrong way. Circumstances kind of altered the dream that I had. Circumstances beyond my control that changed the dynamics. It’s not like what you see on TV where you get the house, the husband, 2.5 kids, etc. That’s what they show you but that’s not reality.

Before we go into what shifted, describe your marriage during the honeymoon phase.

It was perfect. My husband was very attentive. He was very loving. He, you know, he wined and dined me. Romanced me too. It was good! Life was good and everything seemed to be going according to plan how I hoped it would.

Share when things begin to shift that made you question your decision to marry your spouse.

Things began to shift once we had children because then the responsibility totally shifted. So it’s no longer just you and this person, happy-go-lucky and do whatever. Now you have people who need you just as much or more than your husband.

Why would having kids bring division versus unity?

I would not say it brought division but it just changes your priorities. My children have special needs that require more care than the average child would, which in turn puts a lot of stress on our marriage.  The first year of their lives they required 24-hour supervision. We had to constantly monitor them. Needless to say they were in the room with us. I kept them close to me out of convenience. That breaks up your sleep, your cuddle time, and your intimacy. We just became roommates; two people taking care of their kids. Not to say the intimacy wasn’t there, but it was few and far between. As the years progressed it grew further and further.

Outside of the children, what other issues arose or were ongoing?

I felt like I always had to be the bigger person to compromise when situations happened with his kids from a previous marriage.  I guess I always I felt as if I was the adult, so I felt as if he should take care of them and their needs instead of me and mine because I was more understanding of the situation.

In light of that, didn’t he  understand that he had to balance things since he was in a new marriage with newborn children?

He would always say to me that he had to take care of those kids [from the previous marriage] so that he could get them situated like going to college, etc., and by doing so it would make it easier for him to then focus on our kids. He felt I had help from my family members with our children, so he felt he did not need to step in.

In a way you gave him the green light to do so, which means there were greater repercussions than you imagined. Is this an area where you feel you compromised too much?

Yes.

What are your thoughts about that?

I think in retrospect I should have given him like a time frame, or should have insisted that he balance the two families. I thought that I was kind of like alleviating some of the stress on him. He couldn’t afford to take care of both families on his budget. For the most part I took care of our children. Had I said to him that it was not fair and that I get that the other kids are his, but we [my kids and me] are also his family. I allowed him to enable his other kids. They don’t call or talk to him because I think in their head they think he is busy taking care of us, the new family. He feels guilty because he is not there with his older kids. He doesn’t allow them to grow up or give them the tools to learn how to become responsible, productive members of society. Because of the guilt he does everything for them.

How did this make you feel and how did it change your perception of your spouse? 

It made me feel as if I was not number one–as I should be as his wife–but rather number two or number three; the bottom of the totem pole like I didn’t matter. He didn’t put me where I was supposed to be as his wife. I felt like I had to constantly accept the fact that, you know, I was number two and had to deal with it. I felt horrible. I was disappointed. I felt somewhat upset and still do. Maybe a little bit angry. I really felt like my knight in shining arming armor, the man who swooped down and knocked me off my feet, was no longer that person. I no longer valued his opinion. I think that’s when I lost respect for him. Even though he was in the  house his opinion really didn’t matter, especially when it came to the kids and how I should raise them. I felt that he was not providing for them so he should not tell me how to raise them.

What would you say to a woman who is thinking of marrying a divorcee’ with children?

It’s not the fact that he’s a divorcee’ but if he has kids don’t do it. I don’t care how old they are. If he is a man who really cares about his kids, it doesn’t matter if they are child support age or not. He will always be concerned about their well-being. The [new] wife will always play second fiddle.

I think it depends on the man as some men are able to balance two families.

Well my husband is not that person.

Did you see those red flags before you got married?

Yes. I want to say there were some red flags I chose to ignore because I felt because the kids were younger when we met, I kind of felt like they really  needed that support. They needed their father. As time went by and they got older, nothing changed. It is a problem of epic proportions. To keep the peace and maintain my sanity, there’s a lot of stuff that I hold back. I tend to bite my tongue a lot.

So what gives you the strength to continue in the marriage when you have this huge issue that has not resolved itself?

Maybe hopes that things will get better. That despite his shortcomings he is genuinely a good person. He may not support our kids [financially] but he adores them and he takes care of them by feeding them, giving them a bath, etc. He’s very nurturing.

What else gives you strength?

Unconditional love. There’s not a doubt in my head that he loves and cares for me and that he will be there for me until the end. There’s just certain things that I wish I didn’t have to deal with.

How does he show you that he loves you? Love has to be demonstrated in order for it to be truly meaningful.What is happening in the present that tells you that he loves you?

I don’t know. He tells me that he loves me. He might not do the things I want him to do in the way that I want him to. Every now and then I get a card.  Once in a while he will ask me if I want to do dinner or watch movies. If it cost money it’s not going to happen because the money is really not there.

Do you tell him what you need from him to feel valued?

No, why should I have to tell him?

Why not? The needs you may have had when you first got married may be different now as you grow and change. 

We just don’t talk about that.

Don’t you think you should have that conversation so that you can hold him accountable for what he knows versus what you think he knows?

I guess I should but I just never thought about it. I guess I have to rectify the situation.

Let’s shift gears. What questions should you have asked prior to betrothal and why? 

I should have asked him where did he see himself five years after marriage. [Or] does he think he has what it takes to sustain a healthy marriage? I should have asked questions about how he handled his money. We should have sat down and had a discussion about finances. I should have found out how he would balance two families before we had kids. I should have watched how he handled stress and managed life. Certain things I look back upon now and realize there’s just certain things I should have watched. I should have asked him what his ex-wife’s complaints were about him because then that would have allowed me to better understand the situation I was getting myself into. I might have made more informed decisions, not just lead with my heart but put some brain matter into it. It’s easy to say that you’re in love and doing things out of love, but sometimes you don’t see the forest for the trees. You’re so caught up in the moment that you’re not looking at the bigger picture.

Why do you think some women compromise or settle when it comes to relationships?

Some women don’t think they can do any better. Some women just settle for the first man who sweeps them off their feet and makes them feel good. They are in the here and now and not 20 years down the road. Might be less than that! You just don’t see past what’s in front of you.  You really don’t. Everybody has this idea that when you meet this man, you will get married and live happily ever after. That’s not the case.

What would you have changed about yourself that may have made things more positive in the long run?

I think I should have listened to him more. In my heart I think sometimes when he talks I tune him out. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m tired of hearing the same old same old. I should have let him be more of a husband, more of a father, more of a man. Maybe I should have fallen back and let him take the lead instead of doing those things for him or being the one to step forward. In retrospect maybe I created a monster. Maybe I said certain things that made him feel like less of a man.

What about God and religion?

My husband said that he grew up in a different denomination so we never agreed upon where we would worship as a couple. He is against going to my denomination and I am against going to his. We tried a couple of churches and they never really worked. Now he’s going to my church and I’m hoping that things will get better. Conversations will open up. Communication will get better. Whatever little dent or crater in the marriage will close. We never really prayed together and if he did, he’d be the one leading the prayer. But for the most part no. He talks about God at length but we never really had that kind of relationship per se because we were from two different denominations. We didn’t agree except that there was a God and we both prayed to Him. I started going to church because I became stagnant waiting on him [husband]. Now he’s going to church with the family.

What are the most important qualities a couple should have to make a marriage last?

Mutual respect. Compassion. Understanding. Loyalty. Selflessness. You got to be able to bounce things off each other and communicate.

Last question. What is it that, despite the struggles and some regret, makes you committed to making things work?

What else is there other than love?

Stay tuned for next week: Marriage Series Part II: Single and Ready

God bless!

The Jealous Man

My friend and I have a running joke that whenever I would eat chocolate past decent people’s hours she’d tease me and say, “You’re gonna have NIGHTMARES!” Well, in the wee hours of this morning I had a Cadbury Fruit & Nut that was very kind to me because I had a dream that was so profound that I had to wake up and write about it pronto. Now remember, dreams tend to be patchy so I will not have all of the why’s. The important thing is the message that was spoken at the end. Here goes:

cloudsThere was a married couple who experienced unnamed issues and the wife decided to leave her husband. They were separated for several years and the husband paid close attention to what the wife did during that time. She was very successful without him and accomplished things that baffled him to the point where it paralyzed him. Her last act was going to a car dealership where she brokered her own deal and pulled off the lot with a new car. The husband marveled once again at how she navigated life so well without him while he remained stagnant. I stood near the man and was going to tell him that I negotiated for my own car as well. I wanted him to know that a woman doing things on her own was not a foreign concept. But for whatever reason, I refrained from doing so as he appeared to be so lost in his confusion that he would only hear the noise of his own thoughts.

The wife was off to herself and did not ask anyone for anything. She did not lament her separation from her husband or felt crippled without him. I only remember seeing her through a glass wall living her life while I was standing on the other side with her husband watching him spiral into a frenzy over her success. She wore light-colored clothes and the husband wore dark earth tones (a little nugget for you dream interpreters). At the end of the dream a voice came out of nowhere and said to the husband, “The reason you have not succeeded in the past 6-7 years is because you were so busy watching your wife that you did not take care of your own affairs.” The husband lost almost a decade of precious time that could have been spent cultivating his own blessings. Jealousy got him nowhere.

In real life jealousy is stagnating and poisonous. If we give in to it, by the time we look up at our own lives we may find that so much time has passed that we have another thing to be depressed out; not being able to muster up the strength to start paving our way because the momentum has been lost.  We can poison our spirit and relationships by wishing failure on people we claim we love. Look at what happened to Joseph in Genesis. He was sold into slavery by his own brothers because they feared God would bless him more than them. Had they inquired about Joseph’s destiny, they would have foreseen that he would become exceedingly blessed and in turn be a great blessing to them. When everything was said and done, they had to humble themselves before Joseph in order to become the recipients of his generousity.

The Bible is very clear about the poison of jealousy:

James 3:14-15 – But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

James 3:16 – For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

Proverbs 14:30 – A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

Now, I do not know who this is for and it may not even be for a married–or used to be married–couple. For whatever reason the wife did not flourish with the husband in her life, and on a general level it is a call for all of us to make sure our relationships are fruitful. Lying with strange bedfellows can delay or alter our destiny. Another central theme here is that often we pay too much attention to people who are successfully living their lives without our assistance or input, not realizing that same capacity to fulfill life’s goals may be in us if we turned our eyes to our own situation.

Don’t be like the jealous man. When people are doing well and we want the same for ourselves, wish them the best and find out how they do what they do. When a spiritually and materially generous person experiences the favor of God, everyone benefits. Laying back in the cut wishing evil upon people will cause us to risk being exposed and damage a relationship that was meant to last forever. We will also put ourselves in danger of reaping the ill will we have sown. Remember, people may not see everything but God does. In a situation like that we must go to God and ask Him for forgiveness for succumbing to such a dangerous emotion, as well as for Him to help us redeem the time so that we can experience the blessing of living out our life’s purpose. The clock is ticking. Don’t let time run out!

Please comment and offer up any interpretations you get from the dream for personal or general application. I’m here to learn.

Be blessed!

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