Smoke and Mirrors

This week I went to school to pick up my older children and my two younger kids and I parked in my favorite parking spot under a tree and let the windows down to wait for school to be out. As most of you parents out there know pick-up and drop-off are two of the busiest parts of any school day, so I like to get there early. While I was parked and waiting, my other sons classmate’s Dad parked next to me.  He waved and smiled and I waved and smiled at them. He and his wife were always so nice, their really truly great people. Our kids have had a few playdates and this is our children’s second year being in the same class together. It would be fair to say that they appear to be the perfect family, loving, kind and just fun to be around. It would also be correct to say that I am well acquainted with them, but we’re not close friends.

I’m not a nosey person, I tend to try and mind my own business most of the time. I always say to my kids, don’t stare that’s rude, so when I thought I noticed something off about his wife sitting next to him in his truck I chose not to dwell on it. Normally she waves at me and greets me with a huge smile, but this time she didn’t. It’s been a while since I spoke with them, but I noticed a few months ago that she had lost a lot of weight. That was odd to me, but I just thought that maybe they had been dealing with a lot of stress. I mean everyone has problems, and who am I to judge right?  So, back to the story. Right before the bell rang he and his wife got out of the car, and that’s when I noticed that his wife was not his wife! It was another woman entirely, and I was very surprised. At first I thought oh, maybe that’s his sister, but then the two of them embraced in a way that would have been super creepy if they were related.

Can I just tell you that I was shocked!!! Naturally, I told my husband about it, and he promptly told me not to jump to conclusions and to not make assumptions because gossip hurts people. Of course I wasn’t planning on gossiping about it, but I really wanted to talk about it with someone who I trusted because it was bothering me. Fortunately,  a good friend,( who also has children in class with their child) whom I trust explained the whole situation to me. She confirmed that the couple, had indeed just gone through a divorce.

Ladies, this was not just about me being nosey or malicious. I can’t quite explain it to you, but this became like a personal warning to me. It felt close to home, because I instantly thought that if that could happen to them, then it could happen to anyone. I want to acknowledge that no one knows what goes on behind closed doors, but having said that, their public face was very convincing. Whenever I would see that family together they would all be smiling and holding hands. During school events this couple would sit close to each other and  touch in some way, always sharing a love connection, or so I thought. They were the couple that I would want to be honestly. They just always seemed so happy together. Learning the news about their divorce made me want to reexamine my own marriage and the strength of the love that my husband and I share.

We love each other and that’s no doubt, but we go through our fair share of ups and downs that’s for sure. We live a life that in many ways comes with more stress than the average couple and sometimes we handle it well, other times we don’t. It’s not all sunshine and roses over here. We have had many days that include rain and dark clouds. I found myself thinking, “Man what could have come between them to the point that they decided to throw away their whole marriage?”

I don’t know what the future holds, but I pray that we, my husband and I, will always honor our commitment that we made to God and our family to love and cherish one another. I pray that we stay together and that we grow together and not apart.

I prayed for that couple and I asked God to comfort them and mend their hearts and help them to co-parent with love and compassion. I also came home and tried to show my husband how much I love and appreciate him. I know that our actions are sometimes the first things to suffer when we get comfortable in our relationships. It’s so easy to take your spouse for granted.

Truly, the time to build a strong marriage is not when you recognize that there is a problem, but everyday. During the hardest times, the times when you are sleep deprived from being up late at night with a crying baby, or when you go through a difficult time at work. When we face real adversities and experience painful struggles that test our resolve and make us stronger. To me challenges build character and create opportunities for couples to make positive changes that strengthen their relationship. Not every storm will make us feel closer together, but every storm has the possibility to  bring us closer together and closer to God as well.

I firmly believe that God causes all things to work together for our good.(Rom.8:28)

God bless you all and remember to show the ones that are essential to your joy and happiness that you truly love and appreciate them today!

Empathy Doesn’t Grow on Trees

I have mentioned to you guys how busy I’ve been lately and I mentioned in my last few blogs how pressed I feel, but some how I still managed to get into a very familiar roe with my hubby over, of all things, whose more exhausted.

Now I know a lot you ladies who read my blog are working moms, and many of you have husbands so I bet this argument sounds quite familiar to you too. We were sitting on the couch, he had just gotten home from work and I was in the middle of a very long day with our five children. We were both tired and hungry and my husband turned to me and said, “What’s for dinner? I don’t smell anything?” That my friends was the start of our very own Cuban Missile Crisis! We got into this back and forth debate about who had the more difficult job and who’s life was full of more work. We were both trying to convince each other that our day was longer, more difficult and more exhausting than the other person’s day. After about ten minutes I finally relented and decided to let the kids eat whatever they could find.

I would like to think that I won because he ended up cooking dinner, but I think it would be more accurate to say that everybody won because we all ate a hot meal. The thing is we seem to be competing for worst day ever more and more these days. I don’t know why that is, maybe because we’re both tired parents, or possibly because we both want empathy from the other person.

Everyone wants to feel valued and appreciated, we all want to feel like our spouse understands how important our role is to the way our family functions. Yet, the question that I have to ask  myself is why do I feel the need to have my husband validate my worth as a wife and mother by always acknowledging that I have the harder job, or do the most work?  More and more I crave empathy from him and I think he needs that from me too. I want my husband to let me know that he understands how difficult it is for me to do the things that I’m doing day in and day out, and if he doesn’t I start to feel like maybe he doesn’t appreciate me enough. Even as I’m writing this I’m wondering does he need that same thing from me as well.

Although we’ve only been married for eleven years I think I have discovered that we both need a lot of the same things. The trick of the enemy seems to be isolation, and to divide and conquer. If he can convince you that you are all alone and that no one else is going through what you’re experiencing, and if he can divide us and make us think that the other person doesn’t want to understand what you’re going through, then our relationship will be in serious trouble.

The bible talks about two being better than one and how important it is that what God brings together not being separated. Unfortunately, not showing enough empathy and compassion for our husbands or wives(if you’re a guy) can really harm your relationship. After a long hard day, I don’t always feel like making sure my husband feels like I understand how hard his day was and that I care about his issues just as much as my own, but that’s how good marriages become great marriages. Love is long suffering and very compassionate. When you love someone you show them by freely giving your compassion and your listening ear.

Having said all that you guys know that I’m not a perfect wife or anything like that, but I am open to growing and learning new things. How about sharing some of your best advice in the comment section. I would love to know how you guys handle empathy and compassion in your relationships. Thanks for stopping by.

Privacy

I follow this amazing fashion blogger on one of these apps that I spend way too much time looking at, her blog is called stylenpoise.com.  She posted a quote a while back that basically said to share your lifestyle and not your private life. I love my privacy, like a whole lot, so when I decided to start a blog I was very concerned about what to share and how. I knew that I wanted to talk about the lifestyle of a Christian, married, mother of five in a way that helped other women like me to know that no matter our differences we all have struggles. We all want to be encouraged. We all can learn something from hearing how someone else  overcame a problem. I remember when I wrote my first blog post and my Hubby read it he looked at me and said, “Whoa, I can’t believe you wrote about that!” He knew how hard it was for me to share something personal. I learned very early in life that the less people know about what goes on behind the closed doors of my life the better. This, in my opinion, can be true of any relationship. This doesn’t mean that I don’t share things about myself, it just means that not every detail of my life is a topic for public discussion.

I think that marriages in particular, should be adhering to this privacy policy, because Marriage should be sacred. Only two people should know every little detail of your relationship because that’s what level of intimacy is required for a strong union. When you get upset with your Hubby for forgetting the anniversary of the very first time you held hands, and you vent to your girlfriend, she will remember that longer than you will! I think because it’s human nature, your bestie is more likely to hold it against Hubby than you are. Of course even though this is just an example, you get my point. In a day or so, you’re going to forgive him and move on, so learn to keep those negative rants between you and God. I have found that when I take all my emotional tantrums to God, I usually end up repenting for my actions and asking Hubby to forgive me. (I know right?)

Social Media has convinced most people that if you don’t post every detail about your life it didn’t actually happen. Ladies, that’s just not true! Some things should never make it to social media, some date night pics should be for your eyes only and God knows those really heated arguments about your in-laws should never spill over to your time lines either. I am human too, and I do find it hard sometimes not to post certain things. When something upsets me or when I have road rage and I just want to vent about the rude driver, I have to take a deep breath and ask myself, “Why am I doing this? What purpose will this serve?” Practicing self-control in those moments of anger can save you from a lifetime of regret.

Keeping your private life private is essential in building trust with your husband. When you know that you can be vulnerable and broken with your husband and you feel confident that he will keep your most intimate moments private…that’s what keeps us in love. Moments like that, when he holds me in his arms, lets me cry, wipes my tears and never tells a soul! (Deep Sigh)

The flip side to keeping your private life private is knowing when to tell certain things. If you are having problems, serious problems, and you need wise council choose the right person to allow into your relationship. That could be your pastor or your Mother, etc. For me one of the most objective, loving, forgiving, and God-fearing people I know is my sister. When I need to really talk out a serious problem I have I can trust her to be fair enough to tell me honestly when I’m over-reacting, or when I have a good point. I do have other people in my life that I can turn to as well, but trust me the list is short. Honestly I don’t think that’s a bad thing either, we should think long and hard about who we give the keys to the vault to. Choosing to never allow your private life to be a topic for public discussion does mean that people may get overly curious, but stay the course. It might mean that people make assumptions and gossip about things but you have to be okay with that. Let them wonder how you guys keep all together or how you make it work. It’s okay to share the end results, but not what happen in the middle. In most cases, all people need to know is that by the grace of God you made it through. Of course that’s not always the best option, sometimes you need to share your testimony and your struggles; however, let God lead you on when and how to do that and with whom.

Finally, let me say that I enjoy talking and sharing so I plan to keep doing that, but I will use wisdom. I’m still getting use to the whole “social media,” stuff so I’m still a bit conservative about everything. This could all change five years from now, but until it does I’m still old fashioned and I still think technology should be treated like it has the cooties! Please leave your comments and tell me what you think. How much do you share about your relationship? Is anything off limits in your relationship, or can you post/share anything? If you don’t have limits to what can be shared or posted let me know how that works for you!

Can you stand the Rain?

 

When I was a teenager one of my favorite songs, I had many by the way, was Can you stand the rain originally by New Edition, and the remake by Boyz II Men (on their 1997 album with the black background). I was a teenager in the nineties, the best time to be a teenager in my opinion!  I played that song, I sang along, but I never fully understood what it was truly about. It was about relationships and how sometimes things are going to be great and other times things will be really hard. I feel like one of the biggest shockers for me was that every day would not be perfect! That’s why I’m so passionate about being more transparent about marriage and what it means to have a strong relationship.  At the same time, I acknowledge that I myself don’t know everything about marriage and relationships. I am clearly not a professional, I’m just a woman who wants young single women, engaged couples, newlyweds, and seasoned married couples to stay together and create strong relationships that stand the test of time.

Just a short twenty or thirty years ago divorce carried a certain amount of shame and distain with it, even the word alone would cause concern and fear. Divorce was serious because it meant that homes and families would be broken up, children would be separated from their fathers and Mothers would be left to carry the weight of the whole family on her shoulders. There was a time when Marriage was a sacred thing and men and women entered into unions that were meant to last forever and not be separated by anyone. Why can’t we go back to those days? Why don’t we talk about the rain that comes in life, and how it only last for a moment? One of my favorite scriptures says, “weeping may endure for night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30:5b

One of the verses in the song says; “I need somebody who will stand by me, when it’s tough she won’t run, she will always be right there for me. Storms will come. This we know for sure, but tell me can you stand the rain?” That’s what I thought marriage was, thanks to my examples of marriage and a healthy dose of nineties R&B, I thought marriage was about finding the one person who would stand by you no matter what storms came your way. However,  I notice a trend these days, especially with celebrities; two people get married and appear all over town happy and gorgeous together, basically perfect. Then if their really in love they get divorced after the five year mark, if not they’re divorced a few months later! Okay that may be factually incorrect but you catch my drift. I probably should have told you all this earlier, but I’m one of those people who thinks that the world was way better when I was growing up! Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I really believe that our society has lost that desire to stay committed through thick and thin, through good times and bad. I always refer to this generation as the microwave generation, because everyone wants instant gratification, immediate results or it’s over, their done! I often wonder what triggers these break ups, like does one person leave the toilet seat up and the other fall in and get up and immediately ask for a divorce? This is to be expected in the world, but the problem comes in when we see this disease infiltrate the church/Christians.

We may never admit this, but we do watch what the world is doing and that plays a role in how we as Christians see ourselves. For good or bad, that’s a harsh truth, we want to fit in with the world, but we still want to be accepted by God. That is one of many factors, unfortunately, that leave a filthy mark on our society. We seem to be in love with the wedding day and not the marriage. I’m not sure if it’s actually true, but I’ve heard that the average wedding today cost about $30,000.00!!! I won’t bore you right now with my wedding day story but here’s two things to keep in mind, it was more drama than any t.v. show, and it was definitely not $30,000.00!  When my Husband and I got engaged I was very focused on all the wedding stuff and the perfect dress, that I was totally not thinking about the marriage. I had dress fittings, makeup consultations, hair appointments, shoe shopping excursions, etc..  I was over the top about my undergarment that I would be wearing and don’t get me started on how crazy I was over having a big engagement ring!!! The thing that I learned very quickly was being concerned about those things was pointless and…well dumb. I was missing the point, a wedding only last for a few hors of one day! The marriage last forever and your wedding dress won’t help you push your baby out, buy your first house, or clean the toilet in your children’s bathroom! Friends after the ceremony is over the dress goes in box, bag or closet!  I do remember people trying to tell me what I’m telling you, but I was floating on cloud nine because I was getting married!

Now that I’ve diagnosed the problem let me talk a little bit about the cure. I believe that we have to start with the obvious, change what’s influencing us. Change our perspectives and what we see as exemplary. We need to hide the word of God in our hearts, so that we can confess it over our marriages and our families when times get tough. One thing I’ve learned is that the devil hates marriage. How do I know this, well look what he attacked first, Adam and Eve, the married couple.  Paul wrote quite a lot to the husbands and wives and one thing He instructed was to give no place to the devil (Eph 4:27). We have to love our husbands and stand for our relationships in prayer and intercession. We can’t allow our lives and relationship to look like the world, celebrities, what we read in magazines or even romance novels. Marriage is a reflection of the love that Jesus has with his bride, which is the church (Eph 5:22-32) Jesus never gives up on his bride, he’s always there to love her and take her back. He makes sure she is without spot or wrinkle, he washes her clean, leads her and rescues her. He loved his bride so much that he took her place and died for her. Those are our examples of how we should be loving our spouse.  We have to remember that in any relationship we’ll have to make allowances for one another, and we’ll have to forgive and forget many times. That’s the secret ingredient, we have to love like Jesus loves. There are no perfect people. No one gets it right all the time, and we don’t need perfection. We need to find the perfect person for us, the one person that God designed with you in mind.

My Hubby and I have had to face a few storms in life and I’m sure they don’t compare to what else we may see, but I know that I would much rather face trials and troubles with him by my side than without him. My mother use to tell me and my sister when we would argue that, “teeth and tongue fall out sometimes but their still together.” That simply means that yes, you may not always see eye to eye on everything, but you stay together. You don’t end the relationship because you disagree or you hit a rough patch, you may have to get wet, but you weather the storm. Trust me, it’s worth it! Let us never think that a successful marriage is one that does not include adversity or trails. Test and trials come to make us stronger, but we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus and we truly can stand on the words that what God has joined together no man, or woman, can separate!

Let’s get a real conversation going in the comments! Let me know what you think is a major secret ingredient to a happy marriage? Do you think we waste too much time on the wedding and too little time on the marriage? I want to hear from you! Leave a comment and tell me what you think?

Marriage Monday

 

The Privacy of Intimacy

Have you ever heard the saying that opposites attract? Well that could not be truer for my Husband and me. He’s a very relaxed laid back kind of person, nothing ever really ruffles his feathers, and he’s very patient and steady. I can honestly say that if He raises his voice it gets our attention because that’s just not the kind of man He is. He’s very steady and calm. My Husband is they type of man that when he speaks people generally listen because he doesn’t waste his words. I, on the other hand, can be pretty loud, especially when I’m having fun! I like a little back and forth banter because I can be a bit sassy sometimes. I adore laughing and talking, telling jokes, I even burst out singing from time to time and that’s also apart of how I communicate. If I’m not laughing and talking, giddy and joking, something is usually wrong with me and I may need to go to the doctor. I’m a bit high strung and being chill and relaxed is just not my natural mode of operation. The funny thing is, not only is my husband my exact opposite, but many of my closet friends are as well. I just seem to gravitate towards people who have characteristics that I do not.

This all got me to thinking about the concept of intimacy. Intimacy is about more than just being sexual with someone; it also means to have a detailed knowledge resulting from a close or long association or study. I the bible the term “Know or Knew,” could also be used when referring to a sexual relationship. Like saying and Adam, Knew his wife. When you think about it having an intimate knowledge of our Husbands should not just be limited to what we do in the bedroom. We should strive to have an intimate knowledge of them emotionally and spiritually. As wives we should make it a goal to strengthen that intimate emotional bond and spiritual connection that we have with our husbands just like we make our sex life a priority. I feel like it’s easy to see the sexual part of marriage as a priority, but what about the true connection? The connection that we share with their heart and soul, how can we nurture that aspect of intimacy?

1Peter3:7 admonishes the Husband to, “dwell with his wife according to knowledge…” Now even though He is talking to the Husbands here I think we as wives should receive this word as well. I truly love the fact that after my Husband and I got married I came to know him in a different way. I realized that if it we talked about the right things he had plenty to say. I found that even though he wasn’t always loud he would become loud if I told a really funny joke. I learned that when he made certain faces it meant that he was sleepy or irritated. I came to know him in a deeper more intimate way, and I truly cherish that. I love that I can look at him and know what he might be thinking without him ever saying a word. It makes me feel special that I have a more private relationship with him and know that he feels safe enough to be a different, freer person when he’s with me.

The question now becomes how do we create an environment where are Husbands feel safe enough to be like Samson and lay their heads in our lap, and tell us all their secrets? Well the first thing is we must not weary them like Delilah did! Of course I understand what Delilah did and who she was, but it is also important to note that something about her or her talents soothed some part of Samson because he kept coming back to her. Even though he should not have wanted her and should not have trusted her he did, even unto his own demise. Even now so many Men pay women to talk to them and be a companion to them because they crave intimacy so much that their willing to pay for it by the hour! The women who inspired the writer of Proverbs 31 was so good at meeting all of her Husband’s needs that it says He had no need of spoil. Hands raised if you want to be like the Proverbs 31 women, (throws hand in the air)!  We probably all want to be our husband’s safe place, their comfort, their lap where they can tell their deepest secrets.

I believe that there are many ways we can foster this type of intimacy with our Husbands, but here are three things that I think we can put into practice right away. The first thing is by listening to them without judgement or harsh criticisms. We have to allow them to be open with us without attacking them for how they feel or what they might say while sharing with us. I know this is easier said than done, but we can’t expect them to get emotionally naked if we’re going to attack them the minute they become vulnerable.  Second, I feel like we have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable as well. It could be that if we’re willing to be emotionally bare with them that it may encourage the same openness in return. Finally, I think we have to be willing to just focus on being attentive to His needs and just listen, don’t offer advice or take an opportunity to say, “I told you so.” You may not feel the need to go to these lengths in your own marriage to nurture that depth of intimate knowledge of your husband; you may feel like you already have this level of closeness in your marriage. Yet, I would ask you do you stop brushing your teeth because you don’t currently have any cavities? Do you not clean up your house because it’s already clean? Of course not, because you know that anything that you have has to be maintained, and the way you maintain things is by making sure they are well taken care of. If we only tried to encourage health after one became sick we would be being reactive instead of proactive.

Let’s be deliberate and vigilant about improving our relationships and strengthening our marriages. The bible warns us that we must give no opportunity to the devil, (Eph.4:27). Share your thoughts on how we can be more intentional about defending our marriages. If you like what you see be sure to comment, like and follow so you can get my post emailed to you every Mon. Wed. and Fri.  I hope this post helped to start your week off right!