Marriage Goals

Marriage Goals

I am by no means a marriage advice specialist or in anyway have all of the answers to having the best marriage. Hello…I’m divorced and remarried. Not that I’m taking all of the responsibility of what happened previously, but I have learned a lot from that experience. If you’re married, or in any type of long term relationship you know how much hard work has to be put into maintaining that connection. 

I remember before CJ and I got married I said to him “This is hard work. There will come a time where we won’t like each other as much as we do now. There will be times when we don’t even want to deal with each other let alone be around each other.” And he was like “No, I don’t think so.” and I just laughed. Not that we have totally reached a point now where we don’t want to be around each other. He’s in the military and also works a job that is located elsewhere so we often don’t have much time in the first place. But due to the mass amounts of time we spend apart right now there are some communication issues on both of our parts to work through. And you know what? That’s ok.

I used to post a lot of pictures on Facebook. Oh my goodness when we started dating and decided to finally start sharing our relationship with people it was like cuteness overload. I just couldn’t share enough about this wonderful man that God had brought into the life of me and my daughters. But at some point I felt like I was sharing not because I just wanted to share but because I wanted people to see all this happiness I was experiencing. And lots of people were happy and shared in that joy. Particularly people who knew what I had experienced previously. I would even be like “Babe you don’t declare your love for me on FB like ever!” And he would be like “Why does that matter when I show you all the time how much I love you. That really didn’t stick with me much until later on.

Of course we want to, in this social media driven world, show people how great our lives are or share the things that bring us great joy. We want to shout out our friends and family members for their awesomeness. We want our husband’s or significant others to share their love for us and tag us in cute little things. But honestly what’s most important is not what we share online for the world to see but how we actually treat each other, how we communicate with each other, how we care and express love for each other. It’s important to be building a real relationship with a real foundation. And that brought me back to the comment my husband made about how he shows me. That thought made me decide to back away more from those posts, and my expectations of him to post, and prompted me to focus more on us. Especially considering our family dynamic at this time is crazy with his job and us living in two separate locations. 

I have had a few conversations with some married friends. Some haven’t been married that long and others have been married a significant amount of time. When talking to each other the one thing that I found we had in common was the fact that we were all experiencing some version of something in our marriage with our spouses and we thought that we were alone in this struggle.  But we aren’t. No matter what stage of marriage we are in there is someone that is there with us or has been there and they have worked their way through it. Married couples need other married couples. We need each other as examples or goals for us to work towards, keeping in mind that our marriage can’t be exactly like someone else’s marriage because they are different people and we don’t know what they’ve been through to get to where they are today.

But we need each other to talk to, to seek good solid, Christian advice from. We need someone to say to us, “Well, I’m struggling with this. I don’t know how to talk to my wife about this or I don’t know how to communicate my feelings to my husband. Help!” We often get caught up in worrying about being judged or people thinking our marriage is in trouble (and so what if it is….no one’s right to judge that!) that we won’t reach out and say listen I just need someone who gets it or who can help me figure this out. Find you some married friends that are really good roles models and connect with them. Find yourself some people who will say “I don’t know it all but God does and I am going to be in prayer for you guys.” Don’t be afraid to connect with others (not everyone under the sun but people who you can openly trust with your thoughts and fears) and let them help you, with God’s guidance, continuously work on building your marriage.

One thing I am truly grateful for, that I didn’t have before, is my church family. There are so many relationships and marriages at so many different stages that are great examples of how to put in the work. They are testaments to how things have not and will not always be perfect but if you have two willing people open to growing and learning together; open to putting forth the best effort to build a strong marriage that will stand the test of time, then you can really have an awesome marriage made in heaven. But we need others around us to help us get there. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up and embark on that journey with others so that you can really help and bless each other to be able to have the marriage God intended for you to have. 

Judge Much?

Judge Much?

Who judges people? Raise your hand! I’m raising my hand right now too. We all do it in some form or fashion. When we see someone wearing something we deem inappropriate, we judge. Might be all they had to wear-we don’t know their circumstances but we judge anyway. When we see someone with an expensive item and think “Well, they don’t make enough for that.” or “Didn’t they just apply for assistance?” and we make the assumption that they’re spending poorly and that’s why they’re in a financial rut. Not knowing someone blessed them with something that not only could they not afford, but wouldn’t personally buy for themselves. And lastly, the mom judge. When another mom sees another mom doing something or making a decision they disagree with we judge her. We judge how she dresses her kids, what she feeds her kids, how she disciplines her kids….the list is endless.

I’m guilty of it. I have encountered and have people in my life who are single parents. They’ve, at times, had to make the decision to let their child go live with the father. And I’ll be honest I did not get that!!! I’m like I just couldn’t do that. I don’t understand any mother that would allow their child to go live with their father unless they had fallen on hard times or was found unfit.

When I got divorced I can’t tell you the thousands (ok maybe hundreds-I’m being dramatic lol) of times I’ve said that my kids wouldn’t go live with their father unless they asked to. And listen-I was convinced neither of them ever would. Fast foward to March of this year and that’s just what happened. My then 13 year old walks up to me and says “Mommy, I want to go to highschool at daddy’s.” Talk about a hard blow! I can’t explain all the feelings. There were just too many in that moment.

And now she’s gone. I cried weeks before she left and weeks after she left. I still cry and struggle with it. Sometimes daily other days I’m ok and can see that she’s doing well. But whenever I’m out with my other two and people say “Oh two kids. Y’all gonna have a third?” And I respond that we actually have three and she lives with her dad. I get the eyes. You know the eyes. The judgy ones. The ones that are like oh you must be a bad mom. Or you must’ve done something wrong. Dads don’t get that. When you meet a man and he says he has kids and they live with the mom most dads get oh ok that’s great. Moms we don’t really get that type of response and it’s sad.

I have a friend that I reach out to when I’m struggling with this. Both of her kids live with their dad. We had the best conversation the other day because this is hard! And some days the guilt of it is consuming. We wonder what we’ve done wrong. We go back and forth in our minds on ensuring their happiness but also wanting them with us. It’s hard to have your child live somewhere else and you can’t play the once active role you played in their life. The day to day decisions are being made by someone else. So when we tell someone that our kids live else where the last thing we want to feel is judge. We are judging ourselves enough.

The next time we find ourselves in a situation where we’re (in our mind-hopefully not aloud) questioning another mom, questioning her thoughts, her decisions, her actions, her reasoning we should stop and turn that around on ourselves and examine how it makes us feel. We aren’t that mom. We didn’t birth that child. We don’t know half the things about that child that she does. We don’t have the intuition that she does about her children. We don’t love her child more than she does. Trust that the decisions she’s making, although imperfect, are in the best interest of her child. Understand that some of those decisions she’s doubting and praying that they’re the right ones.

Making those hard decisions doesn’t make her a bad mom but a good one because she’s putting the well being and happiness of the child over her own. Judge less and encourage more. Judge less and love more. There’s no manual for this parenting thing and really we’re all just winging it because each child is different. So let’s just celebrate people who are deciding to choose their kids emotional health over what makes them comfortable or look good. I don’t want to look like a good parent. I want to actually be one!

Choose You

Choose You

I’m sitting here today writing this after coming back from an amazing experience in Nashville, TN. I was there for a conference called Business Boutique and I got so much more out of it than what was expected in my reasoning for going. I went alone, which was kind of scary and then kind of liberating. I didn’t have to engage in unwanted or awkward conversations. I could read my book without many interruptions. I walked around and took my time doing things I wanted to do. I didn’t have to worry about anyone else’s thoughts, desires or opinions but my own. I spent a lot of time just being quiet and taking in everything around me.

As I stated in my previous post, I am going to be speaking on and addressing issues of co-dependency I know that I struggle with. One of them being people pleasing. People pleasing is described as follows: “It’s fine to want to please someone you care about, but codependents usually don’t think they have a choice. Saying no causes them anxiety. They go out of their way and sacrifice their own needs to accommodate other people.” I struggle with this a lot. I’m not sure if I have all of my life or if this is something that manifested in me and I never really recognized how much feeling like this clouded my decisions about me. I convince myself that by sometimes just saying “No, I can’t do that.” or “No I can’t be there.” that I will disappoint people and then they will walk away or no longer want a relationship. In my most recent relationships that are newly formed I don’t have this problem as much. I am comfortable saying no but I often find myself feeling bad about that too!

But honestly, disappointing people is a reality. People are not always going to be happy with your response or with you not being able to do the things that they feel they need from you. While it’s important to show up for those you care about and love, your well being and priorities are important too. Sometimes what needs to get done or who needs help may not be on your priority list that day and guess what? That’s ok. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you a responsible one.

The problem I created for myself (especially in friendships) is that once I made myself available to those around me, because I genuinely want to help or be there, it became harder for me to step back and say no. Instead of setting up priorities for me I made everyone, and I mean everyone, a priority over any and everything I needed. Which then lead to doing things out of fear or obligation. Which then lead to being overwhelmed and frustrated and then further lead to other feelings and emotions that I didn’t understand or couldn’t process.

Going to this conference was a big deal because I, for the first time in so many years, walked against my own thoughts and fears. Instead of really focusing on doing something else that I could have been doing for someone else I focused on something that I needed to do for me. I tried to get out of it several times but thank God for a husband that won’t let me quit on me, who won’t let me take the easy way out because it’s comfortable for me.

I know we have all at some point heard that making someone happy is not your job. Making yourself happy is. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness. As many times as I’ve heard this, it was not until this decision on whether to go to this conference was presented that I actually truly understood it. I even said it to my husband when he said “Babe, I just want to make you happy.” and I responded “That’s not your job. It’s mine.” And I love him too much to let the burden of my happiness rest solely on him. It’s for me to figure out and it’s unfair to have him jumping through hoops to try to achieve something that only I can achieve within myself and within my heart.

So every time you think about making a decision that solely rests on making someone happy over doing what is best for you, your life, your family, your priorities remind yourself that if this person’s happiness rests solely on you (which if they love you I’m sure it doesn’t! They want what’s best for you) then your need to re evaluate that relationship and establish different boundaries. It’s ok to choose yourself.