Mature Love

Let’s face it with the wave of reality television society obviously loves drama. We thrive on. We take it in.  We gravitate towards it. In the last 2 years I have taken on a journey to dismiss a lot of the drama in my life in the form of television and media. In addition to that in the last few years I have eliminated drama in my personal life and especially in marriage.

I think about the wonder years of college. Here I had come from this small town and I had recently been holding on to my high school sweetheart. I was so torn on keeping up this relationship but happy to start this new adult life. With limited time I ended one relationship and set out on a journey to find myself. In the midst of finding myself, I found a new relationship. In the beginning I kept telling myself to keep my options open but I fell hard and heavy with this tall glass of water who I later would end up marrying and having a family.  Oh the relationship goals I hear people speak of when I post my beautiful family is encouraging.  It encourages my husband and I to honor each other more and to be the example to ourselves and children.

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Let me dip my baby toe into the early years when we weren’t as gracious in relating to one another as we should. The drama and fights and break ups to make up were really out-of-pocket. My college years were filled with too much of it.  Our friends God bless their hearts had seen their fair share. From me moving off campus, to not being able to go down the street without a fight, goodness. Yes not anything physical but all that ratchet yelling could have made a lot of this reality television look like Elmo’s World. We were in love and I will speak for me unable to handle and know what adult love was supposed to look like. The cursing each other out, seeing or attempting to see other folks (depending on who you ask), acting a fool in public, breaking up and making up and not telling others, just exhausting to write let alone live. Back in the day it seemed like a whirlwind. It seemed normal. Everyone on campus knew we were toxic and out-of-pocket. Just a mess!

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Separating and allowing space and time and for me to honestly deal with some inner struggles led us back to each other. People think we just woke up one day and decided to give this thing called love a try. We were tested in that love several times almost ending our marriage. What turned things around from college and marriage was living and learning about myself. Finding out what worked for me. I found out my passions. I had learned to live with myself enough to not allow someone else to come into my space that wouldn’t allow me to be me. This allowance has come up several times in our current marriage. The ability to let your partner balance their lives with you is necessary. One day in our car we were at the point of divorce, he looked at me and said, “are we in or out?” He said if we are in lets stick together and make it and if we are out, lets find a way to be honorable with our children.  He looked me in my eyes and I knew he wasn’t playing.

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We at that moment lived by our mantra” us against the world.” We had stated that mantra in college but it solidified with me and him that day. That was at least 2 years into our marriage. There are no cute pictures you can take when two people have kids and are literally walking around like hateful roommates. What picture can you show when you are at the point of no return?  what picture can you show when you have enough and only doing the bare minimal?  So I always go back to the picture below.  When we were happy and made the decision to love each other forever. The time where we were so in love that nothing before that mattered and now nothing after should be to the point where we can’t work together.  We are willing to be with one another and this picture reminds me to take a mental break, wait for an answer, love despite of, and go back to the basics of what makes us, us!

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We don’t have the answers. We live each day but we know what works for us. We were friends first. We have “truth moments.” We give each safe space to be vulnerable.  We are learning to listen and talk to and not at each other. These are things that we learned in counseling the first months of our first year! I stepped out what we should be in our marriage and looked at the value of what we are able to make and hold on to when disaster hits. We are stronger together because we still want to be teammates in this thing called life.  As holidays like Valentine’s Day comes we love love or at least I who loves all holidays love these and any love related holidays, but to know that we are working through things and have matured beyond the college days is a miracle of staying the course! I want to leave a highlight with you, don’t think you have to struggle to get to this great point. If you can avoid it, please do so. Know yourself before you enter any relationship. The best thing is to work on you, get counseling before considering dating because uniting with a person can be a trigger in itself, and be clear about boundaries.  I am not glorifying bad behavior.  You can have healthy love. I am glad that we did the work to get to where we are. Nobody wants that perfect love story, but our love story is perfectly fitting for us!

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Ask Toi: What do I do with an ex that won’t stop contacting me?

Ex boyfriend and ex girlfriends can vary from easy-going to super annoying. I would suggest if the communication is unwanted tell him/her.  Direct communication from your part in order to get direct no contact should work. However if your ex is the type that doesn’t take no for an answer, than block them. I think adults should be able to say hey I moved on and so should you, but if that doesn’t work you can’t stop them from calling but you can control what you answer.

One you block an ex, leave them blocked. It doesn’t always work out.  My husband was an ex at one point but I wouldn’t suggest people going to their ex just because it happened to work out for me. There was space and time between us to work ourselves out. However the mere fact that you don’t want contact means you need to close the door altogether.  If for some strange reason, you find your ex, blocking their number to contact you, or making a page on social media to follow you, please note that you may need to reinforce the I am not interested in anything anymore. If need be for safety reasons, police contact. It would be nice to think that just like back in the day where you could break up, be mad, call your girls for a night of fun, or call your boys for a night out and move on. There have been a lot of violence towards men and women during the break up phase. It doesn’t mean it will happen every time, but you have to be able to make safety your number on goal. Be an adult!

Also there has been times when I have had to get a male family member or friend to step in to assist. Whatever you do be sure to close the door. IF you really are done, be consistent in ignoring messages. Do not play the games when your mouth says you’re not, but your actions say something different. Say what you mean and mean what you say. It’s never a good thing to have to end it, and even in times when you feel like you have to be with this person, do what’s best for you. End it if you are done, and make an attempt to work it out if you can. Note that not all situations will be saved. You may always have much love for an ex but your lives just aren’t meant to be. That is okay. Speak authentically to your previous partner and voice your desires, to be left alone. If you find yourself and you are reading this to be on the other side where your previous partner has asked for space or has told you they aren’t interested, leave them alone.  Ain’t nobody got time to convince you to respect folks’ space.

 

Operating In Offense

So today I was reminded of what it looks like to operate in offense. Operating in offense is when you are so offended by someone or something that you can’t hear what others are saying to you. You are snippy, rude, loud and angry. Not one thing is heard from that moment. You aren’t willing to see someone else because you have taken the focus off of the issue and made it about self.  This is a self-righteous stance. There is nothing that will be gained walking in offense.  The world is really walking in offense. A lot of it is real and some of it comes from a deep seeded place that needs to be healed.

Now I wasn’t the person operating in offense today but I was able to see the old me through the eyes of the other person’s offense. Like many who have attempted to speak to me in moments of rage, anger, etc. in the past,  I saw what its like talking to a wounded person. You can’t heal that situation or person until you deal with their pain. Period. I don’t care how many cute quotes, speeches, etc. you give, they aren’t going to listen. I think about some of my past hurt prior to counseling and I seen how extremely closed off I was. Not willing to hear a person because all I kept focusing on  was myself.  Today I was hit with that same reality. I was humbled and blessed to see that for one I had real growth. The old me would have dipped into offense and gave folks a run for their money. My mouth is for sure a sword. I know this about me and with that mindset I do all I can to check myself first before handing out a 2 piece!  I listened to them and saw them for their pain and gifted them grace.  Isn’t it funny how you will confront yourself in another form down the line?

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I gave the person the grace that wasn’t extended to me. This is probably the part that I struggle with the most. Not giving of grace, because my life is a grace walk, but knowing that lack of maturity didn’t allow or wont allow people to see my past issues as simply me walking in offense. My ability to see myself works wonders for me NOW.  My biggest challenge is feeling like I have to apologize a thousand times and do emotional backflips for folks to see growth. I have now come or am coming to peace with the notion that after you take a step back some folks won’t see you for your growth because they never wanted to see you grow in the first place. They saw the offense and used it to get off their chest what they had in them the whole time.  As I watched the situation unfold this morning and while I stayed calm I just said let me gift this grace. Let me not get offended at their offense. Let me let time, maturity, and step back. It will be fixed eventually. We all have to check ourselves and walk without sometimes getting the apology that we think we need or want. I couldn’t get through to the person this morning.  I probably wont for some time. I can’t do anything past their offense. That is a hard pill to swallow but such is life.  Eventually I pray they have their moment like I had to have mine. Hurt people or offended people can’t operate with your best interest in mind until they deal with their issues.  It doesn’t matter how old or young, how smart, etc. We all have a responsibility to do our daily work and check ourselves.

My message for anyone  who is  walking in offense, you will not grow and heal until you deal with you. I could give you a virtual high-five over your offense. You could be like YASSSS SIS I was right to be offended. I did that to and justified my responses, but the truth is that the offense was there to help you grow. It wasn’t so you could prove anything. It was there to make you whole. Once you tap into that you really will have deep seeded change.

 

I know this sounds super deep on Wednesday when you were just grateful for simply surviving your week but it is a necessary nugget. Sometime you are fighting a person and its like punching air. You are attempting to get through to someone who isn’t ready to receive because they cant get past their offense or even their general disdain of you to keep it real. This is across ALL relationships. Even romantic ones. If you and your boo is always up in arms its because instead of hearing you are defending your offense. You are coming to the table of communication with your guard up so high nothing is reaching past this imaginary wall of offense. That’s what happened today. (FYI I am not talking about my husband) That wall was so high it would have taken Olympic size strides to overpower it.

Today was interesting to say the least especially since it’s not even noon but remember when you head is on right, your at peace in your life, its not just so you can be in a peace bubble.  You will see you and either be grateful for change or have to say ouch and be the change. To the person I encountered today that was and is walking in offense, I pray that you have your moment of inner clarity. I wish you the best as my peace remains!

Ask Toi: My Husband Says I Mother Him, How do I stop this behavior?

You will only stop what you accept is  bad behavior. Your husband can tell you that you are mothering him but if you make excuses, it won’t change. You are not his mother but is wife. You can’t expect this man to be a partner to you and “man” up if you are the one calling the shots.  What if he at the end of the day isn’t the man for you. Maybe you thought you could force him into what you wanted him to be. You know this happens the second you leave him, they find the one who has mastered their influence without calling the shots. Your man needs influence, not a parent.

Now from your email let’s dive into a few of your reasons for “mothering” your husband:

  • He doesn’t know how to do things
  • He’s always forgetful
  • He acts like a child
  • He needs me to tell him what to do

How did you knowing all of the above things marry this man and then expect him to all of a sudden be this man you needed him to be. Let’s break down each excuse for you.

  • He doesn’t know how to do things

This could be from running a home, to paying bills. This is called skill sets. The best way to empower your man is to encourage him to get the skill sets that he lacks. This doesn’t need to be in the form of like you said yelling at him, berating him, or telling him how he can’t do something. He is his mother’s child, not yours. You do not need to do any of that and expect him to respect you for not respecting him. All men don’t come with the same lessons learned in life. If you were honest with yourself this is more about you than him. It’s not your job to raise him. He is not a project. You should have encouraged him prior to marriage to get certain skills necessary for the home you wanted. If he wasn’t able to run a household, does he have uncles, or other male friends that can mentor him? Did you go to counseling where you could have respectfully spoken about these things you saw?  If so did you give him space to correct it? If space was given and you saw he wasn’t progressing why did you marry him?  The fact that he’s bringing up you mothering him is that he is tired of it.  No man wants to feel like his wife is raising him. He may know he lacks certain skills but he doesn’t want to be yelled at them for them. Either encourage him to obtain the skills or y’all need to have a conversation. Imma have to be real, there is a woman who can speak to these places that he lacks and will have him get it together that won’t include berating him, calling him stupid (as you have said you constantly do), or yelling. Ask a child who gets yelled at all the time, it doesn’t bring out the best in them. I know you thought love would make him change, but sis it ain’t and it won’t!

  • He’s always forgetful

Okay, so are a million other folks in the world. What he is going through isn’t uncommon. I am forgetful at times. It irritates my husband to no end.  He has never tried to be my father or disrespect me over this. I think to be honest that you have lost respect for him since its taking him to long to get it together and you need to be honest with yourself about it. I talked to several men before giving you this advice and none of them have thought that your behavior will trigger him to be more mindful.  They all along with me agreed it would make him do the opposite. I don’t care how long you have been together you both have to change or accept its no longer working for you both. He may not need to be in a marriage not just because you keep yelling or treating him like a child but because he may not need to be in a marriage until he figures out what he wants from life.

  • He acts like a child

I don’t know what will make him be more of a man but I am sure he was like this prior to marriage. I am quite sure you thought you could fix it and it’s not being fixed. The main things is does he take care of his home.? Does he work and contribute to the bills? Does he take care of you? If his childish ways which could be about him just being more relaxed than you in your high-strung (your words not mine) behavior is that you may not be equally yoked. You may be too serious to match his ways of enjoying life. Or maybe he’s more childish than you wanted and end of the day if he’s not changing, mothering him won’t change him into what you wanted him to be. How can you think negative reinforcements will make him more positive?

  • He needs me to tell him what to do

Does he really? Or has he gotten used to you telling him what to do?  This matters. I can’t tell you how your relationship should progress but I can tell you that what you are doing he’s not liking it. If he was writing me I would tell him to talk to you about it and if you don’t change and counseling won’t work so he can tell you to stop in a forum where you won’t get offended, then he needs to decide if he can stay with you AND like this for the rest of your marriage. I am telling you the same. You have the power to change your approach. You have to ask yourself if he never changes his ways, and you don’t, do you think that both of you can walk in marriage and be joyful with it the way you coexist now? Can he if he’s already said he doesn’t like how you treat him walk in the love and honor of you for the rest of the marriage? We are talking to death do you both part? Can he be with someone who constantly puts him down forever? To keep it real, he shouldn’t. I know you didn’t want that answer but its true. Can you be with someone you have to mother forever? Nope and you shouldn’t have to.  Somebody has to put it on the table. You change and he changes and you can meet. Or find out neither one of you can change and won’t change and go your separate ways.

If you both can’t take the time to work on yourselves together and apart than you can’t stay like this. Think about if this was your friend who said her husband was feeling this way, would you encourage her to stop? I would hope you would. If she said but….you know right well it can’t continue like this. NO ONE wants to be in the situation you both have made. You both had made excuses as to why it needs to be this way but you both forget one important part:

Marriage should be a contract that both parties are getting their needs met. No marriage should feel like they aren’t being supported or feel loved. No one can feel loved where on party is controlling. I know you were saying that you feel like you do control. This whole happy wife, happy life doesn’t mean the wife can say or do and make commands and if that husband wants to be happy he should go along with whatever you say or do. Happy wife, happy life should start with a wife that comes in the situation already happy. She should be happy in her own skin. You have said you aren’t. Maybe you are taking on your husband as a project because you need to find something fulfilling for yourself. If you aren’t getting from him the things that should be making you better, you both are already losing. Relationships and power couples isn’t about money. It’s about having a partner that makes you find the joy in life. He makes you want to achieve more in life and vice versa. If he’s being beat at home mentally and emotionally and vice versa since in essence you are beating yourself trying to whip him in line too, this is a sure way to lose. You both need to count up the cost. Do you want to be in a marriage together? Marriage is about partnership not dictatorship. If his momma couldn’t raise him, neither will you.

I am never stating a couple should break up. I am saying you both need a reality check. There is no way love can grow in a hostile environment. Being yelled at and treated like a child is not good to foster this manhood you want from him. I actually am glad you don’t have kids. If this is how you would treat a child, you will need parenting classes too. No child would want to feel loved just for the sake of you yelling. You wouldn’t speak to kids this way but yet you do it your husband and expect a change? Speak to him better or realize you can’t due to his lack and do something about you. You are only responsible for your actions. If you spent more time on what you needed to do instead of his lack you might find your answers. If he is left alone and things fall, let it be because he allowed them to fall. It’s not your job to catch him in all things. Some of this manhood walk you want him to walk in will happen when things slip. Even as a parent some things I allow my kids to fall in with my guidance so they can learn.  It’s not my job to make them perfect. It’s not your job to make your husband perfect.

You can stop by:

  • When you feel yourself about to yell, walk away. Be quiet. This is going to be hard but you can do it
  • Only interject if he comes to you-again hard but you have to do it
  • Talk to him and not at him-you can better results from a sweet answer than a bitter one
  • Let him fall a few times. Protect the things that are yours alone but let him slip up a few times and he will get it
  • Encourage him when he does great things. Turn this negative talk into positive ones
  • Find ways to be a couple again. I would do a few things he likes to do in return he will want to do some of the things you want
  • Find your internal happiness
  • Find your passion. Passions in life brings out the best in all of us. When I was a stay at home mom, complaining about every little thing, I eventually found my passions. I didn’t have time to worry about another adult
  • Keep in mind he’s your husband and not your child. With another adult you speak twice. Tell him how you feel, if he disregards it twice, do what you need for you. Don’t tell him what to do. If he can’t be led by you speaking to him in love, that’s more of the issue than him simply not doing whatever it is you want him to do
  • Personal counseling for you. You need someone to speak to you about healthy boundaries. You have none right now. Even if you think it’s for his good. Your power stops at the end of your nose. You have to be willing to understand that and stop trying to fix him. Healthy boundaries and healthy conversations.

Just because you both have created this environment doesn’t make it right. I know plenty of counselors that could tell you the next level of steps. When that man gets sick and tired of you he will show you. However you been sick and tired of his ways too. Either find a way to respectfully bring out of him what you need and vice versa or what is the point? Why lay down to the person you low-key don’t even like or respect?  Respect isn’t about doing what’s right for the other person alone. It’s about looking at my partner even on the days they get on your last nerves and saying I want what’s best. What’s best for my partner isn’t even what I want for them but what they need from you. We can’t keep loving others our way. They need what they need and how they need it. You may need to find that out. Can you both love and give love the way you both need it and lay down this pretense of what you are going to give. Love is about give and take without compromising yourselves. You both have a lot of areas to grow. Its going to take active work. Oh and I know some folks once their partner tells them they don’t like something go into the “oh he don’t want me to talk to him like this, I’m not going to say anything at all to him.” This is wrong. This is passive aggressive.

LOVE IS… being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of others without impatience or anger.
LOVE IS… actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward another while looking for ways to encourage and praise.
LOVE IS… making a daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.
LOVE IS… being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding.
LOVE IS… being more committed to unity and understanding than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.
LOVE IS… a making a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.
LOVE IS… being willing, when confronted by another, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.
LOVE IS… making a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to another is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.
LOVE IS… being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged, but looking for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.
LOVE IS… being a good student of another, looking for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support them as they carry it, or encourage them along the way.
LOVE IS… being willing to invest the time necessary to discuss, examine, and understand the relational problems you face, staying on task until the problem is removed or you have agreed upon a strategy of response.
LOVE IS… being willing to always ask for forgiveness and always being committed to grant forgiveness when it is requested.
LOVE IS… recognizing the high value of trust in a relationship and being faithful to your promises and true to your word.
LOVE IS… speaking kindly and gently, even in moments of disagreement, refusing to attack the other person’s character or assault their intelligence.
LOVE IS… being unwilling to flatter, lie, manipulate, or deceive in any way in order to co-opt the other person into giving you what you want or doing something your way.
LOVE IS… being unwilling to ask another person to be the source of your identity, meaning, and purpose, or inner sense of well-being, while refusing to be the source of theirs.
LOVE IS… the willingness to have less free time, less sleep, and a busier schedule in order to be faithful to what God has called you to be and to do as a spouse, parent, neighbor, etc.
LOVE IS… a commitment to say no to selfish instincts and to do everything that is within your ability to promote real unity, functional understanding, and active love in your relationships.
LOVE IS… staying faithful to your commitment to treat another with appreciation, respect, and grace, even in moments when the other person doesn’t seem deserving or is unwilling to reciprocate.
LOVE IS… the willingness to make regular and costly sacrifices for the sake of a relationship without asking for anything in return or using your sacrifices to place the other person in your debt.
LOVE IS… being unwilling to make any personal decision or choice that would harm a relationship, hurt the other person, or weaken the bond of trust between you.
LOVE IS… refusing to be self-focused or demanding, but instead looking for specific ways to serve, support, and encourage, even when you are busy or tired.
LOVE IS… daily admitting to yourself, the other person, and God that you are unable to be driven by a cruciform love without God’s protecting, providing, forgiving, rescuing, and delivering grace.

Ask Toi: How Do You Deal with Being Uncomfortable Bumping Into Someone you Dated?

This encounter no matter how brief is always uncomfortable. I think its always in good gesture to if you can’t avoid seeing them to be gracious. If you don’t want to get into any heavy conversation to control the conversation and exit as soon as possible.

Also keep in mind the level of relationship. Dating someone may not necessarily mean that you were in a committed relationship. If that is the case, you may not have built up a strong enough relationship and that in itself can take the sting of the encounter down a bit. If this is someone you were in a committed relationship and they are an ex, it could get sticky. No matter who is at fault for ending things, you should remain calm, smile and again control the conversation. It’s perfectly fine to not have “time” to talk. This casual encounter should never to air out greivances unless both parties want to. It should be casual. If you see an ex or even someone you dated that caused you grief and you can’t be mature about it due to an issue that took place during your encounter together, its best to let them know that you would prefer that you keep it on a hi or a bye and then keep it moving.

Always know you are in control. Seeing someone that you haven’t seen may bring a plethora of feelings back but you are in control in how those feelings are managed. I have a few ex boyfriends and every time I control the tempo of the conversation and know that I am in control. I always remember that so when I don’t want to hear the mess that I left in the first place, I just roll. Now its easier since my kids are with me all the time. I have run into a few inside of a grocery store, and my kids are an automatic get out of a conversation card with just about anyone to be honest. With kids or no kids, you don’t owe anyone more time than your willing to give. Also know the encounter is going to linger inside of your head especially if very little conversation is had. I always hit the ex boyfriends with the basic, hey how are? How is your family? Let them ask me and then say it was nice to see you and roll. That’s really all it takes. Anything else and that means you wanted the conversation to linger. Turn the uncomfortable into a workable situation for you.

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Also they may attempt to not see you in that case, you won. If they see you and decide to not have a conversation which is possible too, keep moving. Do not I repeat make the situation more uncomfortable. This goes for folks in a fresh breakup-give that person the space they and you need! Get out!

Ask Toi: Follow up To the Wife who’s Husband’s Mother paid him to leave her

So this was a suggestion from a reader to find out what happened to the couple whose mother paid the husband to leave his wife and he took the money:

If you didn’t get a chance to read the original article, get it here

The update is that they are happily divorced. They hadn’t been married that long and the mother in law was an issue throughout the relationship. The wife once she knew that he had taken the money, stayed about 6 months so she could save money to move out. She moved out and filed for divorced the same day. She is currently not dating but in school and focusing on what she wants to do. She stated that leaving was the  hardest yet best decision she could have made. She knew that her mother in law was messy but not that messy. She said that the part that hurt the most was that he took the money stating he was going to use the money for them to buy a house together.

I asked her about any red flags and she stated the following:

The mother in law definitely had a vote in what the couple did. The husband would talk to the mother in law every time an argument or disagreement was had. She also noticed that the son had been giving the mother in law large amounts of money and would be late paying bills. The mother in law was always told and then the money was borrowed back. She also noticed that the mother in law spent all of her time at the couple’s home. She would insist she needed to see her son daily. Anytime she would assert herself in her own home, the mother in law would tell the son that she was being disrespectful towards her.

I think this was by far the worst of a mother in law story I have heard to date. I have never personally experienced anything so horrible. I will say that a marriage needs to be about the husband and wife and not letting everyone in.  No one has more of a vote than the two individuals that made the covenant. Being balanced is knowing when to vent and when to learn to heal and deal with your spouse. I have always said be careful of the information that you give to others about your relationship. You will get over things quicker than the outsider. Mother in-laws should always be respected and so should wives. There should be attempts to resolve issues where both can be honored. However if a mother is disrespecting your wife you should speak up.

I am so sorry that you had to go through that but when people show you who you are its wise to believe them. I wish you much success in school and that you continue to develop into the woman you are meant to be.  It sounds like you really weren’t going to win in this situation. If divorce was for you and you’re happy I wish you much more happiness in all that you do. There is someone who is going to be on the same page of life and relationship when you get to that point of wanting to get back out and date. In the mean time, study hard and enjoy!

National Family Day

Families are wonderful to be involved in. Families don’t have to be the set parents and siblings that we think they should be.  Family dynamics change all the time. What is important for any family structure is love being in the center. Being in a family and being in close proximity is the fact that there are times when you will be irritated, hurt, or angry with a family member.   How you pick up the pieces is what defines what family means to you.

No One Wins when the Family Feuds

I have been in arguments with family members.  It’s a part of life. Not all family members mesh well. If you are blood related just because you are angry won’t change that you are family.  The issue sometimes comes from when you aren’t.  Not all step families are super welcoming.  Shoot, blood members act fun too so let’s be super clear.  Families feud. I am not just talking about a fight over who is making the mac and cheese for the holiday dinner, I am talking about the types of fighting that would make Love and Hip Hop blush.  Family members can be super messy.  It would be super nice if you’re able to dust yourself off from family spats and pick up as if none of the issues ever happened. People are left bruised and battered by family members and its hard to navigate yourself back into the fold.  The reality time is the biggest thing that you lose when family members fight. You don’t get that time back.  You could be interacting and enjoying one another’s company but a rift can be super damaging. I encourage everyone to attempt to make peace with those that you can. Be aware there are times that even with the best intentions, some folks run out of chances and distance may be the best solution. Learn to wish folks well and don’t speak ill will towards them.

Family Breaks

Some folks opt to take a break or a breather. Some opt to break away altogether and wipe their hands clean.  This is a personal decision. Kids don’t get to know members of the family and the family use the kids to bring the adults back.  There are times if we are honest that some family members are super toxic. Bringing a kid into toxicity if you can avoid it, please do.  It’s one thing to simply not deal with a Family member but to know that if you left your child in a room with a person that all that venom inside of them would spew on a child, those types of things you disconnect from.  I would personally never allow my children around any side of the family if I thought that would be the case.  Why would I as a parent set up my kids who can’t defend themselves around that?  Why would I as an adult want to be around that? If you need a break, take a break.  If you break completely than at least make sure that if you talked it out, you said all that needed to be said. If you can say to yourself I mean whomever no harm and if something happened to them you would be of a clear conscience than so be it. If you can’t there’s work to be done to hopefully reconcile. Toxic situations we should all strive to remove ourselves from them. So no you don’t go around violence, abuse, etc in the name of nobody family or not.  Let’s not ever do that!

two women with man hugging by the sea

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Marriage Anyone?

Once you get married, you leave your original family structure and become your own unit.  This doesn’t wait until kids are in the midst.  A husband and wife are their own family now.  As tight as a family can be, if you are getting married be prepared to leave your original and cleave to your spouse, this is your new family. You will always be connected to both of your original family but you shouldn’t be at the point where you can’t find health boundaries in how you interact. Marriages have been in shambles because if the original family has the presence made known in the couple’s lives and then dictates their every move, animosity sets in. You should be able to do things as your new structure like vacation, go on date nights, have fun between both sets of family members etc without your original family having to sign off.  I know of couples who were lets say for argument’s sake, the bride only deals with the brides’ side. This is not cool.  Find a way to fuse both sides.  Start your marriage where the couple make decisions together and find ways of agreeing and learn to keep family as a focus but keep them out of your union.  This means stop running your mouth every time something happens and then get mad when the family is mad at your spouse. Your husband shouldn’t feel like you still need your parents or family to agree on decisions and vice versa. You married into, you didn’t marry the individual bonus members of each other’s new family. Make sure your marriage is strong and have fun and do things with each side. No one side should dominate anything. If you aren’t mature to do that, I would advise not getting married.

Now What? Framily?

If you say, but ToiTime I took a break, I walked away from some folks, I keep folks out of my business but continued to enjoy the ones that were willing, but there is a void and I need it filled and my family is just too much.  I would say, look in your inner circle. I always believe we truly do not lose, there is fulfillment with framily. Framily are friends who become family. This doesn’t mean you don’t have family. This doesn’t mean you do more for your friends than your family. The flip to that is too, family will say you are doing too much for your framily but forget the times they weren’t there and a friend had to step in.  This is so real! I have had friends jump quicker than my family members.  This didn’t take away from my family, it meant that who was supposed to be there for me at that time. If there is a pattern of family not being involved, a conversation needs to be had. I would say, if a family member is mad at a friend for stepping in, to the family member ask yourself how often have you stepped in.  Even if the family member in question shuts you out, how often did you pick up the phone, check in, etc?  I was always taught than regardless of how another person acts that you have to be willing to try. So for me that means, I will call when no one answers. I have sent cards to family members and never got a thank you. I sent gifts and never got a thank you, but my heart is clear knowing one I didn’t do it for the recognition and two I have done all I could and if they are okay with doing nothing on their side, I am okay waiting for them to reach out and my reach may temporarily stop.

five women laughing

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Family I don’t Deal with

Even with all of this wisdom basically from being burned by folks over the years, having my family aka my parents teach me how to handle bad situations there are still family members that I haven’t seen, talked to, or associated with in years.  I will never go into the why especially on an open forum. Regardless of what may have said or done I only can own my part in it and say that anything said I meant and I take full responsibility for my actions.  I take full responsibility because I can never blame a person for what came out of my mouth or what was done.  I don’t live my life waiting to play the blame game.  Those situations were unfortunate but it revealed things about me mostly.  It revealed how easily upset I was.  It revealed parts about things that I thought I had healed and discovered I wasn’t truly healed. So it allowed me to go back into counseling to deal with them.  Its been enough years that whatever sting or grudge I carried and carried it well then is NO LONGER an issue now.  The distance and quietness and simply my own refusal to be apart of the equation was what I needed. It had nothing to do with being mad.  I never want to give anyone the opportunity to ruffle me to the point where I am not in control of my own emotions and responses. However what I am learning is that removing myself and dealing with only me allowed me peace and it made me deal with the negative things that the very family members brought up.  There was truth to the things said so I owned it.  There was lies and misjudgments too. Now that I have owned it no one can roll up and say “but you aint..”My response would be simply, you were right on a few things but now I am good should I ever see them again.  Will I ever see them?  I am sure I will! Am I looking for an apology? Nope I gave myself permission to forgive them and me without getting one.  I dropped the charges at least a year after the big blow up.  Should I have done it sooner? Maybe but I wasn’t ready!  I needed that time to live in that and it forever changed how I operate as a person.

The Incredible Storr 5

What I love about my little family now is that we apologize.  Especially my husband and I towards each other, and with and to our kids. I learned a lot from them as a whole. We get to see the good and the bad sides of each other but we also see each other daily striving to be our best version.  There are a lot of people who would love my portion and I am grateful everyday that we wake up together and get to try to get it right!

My husband and I come from good families.  They aren’t perfect either but we have made up in our house that we will always be a family that keeps the drama to a bare minimal, we keep space in our home and keep peace, we allow our kids to be around same like-minded families, we have fun, we serve and love God, and we try our best even when it looks like we are failing to get it right!  We will always protect the 5 in that home at all cost and that’s from a mental, emotional, and physical standpoint. I have seen my husband take stands with others concerning me and I do the same for him.  And you can pretty much forget it if you think the 3 littles in our home will be in the middle of some mess.  Like Jay’Z said:

“And I don´t have to worry, only worry is him
She do anything necessary for him
And I do anything necessary for her
So don´t let the necessary occur, yep!”

jayz