Ask Toi: I recently overheard a song that I used to share with an ex, my current boyfriend thinks I should stop singing it, what should I do?

Nothing.  It’s a song.  There is nothing that your current boyfriend can do with the fact that you have a memory with an ex.  It’s life.  We all have them.  I have them.  The point is to see it as a memory only and keep moving.  As long as you aren’t throwing the song or any memory in his face, he will be okay.  He may just be upset because he feels that another man has shared something he hasn’t.  My thing is that is the way dating works. You will never really share everything with one person.  There is space although small that we all bring in from someone else.  It’s no different from a cologne or perfume smell.  It’s all a memory.  It reminds me of the song by Jill Scott, “Cross my mind.”  In the song she talks about a memory in the form of her ex’s cologne and she attempted to have the next one smell like the last but it stunk.  Everything isn’t for everybody.  It really isn’t. Your boyfriend has memories of other women he just happened to know about one of yours and it stung him a bit.  He will be fine.  Let him know that there is nothing to be worried about and let that be that.

To the part where you should stop singing unless you have a mic or a made up mic and are literally in his face with it, he will deal.  Songs come on.  I know of one of my husbands songs for his ex and I just mention it and move on.  I have songs for my exs and it is what it is.  I don’t sing it like I am attempting to make American Idol but its a memory good or bad and it fades.

Ask Toi: I really want to take a sex break from my husband but how?

This is definitely a first of hearing of such breaks in a marriage.  I don’t know how that will roll over with your husband.  I am sure you have your reasons so you will definitely need to lead the conversations with that.  When I was dating my husband who of course was my boyfriend at the time, I remember wanting to take a break but it was more or less for religious reasons.  As a Preachers Kid or PK I knew sex was wrong and figured this break would refocus us.  He went along with it in the beginning but in the end I was the one who was like hey no I am good let’s start this up.  For my daters, be open to your own sense of what works for you.

When you are married there are so many reasons why this wouldn’t be a good idea unless it’s for health reasons.  I mean you’re married that is supposed to signal life time partner as well as lifetime sexual partner. However its your body and although some folks place the emphasis on women’s bodies belonging to their husband I do not believe in it UNLESS its belonging to both.  Meaning as a woman I should be able to call on sex and request it and get it within reason too and let’s face it, it doesn’t always work out that way in most homes.

Your body and your reasonings will be all you need to talk to your husband. What he may be okay with may not work for all but that won’t matter.  I would say don’t go to talk to your husband with the sex break and make it for some unrealistic amount of time. Men are physical beings and that won’t fly.  If you felt the need for sex breaks this should be something that both he and you are okay with.  If not you will come off to him as someone who wants to control using one of the biggest methods of control that a large amount of women use and that’s sex.  I know women who withhold sex not because of issues but as a way to get their husbands to do whatever it is they want.  Husbands aren’t kids.  If you want a good marriage you need to have open communication and withholding sex signals immaturity to communicate effectively.  However you are a team and if a member of the team needs something it should be heard and validated.  There are a lot of sexless relationships that I would say work but only usually for the one that made it that way. Relationships are give and take and so you must be willing to hear his side of how he feels about this too. Do not get upset when he’s not on board.  I as a woman wouldn’t be but that’s just me.  Allow him time to process it.

You and only you know why, you should deal with your why first because it could be that the sex is a physical sign of something emotional going on. Dealing with the cause is a better fix to what is going on inside of you.  Explore your why a little further.  You may want to do this before speaking to him.

Ask Toi: My cousin came to my home while my husband and I was on a date and my sitter wouldn’t let her in…

Okay you and your husband is on a date. You have a sitter and you are care free. Then an unexpected family memeber comes to the home but no heads up was given to the sitter so she doesn’t allow the cousin to gain access to the home. Cousin calls and wants to know why she can’t stop by and is upset you stand with the sitter.
It sounds like the cousin is going to have to move on. Yes the cousin called after coming but the issue is that the sitter doesn’t know them nor was alerted to their presence. The cousin should have called before she came to begin with. I know some family who likes to pop up and although it’s not my cup of tea to be okay with you get what you get when you pop up. The sitter is there to watch the kids. She shouldn’t have to be subjected to outside people in the home regardless of their relationship unless prior arrangements had been made.

I’m all for family but the cousin needs to accept that she came at an inappropriate time. To be mad and petty about it is just childish. She’s a cousin not a parent and even still people have to respect boundaries when coming to someone’s home. Give her a few days and she will be fine. I can’t see this being a blow up to the point where she no longer comes around. 

I wouldn’t even bring it up unless she does. It’s your home and and she needs to respect your choices.  

Ask Toi: Is it okay to not want to entertain your spouse’s family if the spouse is not home?

Depends on the level of comfort with the spouse’s family. If your relationship is only the type where you go to family functions but don’t really have them over to your home the answer is no. Even if the relationship is good but isn’t close where you would be comfortable in your own home the answer is still no.

If your spouse isn’t home to be buffer between and it will cause you to be uncomfortable than why bother?  No one should be in someone’s home and making them feel uncomfortable where they should be the most at peace. You can’t always control the elements once you leave your front door but you always reserve the right to preserve the climate in your own home.  That’s why even the ones in the home be on the same page let alone others who do not live there to come in with drama, discord, or just to change the atmosphere already created.

The issue with in-laws is simple, even when all things are well you don’t always feel like being “on.” We all have busy lives and trying to juggle life, work, personal well being, date your spouse, love your kids, and balance between both sides of the family is a lot. Hosting your in-laws will not make them like any more either. Do NOT fall into the trap that by doing the most will make them reach out and love on you if the energy to do isn’t coming from both sides.

The fact that you question says you aren’t comfortable so host a dinner etc. when you all can enjoy some time together. Having in laws over can be a place of normal anxiety as is no need to complicate it any further by having a spouse who isn’t there to share in the hosting duties. 

The biggest understanding is that this is not just for in-laws but your family and friends too. A home should be about peace and when the peace doesn’t return to you than stop letting others infratrate your home. 

Ask Toi: How do I handle if a person highlights one child over another one of my children in public? 

I’m trying to understand. If you are talking about in the example of saying maybe how cute or how whatever one child is over another than there’s only one real way of handling it. Build your children up at home. Children only notice differences if they are blatantly outrageous like if someone says one child is cute and then makes a statement that the other(s) aren’t. I would speak up in that instance. However in general I don’t see an issue with strangers saying something about one child over another.  This is my personal stance on it.

I have 3 kids. People stop me to say things to them but generally speak to all of them. My kids are outspoken in that if and when someone speaks to one they make their own point to say hello back especially if they see me engage with a person. Not one time to my knowledge have my kids ever said or shown signs of being intimidated or less confident when interacting in public. They can hold their own. I believe in teaching them they will not be everyone’s cup of tea but that makes no bearing on what they bring to this world and who they are. We teach them to acknowledge how they feel but not to let it dampen their light. Someone saying how cute one child is doesn’t take away the beauty of my other 2 children. We stress how confidence, being true to themselves, and finding out who they are makes them the most beautiful even in a crowded room.

I would suggest the same. Strong people have feelings but they can only be broken by a stranger’s quick interaction if you the parent let it go too far. Take charge in how they are encouraged and loved on at home and they will be quick witted in public.

Ask Toi: We have an open marriage in that we don’t check in with each other but now he’s booking trips without me, what do I do?

This not checking in life for marriage doesn’t settle with me.  Even in the absence of children in a marriage this concept of everyone doing them sounds like polar opposite of what marriage looks like to ME.  This is my opinion.  I think that two individuals can be married to each other and have separate likes and do separate things but not checking in at all or not checking in only in emergencies makes no sense.  It makes me wonder what did you get married for?  A roommate? Live in sex partner?  You can have these things without marriage.  Even single committed people check in from time to time.

I have no idea as to why you and your partner opened this can of worms but this is an example of how it can back fire.  You can have single trips meaning trips you take with friends or a yolo trip of your own without your spouse.  This is healthy when you can do these things and both partners be on the same page.  It sounds like to me whatever arrangements you had are no longer working for you.  I don’t know how many trips your partner has booked but it sounds like you don’t agree with it.  Open marriages are not for everyone even if you take out the sexual part of it.  All marriages are open to what you and the partner involved define it.  Although I have given you what I think you and your partner ultimately make the decisions on what happens and what doesn’t happen.  It sounds like you and your partner need to have a conversation and you need to express how you really view the whole checking in process.  What if you wanted to take your spouse on a trip? I mean it just seems like there are too many variations to this concept.

You should express how you feel.  Talk about what this no checking in concept really should be for you two.  Accept that if there trips booked, that since you once had this open policy that you may not be able to change those trips.  You can talk about a plan going forward but whatever is on the plans with your partner may remain.  I think that you can’t expect your partner to cancel their plans.  I do not think that is fair at all.  If you accepted it then you can talk about a future only plan.  I was always taught not to open a can of worms on what you know for sure you aren’t willing to fully accept.  Like for instance couples who play that go sleep on the couch game.  They may go to that couch a few times until they get sick of it and decide to leave the house altogether.  Both of you are grown no one person can tell another what to do.  However in a marriage it supposed to be about the team.  No one person is dominant over another although women like to think they have this ability.  If you want to see a relationship dwindle treat your spouse like a child and watch it end fast. Talk this one out.  You and your partner has set the bar pretty low on expectations when it comes to communication but its going to take communication and honesty to make this work.  What happens if your partner doesn’t want to change this way of living?  I can’t answer this.  To my readers its been this way for 5 years.  This is a long time to then turn around and change if both of you aren’t on the same page.  Hopefully bending, communicating, and agreeing is still apart of your marriage and this can be worked out.  But be prepared that your partner will not want to change.

To my future couples, don’t ever put something on the table that you aren’t willing to deal with the long-term consequences or reactions of that decision.

Ask Toi: My husband cheated and now wants to go to counseling after months of asking. I don’t want to go now because I feel like it’s after the point. I also don’t want to sit and hear about how sorry he is now when I don’t believe him….

Well first of all let me say how sorry I am that you have been put in this situation.  First of all let me acknowledge that how you feel is real and honest.  I am quite sure that was your rated G version that you expressed.  Cheating is horrible.  It hurt.  It cuts.  The wound that cheating brings is not easily fixable.  My thing is for you is not just not simply not go. I would go ONLY if you really want to.  You may not want to hear the sordid details of what happened.  That may be just how you feel now.  Cheating can and will give you so many emotions at one time and then those emotions will be ever-changing.

I would go just to see what he wants to put on the table.  Him not going before now and now wanting to go means that he believes this will save your marriage.  If you have a good counselor they will let you both know that simply showing up for the sessions will not fix your marriage.  Counseling doesn’t erase pain.  It actually takes the band-aid of your relationship off and makes you look at it.  You can after you do that decide that cheating is a deal breaker.  You may decide that you don’t want your husband back.  Cheating changes the person who does it but also the one holding the emotional bags afterwards.  That’s why usually the one who cheated wants you to hurry up and process this and move on.  It’s easier to say you want to be done with it after you create it.  I will tell you one thing if you can’t get over it and after time has gone by and you still feel the need to bring it up due to real unforgiveness you have to do what you have to do.  We tell women to forgive.  We tell them that they should deal but reality is that NO ONE deserves to be cheated on.  To men it’s simply an act, to women it’s an act of betrayal.  There are relationships that claim they forgive but bring it up all the time because they think they are in the right to do so because they are hurt.  You can forgive and love still and still want to be out of that type of disrespectful relationship.

I can’t say I know his why.  He knows his why and maybe he finds a way to communicate that to you.  I would say what you feel is real.  It’s like having to watch him pour out his heart NOW but didn’t want to do a lot of communicating that could have saved this pain from your life before it began.  It feels as if you are being punished.  Relationships are hard but the one thing you did when you say you are marrying another person is to find a way to be an adult and communicate and if you can’t stay married for the right reasons, speak up to those sentiments.  One thing I can tell you is that counseling can help you heal even if that means healing together is not going to take place.  I pray for your healing.  I pray that you and your husband can get to a better place together even if you don’t end up together. This journey is yours as much as it is his.  Feel what you need to, this too is a part of the process.  NO one can tell you how to go through this.  You will feel alone, angry, hurt, sad, and sometimes at the same time.  You may not even be able to tell those that are closest to you how you feel or what is going on.  Be careful in who you confide in.  Remember that those who you speak to will push you one way or the other.  You hold your own spirit.  It doesn’t matter what others think, you ALONE have to stay in this or leave.  No one will be there to get you through the way you are going to want them to be.  Friends say they will be there but have their own lives.  Do not make a decision based upon what your friends say they would do because when they get it in they have no idea how they will really respond.  Love on yourself.  Regardless of what took place, his cheating was HIS doing.  He alone is wrong and you don’t have to take on HIS cheating as your own. He is grown and made a choice.  This didn’t happen by accident.  He is wrong.