Ask Toi: Is it Right that my Boyfriend of 3 years Family Didn’t Invite me to His Birthday Dinner?

Yes this is wrong.  You are not a random girl that he has been dating.  3 years is more than enough time for them to have included you in a birthday dinner.  I would talk with your boyfriend as he knows his family more than you would as to the snub.  Was it assumed you would be there therefore no formal invite took place?  When I was dating my husband they just told me where it was going to be since I was a fixture in his life it wasn’t a discussion of if but when.

How is the relationship with the family?  What underlying issues are happening that you are aware of?  Sometimes we not there is salt in a wound and if given an oppportunity would snub them just the same.  If that is the case and you want to be included than you have to sit down and have a talk with whomever is the matriarch or patriarch of the family and iron out some differences.  However if your boyfriend has any sense than he has already spoken on your behalf. My personal rule is to always allow the person whose family it is to talk it out at first.  I am hoping it was just an assumption.  How did you hear about the party?  This is key too.  If his mom told you but sent no formal invite by mail then its safe to say you just need to go and celebrate your man.  Is it a surprise? Then speak again to whomever is throwing the party and go from there.  Sometimes taking the first step in communication will be beneficial.

5 years of Marriage: Day #1 Dating woes 1999 Style

I want to introduce this week’s guest for the blog and that is none other than my husband Marques. We are going to take you back to the first times, the good times, the bad times and the intense times as we celebrate one whole hand of marriage.

Dating is a beautiful thing. It lets you know if you have what it takes to make it. We definitely know what that’s like. Dating in 1999 and then separating and coming back together with a child in tow, getting engaged, second baby on the way, moving in together with his mom, getting married, having a 3rd baby, moving out and the big D (divorce) all in the middle, no wonder we made it. It’s no secret to love. It’s hard work and for us, unconventional. We have bruises and scars but we pressing.

How did we meet?

In August 1999 Marques was coming out of the Shields Building, at Pennsylvania State University and I was going into the building.  We were introduced by our mentor at the time and I was with my roommate who happened to have the same name. Marques made a joke about our names and made me laugh.  Laughter was probably one of my first memories of him. Marques was witty and definitely caught my eye physically.

Marques: She was cute. Well a little more than cute and we were introduced by our mentor. I went home and called my best friend and told him that I would look her name up on campus.  I knew I would see her on campus since we were in the same scholarship program.  I told her at some point that she was going to be my main chick.

Latoi: I was clear that there would be no main anything. I was either one and only or nothing.

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First Date

We went out parents weekend. It’s a big time on campus where parents came and see the progress that their kids were making.

Latoi: Now let me back up to how the date was being prepared.  My parents and I had an interesting day. My cousin was in a fraternity so we stopped by their apartment and my dad about had an entire dad attack. I had the shortest mini dress on so I can understand why my dad wasn’t feeling the attention he saw me getting. Being a PK aka a preacher’s kid doesn’t allow for you to have your own identity. I asked my mom to do my hair. She did. She thought she was doing my hair so I could be “right” on campus but I was trying to get right for Marques.

Now here’s where it gets tricky and especially since we met in 1999 dates seem to fuse themselves together. I say our first date was the movies he says it was Red Lobster.  The one thing we agree on is he was late. Wasn’t no Bey biscuit situation going on at that time either.

Marques: I was late since I had been with my mom earlier and time went over. I borrowed my moms car and came to get her but I admit I was late. Another thing we agree on is that we were both nervous. We were good friends and did the whole talking on the phone for hours at a time. There was definitely a comfortable feeling but since we met within the scholarship program only our closest few friends knew we were going on a date.

Official 

We became official in January but not without our share of drama or I should say mine (Toi). I felt at the time I was under pressure from myself to maintain this picture of a perfect child that often times when asked by my parents I would lie about dating Marques. I lied so much about the relationship that it spiraled out of control and I was caught between lying on the intensity of our relationship or being transparent and I choose to hide.

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I didn’t think the relationship was able to survive it but it did and in January we were officially a couple. It wasn’t peaches and cream but we made it through. It was the first of many trials that would touch our relationship.

First Year of Dating

Marques: In the first year of dating it was the perfect honeymoon. It was the most fun that I had. We did everything together. Latoi was the perfect blend to my life until she chose her family over me.  I was hurt, disappointed and upset.

Latoi: Our first year of dating was intense. It was the first adult relationship I had. He was my first in all aspects and that dynamic alone and trying to figure out my first years away became problematic. I learned early on that if Marques and I was going to work I had to let my guard down of who I was and fuse that to who I had become and be okay with the fall out either way.

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Redemption 

Marques: Latoi called me and apologized. I was willing to talk and work it out.  Latoi invited me to come down and spend time with her family and we attended several churches. Although it wasn’t about the services, it was more of going public and setting the tone that we wanted to go the distance.

Latoi: I really didn’t want him to attend church with me on the basis of it making things better.  I was changing and knew how my church family was and knew that he could have preached in those churches and it still would have been a thing. Everything at the time was about appearances and not being real. I learned not to let other’s opinions change who I had chosen to love. From then on I enjoyed my relationship and let us have our own issues without everyone’s hand in it.

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Even thinking about the first years of dating, it would be a piece of cake compared to our first year of marriage….

Learn From All This Usher Mess

I’ve seen some pretty good memes from all the Usher reported Herpes talk. However my message is simple women asked him reportedly and he said he was fine. Now I don’t know if it was because he was Usher that someone figured he was good but, no one’s pocket will excuse you from getting STDs.

So as much as everyone thinks this whole story is funny the truth is celebrity or not this is a situation that happens to both men and women all the time. The issue is that some people are fortunate to be able to get some medication and recover and others are not. How many stories have to be published with people who knowingly know they have a STD and make it their life long mission to infect others. How easy it for you to be in the passion and just go with the flow? Very easy if you’re not thinking.

One night of passion can devastate an entire family not just the ones who laid down and opened themselves up to the infection. Oh and FYI for my married folks, your marital vows are not enough to protect you from a STD. It only takes one night of misguided passion to bring your mate home more than they bargained for. Many women and men don’t think with their right “head.” So as a married women I still insist on yearly STD checks. I remember when I had my youngest daughter and my doctor said well you’re married you don’t need to be checked.  I looked at her and said lady, if you don’t check and do a full panel! Like I thought how many other married couples she told this to. Marriage doesn’t change the will of the person in the marriage. That is a daily test. Married couples need to be just as vigilant in their sexual health as anyonelse. 

So why you worrying about Usher let this help you get to the nearest clinic and get checked. Yes get checked. The issue with the women who are suing Usher and will most likely win is that he has the funds to at least begin financial healing but the regular man or woman doesn’t. If you’re not on top of your sexual health by the time you find out you could already be in harms way. Life and death are super important when it comes to sex. Please don’t allow a night of wet sheets cost you your life. Get tested not just ask if someone has a STD.  Keep your regular STD check. If you find yourself in a position and make the decision to have unprotected sex although not safe, go get checked and then head the protocol to go back a few weeks up to months to recheck again. 

Oh and one more thing if a man is married, leave him alone!! It is reported that the young lady he slept with was his ex wife’s bridesmaid. She really must have thought she had pulled her a good one and played herself. She is just as responsible for this as he is. No passes given here.

I don’t know how Usher’s new wife is feeling about all of this and if she too is vigilant about her sexual health but I know I would be embarrassed. I hope it works for all parties involved. 

Ask Toi: How do I tell my mom that she can’t smoke in my house when she visits?

You just have to take a deep breath and tell her. You don’t ever have to be disrespectful in telling her. The flip is that you don’t have to feel that by telling her means you are being disrespectful towards her.

Often times parents establish respect from the gate as they should. However when you become an adult you sometimes you go back to the child like mindset in thinking that speaking up means disrespect. It’s not true. Your house your rules. You have to know that in telling your mom she either has to accept that rule and still visit, she can get a hotel of her own and still visit or she can choose not to visit at all. 

My hopes is she will visit regardless if she stays. I know plenty of others who have that as a rule and most times it’s understood. Smoking is a personal choice. Just because she’s your mom doesn’t mean her personal choice has to go over your rules. You’re an adult and being an adult means you have to be able to handle difficult situations. I know plenty of parents who taught that if you live in their house you play by their rules well the time has come to flip it to your mom honoring your rules in your home. And no it can’t be on the notion that her visit is only temporary so you can enforce the rules once she leaves. Even if a person who smokes outside will still bring the smell of smoke inside of the home. For a non smoker that smell can be too much. I know for me there is no smoking in our home nor around my kids.

I respect all who choose to smoke I just won’t even allow it around me and mine. Your mom is adult she can handle not smoking in your home. You just need to realize that you need to speak up without feeling like she is going to disown you for it. If she does it really reveals bigger issues that I’m sure you have been dealing with all along. 
Good luck!

Ask Toi: What should I do if someone from my past or new love interest knocks and I’m already connected?!

If you’re already connected and the interested person doesn’t know you need to tell them. If they know but still pushing up than know they just like the chase and want to see if you will take the bait.

As an adult it’s your choice who you are with period. This means even if you just want a one night or one time physical relationship as an adult it’s up to you. Not everyone wants a commitment but be true to yourself. Don’t say you don’t want a commitment in hopes that you can later change a person’s mind. 

If you are already connected either by dating or marriage than you know that the answer is a no for now. With that being said it’s best to thank the person for the interest and move along. In a dating situation boundaries need to be made. You have a boyfriend or girlfriend and you don’t have anything to entertain another person.  If you’re married the boundary was made on your wedding day and you end it. 

The past is the past. It can be a beautiful reminder of what was but it takes a lot to dig the past up, revive it and make it work. Ask anyone including me how much work it takes to date someone from your past.  It’s not super easy.  It’s never a good idea to open the door to a past or new interest because if you do it says more about you than the person knocking. People don’t realize that a person who will cheat or entertain someone else but expect loyalty from the person they were originally connected to shows they have NO loyalty at all. You want what you can’t or won’t give. This goes for men and women. So if you’re connected say thanks, nice talking to you, and seal the door of communication. 

Let me guess you can handle it right? Wrong. You start catching up. Then you exchange emails at first, then phone numbers, than social media and now you can’t get this person off your mind.  You absolutely not giving the person you were connected to any of your valuable time because your sharing space with someone else. Now if your just dating and no commitment with anyone than that’s your right. However don’t mess over another individual while taking space with another while connected or committed to a person. You might lose on both relationships. 

When Basics are Celebrated

Please do not get me wrong.  I think anyone doing anything positive is good news.  I love that people are attempting to move past the backward thinking that has seemed to take this world over.  However, can we just be real for about a few seconds?  When basic behavior is like the best thing since sliced bread than we have a problem.

You are in a dating situation the man of your dreams is wining and dining you and pulls your chair out, etc now you are like see my man loves me?  I don’t doubt he does.  In a world where men and no not all men are too busy getting caught up in the negative things, playing video games and no job, making babies with no responsibility this could seem like a breath of fresh air.  However the issue isn’t in the mere manners, it needs to be our own personal standards that have gone on a decline. Even when I dated the most thugs of boyfriends they pulled my chair out.  It was the way I carried myself that lead them to know from the gate that if they never pull a dime like myself they was going to step it ALL the up.  So opening up doors is normal for me during my dating processes. Opening doors was basic.  It wasn’t because I carried myself in a stuck up way, I didn’t I was laid back but my mere demeanor said hey buddy, this is going to be a classy outing. Now this didn’t always mean I was at 5 star restaurants all the time either.  I could go to a night of dancing in the hole in the wall but still be treated like I wasn’t living in the hole of the wall.  I set the standard!

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If you are married and your husband is super caring, we uplift them. We start labeling relationship goals right off the bat because a husband kissed their wife.  Okay I get there are sexless and boring marriages (all by choice) but a simple kiss even a romantic passionate one making relationship goals only means that there are a lot of married couples who do not enjoy the union they are in. Kisses are done simply at the altar or union as a seal of commitment.  So….yeah we have got to raise the standard.  I had a conversation with my own husband and we acknowledged the highs and lows of our relationship and how outside things and distractions are often celebrated when we lack the self-sufficiency to love on each other and ourselves in the way it should be.  A husband who simply comes home is celebrated as if he isn’t supposed to return home after his outside of the home obligations are done.  He is celebrated and the phrase, “well at least he’s not cheating” comes into play. Like is he supposed to be cheating?  I know cheating is big but let’s not give more respect to the cheater than the faithful?  We live in a messed up world.  The only way to make the world smaller is to learn to leave the outside world OUTSIDE. Spend more time making YOUR world what YOU want it to be.

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If you are married and have kids and your husband doesn’t lift the finger to assist you with the kids some of it on you because you won’t speak up and other reasons is because he doesn’t think he should, I hear well at least he’s in the home.  So many men are locked up or leave after they make the babies.  This is true.  However him being in the home still living like an absentee father is even more crazy.  You do know they exist.  They are simply bodies but they don’t do a thing but get the greatest father in the world book just because they stayed.  Um, if you have a baby and make a baby it is YOUR responsibility to be there, provide, and dare I say interact and assist in the raising of that child.  It is simply not okay to come in the home, say hi, watch tv and send the child to bed and think you have arrived in parenting.  NO you need to be a force in the home.  You need to be helping with whatever it takes to make sure you have healthy, loved and supported children.  Ladies, if you have a man who is simply there don’t expect it.  Also speak up and don’t berate him because he doesn’t do things like you do either.  It’s give and take once ALL parties pay their part.

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I believe in rewarding kids but kids are supposed to do good things if they are influenced in the right way.  For instance every time your child does something he/she will NOT always be rewarded.  Teaching integrity means that at some point they learn to do the right thing simply because it’s right and not because someone is watching them or will give them something.  This is why some kids feel a sense of entitlement because you love your little love muffin and use rewards for everything.  Reward systems are awesome.  It can be used to motivate but should not be in the place of all parenting techniques. These little angels grow up and think the world owes them something and you and I both know that really isn’t how it works.

Like I have always pushed, balance is key.  Never do more on one side over another. I know this whole not wanting to be “basic” is a thing but the reality is there are times when going back to the old landmark really does still work.  The standard you set in your life and how you work through it should still be set by a measurement.  If a person is worth your time they will know what your standard is.  That is why some people go ga ga over things like good sex.  Is sex supposed to be bad?  Yes there are some sexual partners that don’t always do it right off the bat and you have to set the standard even in that on what you will accept or not.  However some folks get one strong sexual partner and will throw caution to the wind over some wet sheets and weak knees.  It’s like having a stack of cards and as long as one suit is good, you don’t pay any attention to anything else.  Set the standard.  Know you are worth to be treated the way you want and make no excuse for it.  In time once your basic needs are met the other items will line up because you are looking through balanced eyes.

The Mirage is really A smoke Screen

People, good people, good morning.  Listen let’s have a serious talk about what appears to be and what is.  We ALL have put out into the atmosphere our very best self.  We post the best pics out of the 100 we took.  We use filters because let’s face it they are pretty. However there is one thing that we all need to be reminded.  Everything that glitters isn’t gold.  This isn’t the first time we have heard it but let’s talk about it some more.

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We get caught up in the ideas about of what people put out. Some people post about solid marriages and have the most flakiest ones.  Being real is about being loud and yelling instead of just being honest and transparent.  Just because you yell you keeping it real doesn’t mean you are.  That’s a free nugget of wisdom for someone.  People struggle. Relationships and marriages struggle.  People don’t air out their dirty laundry or rather they shouldn’t.  We base our lives off of others and do less work on our own.  If you see a woman get flowers, you go home and complain you aren’t getting them.  However you haven’t expressed you wanted them before.  You don’t go and get them yourself because you enjoy them.  You are waiting, hoping that the man you are with will finally take this initiative and do and missing out on the love you really do and can give yourself.  You realize that if that love won’t measure up and you practice self-love, nature will separate you from what you don’t need to be with.  Again another freebie for you.

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Please learn to take some stock in YOUR life.  I give great advice but I try to eat and nibble on it before I give it.  I hold myself accountable.  For instance let me give you some realness.  I was having the worst anxiety attack.  I didn’t want to go to an event because I knew some of the people there I don’t vibe with.  I had to be reminded that its more than talk, I will NEVER vibe well with them.  I can’t live with brakes on.  SO I got dressed and made it happen.  I wanted to be in my defeated world and just go to bed.  I ended up having an amazing time.  The point is simple, it’s about getting past the hiccups with action and not just lip service.

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We have to get past our favorites smoke screens.  I love LL Cool J and Morris Chestnut and both are married.  Like my marriage there are days even with all of their fineness that their wives are ready to trip them because of something they did or didn’t do.  No different from my own marriage. I have friends who I look up to but when they close their doors they have things they are working out in their lives.  So you have to understand that and learn to live life on your own terms.  A lot of people selling this message of love your spouse, or job or life to the fullest don’t always mean they receive it or live it everyday.  Be careful who you put your highest stock on.  Everyone on your pedalstool will disappoint you if you don’t keep things into perspective.  No different from when the report of  America’s sweetheart Jesse Williams called it quits with his wife.  Everyone like lawd if they can’t make it what we gon do?  You gon get over it and make your marriage work.  You need to use the information to make yours solid.  Love harder, listen more, don’t take things for granted, etc  That’s what you do instead of attributing everything good and going into doom and gloom when it doesn’t add up.

Live your OWN best life!!