5 Lessons: Happy 5th Anniversary 

So today is the day. Do you know what today is? It’s our anniversary. Yes finally we have made it to year 5 and whew God is merciful because we almost didn’t get here. Marriage is hard work. People make it like a fairy tale where you are just so super in love and everything works out. Well I can’t speak for everyone else’s marriage but that isn’t how it works.

Let me break down the years. Our first year we already had our oldest daughter and son. I personally went through the worst post-partum of my life. Between the arguments and threatening to take the kids every other second the first year wasn’t a good year. I thought that since we had known each other forever and a day and was friends first that we wouldn’t be hit with the normal first year drama. I was hella wrong. It was so bad we even went to counseling after 3 months and it was then when I was ready to roll. The dreaded “divorce” came up and we were both ready to end it. Looking at the one that I loved and feeling defeated was humiliating even if a large people had no idea we were at a brink.

I could blame it on the new baby, living with his mom, being a stay at home Mom, and moving to a new city with no support system in place.  The reality is I put forth no effort even though if I could go back to my journal entries I was just angry, tired, and unfulfilled. The reality is that although I loved my husband I wasn’t ready to be a wife in the fullest extent. We had too much going on at one time but I knew when I took my vows that I wanted to be the best wife. What is a good wife? I had no clue no more than he did on what made a good husband.

Years 2-5 were up and down. I remember that the drama from year one spilled into year 2 for sure. I wasn’t sure if going to counseling where I felt like it was on me to suck it up and deal with it all had taken its toll. Our counselor was great. I’m not painting it all bad let me be clear that the Lord knows the many days we went without talking, not on the same page, or was plain sick of each other.

What turned it all around for me personally was at year 3, we had been on the down side of our marriage and Marques looked at me, grabbed my face and asked me was I in or out? He said we can’t threaten to divorce or even attempt it because had we gone down that road again we would be done and not turning back. He said he wanted us to get it together. No more hitting below the belt. No more talking disrespectfully. No more yelling and definitely no arguing in front of the kids. No more planning on leaving or taking the kids. No more craziness from either one of us.

Here are the 5 lessons I learned so far:

1. Happy Wife, happy life isn’t true: I think we as women use that phrase to our advantage sometimes to get what we want. However the key is having a wife who is happy in her own skin. You can’t make a miserable, hurting or unfulfilled person happy. I choose now after the smoke has cleared to get and keep my life grounded and not make it about my relationship alone.
2. I’m not always right.
3. Quietness is good at times.
4. Having my own activities, friends etc is key. Being one doesn’t mean that we have to be joined at the hips. Balancing being a whole woman is key before I can give to my husband or my kids.
5. To laugh-I was too serious trying to be perfect that I became the wife that I never wanted to be.

Marques’ Lessons learned:

1. Communication is important

2. Give respect to get respect

3. Better to listen than to speak

4. Don’t jump to conclusions

5. Don’t harp on things that don’t matter

Marriage life isn’t perfect. However we both are better at balancing. He does the things that make him solid and I do the same. We both don’t put pressure on each other to be who we aren’t. We are learning to accept each other’s flaws.  We have gotten super solid as a team. Since year 3 we made it clear to those around us that we are a real team. No nonsense will be accepted and we don’t give others front row seats to play us against one another. We shut the door. If you see us we work more behind the scenes without having to be open to listen to all advice from everyone without listening to each other for what we need. I respect all marriage but we no longer mirror our marriage in compassion to what works for another couple.  We are different and what works for another couple doesn’t work for us and vice versa.

Relationships goals are what we set between us during pillow talk and not just cute pictures to display a falsehood of love and admiration. We are our own relationship goals!!

So happy anniversary to us, Mr. and Mrs. Storr!!

Our Engagement Story: October 16, 2010 (Sweetest Day)

So on October 15, 2010 my friend Colleen came to pick me up.  She had called me several times before about the birthday party I was supposed to attend for my boyfriend at the time’s uncle birthday.  I really want to downplay what I was going to wear. However Marques had already gotten me a dress that we picked out a few weeks ago and with the dress I figured let me get to the salon and get my hair done.She took me to one of her girls and she did my hair.  I got my nails done and proceeded with my normal day.

On Saturday October 16, 2010 I drove to Philly but I had to make a stop to pick Marques up from the train station.  He had went on a business trip.  We got to the house I talked with his mom and then we went to the mall because he said he had to get a gift for his uncle.  We left the mall with no gift.  He said he couldn’t find anything.  We managed to eat and then back home to get dressed.  On the way there he says that one of his cousins might try to be late and he had to call them.  He pulled over on the side of the road and asked if the cousin had arrived and then he had to fix his clothes.  In my normal what are you doing, I asked him if he could wait until we got to our destination to fix his clothes.

Well we pull up to Maggiano’s and I ran into a long time friend. I wasn’t paying any attention until we walked into the room and I saw his family than I looked over and saw my college girlfriends sitting at the table and I knew this couldn’t have been for his uncle birthday.  I looked back and saw my parents and family and best friend sitting at a table and I knew immediately but I didn’t want to play myself.

He came in the room turned on the most beautiful photo spread and video and asked for my hand in marriage.  I was floored.  I couldn’t believe it. All the things I had in my mind I could barely say much but yes!!  His family was clowning him I do remember that asking what would he have done if I said no, but Marques knew I wouldn’t have said no.

The back story is that my college girlfriends had arrived Friday and were staying at the house.  When I got there they had left and basically it was arranged for them to get dressed and not be in the house so I wouldn’t see them.  But we had crossed paths and  I had no clue.  He had my parents and family there and the only times I remember them interacting was for the sake of our daughter.  It was a really beautiful time. Oh and there was no business trip.  It was a way to divert me from going to house.

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He put a lot of effort into this day.  I totally appreciated it all.  The other part to the proposal is the ring.  The ring was incredibly beautiful.  When he and I were dating back in the day, I would get my Essence magazines and read them.  In the magazine were always Tacori ring advertisements.  I fell in love with them.  They are super expensive sets.  Trust me. However he would ask me questions as to why I liked those rings.  My answer is simple, I loved how the band had diamonds all around it.  I like the princess cut and halo rings.  I liked how it looked different from other rings to me.  He never forgot that conversation. I later found out not how much he spent but trust me he wanted my social security number like Martin did Pam in the Martin comedy series but the effort.  It was the fact that he went and literally put this ring together.  He got the center stone from one place, got a setting and had it put together to my specifications like a Tacori ring.  So for that this ring means the world to me because of him listening to me, and knowing my style.  He could have gotten any ring and I would have loved it but the ring was made for me and it makes it that much more special.  Oh and my favorite food is Italian.  My favorite color is red he incorporated it all into the day.  We went to Maggiano’s at our first anniversary and the flood of emotions still gets me.  Marques has always been great with large gestures, the proposal was an extension of that.  To this day we celebrate Sweetest Day even when others don’t.  It’s our own special Valentine’s Day.

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I asked him why he proposed, and it was simple, he loved me and it was time.  Also he told me that I was by his side throughout the years he wanted to give me the ring that I loved and he did!!!

 

Shout out to all of our family and friends who helped in the background to pull that day off!!

 

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. 

Recovery week 3.0

I am super happy that I have finally made it to my 3rd week. It was a struggle to get here. I am finally getting around better. That in itself is a blessing. 

So from the beginning pain management was my first order to resolve. I took myself off of the stronger medication days after surgery. I am just never been a fan of narcotics. So now I am only managing my pain by Ibupofen and finding I need it less. So it sounds like I’m doing well but let’s hit the issues that have happened. I have been making sure I don’t bend as much as I really want to. It’s not natural to not use my abdominal muscles. We use them for everything. So y’all pray for me and my husband who snaps at me for doing the most. 

Fluid on the lungs 

Now I don’t know if this has happened because of the surgery or some underlying issue that I wasn’t aware of but it is something that has happened. So I am now under the care of a pulmonary doctor. Yay me!! It’s been annoying. But it’s all apart of getting better so I have to take the good with the bad.

Antibiotics 

I still have to finish my medication as I got the infection almost into the second week of surgery. So I hate taking pills I really do but it’s important that I finish these nasty tasting pills.  I have been taking them with coffee to cut down on the taste.

Things I can’t do:

Full work out. It’s not even on my radar. 

I have increased walking. So I will most likely fire up the Fitbit this week. I let that sucker’s battery die lol. No need when the longest distance I was walking was to the bathroom and to the front door. I was looking for shoes for my husband and he wears a size 15 yesterday. After a few stores I found them and definitely got my step count in. That counts right?! Super yes! 

Sex

I feel sorry for my husband but it’s 8 weeks total before the party can even start. Some women have tried it before the 8 weeks and all I can say to that is good for you. As far as I am concerned the thought of sex scares me at this point. The reason for emphasis on this particular topic is for women who are sexually intimate with their mate this is the number 2 question that is asked. When can sex resume? It doesn’t matter what type of hysterectomy surgery you have giving your body time to heal properly will ensure a better sex life. Painful sex and injury is the one thing that leads women back into their Obgyn’s office if done too soon. So my husband can tak to me in 5 weeks!! 

Return to work

I have up to 6 weeks left of sick time. So I can go back from now until the next 3 weeks. I will go back when I can go a full day without as much pain and can resume my responsibilities. I am always on the go with work and add my family in that and it’s overload. I am no hurry to rush back and not be 100%. For now work will be there. The time for me to be right is now. 

Lifting more than 10 pounds

I still not able to lift much right now. I think the most I have lifted was a small basket and even that my husband was up in arms about it. It’s not natural for me to sit and watch him take care of the house. The fun part has been watching him. He doesn’t do things like I would but guess what? All is well and that’s all that matters.

Hormone replacement therapy

The other day was probably the worst night of all since this surgery. I had the worst night sweats and hot flash. I was having chest pains all at the same time. I felt like I was having what I would think a stroke was. It was horrible. It finally passed. I saw my doctor the next day who gave her opinion on taking me off of the hormone therapy patch. I am going to give it until the end of the month before making the final decision. 

I feel like it hasn’t really helped relieve hot flashes or night sweats. It has helped regulate my moods. This weekend would be my normal cycle and I have noticed that the PMS symptoms that would normally plague my life don’t even exist. No crankiness. No need to kill anyone. I haven’t noticed more bad eating habits like salty chips and chocolate. Oh and my anemia has already improved. I used to eat ice like it was apart of the food pyramid. Now ice don’t even taste right. It’s actually for just keeping a drink cold. Who woulda thunk? 

This week my doctor has encouraged me to try swimming. I will give that a try. Swimming could be really therapeutic and hey a pool has my name written all over it!! 

So as usual I will keep you posted. Oh and my swelly belly that I had is coming down. My doctor says that the big belly at this point will appear when I am doing more than I need to. Dually noted!! 

So until next week!! Have some fun. Get out and complete your summer goals!! 

Silent Treatments is Abuse 

I got a letter or email I should say from a reader who is experiencing this. Holidays are great but the holidays regardless of what it is for brings out the worst in others. My prayer to my reader as I’m turning your question into a full blog is for you to get the strength to know that silent treatments of any kind is a form of abuse. That you know that the silent treatment should never be okay in a relationship of any kind…

Silent treatment will work if you want to break a person down. What will you do once you have them broken? Reprogram them to fit your miserable mold?! Than what happens when they figure out you ain’t worth the dirt they walk on? Your hold won’t last forever. 

There is a unique difference in taking a cool down period when dealing with others. Sometimes as a parent you have to take a cool down so that when you attempt to actively deal with a child you are doing it in the correct spirit. Sometimes in relationships you have to take a cool down to allow you effectively communicate. However the art of ignoring a person to break them is a form of abuse. I literally do not care in how it is being done there is never good will when using the silent treatment. Oh and by the way it doesn’t matter if a man or woman does it. It goes both ways! 

If you want to break a person to see just how loyal they can be it works. A person who is being silenced will go above and beyond to get you to talk to them. It’s a way of feeling this sense of love from a person. You plead with the aggressor and want them to talk to you only to fall on death ears. The aggressor knows you want their attention.  They play this scenario until you are about ready to cry because it’s a point of control. So you plead some more. Finally the silent treatment is broken temporarily until the next time. You feel better so you walk on egg shells in hopes not to upset the aggressor again. This is a cycle that can only be broken by You who is being treated this way.

News flash adults are not kids. Even kids should never be treated this way. But if two consenting adults have to be treated like kids the relationship can last 20 years but it won’t be a happy relationship. Your mate isn’t your child no matter how childish they make act. It’s a pet peeve of mine to hear couples talk to their mate like kids, tell others their mate is a child, or to berate them in public or private. You don’t own another person. People aren’t puppets. 

Some parents pull these stunts too and it works. However I’ve never known for it to have long lasting effects of positivity. You aren’t teaching the child to comply to gain your love or do to what you say. You are simply at the point of inflicting a silent pain that is almost effective as hitting them. The sad part and the statistics don’t lie it’s just as equal. So you think you are handing the child well? You case the child out. Go out of your way to be in that child’s presence just so you can ignore them. You win but really you lose. You have just made this child reach down into themselves to figure things out without you. Sounds like good parenting skills until that child realizes you are a negative point of contact.

Eventually for the stronger child they are able to recover. They turn off emotions to the aggressor and sometimes go towards others in a romantic relationship who employ this same sense of “love.” We teach our kids now a days that love doesn’t hurt.  We push this to make sure the child doesn’t get into an abusive relationship but we fail to remember that emotional abuse is just as bad if not worst.  So what happens to your precious little girl goes for the man who uses these same tactics and has your little girl doing the most just to see if that man loves her? Yes she’s not being beaten but she is being emotionally abused and under the man she ran to who gave her the same love you did.  

Silent treatment in any relationship is bad news. It needs to stop. It’s abuse. You are attempting to break a person.  A broken person is no good to you or to themselves. This is why people gravitate from this form of emotional abuse to physical because the lines are almost blurred to be the same. We say why would a woman or man allow someone to control them? The mind is a very powerful gift and sometimes a curse. To break them inwardly is to control how a person thinks and therefore it’s the first part of how an aggressor works. This is why so many say the man or woman they were with didn’t appear to be bad news. They wine and dine and say the right things until they start to employ these tactics. 

If you are in a relationship and are of age get far away from this type of personality. Most times this is the type of person who can’t be satisfied. Nothing won’t be okay because they themselves have either been broken or lack the ability to go after what they want without tearing down others along the way.  There is no reason to ask another adult a question more than twice and for them to look you in your eyes or you know right well they aren’t deaf for them to ignore you until they feel like you are worthy of an answer. Or until they feel like gracing you with an answer or dealing with you. If you are giving them the vibe of not wanting to be bothered more than they like to be around you, get out. Why stay? What is going to change? Oh yeah you will say or do what they want and then be good enough to be around? You know the answer is you will NEVER be enough, do enough, or act accordingly. 

Get out! Get a plan to be out but get out!! 

Jayz 4:44

So you know you heard about it. The new anticipated album of Jayz has hit and so have all of the reviews. So I’m not about to analyze every song and their meaning. However let’s get to the grit of what all the hoopla is about. 

Did Jayz cheat on Beyoncé?

He said he did. He was clear in his lyrics. I know some has speculated that both of them used a made up situation to make money and exploit but let’s just be real, what man is going to out himself and bring his kids in the middle of it? He mentions his daughter Blue and all of that to sell records? I didn’t get the whole let’s make money vibe from the album at all. 

I felt like it was a man who couldn’t deny that he had been cheating on Beyoncé and especially after the infamous Lemonade that Bey spilled. Now let’s be clear Beyoncé isn’t the first woman to be cheated on nor will she be the last. The premise is that with Beyoncé how could anyone do this?! Simple, no matter who you are, life happens.  Money and power doesn’t excuse life from coming at you. If anything it makes life that much more complicated.

So is Jayz the best man in the world or the worst? I say no. Just because he came clean in his music I’m quite sure he had a lot of redemption behind the scenes. Now I am not judging Bey but let’s be clear her reasons to stay were of her own. She can’t change what Jayz did. His cheating regardless of his reasons are all his own. A woman staying past many miscarriages and cheating is a lot. Her being Queen Bey will never as a woman put what happened under a light eye. No woman wants to be cheated on. We don’t ask for it. We don’t. However when a woman stays that says more about her. I know I’m a Beyoncé fan, but truth is truth. 

So yes it promoted me after hearing 4:44 to re-listen to Lemonade once again. I heard the pain in her voice. I heard it the first time and said without knowing that this album wasn’t simply about her mother’s divorce. So let’s talk about marriage. I’m not about to drag Beyoncé on what she should have done in HER marriage. It’s hers. Marriage is never perfect.  I don’t have one and we are coming up to 5 years next month. My parents have been married over 20 years and don’t have one either. What someone puts up with in their marriage is up to them. It can be talked about and judged but until you walk in a person’s shoes than you will never get it. What I pray is that Beyoncé and Jayz are doing what works for them and their now 3 kids. 

The least that we can do is listen to two people tell their truth in song. If they sell records and they have and will that’s what artist do. I don’t think it makes what they are saying any less truth because of it. Artist of all types pour their souls into their artistry. So just sip, gather the tea, resip some more and than the biggest part, work on your own life. Jayz brought up investing, keeping wealth in your family and taking care of home. Apply all of that. It’s not as if the universe, your mom, blogs, and just about everywhere hasn’t been pushing that message. It’s the reason we got more go fund me accounts for funerals than life insurance. We got more fake ballers than millionaires. The reason we take more stances in what Bey and Jayz are doing than our own lives. Learn to watch while still doing. Did you kiss your own mate? Or did you walk out the house with bitterness and neglected to kiss your own love but you knew the exact moment the Carter’s kissed and paparazzi got the shot? They are married and married folks kiss-no big thing right?! See I love to watch others too but I try with the best intentions to build in my own house more.  

So yes he cheated. She stayed. She lost a few babies along the way. It’s their journey together. Work on yours. If you are or have been cheated on what did you do? What are you doing in your relationships to be more open? Do you have your financial house in order single or married? How’s your credit? What debt will you leave behind? Did you drink water today? Did you work out? Did you? Sip and do.