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!!

The Art of Stress Less Packing

I love to travel. I can’t say I travel as much as I would like but when the opportunity comes I definitely take full advantage of it. Here are a few of my own personal tips that helps regardless if you’re single, married, or have kids.

1. Don’t wait until the last minute 

Sometimes this is easier said and done. We all have busy lives. However taking the time to pack ahead of time cuts down on having to detour your trip to the store to replace something you already have but forgot and not to mention saving on coins. 

2. Pack the necessary things first

If you are traveling via an aircraft this is the best advice. Pack what you know without a doubt you will need first. Not all airlines allow you to travel with your bags for free so making executive decisions on what you have to have and packing that first helps. After that you can decide if the extras are really worth it or not. Do you know how many people have to unpack and readjust their items to avoid that fee?! 

3. Roll and pack

Rolling your items can help you pack more of the things you want and need. Often times where you are going will have an iron of some sort. 

4. Make a master traveling list 

I do this even for all seasons. This will help you to cross off the things you have packed, the things you need to purchase and pack or the things that you have yet to pack. This is key even with kids. During our recent quickcation I left nothing behind using this method. It felt good to have more than we needed. Checking the list off instead of just grabbing things was way more organized and saved on the stress later.

5. Pack light 

There’s usually smaller versions of the things you need. Get those items instead of the home size as I call it. This is especially for hair care and hygiene. Everyone knows there are travel sections in most stores. They have made it possible even to travel with laundry detergent these days. Grab those items first. They are key in opening room for the other items you need. 

6. You can’t take it all

As much as you would like to bring it all it’s not going to happen. Think about the method of your traveling. Are you going via car? Will you be with others via car? You will need to keep things to one bag to ensure room for others to store things in the trunk. Is this a family trip? Can multiple people pack in one bag? I packed the kids in on suitcase for a 3-4 day trip and it worked. Are you traveling via aircraft? You will have to limit. Think about having to push or carry these items too. The lighter the bag the less stress you allot for yourself or travel companions. 

7. Pack for the events 

Sometimes we just get clothes but don’t count the events you are going for. Focus on the events and pack around it. For our quickcation I packed around the pool and beach. This made it easier to make sure I had what I needed. Going for a wedding, pack around that. People have gone away for these types of events and completely forget the major needs for why they are traveling. Stay focused. 

8. Be prepared

Have copies of your travel documents and identification on you. The worst thing you can do is forget these items. Bring a first aid kit. Emergencies can happen at any time. Have others who are not traveling to have copies of your travel documents that can get them to you via email. Not only that having someone be able to reach you in case of emergency is key. 

9. Emergency fund 

I know in some cases traveling with just enough is what happens, however having emergency money on hand is key. You never know what can take place. You need to be prepared for anything to happen. A blown tire, lost luggage, a wardrobe malfunction. These are very real events and having to depend on someone to get you through doesn’t always work. I traveled to a wedding with my daughter one time and the hotel we originally booked was horrible. I ended up having to rebook somewhere else during the holiday weekend. 

10. Have options

This is key to have options for what you wear but also for what you will do. This is a digital age so you should have files designated for when you travel for what you want to do. This is key before you set out to travel. This is important even if you are meeting up with others. Nothing is worse than you not doing enough research before you travel. You should have weather alerts set up for your place of travel and with the alerts you should be prepared for a dip in weather, rain, snow, etc. 
The more prepared you are ahead of time the better the over all trip will be.

Also travel with empty store bags, traveling mesh bag, etc 

You can use the bags to place dirty or soiled clothes. Once you return you can take the bags to the laundry room and keep them separated from the clean ones. 

Also take empty sandwich bags or storage bags to bring things home too. You will be surprised of how they can be used. 

Extra tips:

1. Take or get Lysol especially if you’re going to be staying at a hotel. If you can also get a room disinfectant and a cleaner to wipes things down. This may be extreme to some but I never travel without it. 

2. Pack hand sanitizer and you’re own towels and wash clothes if you can. Some even buy a cheap towel and wash cloth set to throw out at the end of their trip. 

3. Pillow. It always good if you can bring your own. If not get a towel to lay over the one you will be using. 

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. 

Ask Toi: What do you do if a wedding invitation was sent and replied to but you receive a letter saying you are no longer invited?

So the back history to this question is the reason given is that the bride and groom is over their numbers.

Let me give a sad face to the couple. Okay that’s all they get from me. I would not attend the wedding and forego the reception.  I personally think it’s super tacky to invite someone, have them send in their reply card on time and then you send a letter about being uninvited.  The reply card is exclusively for the reception. No one is charging per head to step in most public churches so this is about the reception per plate cost. Do I understand the expenses of weddings? Absolutely. There are so many that you love but just can’t accommodate. However have your final count before sending out the actual invitation. For me it’s as simple as not going and DEF no gift being sent. If you are planning a wedding please understand that this is the most tackiest thing you could do. It’s tacky even if you call your guests and try to explain BUT a letter is just plain craziness to me. 

I’m not saying don’t be their friend or if they are family cut them off BUT you can best believe an invite for anything else going forward would be getting the side eye. Who does this type of craziness? 

Fake Marriages and Why?

So every last relationship on this planet is different.  Not one is the same no matter how many similarities may exist. So my thing is that women do NOT need to be married.  I know men are measured by their careers and women by their relationship status but this is crazy.  The number of spiritual ceremonies and fake marriages is getting out of hand.

Now let me tell you where this is coming from.  I read a blog that stated that Yandy and Mandeecees from Love and Hip Hop New York after the lavish wedding they had on national television is actually not real.  I don’t know if it is or not but let’s say for argument sake it’s not.  I don’t get the point.  It’s technically not my point to get but let’s draw on a few things.

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Do we have to have these fake marriages?  It’s one thing if you have a spiritual ceremony and everyone knows hey we don’t want the necessary papers but we doing this because it feels right.  The other flip is to attempt to make it appear that you are indeed married when you are not.  Like what are you proving to others?  I have never felt the need to do things for an audience.  Like for instance the terms wifey and hubby irks the hell out of me.  I know its cute to say but let’s keep it real.  There are a number of couples that believe in their little hearts that they are that man’s wifey when in reality you are indeed not.  You are a girlfriend that likes pet names.  I don’t mean to burst your bubble but that’s how it works.  Let’s give a scenario, you are in an accident and your “hubby” dies, you are not the one they seek to make decisions .  Sorry you are not.  They are looking for next of kin. Bummer all that hubby talk doesn’t give you legal rights unless you were smart enough to get power of attorney and other legal documents lined up.

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I love when I hear people say they don’t care about a piece of paper but be the same ones posting memes about how men get licenses for their dogs and won’t do the same for their relationships while laying next to their “hubby.” If you don’t want to be married than so be it.  It’s not for everyone. I can respect it.  I am married and I don’t ever paint this happily ever picture like I lay in bed of roses and balloons all day.  Marriage is work and not everyone is cut to make it work.  So stand by it.  Please stop sending out messages to people to make it appear that your relationship is more than it needs to be and then want people to respect you as such.  Just stop.  Now Yandy and Mandeece may decide to be married after his stint in jail is over.  Business wise it makes sense but it poses a very important question.  If you can’t fully take on your mate’s issues on paper because it will cost you than what does it show you about the cost of your relationship for real.  Like I get it.  Legally Yandy would be held liable for paying back his fines and cost possibly for the financial responsible for his kids too.  However they paint this picture like she is more than able and wants to take on his kids.  I can’t wait to see how this comes out.

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As a woman who want to be a boss, can you just be in a relationship and satisfied or have you already given into the societies desire for you to be married so faking it gets others off your back?  It in all reality says you love a man but at the end of the day legally you are no different from any other woman in that man’s life.  I am sure she has gotten her paperwork in order that if she needed to take care of his affairs she can, but for the average woman how long you gonna play house if you really want to be a permanent house mate?  This isn’t for the women who swear off men and would NEVER marry.  This is the ones that lie to themselves and are just okay to be entangled with a man.  This is for the woman who is marriage hungry to take on a man’s name.  Be smart.  Find out what works for you and stick to it.  But stop the lies.  Stop lying to yourself as if you are more to that man than the pretty picture he has painted.  He just wants that milk for free and is “trying to get his shit together.”  How long that takes?  Let me guess its 10 years and you are crying inside and lying to your mom and girlfriend just like he lies to you.  You want marriage but don’t want to rock the boat or “hubby” will leave.  You better get in your own spirit what you want and take the fake mask off.  If you want marriage, make sure is for YOUR right reasons.  However don’t waste a quarter on a fake ceremony. I have said it before and I will say it again if it’s a ring you want, buy yourself one.  Do NOT however stop feeding a bunch of lies about that paper you really do want.  Be smart.  Be honest. Be clear.

Women shouldn’t have to fake it in 2 places and that’s the bedroom and to an audience of folks who could care less.  Speak up about what you need in and out of the bedroom.  Too many woman having to fake a lot of things and let with empty shells and dry sheets.  Do better.

Husband vs. Hubby

There really is no debate.  A husband and hubby aren’t one in the same.  I see so many women who have these long-term boyfriends calling him “my hubby”.  Okay let’s break this down.  This “hubby” of yours is someone you claim to be the love of your life. However this same man hasn’t made a step towards being a husband nor made you a wife. You are wifey.  This is the term we give as a pacification of marriage.

We love each other.  We working towards marriage.  We want marriage maybe in the future.  However he is not your husband.  You do not have rights if something goes left. You are wifey not recognized by the state, hospital officials, none of that.  When I met my husband and we were dating in college, we fell hard and quick.  It was such an intoxicating relationship.  It was nothing else I had experienced before.  He was my first so that just made it even more special.  We couldn’t get enough of each other.  I loved the smell of him good or bad.  I just wanted to be around him all the time.  You couldn’t tell us we weren’t made for each other.  Few things wrong with that scenario, I began acting like a wife and I wasn’t.  I was giving him wife privileges and again I wasn’t his wife.  One day during a break up he said he wanted to date other people.  It broke me.  It broke my spirit.  I learned a tough lesson.  I wasn’t the real wife that I had made up in my mind.  My wifey title didn’t entitle me to a damn thing.  He went his way and I tried to fix the broken shattered pieces. He appeared to be fine while I struggled to go to class, keep my grades up.  When I did attempt to date other people I found it hard.  I couldn’t focus past wanting him.  I had some extremely good suitors step up to me.  They wanted the same things I thought I wanted but the pain of my hubby breaking my heart left me battered.  It took almost 2 years of healing and no contact with him to get myself where I needed to be.

I think the term of hubby is cute for a split second.  The implications that many women take with the term can be deadly. It can kill you in the long run.  Maybe you can walk away from a hubby and be fine and not have the same issues I did.  I say kudos to you for that. However there are a lot of wifey material women who have had their hearts ripped out of their chest for overstepping the dating line and allowing parts of your heart to think of your relationship where it’s not ready.  Let me say that as a wife now the areas I was engaging in when I was trying to be wifey weren’t good.  I am not only talking about sex.  I am talking about the place where you allow that man to live and he hasn’t earned it.  You allow this man to take a husband place and he may not even be husband material.  My boyfriend then wasn’t husband material.  He wasn’t a provider, he was a broke college kid. He wasn’t someone who could even care for my emotional needs.  He wasn’t someone who was a protector like a husband needed to be.  He was developing his own mind and figuring out what he wanted to be.  How could he be my hubby?  He wasn’t.  I gave him that place like a lot of other women do all around the world.

I watched the finale of Jim and Chrissy last night.  I promise you I hadn’t watched the season.  After watching how Jimmy had been with her for 11 years, how she proposed to him, how she gave him space in her heart as if he was a husband and he wasn’t and spoiler alert she decides to walk away….proves my point.  She has been called stupid and every other negative word but many women do the same thing. When that man wants to marry you and make you a wife, he will.  He will ask you.  He will set his life to start bringing you in.  However a hubby will do things here and there.  Hubbies aren’t bad men they just aren’t at the level of husband you keep telling yourself he is.  Stop giving these men these hubby titles.  You end up taking care of kids with him that may or may not be yours.  You start aligning your accounts.  What happens if it ends?  What laws will protect you?  Know those rights before you engage in hubby/wifey relationships.  That’s why they say playing house is not good.  I did it so I am not going to act all holier than thou.  I had 2 kids outside of marriage.  I am no angel.  But in those times when things would have gone left me and my kids in all sense of the word would have had to fight for what I should have made sure was rightfully mine by having my own.  Ladies if you follow my blog you know that I was laid off and moved in with my then finance and his mother.  I did what I had to do.  I also got comfortable too.  I should have been trying to get me together.  I did eventually but in the meantime of doing that even as a fiance what could I claim?  Kids aren’t financial aid packages.  They are no guarantees for a good future. My then fiance was great about and still is now as a husband about the safety and security of me and the kids but not everyone can say the same.  So do me a favor, love your boyfriend and be the best girlfriend. However know what your game plan is and if he doesn’t make you a wife stop giving him wife privileges.  Do NOT waste years of your valuable time.

Ask Toi: Why is it seem my married friends always down me because I am not married?

There is a sense of accomplishment when a woman gets married.  I’m not saying all women but a lot of them think that having a wedding ring and a marriage that means they have arrived.  What you have arrived to being married is dealing with another individual through tough times, having to put your own stuff aside at times to support another and another responsibility.  I am a married woman I think it’s a great thing because I want to be married. What about the women who are super secure and don’t want to be married? Let me guess the wives club think that because they are married they can snub their noses at people? Some do.  I am not speaking for all wives, I can’t.  However I know plenty of women that as soon as they got engaged make it seem as if they have made it and then everything becomes about when they get married.  It’s natural to do so because it’s a new season in your life.  I know plenty who did that and never married.  I know some as soon as they married it only took that mentality to another level.

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Which woman who act like they have their behinds stuck in a tree because they are married?  Women who already think they are better.  Women who treat other females badly will be the ones to gravitate to this behavior.  The “I am a wife” mode activates at the altar.  Marriage is for the couple.  As much as I can wave my ring in another woman’s face, no one really cares that you are married but the folks that took the vows.  I am not belittling the wives club at all.  But a lot of women rant about they are the wife as if someone can come and snatch their title like folks snatch chains.  You can’t make anyone hold you in high regard because you decided to make a lifetime committment to one person that you chose.  Marriage is a beautiful thing and many people love when you see a solid example of how to make it work but let’s keep it real, marriage is work.  Marriage is for the couple and a family.  It is not for the my singles friends can’t get on my level crap that I see time and time again.

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No wife needs to treat an unmarried friend badly over a ring on your hand.  I know plenty of women who are married to single-minded men.  I know plenty of women whose husbands talk down and badly about them due to this type of behavior.  Let me give you an example of what I mean especially if you watch Love and Hip Hop LA.  Brandy is married to Max Lux.  She barges into the studio on the most recent episode and because of a beef that another cast mate had with her best friend she thought that her husband shouldn’t work with that female.  Instead of pulling him to the side she makes a scene.  Yells I’m his wife I can shut down a studio session down if I want.  Que?  You can. Where do they do that at? You can’t come to someone’s place of employment and stop things just because you are a wife.  That’s not going to work.  But this is the premise of how some wives act. You are a wife and you are entitled to all the benefits that your husband and you make. This isn’t an act a damn fool card that you can wave in other people’s face.  Although I agree that single women have no bearing on what they can tell a wife in some regards I do not believe in cutting off my friends because of my left hand accessory either.  Every woman who is your friend has a value to add to your life no matter what stage you are in.  If a woman friend that you are dealing with acts like you may want to think a few times if this woman married or not should even be on your team. Oh and let me cut the well as a wife I’m not going to let someone disrespect me either claim, who are you around that is doing this?  If it’s that bad whomever these people are, you need to cut em.  No friend who is a friend would be doing disrespecful things to mess up a marriage so no need to use that excuse.

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Let me say to my single readers, I would never write something demeaning to you just because I am married.  Marriage is a status.  It changes your tax bracket and your life personally however you choose to make that happen.  It’s not a time for me as a married woman to act like being married is so grand when in reality if married folks would keep it real its one of the most demanding things to do outside of having kids.  It is time-consuming to not be able to just get up and do what you want but to think of another person.  Is it easier when you are with the one you love? Absolutely but in this divorce driven world, marriage and making it work comes at a price that if you are single be prepared to pay and know what you are getting into.  I applaud my friends who take their time and wait there is so much I learn from their wait.  Married women do better and knock this foolishness off.  Like my mom always tells me, you never know when you will be one step away from being single again so cut the crap and honor your marriage, your relationships in general and yourself.