“New Year, New You! Step Into 2014 Liberated From the Limitations that Held You Back In 2013.”

happy new year bannerHappy New Year to all my “Sisters-in-Matrimony!” We made it through another year! Despite all the trials and tribulations we faced in 2013, we were still blessed with the grace and mercy to see a new year…to have yet another opportunity to get it right this year (whatever “it” may be). We should be grateful for these tremendous gifts that we’ve been given—the grace and mercy inherent in the opportunity to live…the opportunity to realign ourselves with our respective destinies…the opportunity to be all that we were called to be.

Ellen Goodman, a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, author, speaker, and commentator on social change in America—especially on issues specific to the women’s movement and its effects on our public and private lives—once wrote “we spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year…we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives, not looking for flaws, but for potential.”

Take a moment to think about the depth of what Ms. Goodman said “…we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives, not looking for flaws, but for potential.” Traditionally, New Year’s Eve symbolizes the hope that something better is coming in our lives the moment the clock strikes twelve. We spend time crafting resolutions that we believe will help us remain committed to making the type of positive changes that will keep us on-track to becoming better versions of the person that we were the year before; but why? Why do we make these resolutions and promises to ourselves if we fail to maintain the resolve to see them through?

Perhaps the reason why is because it’s easier for us to identify with the internal and external flaws that we see in ourselves than it is for us to identify with and embrace our potential that lies within. All too often, the potential of who we can be gets overshadowed by the belief that we’re not good enough as the person we are…that we’re somehow not enough because we’re slightly imperfect in some way…overweight…bad hair…wrong complexion…too many freckles…too many wrinkles…too tall…too short…too slim…etc. etc. It’s a vicious cycle, but at some point, you have to affirm to yourself, “enough is enough…I’m good enough just the way I am…the way I was created,” and then we have to make a conscious decision to liberate yourself from everything that limited your ability to be the best, most authentic version of yourself that you can be in 2014.

Take a moment to inventory every negative belief and/or thought you’ve held about yourself up until now and replace them with positive thoughts, beliefs, and affirmations about the woman and wife that you were destined to be. Let go of whatever has kept you from being the best woman and wife that you can be, and forgive yourself for not embracing every aspect of your uniqueness before now. Your marriage is waiting for you. Your husband desires you. Your children are depending on you. Your family believes in you. Your friends need you. And so-on and so-forth. Not only will you be better off for refusing to go into 2014 with the same mindset that preceded you in 2013, you will be closer to walking in the power, grace, and anointing of your destiny as a woman and wife by reconstructing your beliefs, thoughts, and attitudes about the new person that you will become in this new year.

Copyright ©2013

“Making Peace with Your Past: How to Keep Your Past from Sabotaging Your Present While Keeping Your Sanity In-Check.”

woman-looking-in-the-mirror-1If we’re honest with ourselves, we should be able to admit that we have a “past” that precedes us; the “past” being the place where we lived as individuals before we got hitched…the place that had a profound impact on shaping every aspect of the women that we’ve blossomed into today.

It is in this place where we first experienced the magic of life and all of the splendor and beauty thereof…where we learned our first lessons about living, loving, losing, caring, sharing, trusting, believing, and simply being…where we began to understand how we must fit into the mold of what it means to be a good and dutiful woman and wife simply because that’s what we’re expected to be.

Although the past holds a different meaning for each of us, there’s an undeniable unifying power in what the past represents because as women, we’ve all experienced similar issues that are unique to us—especially when it comes to the people whom we allow into our lives, how we love the way we do, and, perhaps most importantly, why we love the way we do. We’ve all experienced personal triumphs in life, as well as experienced agonizing defeats, overcome insurmountable odds, achieved the seemingly impossible, loved hard, had our hearts shattered in the process of loving, made good decisions, made bad decisions, and the list of shared experiences can go on into infinity.

The point here is that our respective pasts, which we understand to be the sum of our life experiences—regardless of how good, bad, or indifferent—shaped the women that we’ve become. Even though we’d like to think that we’ve got it altogether, and that our past is just that, the past, the reality is that the past impacts our future whether we want to acknowledge all the ways in which our previous decisions contributed to how our lives have unfolded up until this present moment or not.

Despite the circumstances surrounding the decision-making process that helped mold who we are today, the reality is that we all hold onto the toxic by-products that result from that decision-making process,  and those by-products are like shape-shifters because they almost always assume the form of whatever looks, feels, sounds, and seems “normal” in an effort to coerce us into thinking and believing that something, someone, or certain conditions, situations, or circumstances are indeed real and tangible when what we’re witnessing is merely an illusion; or rather, something that isn’t real but seems real enough to manipulate us into constantly thinking about, meditating on, believing in, worrying about, alienating ourselves, and eventually compromising our integrity based on faulty information.

This, my “Sisters-in-Matrimony” is where we begin to pack our bags and carry them into every situation and relationship that we encounter; even into our marriages. We remain in pack-rat-mode in an effort to mask our vulnerabilities, our insecurities, and everything else we believe will expose our weaknesses just so that we can save-face. Here is where we begin to replay the soundtrack of our lives, which causes us to operate from a place of insecurity as opposed to from a place of strength, power, and wisdom all because we, in our best attempt at winning, make deficit-based decisions rooted in honoring what others will think and/or perceive of us as opposed to honoring our authentic truths about ourselves, which are hidden and cluttered by all of the toxic by-products of past decisions that we continue to pack away. It’s a vicious cycle that usually manifests itself when we try our hardest to hold onto those things that are the most important to us when it feels as if we’re at risk for losing them to something or someone that falls beyond the scope of our control.

Perhaps the funniest thing about the baggage that we accumulate is that we always try to find ways to ensure that stays neatly tucked away, hidden from anyone’s line-of-sight because the danger of full exposure means that we’ll likely be perceived as a weak, vulnerable women. Even as we cram more stuff in our bags until the stress and tension causes the zipper to pop and ooze all the toxic by-products of our past decisions into our present situations, we remain guarded over our pasts because we often fail to connect how our past experiences impact how we think, act, respond, love, and feel the way we do today.

This is why it’s critically important for us to learn understand how the act of forgiveness can free us from bondage on so many different levels so that we can be free to live in and appreciate the present of each moment that we’ve been given to live in love…not allow ourselves to die a slow and miserable death because our bags have become too obese for us to carry. The beauty in this principle is that it remains the same for everyone…even for our husbands.

So how does all this talk about the past decision-making, baggage, and vulnerability better-position me to keep my past from sabotaging my present while keeping my sanity in-tact? Here, my “Sisters-in-Matrimony,” is where we have to do the work of self-examination so that we can be clear about how our pasts can impact every aspect of our present state of matrimonial bliss from how we are able to connect with and relate to our husbands and how we go about fulfilling our wifely duties. What decisions have you make in your past that are impacting how you operate as a woman and a wife in marriage and in life?

Although this is a rather loaded question, your freedom to walk in your authenticity as a woman and as a wife will only happen when you free yourself from the hurt, shame, disappointment, fear, anxiety, or whatever emotion bubbles-up in the core of your soul when you think of how your past decisions ushered you into the present state of your life. This liberation will come when you realize that your past does not define you. You might not realize how your past affects every waking moment of your life, but you owe it to yourself to make an honest attempt to understand why and how your present behavior is subconsciously driven by your past.

Maybe your past affects you the way it does because as your memories of your past experiences and traumas are triggered by stress in whatever form it appears—as issues with trust resulting from many broken relationships and familial ties with those whose duty it was to shield and protect you to being rejected by those whom you wanted but didn’t desire you in the same was to being abandoned by your father or your mother and growing up to believe that you were never worthy enough just as you are to suffering from various forms of abuse—whether physical, mental, emotional, psychological, or financial—that makes it hard for your to trust that anyone will protect you, take care of and provide for all your needs, to whatever else that causes you to cast doubt on your ability to live in the present without being weighed down by the baggage of your past.

My Sisters, the reality is that we’re now joined with our husbands; from the moment that we took our vows on our wedding day until the day that death causes us to part. You will never be able to be fully present in your future, your marriage, and in your life if you’re merely moving through your present shackled to the ghosts of the decisions of your past. Be free…get clear…and keep your sanity through the process.

 

Copyright ©2013

“If Love Is Enough To Keep Us Together, Then Why Are Our Finances Tearing Us Apart?”

caketoppers and moneyIf you’ve just crossed into the dimension of matrimonial bliss, it’s very likely that you’re still floating through the honeymoon phase of your marriage perched high atop cloud two-zillion! From that vantage point, your view of the world into which you and your spouse will eventually assimilate is flawless. All you can see is the perfection of your “happily-ever-after–” the house with the white picket fence, the two-and-a-half kids, the dog, the minivan—the whole nine yards! You can’t fathom the idea of anything upsetting the balance of your marriage because it was meant to be!

And then it happens…you gradually begin your descent to the surface of the Earth and your vision of the real world begins to come back into focus. You’re no longer gazing through the rose-colored glasses that you’ve been wearing since you said “I do.” Instead, you’re starting to see things for what they really are inasmuch as they relate to you, your spouse, and your new life together.

This is usually the point where you begin to settle into the routine of married life and you begin to figure out all that comes along with it—you know…figuring out the answers to questions that all married couples eventually grapple with—settling issues like whose money should handle what household expenses…who’ll clean the toilets…who’ll cook on dinner…when should we start a family…how often will we “get-it-on”…should we have a joint bank account to manage our finances…can we really afford “this” purchase…and the issues will keep coming. However, the key to maneuvering your way thru this phase of your marriage is to remain open and honest about your expectations about everything that you’re thinking and feeling as you communicate with your spouse—especially as those expectations relate to your managing your matrimonial finances.

In a perfect world, there would be no divorce, but the reality is that we live in a time when disagreements about finances are the greatest predictor of divorce. We’d like to think that no one would ever get married with the intention of getting a divorce, but somewhere in the midst of all of the excitement surrounding the proposal, engagement, the wedding ceremony, and the honeymoon, we don’t stop to think about, much less to discuss, our fears, concerns, doubts, etc. about anything that we’re feeling because all we want to do is live our “happily-ever-after,” but at what cost? Are we really willing to risk it all because we’re unable to be honest with ourselves about money—about what money means and represents to us?

To answer that question, we, as wives, need to have a conversation with our innermost selves to get at the root of what’s really driving our motivation when it comes to managing the money matters in our marriages. The mere fact that half of failed marriages can be attributed to some sort of financial disconnect between us wives and our husbands suggests that not enough emphasis is placed on understanding how compatible couples are when it comes to finances going into the marriage.

As women, financial compatibility is highly likely to have a different meaning for us than it does for our spouses (and vice-versa), which is why it’s so important that we examine ourselves so that we can be real enough with ourselves to define what money is and what it means to us on our own terms so that we can be clear about what we expect when it comes to communicating our wants, needs, and desires about managing the matrimonial finances.

Perhaps you expect your husband to support you financially in the marriage…perhaps you expect to contribute 50/50 equally in sharing all marriage-related expenses…perhaps you make more money than your husband and you expect to control the decision-making pertaining to everything in the home (after all…you’re paying for everything, right???)…perhaps your husband expects to make all the decisions because, after all, he is the King of his castle AND he’s bringing up the bacon and dictating how he’d like it to be fried up in the pan)…perhaps you and you husband have divied-up the financial burden of managing the household finances, and you both handle your financial responsibilities out of the money that you both contribute to maintaining the household…perhaps you both operate from the premise that you will do what you want with your money and that’s that.

The truth is that if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll openly admit that we have expectations about the best ways to manage the matrimonial finances. However, the reality is that the difference between staying married and becoming a divorce statistic is in our ability to understand and communicate how our expectations are driven by our deep-rooted beliefs about money—beliefs that were often formed and internalized way before we said “I do.” Once we get a grip on that, we would’ve discovered the greatest relationship gem of them all, which is simply this—that our expectations don’t necessarily mean THE right way to manage things.

For example, if you’ve always operated from a place of lack because you’ve never had enough money to make ends meet before you got married—a place that is all too familiar because you’ve witnessed your parents struggling to make ends meet as you were growing up—you’ll likely want to save every penny because you don’t ever want to feel that sense of lack again.

In marriage, this will likely translate into the often unspoken expectation that every penny gets saved, that all purchases must be made as cheaply as possible, and that all purchases must be pre-approved to help ensure that there will never be any type of financial mismanagement because you’re more likely to associate the stress of not having enough money to meet your household needs with denying yourself the ability to enjoy what you’ve been blessed to acquire with your money.

However, if your husband fits the bill of the proverbial “spender,” and that’s the one attribute about him that irks you to your core BUT you haven’t communicated the reason(s) why that attribute is such a problem for you, then the root of the issue will never get resolved, and will likely fester and infect other areas of your marriage…huuummmm…something to think about.

Although I’ve proffered this is a single example as one of many potential ways that our beliefs about money inadvertently impacts our expectations about how we relate to our husbands when it comes to managing our matrimonial finances, it’s more important for us, as women, to understand why we believe what we believe about money and how those beliefs can either help or hinder our ability to successfully merge our finances with those of your husbands’.

Now, hear me clearly my “Sisters-in-Matrimony:” I’m not suggesting that the we’re the only ones in our marriages who have to do the work of facilitating this internal process of self-examination to get the clarity that we need to successfully navigate this aspect of our marriages because our husbands have to do the same work—that is if they desire to be as authentic and transparent in this process of understanding the same.

While it is a beautiful thing to have been blessed to settle into the married life with the one person that you were destined to spend the rest of your life with, it’s so important that we, as wives, understand that we must not become complacent in our thinking as it relates to matters of managing the matrimonial finances. Even though current divorce statistics cite finances as one of the top reasons why most marriages fail, this trend can be reversed IF we’re willing to put in the work of communicating openly, honestly, and realistically about our beliefs, thoughts, and expectations as it relates to how best to manage our money so that we can beat the odds as they relate to divorce in this area.

So, my “Sisters-In-Matrimony,” what do you think? Is love really enough to keep you and your husband together? Please join the conversation! Share your thoughts and comments because what you have to say might help a “Sister in Matrimony” who might be feeling torn about this topic and need advice about how to maintain this balance.

 

 

Copyright ©2013

 

“He Said, I Said…And All The Words Uttered In-Between: Is It Worth The Argument In The End?”

Augument

What started out as a seemingly normal conversation between you and your spouse somehow took a drastic turn for the worst somewhere between “What-Did-You-Just-Say-To-Me? Way,” and “Well-Excuse-The-Hell-Out-Of-Me! Lane.” You know the moment as soon as it arrives. It’s unmistakable. It’s the point when the air between you and your spouse gets unbearably thick and suffocating; heavy with the stench of foul language and infused with random expletives that serve to sharpen the sting that you feel as you come to the realization that you’ve never met the person that who stands before you.

As the words keep flying and the tempers keep rising, you somehow manage to snap-back into reality for a split-second, only to realize that this is REALLY happening! This, my “Sisters-in-Matrimony,” is the proverbial point-of-no-return for us women because we’re hard-wired to win…and we’re in it solely to win-it! The only thing that our spouses need to do from this point on, henceforth, and forevermore is simply recognize that our conversation crossed that threshold and entered into the “Argument Zone.” But how did we let things get to this point? And why?

The answer to these questions should be simple enough. For instance, we arrived in the “zone” because we didn’t see eye-to-eye on some issue at some point during the course of our conversation. Now we’re yelling and screaming at each other, engaged in an all-out verbal battle designed to elevate our points-of-view over those of our spouse’s all because we HAVE TO HAVE THE THE LAST WORD; regardless of how right or how wrong we are. But why? Is the argument really worth it in the end? What are we really trying to prove, and to whom?

This, my “Sisters-In-Matrimony,” is where we must be completely honest with ourselves in examining the need to disrupt your marriage by perpetuating unnecessary chaos that will eventually drive a wedge of division between you, your spouse, and your home. We could do the most good in preserving our sanity and the sanity of our spouses and the sanity of our homes if we’d be honest enough with ourselves to examine our motives for allowing the argument to “go there” in the first place. What need did we have met as a result of going through the argument to get our point across? What value, if any, was added to strengthen our marriage as we expended all that energy arguing? Exactly!

Two of the most important lessons that I learned as a woman, which proved to be vital to my ability to effectively communicate with my spouse, is that when communicating either verbally, non-verbally, in writing, or through whatever medium through which you intend to send a message to another person during the communicative process is that you must (1) learn how to disagree WITHOUT being disagreeable, and (2) that you must listen twice as much as you speak so that you allow yourself sufficient time to process all messages that you’re receiving in an effort to reduce the likelihood of misunderstanding the messenger’s intended purpose for sending the original message.

As women, we get so caught-up in having the last word until we miss critical moments in the communication process to learn from—in other words, it is in those moments when we are purposed to learn how to strengthen our ability to become more effective nurturers of the communicative process in all the ways that matters most; especially when it comes to nurturing the one relationship with the person with whom we vowed to spend the rest of our natural lives.

While that was a rather long aside, I felt compelled to share that tidbit of wisdom because it strengthens the point and purpose for this post, which is to encourage wives to take a long, hard look at how they’re either strengthening or strangling their marriages based on the desire to have the last word in the argument. NOW PLEASE DON’T MISUNDERSTAND THE POINT THAT I’M TRYING TO CONVEY HERE—I’m not saying that you should not communicate your concerns to your spouse, or that you should allow yourself to be verbally abused as this is unhealthy. Conversely, you should not be verbally abusive to your spouse.

In closing, there’s a very fine line between maintaining strong communicative ties with your spouse and letting your communicative interaction with your spouse spiral out-of-control to the point of hurt feelings, being called out-of-your-name, and emerging mentally bruised and hurt because motives were not examined before initiating the conversation to begin with. So, my “Sisters-In-Matrimony,” what do you think? Is the argument really worth it in the end? Please join the conversation! Share your thoughts and comments because what you have to say might help a “Sister in Matrimony” who might be feeling torn about this topic and need advice about how to maintain this balance.

“Living Beyond the Vows: I said ‘I Do,’ So Now What?”

You’ve dreamed about this day for as long as you can remember. You’ve set the scene in your mind, and replayed it a thousand times. You’ve spent what feels like an eternity envisioning how you would accept the perfect proposal from “the one.” You’ve spent what feels like a lifetime planning the perfect wedding ceremony and reception. You’ve spent countless hours preparing for your special day; working out all of the details—picking the dress; picking the invitations; picking the cake; filling out wedding registries; deciding on the overall color scheme and theme for the festivities; picking the bridesmaids dresses; deciding how big you want your wedding party to be; hiring the photographer and DC; deciding on a venue; deciding what food to serve; deciding how you will wear your hair; deciding what shoes and jewelry you and your bridesmaids will wear; and, the list goes on and on. You’ve attended pre-marital counseling, and did your best to impress your future in-laws and/or stepchildren (if you should be so lucky as to inherit an instant-family without having had the benefit of any sort of parental training) ALL while trying your damnedest to maintain your sanity!

And then it happens! Your wedding day finally arrives, and it’s time to get married! The ceremony begins, and it’s everything that you thought it would be AND MORE!!! The moment finally arrives for you to say your vows, and repeat the “I do” with an outpouring of love that’s so strong and pure, and then that’s it! You’ve just become somebody’s wife! So now what? What? What? What does that mean?

Well…one thing’s for sure—saying “I do” doesn’t necessarily mean that you and your other-half will go riding off into the sunset to reside in the land-of-happily-ever-after. AFTER the honeymoon is over, you will wake up one morning as usual, and as you go about getting yourself ready to start your day, you will look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself “REALLY??? …What have I gotten myself into?”

This, my “Sisters in Matrimony,” is a very dangerous place for us to find ourselves because no matter how long it takes us to arrive at this place of double-mindedness, it reaffirms all that we didn’t take the time on the front-end of planning our happily-ever-after to either consider, think through, or plan for the impact that the “I do” will have on the women that we are, separate-and-apart from our role as wives.

Why is this so important? Ummm…because we STILL have to live our lives AFTER we say “I do;” the difference is that we have to figure out how to let our authentic selves shine through the matrimonial haze that surrounds us when we become wives. We have to figure out how we’re absolute assets in our marriages in EVERY way, as opposed to a liability to our respective partnerships with our spouses. We must find our place of balance and operate from that place of authenticity because if we don’t, we will operate from a place that is not in alignment with purpose in marriage, which is to submit to our husband.

Lastly, we must know our opponent. That’s to say that we MUST know ourselves because as women, we oppose ourselves on so many different levels and in so many different ways without even being conscious of our actions. As wives, we be careful to guard the sanctity of our marriages with ALL due diligence.

So, how, my “Sisters in Matrimony,” how you continue to live for who you are after you say “I do?” Do you eat the cookie? Do you buy the shoes? Do you keep yourself tight and looking right? Do you do yoga? Do you still do everything that you did to get him to the altar just to keep him interested? Do you still cook? How do you do it? Please join the conversation! Share your thoughts and comments because what you have to say might help a “Sister in Matrimony” who might be feeling torn about this topic and need advice about how to maintain this balance.

This entry was posted on October 28, 2013. 2 Comments

“After I Say ‘I Do,’ Am I Still Free To Be My True, Authentic Self?”

Okay…so after a brief hiatus of about four months, I’ve returned to reignite this conversation about how the experience of being a wife influences the way that we are perceived as women with individual desires, goals, objectives, and identities that are, more often than not, separate and apart from what others think we should be when we say “I do.” During that time, I had to take a few steps back in an effort to find the place of balance between my role as a wife and that of my true, authentic self—or rather, to the masterpiece of creation that I am, simply because I was born to be a woman of destiny.

When we say “I do” and enter into the covenant of marriage, we are to cleave to our husband…to submit to him, and this is where the script gets flipped in so many different ways because people have different ideas of what it means to cleave to one’s husband…to be a good wife…and, the ultimate, to submit. Somewhere in the midst of all that confusion, we often lose sight of who we are at the core of our being, and that, my “Sisters in Matrimony,” should never happen.

The truth of the matter is that if we are not careful to celebrate who we are every second of everyday, then no one else will. We bring something that is unique, valuable, and irreplaceable to the sanctity of marriage—don’t be fooled. If only we remained true to who we are after we get married instead of projecting ourselves to be a reflection of what others think we should be, it would be easier to identify with our role as a wife because we’d see pieces of who we truly are etched into the outline of that role, which would empower us to become the true creators and definers of what being a wife means to us.

Now check in–when I say “celebrate who we are,” I’m not saying that “it’s all about us” because it’s not. Being in a marriage is the same thing as being in a partnership, so you must honor your spouse. However, what I am saying is that you owe it to yourself and to your sanity to maintain your connection to the woman who you are deep down in your soul and breathe life into her so that SHE will live and assume her position as the vibrant part of you that is the added value in your marriage. No one else can do that for you, as no one is responsible for your happiness…not even the one you vowed to love “’til death do us part.”

May I submit to all of my “Sisters in Matrimony” that you are still free to be who you were created to be after you get married! You can and should live life as the best you that you can be after you get married. Being a wife should not limit you in any way; rather, your role as a wife should enhance who you are, how you relate to yourself, and how others relate to you for the better. Pursuing your personal goals, objectives, and desires should not prove to be a liability to your marriage, but should serve to strengthen it. Continue to nurture your gifts and talents, embrace who you truly are, and celebrate yourself because the world needs you!

So what are your thoughts? Please join the conversation, and share your comments below. Your comment might help a “Sister in Matrimony” who might be feeling torn about this topic and need advice about how to maintain this balance, or who may be questioning if she can be free to be her true, authentic self in her marriage.