The Unexpected

Marriage is a beautiful thing. However, it can also be a challenge. Like everything else we accomplish in life, our support system is critical to the success of it. It is imperative to surround yourself with people who will “clap for you,” cheer you on, visit you and never tell you to give up on your marriage. In my previous marriage, my ex-husband and I were tested in ways unimaginable. If you’ve ever shared any ounce of your relationship woes with a family member or a friend, you may get feedback like, “You knew what you were getting into when you got with him/her.” Truth of the matter is, you probably didn’t. You knew what you expected. None of us know what we’re getting into until we’re actually in it. It’s like buying a house, the walkthrough is always nice but after moving in, you will become very familiar with it’s sounds, the neighborhood and all that comes with it. When I started this blog, I was married. My marriage came to an end fall 2019. However, my vision, expertise, or “know hows” hasn’t changed. My ex-husband and I made it beyond the walkthrough. While we didn’t make it to the finish line, I learned great lessons along the way. Let me share some of those with you…(posts are best followed from reading earliest to most recent)

Embracing The Change: Dealing with Loneliness After Divorce

Who knew that when I started this blog about sustaining marriage, I’d be writing about how to heal through a divorce? I suppose divorce is also one of those unexpected outcomes of marriage, so it fits. However, that doesn’t change the shock of it all, and the idea that divorce wasn’t suppose to be MY TRUTH.

I don’t care who you are, NO ONE gets married to get divorced. Couples do not enter into a marriage with all the tools necessary to build a strong union. In fact, many of them don’t know that they need a hammer until, they need a hammer. For that reason, it’s unfair to suggest that couples, “see things coming.” I most certainly did not.

No matter how challenging my marriage became, I did not foresee me readjusting or being in our marital home alone. I always knew…no, I thought, or maybe I hoped that he wanted the marriage as bad as I did. Maybe he did want the marriage, but for different reasons than I did. Nevertheless, here I am, embracing the change and living this new life.

The most challenging part about embracing this new sense of ‘self’ is getting through the loneliness. To spend almost 6 years or any amount of time, with someone traveling, dining, planning, living, talking, working, praying, arguing or whatever we did, can be almost traumatizing to one day wake up and not experience it anymore.

Some would argue that actually being “alone” and feeling “lonely” are two different things. I would argue the same. I know that I’m not alone. I have friends, some family, and even some strangers who wouldn’t allow me to walk this journey by myself.

However, when they are busy or not at “arms reach” or better yet, when they aren’t the partner I thought God assigned to me, it creates a sense of ‘loneliness’ or feeling like I am walking this path by myself. Loneliness occurs when what a person wants does not align with what they ‘get.’ I could have a million people call me in a day, but if the call is not from the one person I want it to be from, it’s like the phone never rang…THAT IS LONELINESS.

Loneliness is irrational, it is self-sabotaging and it is quite typical to experience during ANY grieving process. It is important not to let the feeling of loneliness prevent you from prospering and most importantly, put you in a position to choose the same type of partner again.

Here are 5 ways to embrace loneliness after a divorce…

1. Accept It

Like any emotion, when we allow our body and spirit to ‘sit’ with it long enough, it passes. This is the theory behind, “time heals all wounds.” I still debate about that “all” part, but it is true, that when one does the internal ‘work’ as they heal, the unpleasant emotions and desires to act on them will go away. It doesn’t happen over night, but with each moment of meditating, praying, ignoring and replacing, the loneliness begins to fade.

Throughout this process, there were countless nights when I wanted to give “IN” (and some nights I did) to loneliness. I wanted to call him, see him one last time for old times sake, let him stay the night because I didn’t want to feel like anything changed, and for a minute, I convinced myself that even AFTER the divorce, he and I could date again. See how loneliness will have a person right back where they started?

Being back where I started was NOT an option. Therefore, I had to start accepting those “missing him” moments as typical, temporary states and not traits.

To avoid giving “IN,” to loneliness, change the logic or thought process associated with why you need that person to be there. Instead of telling yourself that “you’re going to be alone,” tell yourself that “you’re preparing yourself for better, and that you’re not alone.” Tell yourself that “YOU being with YOU makes you stronger” because it does. Also, tell yourself that “not all change is bad.”

It is highly likely the marriage ended for reasons more intense than loneliness, which means “those lonely moments” are much easier to get through than you think they are.

2. Get closer to your higher power

If you are spiritually inclined, then it should not be hard to fathom the idea that “things” happen for a reason and that no experience comes without a lesson. Sometimes, we put so much of who we are into “people” that we forget what our purpose in life is. Yes, serving others is a great gesture and it can be rewarding. Because of this, it is easy and quite addictive to get caught up in the accolades of pleasing others, so much so, that we lose ourselves.

Serving “people” allows us to become blind to the fact that people are flawed, therefore capable of hurting us, increasing the deceptive thought that all we need is “someone to do right by us…”

“Naw,” we need to do right by ourselves first, and the only way to do that is to get closer to God. God has a way of getting us by ourselves to prepare us for our next journey. This sometimes looks like parting ways with people we thought would be in our lives forever. Key-phrase: “WE THOUGHT…” God never told us this person would be with us forever, but when we live according to the plans of “people,” those plans almost never work out.

You ever seen the memes on social media that says, “Be her peace or be his peace?” It’s all deception. The only peace you can have is internal peace and that is provided by God. People CAN NOT be another person’s peace (read that again). People can be quiet while you’re with them, but they can’t bring you peace.

A very good friend of mine (M.E 😘) reminded me of this during one of my vent sessions. I was speaking on how I become so ‘chill’ around certain people. She immediately said, “Nya, that’s your problem, find chill in yourself and do it through getting closer to God. That way, no matter what you’re going through or who you’re with, you will have peace…” She was absolutely correct.

Shortly after, I embraced distance from people and I began to pray. I started doing daily devotionals, journaling more, and having ‘talks’ with God, every time I felt lonely. It is still a process and sometimes irrational thoughts arise, but that is when I pray harder, re-read the devotionals and carry out acts of faith. Believing in something you can’t see is everything.

3. Create new memories

A lot of times people experience loneliness because they are longing for what ‘use’ to be. Now is the time to do things differently and be OK with new results.

There is a lot of fear surrounding the act of change and for this reason, most people don’t do it. There can not be any growth without discomfort. There is no better time than post-divorce to find out who YOU really are.

Create new memories by breaking or modifying old traditions. For example, instead of thinking about Thanksgiving with your ex-spouse, have Thanksgiving with just friends and/or your family. The holidays can be difficult for a lot of people who have lost loved ones, so use this time to adjust. Staying in the past, increases the likeliness of depression and prevents us from moving forward.

Live your life!! Make plans to get out of the house more; find local concerts, comedy shows and events and just go; travel to different cities; flirt with someone; go dancing and don’t forget to scream and shout when the DJ asks, “Where are all my single people?”

Don’t be afraid to do things alone. There are more date-nights to be had, especially if you can master dating yourself. Confidence never gets old and it will always, attract others.

4. Find a support group

People grieve every day, which means there are support groups that help cope with loneliness. Group therapy is very powerful. Its main purpose is to challenge the irrational thoughts associated with being “lonely.” Imagine sitting in a room with 15-20 people who share the same experience, no judgment, only solutions and healing. The positive feedback empowers you and validates the path to being independent again.

The process of group therapy is very similar to individual therapy except, the group is considered one entity. It doesn’t focus on one person. It focuses on the group and how members can collectively resolve a significant concern together.

To find group therapy sites or agencies that provide group therapy, check with your local hospitals, churches, mental health and community centers.

5. Create an inspirational playlist

Just like the food we eat, what we listen to is very influential on the soul. When we feel lonely, it is so easy to turn up that “same sad song…” We want validation that our pain is real and what better way to get it, than to hear someone we don’t know sing about the same thing? Lets not do that. Time out for the “yeah, that’s right…” Create a playlist that inspires and instills hope for the future. The goal is to move forward, not backwards and anything that stunts the growth of the healing process should be avoided.

Some songs I’d recommend are “I’m You” by Leona Lewis, “First Love” by Kirk Franklin, “Even Angels” by Fantasia and “Firework” by Katy Perry, just to name a few.

Podcasts are just as influential. I like Joel Osteen’s and Andrea P. Jackson’s, “Our Mirror’s Reflection.”

The important part is that in times of loneliness, we find what elevates and not deflates. It is never about what happens to us, as it is about how we heal. Poor coping skills and repetitive negative thoughts can have a major impact on how we progress. It’s like breaking a leg and still trying to walk around on it. Be kind to yourself. Sit down, let the broken heart heal and don’t rush its mend. I promise, you will be stronger than you were before the marriage even began.

Best wishes to all who are on a healing journey…

Love,

Nya

This post was written to decrease feelings of loneliness amongst those who are grieving or experiencing a loss.

Nya B is an author, mental health clinician, speaker and adjunct professor in Behavioral Arts and Sciences. To learn more, check out her website, http://www.nya-b.com. Follow her on IG and Twitter @author_nya_b and on Facebook under Nya B.

He’s Not On Your Level, Sis: The Downfall of the Successful Black Woman

According to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (2019), there are 2, 670,000 Black women who hold a 4-year degree or higher, compared to only 1, 909,000 Black men in the U.S who hold the same degree. This is not to say that Black women are “taking over” and running households more efficiently than Black men. However, it does suggests that when it’s time to share the load, the “pickings” for successful Black women of other successful Black men, may be slim.

By default, a woman can easily be nurturing, caring, loving without hesitation and passive in her efforts to put her needs first. Black women in particular have an aura about themselves that not only exudes the default qualities, but emanates a symbol of strength. Black women can make things happen, with very little tools. They can be fierce and unmovable when it comes to their life planning and most importantly, they have the ability to take a man who has absolutely nothing, and build him to BE and HAVE everything.

While some may see a Black woman’s ability to make a man great a strength, it can very well be a weakness. In fact, it can be the shortest pathway to her downfall.

A woman who helps her man is admirable and sometimes, helping a man short term, is neccessary. However, taking care of a man long term is not only unhealthy, but should be avoided at all costs.

There are many levels to taking care of someone. I’m not speaking of the day-to-day operations such as cooking and cleaning or household obligations while the “better half” pays the bills. That’s called teamwork.

I’m speaking to the women who DO IT ALL; the cooking, the cleaning, the organizing, the planning, the providing, the compromising, the structuring and the sacrificing while HE gets his shit together. He’s not for you, sis.

No matter how compassionate a woman is or how much she is use to taking care of everything, there will never be a reason to build a broken man.

Here are 5 Ways to Avoid Building a Broken Man…

1. Look at where you got him from

Ladies, the key to having a man on your level is paying attention to how he came packaged. Where did you find him? And what was he doing with his life during that time? Did he have his own living space or did he live with someone? Was he in between jobs or fully employed? Was he in a relationship or was he single? Did he have reliable transportation or was he using his mom’s bus pass? All those factors play a significant part in the foundation of your future with him. If you are a woman who has it altogether, you need a mate who has it altogether as well. Compromising who you are in the courting phases is a strong indicator that you will be compromising for the rest of that relationship. If you have to pick him up and drop him off at work, reconsider. If he’s complaining that the couch he sleeps on hurts his back, reconsider. A man has to be able to bring something to the table, especially if you bought it.

2. Pay attention to how he thinks

Cognitive Behavioral theorists are huge on thoughts influencing a person’s emotions and by way, their actions. I actually swear by it. When getting to know someone, especially a man, it is very imperative to understand his thought processes. Is the glass half-empty or half-full? What does he think of being “equally yoked” or being a team player? Does he believe in marriage or casual sex for the rest of his life? Is his mindset “poor?” Is he angry with women? Does he have “mommy issues?”

Get to know how he views the world because it will be a factor in how he navigates through the relationship. For example, if a man has “mommy issues,” one of two scenarios are likely to occur:

1. He is likely to be a womanizer, having strong mistrust or disregard for women or…

2. He could still be on the “tit,” hanging on to his mother’s every word and defending her every action because he still needs validation from her.

Nothing is more frustrating than being with a man who only has room in his heart for his mother. It’s like sweeping sand.

3. Is there “baby-momma-drama?”

A man who has “baby-momma-drama” is a man who most likely can’t control his kingdom. I’m not suggesting that all men who have issues with the mother of their child or children, are incapable of managing their kingdom, because some women can be “doozies.” What I am suggesting is, if drama constantly arises, he either hasn’t closed the book on that chapter or he is not respected and doesn’t demand respect either. A man who doesn’t respect himself, or protect his peace, WILL NOT respect or protect his woman’s peace. In many cases, the woman may find herself fighting battles that aren’t hers because of the boundaries, the man refused to set. A man’s primary duty is to protect his household, and if he can not manage conflict, he can NOT and will NOT protect.

4. Explore the way he manages money

More often than not, people in general want more than they can afford. This in and of itself, is not a problem. The problem lies in the refusal to take care of needs because of those wants. Traditionally, marriage and courtship was all about money and the man needed to be a good provider or the woman’s family did not approve. Contemporary relationships have created a shift in those roles and women are picking up more of the “slack.”

Like I mentioned previously, general help from a woman is not a problem, especially if the man is trying. However, if he needs $40 every week to fill up his gas tank because he spent his money on “weed,” you may want to reconsider. Ask yourself, “Is this man a liability or an asset?” In other words, are you losing by being with him or are you gaining?

The climate of a prosperous relationship comes from the idea that two people work together to have an abundance of resources. If you’re a woman who’s creating, while the man is taking, you’re not in a relationship. It’s called co-dependency. He needs to be taken care of, and you need to feel needed.

5. Measure his maturity level

According to the Telegraph, UK (2013), men fully mature at the age of 43, placing them 11 years behind the maturation age of 32, for women. While some level of immaturity is inevitable, (lack of effective communication, improper handling of emotions, and defensive responding), there are other signs of immaturity that should be avoided such as changing behaviors in front of his friends, disrespecting women or talking down to his woman, blaming his woman for his actions, or competing with her accomplishments.

Loving someone who isn’t ready can be the most damaging thing to a person’s spirit, especially, the spirit of a person who likes to help and save others. Be mindful that everyone doesn’t perceive “help” the same and everyone isn’t looking to “grow.” Some people are perfectly happy where they are, therefore incapable of progressing to the next level or shall I say, your level.

Dear Black Woman,

You can not save a broken man. He will pull you down, before you pull him up.

Similarly, in more cases than not, it’s the “helper” who wants to see the change, more than the one being helped. Explore which side you’re on and make sure YOU as a “helper,” find love with another “helper.”

This post was written to improve the courtship process amongst successful women. It details the signs and symptoms to avoid becoming enablers to potential suitors, decreasing divorce rates and improving household dynamics.

Nya B is an author, mental health clinician, speaker and adjunct professor in Behavioral Health and Sciences. To learn more about her, check out her website, http://www.nya-b.com, follow her on IG and Twitter @author_nya_b and FB, at Nya B.

Leaving It In My Rearview: When It’s Time to Divorce

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am one of the most dedicated and committed women when it comes to anything I say, “Yes” to. I will give any task my “all” and work just as hard to make sure all parties involved are sure of my efforts and abilities, whether they acknowledge it or not. On the flip side of that, anyone who knows me, also knows that when I decide that I no longer want to commit or just never intended to engage from the beginning, there is nothing ambiguous about how I “move.” They will know that my interest is not there and feel the absence of my existence. It could be a “Nya” thing or an “Aries” thing, either way, it is embedded in me.

Marriage is valuable to me. My current marriage WAS valuable to me and I’m sad to say, it will all be over soon. The idea of committing to someone, or being there for someone when the feelings, and terms and conditions aren’t always pleasant, TO ME, is what life is all about. I don’t believe people are put on this earth to be alone. My heart aches for those whose circumstances, condition them to believe that they are meant to be by themselves.

I hear people say that marriage isn’t for everyone and it probably isn’t. It’s not for the ‘weak,’ it takes a substantial level of maturity, and hard work. While my profession allows me to help people navigate through life’s challenges, I can’t tell them who to love and in what capacity. I do know that whenever a couple comes to me for treatment, my intent is and will always be, to keep them together. However, there comes a time when staying together isn’t feasible. In fact, staying in any unhealthy relationship of any kind can take years from one’s life. Be kind to yourself.

Here are 5 Signs It Is Time to Divorce…

1. You are unhappy.

Being unhappy and being uncomfortable are two different things. (Please read that part again πŸ€”) Relationships should make you uncomfortable because they promote growth. However, loving someone should not make you feel sad, depressed, alone, and overall unhappy. Keep in mind that happy moments do not equate to a happy state of mind. (Please read that part again πŸ€”)

My “soon-to-be ex-husband” and I had a lot of happy moments. We hung out all the time and as I stated in previous posts, we enjoyed each other. You’re probably asking yourself, “Well, what happened?” Whenever someone asks me that question, all I can hear is a verse from “Come and See Me” by PartyNextDoor:

Things change, people change, feelings change too…Never thought the circumstances woulda changed you…”

I found that while I was happy with myself, my sons and my career, I often felt alone in my efforts to maintain my marriage. This made me unhappy and the longer it continued to be that way, the more unhealthy the dynamic became. I don’t know about the rest of you but when I am unhappy, the entire household becomes fully aware and that is not good. When a leader of a household isn’t happy, the unhappiness becomes a disease that can be transmitted to its members, just by walking into a room. All of a sudden, the children are upset when they go to school; the meals don’t taste as good; the participation in family-time becomes less and passive-aggressive behaviors and defensiveness becomes the primary form of interaction amongst the couple.

If you are unhappy in your marriage, it is your obligation to identify the source and rectify it. Do not allow unhappiness to linger. It will literally make you sick. Continue to have the conversation, no matter how much the other party avoids it. Seek resources that are FOR the marriage for support and don’t let anyone downplay your feelings, thoughts and ideas. Being unhappy long term in any circumstance is not healthy. Life is too short for that.

2. You find yourself physically ill often.

When the mind decides to do what it wants, the human body has a way of intervening and telling it that “it’s being hard-headed…” This reminds me of something my mother use to say to me when I disobeyed her as a child: “A hard head makes a soft behind…” Ironically, this is still true in adulthood, except “natural consequences” become the tools that holds us accountable. I know this sounds bizarre but in the past two years, I’ve had multiple colds, the flu, sinus infections, ear infections, and migraines. Some may argue, “Well Nya, it could be allergies; it could be the change in the weather; it could be that you’re around new people every day...”

In return, I’d argue, “While there may be some truth to that, there was a time in my life that my immune system and spirit was strong enough to fight off the germs and at a later time, my immune system became ineffective because I was STRESSED…”

I don’t care what anyone says, stress can and will, kill you. Stress weakens the immune system making it difficult to fight off germs and bacteria that we come in contact with every day. Alleviate your stress levels by minimizing all things that alters your heart rate. If you are stressed in your marriage, get a healthy outlet. Don’t be afraid to ask for space from the things that trigger you. It is OK to take a break from the arguments, the misunderstandings, the hypervigilance and the shame of things not working out in your favor. Never stop seeking solutions. Be kind to yourself.

3. You become mentally unhealthy.

In my almost 2 decades of counseling, I’ve learned that a lot of people resist marriage and commitment because they fear their hearts won’t be taken care of. Most people play “games” to protect themselves and I understand it. Marrying the wrong person can turn a person insane. If you find yourself unhappy, stressed and insane in your marriage, it may be time to part ways.

What many people don’t realize is that relationships are meant to promote you, not demote you. Depending on what a person may have experienced in their childhood, he or she may truly believe that drama and being in the trenches in a marriage is normal. I am here to tell them and anyone who believes that, IT IS NOT!!

Constant exposure to anything that hurts your feelings or upsets you, is emotional abuse. Just like physical abuse, emotional abuse can lead to mental health issues. If you’ve been following this blog since 2017, then it’s safe to say that you have an idea of some of my experiences. Having emotional and physical protection by my spouse is highly important to me. Unfortunately, I was missing that in my marriage or at least I didn’t see proof of it.

Staying in something that didn’t meet my emotional needs CONSISTENTLY, caused me to have high levels of anxiety. I found myself having frequent panic attacks, skipping meals because I couldn’t keep food down, and being hypervigilant about everything. I saw things as happening that probably weren’t happening but because my mind was conditioned to go without, I was convinced I was ‘without.’ I eventually began to take Ativan to get through my toughest moments, but then it dawned on me, “Before this marriage, I was fine. I had control over who I let in my life. I had mental stability. I was surrounded by people who wouldn’t dare let anyone speak ill of me, disrespect me or ostracize me…” The most important person in that group of people though, was ME. I was an expert at protecting ‘me’ and my ‘love’ for my husband, allowed me to bargain with all of that. So much so, it drove me insane. I stopped taking the ativan and started taking care of me. I put myself first and I literally had to stop giving a “fuck.”

If you find your mind slowly leaving you in your marriage, get help. Find a counselor, hang out with your friends, pray and ask your higher power for strength to hold onto yourself. You need you…

4. You’ve compromised so much of yourself that you forgot who you were.

It is very natural to compromise some things in a relationship. Healthy relationships are all about give and take. We know going into a marriage, we’re not going to get all the things we want and truthfully, we shouldn’t. We don’t learn anything beneficial about ourselves when we get everything we want in our relationships. However, what happens when a person has given EVERYTHING to their spouse and have nothing to show for it?

When you love a person, you unconsciously give them power over you. You can only hope that they use that power for good and nothing more. Unfortunately, some spouses are great at manipulation and chipping away at their loving spouse, one day at a time. The compromise doesn’t happen simultaneously. It happens gradually over time.

First, you accept the circumstances. Then you accept the behaviors. Next, you accept the excuses, then you find yourself making excuses too. Lastly, the entire situation has become one “big ball” of disrespect and there is no longer proof of your strength or existence.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I had to look up and ask myself, “How did I get here? I would have never accepted this shit years ago…” I clearly forgot who I was. I allowed things to occur in my marriage that I would have never accepted upfront. I shouldn’t have accepted it on the back-end either.

If you find yourself compromising so much of yourself that you forget who you are, find a mirror. Look in that mirror and ask yourself, “Did I just give or take a last name or did I get rid of my first name too?” There is a difference.

If there are things that you enjoyed and you don’t enjoy them anymore, that’s a problem. If you find yourself spending more time making excuses for behaviors that you know are wrong, that’s a problem. If you can’t list at least five things that you get from the marriage, that’s a problem. Find yourself, immediately.

5. You’ve tried everything you could to save it.

I strongly encourage any couple who comes to me to exhaust all resources before considering divorce. I am a firm believer that anything worth having is worth saving, but it takes two people. I am a mental health professional and it is very true that we are always assessing something. I can, without a doubt and whole heartedly admit that I assessed my marriage and exhausted every resource before filing for divorce.

I communicated; I listened and changed behaviors that were hurtful to him; we did counseling; I reached out to his religious organization; I even attempted to make amends with relationships I didn’t even dismantle; I prayed; I journaled, and we even separated for a while, but none of it proved sufficient. Truth of the matter is, you can’t make a person want, what you want, especially if their desire isn’t genuine and possibly based on survival.

If you’re a wife like me, you’re probably an enabler and a compromiser. Chances are you’ve made life very comfortable for your spouse and it’s probably because all you wanted to do was see them WIN. Unfortunately, because of where a person may be mentally, they don’t always see the value in what someone else brings to the table. Sometimes the best resolution isn’t counseling or “sticking” it out just one more year. The solution is to recognize what the marriage is costing you. Think about what you could have done differently, get your ‘shit‘ and sit it at a table that is already made for you…

This post was written to give insight on when it’s time to move on from a potentially toxic situation. This post was not intended to support divorce or advocate for it. Nya B will always be an advocate and support of marriage.

Nya B is an author, mental health clinician, adjunct professor and speaker. To learn more, follow her on IG and Twitter @author_nya_b or on Facebook at Nya B. Check out her website, http://www.nya-b.com

When Your Spouse Is No Longer Who You Married

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of marriage? Is it “forever? Love? Or for “better or worse?” I think of all of those things and then some. I will also be firm in reminding you that each one of those concepts, especially “better or worse,” isn’t pretty. Sticking it out is so easy when things are for the better. ‘Better’ means that things are most likely working for the couple and not against them. It can be so beautiful and feel so good. There are no threats of health problems, no signs of infidelity, and/or nothing that suggests abuse.

I’m not certain how everyone interprets that ‘worse’ part. However, I do know, the experience is different for every couple. Some couples’ ‘worse’ may be financial problems, while ‘worse’ for other couples may be greed or selfishness of one or more parties. I always tell couples to decide what their ‘worse’ is and develop a crisis intervention plan to get out of it. An intervention plan can be a breeze when the problems are behavioral (staying out late, hanging with friends too much, etc.) or environmental (loss of employment, relocation etc.) However, a behavioral intervention plan can be a challenge when a change seems permanent, in other words, your spouse is no longer who you married.

People change and the reality of it all is, they should. Your spouse shouldn’t be comfortable being who they were on your wedding day. They should be better than the person they were on your wedding day. Unfortunately, the cookie doesn’t always crumble that way. Some people lose themselves in marriage, become depressed or become comfortable doing the same things everyday and guess what? In the true spirit of marriage, you have to push through.

Here are 5 ways to Cope When Your Spouse is No Longer Who You Married

1. Explore

Sometimes we get caught up in who our partners were when they were courting us that we don’t consider that who we met, may not even be who they really are. Maybe they engaged in sex all of the time and after a year or two of marriage, they stopped. Maybe they took the time out to groom themselves and now, they don’t even care if their socks match. Inquire about the change and exactly when it took place. This doesn’t have to be done by asking your partner what happened. Exploring can be done by observation, paying attention to what they respond to and when they do engage in something, then speaking on it. Exploring will allow you to gather facts and make correlations when the two of you finally sit down to talk. An example of this is as follows: After about 30 days of exploring his wife, a husband notices that she only wears dresses when it’s girls’ night and sweatpants when it’s the two of them. In conversation, he finally asks, “Darling, I notice two Fridays in a row, you dressed up for girls night, then on Saturday, we went out to dinner and you wore sweats. I’d like to see you in a dress too.” After speaking with her, he learned that his wife believed that wearing dresses for her husband, often led to sex, and she didn’t want to run the risk of getting pregnant. How we explore and communicate the differences in our marriage has a big impact on how we resolve them.

2. Get to know them again

Change is hard, but inevitable AND sometimes, (actually most times) change is not even about the person no longer wanting the marriage. It’s about them, no longer wanting themselves. When someone doesn’t like something about themselves and they are brave, they change it. The unfortunate part is, they don’t always feel comfortable sharing that desire to change with others because the change may not be supported. For example, if a couple started out in the marriage as, ‘smokers’ and later, one of the parties learned the benefits of being smoke free, he or she may decide to stop. I’ve seen this happen plenty of times with couples. Most of the time, the change occurs in the face of a pregnancy and the wife decided to change her habits for the sake of a healthy baby. The best way to handle something like this is to get to know your spouse as a new person. Treat them as you would meeting them for the first time without the trait or characteristic you remember. In the example of the ‘smoker,’ the husband may go outside to smoke, or make sure his “smokey” clothes aren’t where the baby sleeps or others can smell them. He may have to change his thought process and tell himself, “my wife doesn’t smoke…” It is hurtful to disrespect the change and refuse accommodations because of what ‘use’ to be. Similarly, it is also unfair to force change on your spouse because you decided to do things differently. Sure it’s amazing when a couple can embark on a journey of change together, but the best changes are those that aren’t forced.

3. Re-invent yourself

Relationships were never designed to get to know others. They were designed to get to know who we are with others. While we are exploring our spouses and their changes, it’s almost more important to explore what their change is bringing out in us. Are we triggered with bad memories by their change? Are we annoyed? Are we better people? What happens to you as the spouse when your spouse is not the person you remember, is worth looking into. No matter how bad a situation becomes, there is usually something good to see in that. A spouse who decides to shut down and no longer communicates can be a time for the other party to learn how important communication is to him or her. Similarly, the distance may allow time to self-actualize or be more congruent with self. Marriage is great but it’s even greater when two people who have the life they want, come together. A healthy marriage wouldn’t require one person to give up their dreams so the other can be happy. Similarly, it wouldn’t imply that one suffers while the other gains a sense of euphoria. When one party has chosen to take away the air that a marriage needs to breathe, it is neccessary for the neglected spouse to use that time to find an airway that allows them to breathe on their own, as long as it isn’t a threat to the marriage. Sometimes a spouse changes because there is too much pressure for them to be EVERYTHING to one person. As a result, they too shut down and restrict their emotions and physical presence. Sometimes the lesson is simply, finding your own air then sharing the breathing space with your spouse so your being ‘ok,’ doesn’t take away from their ability be present in the marriage.

4. Strengthen your spirituality

If your spouse has changed for the worse, this is that time to build your closeness with your higher power. Changes in our spouse, (especially if they aren’t the type to take responsibility) can make you feel like you’ve done something wrong or you’re the reason for the negative change. Don’t fall victim to that. While there may have been factors that contributed to negative feelings, one person can not be responsible for another person’s permanent actions. Getting closer to your higher power, whether it’s praying more, meditating more, or change of interpersonal connections will allow you to still be happy with yourself, despite the obstacles in your marriage. When you pray, pray for your spouse as well. Their change in personality is a clear indicator that they aren’t strong enough just yet to fight adversity. Take care of yourself and protect yourself. Don’t let the negative spirits of others, turn you to darkness.

5. Don’t try to fix it

If you’re a problem solver such as myself, chances are your approach to things is about fixing them. While “fixing” is a great gesture of help, every problem isn’t ours to fix. The solution to struggles our spouse may be having, is within them. Marriage triggers a lot of ideas, thoughts and feelings for most people. For example, marrying someone with traits like your parent can spark unresolved issues with one’s “internal child” (that child part of someone that just didn’t get what it needed). Since, we probably weren’t present when our spouse was younger, it’s not on us to make it better. All we can do is encourage our spouses to get help and let them know that we will be in their corner throughout the journey, so long as it doesn’t cost us our sanity.

This post was written to give insight to personality changes within the marriage. It provides coping skills and tools to help understand and deal with such changes.

Nya B is an author, mental health clinician, speaker and adjunct professor in behavioral arts and sciences. To learn more, follow her on IG and Twitter @author_nya_b and check out her website at http://www.nya-b.com

EXTRA SEXY: How To Maintain Romance In Your Marriage

The greatest difference between love and romance is, one is long-term and ugly (love), and the other is short-term and beautiful (romance). However, what keeps a marriage or any relationship stable is having a balance between the two. When you have too much or too little of anything, the vision of the product doesn’t receive a fair amount of clarity. As I talk to couples and learn that they’ve either had too much hardship in their relationships, and not enough ‘smooth sailings,’ or too much fun and not enough “testing of the waters,” I tell them that they aren’t being fair to the relationship. It only makes sense that some couples become drained or find nothing worth working towards in their marriages because the rewards aren’t as tall as the costs. Think of it this way, would you work for a company that didn’t offer paid vacation time, benefits such as retirement, health insurance or flex time? If the answer to that is “no,” then you shouldn’t work for a marriage that way either. Contrary to popular belief, marriage is a job but to make it feel more like a career, you and your spouse are going to need some romance. Romance is crucial to the stability of a marriage. While it takes effort, attaining and maintaining romance in a marriage can be very rewarding and if practiced consistently, it can become the habit that makes bad days seem far and few.

Here are 5 ways to Maintain Romance in Your Marriage…

1. Keep it sexy

Before you and your spouse were married, I bet you any amount of cash, your “courtship game” was impeccable. What I mean by this is, I’m sure one or both of you called one another all the time; discussed sexual fantasies; flirted with one another in public and private; put on your best outfit to go on a date, or sprayed on that breath-taking fragrance. Then one day, after marriage or after children, the courtship stopped. Maybe work got in the way; exhaustion kicked in; hurt and pain from the relationship or resentment took its place; maybe you put on a few pounds and you stopped feeling attractive, whatever the reason is, the sexiness vanished. Well, be like Justin Timberlake and bring it back.

This is where the effort comes in: whatever cards you were dealt, play them. In the midst of the changes, find a reason to keep it sexy. Wear that fragrance again, send that ‘nasty’ text message, wear your spouse’s favorite color, french kiss for absolutely no reason at all, or randomly stroke each other’s genitals for the thrill of it. You’re married, who’s gonna check you, boo?

2. Role play

Sometimes, couples get so caught up in being “who they are,” they forget that they can switch it up at any given time. My husband and I love going out of town or on a date, and changing our identities. I don’t mean in the legal way. I’m referring to our characters. Prior to our trips or dates, we discuss who we will be: our names, personalities, safe words, the rules and the goals. Our biggest goals are to do and say things we probably would never do or say if we were being “ourselves” AND to never break character. While it may seem juvenile to some, it actually gives us a break from talking about the “business” of the marriage or topics that will likely lead to an argument. I highly recommend this activity for couples who don’t know where to start when it comes to romance. The imagination of it all can say a lot about what the marriage is missing.

3. Do Photoshoots

Nothing says “sexy” more than a boudoir photo shoot. This can be done as a couple or individually for your spouse’s eyes only. Of course it will take a lot of courage and confidence but if done with the right photographer, you might decide that the concept of low self-esteem was just a myth. Boudoir photo shoots are photo shoots that capture the sensual and sexual side of one’s personality. They can be taken in a studio or on location. One can be in lingerie, half-naked, completely naked or in any other sexy attire. The goal is to feel comfortable with your body, while giving your spouse something to wonder about, yet feel aroused with. This made the perfect anniversary gift for my husband and let’s just say, I will always be his fantasy.

If you’re looking for good boudoir photographers, check out King Yella on IG @kingyella or Dana B at alwaysandforeverphotography.net

4. Date, Date, Date!!

I can’t chant this phrase enough to married couples, “You must date your mate!!” I realize that it is so easy to get caught up in the reasons not to date one another, but isn’t dating the way the two of you became one? It would seem almost self-sabotaging to no longer do it. When I say date, I mean really date. Get rid of the children, find a sitter and go. Please try to avoid the typical dinner and a movie. It’s thoughtless, clichΓ¨ and does nothing for the sexiness of the marriage. I would strongly encourage engaging in activities that promote laughter, getting dirty, sexy attire or interaction such as dancing or obstacle courses. Weekend getaways are also a winner, especially to places that promote physical contact all weekend like the Sybaris (look it up). The more positive energy two people share with one another, the stronger the bond, remember that.

There’s an old study in psychology that suggests that high sexual attraction amongst couples is linked to adrenaline boosting activities such as roller coaster rides, getting through scary situations together, etc. To learn more about this in detail, I’ve linked a pretty cool article below. πŸ‘‡πŸΎ

https://www.mic.com/articles/111382/when-it-comes-to-romance-science-has-good-news-for-adrenaline-junkies

5. Have sex regularly

It breaks my heart when I hear married couples say that they haven’t had sex in over 30 days. I ask myself and sometimes them, “Well, what’s the point of being married then?” I understand that couples get married for many different reasons and I’d like to think that unadulterated sex is one of them. Unfortunately, it is not. To keep things sexy in your marriage, it is highly recommended that you have sex WITH EACH OTHER regularly. I can’t say what a ‘regular’ amount of sex is for any couple as everyone’s tolerance level is different. However, I will say that every 30 days is unhealthy. Not only does engaging in sex regularly keeps the two of you close, it also increases endorphins, therefore contributing to individual self-care and happiness. Unless you are physically incapable or there is domestic abuse, a spouse should never withhold sex as punishment from their partner. It promotes lack of trust and distance in the marriage. So ladies, if you’re mad, get over it and fellas, if you’re tired, do some sit-ups, because it needs to ‘go down!’ If you need help, talking “dirty” and watching steamy movies together is a great form of foreplay. Similarly, don’t be afraid to tell your partner what arouses you. It can be very fulfilling to be in a marriage with a partner who is safe and aims to please. Do not starve your marriage by withholding information from your spouse about what your sexual needs are, and/or not engaging in regular sexual activity.

This post was written to promote sexiness and romance in a marriage.

Nya B is an author, licensed mental health clinician, professor and speaker. To learn more, follow her on IG and Twitter @author_nya_b, on FB under Nya B and check out her website at http://www.nya-b.com

The Plight of the Step-Parent: How To Make Your Marriage Work In A Blended Family

Managing blended family dynamics is a major concern for a lot of married and cohabiting couples. Not all couples share the experience of marrying and living their lives with the one they had children with; being together into the children’s adulthood; staying together as their children have children and so on. While that might have been the plan, things don’t always work out that way. Sometimes, people marry and children are already present. While the children may not be biological to both parents, they came with at least one, so the responsibility of parenting another person’s child becomes inevitable.

A blended family is described as a couple that marries or cohabitates yet have children from a previous relationship. There are no rules that suggest that the newly married couple must have children of their own to be blended. They can simply be like me and my husband and decide that their biological children from their previous marriages are enough. Either way, the family is still considered blended and the parenting roles when taking care of the children are the same, or at least they should be…

I hear step-parents say more often than not that they love their step-children as their own. As a clinician, a biological mother and a step-mother, I challenge this statement for many reasons. First, I do believe that there is a vast difference in the care of a biological child and one that belongs to someone else. This concept has nothing to do with love and everything to do with RIGHTS. I don’t know about the rest of you but I can’t fully love a child who I don’t have the proper connection and RIGHTS to. By love, I mean, willing to sacrifice my livelihood and safety for, and forgive under any circumstances. I’m not that mature. I can TREAT a child like I treat my own, but love is a little different.

Second, being in this field, I’ve witnessed the influence the presence a biological parent has over their child or children, and there is NO competing with that. I’ve seen foster children unintentionally walk away from the best caregivers in the world, to be with parents who are neglectful, hurtful, abusive and sometimes absent and they spend the rest of their lives, chasing.

The misconception in the role of a step-parent can be the #1 factor contributing to the discord of a blended family. It is my opinion, that when people go into situations believing they have full rights to something just because of a position they take on or a title, they are setting themselves up for disappointment.

Here are 5 Ways to Make Your Marriage Work in A Blended Family…

1. Stay in Your Lane

Ideally, people like to think that being a spouse gives them perks and privileges to children they didn’t have. Unfortunately (for some, fortunately), that’s not the truth. I see step-parents, (especially step-mothers) stress themselves out all of the time trying to give children who aren’t theirs a life that they would give their own. This is a great gesture, and in some circumstances, such as death or absence of a biological parent, it is a neccessary and appropriate one.

However, when said biological parent is present, willing and able, going “overboard” may not be the best idea. Some people may see the extra help or support as a threat or an effort to “take” over, especially if they aren’t secure in their role as the biological parent. Step-parents who have a difficult time “staying in their lane” are parents who do one or more of the following: Show up to events when the children are not in their care; buy items that aren’t needed to win the child or children’s acceptance; get upset over things the child’s biological parents don’t seem to be bothered with such as bad grades or poor manners; offer unsolicited opinions or suggestions and/or being concerned about what the children do when they are not in their care or custody.

I know it sounds harsh to suggests that step-parents shouldn’t over extend themselves but trust me, preserving their energy for the things they can change will provide emotional peace for themselves and promote solace within their households.

“Staying in your lane” also avoids a spouse feeling “pushed” or coerced when having to make changes or decisions they aren’t ready to make when it comes to their children. Similarly, it makes you as the step-parent, less of a scapegoat should anything goes wrong with the change.

If you’re a step-parent, to avoid drama in this area, it’s always best to ask if your support is needed. Avoid purchasing certain items without the blessing of your spouse; be apprehensive about showing up to events if your spouse isn’t there, regardless of invitations from the children. In the event that your spouse and his ex, practice parenting skills that you don’t agree with such as being nonchalant about bad grades or poor manners, find peace with it and make sure that you put the energy in the things you can control such as demonstrating positive role modeling and teaching the children differently when they’re with you, or making sure your biological children (if you have them) are excelling academically. Remember, a step-parent is support to the biological parent and nothing more. So, if your spouse isn’t taking the lead on raising his or her biological children, it is best that you mind your business and sip your tea until they do.

2. Do what your body and spirit allows

When a person gets married to another person with children, it is said around the globe, “The kids and the spouse are a package deal,” and this is true…to some extent. While this may be a very unpopular perspective, reality is, children will grow up and create their own families, therefore it is imperative for couples to understand that the commitment of marriage is between TWO people and children are an extension. The role of a spouse when it comes to support simply suggests, “I will be respectful and considerate of all things that accompanies the person to whom I am sharing vows with.” This simply means that when their children, their pets, their family, their baseball card collection, their favorite shoes, etc. are with you, or in your presence, you are to make sure it or they are safe, fed, and/or taken care of because of the love and the commitment you have with your spouse. Hear me when I say this, “the rest is optional.”

Respect and love are very different things. People breed resentment into their marriages when they force themselves to “love” relationships that haven’t developed yet. Love takes time and it comes from having constant interactions that are effortless, unbothered and free from abuse and/or negative energy, this includes step-parenting. Doing what your body and spirit allows looks like, not agreeing to care for children alone if you are unable to, or spending money on children who don’t respect you. Sometimes biological parents will get their children during visitation and leave them with the step-parent and expect the process of care to be the same. If your spirit is not able to care for more than one child while your spouse is out of the house, don’t agree to it. If you haven’t received proper treatment, yet are expected to pay for a trip to “Fun World,” don’t agree to it; If you are exhausted from work and picking up and dropping off is not on your to-do list, don’t agree to it. Protecting one’s energy as a step-parent is crucial when maintaining a marriage. Step-parents don’t always receive the “thank yous” or the unlimited chances to mess up that biologicals get. Protect yourself and set your boundaries. If parenting biological children can sometimes be harsh on a marriage, how do you think, co-parenting step-children can be?

3. Do your part

More often than necessary, outsiders get so “bent out of shape” about what’s going on in the household of blended families. This can be a big distraction to the marriage because extended family members or family members of the ex, always seems to have an opinion. “You’re not the mother! You’re not their father! Why did you give them whole wheat instead of white bread? Why did you give them 2% milk and not whole milk?” As a step-parent, it is not your job to care about any of that, or let others affect what happens in YOUR home. Marriage gave you ONE right as a step-parent, and it was to care for the child while he or she is in your care. This looks like, you and your spouse creating your own rules and expectations for your household, such as bed times, curfews, grooming and hygiene, etc. And make the rules clear by creating a chart and posting it in the home. Don’t be afraid to set consequences in case a child wants to challenge you. Be consistent and fair and don’t be apprehensive about rewards when exceptional behavior is demonstrated. Effective parenting is about a balance of nurture and discipline.

Just as it is a school’s responsibility to keep our children safe once we put them on the school bus, it is a step-parent’s job to keep any child safe who enters their home. If the child is in your care, as a step-parent you have every right to feed, clothe, discipline (non-physical), communciate, groom, chaperone, etc. and don’t let anyone else tell you differently.

To avoid drama in this area, only have discussions with your spouse about child-rearing. Since the two of you set the rules, only the two of you should be able to alter them. If you have a relationship with the ex-spouse, (which makes things much easier) the three of you can collaborate on what methods work best (in the case of special needs, mental illness, etc.) and it should always be about what’s in the best interest of the child, NOT THE ADULT. Sometimes, opinions can be bias because of jealousy or unresolved issues with the previous relationship. While personal issues should have no bearing on taking care of children, they often do. Therefore be mindful to avoid making decisions based on personal issues as it can harm the care of the children and ultimately affect the marriage.

4. Know your home team

Sometimes, ex-spouses believe that because they have children with someone, they will forever have to answer to that person or always deserve an explanation. This is the biggest myth ever. If you are a parent who’s co-parenting with an ex, your team efforts should always be with your current household, not the previous one. That ship has sailed. Ex-spouses should NOT have a say in what goes on in your new household and you should NOT have a say in what goes on in theirs. This looks like, exes calling to discuss rules or expectations established in your home with your new spouse or them telling you what your new spouse can and can’t do. Unfortunately, this type of influence left when the relationship dissolved.

For example, when my ex-husband and I divorced, it took me a long time to realize that I couldn’t address him about any rule he chose to put in place regarding our son during his visitation. If I wanted that right, I should’ve stayed married to him. At my home, our son’s bed time is 9pm. When he’s with his dad, his bedtime is 11pm or whenever he gets tired. As much as that fueled me, there was nothing I could do about it. It wasn’t my house and my son wasn’t in my care. I had to bargain with my anxiety and need to control and say to myself, “Ok Nya, your son is not unsafe, this bed time isn’t affecting him medically, and he isn’t being abused. It is ok.”

I had to learn to use my free time for me and be less worried about what was happening with my son and his dad, when I wasn’t around. Similarly, if my son came home upset about a rule or consequence his dad implemented, I had to support it by telling my son, “Well, that’s his house. You have to respect him.” Of course the mom in me wanted to call and shout, “DON’T TAKE AWAY MY BABY’S GAME. HOW DARE YOU?” But what good would that do? It would only cause a divide and teach my child that he doesn’t have to listen to his father. When the truth is, unless my ex-husband or designee is telling him to do something unsafe (which I know he wouldn’t), my son will always have to listen to his father and whoever his father assigns to his care while they are together. “Letting go” avoided arguments in my current marriage as well. I never wanted my husband to question where I wanted to be or whether I was still concerned with the past.

5. When in doubt, choose your spouse

The greatest debate ever to be had when it comes to raising children, especially in blended families is, “Who comes first?” Well, let me answer this one for you…THE SPOUSE! The logic is simple and it has absolutely nothing to do with who is loved more or who is cared for more or who got there first. The simple logic is “your spouse is you.” When you are married, there is no way, you can successfully run a household if you and your “better-half” aren’t strong enough. Of course there are single parents who do it everyday and I applaud them. However, they have to do it alone because they are single. Marriage does not, and should not work that way.

Children have a way of triangulating and manipulating to get their needs met and if they have a parent (say a bitter ex) who’s encouraging such behaviors, said marriage will needs its armour. The greatest protection for a marriage is “living in the order.” This means, always refer to the WORD when things don’t make sense or the atmosphere is unsettling. The order says, “Jehovah>Husband>Wife> Children>all others.”

Children are meant to be raised so they too can be fruitful and contribute to the land, not to be coddled and stay at home with their parents. Sure, they are dependents, but that is temporary. How will they learn to be independent if they aren’t taught to handle words or phrases like, “No, Not Now, In a Minute, Let Me Teach You How To Do it Yourself ?” How will they grasp the concept of independence if they develop a sense of entitlement because they are placed before those who make a way for them?

I think some people confuse, not putting children first with neglect. It’s not the same. Putting the child first in a marriage looks like, refusing to implement immediate discipline for disrespecting the step-parent, overriding the step-parent’s authority after an instruction was given, getting food for the children but nothing for your spouse, or cancelling date night because the children are uncomfortable with seeing their parent with someone new. When children are placed first, it creates disorder and sets the tone for disrespect and narcissism. Making them wait, doesn’t mean they aren’t cared for. They are cared for and some are cared for exceptionally well. It means that they are not the head of the house, nothing more.

To avoid the drama in your marriage in this area, demonstrate for the children from the first day, that there is an order. Allow them to witness the catering to your spouse, whether it’s making their plate first, opening their door first, or pulling out their chair first. Do not tolerate disrespect and be prepared to implement swift consequences. Demonstrate solidarity with your words by saying, “put down my husband’s tie” or “watch your tone when speaking to my wife…” Consistency in our actions will send a message faster than any amount of words will. Do not let children or the opinions of others ruin your marriage.

This post was written to help resolve minor issues in blended families. While there is an exception to every rule, these tips can be used in almost all blended and traditional family households.

Nya B is an author, mental health clinician, speaker and adjunct professor in Behavioral Sciences. To learn more, follow her on IG and twitter @author_nya_b and check out her website at http://www.nya-b.com

So, You’re Married and Insecure…

The goal of marriage should always be to become ONE with your spouse. I’ve learned via the experiences in my personal and professional life that becoming ONE with anything, especially another person takes time, sometimes a lifetime.

I look at the process of marriage the same way I do with starting a business. When we first get started, we have a passion, we take that passion and develop a plan, the plan becomes an action and with that action, comes trial and error; profits and losses. How well a business owner handles the profit or losses determine how long he or she stays in business. What we do know about a business is that the longer it exists, the more it becomes a household name. Marriage is just like that to me. The way the couple manages the profits and losses, determines how long the couple will stay married. Profits are always good! The losses tho’…let’s talk about those…

They say you never know a person until you’ve lived with them, taken a trip together or saw them through a crisis. This couldn’t be more close to the truth than water being wet. When you’re married, AND intuitive, you can’t help but learn the most significant things about your spouse. You find yourself becoming aware of how they chew their food when their happy and how they chew their food when they’re sad; how they take off their shoes after a long day or when they made that extra stop before getting home. Although it isn’t a huge deal, a change in a spouse’s pattern can mean a lot for the trust in a marriage.

People are so quick to scream “INSECURE” when a spouse questions change. The word itself has such a negative connotation to it, people tend to forget that to have an insecurity is quite normal. What people also tend to forget is how their behaviors or words provoke such a feeling. While many people have childhood residue, a lot of them don’t just wake up feeling insecure. To be insecure means to be uncertain, unsure or anxious about a position. Sounds familiar, right?

So what is a spouse to do when he or she begins to feel uncertain about their position? Should they avoid asking where they stand for the sake of seeming meek, mild or drama free? Should they take matters into their own hands and get the answers they need by way of research, such as “snooping” or surveillance? I’ve done both and let me tell you, although it wasn’t fair, the latter one was more eventful. Again, don’t be like me. Be better than me. πŸ˜‰

Here are 5 Healthy Ways to Decrease or Extinguish Insecurity in a Marriage

1. Ask Questions

Don’t ever let your spouse guilt you for wanting to know more. Sure, we all deserve our privacy but the reality of marriage is that, privacy comes within reason. Your spouse should know your friends, your hang out spots, who’s calling you regularly, who’s texting regularly or when something unexpected comes up. Things that promote insecurities in this area include, a spouse who is reluctant to answer questions; defensive when asked questions, evasive about facts; can’t recall details of an event or a night out, or has a swift unexplained change of plans.

To avoid conflict in this area, it is best that you or your spouse practice proactivity instead of reactivity. Ask yourself, beforehand “what would my spouse like to know about this transaction” and provide it. While I will applaud the effort, it’s emotionally damaging for a spouse to keep having to hear, “I’m sorry.”

There is so much security in being able to ask a question and not be told that “its dumb” or “it’s too much…” There’s even more security in not having to ask at all because you already know the answer. Make your spouse feel comfortable with asking questions by assuming they don’t know the answers to what they’re inquiring about. It never ends well when a spouse is asked a question and his or her response is, “You already know the answer to that…” Consider other possibilities, like maybe your spouse forgot the answer or maybe they need reassurance. Keep the insecurities down and dialogue simple by just answering the question. Similarly, as hard as it may be, be at peace with the answers you receive.

Communication is not as difficult as we make it out to be. Sometimes, people are just selfish and nothing more. Their evasiveness doesn’t mean that they’re being inappropriate, it just means they’re only considering their process, not the other person’s.

2. Volunteer Information

I tell couples all of the time, the less secrets there are, the less room there is for uncertainty. If anyone’s spouse is like me, then they are most likely intuitive and it’s probably best to just volunteer the information. Being a therapist provokes me to explore things all of the time. I ask questions and listen to answers 80% of my day so, it feels good when my husband gives me information that I didn’t have to ask for.

Nothing creates an insecurity more in a spouse than finding out something, they should’ve known. This looks like, receiving second hand information from a friend or family member about their spouse; having to call someone else to inquire about their spouse’s whereabouts, or learning that your spouse really isn’t as happy as you thought they were.

The best way to prevent an insecurity in this area is to share calendars, let your spouse know immediately when something comes up, or play card games that provoke conversation such as the “UnGame for Couples.”

3. Be friends

Being friends is the primary way to build strength in a marriage and decrease the likeliness of an insecurity. There is so much “coolness” in being able to talk to your spouse and it doesn’t escalate to an argument or being able to hang out together in the purest form. It’s so rejuvenating to laugh at the mistakes, joke with one another and reflect on that awkward moment when someone used a corny pick-up line without being asked, “So did you sleep with them?”

Insecurities in this area look like, one or both spouses are unable to take a joke; words become triggers of bad experiences; sarcasm is at an all-time high, and everything tends to relate to the relationship.

To decrease insecurities in this area, discuss topics that are fun such as your favorite music artist, or sport athlete; engage in watching a television series that you two can discuss and find suspense in. My husband and I were addicted to “Truth and Lies.” He almost felt betrayed when I watched it without him. SN: Don’t watch shows without your spouse. It hurts their feelings. πŸ˜‰

4. Ignore Negative Vibes

I will be the first to tell anyone that ignoring the invitation to be “with the shit” is a challenge for me. Sometimes, people who see that someone is happy in their marriage, will do or say things to the spouse that causes them to question where they stand. This looks like, people who often talk about what use to be or who your spouse use to date. An example of this would be someone saying to a wife in reference to her husband missing her phone call: “Girl, your husband know he didn’t act like that with so and so. He answered every call for her.” Though it’s a very bizarre statement, some people lack tact and can be socially awkward. Therefore, they don’t realize when they should keep certain facts or past observations to themselves.

This goes for our spouse’s too. While it sounds nice to talk about everything, reliving the past can be dangerous and provoke some serious insecurities. No spouse wants to feel like they aren’t good enough or constantly be compared to the last. I’m the type of woman who will tell her spouse to go back there.

To avoid feeling insecure in this area, recognize that just because someone perceives something to be a certain way, doesn’t make it true. Don’t give other people’s perceptions or interpretations any energy. If you are a spouse who relives the past, let it go or explore what unfinished business there might be. When the future of a marriage is bright, don’t dim it with negative vibes or auras. Make a list of topics that are just off the table.

5. Check-In

Do you know how many couples I counsel that tell me they don’t talk with each other during the day? At least 70% of the couples that I’ve worked with reported that they didn’t talk or text one another when they were apart. When I explored their reasoning, some wives or girlfriends said they didn’t want to be a bother, and the husbands or boyfriends stated that they were likely too busy and didn’t think of it. Not checking in with one another is a great way to increase the likeliness of an insecurity in a marriage.

If nothing more, it makes your spouse feel good to know that they are thought of through out the day. A call or text to say, “Hey, I was thinking of you” or “hey, I miss you, how is your day” goes a long way. Don’t be that spouse who doesn’t check-in, yet made time to comment and like pics of the opposite sex on IG. This type of behavior is what I like to call an “Insecurity Start-up Pack.” If there is any positive attention to be given, it should be given to your spouse.

Many people, particularly men, see “checking-in” as a form of control or asking for permission but it’s really about respect. It’s a sign that you have respect for your spouse’s time, energy and want to make sure they feel emotionally safe in the marriage.

To avoid insecurities in this area, include your spouse in your day-to-day operations. It’s ok to call and say, “Hey, I’d like to play basketball with the fellas after work. You cool with that and do you need anything before I head to the gym?” It’s ok to say, “The girls and I want to do happy-hour after work. What are your thoughts?”

Don’t provoke stress by having your spouse wonder where you are or what you’re doing. He or she should be the first to know any of that. Keep in mind that, it’s not what we say but how we say, what we say when when we communicate. Let “checking-in” be meaningful. Don’t be afraid to text your spouse compliments, give them accolades when you speak to them, send sexy pics when you’re apart (notice I didn’t say nudes but do what you want), flirt via social media (if you’re connected on the platform), and do something creative, like write them a love letter and stick it in their lunch or the front seat of their car. Let’s boost the marriage’s self-esteem here!

This post was written to give insight to how insecurities are developed in a marriage and how to avoid them.

Nya B is an author, mental health clinician, professor and speaker. To learn more, check out her website, http://www.nya-b.com. Follow her on IG and Twitter @author_nya_b and FB, at Nya B