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The Unexpected

This is the post excerpt.

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. While my husband and I have been married less than 5 years, we’ve been 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. My husband and I are beyond the walkthrough. However, we are still here and have learned great lessons along the way. Let me share some of those with you…(posts are best followed from reading earliest to most recent)

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Unfair

One of the biggest myths about marriage is that everything will be 50/50. That’s not only false but in my opinion, it’s one of the #1 expectations that often lead to divorce.

Think about it, everyone thinks sharing is half and half. “I take one side and you take the other.” I like to think that marriage is like two people carrying a sofa. One person is going to be stronger than the other. Therefore, the sofa will never be balanced. One side will be higher than the other, one person will move faster, as they walk their path and once the sofa is in its place, one may set it down in a spot that is more comfortable for them. While the means to get there may be different, the destination should be the same.

I struggle with the imbalance in marriage. It’s unfair, but it’s real. I didn’t expect the lack of balance. While I didn’t expect things to be 50/50, I expected things to be pretty damn close.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses in a marriage (or any relationship for that matter). My husband is 5 years younger than I am. I also make more money than he does. I love to spend money as fast as I make it. I have expensive tastes. I also have something like an A-type personality. I can be seriously obsessive over perfection or things being in order. I run a business so professionalism is everything to me. In my free time, I curse…A LOT…(helps my anxiety 😉)

My husband on the other hand is more laid back, he likes to save money, not spend it, he doesn’t curse, he prays more than I do, he doesn’t care about things being in order, as long as they are when he needs them to be. He’s not confrontational, and outside of his work schedule, he will not be pressed for time about anything.

I hate it!!

We sound almost incompatible don’t we? The truth is, we balance each other out. I’ve learned that marriage is most successful when two people take their differences and make them a strength. If a person is stronger in the area of being more assertive, let them do the talking. If a person is stronger in knowing when to be still, let them be silent. Respect goes a long way when it comes to differences in a marriage.

There will be times when the roles in marriage reverse, and one person will find themselves doing more, saying more or loving more. I’ve learned that this type of unfairness is natural and it may occur in stages.

If somehow, a couple finds that their differences are hurting them, and that the unfairness in their marriage is constant, then it is likely that the issue is bigger than a trait and should be discussed with a therapist or someone who can objectively help figure out what the problem is.

In the meantime, make a list of your differences. If you find that the differences are hurting the marriage, get help. If the differences are not hurting the marriage, make them your strength. A couple can easily turn their differences into teamwork…

Grown Up

Marriage can bring a lot of changes, but the one change that people seem to hate the most is one’s ability to grow up. Only a select few can understand the need to stop doing what you use to do in an effort to reap the benefits of something different. Growth is not a bad thing and in fact, it’s necessary for any effective change. You wouldn’t keep wearing a size 6 shoe if your foot was a size 8, would you? That would become uncomfortable and in some cases, cause excruciating pain. That’s the way marriage works. There is no way, a wife or a husband, can continue to do the things they use to do without causing excruciating pain to the marriage.

Some people didn’t expect growth from my husband and for a long time, he didn’t expect it from himself either. In fact, he seemed to reject the changes that marriage required, or shall I say, the changes that being married to ME required. It is my belief that in any relationship, particularly marriage, one or both of you will grow at the other’s expense. Some might argue that, this would mean, you and your partner are not equally yoked. I’d have to disagree and say that marriage is like birthing a new child. Sure, it has your DNA and it has your eyes but guess what, it will develop it’s own personality and what we as parents put into that child or refuse to put into that child, plays a part.

With that being said, if we don’t give our marriage what it needs; if we don’t feed it, teach it to stand on it’s own two,  share effective communication, nurture it, bathe it, do our best to keep it free from negativity or germs, it will not be successful. Those who are not involved or who don’t benefit from this growth, may not understand the changes necessary for making your marriage successful. Some may shun you, make sarcastic remarks about you or your spouse’s growth or ostracize you for just being different. This is where the discomfort comes in.

My husband couldn’t handle the discomfort. Unlike me, he was still very close to his family and accustomed to a lifestyle that included them daily. I left home at age 17. I was in the habit of setting boundaries. In addition to that, I grew up at my first husband’s expense so I wasn’t at that place anymore. While I completely understood my husband’s need to grow up, it didn’t stop me from requiring it of him.   We had arguments, disagreements and sometimes, I had to leave him to his own devices. Talking wasn’t helping. It upset me that he had to make decisions about the most minuscule things: “Do I get up early in the morning so my granny can make me pancakes or do I stay home and make breakfast with my wife? Do I sit with my family and play cards while my wife is sick or do I go home and be with her? Do I agree to do things for others or loan money to others without discussing it with my wife? Or do I speak to her about it first? It should be common sense what the correct answers are but those questions were hard for him. For a while, my husband seemed to choose his family, every time.

Needless to say, things got better and what helped was my silence with him. While I didn’t budge on what I wanted and I held him accountable, I stopped arguing with him about it. I opened up to God and asked him to do the work. My husband started to put more study in his scripture and found his own way. It hurt because it had to be his process and done on his time. If you’re like me and impatient, this can be a struggle.  It was time for him to be the man that Jehovah needed him to be, not just me.  Doing it for me would’ve been temporary, but when God wants it, it’s permanent.

It’s simple and the WORD says it, WIFE before all others. I’m sure for my husband, putting me first was easier said than done but he did it and it cost him some relationships with his family. I think he still struggles with it a little but he wouldn’t admit it and that’s ok. It’s not easy for a person to let go of critical ideas that defined them for the majority of their life and suddenly adopt new ones. That’s why we should always be satisfied with our spouse’s effort.

When my husband started to set boundaries, the reactions of some were priceless. The most undeniable theme was that, “I changed him.” Not that it’s anyone’s business but of course he changed. He should have. He met a woman who wanted the best for him. He met a woman who wanted him to follow his dreams. He wanted to change, therefore change was inevitable.

My husband got a Masters degree. He got a nice home, upgraded his car, got a passport, started traveling internationally, stopped arguing with baby-mommas,  and turned in his t-shirts for some button-ups. I was confused. These were good changes and not many seemed happy for him.

I was referred to as controlling.  I was accused of making decisions for him and speaking on his behalf. Even when words, came out of his own mouth, the response was, “Nope, those aren’t your words, your wife told you to say that.”  This was both funny and sad to me because that would suggest that the people my husband put on a pedestal didn’t believe he had a brain or the ability to make decisions on his own.  I guess he had one when he was doing everything they wanted him to do. I ached for him. Those same people also referred to my husband as ‘pussy-whipped,’ and ‘under a spell.’ Now, those are the best compliments. What woman wouldn’t want their husband to be pussy-whipped? THANKS!

The Fake Toast

Everyone loves, love or so it seems. I see it on social media all of the time. The couples’ pics gets the most “likes” and everyone seems to have “relationship goals.”  When a couple gets married, the atmosphere is kinda the same or so it seems. “Congrats! Oh you two look so great together; I’m so happy for you; Wishing you two a couple of forevers” and so on. However, as time goes on, one may learn the harsh reality that some people are only happy for you as long as “your being happy” doesn’t impede on theirs.

My husband and I received a lot of genuine love and support when we got married. People sent us gifts. They gave us the most beautiful cards with the most inspiring words. They gave us money and they spent time with us and to this day, we love them all.

Marriage is a lot easier when you have a great support system. It’s nice to be around people who encourage you to stay together and won’t talk down about your spouse or your marriage but beware of those who pray for your demise. In our case, she stood up at our wedding and gave a fake toast.

If you’ve read “94th & Racine: The Roots of Me,” then you know I don’t have the best relationship with my mother. Needless to say, I was super excited to have a mother-in-law. While my husband and I were dating, his mother and I hit it off great. We talked all of the time, hung out frequently, bought each other gifts; we became friends. On our wedding day, she was front and center. She often shared with me how she admired my strength and loved the fact that I was outspoken, until the day I said some shit she didn’t like.

I can only assume it was something I said because I don’t recall ever doing anything to her but our “relationship” took a turn for the worst. All of a sudden, she started behaving differently. She was too busy for my phone calls, stopped making an effort and found the most ridiculous reasons to have an attitude with me. My husband made attempts to get to the bottom of it. She would deny there was a problem, yet tell others something different. I tried as much as I could and then I realized, when someone doesn’t want to like you, there is nothing you can do about it. As a matter of fact, they will try to find any and everything wrong so they won’t have to.

I had the privilege of getting bits and pieces of what her problem was from her and a few family members.  When I finally spoke to her, she said it was because my husband and I took a break from her grandchildren. I asked her why she didn’t call to find out why we took a step back. I find it odd when a person who claims to love you just stops communicating with you when they have a problem with you. It’s obvious she had time to tell everyone else. Similarly, she seemed unbothered about what we were going through with her ex daughter-in-law. She actually laughed when I told her about the stalking, harassing and horrible lessons his ex was teaching her grandchildren. I believed there was something more to her sudden dislike for me. She seemed so against our marriage.  I couldn’t figure it out.

Anywho, the part that startled me the most was learning who my mother-in-law really was. I finally figured it out. She was fake. She claimed to hate my husband’s ex yet “playing besties” with her. Spending time at her home, telling her everything I ever shared in confidence and supporting her foolish behaviors. I felt hurt and very betrayed. I never expected that.  I suppose the enemy of her enemy was her friend. I remember the day I asked her, “Why would you come around me, buy me gifts and smile in my face if you knew you had a problem with me?” Her response was “to be nice…” I was speechless. I’m use to knowing where I stand with people and vise versa. Chicago raised me that way. I felt foolish.

For a while I asked myself, “What happened to the wonderful toast at the wedding? What happened to how much she use to like me? What happened to how strong I was in her eyes? ” Those things never existed because it was all fake…

 

I’m Stingy

A lot of people may be in denial about this but regardless of how much we grow, we will always take those “things” that we got from childhood and bring it into adulthood, and Lord forbid those things follow us to marriage. That’s what happened to me…😀

Growing up, l lived with a house full of people and I had to share almost everything (whether I wanted to or not). Sometimes they returned my things in it’s original condition and other times, I could no longer identify whether it was mine or not. Then at 16, I had my first child. Either way, by the time I was 17, giving up things for the sake of others became a task I despised. I didn’t (and my husband would argue that I still don’t) like sharing my things. This is not to say that I am a selfish person. To the contrary, I am very giving. It just means I’d rather buy someone their own before I give them mine. Welcome to another unexpected dynamic in my marriage. 

One would argue that the act of marriage means “to share” and rightfully so, they should. Truthfully, when two people are married, they are expected to share a home, ideas, money, children, everything! However, there were some things I just wasn’t prepared to share. 

My husband is a very “sharing is caring” kind of man. He touches my shit sometimes without a conscience and I’m like, “What are you doing baby?” If my husband is out of shampoo, he’s reaching for mine; If he’s finished with his food, he wants mine; If I somehow laugh at something in retrospect, he has to know what it is; If I am using the restroom, he just walks in and talk to me; If he can’t find his hair brush, he’s using mine.  All the while, in my head, I am having the biggest temper tantrum, kicking and screaming, “He just won’t stop touching my things!!” In a dream, he’d never run out of things or ask for mine. In reality, that wouldn’t be feasible and it wouldn’t be marriage. 

I spend a great deal of time in my marriage chanting, “What’s mine is his and what’s his is mine.” Sometimes I am in disbelief of how much of a struggle that is for me. When we marry someone, one would think it’s second nature to just give your spouse all of you and that includes the willingness to share all you have. I’ve learned that when we have baggage, something so simple can be one of the most challenging things we can ever do. Sharing is not easy for me. I’ve had to work through all of the core beliefs I’ve acquired when it comes to that and rewrite them to fit my current lifestyle. What that looks like is, instead of telling myself, my husband will “use it all or use it against me-break it or break my heart,” I have to tell myself “Nya, he may not do any of those things and if he does, maybe he will work to fix it or give you more in return.” It may also look like being less defensive and knowing that whatever it is I have, he is going to make contact with it.    

Sharing makes me feel like my space is invaded and boundaries have been crossed. These are the thoughts that I react to and my husband didn’t put them there. My childhood did. 

The obsession of “mine” can be very toxic to a marriage or anything that requires more than one person to be successful. I still struggle with this because I’ve conditioned myself to believe that if I have something that is “mine” then I have security. To share is to be vulnerable, open and fearless. I thought I was all of those things until I got married. I didn’t expect to learn that I wasn’t.  

Another Distraction

I planned to write about our personal traits and how they can sometimes contribute to the unexpected of marriage but I have something else on my mind. Earlier, I wrote about distractions and how my husband and I’s greatest distraction is his ex wife. One minute it seems she is chill and the next minute, we learn that she was only taking time off to develop her next move. When I said this girl is like the villain in a movie that just won’t die, she truly is!!

About 3 weeks ago, I noticed a vehicle parked in my neighbors drive way on a regular basis. I even had the thought, “hmmm, she must have a new car..” I didn’t think much of it. I continued to leave for work as usual, carried on with my day. That is until day before yesterday. When I returned from dropping my son off at his bus, I noticed my husband’s ex-wife getting out of that same car with her baby. She put him in the stroller and began taking a walk around the cul-de-sac and neighborhood. This confused me because there are numerous parks, walking paths, tracks and even her own neighborhood that she could get her steps in, so why use ours? Immediately, I called my husband and told him. He said he attempted to call her but she initially, didn’t answer. I also decided to reach out to her via email and express to her that she wasn’t welcomed in our neighborhood. She of course gave a snob remark to the effect of, “I’m not at your house…I can enjoy my life and walk where I want…You are desperate for attention from me…”

She had spoken like a true psychotic. I thought to myself, “This is a real life drama series. She really needs major inpatient care.” I need attention but she is the one walking around my home and neighborhood, claiming to be friends with my neighbor? Even if there is a friend in my neighborhood, why would anyone want to go where there can be potential drama?

I don’t know about the rest of you but had it been me, the exact moment my “friend” gave me her address, my response would’ve been, “Naw that’s too close to my ex husband and his wife. Meet me somewhere else…” Unfortunately, when people have hidden agendas and wanna be seen themselves, they do shit like park across the street from your house and walk up and down your block.🤷🏾

Over the years, we’ve had so many “run-ins” with this woman, it is ridiculous. She started with harassing phone calls, (calling and texting me at least 125 times a day) then it increased to following us on dates, sitting outside our house or circling our cul-de-sac. Shortly after that, she began talking to my neighbors and telling them that my husband was her husband and I was his mistress. A guest of one of my neighbors reported to me that the ex-wife encouraged the neighbors to call her, if and when they saw my husband come home because his kids missed him. It was quite traumatic.

People who know me, know that I have a history of handling things the “street” way. However, when you are a professional and you want to keep everything that encouraged you to give those “street” ways up, you try very hard not to go back to that. Therefore, I had to handle things legally. When the legal system got involved, she couldn’t bother us as directly as she had before. As a result, she began to use the one tool she had… her children.

The use of the children affected my husband more than it did me. People say, you can love your step children as you love your own and maybe there are some that do, but I don’t. They are not my children and I didn’t birth them. Similarly, they don’t appear to be raised in a manner that I would raise my own. I care about their well-being and their safety but that is all I can offer under the circumstances.

In general, I am not kid friendly. My oldest is 21 and my youngest is 9. When the two of them get together, they interact with great intelligence and maturity. I was never that parent that used “baby talk” to connect with my infants. I wanted my boys to speak proper English as early as they could. I don’t have unorganized play with children. We can do a board game or take a trip but I don’t ever want my children to think, they can do something inappropriate and I will laugh because we were just “playing.” My children and I are not friends.  I am very firm with discipline. There are consistent consequences for negative  actions; especially, if it includes disrespect towards another adult. I expect children to know how to behave EVERYWHERE they go, not just outside. I tried to teach her children the same.

However, when a woman is trying to help raise her husband’s children to be great and the biological mother works hard to undermine every valuable lesson, and every effective tool, just because they are jealous, being a step mom becomes an intolerable position.

What this ex-wife doesn’t understand and may not grasp is that, she is trying to make life harder for a woman that she has to send her children to twice a month (let that sink in). That can be the dumbest move ever!!! However, many ex-wives or “baby mommas” don’t think about what’s best for the children. They only seem to think about what’s best for them.

….meanwhile in La La Land…

It’s like she uses her walks in my neighborhood to imagine herself as me, wishing she lived with my husband and that the two of them shared our home together. I bet she thought to herself, “so this is what it feels like to leave their house every day…” Psychotic at it’s best and another fucking distraction that we need to work through…

Ps…she didn’t return yesterday

Respect

People who know my husband and I, asks us all of the time, “How do the two of you make it work with him being a Jehovah’s Witness and you not being affiliated with any religion?” Sometimes people even ask me, “How do you do it? Especially with a Jehovah’s Witness? Don’t you miss Christmas? Don’t you miss birthdays? Aren’t you bored?”

I think people have their thoughts about religion, especially Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I tell people that my husband is a Jehovah’s Witness, I think they picture us as a couple going door-to-door, and me letting the years pass me by without joy. Not only is that vision wrong but my answer to all of those questions is “resect.” Respect is the way we get through most of our differences. In other words, we don’t expect each other to change or make one another feel bad about their lifestyle choices. Outside of that, I think it helps us that I don’t belong to a church and I am not affiliated with a religion. I was raised Baptist but when I became an adult, I decided that I just loved God and didn’t need to prove anything to anyone.

I’ve never been the type to tell a person, who they should love and how they should love the ones they choose. Afterall, they’re the ones who have to live with their choices, not me. When my husband told me that he was a Jehovah’s Witness, my response on the inside was, “Oh shit!! Does this mean I will never get a birthday shout out on Facebook? Or a surprise birthday dinner? He will never shower me with gifts on Christmas? We can’t cut the turkey together? Where is my Hallmark commercial?” However, on the outside, my response was, “That’s great. Don’t expect me to convert.” He made it very clear to me that, converting me was not his goal but leading me when it came to our responsibilities to “Jehovah” was definitely on the agenda.

I try not to make it a habit of saying, “no” to things I haven’t tried. Similarly, how could I say “No” to a man trying to lead me down a more righteous path? So, I agreed. To better understand your spouse or anyone for that matter, you must first put yourself in their shoes. I read the Watch Towers. I attended the meetings. I listened to the lessons and participated in Bible studies. I have yet to hear anything wrong. While, I truly believe the teachings are beneficial, I don’t wish to convert. My husband respects that. He doesn’t interfere with Thanksgiving. He doesn’t make me take down the tree. He doesn’t stop me from Christmas shopping and he doesn’t stop me from celebrating my most favorite of them all, my birthday!

In each marriage, couples must do what works for them. Not what their parents did, not what their best friends do but what works for the two people in the marriage. When there are differences in lifestyles, compromise and respect can take a marriage a long way. Getting to know more about Jehovah’s Witnesses, helped me understand why my husband doesn’t celebrate holidays. It also helped me have a better understanding of why he doesn’t partake in certain activities and why he makes the choices he does when it comes to conflict.  By the same token, he has spent a great deal of time with me, and understands that my desires to celebrate holidays and partake in certain activities are about my desires to enjoy life and nothing more. He’s never tried to change that. Over the past couple of years, my husband and I have learned to let one another be individuals. Yes, we are married and yes we are one but before there was an US, there was respect.

Next Up: I’m Stingy

Lifting Weights

“They” say the first 5-7 years of marriage are the hardest and I’m prone to believe it’s not just the first 5-7 years, it’s all of them. It seems like once a battle is won, here comes another and I think it’s due to growth. The problems in a marriage are like “lifting weights.” Initially, your muscles will feel pain because they aren’t use to the amount of weight used. At some point, your body will let you knows it’s time to increase the weights because the lifting becomes easier. With that being said, dealing with my husband’s ex spouse became easier after a while and it wasn’t because she suddenly stopped bothering us. Nope! She actually was like that villain in a horror film that just wouldn’t die. However, dealing with her became easier for us because we kept “lifting the weights.” 

I hate to admit it but she went on harassing us for almost two years and it’s like, nothing helped. We ignored her, she got louder; we changed our phone numbers, she harrassed us via email, she used the kids in any way she could with these “magnified” emergencies, poor parenting, manipulation, etc…you name it, she pulled it! 

It took for us to get out of our emotions about it and get smarter. We had to realize that her goal was nothing more than to split us up. She was clearly angry with my husband for whatever happened between them during their time together. Instead of him suffering for it, he had the nerve to move on and get a major upgrade. How dare he? Yeah, I guess I would’ve been “salty” too. However, NO ONE would’ve known it. (Side note: I wouldn’t have been salty for real…my pride doesn’t work that way)

The worst thing a woman can ever do is let another woman know she’s losing it because no matter how well she gets, she will always be the woman who “lost” it.  It was very obvious that I was collateral damage. No matter who my husband moved on with, this process was bound to happen. So, we stopped fighting each other and fought the problem. 

In the process of being harassed, as hard as it was, I kept calm. I utilized my support systems and kept my words to myself. When she called my phone, I didn’t answer. When she text or emailed, I didn’t respond. When she sent messages or friend requests on social media, I ignored her. Each time I was bothered, I documented it and kept record. I realize she wanted a fight. She wanted me to assault her so I could lose everything I worked hard for. In her mind, she was the victim and needed everyone to believe it. I, on the other hand was about to give her a different-kind-of-fight. I eventually filed police reports, built a case against her and took her ass to civil court. She didn’t expect “my kind of crazy…” The money she spent being tied up in court seemed to exhaust her but I was ready to suck her financially dry and I was in it until the end. Meanwhile, my husband still had to do his part because the real game changer was him. 

It was very hard for my husband to set boundaries in a way that was effective but if he wanted respect for himself and his marriage, he had to do it. Since she seemed to work non-stop using the kids as a tool to control him and his time, he humbly took a break from his visitation. This was very hard for him because he truly loves his children. 

However, it proved necessary. For some odd reason, “baby mommas” seem to have the utmost respect and need for “deadbeat dads.” The mom’s seem to behave better and they beg and plead for the slightest interaction between the “deadbeat” and the child. However, when there is a good- active father involved, the mom’s seem to be quite the opposite. They “play games” with visitation, threaten to take the child away, slander the father’s name and sometimes demand more money for child support. The “shit” is very backwards to me, but this was our reality. 

My husband decided it was time for her to be a single mother. With his actions, he made it very clear to her that our marriage came first. The children were no longer a tool because he didn’t allow them to be. He cut back tremendously and began to invest more time with me, on Honeymoon Blvd. We needed the time considering we lost so much being distracted by the drama. 

I assume being a single mother of three children and spending money in court was no fun because she began to calm her ass down. I thought I’d never see the day. Y’all should’ve seen my “Dougie.” 

When the children resumed visitation, we made it very clear to them that he and I were a team and nothing that goes against the culture of our household or marriage was welcomed. They responded well and together, we conquered the distraction…