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, clichè 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. 👇🏾

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. 😉

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. 😉

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

Don’t Be The Bitter Ex-Spouse

I have counseled many couples who were on the brinks of saving their marriage. Some were successful in staying together and others, well, they didn’t make it. That’s not to say, my skills led them in that direction. It only means counseling gave them clarity and they were finally honest with themselves and decided that for whatever reason, they couldn’t be married anymore. I love marriage and I will, the majority of the time, encourage any couple I come in contact with, to find a reason to “stick” it out.

By the same token, what happens when you or your spouse can’t be together forever? The hurt has become too much and the only way to forgive is to move on. What do you do? I don’t care who you are, NO ONE gets married with the intent to divorce. Sometimes, you don’t know what’s on the other side of “I Do” until you say, “I Do,” hence why this blog is titled, “The Unexpected.”

Life after divorce comes with so many thoughts, emotions and behaviors. I’ve been divorced before and it changed me. I was angry; I grieved. It felt like someone died. Truthfully, a part of me did. Mrs. Thomas was leaving the building. I went back to my maiden name. I moved out of our home. It literally felt like someone pulled another soul from my body. Although, I was the one who filed, I was still devastated.

Beyond all of the sadness and anger, I knew that how I grieved, determined how I healed, and for our son’s sake, I tried very hard not to become bitter.

Where does bitterness come from?

Well, its simple: Bitterness comes from the BELIEF that what we put into a relationship, didn’t match what we got out of that relationship. We EXPECTED a return on our investment and didn’t receive it. As a result, the core of us, is left sour.

I mentioned to my readers and clients before, that expectations are the root of all heartache. I meant that.

Here are…

5 Ways to Avoid Becoming The Bitter Ex-Spouse

1. Take the loss

The hardest part about facing a break-up or a divorce is experiencing the feeling of defeat. Outside of the typical relationship struggles (communication, living together, finances, etc.), you now have to battle the universe. This looks like, things outside of the relationship working against it, such as an affair or a spouse being addicted to strip clubs, drugs or porn. If it takes away the attention allotted for the relationship, it can feel like one has lost. In some ways, this is true. It is a loss. A loss of future affection, future time, future attention and more over, future plans with that person. Notice I didn’t say, it was a loss of the past. If you learned something and gained a positive feeling during the time you were together, it is not a loss.

Perception is everything and when STB (Soon to Be) ex’s view severed relationships as a defeat, it makes it harder to get back up and fight when the RIGHT person comes along. So, embrace the loss. Don’t think about what the relationship use to be; focus on what it became. When relationships go bad, people stay because they hope for what was. Very seldom do they look at the current state of things and doing this stunts growth.

Anything that causes someone consistent pain, shouldn’t be held onto. Staying in a toxic situation creates a sense of anxiety and panic within the spirit, because its only a matter of time before the next bomb drops.

Tell yourself that the loss is OK and that you will get through it. Seek out evidence to support the fact that the loss was neccessary and there is hope on the other side.

2. Don’t check for who’s coming next

Regardless of who’s next in line to be with your ex-boo, or who was there when you were too, it is no longer you. That may sound harsh, but I’m a firm believer that anything before me was a mistake and anything after me, will be a downgrade. (Unless, you’re my current husband, he did a major upgrade and hit the jackpot with me 🤷🏾‍♀️.) Anyway, if you know you are the type to add value to a relationship, then there’s no need for comparison, jealousy, or “shade.” Avoid the search tabs, the urge to lurk, or sending that “friend request.” (Although, we all have that one friend who’s going to do it anyway). For you as the ex, it’s not worth it, and it only increases the anger should you be convinced that the quality of the new person was less than basic.

On the flip side, you might witness your ex do well after the break up. In your head, they probably don’t deserve happiness after the way they treated you. I get it. Do me and yourself a favor and still wish it well. Congratulate it “Vesta” style, because you don’t ever want to block your blessing, raining on someone else’s parade. I am a witness that God has a way of restoring and when He does, your “kickback” will be positively overwhelming. Remember, vengeance isn’t yours and it never will be.

Keep in mind that, while you may have been the best, it doesn’t mean you were the best for your ex. Some people need spouses that match their aura. For example, if your ex-spouse was controlling and you were the independent type, he or she may work better with someone who’s dependent. Some people just need to feel needed, and it’s not personal. Relationships are about what works and everyone isn’t interested in a challenge.

3. Get your numbers up

You know what they say, “the best way to get over one person, is to get under another one.” Now, I am not recommending that anyone goes out and have a “thot fest.” I am only suggesting that people who experience break-ups put themselves on the market to date others and see what’s out there. Sometimes, ex-spouses get so caught up in how the old one use to do it, they don’t consider the idea that a new one, just might and can do it better.

If you find yourself dealing with loneliness, shake it. Call up your friends, have a night out and create new hobbies. Boredom is the worse position to be in when going through a divorce or a break-up. Boredom provokes a trip down memory lane and that’s no good. Remember, the past is the past and that person you use to be married to, isn’t present anymore. Don’t be afraid to create new memories with new people.

4. Leave the children out of it

Some marriages end with children involved. Depending on why the couple had children, it is possible their children can make it through the divorce unscathed. Some couples have children to be parents. Other couples have children to use them as pawns. If you had a child to be a parent, great! Chances are, you will make sure that child is taken care of regardless of what happens between you and your ex. However, if you had children to control the other parent, God bless that child’s stability because they are about to be in therapy for the rest of their lives.

Parents who have children to control the other parent are described as parents who: refuse visitation or make visiting with the children difficult because someone else is involved; they speak poorly about the other parent to the children or in the presence of the children; they make up the most ridiculous reasons to get the other parent’s attention regarding the child.

For example, an ex-husband is tagged at a restaurant on a date and as soon as his ex-wife noticed, she called him and said “Hey, Lil Johnny may have chicken pox, get here quick…” He ended his date and rushed over. However, when the ex-husband arrived, he realized Lil Johnny, just had a mosquito bite. The date is over and the ex-wife disclosed that she really wanted to talk to her ex about what use to be. Please, don’t use the children. They didn’t ask to be here.

If you are an ex-spouse who finds themselves having an urge to use the children to gain the attention of your ex or ruin the current relationship of the ex, STOP and think about the child’s well-being. The child will eventually grow up with emotional baggage and possibly resent you for interferring in their relationship with the other parent. To use children as pawns is selfish and only hurts the children. Children do not look at their parents and see the pain of their parent’s past relationship. They only see their parents and their heros.

5. Get professional counseling

I will be the first to tell anyone that having a good counselor saves lives. Life can be a challenge, even without a divorce so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Bitterness can sometimes turn a person into someone they thought they’d never become. It’s important to have someone who is confidential and nonjudgmental when you tell them that you felt like smacking your ex or punching their new partner in the face. They’ll understand and they won’t interrupt the telling of your truth. Of course it’s great to talk to friends and family but your loved ones are on your side and most likely bias. Furthermore, you never know who’s using your experience for their entertainment. Counseling is just safer.

People need confidants who have no emotional investment in them as it allows the professional to listen with a helping ear. Healing and learning to appreciate the new-you is very crucial when getting through a divorce. Relationships are about learning who we are and what works for us. It’s never about the other person. If you ever been through a break-up or a divorce and came out unchanged, you probably wasted your time.

This post was written to help ex’s or STBs identify appropriate ways to grieve the loss of a marriage and avoid bitterness.

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

When The Devil Uses Your Spouse

Marriage means so many things to so many people. Some refer to it as a business. Others say, it’s about love and some will debate that marriage is about religion or spirituality. I would argue that marriage is all of those things. Most importantly, a marriage IS spiritual. I say this because it is soul-tieing, or at least it should be.

I believe a couple should work to be so close that at some point, the two parties share the same emotions and empathy amongst the two becomes second nature. The only “drawback” to such an ordained connection is the threat of satan.

Couples must understand that when they take on a covenant such as marriage, their union becomes a target. This is why surrounding themselves with the right people is so crucial to the success of it. A person doesn’t have to be religious to believe that there is both evil and good in the world. We know that all things evil serve three purposes: to steal, kill and destroy.

What happens when evil gets into your marriage? When we get married, some of us become oblivious to the idea that our spouses can be the “devil’s mule.”

Here are 5 Signs That Your Spouse is Being Used by Satan

1. They stop putting the marriage first.

Like the human body, marriage develops in stages. In each stage of the marriage, we learn more and more about what it needs, through trial and error. By the next stage, we’ve mastered those premature needs and now it’s time to learn something new, something deeper. We stop learning or growing as a couple when we put the marriage second or third to all other things.

One can tell when this happens because one or both spouses will start to use words like, “I, my and me.” Their actions will become more self-satisfying and less about the success of the couple. This looks like making financial decisions or plans without discussing them first, or going places that your spouse isn’t aware of.

When you notice this about your spouse, be swift to point it out and don’t be afraid to explore where this thought process is coming from. You might find that your spouse is dealing with some insecurities they can’t quite communicate in any other way.

2. They interact with people who speak against or attempt to divide the marriage.

The biggest “NO-NO” in a marriage is congregating with non-team players. This includes ex-partners, friends, co-workers and family members. Yes, family members can be “haters” too. Some spouses do not realize this, but the company we keep can be a straight pipeline from the devil’s playground to their home.

This looks like, people who work hard to make your spouse feel uncomfortable by making snarled comments, nonverbal gestures and disrespect when they are present; exclusive invites to functions for one spouse but not the other; the inviting of ex-spouses or ex- partners to functions who also don’t support the union, and the sharing of gossip or hear-say.

When this happens, chances are, our spouse has a common interest or thought process that allows them to believe these type of interactions are acceptable. Maybe deep down inside, they have a problem with their spouse too and need allies, or maybe they aren’t strong enough to stand up to evil forces. Either way, it’s dangerous and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The best way to handle this is to separate yourself and let your spouse see that those snakes will soon bite him or her. Take this time to get closer to God as this will be your only protection. The purpose of the ostracization has always been to provoke you, especially if you’re on a path to greatness. Let them have the battle because you’re about to win the war.

3. They downplay your success or minimize your growth

What happens when you wake up one day and learn that your spouse doesn’t believe in you? Or better yet, they believe in you so much, they become jealous. They say “the closest ones to us are sometimes the ones we need to watch the most with that knife to our backs.” It’s devastating to believe that the close one, could be your spouse.

Insecurities exists in all of us but it’s what we do with them that makes a difference. Because of this, having success on one’s own is important before entering a marriage. We all want to know or at least believe we brought something to the table. If a person doesn’t see themselves as adequate or making a contribution to the marriage, they will do things like minimize the impact of the other person’s success. This will look like, referring to their spouse’s career as “nothing” or categorizing a passion as a “hobby.”

When this happens, stay encouraged and ignore the negativity. Get a support system that inspires and separate yourself from the environment that is belittling. Communicate with your spouse that this is what you’re doing and let them know that they aren’t allowed in your personal space until they can add value.

4. They stop showing up for you

Nothing is more bothersome to a marriage than being in one and still feeling, “single.” Togetherness is very important when keeping the Devil out of a marriage because that gap between the two of you stays closed. When the gap is open or there’s too much space in between you two, satan will soon have its way. This looks like one spouse is always at home and the other is not; one spouse partakes in parenting and the other does not; activities and family functions are done separately; award ceremonies or work functions are attended alone.

When this happens, have a discussion with your spouse about the loneliness, explore the separation and make a plan to spend more time together. In the meantime, keep yourself busy and discover who you are without them. While it may lead to a more permanent separation, you might find that the dead weight was slowing you down anyway.

5. Manipulation becomes their new way to resolve issues

Vulnerability is the key to effective communication in a marriage or any relationship for that matter. When people fear that vulnerability will no longer benefit them, they sometimes do or say things to get the desired response. For example, if your spouse fears that saying, “I love you” will result in not receiving an “I love you too,” they may resort to tactics such as, guilt-tripping by saying, “If you love me, you will do or would’ve done…” Sometimes, they may even create scenarios to see if their spouse will get jealous. Either way, this is exhausting and causes a rift in the security of the marriage.

The decision to use manipulation is a tell-tell sign that a spouse doesn’t have a high level of self-worth or assurance. It’s kind of like dishonesty and stealing. People lie and steal because it gives them a sense of control over another person or group of people. If a person felt secure in their presence and sure of themselves, they would put faith in their hard work, decreasing the need to take short-cuts and control the outcomes.

When this happens, don’t engage in the manipulation. Silence or very few words is always best when talking to a manipulator. I’m big on saying, “Yep, you’re right, or whatever it is you say, babe” when someone wants to engage in getting a desired response out of me. It gives them all the control they want, by way of not letting them control me at all. I call it “manipulating the manipulator.”

A manipulator’s goal is to provoke chaos in the spirit. It takes two to fight right? So, if one partner doesn’t engage or surrenders, there is no fight. This isn’t the same as giving in, it’s simply a matter of not answering until your name is called.

Prayer, meditation, deep-breathing and relaxation, yoga, and becoming in-tune with one’s soul is always the best way to gain peace in the midst of a storm. Though it’s not ideal (because you two are supposed to be ONE), leaving the problem with the person who owns it and in this case, your spouse, is the best way to protect your energy. When someone close to you is used to destroy you, this let’s you know that you are doing something right. Keep going, don’t give up and turn up your light one more notch.

Pray for your spouse, pray for yourself and give your spouse resources to help them see that they are being used and not aligned with the marriage. Refrain from blaming or shaming or getting caught up in debates because God is the only entity that can turn this around.

This post was written to provide insight to ways in which our spouses can be used for maladaptive purposes and how to deal with it.

Nya B is an author, mental health clinician, professor and speaker. For more interaction with Nya B, follow her on IG and Twitter @author_nya_b or FB, @Nya B.

That Friend Isn’t For Your Marriage

They say a person learns the true character of others during 4 life events: the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a promotion and a marriage.

While there is nothing disheartening about any of these events, these events are critical because they symbolize moments of change and growth. Change is hard for a lot of people, so support is crucial for the journey. Our loved ones need a support system that will hold their hands, carry out their best wishes and/or celebrate them.

What happens when we aren’t celebrated? What happens when we notice that those we once cherished and cared for become jealous, self consumed and unsupportive?

Studies show that in 2015, 42% of brides lost a friend during the planning of their wedding. Some women reported falling out over a dress, costs and lack of desire to be a bridesmaid. How does this happen? How is it that something so minor can change a friendship that was to last a life time? I’ll tell you how: expectations

Expectations are the root of all heartache. We expect people to play a role in our lives based on their title and years invested. We often fail to look at the characteristics and the behaviors, or whether the role or years invested have been of any substance. Substance is very important. A friendship can have so many years of “nothing.” It’s possible, trust me. Pay attention to the signs. It can save a lot of time and money.

5 Signs That Your Friend Isn’t for Your Marriage

1. Their wordplay isn’t supportive

When people first get engaged, they share the news with everyone. This is an exciting time. Two people will soon become one.

Be careful, because every “congratulations” do not come from a good place. Some congratulations have a “must be nice” undertone to it and there’s always that one friend who usually demonstrates that with his or her words. I’m often leery of people who describes a big accomplishment as “little.” There is nothing little about gaining a spouse. This looks like, “Oh here comes your lil’ fiancè” or “when are we going to plan this lil’ wedding?”

People tell us who they are all of the time, but for some reason we just refuse to believe them.

2. They are defiant about everything

Have you ever planned an event and someone had a problem with every detail of that event? You want blue dresses but they hate the color blue; you want them to wear makeup for better photo optics, but makeup just breaks our their face; the venue is too small or the food is too salty. There is always something. This is because they don’t really want to be apart of said event to begin with.

There comes a time when we have to stop forcing people to be happy for us and see the value in our choices. Don’t get in the habit of bargaining with bullshit when you know you deserve premium. Real friends will stand by your side wearing a banana suit, if you asked them to.

3. They put you in positions to look “Single.”

When our lives change, especially our marital status, there will be activities that aren’t beneficial or conducive to our lifestyle anymore. This includes “freak ’em” dresses at the club without your spouse (for ladies), leaving or traveling without notice, or making plans without discussing them with your partner first.

In my first marriage, this was a struggle for me. I was so big on independence that I failed to realize that marriage is anything BUT that. I was blessed to have friends who sat me down and said, “Get your ish together. You are married…”

All friends are not like mine. There are some friends who suggests that because they were “around first” your spouse or ‘soon-to-be’ isn’t important. There are some friends who will encourage you to disrespect your mate by not calling him or her to check in, or not sharing your whereabouts because your mate doesn’t own you. This type of thinking destroys marriages. Also, your friend may be worried and trying to preserve as much as your time as they can for themselves. After all, having a spouse means, less time for them, and some friends, do not like that.

4. They become too busy and unavailable

You ever notice that when you were single, that friend was almost, always available? Now that you are engaged or married, they don’t have time anymore. Sometimes the reasons are, “I’ve been busy; Oh, I have a new boo-you have one so let me be great too,” or my favorite, “I thought you were busy with your new fiancè so I didn’t want to bother you…”

It’s really confusing because at no point did you ask for space or insinuate that you didn’t want to spend time anymore, yet that’s what you ended up with. Don’t fret. This is a tell-tell sign of jealousy and a defense mechanism people use to avoid being letdown. That friend is most likely fearful of losing you to your spouse so they create distance themselves to avoid what they see as an inevitable break down of the friendship. The best way to work this out is to reassure friends that you haven’t forgotten about them and schedule times to get together consistently based on your schedules.

5. They disrespect your spouse or soon-to-be

Some friends can be too “mouthy” or opinionated when it comes to communicating with your spouse. If you’re at an outing or hanging out as a group and you notice your friend is constantly telling your significant other to “shut-up” or “move, give my friend some space,” that behavior is not supportive to the relationship and should be extinguished immediately.

Friends should have boundaries with your spouse or soon-to-be. As much as we love protection from our friends, it is not OK for friends to insert themselves in lover’s quarrels (unless it’s a safety issue) or share with their friend’s partner thoughts about what they should or should not be doing, without your consent. It’s not OK for your friends to withhold greetings from your spouse because of something shared about a disagreement. A wife should be able to tell her friend, “hubby didn’t take out the trash” and he is still greeted with a warm welcome, the next time they’re all together.

Remember, a marriage is between TWO people, and God, not two people and friends.

This post was written to improve boundaries with friends in a marriage and gain insight to authentic marital support.

Nya B is an author, mental health clinician, professor and speaker. For more tips, follow Nya B on IG and Twitter @author_nya_b.