Forgiveness Isn’t For The Weak

What they tell you, but don’t really tell you about marriage is that in order to make it to the “til death do us part,” phase, forgiveness is the only route. And when I say forgiveness, I mean “gut- wrenching-don’t-know-if- you-could-ever-look-at-them-the-same-heart bleeding,” forgiveness.

It’s not for the weak, that’s for sure. I tell the couples that I counsel, “If you’re happy everyday with your spouse, you aren’t married. Come back when you’re married.”

I truly believe in marriage and I love having a husband, but there are days, (sometimes weeks) that I’d like nothing more than to put on my Nike’s and just do it…run! However I know that unless my safety is at risk (my deal breaker), I have to take the alotted time to get to that other side and forgive.

I struggle with forgiveness because I have a filter that says, “forgiveness means hurt me again.” I know myself enough to know that my filters are not always true and sometimes a hinder to my personal success. I owe it to myself to challenge them. I challenge my filters by seeking out proof that whatever I fear is a lie and that whatever I’m avoiding, can alternatively be a source of happiness for me. My life is living proof of that.

So, if you’ve ever been hurt in your marriage and find yourself shackled by the anger that comes with disappointments, here are:

5 Ways to Help You Heal When Hurt is Present.

1. Take care of yourself

A lot of times when people get emotionally hurt, they look for quick fixes or ways to not feel the pain at all so other people can stay comfortable. This is unhealthy and unkind to your heart, literally. Stress occurs when there is a conflict between what we want to do and what we are capable of doing. This is the time to look at what one is capable of doing and leave it there. If you need to pray, pray. If you need time alone, take it. If you want to scream, cry, or shout, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you that your pain isn’t valid and that you should move on. Sit still, get it out, be kind to your immune system. Reality is, when you give your emotions a voice, they will simmer down and allow you to move to the next phase of your life appropriately. Emotions are the worse, when they are ignored, downplayed or avoided. Don’t do this to yourself. Your emotions will come back with a vengeance and you’ll find yourself medicating or using maladaptive behaviors to control them.

2. Give time, time

They say time heals all wounds and that’s a lie. The concept of time itself does not heal all wounds. Time spent healing, heals all wounds. Being hurt repeatedly and not healing, develops a sense of learned helplessness or a state in which a person has lost all hope for progression, so they quit trying. This ultimately leads to depression. Can you imagine, being hurt and just sitting there doing nothing about it? It’s like a request for ‘arthritis of the heart.’

Give the concept of bad timing, good energy. This is what really heals all wounds. Get up, move around, read books about whatever it is that hurt you, figure out why it hurt you as much as it did, because that’s where the problem really lies.

3. Attack the problem not the person

When our spouses do something to hurt us, it’s a natural instinct to point the finger and say, “you, you, you…” It feels good too, I know. I’ve been there. While it may feel good to “check” him/her or “spazz out,” it can easily become an addictive behavior that cripples the marriage. Effective communication has become scarce and abuse is now the “go-to.” Instead of attacking the problem, we find ourselves attacking each other and eventually we become silent enemies. The ‘tit-for-tat’ war is just getting started and both parties are about to lose.

All marriages have different problems or triggers, which is why it’s unhealthy to compare. For example, a wife believes her husband is selfish and his selfishness often leads to her getting the “short-end” of the stick. She’d like to handle it by being selfish in return, but how will that give her what she wants? The best way to handle a spouse who is selfish is to explore the root of your spouse’s self indulgence. Were they coddled growing up? Were they only children, the baby of the family or do you as the spouse make all things easy for them? Either way, the problem lies in the root and pointing the finger to tell them how selfish they are every day isn’t going to help. They will most likely ignore the problem because for them, selfishness is habit.

Create an atmosphere where selfishness is less attainable and be consistent. Show your spouse that you have needs too and they will modify their behaviors based on what’s required of them.

4. Seek Solutions

My husband tells me all of the time, “Nya, you focus too much on the problem. We need solutions.” He’s absolutely correct. We do need more solutions and less problems. My fear is that, if I give him a solution, he’s ‘off the hook’ with the problem. Irrationality at its finest and the same poor logic I tend to have with forgiveness.

Can you imagine completing a math problem that never gets solved? I don’t know about you, but I’d probably die from annoyance, so you can just about imagine what it will do to a marriage. This is what couples go through when they re-live the same problems over and over again. It’s like completing a math problem with about 53 steps.

The idea of finding a solution is not only healthy for your spirit and liberating, but it gives the marriage something to look forward to. For example, if the problem is, “your spouse spends too much time with friends and family,” the solution would be to prioritize time for the marriage and have allotted times for friends and family. The two of you can also work out a way to have couple’s night or family night. It incorporates both and satisfies both. Problem solved…

5. Let your spouse make it right

There is no better feeling than seeing the one you love be vulnerable. After we’ve been wronged, we want our spouse to hold our hand, look into our eyes, and say, “Please forgive me, what can I do to make this right? Let me make this right?” Sounds amazing doesn’t it? However, if your anger is anything like mine, you just might get that question and respond with, “Nothing, get out of my face!” Don’t be like me. I ruin everything 😫.

Because I am aware that I can be like this, I have to use my support systems and gain better insight. I talk to my “less traumatized friends” or friends who I believe are more submissive as wives to help me ‘think’ better. I realize that sometimes my “boss chick persona” gets in the way of my happiness and I need a balance. So, I call on them.

A good friend of mine, just yesterday said to me, “Nya, you have to let your husband make it right.” That stuck with me because she was absolutely correct. My husband and I have made it thus far because I’ve always allowed him to make it right and he’s always allowed me to make it right. So, why stop now? Oh, I know why…because my anger says, “stop now!” My fear says “stop now,” but God says, “keep going…”

When your spouse apologizes, allow him or her to show you with their actions that they want to do better. If you see progress, reward them in their love language, whether it’s words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, gift giving or quality time. (The 5 Love Languages, awesome book by Gary Chapman btw, get it!)

Positive reinforcement always works. It’s the gift that keeps giving and it’s the positivity that both parties need to heal when the hurt is present.

This post was written to help improve the quality of marriage and give insight to the process of forgiveness.

Nya B is an author, mental health clinician, speaker and professor in the school of Behavioral Arts and Sciences. Learn more about her at nya-b.com or follow her on IG and Twitter @author_nya_b

Lost in Translation: Why Your Spouse Isn’t Listening to You

Have you ever tried to communicate with your spouse and it seemed like the message just didn’t get recieved? You tried everything: emailing, texting, using your words, shouting, nonverbal gestures, role play, coloring books, painting, and still nothing seemed to get through. If you’re like me, you’ve probably said to yourself, “I know I’m speaking English.” Chances are, you probably are speaking the correct language and did everything you could to get your point across, they just didn’t hear you. When this happens, it can seem like you are talking to a brick wall, or maybe a room full of empty seats.

When we speak to our spouses, the one thing we want to walk away with is knowing we’ve been heard AND we need proof. Unfortunately, “of course babe, yeah honey, or ok,” is not enough. We want to see action. When we say to our spouses, “I would like more affection,” the very next day, or the next moment, we expect a long hug or to feel the touch of their hand. We all of a sudden begin to feel good about the communication because it shows we were heard.

However, what happens if actions don’t follow after we’ve expressed a concern? It can have a huge impact on our confidence. Sometimes we begin to have doubts about our efforts. We question if our spouse cares or we may just shut down altogether to avoid that “slap in the face” for vulnerability. Don’t lose hope. Being unheard isn’t always your fault. There are other reasons.

Here are 5 Reasons Your Spouse Probably Didn’t Hear You…

1. Lack of Comprehension Skills

Learning disabilities are a “thing” and a very common reason why people misunderstand one another. There’s truth to the saying, “I say tomato and he says, tomoto.” While some may be able to read the story, they may not be able to tell you the main point of the story. This is a big deal when communicating with others. The brain is a very complex muscle and depending upon what happened to your spouse in utero or early childhood, it is likely that those cognitive skills didn’t develop appropriately. Get tested. It never hurts to know you or your spouse’s actual IQ. You may learn that the way you two understand the world, is drastically different.

2. Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, predominately inattentive type (ADHD)

Children are not the only group of people who struggle with lack of attention span or poor impulse control. Adults have this problem as well and many of them are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed.

Symptoms include extreme forgetfulness, inflated reaction to trigger words, cutting a person off in mid-sentence, inability to follow clear and precise directions or a need for step by step instructions. An example of this would include, having a simple request to take out the trash, and instead of it getting done in that moment, it may take a day or two to get the request fulfilled. This is because your spouse probably needed you to be precise and say, “Please take out the trash, right now or at 3:30pm.” Similarly, he or she probably also needed an alarm, a schedule book, or a constant reminder. As annoying as it is, it’s not personal.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a mental health condition that is best treated by behavior modifications, constant stimuli and lots of structure and sometimes, medication. An explanation of such a disorder is that the frontal lobe of the brain was possibly distorted during development by premature use of drugs or alcohol, or physical trauma. Be specific and consistent at all times or be prepared to put a check mark on your spouse’s behavior chart.

3. Lack of empathy

Empathy is described as having the ability to feel what another person is feeling by putting oneself in their shoes. This is a very tricky task for a lot of people, especially those who’s needs were met their entire life and they didn’t have to master meeting the needs of others. Some parents, (especially mothers with their sons) tend to give their children everything. They want their children to have what they didn’t have. They also don’t want their children to experience setbacks, pain or hardships, so they coddle them. This is dangerous and highly ineffective when it comes to “adult-children” learning to love someone else. This lack of empathy decreases their ability to listen or see others as having needs. Sometimes, they can be unintentionally dismissive or have a tendency to downplay serious emotions until it’s their own. So, if you’re married to a “momma’s boy,” or a “kept daughter,” Good luck!

4. Shame

One of the hardest things for a lot of people to do is humble themselves and admit that they don’t know everything. Many people go into relationships thinking they have all the answers and they know what their spouse needs better than their spouse does. That logic couldn’t be more wrong. However, instead of acknowledging that their spouse is the only expert on themselves, they dismiss the entire idea. The shame of not knowing everything takes over the communication and the spouse goes unheard. An example of this would be, a wife likes making love in a particular way, yet her husband is convinced that he’s doing a great job because it seemed pleasing to his previous partner. So, instead of listening to his wife’s needs, he’s ashamed that he may not be the lover he thought he was. Therefore, he continues making love the way he knows how. As a result, the sex continues to be a poor experience for the wife all because the husband’s shame wouldn’t allow him to put his pride aside and listen. Don’t be this type of spouse. Be humble, sit down…

5. Filters

Communication is best understood in two ways: what we actually said and what the person heard us say. People hear or listen to others based on their filters. A filter in communication is described as the singling out of a trigger word and responding to it based on trauma, abuse, an insecurity, neglect or grief.

An example of this would be, a wife says to her husband, “You never put gas in my car anymore…” Her husband’s response is, “Oh, so you’re saying I’m a bad husband, huh? Well, leave if you’re unhappy.” His filter word is probably “never” and is clearly based on an insecurity. Underneath it all, he somehow believes that he’s a bad husband, although his wife was very specific about him not putting gas in the car, not the marriage.

The best way to handle this is to address the insecurity and make the connection for your spouse that what was said, was very different than what was heard.

While communication should be the easiest thing in the world, it’s the most complicated because we all bring something different to the relationship. Be mindful of your spouse’s learning and communication style. Avoid being judgmental. Who knew that a picture book just might save your marriage.

This post was written to provide insight and improve communication skills in relationships.

Nya B is a licensed mental health clinician, public speaker, professor and author.

To learn more, follow Nya B on IG @author_nya_b or check out her website http://www.nya-b.com

Pour Into Me: How to Make Your Wife Fall in Love Again

To say a woman doesn’t show love is an oxymoron. How can one be a woman and without love to give at the same time? Genetically, women tend to be more nurturing. Research suggests that the XX chromosomes and the production of estrogen makes it almost impossible for women to be careless.

Sure, there are exceptions to every rule when we consider trauma, abuse or even heartbreak but truth of the matter is, a woman IS love. She represents the warmth that makes a house a home. She represents the organization that makes a business ‘flow’ and most importantly, she represents the support behind a successful man.

There’s usually one time a woman stops showing love, and that is when SHE stops receiving it. A lot of women tend to give and give until there is nothing left in the tank. Even then, they will try to pull from resources they don’t even have. This is what makes the woman unique.

However, if there’s concern of a love drought, or fear that your woman or your wife has stopped loving you, it may be time to stop what you’re doing and pour into her.

Here are 6 Ways to Pour Into a Woman:

1. Listen

We all want to be heard but there is something about active listening that makes a woman feel valued. There are two types of listening: active and passive. Each one has its subtypes but for the most part, people will identify with these two forms. Active listening provides feedback, paraphrasing, validating and involvement in the conversation. This looks like, “Wow babe, so your supervisor only let you take a 15 minute break when you were there 9 hours? That’s got to be exhausting. Would you like for me to let you rest this evening?” This is very different from passive listening, which only means the person heard you on the surface and isn’t connected to anything said. This looks like, “Wow babe, you didn’t get a break today? That’s messed up. What’s for dinner though?” See the difference?

2. Offer Help

What attracts women to men is a man’s ability to offer support, guidance and protection. Support isn’t limited to financial obligations. There are more ways to help than that. Some examples of ways a man can offer help include, helping the children with homework (if this applies), prepare his woman a lunch to take to work, engage in chores around the house, such as dusting, and cleaning the entire kitchen, not just washing the dishes (a woman loves it when her man sees the counters, the stove and the floors). Make sure her car is filled with gas and that it’s vacuumed or washed. Believe it or not, domestic help turns a woman on. Fellas, don’t let a defiance in household chores stand in the way of a good sex life. 😉

3. Take up for her

It’s natural for men to go ‘head-to-head’ with other men because they are territorial. Men have no problem putting another man in his place when it comes to his woman. However, the stickiest place for a man to be is in a battle between a female family member and his woman. Most men prefer to behave like those battles don’t even exist because it’s often too much to deal with. However, avoiding and ignoring the battle isn’t the most effective way to handle this type of conflict. When someone is attacking your woman, (whether she can protect herself or not, whether she is wrong or not) take up for her in that moment. If a man finds that his woman is in the wrong, a ‘united front’ is the best solution. A ‘united front’ is when a couple presents as ‘one’ or on the same team to the public, then handles their controversy in private. A man standing by his woman will not only, let others know she is important to him, it may encourage her to “squash the beef” and give her the sense of protection she needs to keep providing the warmth and comfort her man needs. Sounds like a three for one deal to me…

4. Plan a date

While she may not admit it, a woman loves it when a man says, “who, what, when and where.” There’s nothing more relaxing to a woman’s soul than a phone call from that special person to say, “Hey, Friday night, be ready at 7. I’m taking you out and wear something sexy…” To be courted enhances a woman’s self esteem. In 2019, it seems a lot of women have lost faith in the dating rituals. Some say that men aren’t making the ‘right’ moves and other say that men expect them to make all of the moves. Either way, women like it when a man takes an active role in courtship and the planning of an outing. If you need help planning the most romantic or fun evening, check out the events page in your local paper, groupon or social media platform. The best dates are usually the most inexpensive ones.

5. Show up for her

Physical support is one of the most influential acts when it comes to boosting confidence. Think of musical artists, actors/actresses and entertainers…who would they be if their fans didn’t show up? Be your woman’s biggest fan. Show up for her. If her friends or family have a function, join her. If there is a wedding or a graduation, be there. Nothing is more humiliating for a “taken” woman, than to show up to an event where other couples are, alone. Don’t be a participant in her appearing single. Sooner or later, she will be.

6. Pray with her and for her

This should’ve been the first way to pour into a woman, but I thought I’d save the best for last. No matter how much societal roles change, the role of the man leading his woman, does not. Spiritually, a man has the closest connection to God. His prayers are highly favored. This doesn’t mean, God ignores women. He hears us too. It just means there is an order and when things are done in the order of God’s word, they tend to work out best. Women want men who inspire them and encourage them. What better way is there for a man to inspire and encourage a woman than to show her that he knows God? I’ll wait…

The sole purpose of this article is to enhance or improve the quality of a relationship by identifying the needs of others and decreasing one’s ability to be self serving.

For more tips and information on relationships, please follow me on IG @author_nya_b

Nya B is a mental health clinician, author, public speaker and professor in Behavioral and Social Sciences. Learn more about her at nya-b.com

Simple Intimacy

A lot of times, people get sex confused with intimacy. Truthfully, real love-making starts in the mind, or shall I say before couples even get to the bed room. Here are some tips to improve your sex life without actually having sex.

1. Talk on The Phone (helpful topics are “things that make you smile, the last time you were excited or surprised, and/or the greatest lost you ever had”)

2. Cook Dinner Together (instead of going out to dine, prepare by following a new recipe, shopping for it together and cooking it together. Get a bottle of wine, light some candles and talk dirty over dinner…don’t touch each other until AFTER you dine 😉)

3. Have a Book Club (just the two of you). Pick a book about relationships and have weekly discussions about how the two of you can relate.

4. Write Love Letters (texts are sweet, but nothing says “I’m into you” more than a handwritten note, left on the driver’s seat of your partner’s car or in a place you know they will find it (talk dirty if you must, but sharing your feelings is better)

5. Have Lunch During Work Hours (if your job allows, take your partner lunch or schedule to meet up for a quick bite, sit next to each other if possible, not across from one another.)

6. Give Compliments (we all like to know our partner is into us. Give them a compliment as a prelude to a kiss, “Baby, I Iike the way you’re wearing that hat, come here…”

7. Touch Each Other (soft or strong hugs, running your fingers up and down the spine, the back, or the arms, holding hands, scalp massages (my favorite), foot massages, hand massages, or holding each other while watching a movie or after a hot shower are good ways to feel close outside of sex)

Rememer, in order for anything to be effective, it must be done consistently. Once you stop engaging, be aware that it may take a while to see progress, should you chose to re-engage.

Happy Love Making

Follow me on IG @author_nya_b

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…