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.

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