No New Friends (Or Old)

One of the things my husband and I do a lot of is talking. Our conversations range from world hunger to fashion trends, from childhood memories to going back to complete a discussion that got heated a month ago. It was when James became a truck driver my junior year of college that our communication life changed. Our long distance relationship depended on long phone conversations in order to make us feel closer to one another. Ever since then, it hasn’t mattered whether I was in school, working or at home, we talk all day almost every day. Even when he’s driving locally and I see him in the evenings, we talk up until the moment I pick him up from his truck. There are many topics that we discuss, but I’ll start by sharing this one. The question was, when you’re married, should you be allowed to have friends of the opposite sex?

I thought I was going to be able to provide you with two sets of answers, one from me and one from James, but thankfully we saw eye-to-eye on each scenario. The scenarios were as follows:

  • What if your spouse had a best friend of the opposite sex prior to your marriage?
  • Can you or your spouse gain new friends of the opposite sex (i.e. coworkers, church, school)?
  • If you or your spouse has close/good friends of the opposite sex, but doesn’t talk to them on the regular, should they be cut off?
  • Should you or your spouse go out with friends of the opposite sex without your spouse being present?

What if your spouse had a best friend of the opposite sex prior to your marriage?

This scenario is pretty tricky. I think I can speak for all women when I say that the idea of our man having a female best friend doesn’t bring us the slightest amount of joy. Our guard immediately goes up because we can’t imagine another woman being close to our husbands other than the women in his family (i.e. mother, sister, grandmother). You fear that the two are closer than friends, and you feel uncomfortable with him/her sharing personal information with them before you. You ultimately want to be your spouse’s very best friend. Some women will run the moment the man mentions having a female best friend, while others will stick around and do their best to befriend the woman. For the most part, I would guess the same goes for a man regarding his lady having a male best friend as well. James and I believe that if your spouse has a best friend of the opposite sex, he/she is not new to you. You should have met this man/woman when you started getting serious in the dating phase. While you’re boyfriend and girlfriend, you’re getting to know this friend and everyone (spouse, best friend and yourself) is making an effort to build comfort in the relationship/friendship. That means creating boundaries. For example, it is no longer acceptable to just go out to eat or hang with your friend of the opposite sex without first letting your significant other know. This will eliminate any insecurities of cheating and secrecy. Once you’re engaged, your spouse’s best friend doesn’t need to be your best friend, but he/she should definitely be your friend also. You all should be able to hang out together without any hesitation, and the need to hang out separately without you is not necessary. At this point, you are able to truly make the decision on whether you can deal with this friendship. If you just can’t get along with your spouse’s friend, it is his/her responsibility to end that friendship in order to move forward with your relationship. Once you’re married, you have accepted that this friendship is okay with the both of you and there is no confusion, disrespect or jealousy surrounding the friendship.

Can your spouse gain new friends of the opposite sex (i.e. coworkers, church, school)?

Depending on your personality, it is inevitable to avoid gaining new friends when you’re at work. It is important to be intentional about new friends being both you and your spouse’s friend. Once you’re married, there’s no such thing as a person of the opposite sex being only your friend or only your spouse’s friend. If you or your spouse don’t have any interest in gaining a new friend, it’s both your responsibility to make each other comfortable and confident in your being friends with that individual. How do you do that? By respecting your spouse and his/her feelings toward that friendship. If they are uncomfortable with the type of conversation you’re having with that person, shut it down. Honestly, that goes for any friendship, but I can definitely understand putting up a fight for one who has been around long-term versus a new friend gained through work. For James and I it’s about comfort, respect, confidence, communication, and reassurance.

If your spouse has close/good friends of the opposite sex, but doesn’t talk to them on the regular, should they be cut off? 

In our opinion, if you don’t speak to your friends of the opposite sex on a daily basis, there’s no need to end the friendship or acquaintance-ship. We agreed that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an adult conversation to catch up with one another. For example “Hey! How are you? How’s the family?” or “Hey, I know that it’s been a little while, but I value your opinion and need your advice on something.” The friends that do need to be cut off are those who contact you with “Hey stranger” or “Hey big head.” I repeat, it’s crucial that you keep boundaries in place. You shouldn’t text anyone of the opposite sex after a certain time. It’s up to you and your spouse to set the time.

Should you or your spouse go out with friends of the opposite sex without your spouse being present?

If your spouse is not aware, the answer is absolutely not. Doing that shows a lack of respect and can make your significant other insecure and no longer trust you. We’ve all heard the saying, “trust is easy to lose, but hard to gain back.” If you value your spouse and your friend, you will always let your spouse know when you are meeting with them.

When evaluating your friendship(s) with anyone of the opposite sex, take yourself out of your shoes, and look from the view of your spouse. If they took a look at your text message thread, what would they see? Does your spouse know the password to your phone? Are you comfortable with leaving your phone around them? Do your friend(s) make an effort to include your spouse in your plans? There are several questions you can ask yourself, but let’s be honest, as an adult you know right from wrong when in a mature relationship. I’m not one to judge because I am far from perfect, but I’ve noticed that people make excuses to stay in their single ways when being in a marriage. When being married, your way of thinking and actions have to do a full 360. You can not operate in singleness when married, and if you do your marriage is deemed to fail. I’ve also noticed that some people think that when you get married you lose yourself or your identity. False. Your spouse becomes a part of your identity. When getting married, you are gaining a new part of YOU. Change your perspective and look at your spouse as an addition to your identity and not a source of subtraction. All in all, it’s about finding what works best for you and your spouse. If you two are on the same page, then what everyone else thinks doesn’t matter.

 

 

 

Watch Your Mouth, But Don’t You Dare Lose Your Voice

When you think of marriage, what are the top five things that pop into mind? Before my husband and I tied the knot, here was my list. Having my family together under God, spending the rest of my life with my best friend, travel, building businesses and brands together, and simply being in love and having fun with the love of my life. Negative thoughts never crossed my mind because I didn’t envision a negative future with James. But one thing he and I both agreed on was doing our best to model our union after what is described in the Bible. So although we were inseparable and confident in our future together, we sought premarital counseling to make sure we were headed in the right direction. During the class we took, one lesson stuck out like a sore thumb… SUBMISSION.

I’d heard about submission times before, especially during church services, but I never received the information in-depth. Before, submission sounded like the wife is supposed to wait on hands and knees for her husband even when he was in the wrong. In my mind, submission meant doing everything your husband asked or told you to do. What added to this notion was the fact I’d heard James and my friends’ boyfriends say this famous line… “You don’t know how to submit!” I would have a healthy savings for how many times I’ve heard that line before. The problem is both men and women don’t know what submission really means.

Here is my take on it in a nutshell. Submitting means yielding. A definition that I saw on Webster’s Dictionary for yield is “to give up and cease resistance or contention.” In a class at church, I was given this example. When you are driving and a lane is merging and/or ending, someone has to yield or there is going to be a big accident. That accident can be fatal. In this case, your inability to yield to your spouse can be fatal to your marriage. Many people hate using biblical guidance toward their marriage, but it has been the foundation of my husband and I’s marriage. It says clearly that wives are to submit to their husbands, and husbands are to love their wives as the Lord loves the church. So at the end of the day, we have to change our perspective and look at submission as ultimately submitting to God. In addition, men can’t look at submission as treating their wives like doormats.

I find looking to the Lord to be easier to be honest. When I know my husband is not making a great choice, I submit to God by closing my mouth and letting him be the leader of our household. Prayer becomes my best friend because I instantly want to yell obscenities at that man. In my mind I say ” Help me Lord because I feel myself losing all sense of control!” You don’t know how many times I’ve used my imagination, froze time and body slammed him like the wrestlers do in WWE. I love my baby though lol.

It’s important to know that if you have married a man of God, you cannot interfere in the plans God has for him. You have to intercede through prayer. I’ve seen this work for me firsthand. It’s when we start going off at the mouth and telling our husbands what to do when he makes decisions out of spite to show and prove that he is a man and knows what he is doing. Ultimately, our husbands are looking for partnership and respect, not for another mother. It’s not our place to nag and yell and tell him what he’s supposed to be doing. How will a man ever be able to lead if we’re always stepping in?

I’m still working on this til this day! My latest struggle has been knowing when to “watch my mouth, but not losing my voice.” I sometimes confuse stepping back with not being able to voice my thoughts all because I over think the process of surrendering to my husband. The fact that I do this on my own, and he looks at me crazy when he notices it means it’s a problem. I have to remind myself, “Tiana, watch your mouth, but don’t you dare lose your voice!” Timing is so important in this case. Sometimes you have to shut up and let God do the work. That takes trusting Him to handle his son. Also, submission doesn’t mean you don’t get to share your thoughts or feelings. It’s a matter of how you express your feelings. If you go into a conversation with negativity, the outcome will be negative.

I’ve noticed that men want women to be submissive BEFORE marriage, and it does NOT work like that. I really think we confuse submission with respect. A woman should not submit to a man she is not married to. There are ways where he can show that he is able to lead, and she can show that she can take direction. Some men think that a woman is supposed to just do what he says, but he shows no promise as a leader. That man needs time to develop. And then there’s the woman who is hyper-independent and doesn’t want a man leading her in any way. That woman needs time to develop.

All in all, submission is something you have to tackle daily. It’s not simple, but it can be pretty easy to yield to a man who has shown the ability to lead you and your family in the right direction. Everyone makes mistakes so you have to loosen up a little in order for him to grow during the times he fails. For my single ladies, when you are looking at a man as your potential husband, ask yourself can you submit to this man for the rest of your life? If he spent all of y’all money and the lights were cut off, could you still make his dinner, light some candles and feed him?

Daddy Woes

Since I was a little girl, my parents did their best to protect me from the horrors of the world. That included the horrors of our family and household as well. Like I said, they did their best, but it wasn’t too long before I would find out that my father had an addiction to drugs. To be honest, I can’t even remember how I found out. I’ll probably remember when I finally commit to going to therapy and blog about it lol.

Nevertheless, my father was amazing! He was what every great father is to his daughter. The apple of her eye… the love of her life… her king. His name was Bobby. He was an amazing cook, artist, guitar player and more. He was absolutely amazing with his hands. He could handle all things electric, plumbing, building and more. He actually helped rebuild my elementary school’s playground. He was a high school drop out, but committed and received his diploma my sophomore year of high school. That man LOVED his girls ( my mother, sister and I) as well as the family that we took in. We spent so much time together that I didn’t notice anything “different” about my father. I remember when he wasn’t home, my mother would say “daddy had to go out-of-town to handle business for work.” It didn’t click until I was writing this sentence that there was no way my father could have been out of town for work when he was at home with me all time. When he wasn’t at home, he worked at my elementary school. Where was he going that no one else was going?

So that was some of the good! I gave you that first because in my opinion, it outweighed the bad. I’m confident that my mother and sister feel the same way. But my father’s drug addiction definitely changed my life in many ways. I won’t get too deep into it right now. I’ll blog about it more another day AND you can read it in my book when I stop backing out and write it lol.

Once I knew he was on drugs, I guess you can say I became “woke.” When he was around things felt so right, but it was when he would be gone for three days or a week that would kill me. I worried every day that my father wasn’t home that he was hurt or dead and i would never see him again. I became severely attached to my mother because I didn’t want her to be hurt, but I was still attached to my father because we did so much together. I mean I literally had to argue with this man to stop walking me to the bus stop before I entered high school. Now I understand more than ever why he didn’t want to stop. So when my father died, I lost a part of me. I was confused. I felt like I didn’t get enough of him because I had to share a lot of our time with the streets or rehab. I often wonder if he died thinking I was mad or disappointed in him. My attachment gained a new friend… Abandonment.

My husband was with me through a portion of the experience. I kept it a secret as long as I could. Things got so bad at home I broke up with him in the 9th grade. I had to choose between him or my grades, and my parents expected nothing but A’s and B’s. He kept asking, “was it something I did wrong?” My answer was so cliché. “It’s not you, it’s me!” He said “tell me what’s wrong, what’s going on?” I spilled the beans. “My father is a drug addict!” I yelled. He replied, “that’s it?!” He then chuckled. “I thought it was something bad, like somebody died. My father does drugs too!” We crack up about that conversation til this day. But after my husband found out, that’s when my attachment to him began to form. It got really intense when my father passed away. I never wanted to leave my husband’s side. That’s why him becoming a truck driver crushed me. He couldn’t understand why I would cry so much when he had to go. It was like PTSD or something. I would feel abandoned by him leaving and constantly afraid that something would happen to him. Just as I did with my father. My oldest daughter would cling to me because she knew I was sad. Just as I did with my mother. I remember when she was two, she told my mother “my mommy’s eyes are broken” because I had been crying so much.

I clung to how great my father was though. I expected my husband to be great just like him, but to take it up a notch. This wasn’t a problem for my husband because he’s naturally a great husband and father. It was our age that created an issue. We did everything SO young. We fell in love young (14), had our first child young (21), got married young (23) and have been building as a family in our youth. Since we moved into “adulthood” pretty fast, I expected my husband to jump into gear and get it all right. My expectations of my husband were so high, it was crazy. In my mind, there was no room for mistakes. I didn’t see my father make any besides his drug addiction. Since my husband didn’t have a drug addiction, there shouldn’t have been anything holding him back. He already placed pressure on himself and I made it worse by setting a bar too high for him to reach. He hadn’t had enough time to learn and grow.

When I discovered that I was placing my daddy issues on my husband, I couldn’t stop apologizing. I felt terrible. Not for what I went through, but for what I put him through.

It is vital that we take a look at our childhood and life experiences when approaching relationships. That includes friendships as well. An individual will never know why drinking and smoking bothers you if you don’t tell them addiction runs in your family, and you’re terrified the same will happen to you. That’s just an example. There are so many hidden secrets we have, and hurt/pain that we haven’t uncovered because we don’t like to visit those dark places. Our relationships, especially our marriages and relationships with our children will not be healthy if we don’t tackle our deep issues. This doesn’t mean hold onto your hurt and pain, it means deal with it so that you may move past it.

I’m still a work in progress…