Becoming Better: The Eternal Student

The older I get the more I am coming to terms that I will forever be a student in the life journey.  There is no point of complete understanding.  Love is no exception.  While, I attempt to define its parameters for my life daily, I am constantly learning something new about love’s characteristics.
From a young age, I always sought to hang around people that where I wanted to be.  My closest friends and family were at least a few years older than me.  I watched closely, I mimicked their behavior, and I analyzed the results of their actions whether good or bad.   By the time I reached their respective ages, I had it down pat.  And while I had my own share of obstacles, I had a blueprint to solve them.
Nowadays, I find myself around married couples, and more specifically, married women.  I have always thoroughly enjoyed the time that I spend with them.  I love to ask questions.   What was your first argument as a married couple?  What are the biggest changes?  What is the most rewarding thing about marriage?  And my favorite, “how did you know he/she was the one?”  They all replied the same, “You just know.”
I never thought I would get to the “just know” phase in my life and as I begin this journey from the familiar and safe to the unknown, I find myself looking within for a blueprint to follow.  Little did I know I would find the blueprint in the unknown.
Communication. Respect. And Understanding.
I am very familiar with them all individually.  But the totality of all is the blueprint to loving truly.  It is a tripod, if you will, so you can’t have two without having the third.  One is completely insufficient.  I have no desire to be insufficient.
It was this information and an earlier conversation with a good friend that kind of brought everything home for me.   She said, “Marriage is not just cooking, cleaning, and wearing playboy bunny suits every night.  That still is not enough.  To be a good wife, you have to be willing to be a student and always willing to learn.” I have always prided myself in knowing it all. *smile*  However, I feel there is a greater reward in having someone in who will nurture me to be the best person possible.  Currently in route to my best.

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In Preparation for Her: The Wedding Edition

Brides are to expected to be the picture perfect Barbie... at least for the first month or two.

August is here and we are in the midst of wedding season.  Beautiful brides-to-be, in preparation for the big day, are constantly being offered unsolicited advice on how to perform their wifely duties.  They need to be good cooks, good housekeepers, the best lovers on earth, so on and so forth.  In essence, brides have the pressure to be perfect.  So I found it only appropriate when my friend whose wedding date is quickly approaching posed the question, “What does her fiancé need to do to prepare to be a good husband [to her]?”
Grooms seemingly are only posed two questions: “Are you ready for the big day?” and “Are you sure you are ready?”  There typically is not an onslaught of must-dos for the groom-to-be.  Additionally, there is not an abundance of black husbands and fathers to serve as role models.   And sadly, since the finale of The Cosby Show the portraits of black man as a husband, father, and businessman are scarce.  As usual I took matters into my own hand and created a small council of married people- two wives, two men, none of which were married to each other.  Per these conversations, I devised a list of things a man must do in preparation to be a good husband to his wife.  It’s only right.

Yea, we need more images like this flooding the networks.

1) Lead by serving: The title of husband comes with a ton of responsibility.  Now in addition to take care of yourself, you take on a family.  Your personal needs sometimes take a backseat to the needs of the family.  So while women are told to cater to their man, sometimes a man will have to cater to the needs of his wife and family.  A great husband understands that by doing what is necessary to keep his wife happy, she will innately go above and beyond for their husbands. By serving her, you give her the morale boost needed to keep going.  It is also a symbol of appreciation for all she does on behalf of the family.

2) I ain’t yo momma: Apparently men are prone to thinking their wife is supposed to be a replica of their mother.  However, the wives expect the men to fully weaned before entering a marriage. T hat means don’t run to your mother after every argument.  Don’t expect your wife to clean up after you daily.  In other words, don’t make your mother a THIRD person in a two person union.  It also means that you will have to use your words to communicate your thoughts, wants and needs and not pout like a child so the wife have to play the guessing game.
3) Be Married before you married. According to both men, you need to already be in full husband mode before you even make it official.  Neither women nor men should expect a dramatic change overnight.   And we all know practice makes perfect.
4) Patience. Seems obvious, right?  However this is not so much in the dealing with nagging or arguments sense as it is to learn that everything will not come instantly.  It is kind of like when you were single, and you wanted to go to get something to eat.  It only took a few minutes to get dressed, leave the house, grab some food and get back.  But whenever you add another person in the equation the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B usually increases.  The time triples when children are involved.  In the marriage, things that were once simple are now a process and it takes patience to handle those old challenges as well as tackle the new challenges.   However, this time it is different, now you have a wife dedicated to helping you tackle these challenges together. And well, that is the blessing of marriage.

*shout out the council*

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Sharing the Lease: The Knock-off Marriage

Her:  Giirrllllll, he said we should move in together
Me: Oh really?
Her: Yep.
Me: Oh okay.  When ya’ll plan on getting married?
Her: I dunno, girl.
Me: Has he brought it up?
Her: Nah, not really.  But I think I will have a dinner party to celebrate.
Me: To celebrate what?
Her: Him moving in.
Me: …
Her: Hello??
Me: Yea, I am just looking for the best way to say that sounds ridiculous.
As the conversation progressed, she finally admitted that what she really wanted was an engagement party but living together seemed like a good step towards that although he has never mentioned marriage.  She said she didn’t want to scare him away by bringing it up.  She said, honestly, she could use the savings by him moving in because he said he would split the cost of the bills and he is always over there anyway. I said mmhmm in between and gave the standard “if you’re happy, then I’m happy for you” friend spill.  She knows me well enough not to believe it and asked how I really felt about it.
I lived with a man before, and while all relationships are different, it is something that I made a personal choice not to do again.  These are the reasons why:
1)        All of the Work, None of the Title: When you live with a man that you are not married to, as a woman you automatically feel that the audition for wife has begun.  So you take on the role that a wife- the cooking, the cleaning, the loving, the nurturing- without the title or benefits.   And while as a girlfriend, you may do all of the things, it is nothing like the full time duties when living with a man.  It is like working for free, while when you are not living together it is more like you are volunteering.  You can make your own schedule and leave whenever.  However, by living together you figuratively and literally rob yourself of benefits that come with the term spouse.  There are no medical and dental options or tax breaks for heterosexual live-in girlfriends like there are for wives.  Maybe working for free is too harsh, maybe it is more similar to be underpaid and overworked because hopefully this man provides some benefit to you other going half on the rent.  If that is all he is doing, you can get a roommate.  She didn’t like that part.
2)        You Lose the Go-Home Ability: I know right now, you claim you can’t get enough of each other and talk to each other 20 times a day and see each other day and can’t be more than 5 feet from each other every single but eventually that will get old.  You will grow tired of each other.  By living together you lose that option to allow time for your relationship to breathe, so it can grow until you are both ready for the commitment of marriage.  And what if he cheats…again??  “He will have no reason to cheat if we live together,” she says.  I sigh deeply and respond, “but what if he does?  Are you going to let him stay with you after he cheats?”  Probably, because you are overly invested in a relationship prematurely.  It is much easier to keep it moving to someone worth your time when you are not tied down in a shared lease with a man.
3)        If and When You Break Up You Don’t Get $750 Million Anything: I’m not saying it is not going to last forever, I am just saying what if it doesn’t.  The statistics are not in your favor.  You are fully emotionally invested,  and now financially invested.  So if you break up, you deal with it like you would a divorce, yet you get absolutely nothing to make you feel better about wasting your time it easier to pick up the pieces and move forward.   You don’t think he is aware of this?  He can get all of the benefits of marriage without spiritual, legal, and financial commitment? Hmph.
So while I absolutely feel you need to spend lots and lots and lots of time to truly know each other before you get married, shacking it up is no longer a feasible option for me.   About the best I can do is give him a little space in a drawer and keep his favorite drink stocked.   That is about as much as I can commit before I get his full and legal commitment.

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…And to Obey Him

This weekend I had the opportunity to finally watch the animated movie Up.  It was the tale of a man who marries his childhood sweetheart.  When his wife dies, he devotes the remainder of his life to fulfill her childhood dreams.  It was a beautiful depiction of lifelong devotion and commitment to love and a person. But how do you really know this is the person whom you are meant to share the rest of your life?
I begin to think about a conversation some friends and I had at a friend’s wedding some months ago. The conversation was centered around the more traditional vows that were exchanged during the ceremony. “..Do you take him be your lawful, wedded husband for as long as you both shall live, to love him, cherish him, honour him, comfort him, respect him, and to obey him according to God’s Law?” It had been years, at least ten, since I had heard the “and to obey him” included in the vows.  We, as women, have gotten away from those terms and detest the notion of being obedient and submissive to a man.
However, what if that was the tool for determining the man a woman should marry- one she would obey? Obedience over the years has gained a bad rep for no apparent reason.  Children used to obey their parents.  Employees used to obey their boss. Wives used to obey their husbands.  Then, when obedience was prominent, our communities were certainly better…
Obedience first requires respect which I can only imagine is useful, if not vital, in a marriage.  I would say, the next ingredient in obedience is trust.  Trust is often only associated with fidelity.  However, the greater need may be for a woman to trust her husband to make the best decisions for his family.  This trust in him is that he will put his needs and wants behind those of his family.  For me, this would be a solid indicator of husband material because I don’t think there are too many men that can match my brilliance.  You see, women often catch the details most men miss and add the compassion some men lack.  I am often forced to add a woman’s touch to ensure success of any project.  So a man that not only sees the big picture but pays attention to the details with delicacy and care distinguishes himself from the pack.  Such a man deserves those eternal and traditional vows of obedience.  He would in turn take the vow to be the devoted and committed husband of the movie Up.

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His Hesitation

Welcome to another edition of Light Fridays

cheaper to keep her

Tiger’s wife, Elin expected $300 million divorce settlement will have Kelis’s monthly stipend from Nas look like welfare checks.  In a recent conversation with a best friend, he was explaining all a man has to seriously consider before entering marriage.  Love, compatibility, and security are no longer the only key components a man must consider anymore.  Now you must consider the worst case scenario, divorce, and how much that will cost you.  Past, current, and possible future earnings are now all at risk once you enter this supposedly lifelong matrimony.  So ladies, his hesitation to jump that broom may be with good reason.
Public divorces are a good example to men, although no one seems to be getting the message.  How many mistresses have come forth in the Tiger Wood’s affair? 20 or so?  Well after a little computing, I discovered that comes to $15,000,000 per girl!!! FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLLARS PER ASS!!!  But I am sure Tiger, being a black man, had many others.  So I did a decided to round up to 100 girls he may have been involved in since the conception of his marriage.  And well that was still $3,000,000 per girl!  Astronomical.  I wonder if Tiger did the calculations if it was worth it.  I wonder if Elin is leaving out of pride, or if the damage is really beyond repair.  I wonder if Nas is thanking God he wasn’t any richer. I wonder if Oprah is laughing at them all…

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A Delicacy of Trust

Trust: a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something b : one in which confidence is placed

Black women do not trust black men.  Maybe that’s not fair, maybe women do not trust men.  I do not know who is the blame – the women or the men.  Granted men do cheat and lie, but women at some point seem to enable and perpetuate the lying and the cheating.  Black women are enablers…but I will save that for another day.

girl, get outta his phone

In Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too, I was in tears laughing at the character Angela’s role.  Despite your feelings toward the overall movie, I believe most black men and women could relate to the arguments over the codes to cell phones.  All of my girlfriends at some point have checked their boyfriend’s phone, email, facebook, etc. as a means to find out what their man is really doing.   It can become a full time job and consumption of time and energy.
Then one day it hit me, why be with someone you don’t trust.  It was such a novel idea; I don’t know why it took so long for me to get it.   I remember the day, January 6, 2007, when I decided I would never check a phone, email, chat logs ever again.  I have been hacking-free since that day.  I have been FREE of drama since that day too.  I have been FREE of negative energy and emotional drainage that comes with being the CIA of your man.  I have been FREE of my own hypocrisy.  I have been freed!
I made the decision then, if I have to check behind him and break & enter into accounts, he is not for me.  If I don’t trust him, then he is not the man for me.  It instantly eliminated so many from the pack and set a clear standard of what is acceptable.   It was a reality check for not only men but for my own wrong behavior.  The thought doesn’t even cross my mind anymore.  It is no longer an option for gathering information.  I go directly to the source if I have an issue.  I ask him and listen to his response.  I invite you to try it.
Ms “stop going through his stuff, girl, you tripping” Tryst

When it is NOT okay to break up their happy home…Alicia.

A wise woman once said, “Everyone has been cheated on and everyone has cheated.”  No surprises there, just like there is no surprise that the wife (yes, they are still legally married) of Swizz Beatz, Mashonda, still has a lot on her chest about the role Alicia played in their pending divorce.  But with cheating being so commonplace does Mashonda still have a right to be upset? Yeah, Hell yeah!
And while I in NO WAY condone cheating, or being an accomplice to cheating unless he is super fine and THE BEST…, IF you MUST cheat, there is a code,  Alicia.
You should steer clear, ignore his 2:00am texts, and keep your hands to yourself if:
He is married. When vows are expressed openly before God, family, and friends, you need to keep your goods and sultry singing in late night studio sessions to yourself! This is closely followed by he is engaged.  If he has made that $10K investment on a piece of jewelry you can bet he is all in, so you need to fall back. Matter of fact, discontinue contact because you obviously didn’t make the cut boo.
They have kids. 2007-062607_bet-awards_black-carpet-fashions_swizz-beatz_mashonda_kidsThey have been together for 9 years together. She is pregnant with baby number #4 by him. You might need to make better use your energy elsewhere, despite his claims to their rocky relationships.  Any child born after the first one, is NOT an accident- he knew exactly what he was doing.  Do you really want to be the reason she has to explain to their children why Daddy is leaving? And honestly, even if it is just one child, that mother, if he is a real father, will forever be in the picture.  As Mashonda stated, “If you two being together forever is the case, [it’s] more of a reason for us to get along, because I’m not going anywhere. [There’s] a child to be raised.”
She is crazy.A Thin Line As much as we rooted for Nia Long’s character in A Thin Line Between Love and Hate victory in winning Martin Lawrence’s character, she basically put her life at risk over a dude.  It is never, ever, ever that deep…  If she making calls and stopping by your job over ol’ dude, then let her have him.  You never know what is next with unstable creatures.
He has no respect for you. All calls are made after midnight and he is gone by morning.  You never get dates, still pay all your bills, and you bought all your clothes. SMH, you are missing the point.  IF you cheat, it is suppose to be like a vacation- wining and dining, sweet surprises, and gifts.  You run this, not him. Otherwise, you are not doing something right…or he doesn’t respect you at all. Drop him.
You are crazy. Brad and AngelinaYou think there is something so magical about your goods that he is going to leave the woman he is with for you. You have pictures of Angelina and Brad as your screen saver.  You are just hopeful, making plans, stalking, and wishing. You are crazy.  The odds that he leaves her because of you are slim to none.  Even if he leaves her, he is not coming to you.  If you can’t handle your role, this game ain’t for you.

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