Breaking Ground: THE NEW YOU!

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Now that you’ve worked to assess yourself by coming to understand who you really are, what you like about yourself, and who you surround yourself with. Doing all of this work on yourself may seem to be a lot, but in the end, only you can truly know you and the better you know yourself, the better you can give yourself to your marriage. As you move forward in your new marriage marriage, remember the following:

What you have done, are doing, and will do are important

All of your accomplishments and the things that you are working to accomplish are all important as they help prepare you to become the woman you are so you could be the wife he wanted. What is more important is the things that you may accomplish while being his wife. Understand that you have the love and support to propel not only yourself, but your family, and your marriage to new heights.

Your happiness begins (and ends) with you

We have all heard many women say their relationship or marriage ended because they weren’t happy with their husband. In order to prevent that from occurring, may sure you are aware of your own personal happiness. You cannot hold your husband accountable for making you happy if you walked into the relationship unhappy. You are responsible for your happiness, so be sure to make some time do the things that make you happy. Hopefully those include spending time with your new husband, but if not, create new memories with him to add to your happiness.

Spend more time developing your friendship with your husband 

As we touched on, it can be very difficult to maintain friendships with your single or former friends after marriage. If you’re lucky, you are supported by a group of wonderful friends who support and understand that your priorities have changed. If not, don’t let it get you down. You can always reflect not the memories of your friends, but work to further develop the friendship with your husband. Find comfort in him, confide in him, have silly moments with him. He should be your new BFF as he’s signed up for it for life. Also seek to find other couples and build new friendships as well.

But remember, sometimes you will need to step back and focus on yourself in order to continue to focus on being the best wife you can be!

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Breaking Ground: A Circle of Few

New FriendsThey say “Good friends are like diamonds, precious and rare, Fake friends are like fallen leaves, found everywhere.” But you say, “I do not have any fake friends”…well my dear, just wait until its time to plan your wedding. I swear the best of friends can turn on you like old milk. Some of us are lucky enough to have friends who stay true and support us through our marriage, but some of us have lost those who we considered true friends during this time as well.

In marriage, your priorities change and your focus now becomes your husband and family. Some friends support this change and others become less supportive. For me, some of my main friends seemed a little distant after I said “I-Do”. The ones that I used to hang out with, go grab drinks, trash talk men, and just have a good time with were now missing in action. I felt like I had did something wrong by getting married to someone who complimented my happiness. Where did I go wrong?

I realize that in the age of social media, most (if not all) women share their feelings (unfiltered) via Facebook TM or Instagram TM , but even though most posts are related to family, society, or life in general and are generally positive, you have to be careful of the underlying jealously that exists. Some friends will speak negativity over your happiness because they have yet to find it. Those who hold your past ways or past events over your head. All of this can be stressful and it is at these times that we have to reflect on our friendships and determine who is really here for your happiness and the success of your marriage.

For me personally, I had a friendship of 15 plus years fall apart during my first year of marriage. My friend Tasha* and I had talked about being married together and all of the accomplishments that would be achieved, home ownership, all while saying we would remain friends through the end. We both were young mothers between the ages of 19, experienced and supported each other through traumatic events, and bad relationships in our early twenties. Tasha eventually married her child’s father later on and regardless of the hard times they had gone through, I still supported their union.

When I met my husband (my boyfriend at that time) we were long distance. He was in Mississippi and I was in Washington state. Tasha belittled my then boyfriend and constantly let me know why things wouldn’t work in a long distance relationship. Her words hurt, but with me being so in love, I ignored the little things and kept on developing my relationship and eventually my boyfriend moved to be with me in Washington and proposed within months of his move. Tasha wasn’t happy for me in the way I expected. Her response was, “Dang, I never thought you would get married.” I was heartbroken. Not so much by her statement, but more so by the fact that my best friend thought so negatively of me and my happiness.

Moving on, Tasha and her husband were at our reception, but our friendship never repaired itself as the damage had been done. The last straw was Tasha’s request to have my husband mentor her husband to become a better man. I refused. That was not my husband’s job. And just like that, our friendship ended.

In the fallout of our friendship I had to reflect on myself to see what I could have done differently? Should I have offered my husband up as a mentor to hers? Was I holding a grudge for the things that she had said about my husband prior to us being married? All of that ran through my mind, but in the end, I wasn’t going to put my marriage in jeopardy for the sake of a friendship. The cost was too great. My husband was worth more and came first.

So when you are trying to focus on being a great wife and a supporting friend, make sure to assess the strength and stability of your friendships and look out for the following:

Fake Smiles, Cheers, and the Jeers
When you all have your girl’s brunches or girl’s nights out (which will become a lot less consistent), those who haven’t seen you since your nuptials are all ecstatic and want to see your ring and hear about the honeymoon, but your best friend is sitting nearby putting on a fake smile, or rolling her eyes, or side-eyeing everyone who is fawning over your new love. Pause. If you catch this, then you may need to have a conversation with your friend about what underlying issues exists. If someone cannot truly be happy for you on the outside, then they damn sure aren’t happy for you on the inside.

The “I’m So Happy I’m Single” Rant
When you two are together and discussing everyday life, of course, your conversation will now most likely include your husband and what plans you two have together. The hard part is what your friend gives you back. If her response to your plans are “I’m So Happy I’m Single because…” then she may have an issue hearing about your future with your husband. If she’s So Happy She’s Single because “…her life doesn’t revolve around anyone else” or “…she doesn’t need permission to do what she wants” or “…she’s too independent” then she’s a Single LIE! It sounds good, but in reality we all want some form of companionship. It does not have to lead to marriage, but everyone enjoys having someone they can confide in and who will accept them completely for who they are. Don’t let your friend put down your plans and make you feel bad for planning a bright future with someone you love and who loves you back unconditionally.

You’re a Lousy Friend Guilt Trip
You never call me anymore. We never hangout. You two are always gone somewhere. What about us? Does this sound familiar? Let’s just be honest, when you get married, your best friend will NOT be your best friend anymore. Your husband should be your best friend. I’m not saying you need to confide in him about every instance of menstrual cramps and which type of panties fit better (trust he will notice this on his own), but any “secrets” or inner thoughts you have, you should feel comfortable enough to share these with your husband. But your friend needs to understand this and know that your husband comes first! So be a woman and kick the guilt trip to the side and let her know the changes in the pecking order in your new life as a new wife!

In the end, your friends may come and go, but your Marriage is FOREVER. Truly understand who, among your friends, has your best interest. Your friends should support your union and you being a wife. They should understand that your husband and family are your most important priorities. There is nothing wrong with making time for friends or girl-time, but make sure your friends understand the NEW pecking order in your life. Also use this time to develop new friendships. THE GOAL: Find like minded couples to hang with or learn more about your husbands friends and their significant others as well.

Breaking Ground: Self Love

Self LoveSelf love can be hard at various times in our lives. Most of us will immediately say we love ourselves but carry out abusive behaviors that say different. Have you ever asked yourself “How do I show myself love”? Probably not, but before and during your marriage we should know where we stand with ourselves. Ask yourself: Do I Even Like Myself?

Your first instinct is to say Absolutely. But do not rush to answer this. Prior to truly understanding this question, I always rushed to say yes, without question. Until one day I sat with myself in silence and truly dug deep when I first got married. Did I center my happiness around him? Do I like the woman that I am? The answers were yes and no. Yes, I had told myself that because I was married and I was a wife, that I was completely happy. That was not the truth. The truth was that I was happy with my husband and I was happy to be married, but I was not completely satisfied with myself. I did not like who I was at the time. I did not like that I still had some baggage on board with regards to past relationships. I did not like that I was not happy with how I looked. I did not like that my career was not going where I wanted it to go. I did not like that I had buried these feelings but the resentment and hurt came out towards my husband at times and it was not his fault. Your happiness is not rooted in your husband, your happiness starts and ends with you. Consider the following:

Counseling is NOT for the Crazy
Now if you were raised to believe that if you seek out a counselor or seek guidance from a third party, you were crazy, let me start by telling you that you are not. Counseling is okay is so many ways. Now how you seek it is up to you. Now people, songs, and society tell us that we need to cut our baggage loose and be this happy, jovial woman if we want to be married. However, I know there are days when its hard to forget what you have gone through or to make sure that past baggage does not affect your marriage. Whether you seek spiritual counseling or a clinical therapist, it is all designed to help you get to know you better. Rather talk through what you have been through or some of the feelings and thoughts you are experiencing now and learn ways to deal with them. In the end, you will be a better woman and wife for properly disposing of your baggage in the right manner. Check the internet for a variety of resources and support groups in your local area. Feel free to invite your husband so he can gain an understanding and support you through your growth.

Inclusion NOT Exclusion
I had a bad habit of excluding my husband when I was going through something that made me feel sad. It could have been from a bad hair day, to weight gain, to just about anything. I would cry in private and smile in public. When they say the ‘eyes are the window to the soul’, that is so true. You could see the sadness in my eyes. By holding my feelings in, I would ultimately take it out on him either through my attitude, verbal assault, or just ignoring his needs. Now was this fair to my husband, no. Not at all. Here I am looking sad about something that has absolutely nothing to do with him, but public perception is that ‘she’s sad because of him’. So do your marriage a favor and include your husband. While you are ‘getting to know you’, let him know that you are having a rough day or feeling unhappy at that time. Let him learn how to love you through these moments. Hiding your feelings towards yourself will only create a wedge in your marriage that, for some, can become irreparable. He can’t help you, if he does not know. Sharing is caring.

Happiness is Health
When we are happy, we glow. Literally. We give off the vibes of being care-free and people flock to you and your energy. Why not have this energy and glow at all times? Who doesn’t like being around someone who is happy? When we are happy, we are healthy. Our relationships are healthier. Your marriage is healthier. Remember that your mental and emotional well-being are just as important as your physical well-being. Knowing (or discovering) who or what brings you this joy is crucial to the success of you and your marriage. Make it goal to go to bed happy and wake up happy. As a new wife, it can be easy to dwell on what isn’t right, but I’d rather your focus be on what is right. As a new wife, you have so much love around you that you did not have before. A new husband, a new extended family, a new fresh outlook on what life can bring the two of you. Remanning focused on being happy will keep you in focus with having a healthy marriage

In the end, LOVE YOURSELF first or how can anyone else? The answer is they can’t. So find your love with aid from your support system or seek out a support system (if needed). The key is to understand that you are not alone. Many women have questioned themselves both in and out of marriages, you are not the first and will not be the last.

But this can be the last day that you don’t love yourself the RIGHT WAY! 

Breaking Ground: Digging Deep

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Have you ever had to maintain a garden? If not, most of us know that when its not properly maintained, the soil tends to dry out. Without the proper maintenance, the soil becomes hardened and difficult to turn over for you to potentially plant something else. This is a key metaphor for ourselves. Even as wives, we have to take care of ourselves – both inside and out. We have maintain so that it’s easy to move on to the next season and plant seeds of greatness.

Through my segment titled Breaking Ground, I learned during our first few years of marriage that I was not taking time to take care of myself mentally, physically, or psychologically. In order to refocus on this area of self, I first had to ask myself one main question: Do You Really Know Yourself?

If you go into your new life as a wife and do not even understand who you are as a person, you are setting not only yourself but your marriage up for failure. Understanding who you are, what you like, what you want, and how you want it are huge things that we often fail to come to terms with prior to saying I-do for the sake of the ring. So take some time to truly get to know the real you by asking these five questions:

What activity in your life lights you up with joy?
I ask this because everyone needs to have something in their life that makes them feel a sense of happiness and joy whenever they do it. For some it may be cooking, for others it may be hanging out with family, but whatever it is, Find it, Get to know it, Love It! Find the time to include it in your regular schedule, and make some great memories while doing it. Your personal happiness is important to success of your marriage.

What do you believe is possible for you?
Every young girl has had dreams of doing big, grand things when they get older. This should not change just because you have grown up and become someone’s wife. Actually, now that you’ve taken on a major support system in your husband, your dreams and goals should be more achievable. But you can’t achieve something you have not even thought of. Take some time to understand what you can achieve and what you want to achieve. Share these with your husband so he can keep you motivated and encouraged. Encourage him to do the same for his life. Even though we may share goals as a couple, it is okay to have personal goals as well as your mindset should be that everything you do will benefit your marriage in the end.

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of?
This should be an easy question for all of us to answer, yet it is not a simple question. When thinking of how proud, you may start to overthink your accomplishments and then downplay them by telling yourself, “why should I be proud of that?”. Well don’t! If it comes to mind, put it down and be proud. Your marriage should be on this list. As a wife, I am proud that I can be someone’s confidant, best friend, and lover all in one. I am proud that I take the time to make my marriage work. I am proud to be his wife. What are you proud of?

How confident are you in your abilities to make decisions for yourself?
This is a big one. Some of us may have moved from our parents directly to our partners, others of us have been independent prior to marriage, but regardless of your situation prior to become a wife, we should all have the ability to make our own decisions. This means that are you capable of deciding on something without your husband (or anyone else’s input). The answer should be yes. With regards to finances and large purchases, every couple is different.

You may have established a threshold (or limit) for your household and decide to discuss matters if that threshold is exceed. That is perfectly fine. But lets talk about small choices. Your husband does not need to contribute to your choice of fabric softener or paper towels purchased. He most likely doe not care. Small decisions that deal with your kids, you have equal authority to make these as well. In the end, you can make decisions for you and your family, but just be sure to communicate with your husband. Just like you do not care where he stopped to fill up your car, but you may care about knowing the amount for balancing the checkbook. Simple communication. Decide and disclose and be done.

What is one failure that you have turned into your greatest lesson?
This is a question that should be asked prior to becoming a wife, but it is also a great question for reflection. For myself, my failure that turned into a lesson was a past relationship. I learned not be someone’s punching bag, a pushover, and to find my voice. I wasted a lot of time in this previous relationship trying to be his “perfect girl”, only allowing myself to to get further away from myself every day. I used this failure to work on me prior to becoming a wife. I had to understand who I was and what I wanted from myself and future relationships before I could commit myself again. In my marriage I can now reflect on failed situations in our marriage that have become lessons for us both. Use this question to understand times where you may have been wrong and put it on him or vice versa and understand how to prevent those situations from reoccurring again. Make it a lesson.

These questions are just the beginning as nothing great is created overnight, but the hope is to give you a start on understanding the greatness that remains inside of you even as you embark on this new journey of love. The goal should be to improve YOURSELF, but don’t LOSE YOURSELF. 

Getting to know the REAL you

Who Am II’ve always told myself that “I Keep It Real”. I keep it real with everyone, including myself, at all times. But the truth is that during the time when I was dating and met my husband, I would often “shape shift”. Not literally, but often times psychologically. I say this meaning that when I met my now husband and we had our long talks about what he liked and what I liked, I would somehow convince myself that I was exactly what he liked at all times. But this wasn’t true.

I caught myself trying to become someone who I either really wasn’t or never wanted to be only because he may have found it pleasing. By the time we had been married for a year I realized that I had to be honest with myself. Why did I promise these traits when I knew they didn’t exist?

I know that hearing this now, some of you may be like, “why didn’t you come out with this prior to saying “I-Do”?”, but lets be honest. We’ve all done it, women and men alike. We have all said that we either like something, know how to do something, are passionate about something when we truly know deep down that it may have not been the whole truth. I feel that as women, when we see a “possible” in a man, meaning the possibility that this could work, he could be the one, we often “shape shift” to make it work. To make it fit into the ideal that we have for ourselves.

As a new wife, I came to the quick realization that this wasn’t fair to the both of us. My husband loved home cooked meals, as do I, but he wasn’t partial to left-overs. One of our early conversations prior to marriage led us to agree to me cooking for him and not forcing him to eat leftovers. Yeah, sounded possible. I agreed, not realizing that for me, this wasn’t feasible. I know there are other women out there who make it happen everyday, and kudos to you, but for me this wasn’t possible, but I tried. And failed. I realized that I honestly liked left-overs. Probably a little too much as I’d hold onto to something until its smell told me to get rid of it, but I didn’t mind eating two-day old spaghetti. My husband didn’t prefer it.

One day this issue came to a head, not in the most appropriate way, but we were forced to discuss it. I had to be honest with my husband and tell him that I did not like cooking everyday, especially after a long day of work. He agreed, stating that he didn’t require me to cook everyday, but went along with it because I agreed. So we came to an agreement. Cook when I felt up to it, but keep in mind the health of our family. Easy-peasy right? Yes, but it took me being honest with first myself and then my husband for it be resolved.

Now I know that this issue seems simple, but not being honest about other things like intimacy, socializing, your goals, and desires can cause a whole host of issues in your marriage. You may be stewing on your truth and your husband may be completely unsuspecting that you shape-shifted to be his “perfect” wife. Well, shift yourself back into your truth and have those difficult conversations with him as soon as possible. Rather guide your marriage back to right track of honesty than to continue living a lie.

Questions For Yourself:

What is one area of yourself that you were reluctant (or waited) to share with your husband until later? Did you try to “change” yourself into what he desired? How did that work out if you did?

Saying I-DONT to Your Debt

Wedding_Rings_MoneyToday, many of us are way more financial savvy than our parents ever were. With the advise of financial gurus like Suze Ormann, MSBC Money, and apps that can breakdown where you’re money is going by the minute, we have no excuse to be in over our heads. But it still happens. We toss out more money than we bring in.

The third leading cause of failed marriages is money. Just because your marriage is new doesn’t mean that you have to act brand new with money. Money is not the basis of your love, but it can definitely throw a wrench in the long term success of your love. As a new wife, its imperative that you work with your husband to establish a standard in your marriage to how finances will (or wont) be handled.

I came from two different households when it came to managing finances. My father was very proactive in the management of his affairs and my mother was very reactive. So where did that leave me? In my teens and early twenties, money mattered, but my credit didn’t. I managed my physically money, knowing where every penny went and always ensuring I had enough for rent, my car, food, and other necessities. I made mistakes in managing my credit like getting credit cards and ignoring credit limits, paying bills late or not at all, and simply having champagne taste on a beer budget. Eventually, I had a “come to Jesus” meeting with myself and knew that if I wanted better for myself and my child, I had to get my financial life together.

When I met my husband, he managed his money, making sure his necessities were taken care of, but he would literally ignore other bills by putting unopened mail in drawers. I was shocked, but I had to check myself. How was I doing any better? We both needed help.

Upon preparation to purchase our first home, we took some time to sit together and discuss where we were financially, our plan for saving for the future, and the overall management of our money as couple. Should we have a joint account or would our funds remain separate? We chose a joint account, reason being was that two had become one and we didn’t want to have to play the blame game when it came to our finances. So has it worked?

Yes and no. We have our strengths and our weaknesses. I’m better with organizing and filing our documents and my husband is good with follow through. We combine our strengths and have the hard conversations that are needed to ensure that we are consistently on the same page with our finances. Is it always fun, hell no, but there are no surprises nor any secrets, and for that we are better. But, please believe, we are STILL a work in progress.

BALANCE = BLISS
As a new wife, if you haven’t already discussed how you manage your finances long-term, have this conversation sooner than later with your husband. If you find that both of you have no knowledge in managing finances or budgeting, then seek assistance. Do not be afraid to admit that you don’t know it all. You hurt your marriage more trying to manage something, to only manage straight into ruin. When your money is balanced, your marriage will be in bliss.

Let’s DIG for these GOALS

Goal-Digger-goldWhen we wed, my husband and I were not on the same page about a lot of things. Now, there were still many things that we did agree upon. However, some of the “bigger” things that many couples discuss in dating, didn’t seem to get discussed or either they did and those conversations couldn’t be recalled. On kids, since we each had a child from previous relationships, we honestly never discussed us having kids together. It just never really came up. It was a non-issue. Also, since my husband had relocated from across the country to be with me, we didn’t discuss our long-term living situation prior to him arriving and making a home in my apartment. We didn’t discuss where we saw our married-selves in the next 10,15,or 20 years. We were blissfully in love and blind to reality.

After he moved across the country to be with me, we began to realize that where we were living just wasn’t working out for us. My place was only big enough for my daughter and I, but was too cramped for our little family. My husband originally wanted to get a larger apartment, but my sights were set on home ownership. Not that he was against my desires, but our ideas weren’t aligned. He was not interested in home ownership at the time. So how could we move forward if we didn’t see eye to eye? The truth is we couldn’t.

In order for us to move ourselves ahead and move our marriage forward, we had to be on the same page with each other. So after many coffee sessions, late night conversations, and meetings with realtors, we were able to find someone who helped us find our vision in our first new home. After we closed the deal and had settled into our home, my husband said to me one day, “I’m so glad that we purchased a home…”. Now my response could of negated his excitement and joy in ownership of his new home, but I chose to focus on how he made this dream come true for our family. Would I have owned a home without him, most likely yes, but it would’ve taken me much longer. He made it happen and made it happen for me to be happy.

Having common goals doesn’t solely apply to home ownership, it applies to so many other things in your marriage. As a new wife, never assume that what you want is the only thing matters. In some situations our desires may be the best choice, but they are not the only choice. What does your husband want? What does he desire?

BE A GOAL DIGGER
Have you ever asked your husband what he wants in life, what he desires to become, where he sees himself in the next year, or even five? No, I didn’t either, at first. Often times we cycle through these questions while dating and will hold someone to what they said over a year ago, but we often forget that just like we change our minds, men change too. Your husband may have discovered a new interest or new passion and now his goal is to pursue it. Would you be supportive of his changing interests? As a wife, we have to work to remain supportive at all times, even of the goals we may “side-eye”. Dig deep with your husband and find out what inspires him and what he desires to be in life. Make it your mission to be his biggest cheerleader in life. If no one else supports and encourages him, you will!

A Whole New World

A Whole New WorldMy wedding was small. We went to the court house. I guess you could call it a shot-gun wedding, right? We made an appointment, put on our “Sunday Best” and said our I-Do’s in front of the finest judge we could pick. And like that, in less than 30 minutes it was over. There was no rice, no bridesmaids, no flower girls, no music, nope. Just me, my new husband, my parents, my sister, daughter, and niece. Thats it! Looking back, I do not regret not having a large massive wedding at a church or some pricey venue, but I do regret not ensuring that both of our families were included on this special day.

We had a small reception the next day with less than 30 guest. These were people who had supported our union and wished us the best. Also it was more economical for us to keep it small and under a specific amount as our goals weren’t the wedding, but the marriage. We had cupcakes and I purchased a dress costing me less than $300 in total (thank God for online shopping and a good tailor). We rented his tux and spent the remainder on great food, good champagne, and an awesome photographer. In the end, we spent less than $1200 on our reception, but its one day I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Our goal was to purchase a home, so we had saved up all of our money in hopes of finding the right home soon to start our life off as husband and wife. With that in mind, it put everything into perspective about what we wanted to do with regards to celebrating our union. We had a lifetime to continually celebrate our union as husband and wife, but wanted to start our future right.

My point is that society sells us on the wedding. The world tells men that you need to have a happy wife to have a happy life. And we listen to all of this and put so much focus on our wedding and making sure the we, as women, are happy but we rarely take half of the time or effort and put the same time, effort, and thought into your marriage. If we spent a year (or more in certain people’s cases) on planning and strategizing over our marriage the way we do our weddings, so many more marriages would actually still exist, our relationships would be so much stronger, and there would be more of the “wedded bliss” that we are constantly sold on.

So after we said our I-do’s, I had to come to terms with my I-Dont’s, meaning I Don’t Have Any Idea of How to be His Wife. I was mentally screaming for help. All of the magazines, tv shows, family advice wasn’t available for me to refer to. I was drawing a blank. But I had to put my big girl panties on and show up and show out. I had to realize that wedding or not, the marriage was not all about me and would never solely be about my happiness alone. It takes two baby! So what I learned from this moment was…

HIS OPINION COUNTS: Remember that you are building your new life with this man and he deserves to be heard. Even if he relinquishes his ability to make a decision over to you, don’t take advantage of this. Use your “power” wisely. Remember what he’s said or done and take that into consideration when making your decision. He may not mention all of the times that you considered him; however it will be hard to get him to forget the times you did not.

HAPPY WIFE Does Not Equal HAPPY LIFE: Giving you everything and allowing you to do anything does not equate to happiness in your marriage. If you give a child everything they want, they become a spoiled brat. This can occur with grown women too. Be grateful for what your husband provides for you. Be thankful that someone places you on a pedestal and wants to work hard to give you the world, but remain his peace at all times and never let him forget that he is loved.