Family Life

Marriage ICU: When You Feel Like You're Growing Apart

The last 4 episodes of Black-ish had me in tears. When Bow and Dre’s relationship started unraveling, I felt like it was my own parents splitting up. Maybe it’s because I grew up seeing my parents argue all the time the way Bow and Dre were doing. Or maybe it’s because I saw how easily Bow and Dre’s story could have been me and my husband; point is, it was heart-wrenching to see even a TV couple go through this emotional roller coaster as their marriage hit a huge bump in the road.

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I felt that this fictional family was my family. I felt like their marital issues were my marital issues. This speaks to their phenomenal acting skills, of course; but it also speaks to the fact that EVERY marriage has its heartbreaking moments, angry moments, moments where you feel like you need to just go back to being single and start a new life without your spouse. Every marriage eventually hits the point where one or both people think, “I don’t know if this is going to work out.”

Have you ever felt that way? You ever find yourself thinking, “We’re not going to make it..”

I have news for you.

It’s not too late to get your marriage back on track!

It’s not too late to get your marriage back on track!

Here are some steps Jono and I have taken when we started feeling like we were growing apart...

1. Go to therapy!

     When your car needs an oil change, you go to a mechanic. When you need your teeth cleaned, you go to a dentist. So why are you trying to fix your marriage problems all by yourself?? Go to a professional who has the tools to equip you and your spouse and help you guys get back on the same page. I loved the fact that Blackish showed Bow and Dre going to therapy together!

I know a lot of people shy away from going to a therapist because they’re afraid the therapist will gang up on them with their spouse, but a good therapist never takes sides. On the contrary, they will help each of you see things through the other person’s eyes and give you strategies on how to resolve disagreements. Therapy could be a game-changer for your relationship!

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Therapy can be a game-changer for your relationship!

2. Cut back on other commitments so you can get reacquainted.

There’s nothing more important than your relationship with your spouse. Even your kids shouldn’t take priority over your relationship (not long-term anyway). How happy and well-adjusted will your kids be if there’s constantly a negative vibe between you and your spouse? Your kids will grow up and leave the house, but you and your spouse will be together way beyond that. So invest in your marriage today and do whatever it takes to reconnect.

Invest in your marriage today and do whatever it takes to reconnect.
  • Get a trusted family member or friend to babysit a couple of evenings a week so you can get quality time together

  • Cut back on work hours until your relationship  is back on track and you work out a new schedule that works for BOTH of you.

  • Instead of falling asleep to the TV, take a few minutes every night to talk about the day and your future goals.

  • STOP volunteering for every church activity! The church will function just fine if you drop one or two activities. Even too much of a good thing is bad.

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3. Go to a marriage conference together.

I’ve heard of so many couples who had basically decided on divorce, but gave their marriage one last shot by going to a marriage conference.

I’m not saying that a marriage conference will fix your marriage. But it will get you around people who are having problems similar to yours, and give you much-needed hope for your relationship. At a marriage conference, you’ll get to hear from other couples who are having problems similar to yours, as well as professionals who have helped couples get their marriages back on track.

There’s a great marriage conference called Weekend To Remember hosted by Family Life Today. They’re held all around the country all throughout the year, and they only cost $300 per couple! Your iPhone costs more than that! And your marriage is definitely more important than an iPhone.

If you can’t afford a marriage conference right now, start listening to a marriage podcast together. and discussing how you can implement the advice. There are tons of great ones out there!

If your marriage isn’t getting any better with you and your spouse trying to do it alone, get help! Put your marriage in intensive care and get to the bottom of your issues. The first step is to find a licensed marriage and family therapist to guide you through the process. This decision in itself is a game changer. The next thing to do is to cut back as much as possible on other commitments and put your marriage FIRST. And finally, get around other couples who are trying to improve their marriages. Go to a marriage conference together. You’ll see firsthand that other people are have the same struggles as you. It will also allow you to be away from every distraction and re-focus your attention on what’s most important: your marriage.

When you feel like you and your spouse are drifting apart, don’t wait for it to fix itself. Invest time, money, energy, whatever it takes, to have a great marriage. A happy marriage doesn't just happen; you have to put in the work!

Till next time! 

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What Killmonger in Black Panther Taught Me About Love and Family

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*****Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Black Panther, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you know what to do 😊

Last Sunday husbae and I went to see Black Panther and it was A-MAZING! Aside from all the deep lessons on politics, race, and culture, I also got some great takeaways from it on love and family.

1.       Deal with your past. Because of choices his family members made, Killmonger grew up without a father, in the hood. Worse, he KNEW that he had family out there somewhere, living a life way better than his, and had left him to face it alone. Understandably, he had a lot of bitterness and anger about that. So when he tried to make things better for his people, all that resentment was still there, driving his decisions.   The scene where he kills his own girlfriend, his ride or die, in order to kill Klaue and get to Wakanda, shows this in a big way. He was willing to sacrifice her life in order to accomplish what he thought was best. He wanted to help black people around the world, but he didn’t realize whatt he was destroying in order to do it. When he came to power, the unity that existed between the tribes of Wakanda was shattered, and civil war broke out.

When we let our pain define us and drive our decisions, we end up destroying everything we touch. Even if you have great intentions, you don’t have the discernment to go about it in a constructive way. When you get close to people, the pain you refuse to let go of will end up driving them away because you won’t know how to deal with stuff that triggers those memories. If you truly love your partner, you’ll do what it takes to get healing and deal with your issues so that they don’t end up dealing with you.

2.       Your decisions don’t just affect you. When Eric/Killmonger went to the ancestral plain to talk to his father, it broke my heart. His father said, “No tears for me?” Eric replied, “Everyone dies, that’s just the way things are around here.” His father decided to stay in the hood and live off illegal activities in order to accomplish what he saw as Black liberation. But the Wakandan values of family were lost in exchange. His son had become desensitized and shut himself off emotionally. He had no empathy for others, no moral code. He became a man bent on revenge. Tears flowed down his father’s face as he realized what he had sacrificed with his decisions, and the role he had played in his son becoming the man he was now.

 In my 4 years of parenting, I can honestly say that ALL of my habits show up in my kids, in some form or another. They don’t just listen to what I say, they listen to what I DO. So there’s been a LOT of adjustment on my part as I realize that I’ve got some things in me that I need to change in order for my kids to be successful, productive, and happy people. If I react emotionally every time they do something wrong, they learn to go by their feelings when making decisions. Everything you do now becomes a legacy for your kids and future generations.

What do you want YOUR legacy to your family to be?

Comment below on your takeaways from Black Panther. What did it teach you about love and family? And what legacy do you want to leave your kids? 

P.S. We have a FREE webinar about 3 Secrets to a Happy Healthy Marriage going on tomorrow night! Are you signed up yet? 

3 Powerful Secrets That STOPPED Our Money Fights

When Jono and I first got married, I used to dread our family budget meetings. We would only do them once a month or so, but it always resulted in both of us getting tensed and irritated with each other. He would come up with a plan for the money, and I would just nod and agree to hurry the meeting along. During the month though, I would do stuff that wasn’t in the plan, and we would end up arguing about it at the next budget meeting. I wanted to go out to eat, plan vacations, and go shopping. He wanted to get life insurance and start paying off our student loans.

After months (couple of years?)  of going through the same cycle, we decided to sign up for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class. And oh my goodness, it literally changed our relationship. The more I learned about money and the importance of budgeting, the more I learned about myself. I realized that my attitude towards our budget meetings was because I felt intimidated.

 I had never really followed a budget. Before I got married, all I did was make sure my bills were paid and my car was running. The rest of my money just kind of floated away as stuff came up. So when they introduced the concept of making a zero-balanced budget to us, it blew my mind. It was up to me to tell my money where it would go instead of the other way around. I had to think ahead of every possible scenario and plan for it in the budget instead of getting taken by surprise when stuff came up.

When we were done with that class, I felt so empowered. Now my husband and I were finally on the same page. Now I understood why he was constantly thinking of the long-term. I got why he was so adamant about leaving the savings account alone instead of dipping into it when we ran out of cash.

We decided to go ahead and make it our goal to put $1000 into an emergency fund. It felt so good when we saved up that money! It felt even better when our car blew a tire and we didn’t have to scramble to try to find money to replace it!

Now I realize that the main reason why couples fight over money is so simple: money highlights the differences in each person’s mindset.

Every time we talked about money, it was plain as day that Jono is more of a long-term thinker, while I’m more concerned with here and now. He likes to plan ahead and have everything laid out, but I’m more of a free spirit, just going with the flow. He likes to strategize and think through problems, but I tend to avoid things that intimidate me. I like to stay in my comfort zone.

So what do you do when you and your partner are opposites?

1.       Embrace your differences. Instead of trying to change your spouse or making them feel bad about they way they are, focus on their positive aspects. There’s something that each of you can learn from each other that will help you both become better people and enhance your relationship. I can honestly say now that Jono’s need for routines, plans, and strategies have helped me see the benefit in being more organized. I try to be more intentional about planning out my day and what I do with my time, as well as our money. He sees the benefit in being flexible and being able to go with the flow when things come up.

2.       Try to understand each other. There’s almost always a deeper reason for your partner’s actions. Jono didn’t realize that my lack of experience with money made me feel intimidated and anxious. I’m pretty sure that if he had, we would’ve taken Dave Ramsey’s class a lot sooner.

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CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR FREE TRAINING! 3 SECRETS TO A HAPPY HEALTHY MARRIAGE

 I didn’t realize how important it was to Jono that our family had financial security. I knew he had grown up in a household where money was very tight, but I didn’t realize how driven he was to make sure our family didn’t have to go through the things he had to go through as a child. He had to wear the same pants and shoes to school every day. They never turned on the AC so that the electricity bill would stay low. I never had to go through that, so when he was being super strict with our budget, I felt like he was trying to control me. We both needed to understand each other better, and thankfully now we do.

3.       Remember that you’re on the same team. I used to feel like Jono was trying to control me when we would have our budget meetings. He thought that I didn’t care about his wishes. We were both wrong. When we took that class together, a part of a relationship finally clicked into place. We decided to be intentional about working together on our budget instead of Jono coming up with a plan by himself. When we did that, I found it easier to speak up about the things I really wanted to do, and we found ways to put it in our budget. It was so simple now.

Working out our money differences made us so much happier as a couple. It made us appreciate our differences instead of trying so hard to make each other change. And that’s why our relationship is so amazing!

Want to learn more about how to make your differences STRENGTHEN your marriage instead of weakening it? Sign up today for our FREE training!

Talk to you soon!

P.S. Check us out on Instagram: @_purecouples

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Is My Husband Really Supposed To Be In Charge Of Our Decisions?

It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Huntsville. Back then, we didn’t have kids  so we were free to just wake up when we felt fully rested. I got up and cooked us a gourmet breakfast of scrambled tofu and pancakes. We were young, just married, and trying to be healthy. Oh, the memories.

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As I cleared the dishes away my husband said something that made my stomach drop in dread.

“Babe, I wanted us to sit down and look at the budget today.”

Ugh.

Why couldn’t we just keep enjoying our peaceful Sunday morning?

I plopped down next to him on our couch with my arms folded as he pulled out his laptop. In a couple of seconds he had Dave Ramsey’s Budgeting Spreadsheet up and was scrolling through the numbers.

“So here’s our monthly income….” he started off. Then he scrolled down to our expenses. As he punched in the numbers and the amount of money left to budget decreased, I felt myself growing more anxious and frustrated. We hadn’t even reached the section for our personal spending allowances and the money was almost gone.

Ugh.

“…..so I think to save money we should….” I nodded silently even as I tuned out what he was saying. Why did I need to keep listening? I already knew the gist of what he was saying: We’re on a tight budget and can’t really spend much on ourselves.

For months, even the first few years of our marriage, this was my attitude when it came to our finances. I didn’t want to deal with the responsibility of figuring out how to save and spend our money, so I just left everything up to my husband and just waited to pull out my personal spending money.

After a while I realized that I couldn’t continue this way. How could I say we were a team when I was basically dumping the responsibility of our finances on my husband?

I started being more engaged in our budget meetings. I brainstormed strategies to cut expenses in some places so that we could have more flexibility in other places. A few hours after one of our meetings my husband sent me a text that said, “You being involved with the budget really took a lot of stress off me. It’s so much better when we work together.”

Awww. That made me feel happy.

It also forced me to take a good, long look at my approach to our marriage. I realized that in a lot of ways, I was being a PASSIVE wife . I used the “biblical” example of male leadership to cop out of actively engaging in problem-solving in our marriage.

Basically, I was leaving the “adulting” to my husband and expecting him to work out all our problems. I was trying so hard to avoid potential conflicts over money that I became disengaged from the decision-making process.

Wives, we CANNOT be this way.

Our husbands can’t be great husbands unless we help them be great. Our husbands can’t truly lead our families unless we’re standing beside them. They need us to actively engage with and support them. That doesn’t happen with you just standing there letting him make every decision.  
By avoiding conflict, you’re making yourself a spectator in your own marriage and in your own home.

Only by working together can a husband and wife set the tone of the home. Together, you and your husband will determine the life your family lives .  Together, you decide on the vision and values of your family. Only when you actively work together can your family have the legacy you want.

But husbands, I got something for ya’ll too.

Some husbands like to use what they interpret as the “biblical” model of male leadership to run their houses like a one-man show. They think whatever they say should go and that their wives should just swallow whatever reservations or doubts they have and go with the plan.

Nope.

Sorry, but I’m not sorry. This view of leadership is completely WRONG.

God said, “It’s not good that man should be alone.”

You hear that? You shouldn’t be alone. Not in life, and definitely not in decision-making. You NEED your wife’s input. She can see things you can’t because her perspective is different from yours. Just like the story of the 5 blind men and the elephant, you can only see the whole picture when everyone on the team shares what they see.

She thinks it’s not a good idea to launch that business?

Ask her why and actually LISTEN to what she’s saying, not to come up with a rebuttal, but to understand her perspective. She may see holes in your plan that you didn’t see yourself.   

Some husbands brush off their wives opinions because they have such a high opinion of their own intelligence, not realizing that we all have expertise in certain areas. Instead of teaming up with your wife to overcome life’s obstacles, you’re treating her like she’s a player on an opposing team. 

This will only push her away and make her feel unimportant and undervalued.

You don’t want that do you?

The Bible tells us in Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to each other out of reverence for Christ.” Basically, Christ’s love for us should make us be more intentional about being united with our spouse. It should motivate us to strive to be on the same page, or at least work on getting there without making the other person feel obligated to just go along with whatever we decide.

I feel like there’s so much more that can be said on this topic, but I’ll let you guys respond and pick the conversation back up in another post soon.

If you liked this article, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram so we can stay connected throughout the week and continue the conversation!

Take care!

Kay

P.S. Check out 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage! It's written by one of my favorite marriage bloggers (and fellow Canadian :-)

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I Couldn't Keep Choosing Between My Mom and Husband

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“Babe, I want to go to church with my mom this weekend.” I was in the kitchen getting breakfast ready for the kids, and it was Friday morning.

Right away, I could feel tension in the air.

“I don’t want to go to your mom’s church,” Jono replied.

I couldn’t help letting a tiny bit of stubbornness creep into my voice as I responded, “That’s fine, but I’m still going.”

“You’d rather go to church with your mom than for us to be together and happy?” I could hear the hurt in his voice.

And just like that, I was caught in the middle between my husband and my mom. Again.

I gritted my teeth and silently counted to five as I slowly exhaled. I didn’t want this to become an argument, and I wanted him to understand where I was coming from.  So I tried again.

“My mom’s working on Christmas, so I wanted to spend some time with her and give her a chance to see the kids for the holiday.” I did my best to keep my voice calm and matter-of-fact as I explained.

I could tell that he still wasn’t convinced, but he didn’t bring it up again the rest of the morning as we continued getting the kids ready for school and the day ahead.

We walked outside together to my car and he strapped the kids into their car seats. “So you’re not upset that I’m going to church with my mom?” I couldn’t help asking as I slid behind the wheel.

He shrugged his shoulders, “It’s your life, I can’t tell you what to do.”

Great, I thought to myself as he walked away. He wasn’t coming with us.

It seemed like no matter what choice I made, I would be letting someone down.

I could understand my husband’s feelings about the situation. We’re usually the ones that make the effort to go see my mom; she’s prefers to be in her own house and rarely goes to anyone else’s. So when the kids get to see her, ninety-nine percent of the time it’s because we go to her.

At the same time, I feel like it’s unrealistic to expect her to suddenly change her ways, even for us. It’s exhausting to keep trying to convince her to come over to our house more often.  And I’m close to my mom (as close as you can be to a Caribbean mom that is), so I end up giving in to her most of the time, which creates tension between Jono and I. He’s adamant that we stop trying to be the ones that always make the effort, and let her decide to come over more.

So Saturday morning I got up and started getting the kids ready for church, resigned to our family being separated for the next few hours while I went to church alone with them.

I was standing over the stove, stirring oatmeal when Jono came up behind me and slipped his hands around my waist. “I’ll come to church with you guys,” he whispered in my ear. “I know that’ll make you happy.” I smiled up at him as he kissed my neck.

Later that day as we sat in church, I watched as Vivian and my mom made faces at each other and giggled to my left while Jono sat on my right, holding Josiah on his lap. I was caught in the middle of my mom and husband again, but this time in a way that made me feel good. Jono reached over to squeeze my knee and I put my hand over his in response. I was glad that our love for each other kept us united even when we saw things differently when it came to spending time with my mom.

One thing that has helped was to have a conversation with my mom where I explained to her how important it was that she makes an effort to come over to our house instead of us always being the ones to initiate the visits. Since then she’s made more efforts to come over; she’s even gone so far as to catch an Uber to come have dinner with us.

At the same time, it’s important for each married couple to realize that you can’t make your parents be happy. For a long time, I was making things so hard on myself, and straining my relationship with Jono, because I was trying so hard to make my mother happy. I figured that since she and my dad were divorced, her kids were her last hope for happiness. So I threw all my energy into making sure that she never felt lonely or sad…. I would go over to her house almost every day when I had summers off. I would go to her house for dinner every week after church, even postponing plans that my husband and I had made in order to make sure I was there for her. After a while though, it became taxing.

I had to realize that no matter how much I loved her, I couldn’t spend all my spare time with my mom. I had a family now, with kids to raise, and sometimes the things we wanted to do as a family went against traditional Caribbean culture. The values and traditions we wanted to establish for our kids weren’t always things she would agree with, and that was okay. I wasn’t going to let her opinions dictate our decisions, especially if they were things Jono and I had already agreed to do.

So….yeah, being caught in the middle is not a great place to be, but there are ways to minimize that conflict.

1.     Have regular routines established for spending time with extended family (grandma/grandpa, aunts, cousins, etc) in order to make sure those relationships are nurtured and the kids get to know their other family members.

For example, it would’ve prevented a lot of conflict if we just had a standing appointment with my mom so that she knew when to expect us, and when we can expect to see her. She’s divorced, an empty nester, and my siblings and I are scattered over Florida and have our own families.  Even though she doesn’t say it, I know she’s lonely sometimes. So I know the interaction with us is important to her, even though she’s too proud to admit it.

2.     Have boundaries for those relationships. Your family members don’t need to know every single detail of your lives. If there’s something they disagree with, some of them may feel inclined to let you know that. In Caribbean culture, sometimes your family may be very vocal about what they think about you and your spouse’s decisions, and end up influencing your decisions. So be wise about what you share.

3.     Preserve unity between you and your spouse.  Your family will always be ready to forgive you eventually, but getting into conflicts with your spouse because you’ve allowed the opinions of others to influence you is a sure way to make your spouse feel unimportant and more like a third wheel than a partner. Remember your loyalty is first to your marriage!

Until next time!

Kay G

 

 

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