Tag Archives: gratitude

When Marriage Became More Than Paper to Me – Part 1

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The fairy tales that ended with “and they lived happily ever after,” represented some sort of cruel, sick joke to me once I reached my late teenage years.  All around me, and I mean in the tabloids and media, I was seeing people getting divorced for reasons varying from “falling out of love,” financial gain/loss, just not in agreement, and finally infidelity, that I truly didn’t see the point of why two people would even want to commit themselves to each other.

I saw it as a way to further muffle the woman’s voice, who was supposed to be helpless, unassuming, and a domestic demi-goddess to be able to look good and handle the household without complaining.  And since there were always several kids in this kind of family, she was always ready to have sex because she wanted more and more kids. If she was called “self-sacrificing,” that meant she was a martyr that was everything to everyone, whenever and however they needed her.

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I saw it this way until I wanted a relationship.

In the deep abyss of my mind, I, at least, knew the concept of marriage meant a vow to be with the other person for rest of each other’s lives;  to have each other’s backs, and as much as I opposed marriage, I wanted someone to want to vow to be with me for the rest our lives.

As crazy and as wild as my life was, one thing stood true – as I kept chasing after unconditional love in all the wrong places and the wrong people, I really didn’t know how to give the kind of love I wanted, because I didn’t know how to receive it.

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I don’t mean this in other people, because yes, there were some wrong choices there, but there were also some great people out there who cared deeply for me. (That didn’t mean they were “the one”).

In fact, I remember qualifying candidates as “the one” because we got along great and they seemed nice, but until I realized me own pattern, within 3 months, we hit turmoil and usually quickly it was over.

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No, when I say I didn’t know how to receive it, I mean, in a Higher Power kind of way.  (Now before I lose you, let me explain!)

I knew there existed a Higher Power who ‘loved’ me, but in this world, I felt I had to fend for myself.  I had to make a way for myself, provide for myself (even when I was sleeping in my car and eating mayo/sprouts sandwiches), and I definitely had to figure out who can love and accept me with all my imperfections, and many a night I spent in the arms of a new lover trying to find it.  However, I was still quietly suffering from bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts. I was raped several times.  I compromised my own dignity in order to have a relationship, more than once. And although I wanted this ‘imaginary perfect person,’ my own measuring stick of qualifying candidates ranged from making excuses for them (saying things like, ‘who am I to judge?’) to they better love me, warts and all – but be easy for me to love.

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Somewhere in there, in my search, I bypassed all the people who were telling me what I should do and I decided to delve further into my knowledge of God – mind you though, that was by happenstance because really I had just prayed, “Ok, God, I have nothing to show for my life, so you can take it now!” (which, by the way means something totally and wonderfully different to God, I believe!) Without meaning to, after being graced with “cords of human kindness,” who wanted to help me without return of favor but out of sheer joy and even protected my dignity, who extended help without my having to perform or just be “on,” but because it was it was on their hearts, really, it was too much for me during this humbling time.  I even prayed that God stop it because I didn’t know how to handle “so much love,” I prayed.  These were people who first showed a love that was one of respect and integrity.  The romantic love had to be on hold during this time, because honestly, I was a mess and still didn’t understand or recognize a love that meant respect for another being in a selfless way. More than that, I didn’t know why anyone would want to do things for the sheer joy of helping someone else.  I was still doing things for others because 1.) It made me feel good in a way where I was a good person to help someone else, meaning that eventually, I would be thanked or recognized in some way – if even cosmically; 2.) I felt I had to and with everyone being a part of a charity, not only could I get a tax break, but be called a philanthropist and 3.) somewhere in me I felt I should do it.  But more times than not, I never intentionally went out of my way to help or love others. And once I became a Christian, Heaven help those that didn’t ‘agree’ with my understanding of God. Regardless, I had enough problems of my own, and didn’t want to involve myself with others – yet, I still wanted a relationship.

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So, in reflecting how marriage became more to me, I believe it came somewhat in this order:

1.) I had to understand the type of Love I wanted – even more than that, the Source, and who really set the standard of the type of Love I yearned for;

2.) I had to demonstrate that love in a way where I did not expect to have it reciprocal, but because I was willing to do so for the sheer joy of it;

3.) I had to learn about boundaries – mine and others, and learn how to respect those.

4.) I had to be open to the concept of forever be forgiving of others and take responsibility without feeling shame when I asked for forgiveness

5.) I studied again the dictionary definition of the word ‘love’ and what the biblical standard of ‘Love’ if, and than set out to see if I could see it demonstrated on a consistent basis between two people who professed their love for each other.

Let me just add, I DID see it! I saw so many husbands loving their wives, while still being ‘men,’ and fathers to their children. I saw their wives stand majestically beside them, respecting them and encouraging them.  I saw it over and over again. I saw how when they were apart from each other, that wasn’t their time to rip apart their spouse and complain of their spouse’s shortcomings. I saw the mutual respect they had for each other to strengthen each other.  I saw them show respect for the vows they made to each other and before God. I witnessed them growing together in their walks with God to impact and encourage others.  Their children were polite and loving.  Trust me, for a moment I thought I was in a bizarro world, but it was right there in Los Angeles – of all places, and then again in Franklin, Tennessee.  Only because I saw it over and again did I believe it was achievable. So I made up my mind that I was going to have that.

(to be continued) – Forcing My Dreams of Marriage to Match My Vision – Part 2

Hugs, Peace, and truly love,

Arikah, Founder, Two Hearts Offline Matchmaking (www.facebook.com/twoheartsmatchmaking)

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The Right Way and Wrong Way to Chase Him

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True story.

A long time ago, I had a very good friend who found Jesus the same time I did.  We understood heartaches, trauma, and overcoming.  We were like peas in a pod and really didn’t think of looking at each other in any other way but  through a platonic friendship.

But one evening, when we were sitting in his car after a bible group meeting, I remember (vaguely, but I do remember some things), crying about feeling unloved and unattractive to men.  I poured my heart out to him and being the good friend he was, he listened.

Then he said , “Shakira, one day you’re going to find a man and he’s going to be lucky to have you. He’s going to love you and you’ll see you’re worth it!”

Well, and if you didn’t know where I was going with this, I immediately thought he was talking about himself, so suddenly, the “scales fell from my eyes” and I started to like him. A lot.  I mean…… – a lot.  And unfortunately, it was one sided. Yep, I took words from a friend and made them – no, molded and forced them to be something they werent.

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As a matter of fact,  I told everyone in church he was going to marry me and be mine.  I told God (bwahah) that he was husband and to go ahead and make it happen.  I remember calling him in the middle of night one night to say something (important to me, but really drama!) and hearing him say, “Shakira, you’re scaring me. Are you drunk?”

UGHHHH!

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“OH, he WILL marry me one day!”

Ok, lesson learned – friendship forever ruined.  WRONG WAY – FAIL! Bye Felicia! …

A few years later, I went to live on the other coast and attended the singles group.   All the women were very close knit and comfortable and secure with the men to go out on dates, hang out and just be friends.  A new guy came in to the mix and all us women were checking him out.  He was sweet and attractive and fun.  He and I went out on a date which was at the gymnasium he taught at and it consisted of jumping in a pit of foam balls. IT WAS CRAZY FUN!!  But I didn’t really pursue him. In fact, another friend of ours in the group had her eyes on him and in so many words made clear that she was going after him.  I don’t remember her carrying on like I did, but I do remember it just being implied.  I think because we all loved each other, the women rallied around her to encourage it to happen. We prayed over her (and him unbeknownst).  I remember her doing little things for him, giving baked gifts to him.  They went out on a few dates and during that time I moved again.  The next thing I knew there were wedding announcements.  They are still together with two kids and are strong for each other.

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Both of us women are Christians, but I believe her maturity spiritually, socially, and mentally allowed her to not speak about her conquest before getting counsel, prayers, and confirmation.  I simply stated what I wanted and set about to loudly make him love me – which is why I put that picture above. That’s probably how I came across.  My friend, on the other hand, was able to control her emotions enough to not question him, but get to know him and stay in prayer.  Her friends, who she trusted, gave her great advice and served as her sounding board.

Many women over 28 – no, 35… no 43,… ok 50, swing in the pendulum of all or nothing.  Either there are no guys around to consider, (many times meaning there’s a bit of loner-ism to them) or they settle for the worst possible choice.

I even had a client who enjoyed her online dating experience because although she did want to marry one day, she wanted to enjoy herself out on a date.  When she finally did meet the man she would later marry, she made the comments of why they were waiting to exchange nuptials.  She proposed to him! Five years later, they’re still married strong.

Why not get a little bold – with self-control?

Yes, I was humiliated, but the awesome news is we’re all married to our chosen ones, without regrets.  Although the friend and I no longer speak, I’m so incredibly grateful he wasn’t the one.  As my own marriage grows and my husband and I get to know each other each day, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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Trouble in Paradise – Amen for Grace

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I wanted to stop and write this during the midst of my own personal storm.   Especially as being a relationship coach, I’m not sure how else to share the authenticity of real relationships and that every one has its storms, but survival is foundationally based on the decisions made long before the relationship is ever in existence.

My husband and I, are right now at the writing of this blog, not seeing eye to eye.  So much so, that he is at one end of the house and I at the other and not speaking.  I can honestly tell you, both of us are hurt.  Both of us had our well-intentioned words or actions we thought would make things better, but they didn’t help.

My natural “normal’ (in terms of how everyone else seems to solve this problem) self wants to throw in the towel, because, hey, why go through drama? Life is too short, right? I could get a nice, quiet divorce, take our daughter, move in with my mom until I get my own place and just go through the visitation process.  I mean, I was so mad today I couldn’t even look at him.  I wanted nothing to do with him.  That’s how mad I was.  And yet, he was also giving exasperated sighs and movements of frustration that I can only imagine he felt the same.  In the midst of it, our two-year old was happily running around the house saying, “hi mom!, hi da-dee!” 20141225_143728_resized

However, friends, I made a vow.  And I made it before the God I believe is the glue between us.

You see, I had a person who emailed me a while back who was considering my services, tell me that my questions seemed too Christian. She said she was not religious but spiritual and wondered if she should considered my service.

But I asked her, what is she basing her core values and beliefs on?  What if she and her partner could not see eye to eye, on grounds will she go on to have the relationship she so desires?  What was it she was looking for in a partner?

I’m not religious either. As a matter of fact, it boggles my mind why people want to fight over trivial things and think that an All-powerful God is going to care – ….well, I’ll just say whatever would make there be six different churches in a two block area, yet still all proclaim to worship God…..I don’t get it.

However, having said, I did, at least came to know of God in a church. Actually, I learned more about Jesus and how he was definitely out of the box.  And that He was God.  And that He died for me, not when I got it right, or when I wasn’t doing the sinning anymore.  He was there with me protecting me from harm as I smoked from the bong.  He protected me when I was stranded in the desert – twice and yelled out at him for being a sadistic god.  He was there continually pouring out Grace and Forgiveness when I showed Him no respect, all the way to today.  He is here with me now as my heart continually gets heavy at the anguish of suffering in the world around me.

Yet, He made me to be a fighter. Call me a rebel, call me weird, but normal just isn’t making it anymore* ( this was from this evening’s service http://www.echochurchnashville.com. Thank you, Brian! Hey, I’ll still share because I don’t know who needs it!) I’m choosing to honor the vow I made to the Lord (first) and then my husband.

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What that means is, no matter what –

– Divorce is not an option – (we both are solid on that)

– Being in control of my emotions and actions will always be before the Lord

– I will invite the Lord into my heart and actions

– even if my husband and I are not seeing eye to eye, I will respect him and his role as head of the household

– I will fight for the sanctity of our marriage and not let anyone, including our child, come in-between us. (we both agree)

You see when we (collectively as people) are like this, it’s important to go back to what you (individually) believe and who you believe.  Just as I believe in an All-Powerful God, I believe He has an enemy of evil.  Yep, I believe there is a devil.  And I believe that whatever God creates, the devil seeks to destroy.  He only seeks it because he has no real power, unless …. well, for now I will say, unless I give him power.

That power is given to him if I heed to his whispering in my ear, “what about you? he doesn’t appreciate you? you know all women has to go through this. If God really loved you, he would’ve given you a man who really knew how to do his role. You do so much. You’re getting bags under your eyes sacrificing for your family, you deserve more.”

Nope. I’m a fighter.  “Never let the culture define your identity,”  and “Never let the devil have the last move.”* (per this morning’s service, http://www.fourthavenuechurch.org, thank you Patrick!)

“Reclaim your identity.”

That cycle of divorce and broken marriages stops with me.  My daughter will benefit from watching two people love each other and know and experience her da-dee’s love in the same household.  She will see how a husband is to love a wife, but even if he isn’t, which he does, she will watch a wife take full responsibility of her part of the vows that she made.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I looked pretty in my dress, but that day means more to me than looking regal.  I am choosing to be regal.

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I am choosing to, wake him up and give him the biggest hug because regardless, I love him.  I am choosing to love him even when I don’t feel like it. Not because of him. I’m not going to stay with him for the sake of our daughter – (ughhh! That’s an annoying excuse – my opinion, though)  I’m going to stay with him and love him because I made a vow before God.  And when it gets tough, when I feel like I can’t give anymore, I’m choosing to make sure God’s Spirit is right there giving me that extra boost to kill my pride and apologize and love my husband. My posting of our happy pictures is to only remind me of the love I have for him and the gratitude that he is one that I don’t have to question his love for me.

For the upcoming blog, I’ll still write of the core value questions so that you can answer them on your own.  They won’t be right or wrong, they’ll be what you truly believe, and then there will be a scale to measure if you are ready for a healthy relationship, will you be able to recognize, attract, and maintain it.

Love you all and thanks for reading.

Love, Peace, and Happy Dating!

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