Happy Marriages are Built on Like, Not Love

Photo credit: Morgan SessionsBut people don’t get married because of like. It isn’t like that makes you sync up your life plans and sell off all your extra belonging that won’t fit into the new house you’ll soon share. It’s not like that makes you buy dresses and order cakes and book venues. Love does all that! Love brings couples together, and love is what keeps them there, right?

Perhaps. For sure, love can be the impetus to work through trying situations, but like makes you want to do it.  Like makes it easier to compromise, easier to forgive, easier to be kind. Love just makes it easier to tolerate a stale marriage.

I know, none of this sounds good. No one wants to accept that love isn’t the panacea we’re taught it is. It’s much easier and funner to believe that love is like every singer says it is, like every romantic movie says it is. We want to believe that those tear-jerker scenes in The Notebook are love personified. They’re not. They’re just Hollywood’s glitzy reflection of the imaginary magical love we believe we should all aspire to.

And that’s why so many relationships fail. We’re all waiting for this magical love to sprinkle its easy-dusty over our lives. We think once we find someone to love, the hard work is over. When we discover that this is not at all true, we assume the love is gone and the relationship is, therefore, over. Poor us. We were never taught the truth.

Love builds the foundation, but like constantly renews it

Think of your family members, aunts, uncles, cousins. I bet you love them, don’t you? Even that cousin you almost came to blows with, you live him. You know that if push came to shove, that’s family and there is no breaking the bond. But do you like them all? Probably not. And tell me, how often do you make an effort to be around the ones you don’t like, and when you are around them, do you have a good time? Or do you just tolerate them because they’re family and you love them? That’s what love does. It makes you tolerate things, and put up with things, and grin and bare things. Love is that last rung on the ladder that keeps you from letting go. And thank God for that rung! I love love. I need it. It’s crucial in times of crisis. But when it comes to the day-to-day business of being a happy spouse, like is what you need.

As long as the like is maintained, the love will be protected, But if you let the like wither, the love will crack and crumble. It will shed and splinter, peel and chip. It will fall away from you just as easily as you fell into it.

How to increase like

Like has to develop naturally. It can’t be forced or feigned. It has to happen on its own, but that doesn’t mean couples who are struggling to likes each other have to give up. All it means is that you have to create the type of environment where like can reemerge. That’s all that has to happen. Because surely there was a time when you liked each other. The like was there! It can come back.

First, remember he’s not that bad. Likeless couples tend to create internal images of their spouses that only focus on the negative. You forget he used to make you laugh. You forget he gives the best massages in town. You forget his Michael Jackson impression is both horrible and epic at the same time. The only thing you’ve been able to remember is that he gets on your nerves. Well, you get on his nerves too, but you two don’t have to punish yourselves because of it.

Commit to spending more time together, but it has to be private (read: no kids) and relaxed (read: no talk of agitating issues). What you do is up to you, but I beg of you, no movies! Your like won’t grow back because you sat in a loud, dark room and starred at a screen for 90 minutes. It might also be a good idea to skip a romantic dinner, just for now. That might be too awkward for a couple who feels they’ve grown apart. Instead, choose something interactive, something that requires that you talk or do some type of activity together. Take a fun class at a local community college, do karaoke, cook a meal. Find a way to engage and connect, and make a habit of it. It’s not enough to have a good time once.

Remember how nice you were when you first met? Get back to that. Be sweet, thoughtful, funny, flirty. You probably didn’t notice you stopped doing these things. You only noticed that he stopped. Funny how that works.

As the two of you reconnect and renew your like, thereby refreshing your love, you will create the type of rapport that makes it easier to speak truthfully and candidly. You’ll be able to peacefully address those topics that used to send you into a tailspin.

Remember, it is your undeniable right to suffer through a “tolerable” marriage, but why would you want to? Why not have a joyous marriage? You have a right to that also.

~Nadirah Angail

Digging Through the Arrogance to Find Parenting Jewels in Dame Dash’s “Be your own boss” Interview

dame dashFirst off, shout out to Harlem for being so unified! It’s clear there are certain things Harlemites just don’t do, like call other men boss (which  I guess is akin to elective castration. Not sure on that. I’ll have to watch the interview over.) But anyway, you guys act on one accord. I like that.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, chances are you didn’t watch Dame Dash’s recent interview on The Breakfast club. References to it were flooding my timeline and the “tweet like Dame” hashtag  was thoroughly enjoyable. I just had to see what everyone was talking about. Here it is in its entirely if you want to check it out.

Here’s a popular clip if you don’t want to watch the whole thing.


To be sure, Dash is arrogant, and he seems to take a “me and mine” approach to business that totally ignores and disrespects the many support positions that are necessary for any business to thrive and grow. There is no shame in being an employee. The shame is in speaking so poorly of employees when you, yourself, employ others. That’s foul, son.

The Breakfast Club co-host Charlamagne said it best:

If you’re a businessman, a boss like you say, it’s very dangerous to not show any respect for your customers. When you say things like, “There’s no pride in having a job,” you’re sh**ting on your employees and you’re sh**ting on the everyday consumer …”

Dash said a lot of things I felt were off base and completely unrealistic for most people.  You want to encourage others to start their own businesses? Excellent, but how would you suggest they go about that when you’ve told them never to have a boss? If they don’t have a rich father willing to front them seed money and they don’t think it’s wise to get into street pharmaceuticals, how else would the average Joe get the capital to start a business? I’d suggest getting a job and saving up, but Dame told me real men don’t do that.

Let me tell you what I know about real men (and women too): They value work, period. They don’t discount it just because they’re doing it for a business they don’t own. They also don’t underestimate the value of the skills they can develop and experience they can accrue while working for someone else.

Also, this whole “entrepreneurs don’t have bosses/can’t be fired” idea is false. When you work for yourself, your boss is whatever client your dealing with in the moment. As a freelance writer, my boss is whoever’s paying me to create content for them. And I can certainly get fired if I’m slacking on the job.

But, despite the avalanche of arrogance and all his circular reasoning, he said some valuable things we could all share with our children.

“I’m doing it for my kids.”

Dash spent a lot of time talking about his son. Your son too. I think it’s safe to say dude is really concerned about sons, but I get why. It’s unfortunate that much of what he said was lost in delivery, but what he was attempting to say (I think) is that parents should work to establish a financial foundation for their children so they can have options later in life. Every parents wants to be able to make choices for their children based on what is best, not what they can afford or what others are willing to give. Every parent wants their children to grow up to have access to all opportunities that interest them.  That’s what I think he meant, and I agree.

I’ve never had aspirations to be filthy rich, but I have always wanted to be rich enough to provide for my children in the way I see fit. That’s a message I share with my children. I don’t just tell them to work hard. I tell them WHY they should work hard, WHY their father and I work hard. Much like everyone in Harlem, we are a unit, a team. So we, the parents, have to work to support the team. If we don’t work, if we don’t produce, the whole team suffers and my son won’t be able to have cookies. I don’t know about you, but I want my son to have cookies! (Watch the video clip above if that went over your head.)

“There is a pride you should have in ownership.”

No one cares more about a business than the owner. The owner has the most at stake. The owner has his/her name on the line. The owner has his/her family’s bread and butter on the line. An employee may or may not be invested, but an owner is invested by definition. Ownership molds and matures you in a way traditional employment can’t. That’s not to knock employment. I’m all for bringing home a reliable check that you can use to feed your seed, but never limit your mind to just that.

Even in these early years, I talk to my children about the possibility, the option, of owning their own businesses. I never want them to limit themselves to the jobs that have already been created. It may be that the position they’re most suited for is something they will have to create themselves. They need to be aware of that now so they can have enough understanding to make the decision later.

“Stop worrying about other people’s pockets, what other people have and what other people can do for you.”

There is nothing wrong with competition, but make no mistake, you are your own greatest competitor. The sooner a person learns this, the better. So many of us go through life trying to keep up with someone else, trying to do what others do. But what satisfaction is their in accomplishing tasks others have chosen for you? You were not put here on earth to serve people. It is not your job to try to keep pace with the next guy. It is your job to carve out your own unique path as you serve God and become the best version of yourself. You can’t do that when all your attention and focus is on what someone else has.

I tell my children regularly that they don’t need the approval of others. All the people who matter in their lives already approve. Everything else is immaterial.

“You don’t need any money for knowledge.”

These days, it’s hard not to have access to information. The internet puts the entire world in your hands, and a great amount of it is free or low cost. Even Ivy League universities like Harvard offer free online classes for anyone who wants to enroll.

I’d love for my children to go to college, but I’d hate for them to think formal education is the only way to gain knowledge. Informal education, the things you learn from world experience and personal study, is just as valuable, if not more so, than anything you’ll glean from a prepared lesson.

It is through my informal education that I was able to check and verify the information presented to me in schools. Because I certainly won’t accept something just because a teacher said it. I question and dissect and test it against everything I already know to be true. No formal schooling taught me that.

If nothing else, I admire Dash’s hustle. He obviously knows nothing of humility and graciousness, but I like how convinced he is of his own potential. He’s the only person who believes in himself more than Kanye believes in Beyonce. That’s impressive. I can’t hate.

~Nadirah Angail

I Finally Made My Children Turn the TV Off. I’m So Glad I Did.

Have you ever been watching a nice family friendly show with your kids and then a super-grown commercial for something like Scandal comes on? In addition to diving for the remove, you’re wondering, “Why is this even on during Free Willy?!” That’s the type of day I was having when I decided to do a 30-day no-TV challenge. I was sick of the curse words, sick of the sex slipped into everything, sick of depressing, “We only talk about death and mayhem” news, sick of kids shows that aren’t kid appropriate. So I said, “Enough.”

Why I did it

Up to that point, I had gotten pretty lax in my TV stance. I had always planned to raise my children with minimal TV, but as a stay-at-home mom who was constantly surrounded by two demanding children, I began to rely more and more on TV just to get a break. I didn’t want to do it, but I needed something to get them out of my face! So, I let them watch a show here, a show there… and then another show here, and another show there… and then three shows back to back here, and four shows back to back there. And even though they were always children’s shows (allegedly), I was constantly bothered by the themes. I mean, who said THIS is children’s content? It’s practically one step down from Young and the Restless.

Before reaching my breaking point, there were many times where I wanted to cut back on TV, but I always thought, “But then that would be more work for ME! I’d have to entertain them every second of every day.” That thought alone is stressful, so I shoved it aside and went back to whatever I was doing. But you can only ignore things for so long. Sooner or later, you’ve got to face what’s there. For me, that meant making a commitment to watch no TV for 30 days straight.

Off to a rough start

Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to get the children on board. I just told them they could have a party if they went a whole month without TV. Notice I started with the reward first. They agreed instantly. But early the next day, my 3-year-old jumped up and wanted to watch TV. I told him, “No-TV challenge, remember?” He wasn’t having it. He started crying.

At that moment, I had to reassess my decision. “Are you ready for this?” I asked myself. I could have canceled the whole thing and avoided a meltdown, but I had avoided it long enough. I had to do what I had to do. I distracted him by talking about the party he’d get at the end of the month. “So what kind of pizza do you want at your party? Who do you want to invite?” I started naming cousins. It worked, but sure enough, he was back at it a few hours later. My daughter was doing just fine, but I could tell it was going to be a struggle with him. For the first few days, I wanted to give up every other hour. It was real work getting him to forget about TV and even consider doing something that didn’t involve staring at a screen.

Amazing things started happening 

After the first few days, Son mellowed and accepted that we wouldn’t be watching TV. That’s when it started to happen: the peace, the creativity. They seemed like totally different children! You probably think I’m exaggerating. I’m not. I wish you could have seen the transformation for yourself.  I’m used to them fighting a lot, but without the TV, they were calm and loving. I couldn’t believe it. We’ve all heard of the studies that suggest watching violent scenes on TV encourages children to be violent, but my kids never watched that sort of thing. So why were they so easily agitated when the TV was on and so relaxed without it? I now know the answer: stimulation. TV provides constant, fast-paced stimulation that makes it easier for children to be in an irritated state. With the TV off, they were relaxed enough to NOT get upset every time something happened. And not only were they not fighting, but they were working together and saying things like, “We’re a team!” It was truly amazing to witness. I’m not to only one to get these types of results. 

Once I noticed the difference, I kicked myself for not doing this early. Just days ago, they were whiny TV Zombies on the verge of WW III, and now they are calm children who do puzzles, make up stories, and create all types of fun projects with things they find around the house. Just yesterday, they used some old boxes to make a train. They tied the boxes together with a plastic bag. Genius!

The kids had a blast with the train the built.
The kids had a blast with the  cardboard train they built.

I originally thought I’d have to do more work (and I do), but its not at all like I’d imagined. I do spend more time reading to them, making up stories with them, and helping them think of things to do, but they do a pretty good job of entertaining themselves without my constant input. And their play is so imaginative! They make up colorful stories to go along with their activities. It’s truly amazing considering they used to just say, “I’m bored,” whenever I made them turn the TV off.

hey completed their 30 days a while ago, so we’ve added TV back in, sparingly. Thankfully, they don’t ask to watch much anymore, and I don’t mind it in moderation. But they know there won’t be anymore back to back episodes of anything.

Of all the changes I’ve observed, the biggest has been the change in me. I’m not sure how this is going to sound, but I’ll go ahead and say it: I like my kids way more when they aren’t watching a lot of TV. Does that sound bad? Does it sound like I didn’t like my kids before? Well, I won’t front: Sometimes I didn’t like them suckers! As much as I love them, my like was a little shaky at times. It’s hard to like your children when they’re fighting all day and crying about EVERY SINGLE THING. But once I cut the TV off, it all changed. Their entire disposition became much more pleasant. Before, I constantly thought about boxing them up and shipping them off to Anytown, USA. Now, I’m totally okay with keeping them.

Would you ever consider a no-TV challenge? If you’ve already done one, how did it go?

~Nadirah Angail

 

I’m Trying, But I Just Can’t Get with Princess Culture

You know, I’m just trying to live my life. Under no circumstances do I want to be that parent who has a problem with everything, buuuuuuuuut I kinda have a problem with everything. Ok, not everything, but a lot. Case in point: princess culture. I’m fine with frilly dresses and the like, but my daughter is not some doll whose purpose is to be dressed and paraded around to someone else’s liking. She won’t be anybody’s sexy damsel in distress, and she won’t be anybody’s eye candy whose hair and makeup are fixed just so–at the expense of her mind and soul. Nope. Can’t do it.

Maybe it sounds like a big leap from tutus and tiaras to mindless, objectified shell, but my eyes are open. I see how even cartoon characters are drawn to be seductive. I see adult-ish children’s shows whose 12- and 13-year-old female characters look straight out of New York Fashion Week. I see how young girls are often steered toward things related specifically and exclusively to appearance. Is it wrong to want to look good? No. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if my daughter wore pink and purple glitter and sequined shoes 24/7, but what she’s not gon’ do is think that’s all there is to life, all there is to her. So, when she’s done accessorizing, done putting on her sixth coat of crackle nail polish, she’s going to read and think and pray and create.

Little Mermaid's Ariel rises from the water.
Little Mermaid’s Ariel rises from the water.

Princess culture and boys

I’ve done a lot of talking about my daughter, but boys are affected to0. In fact, I’d argue the affect is worse on boys because, while girls are being taught to treat themselves poorly, boys are being taught to treat girls poorly. What happens when little boys watch movie after movie and TV show after TV show about pretty girls looking for handsome boys to fix their lives and love them? What happens when they see girls caring only about looking good and getting a date? What happens when they are covertly and overtly taught to be sexist? The message then becomes, “Girls are here for fun and folly.”  I can’t let that type of message go unchecked in my home.

My son is 3, but he’ll be in school soon enough, surrounded by other boys who may or may not have been socialized in a way I agree with. And if I were a betting woman, my money would be on their not being socialized to value girls wholly. I say this because I’ve been a kid before; I remember the things boys said and did to girls back then. I also hear the things boys in my neighborhood say and do to girls now. Not much has changed.

Schools are notorious breeding grounds for sexual harassment–everything from 5-year-old boys engaging in butt-pinching behavior, which they probably don’t even understand yet, to high school boys committing rape on (and off) school grounds. Sadly, its not uncommon for boys to think girls are just for looking and touching. These messages start young.

It’s not just about princesses 

I wish princess culture was the only issue. If so, it would be relatively easy to combat . Most girls are over princesses by their tween years. Problem solved, except it doesn’t end there. By about age twelve, princess culture is most often replaced by airbrush culture and “I’m nothing if I’m not sexy” culture and “I’ll only eat every other day so I can be waif thin” culture. This idea, that women are but a collection of poseable parts, is so pervasive and inbred that many refuse to acknowledge it. Instead, they break the internet by getting bucket naked in a “tasteful” photo shoot. Instead, they make Instagram porn and wait for the likes to roll in because, you know, it’s artistic. Instead, they Jedi mind trick you into believing it is an empowering form of feminism.

Clearly, Yoda's been reading  Malcolm X's autobiography.
Clearly, Yoda’s been reading Malcolm X’s autobiography.

Action steps and solutions

So, what’s an aware mother to do? Me, myself, I just lock my kids in the closet and only let them out for 30 mins a day to watch a pre-screened episode of Arthur. But you probably aren’t as hardcore as me. Here are some more-politically correct options for anyone else who just isn’t feeling princess culture.

  • Create your own narrative– Since my daughter loves princesses, I just go with it. I wouldn’t dare try to fight it. But I tell her being a princess is not about being cute and dainty. It’s about being confident, strong, and kind to others.  Disney is aware of the backlash, so they’ve created a string of commercials like this one to cast princesses in a different light. I can dig it.
  • Find the good- I have little use for Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella (even though I love the music in the Brandy and Whitney version), but I love Mulan,  Merida (from Brave). and Tiana (from Princess and the Frog). They are all strong, take-charge, capable characters. I have no problem with my daughter wanting to be like them.
  • Point out messages that counter yours– If the kids are watching a show that rubs me the wrong way, I’ll tell them. Even if I turn it off, the message has already been delivered. I can’t just let it seep into their subconscious. I have to highlight it and mark it as wrong, invalid. So, if we’ve been watching a show for 10 minutes and all they’ve talked about is boyfriends and girlfriends and how so-and-so is devastated because she doesn’t have a date to the 5th grade dance, I’ll say something like, “Guys, I’d rather find another show because this one keeps talking about having a boyfriend/girlfriend, which shouldn’t be a focus in 5th grade.” My kids know their mother, so they rarely protest.
  • Find something to say yes to- When you’re a socially aware parent, you find yourself having to say no to a lot of things. That’s no fun for the child, and it makes them more likely to want to sneak and do it anyway. Instead of saying no all the time, I’ll offer up an alternative. “No, we can’t watch that show. I don’t think there is anything on there that would benefit you, but you can…”
  • Show your daughters how capable they are- When things break around the house, I don’t call maintenance or the hubs, I call the kids. I bust out the screw drivers and YouTube how-to vids and get to work, letting my daughter take the lead whenever possible. We’re not always successful, but I still think there is value in making an effort.

I want balance in all things, so I’m not anti-princess. But I know anything that goes under the radar cannot be examined. That’s risky, too risky. I want my kids to learn how to decipher and discard messages that won’t add to their development. This is just one thing they’ll have to deal with. I know there are many more. I want need them to be ready.

That said, if my daughter wants a princess-themed party, she can have it. If she wants to see a princess movie, she can watch it… if I one day decided to let them out of the closet for more than 30 minutes.

~Nadirah Angail

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On Your Stuff: Saving Your Marriage From Your Emotional Issues Pt. 2

This is part 2 of a 2-part feature on emotional issues. These articles are meant to be a stepping stone to healing, but are by no means a cure-all. It is best to seek professional help to guide you on your journey.

In the first installment, we talked in general terms about becoming aware of emotional issues/themes and how they can negatively affect our thoughts and behaviors. Now it’s time to put a face and name on those themes.

A theme is a unifying or dominant idea, an overarching concept that connects and defines items in a group. In this case, the group is comprised of life events, specifically those that have greatly impacted you and shaped your worldview.

There is no finite list of emotional themes, but there are certain ones that show up frequently. Let’s examine them, shall we?

Common Emotional Themes

  • Abandonment: Perhaps the most popular of all emotional themes, abandonment is the feeling of being unfairly left behind or discarded. This theme could be rooted in a physical abandonment (someone leaving), but it can also refer to perceived abandonment that may have nothing to do with physical absence. If this is one of your primary themes, you may find that you rush into relationships or expect too much too fast (or just too much in general), which, in turn, may run the person off. Your feeling of abandonment is then itensified and the cycle continues.
  • Loss: Loss may seem very similar to abandonment, but the main difference is that loss isn’t intentional. It involves someone or something
  • Over Responsibility
  • Inferiority
  • Violation

~Nadirah Angail

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Are You Comfortable Being Unhappy in Your Marriage?

comfortable being unhappyLet’s be real: sometimes, you just want to be mad.

You just want to sit up in your funk and wallow. You ain’t thinking about working it out;  you don’t want to give it another try; you don’t even want to hear a apology. You’re just hot. And you know what, you kinda like it.

Come on, admit it. (Nobody’s looking and you know I won’t tell.) Just admit how it sometimes feels good to stew in your anger. I can admit it, but I’m still wondering why. What makes a person want to stay angry? What’s up with that? Ego: that’s what’s up. Our egos get a couple hundred strokes every time we have a pity party. We tell ourselves grand stories about how we’ve been wronged and why we have the right to be mad, the right to wear a scowl, the right to make every cell vibrate with negative, weakening energy.  Sure, its your right, but is that really what you want?

Nope.

I went ahead and answered that for you because I already know the deal: It’s not that you want to be unhappy. It’s that you’re comfortable there and scared of the unknown.

Change is hard… and scary

If I had a dime for every time I tried to permanently change something about myself and failed, I’ll have a lot of money. Change is easy to want and hard to implement. It takes planning and determination. It takes a willingness to go at it again, and again, and again, and again. But, most importantly, it takes a deliberate and forceful silencing of the inner voices.

Those voices, man… I could write an entire post about destructive inner voices (and I probably will at some point). They’re just so convincing. I mean, they will really have you listening to them, as if their words are finite and final, as if they aren’t hollow, made of flimsy doubt and fear.

It’s those voices that make you comfortable. They tell you nothing will ever change, and you believe them. They tell you your marriage has run its course, and you believe them. They tell you happiness exists only outside your relationship and you will never achieve it from within, and you believe them. So why bother? Sure, you’ll be cordial and go through the motions, but real effort? Why bother?

And this is the thinking that traps and binds.

You do as little as possible just to get by. You make small gestures in the name of “starting over,” but you don’t really believe, and so you don’t really try.  After all, why beat a dead horse? Why support a dying cause? Your energy would be much better spent on something that could actually make you happy, wouldn’t it?

And that’s the scary part: the idea that you could genuinely put forth real effort and still not be happy, still not accomplish anything, still feel rejected, still feel alone. Feeling like a failure when you’ve given up is doable, but having that same feeling when you’ve poured yourself into something wholeheartedly, that seems unbearable.  And so we dampen our efforts and get comfortable in the dark, too scared to travel into the blinding light of the uncertain.  We settle down in our misery and become martyrs to fear–as if there were no other choice.

Abandon your life of fear and LIVE

But alas, there are choices! If only we’d open our eyes and allow ourselves to see them. How many other scary things have you faced and conquered? Maybe it was a scary movie at 8, or a roller coaster at 12, or the driving exam at 16, or a job interview at 21 or the decision to enliven your marriage that you’re facing right now.  Because that’s really what it is: the decision to add life back into your marriage. Yes, it is risky–your spouse may not receive your efforts–but to stay where you are would be a disservice to yourself, your children (if you have any), and the commitment you made before God.

When you allow yourself to live in anger, the whole family suffers. Sure, the marriage takes a hit, but you, on an individual level, take a major blow as well. And of course that trickles down to the kids. Of course that trickles down to your parents, your siblings, your friends and co-workers. Everyone in your intimate circle feels the aftershock of your choice.

Your own body will rise up in protest because of the disharmony you created. (Read: headaches, physical illness, anxiety, etc.) Yes, I said, “you created.” You’ve got to own it. If anything is to change (and I hope by now you’ve decided it should), you have to take ownership. This isn’t about absolving your spouse of any blame. It is about acknowledging that you were powerful enough to take part in this undoing, and so have the power to mend and rebuild.

This is your life. Yours. No one else can experience it for you, so let NO one and NO thing force you into decisions you’ll regret. And this whole “put my marriage on auto pilot” thing you got going, you will regret that. Of this, I am certain.

If you’re ready to leave your comfort zone and try something that can get you moving in the right direction, take the 365 Marriage Oath.

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The Problem With Having a Love of Your Life

love of my lifeYears ago, I heard comedian Steve Harvey talking about how women often use the phrase “love of my life” to refer to men who in no way deserve the title. I completely agree, so much so that his words stuck with me all these years and inspired this post. In general, there is nothing wrong with having a “love of your life,” but you have to be careful with whom you allow to fill that space.

“But you can’t choose the love of your life. It just happens.” That’s what you were thinking, weren’t you? This is how we’ve been conditioned, to be passive participants in our heart’s affairs, to be mere spectators that can only watch, not do. It is true that you can feel more connected to one person than you do others, but that isn’t a good enough reason for you to stay connected to a man who doesn’t deserve you. “Love of my life” is a term we choose to apply to someone.  And too often, we choose to apply it to those with whom we have had the most turbulent and unhealthy relationships.

“Girl, I know he’s no good for me, but he’s the love of my life… I always go back.”

“I would leave, but he’s the love of my life. You know how that goes…”

“This is crazy! I can’t get over him! He’s the love of my life.”

You’ve probably heard (or spoken) these phrases before. It seems “love of my life” has become synonymous with “the person I allow to continually hurt me.” It doesn’t matter how many years you have invested, how intertwined you feel your hearts have become, or how drop-dead gorgeous he may be. If he has proven, time and time again, that he is NOT able to treat you how you want to be treated and NOT able to provide you with the mental and emotional stimulation you need, he has no business being called the love of your life (or any other term of endearment you can think of). It really is that simple.

We make it complicated when we listen to the damaged parts of ourselves that have somehow become addicted to the diseased dynamics of these relationships. “Yes, he cheats on me, but we have such a strong connection.” “True, he’s not really what I want in a husband, but it’s been 5 years and I really love him.” In the words of Tina Turner, what’s love got to do with it? We have an obligation to ourselves to be the best person possible and to surround ourselves with others who will help us in that pursuit. A good man will do that.

Unfortunately, a lot of the men we call the “loves of our lives” aren’t doing that. In fact, they’re doing the exact opposite. They sidetrack and discourage us from reaching our better selves by occupying our time and thoughts with all sorts of *pauses to think of a fitting word* foolishness.

The love of your life should be the person who has had the best affect on you, the person that helped you reach a new level of understanding and happiness, the person   who has been a true asset in your life. Don’t use the term as an excuse to go back to a loser. Don’t let it be the nail in the coffin that seals your fate as an unhappy woman.

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