Wanting What God Did Not Intend

I have to admit that following the Biblical rules can be very challenging. The bible has very set ideas about right and wrong. It leaves no room for in-between and grey areas. This could be the reason why so many of us struggle with feeling like or have committed sins on a daily basis. When God created us with free-will then proclaimed there was a four wall boundary in which to not cross, it inevitably caused confusion, confliction and stress. Maybe that’s the reason most people spend their Christian journey on their knees either asking for forgiveness or discernment in making the right Godly choices.

My single journey has been filled mostly with my own wants and bucket list. I specifically wanted a single, free, do-what-I-want lifestyle and I got it. All of which have been enjoyable and a source of character growth, identity and self-confidence building. I can say that I am very secure within myself that it would take a 9.5 Richter scale earthquake to cause damage to my foundation.  As I am blessed with 39 years of life, the desire for companionship has crept in albeit very slowly. I have come to a slow conclusion over the last 5 years that there is nothing wrong for me in wanting to share the joys and stress of my life with someone else and in tern be supportive to that person on an intimate level.

I am a self professed commitment phobe. Life can be so much easier when you have only yourself to think about. As I had watched my parents marriage over the years, it had taught me the importance of and hard work required to have a committed relationship. Ironically, it was that realization at a young age that pushed me down the single path. I was not ready to give that much of myself to anyone but me.  In the last few weeks, I have been having some very frank discussions with a male former single playboy now married with family coworker. I had to verbally acknowledge a few things I already knew about myself. It has been disconcerting to hear someone point them out and me verbally admitting to certain things to someone beyond myself. It was not eye opening but more real awareness. I learn so much about myself from people who have the balls to give me such honest feeback.

So, what is it that I want that God did not intent? I want the best of both the single and married world. I absolutely love being single and free to go and do what I wish. I love making last minute decisions about what I want to do for any given weekend. I love planning my life according to my schedule. I love the idea that I can pack and move to another state just because I can. I love the fact that I can choose to eat out or dine in and not worry about another mouth to feed. I love not having to give an accountability as to whether I am going to be late or why I am late. I have my own bed to myself  and my things are just the way I like them. I love the autonomy of being single.

On the other hand, the things I love about the marital benefits include having an available social activity partner to try out a new restaurant or event. I love having company when I don’t feel like being alone. I love the idea of being able to release sexual tension and enjoy sex when desired. I love the idea of having someone concerned if I am late to get home. I love the joys of intimacy, having an available helper, and someone close with whom to share good and bad moments. I love the pleasure of companionship.

See my dilemma? Obviously, those two things are on the opposite end of the biblical spectrum. In order to get the best of both worlds, my lifestyle would have to exist outside what God intended. What would that look like? Sort of like Oprah and Steadman – two single people who have their individual lives but come together as wanted or needed. No marriage, no living together, no sharing personal property but an unconventional nontraditional relationship.

In the Christian world, it is either one or  the other not both. So obviously I have a decision to ponder. Do I stick with the joys of singleness and sacrifice the natural desire for companionship? Do I get over my commitment phobia and learn to share my life fully with a compatible partner? Neither of which are the easier road because they require giving up certain things. Can I be certain that if I find a compatible partner I won’t still yearn for the days when it’s just about me? The issue is I only know about the pleasure of singleness because I have yet to meet anyone who had enough pull to entice me to the marital side. Could it be that I need to find the right guy who can change my view of marriage being a stagnant, limiting, excessively compromising institution? I do not have any answers to these questions so until then the most attractive aspect of single vs married is having the best of both worlds.

39-Year-Old Crisis

As I am writing this, it now seems like a funny experience rather than a crisis. Not long ago in the distant past, I somewhat celebrated my 39th birthday. It was low key like all my birthdays and I do what I typically would do… take the day off from work and scheduled a day worth of activities while getting calls, texts and Facebook birthday well-wishes. However, this morning I woke up (thank God) and had a minor 39 year old crisis. OMG I am 39!!!!! I am getting old(er).

So, I got out of bed, looked in the mirror and thought is this what people of a certain age go through? I don’t look 39-I work out and is trying to stave off any excessive weight gain and I don’t have any wrinkles (thanks parents and decent living). While my mind is not taking the senior citizen route, the age numbers are climbing. I literally feel like a 39-year-old in a much younger body (my mirror could be lying or maybe I have early onset cataracts). Should I start dressing differently – more mature? How about my hair? Should I quit wearing my hair in two braids because I am too lazy to find a good hairstyle? LOL…I can’t help laughing at myself as I write this. As a friend of mine would say, this is a first world problem.

What’s my deal about being 39? Well, it’s about life expectations for career then a distant second for relationships. I know…traditionally as a woman my crisis should be all about my terminally single status. Oh well, I guess I am a little different. I woke up this morning thinking that my career life does not match that of my younger self’s dreams or my current age. I really believe that I should be further along in my career pursuit. I asked myself what exactly have I accomplished in my life? The distorted self-defeating mind would say “not much” but the reality is I have done quite a bit with my life. I actually have some tales to tell and wisdom to pass on.

In terms of my marital status – I can explain why that issue takes second place as a crisis (okay a very mild crisis). As a child, my thoughts were never focused on the marital side of life. It has only been since journeying in my 30’s that marriage and family has even been a blip on my radar. So, my current spinster (can’t get a man pathetic single woman) or bachelorette ( hot sexy choose to be single woman) status only made minor contributions to my crisis because it was never a life long dream/desire. I may have to re-evaluate if I start collecting cats as pets.

Could I spruce up my dating life a bit? Sure! I do acknowledge that as I age gracefully I may encounter a slight snag in the long-term relationship department. Apparently, men of my age are looking for women who are a lot little  younger. So, I should expect to get offers (assuming I will ever fully be ready to transition to a MRS degree) from men who range from age 60 and up who are looking for a ‘younger woman.’ Woo hoo!!!!…. I still have a shot at being called a “young woman.”

As a aged woman in crisis, should I start wearing tube tops (hopefully you are old enough to know what that is) and micro mini skirts? Or should I save that for when I am 49? What exactly should the life of a 39 y/o woman look like? Married with kids? Successful career? Traveling the world?  Being a good Christian at church 5 (okay maybe 2 or 3) days out of the week? Am I below the 39 y/o curve? I thought about it and I really don’t have a good answer.

A 39 y/o woman’s life could range from still living with her parents to being a Goodwill UN Ambassador. While society does place ridiculous boundaries on women’s lives, we put the most pressure on ourselves by believing the b.s. So, God blessed me to wake up this morning but I started the day in the first age related panic of my life. While it only lasted for a brief moment, I could not help but think what is my next step? I cannot say that I am totally thrilled with my current career situation and it is certainly not where I envisioned myself at 39. However, I refuse to fall into hysteria (take that Freud!) and make rash decisions but it has motivated me to start pushing a little harder to reach further for my career or at least job satisfaction and breathe new energy into getting out and enjoying the blessings of being alive for 39 years (thanks God).

Abstinence In A Sexualized World

Surfed the internet lately? If yes, then you may have seen a few headlines relating to sex in the Christian community. First, there was the Duggar’s older son inappropriate sexual touching before he was married, Billy Graham’s grandson’s infidelity in a crumbling marriage, and Bristol Palin announcing her 2nd out-of-wedlock pregnancy despite being a public advocate for abstinence. In the old days, all these visible Christians would have been publicly shamed for the rest of their lives.

The reality is we are all sinners, prone to temptation, and each and every one of us have committed sins and will commit sins in our lives. Welcome to the reason why the Bible talks about redemption. Despite knowing that, I do get a sick pleasure when limelight Christians screw up. Why is that? Because it shows that no one is immune and we need to be careful of our actions when we decide to put ourselves in the forefront as perfect Christian leaders.

Let’s chat about abstinence . First, let me say that I do not believe in abstinence only education. Our society is not set up to re-enforce that concept. Second, abstinence does not address some important biological and situational nuances that typically lead to breaking that vow. Third, abstinence is a difficult practice to maintain especially the more sexually charged you are and the length of your intimate relationship.

I believe there are two kinds of abstinence: one is the letter of the law abstinence and the other is the spirit of the law abstinence. When people talk about abstinence they are referring to no sexual penetration using the male and female sex organs. Therefore, if two people in a relationship never have coitus, then they have fulfilled the letter of the abstinence law. This letter of the abstinence law is very important for virgins and those who want to remain “pure” until marriage. However, the spirit of the abstinence law is very different. This is in reference to ALL sexualized behaviors ie. mutual masturbation, over and under the clothes touching of breast and genitals, anal sex, oral sex, foreplay and everything that stops short of penetration. If Christians should be judge by the spirit of the abstinence law, then a great number would be found guilty.

I applaud the concept of no sex before marriage. It’s a great idea for a number of reasons; however, by the time most couples get to their wedding night they have already engaged in various sexualized behaviors “to take the edge off,” and the only thing left is the grand finale. True abstinence is not an easy feat. Christian couples engage in the same dating style such as spending quality and alone time with their partners. Like all relationships, the two people are instinctively and biologically sexually drawn to each other, and each intimate alone time breaks down the abstinence defenses.

When was the last time you went on a date with a chaperone? Do you always kiss your partner on the cheek with a side hug? When the phone conversation turns intimate do you stop and say “God would not approve because we are not married?” or have you instituted a rule that you don’t talk in the bedroom and not past a certain hour? When was the last time that the most intimate thing you did with your partner was holding hands for longer than 5 minutes?

If true abstinence is to be practiced, then the Christian couple has to become puritanical in every sense of the word. If you cannot do that, then it’s time to have the talk (You should have had this talk already if you decided to be in a long-term relationship). The talk should involve what to do if you can’t wait or the it-just-happened moment. It’s time to have the real sex talk and not the ignorant watered down ‘Christian’ version. The version in which birth control and pregnancy are a reality. The version in which when things go too far how do you work through it instead of being riddled with guilt, shame and sometimes blaming.

It’s obvious that Ms Palin, the abstinence advocate, found her own message difficult to uphold – twice. If it was not for the pregnancies, which is how most Christian couples are outed, she would have been able to hide the hypocrisy. I could take cheap shots at her; however, her failures show the holes in the modern-day abstinence message. I do believe that most Christians are very sincere when they take on the abstinence challenge. However, they fail to see and prepare for the inevitable obstacle which is to underestimate how strong one’s normal sexual desires can be in the presence of romantic partner.

For those who intend on practicing the abstinence spirit of the law, I wish you God speed because you will need it. I also wish that you put in place preventive methods instead of reactive measures. Abstinence in a relationship is a good thing; however, ignoring one’s natural sexual urges will make it a feat to truly accomplish in avoiding ALL forms of sexual activities before marriage.

The Deception of Beauty Enhancement

A friend had sent me a video of a woman beautifully made up. The image of her carefully painted face was absolutely stunning. Everything was perfect and she was the vision of black Barbie. In order to demonstrate how she became such a vision, the artist had to remove all her mask to start from scratch.

“Good heavens! what the hell?” was my reaction when she was barefaced and au naturel. She was no longer stunning but passed as less than attractive on the beauty measurement stick. Pimples, skin discoloration, etc. She epitomized the idea of dramatic makeover. I could not help but do a Google image search for dramatic makeup before and after and became very aware that this young lady is not the only woman who skillfully change her appearance to look very different from her true self.

Thank heavens I am not a man! One commenter on the young lady’s transformation was that it is imperative for men to take their women swimming on the first date. This is to remove everything false in order to see the true woman. There is a joke which involved a man taking a woman home from the club and in the morning, he discovered that she removed her hair extensions, spanx, fake nails, padded bra, make up and very high heels to reveal someone totally different from the woman he brought home. If you follow the entertainment news’ latest beauty trend, then one could add: fake tan, collagen for lips, butt implants/injection/padded underwear, Botox, and even temporary breast enhancement. Where does the masquerade end? What’s a guy to do when he first meets a well-groomed young lady? Do most men have to wonder if the women they see are deceptively enhanced?

When did it become okay for women to feel so ashamed of their image and are driven to falsely advertise themselves as someone completely different from their true selves? Do we really believe that false advertising is the best way to enhance one’s self-esteem or to feel attractive? While I have no issues with make up and using it to cover minor imperfections, it is something completely different from literally putting on a new face. Contouring is a new word in my vocabulary which means the ability to change enhance one’s facial features with make up – eye’s wider, nose thinner, high cheekbones, lips fuller etc. Frankly, the art of contouring belongs in the theatre and performance art shows.

There is a feeling of empathy for the single men who have to weed through the beauty façade of women. There are women who believe that a new guy should never see them without X item until they have been dating for an extended period of time. This is as deceptive as a man wearing false hair or caps to cover his baldness, a padded underpants to give the illusion of a larger manhood, removes his wedding ring when the Mrs is absent, or drives a flashy car and spend excessively to show wealth while he is in heavy debt. This is a good time to use the verse do to others as you would like to be done to you. Keep it real!

The whole deceptive enhancement creates a dilemma for the average girl next door. The extraordinarily perfect beauty that make up etc creates does not exist in nature. Very rarely will you find a woman who looks any thing close to these enhanced visions of beauty; however, when we are bombarded by these false advertising everyday, we tend to see the average natural beauty as less than. Consequently, men begin to set the beauty bar requirement high and women transform themselves in order to keep up. Take for instance the ever popular entertainment special about ‘Stars without makeup’ which is definitely a sight to behold. The comparison is dramatic and sometimes startling. Some trashy rags even go as far as to say these women are ugly without makeup. In reality, we have become so accustomed to the deception that we accept the parlour tricks over the real thing. I too had the same reaction when black Barbie transformed back to her average beauty self. I can shamefully admit that I thought the true image of this young lady was ugly in comparison to her enhanced image.

I will reiterate that I have no issues with women wearing makeup. I too will wear lip gloss and brow filler due to my thinning eye brows; however, I will never be accused of looking like someone else nor will I ever be lauded as a great beauty. As a single lass, I truly prefer men to see my au naturel state with all the imperfections of which there are many (at least in my eyes). Confidence in one’s imperfect self is a hard pill to swallow and many women were not taught this lesson.

Is Long Term Monogamy Natural?

To quote from the Princess Bride “…Mawwage that w(bl)essed arrangement, that dweam within a dweam and w(l)ove, true wove will follow you foreva…so treasure your wafe….” Yep, I do love that movie and Mel Brooks is a comedy genius. Even though marriage has become some what of a farce in pop culture, I still believe in its sanctity and intrinsic meaning. I still believe that marriage stands for something. However, in order to weather the passage of time, many married couples face the challenge of staying in long term monogamous relationships.

My initial post was entitled “So how many ex-wives do you have” and then a friend texted me with a note on whether monogamy is truly possible. It got me thinking about the correlation of long term monogamy and the number of exs. Do people with more exs have problems being faithful or sticking with only one?

Within the last two years, I have met two men with multiple ex-wives. Guy #1 is probably in the process of seeking wife numero 4 and Guy#2 is 3 years in with wife number 4.  Ironically, I was also sitting across from a Guy #3 who started his married life in his 20’s and is still married to his wife of 16 years. What they have in common is that all three men started their marriage journey at a young age. What makes these men so different is the way they managed their relationships. When Guy #1 first told me he had 3 failed marriages I actually started laughing because I thought he was joking. After all, these sorts of things was for Hollywood types.

Long term monogamy, the ability to stick to one partner over an extended period of time, seems to be very challenging for so many people. Is the idea that the grass is always greener with someone else? At least  until the new person gets old. Even our religious forefathers had difficulty holding on to one person.  King David, in his old and dying years, took a very young wife for his comfort. What happened to the “old wives?” The greatest evidence for the difficulty of monogamy is prostitution. The word on the street is that it’s the oldest profession which has endured the test of time and many marriages.

Is it natural to wake up next to the same person every day, sharing the same space every day, being accustom to this permanent fixture in your life until death? How do you stop yourself from getting bored or disinterested?

Monogamy is relative. It’s relative to the people entering in the relationship, their frame of mind about the relationship and their resiliency to be committed. Divorce happens because of a failure from both individual. Monogamy is possible (without infidelity). Monogamy is a realistic expectation for those people who are honest and committed. Our culture has bred an instant gratification generation. This has spilled over into intimate relationships.

Men can be faithful. Actually, the good men are faithful in the face of temptation. Even  though many people are opting out of marriage, they are still involved in romantic relationships which are very short lived and probably doomed from the first hello. The point is monogamy is very natural; however, not everyone chooses to be.

A Single’s Take on Marriage Problems

I can already hear the snarky comments that a single person has no place telling any married couple how to maintain their relationship. I find that to be an interesting view because the premise is that an individual must have some experience with marriage before being able to speak on the topic. While that may be true for some things, it’s not true for all things.

If experience was the best precursor to sound advice, then couples would learn their mistakes through years of being married and therefore eliminate divorces. It would also imply that all second (and subsequent) marriages would be successful. There would be no need for marriage therapists or marriage seminars. If we are following that logic, then I might even extrapolate and say Jesus had no business talking about sin when he never sinned and the disciples should have kept all their heavenly advice to themselves because they never went to heaven.

What prompted this single to make blatant remarks about married relationships? An acquaintance on Facebook made a post that was so important I had to repeat it. Let me give you some background about this woman. She is married to a career military man, they have been married for forever, have 6 (I think) children who ranges from early 20’s to a 3 or 4 years old. She works and is taking classes as well. She even finds the time to ride her motorcycle with her hubby.  Yep! she is one busy bee. I will paraphrase her post. She posted that her and her hubby made a room reservation and spent some much needed time away from their children  in order to focus on each other and strengthen their relationship.

What’s so unique about that? Well, many married women have made their entire lives about their children whilst neglecting their partners. The more the neglect of a partner the greater the divide which can lead to a couple being so out of sync with each other and subsequently destroys a good relationship. In marriage, you make priority for what is important. Many women who are mothers have a misconception that their child(ren) is the center of their universe. If you are not one of those women, then you have certainly met at least one. They believe that childbirth and being a mother is the greatest accomplishment known to human kind and that this one aspect of their lives should be their every waking moment focus.

Marriage therapists and pastors will reiterate that there should be a horizontal line firmly connecting the spouses and a vertical line to link them to their  children. There is never a time under the sun when a child should take the place of the spouse. The relationship between the husband and wife is the glue for the family. The stronger the relationship the stronger the family. The husband and wife’s relationship is the foundation on which a couple build. It’s  equivalent to building a house on a rock (solid foundation) and when all the pressures of children and life sits on top of that foundation then its strength will determine whether the house will stand or fall.

Kids are cute little parasites. Kids need attention because they are small, weak, helpless, annoying, always present, selfish, demanding, fragile, clueless, and most importantly it is a parent’s job to attend to all their needs. I get the value of a child because I was also one of three little parasite to my parents. (FYI- Parents have survived us and they are still married 38 yrs later). When two people who were previously single are put into the parent situation, they tend to lose focus on almost everything outside of the child(ren). They forget their own needs and also forget their spouses. Ever so slowly, this cute helpless extension of yourself sits in the middle of the marriage relationship and becomes a permanent fixture in that position. In order to connect, the couple (woman) needs to physically and psychologically move the child who has become a barrier.

Let’s talk barriers single and married ladies. Kids are not the only barriers. As women, our dislike for our not-so-perfect bodies and low self-esteem can become an ever present elephant in a relationship. A married woman recently told me that she had refused sex with her hubby early in their marriage because she did not like her body.  A divorced man stated after his ex-wife gave birth, their intimacy ended because she did not like her postpartum body (pregnancy and birth can ruin a woman’s body). If a married person cannot turn their spouse when s/he is needed, then the relationship has fallen through the cracks.

There are common sense things that ever single person and married person (who was once single) should know. Note that I said should not does. Someone told me that common sense is not always common.  A single person who intends to be married should make it his/her priority to know as much about the responsibilities of being married. Marriage is not a unique phenomena. It is two single people coming together to share their lives. However, instead, marriage seem to be about two single people sharing the same space but having single lives. Singles, pay attention to the married people in your lives. What is it about their marriage that you admire or dislike? It’s better to get an understanding of expectations when one is single than after and  become overwhelmed by the common sense situation life throws at you.

What else does this single notice? Communication is severely lacking in many marital relationship. Why? because it was missing when both people were still single. Marriage therapists have asked this question to every couple sitting in their offices “Have you talked to your (husband/wife) about how you feel?” Again, common sense all married couple should know. How the hell will your spouse know how you feel or what you are thinking if you don’t say something? How? How? Couples will talk to their friends more than their spouses and heaven forbid the preposterous idea that the individual should talk to the spouse. Do you know where that behavior starts? Yep, you guessed it, it starts when we are single. “I can’t talk to him about something like that” or “I just can’t talk to her at all.” Sounds familiar single and married people?

Complacency is the death of many relationships. Congratulations you have bagged your prize now let’s sit back and do nothing. I once read a comment from a woman who was married for over 20 years that she still missed her husband when he walks out the door and feels excitement when he comes home.  I have heard and seen one too many married people who do not think it’s their job anymore to make an effort to spice up the relationship. “We are just an old married couple.” “We have been married too long for that….” “Been there and done that why even bother.”  Oh and don’t even talk about sex. I once said to a friend, “I don’t understand you married people. You have convenient access to sex, access to immediate support, assistance and all the good stuff that comes with being married but you don’t use it.”

I find myself being the only single amongst a group of people. This does not bother me at all unless they decided to all make out with their spouses. Luckily, I tend to associate with mature and respectful couples. This group dynamic is not by choice but by demographics. The older you are the more likely the people around you are going to be married. This gives every single a first hand view of marital relationships. When the brave married person starts to talk about their marriage, I ask questions because I am curious. I have learned things and others makes me scratch my head. I always pay attention to couples who are reflective in their relationship and are willing to talk about the ‘what they would do differently’ or ‘what they are glad they did.’

I truly believe that married couples can learn from singles observation. Your single friends are sitting on the outside and they have a broader view. The couple is in the trenches and they typically take a egocentric view without being able to see the big picture. It does not take a another married person to see that something is good or ‘off’ in your relationship. It takes a person who knows you and has your best interest at heart to give you a warning that something may not be right in your marriage. It is now up to you to do your own assessment and act accordingly to strengthen your marriage relationship.

An Ode to Good Men

This is an ode to men who have been good fathers, good friends, good husband, good lovers, and decent human beings who take on the challenge of their responsibilities and do it to the best of their abilities. This is an ode to good men.

The words good man in its true context has been used very rarely. Women are whispering to each other that there is a lack of good men or ‘all the good men are taken’ but that may be fallacy. I have never been that cynical and I tend to ignore such rumors because that is the same sentiment some men say about women as well.

In my last year or two, I have been consistently exposed to two men whose words and behaviors can easily make any woman think that all men are useless, self-serving pigs. It’s almost like subliminal brainwashing. I actually found that my recent thoughts were leaning more towards the negative generalization. When I do encounter something different from these two influences, it is such a stark difference and almost a sigh of joy that not every man is like them.

The news was a buzzed with a father who snapped pictures of himself combing his daughter’s hair while carrying his other baby girl in a harness. I absolutely loved that picture – it was reaffirming to see that God created little baby boys who grew up to be responsible good men. Because of that picture and some negative backlash, more men came out with videos and pictures showing their good characters as active and involved fathers.

The valentine’s season has begun and many men are planning how they are going to ‘get it right’ because it is their time to shine. On the other hand, a good man does not need to sweat for February 14 because he has been living up to his responsibilities every single day and he will continue to do so for every mundane day that follows.

Good men have nothing to prove in a game of who is more macho. Good men understand the value of the loved ones in their lives. Good men tell the truth and have no need to lie frequently in which they may not even know the truth. Good men show respect to women with their words and behaviors. Good men do not take advantage of others. Good men will see a problem and are willing to assist when possible. Good men understand the difference between right from wrong and behave accordingly. Good men understand their importance as husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. Good men show you who they are without any use of facades.

Good men do the best they can with what they have available. Good men are not constantly drunk or high. Good men acknowledge their faults and weakness and learn to ask for assistance. Good men do not pretend they are invincible. Good men can get frustrated; they can feel down; they can fail; they can make mistakes; they can experience weakness and even cry; however, good men know they need to rise above the setbacks and make better decisions. Good men know how to learn for the better.

Good men can do laundry, cook, clean the house, don’t know how to fix a leaky faucet, comb their daughters’ hair and play tea with them. Good men can be garbage men to CEOs of fortune 500 companies. Good men can be fat, skinny, built, old, and young. A good man can be a brother, neighbour, boss or the guy a woman is currently dating.  Being a good man is all about the characteristics one chooses to embody.

I do not believe that all the good men are taken. I do not believe that they are in short supply. Those men to whom I refer are actively involved or being pursued by women who do not know the character of a good man.  Good men are around us and who interacts with us in different capacity. At times, it seem hard to identify good men because they may be lost among the more outwardly dazzling but inwardly rotten men. God created little boys who grew up to become good men and they are still in existence.

So, a toast to all the good men – taken or single

How many good men can you identify?

The Human Punching Bag for Love

I have had the displeasure of talking with a few women who believe that maltreatment by their men somehow equates with care and love. When I say maltreatment, it ranged from physical abuse to verbal disparaging. While someone who is physically being hurt is an obvious no – no, there seem to be a better acceptance of others making nasty verbal criticism towards someone else. Many women are very familiar with this; on the other hand, men who experience verbal abuse are less likely to fess up to such occurrences in their relationships. The reference to a human punching bag, for the purpose of this blog, means any sort of maltreatment that ranges from physical contact to saying unkind words deliberately in front of or behind a person’s back.

Manipulation, lying, face to face put down, behind the back put down, malicious criticism, name calling (being serious or in jest), threats, shoves, intimidation, physical contact are all things that many people seem to endure all in the name of love. During a conversation, someone relayed a story about an older family member couple in which the ‘man was the kindest and sweetest  person’ who runs to the beck and call of his spouse who is very dependent on him and consistently (throughout the many years of their marriage) treats him very poorly and “never says a kind word.” There is a hint of pity for this older gentleman who chose to do the right thing and honor his marriage for all these years; however, in my mind, this gentleman made a choice to honor a relationship that has slowly poisoned his soul.

After that story, I could not help but reflect on a coworker who recently celebrated her 3 year marriage to another ‘nice and patient man who loves her;’ however, she too is unknowingly walking in the footsteps of that old cantankerous woman who has taken advantage of a ‘good man’ and misused him because he stayed in the name of … love? duty? desperation? I was taught and learn very quickly that saying mean things even in jest towards a person whom one claims to love is a very hurtful thing. I also learn that when such behaviors begin, unless you stop it, then it will continue and escalate.

The irony is that the 30 something coworker who celebrated 3yrs of marriage claims she loves her husband despite the things she expresses. “Dumb ass,” “pussy” are not words that I would find listed in 1 Corinthians 13 or any how-to-have-a-good-marriage guide. Yet, people who consistently or inconsistently put down their significant other will boldly claim their undying love while not realizing that the two are an oxymoron. The sad part of all this is that the spouses either take it quietly, brush things off, or they do not forcefully express that these behaviors are unacceptable.

One hard and fast rule of behavior is YOU TEACH OTHERS HOW TO TREAT YOU. The problem with being constantly or occasionally  punched is that it leave bruises and scars that do not emotionally and psychologically go away. The person being punched do not readily see these long lasting bruises and scars because over time they become a part of him/her. It becomes acceptable and normal. It becomes “that’s just how Jane/John is.” The things we say to ourselves and to others (and allow others to do or say to us) do not just materialize from the ether. It comes from a complex cycle of how we think and feel about ourselves and others – usually the self talk is not very positive.

They say love makes us do strange things. I would vehemently disagree with this statement. Love has nothing to do with our behaviors. Human beings are inherently selfish and we do things according to what we want to get out of a situation – good or otherwise. While the idea or feeling of love can be a motivating factor, it does not control behaviors. We love someone else because we want a return of that love. We do nice things for others because it also makes us feel good and there is a hope that someone else will do something nice for us when we need it. The look of love is very different for everyone – it can be beautiful and it can be dysfunctional.

Being a human punching bag is an elective behavior. When the first punch is thrown, then it is the time when ‘NO’ should be employed as a protection strategy. I cannot reiterate that each person sets the tone for how he/she will be treated by others. The first put down, name calling, or malicious word should be the first and the last time. Love has nothing to do with being mistreated – actually that is more in align with hate. Bad behavior is hate coming from the person doing the hurting and ultimately a hate/dislike for one’s self for accepting the hurt. Just imagine for that 30 something coworker, it is as easy to call her husband wonderful as it is to call him dumb ass. It is easy to say thank you as it is to call ‘your love’ useless. Kind words are easy; however, they also have to come from the heart. It is a mistake to believe that being a human punching bag for anyone is any evidence of true love.

I like my 30 something coworker and I would agree that her husband is one of those nice guys. He does not stand up for himself and I can not help but quietly cringe at some  of her words. Sometimes, I make it a point to nicely say to her that she should not be mean or she should say something nice to him. I doubt my words have any effect because the person who should be saying those things is the man who loves her. Until he realizes that her ‘joking’ is actually disrespectful and damaging, this couple may fall into the same pattern of the that older couple with the nice guy and cantankerous wife.

I do pray for a different outcome for them. I like the couple and they seem good together. The prevailing knowledge is that to have a good functioning marriage, it takes work and a kind word can go a long way in strengthening a relationship. I hope they both realize that before the damage become permanent.

The Selfish Me

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The trouble with being introspective is that you cannot  play ignorant with yourself. Once some glimmer of insight comes to light, then you are obligated to pay attention. Introspection has become an everyday part of me and my most recent light is that I am too selfish and shallow to be anyone’s wife.

I was reading a blog that a friend sent to me entitled, Why You’re Not Married by Tracy McMillan. According to her post, I self identified with being selfish and shallow. I am selfish because I have only myself to think about. I have no biological children, never wanted to give birth (more power to you birth mothers)  and no intention of going through the adoption process again (God bless you adoptive mothers). My parents are older but they are still self-sufficient and they do not need much support from me. So, this leaves me with…. well… me.

I am shallow because I find a specific physical attribute attractive and I will dismiss someone who is lacking – no it has nothing to do with penis size. I do care what a man looks like on the outside as much as the inside (so, away with you men who wear your pants down below your butts, or have guts that look like an 8 months pregnant woman, or walk around looking disheveled). I believe in physical attraction as much as I believe in personality and intellectual attraction. As bad as this sound (hint shallow) I am not one of those women who will accept a guy just because he is sweet and would make a “good husband”. I will not make myself “settle” that much. Actually, I can’t make myself settle at all. I think I have an aversion to the word settle.

I have asked myself how did I get to this point in which marriage had become such an important and almost obsessive entity in my life. The answer is it was random. It came at a time when I was not expecting it or welcomed it…when I turned 30. It’s like suddenly falling hard and fast in love with the best guy friend who has always been around but you had no interest in him at all – talk about unexpected. I was quite perturbed with God for this unwelcome burden. How do you fight and reconcile a strong intrusive urge when your emotions says now and the mind was not ready? After two years of gradual acceptance, I conceded to the idea of marriage and family.

I have blogged before that I really enjoyed being single and independent for most of my life and I was not bsing. There was a certain sense of contentment with being single and selfish. Sure, there are down sides – no immediate dinner date, no sex on demand, no one helping you with big and little stuff etc. I think you get the point. However, besides all that, I like coming home to my own place, making vacation plans whenever the mood hits, freely spending my money on whatever I want (after all the bills were paid), I could stay out and go and come as I please without checking in with anyone. I was free to flirt without guilt. Oh the life!

I have managed to shake the motherhood thing but the desire to be married curse still plagues me like your annoying monthly menstruation that is guaranteed to make an appearance. I was not marriage material back in the single and content days and the real truth is I am still not proper marriage material. So what’s the point of this insane pursuit of marriage? Is it age? Is it I don’t want people to think I’m gay? Is it everybody is doing it? What? What is it? A small piece of that article had pushed me to face the fact that I am not happy in this husband hunt. It bugs me that any potential looking man I see brings up the thought “Could he make a good husband?” I miss the days when I just saw men as men and not husband potential. I miss the no pressure days.

Don’t get me wrong, I was not and will not be the around town kind of girl. I would just like to go back to the moments when I was contented to be single. I wanted to be content in the state I am in – S I N G L E.  I did not say the grass is always greener on the other side actually the grass is never greener on either side. Single and married come with their own challenges. I can not control the husband aspect of my life but I can control the me aspect of my life. I can not continue in this ‘should’ phase that seems to come after a certain age – this will drive me completely mad and into a state of depression.

I am literally in a pursuit to quench an inexplicable urge that took me off guard a few years ago. So, I have made a decision – I am attempting to take back the cognitive control from my emotional urge – that I need to jump-start my single and contented life again. I need to put that urge in a box and if God wants me to be married then he will just have to catch up with me while I am enjoying singlehood in my late 30’s.

Wish me blessings and staying power.

Keeping It Real Moment

Tidbits I have learned from experiences and from others:

Internet Dating: The Internet is just a medium for two people to be introduced to each other. It should not be a sticking point in which two people dwell to create fantasies about each other or a place to avoid dealing with each other in real life. If an interested party lingers in the internet/non face to face world too long, then that should be a good sign to move on to someone who wants an interaction in the real world. If the intent is to have a ‘normal’ relationship, then why do you need to hide? If someone does need to hide, then I suggest therapy because s/he has a lot of shit to work out in order to have a decent relationship with anyone.

Text and Social Media: It is becoming common place for people to hide behind non face to face media. Are people so insecure and lacking confidence that they feel more comfortable with disassociated contact? It has become so easy to ‘fool’ people by pretending to be someone else and that has made the current generation look like idiots. There is even a TV show and term called Catfish to illustrate such stupidity. As a single, if most of your ‘relationship’ involves non face to face contact, then you really deserve what you get when you find out that you are being blatantly deceived.

There is no short cut to getting to know someone. I have seen more miserable ‘couples’ than unhappy singles.

Dump and Run: If s/he doesn’t call you, then s/he is not that into you. If you dread calling him/her, then you are not that into the person. If you have to keep making excuses for someone, then s/he is no good for you. There is no shame in admitting that a relationship is not working because the people closest to you already know. Common sense is there for a reason.

A Little Old Fashioned can be Good: Some modern men are falling short in their manly duties to show confidence with women and to take the initial lead. Call me old-fashioned but I extend respect for a man who takes the initiative to ask a woman out on a first date or get together instead of waiting for her to make the first move.  An independent and confident woman does not appreciate a cowardly and weak man unless she wants to use and dominate him.

Creating intimacy before getting to know someone usually leads to disaster. If there is no foundation to feed the magic, then you will be left with two strangers who were once hot for each other.

Women were created with one of the best weapons of all: the vagina. Just ask a sexually content husband. It is a great source of power but if misused or allow others to misuse, it can lead to emotional, spiritual, and psychological pain.

To Thine Own Self Be True: In my years of working with people, I have found one very significant thing. People are afraid to look in the mirror and get to know themselves.  It seems silly that people can hide the truth from themselves but it happens – it’s called suppression and denial. When you understand who you are – weakness, strengths, shame, joy, desires, wants, etc; then it’s less likely to become a doormat for others (family, partners, so-called friends), suffer from anxiety or depressive feelings, or make repeated disastrous life decisions.

Give Thanks: Despite all the craziness and disappointments, it helps to stop for a quiet moment and give thanks for the little things in your life.