What is the Purpose of Marriage?

Let me start off by saying Happy New Year to you all and many blessings for 2016. As always, I did not make resolutions but continue to live life as thrown my way and make adjustments accordingly.  I was motivated to attend a church service in the new year and will try to make more attempts to get back into church life – we will see how it goes.

So, I am privy to the workings of strangers’ private lives. As they seek behavioral health services, it is my job to ask various personal questions. While this is not new, in the last few months, I am more aware of how many couples underutilize the main reason for getting into a long term relationship-companionship.

Marriage is now easily disposable. People get married for various reasons but the underlying need is a desire to have a suitable companion. The problem I have been noticing for various couples, who are having minor to major marital difficulties, is they have either forgotten or did not establish solid reasons for getting married in the first place.

Here are some things I understand are the basic purposes for marriage: Companionship-to share your life with someone. Support-having someone there when needed and vice versa. Communication: Verbally sharing various aspects of one’s thoughts and experiences. Pleasure: Sex, intimacy and fun. Monogamy: The only. Cooperation: Working together to make each other’s lives easier and better. Understanding: You may differ on issues but are still able to show empathy. Trust: Closing ones eyes and fall backwards knowing your partner is there to catch you. Responsibility: 100/100. Communication: Learning and knowing how to talk to each other. Adapting and Growing: Learning to navigate the changes in life together. Commitment: It’s you and me baby.

As a lifelong bachelorette who is nearing 40, I am getting hit from all sides from married couples about my single status. However, as I look at their relationship lives, I amass even more reservations on joining their ranks. As a single, I make an effort to enjoy my life and as I look at theirs here are the recurring themes I see: Boring: They rarely make time to do fun things together.  Sex and intimacy have started to dwindle significantly. Lack of cooperation between each other creates frustration, pent up anger and isolation. Inability to communicate their stressors or needs with each other. One spouse takes on more responsibilities than the other which creates stress and resentment. Flirtatious behaviors with someone not their spouse. Inability to listen and understand the other person’s needs. Third Party Interference: Everything is more important than your spouse-kids, the game, the other’s selfishness. Complaining about everything. Physical Neglect: Spouses stop taking the time to look good for each other. Loss of affection because of ongoing separation. Blaming: Its the other person’s fault. Infidelity: The misconception that starting with someone new will solve your problems.

Marriage gives couples a built in purpose to enjoy life and share that with someone who is sleeping right beside you. However, most couples have loss the insight about their purpose of marriage and ignore their ill-behaviors towards each other. I have sat through conversations in which a spouse will use sex as a weapon, one partner spends money recklessly, child care is only expected of one partner while the other occasionally ‘babysits, couples’ idea of spending time together is completing chores around the house every weekend. Date night is something they have on Valentine’s and Birthdays. Feeling sexy and being sexy is only for single people in new relationships. Communication is “I just can’t talk to him/her.”

Most singles are looking for a date to try out a new restaurant but many married couples, who have a built in date partner, have not gone out together unless it’s to Chucky Cheese or stay at home to enjoy take-out. Singles are sexually frustrated from an absence of a partner while married people have someone sleeping beside them every night and most can’t readily think of the last time they had sex much less enjoyable sex (you know…the one that does not feel like an obligation). A romantic night for a single involves fun; a romantic night for a couple involves the television. A single will feel lonely but s/he is a single, however, a spouse can feel isolated and lonely while staring across a table at their partner.

I am not naïve to expect married life to be daily fun and excitement. However, the repeated dullness and the habit of taking each other for granted tend to build over time until the marriage is “like living with a room mate” or “we are only together for the kids.” You would be surprise how many times I have heard similar statements. Relationships die over time from neglect. As I listen to the patients and to some of my friends, I start to see the early warning signs of the reasons why relationships fall apart.

As a single, I have started to ‘keep out of their business’ because I recognize that most couples do not appreciate the observations from those who are not married. What they fail to realize is that being married does not put you in a special behavioral category that only certain married people can understand. Behaviors are behaviors and it does not take a genius to see certain red flags.

I will always be baffled as to why people are so eager to be married but once they are in that situation they easily lose sight of the reason why they wanted to be married. The laziness, complacency, taking their partners for granted and neglect in putting effort into the relationship usually ends in disaster. It’s like having a million dollars in the bank but if you never use that money to buy groceries, then you will always be starving.

If anyone has ever done relationship counseling, then you will know that one question from the therapist will always be “What made you fall in love/want to be with that person?” The reason for such a question is to remind the couple about the purpose of their relationship, then to re-establish those feelings and ideas, and help them to proceed forward with those foundations at the forefront of the marriage.

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.

Recognizing the Greatest Blessing is Love

In the last few weeks, I had an inordinate amount of interest in my single status. No, it’s not men flocking to ‘rescue’ me from being single but friends who want to save me from an eternal single life. I guess they think being 39 with minute interest in marriage is not normal. I handled the issue like a pro, which means I did not go crazy and spout the “I am woman and don’t need a man” mantra.:-). I understand their well-meaning intention because all those friends are married. Ironically, one friend who has been married for ages is having issues with connecting to her husband, the 2nd person is new to married life with a toddler, and the 3rd, her husband is out of the country for a few months and she is stressed with their few months old baby.

I had the privilege of taking a week of vacation with a long time friend. While on vacation, not realizing the resort was adults only when booked, I was surrounded by majority couples. Is that a sign or something?! (I say sarcastically). I had a few minor uncomfortable moments when it was just me sitting by myself for the nightly entertainment or on the beach to relax. Nothing like being physically alone amongst strange couples to highlight one’s singleness. This was not my first or will it be the last in such situations; however, those things never deter me from doing anything I want to do. There is a certain amount of strength that comes from being able to enjoy life fully as a single and not constantly fearing what others think about being a party of one.

Small Blessings
Small Blessings

So, I just came back from the vacation with lots of pictures in store and decided to resume my lost hobby of printing all my pictures which are stored digitally (a few years worth) and chronologically placing them in albums. As I am going through organizing pictures which starts from year 2010 and choosing a few for my collage picture frame that sits on my mantle 90% empty, I realize a few important things.

1.  I have done quite a few things in my lifetime. I have travelled in and outside the US and have fun evidence of my adventures

2.  I have made friends where I go. I am an introvert who sometimes have a difficult time connecting with people. However, my pictures show that throughout the years I have developed friendships/relationship with others at different moments in life

3.  I have created some good memories. Memories fade but looking through those pictures reminded me that I had good times with people whose company I enjoyed

4.  Caring is sharing. I was blessed to share my life with people who were and some still are important to me. There are pictures with a few people with whom I no longer have a relationship due to falling out; despite that, I can look at those pictures and remember when the relationship was good

5.  A snippet of my life. Those pictures are snippets of good times in my life. We tend to remember the difficulties rather than the pleasure. Those snippets are reminders of pleasurable moments in my life.

6.  God brings people in and out of my life. We tend to forget the people in our lives when things are difficult. We tend to forget the support that surrounds us. Those pictures remind me of the supports I have had throughout the years and sometimes do not realize it. Most of us want to be martyrs by carrying the weight of the world alone. However, when we step back far enough and pull our heads out of our derrieres, then we realize just how many and who God brings into our lives for support. Plus, we see those with whom God has placed us in their lives.

7.  I should not feel unloved. I know that my single never married no children state will at times be a sore spot for me and particularly for others who are uncomfortable with my unmarried status at my age. Feeling Loved is not exclusive to married or coupled people and singleness does not have the exclusive rights to loneliness. Those pictures are a reminder that I was always loved or cared about by someone somewhere (not that I thought I was not).

8.  Acceptance of me. I have difficult personality traits (which I particularly like about me). I am not easy to get close to, I can be very upfront, and I don’t apologize for me. I truly like me. Those pictures show the handful of people who accept all that about me. I am not afraid to be myself around friends. I value the friends who come in and out of my life which make the relationship more authentic and trustworthy. The right compatible people accept you for who you are not who you pretend to be.

The collage picture frame is complete and sitting on my mantle with images of friends and family taken at different points in my life. In the center of the collage that takes a 9×7.5 picture sits my favourite bible passages 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, 13 – the love chapter. “The greatest of all these is LOVE.” I think we become so wrapped up in the image of love being a husband and wife and forget that God blesses us with love and care from many different people at different point in our lives. I sometimes lose sight of God’s blessings and need to be reminded on occasion with mundane things like organizing years worth of photos in an album.

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 Power of Communication

I would be the first person in line to advocate and admonish how important it is to keep the lines of communication wide open with the people in your life. Due to my dabble in behavioral health, I would estimate that the destruction of 99.9% (made-up number) of relationships is due  to the lack of communication.

As Christians, we are taught to have an open line with God. It typically crops up in every church sermon and it’s practiced in every religious setting. That open line is prayer. We are taught to bring it all to God (even though He already knows what is going on). However, we are not encouraged to talk to each other as openly as we are to express ourselves to God. God hears all our stressors, dirty secrets, desires, pain, and even joy but we leave out a lot of things with the important people in our lives.

Lack of communication destroys relationships! Lack of communication breeds misconceptions. Lack of communication creates hurt, animosity and sometimes it allows our thoughts to run amuck. Even though most of us know this, it is sometimes the hardest act in which to engage. Why is it so hard to share with the people closest to you? No one wants to take blame or admit wrong. No one wants to offend the other person. No one wants to point out the speck in the other person’s eye or your own. No one wants to experience that awkward moment(s). No one wants to be uncomfortable.

So, in a marriage, when one spouse is hurt or unhappy it’s easier to shut up and ignore. In a friendship, when the bond starts to loosen, it’s easier to think the worse than talk about the problem. In a parent-child relationship, it’s customary to say that each does not understand the other due to the age and culture gap. I can go on about the mountain of excuses we tell ourselves because we are too uncomfortable with being open and honest.

For me, I have made similar mistakes with people in my life. The irony is that my job requires me to ask tough and some times uncomfortable questions in which I won’t even blink an eye. To put the importance of communication in prospective then think about: How many times have we dated and even marry the wrong person because we are uncomfortable to openly communicate about things that bother you? How many marriages have been destroyed because the easier road is to find solace in someone else’s arms or push a person away rather than deal with your problems? How many good friendships have been loss because we choose not to speak up?

While I pride myself on being outspoken (a confidence which has increased with age), I do have my moments when it is easier to let things go even though I knew something was wrong. I need to take blame for being a poor communicator at times. One would think that I should know better because this is what I do and teach for a living.

However, in a recent incident in which I was close to writing off a good friendship, I have learned that I need to do better with my communication with people who are important. I saw my mistakes after they happened and I did not take the responsibility to address them in a timely manner. The funny thing is that once “the elephant was acknowledge” it became so clear how a simple misunderstanding could have been resolved before it became an ongoing issue. It was one of those Whiskey Tango-Foxtrot moments that could have been avoided.

So, the question is how many important relationships have you screwed up/unhappy with because you were too uncomfortable to openly communicate? What are you going to do differently to become a better communicator?

Unstable and Accepting

Insight and introspection are the greatest gifts to one’s self. Due to certain career training, as I have mentioned in previous posts, I am forced to look inward and become aware of me. Sometimes I do not like what I see. I can have a vengeful heart; I am ready to cut people out of my life in an instant; I am ready to think the worst of people; I am very guarded, and I struggle to forget and most importantly, forgive.

On the other hand, there are lots of things I love about myself. I love my dry no nonsense personality, I love self-discovery, I love my independence and my ability to be resilient. I love that I am smart.  I love the fact that I can be compassionate and giving. While these do not cancel out the negative things, they give me reasons to be thankful to God.

Since I was young, there is one thing I know about myself and it is the excitement of being fluid whether with people, place, or thing. It yells freedom to me. In my adult years, I have come to accept that I can be “unstable.” Being in one place, accustomed to one thing, and routines become old. Even though I have tried to change (maybe somewhat tried), I have accepted that I really need change in my life even if it is small.

Of everyone that I know, unless you are military, most people strive to have consistency in where they live, their jobs, people in their lives and things in their lives. While I do not find that to be boring per say, I do get antsy with the thought of being stuck.

In the recent months, I have moved states, changed jobs, semi-resume my career, and now have a new agenda for my life. For most people, this seem like too much flurry of activities and this can create anxiety. However, for this unstable woman, it’s all a part of my life. The downside to being so unstable is that I lose the comfort of close family and friends. I have to start all over with bonding which is difficult for me. I had also accepted that this unstable view of life was the main reason for never wanting to get married since I was a child. I could not fathom being ‘stuck.’ While I am happy for those who embrace this way of life, at this moment, it does not seem to be written in my stars.

What does this mean for long term relationships. Only God knows:-) . Really! only he knows. I have resolved to put relationship issues in God’s hands. While this might seem like a passive way of dealing with my relationship instability, it is the best option on the table. I know and accept that the problem is me. I have been told a number of times that once I find ‘the right person’ then I will change. Meh!! Que sera sera. The only thing I know is that God gave me life and as he continues to bless me with life, then I will continue to live it to the fullest (whatever that maybe for me).

If you are a planner, then plan. If you are a little freer, then go with it responsibly. There are a few things I truly want out of life-to enjoy God’s blessings and give thanks, health of my parents for many years to come, and trustworthy people around me who have my six and I have theirs.

God bless you all and enjoy the life He gave you.


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.

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.

The Virtuous Man

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The average Christian who have been around Christendom for sometime should have heard a pastor’s speech on the virtuous woman. In case you were out that day, the Virtuous Woman’s description is laid out in Proverbs 31: 10-31. Yeah! almost a whole chapter dedicated to what a good religious woman should be.  No, this is not sarcasm. If you read those verses, it describes a kind, smart, industrious, faithful, thoughtful and strong woman. She is the kind of woman I would pray to be (there is still quite a bit of work to be done on me). A man who finds a woman like that has found someone “…far above rubies.” vs 10.

While it’s all good and well that we have a laundry list of what to be, I often wonder what a Virtuous Man’s characteristics should entail. Let’s transition now  to the  male counterpart of this virtuous woman. Let’s dig through the bible for the virtuous man. In 1 Timothy 3 1:13 it outlined a few things that are for men who want to be in religious office but could easily be for any man. So let me take some time to flush out a few qualities the bible has suggested of a quality virtuous man.

A virtuous man should have one wife. Doesn’t every woman want a man who has only one wife/one girlfriend/one fiance/one love interest/one sex partner who should be you? In this day and age, the men are reverting back to the practice of the old testament in which they juggled a few women at a time. A virtuous man will not have a #1 (because this suggest a number #2) but have a one and only.

A man should be sober. Now this is a little tricky. Man culture seems to encourage a drunken state during any and all social gatherings. It is almost a rite of passage for men to drink until their speech are slurred. While I have nothing against social drinking, it would be nice to have a Virtuous man who knows when it’s time to stop.

A virtuous man can be patient.  We women can definitely test a man’s patience. It’s written in our DNA:-) So wouldn’t it be nice when it’s that time of the month, the fight with the best girlfriend, picking a romantic kissy-face movie, and being flustered about ‘does this dress make me look fat’, that the Virtuous man knows how to go with the flow instead of running for cover?

A virtuous man should be able  to appreciate you daily. Solomon (ironically he had a 1000 women) had a way with words that could make any seasoned woman blush (chp 4). Wouldn’t it be nice if the Virtuous man can expressed in modern-day language that “thou hast ravished my heart,… my spouse (vs 9). How much better is thy love than wine!” (vs 10) on days that are not Valentines, Birthday, Anniversary, Christmas and after any life changing trauma?

Let’s discuss some more traits that are practical for the 21st century. A virtuous man should be financially prudent. “Bling” “image” “living large” are all common place words today. Some men are so focused on their car, buying expensive items, and  the 50+ inch tv to fit their mancave but are behind on paying their bills and are deeply in debt. A virtuous man needs to handle his finances wisely (can we say credit report and credit score before any legal matrimony).

A virtuous man should know how to take care of himself. Back in the day, it was not a man’s job to learn how to cook, clean up after himself, and to be a fully involved parent. In this day of gender liberation, too many men are either looking for women who can be a surrogate mother, a maid, a nanny or a combination of all three. I understand that there are some women who want to play these roles (good for you!); however, an adult male over the age of 25 who has moved out of his mother’s home should be able to care for himself and his own place.Think about this – A mentally or physically handicap person is considered semi/independent when s/he can demonstrate self-care and daily life skills.  For the average man, this too should be a requirement. Too many men are reliant on women to care of them while they are not taking the interest to return the favor such as cook a meal, wash the dishes, do the laundry, and maintain a home. It may seem funny when a woman has to be away that she must color code the pre-cooked food in Tupperware and  leave specific instructions on what to do to keep the home running; but it shows a very obvious deficit in the capability of the man. The issue is if you need to be taken care of due to illness etc, then he is clueless. The other option would be to get involve with a man who has enough money to pay for a surrogate mother, maid and nanny if you should ever be out of commission. (Yep! this is my pet peeve).

A virtuous man needs to learn the power of communication. Strong and silent equals divorce and dysfunctional relationships. While I enjoy John Wayne and Arnold S who are men of action but with few words, in real life, communication makes the relationship stronger. Silence shows weakness not strength.

A virtuous man knows exactly what he wants. The growing issue of men being confused about what they want before they initiate a relationship is quite baffling.  It’s like ordering a meal and then wavering whether you want to eat or not. A virtuous man will understand that a woman is not for his immediate pleasure and she is not something to be tossed later. A virtuous man will know that he is ready and then engage or he knows that he is not ready and says so respectfully (communication) or not initiate.

A virtuous man will understand what he has to offer. A virtuous man will know that he brings more to the table than a paycheck and his penis. He will know his self-worth, his strengths, his weaknesses, his morals, and has a clear enough direction about where he would like his life to go and work towards that as much as possible.

Women are always  under pressure to be one thing or another. It is about time that we hold men to a standard above barest minimum. We choose our partners ; therefore, the character of our mate is also a reflection of our character.  What other traits did I fail to mention?

If Your Mate Offends You, Then

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The Christians who are familiar with their bible should see the direction in which I am heading with this post titled “If your mate offends you, then.” This is a variation on the theme of Matt. 18: 8-9 in which Jesus made statements that if something offends you then  cut it (him/her) loose. Harder said than done isn’t it?

I was having a discussion with a male coworker who made the statement that he does not understand why bad men always get together with good women and treat them badly. I promptly responded that men are allowed to behave badly because the women practice the 70 x 7 forgiveness concept. This is when a woman of good character continues to forgive and accept a mate with bad behaviors. The results of this 70 x 7 forgiveness concept are the bad behaviors continue and the offending partner never learns consequences due to “sparing the rod and spoiling the child.”

Disclaimer: This is not a male bashing post. The bad behaviors are practiced by both men and women; however, men seem to be the offending partner most of the time while the women are more accepting of bad behaviors.

The male coworker was also speaking from experience. He too had been one of those men and it took years before he finally realized the error of his ways. Even though he had been married for over 20 something years to his now deceased wife, he had given her hell for most of those years. A lesson to be learned is that a large number of marriages are never always pretty from the inside!

Men/women who behave badly did not just wake up one day and became relationship terrorists. They displayed these behaviors right after the first few ‘get to know you’ dates were over. So, if a woman sees these things early in the relationship, then why does she continue to choose the bumpy, crying, upset, angry road? Is being single such a death sentence? Is it better to be coupled with trouble than to be single?

Being in a bad relationship is like playing the slots machine (do they still call them slots?). The person with character can rely on intermittent winnings and she continues to hold on to hope that every play will win her the jackpot for life. However, the issue with gambling is, the players will always lose more over time in comparison to what they have ‘won.’

Women are so accepting of the ‘hanging in there’ idea to the point in which their spirits are damaged in the process. For some, it is damaged beyond repair and for others it takes lots of mending. So why not cut loose the offending party? Why torture yourself with someone whom you know perpetually and intentionally offends you? Well, like the parable of the offending hand and eye, the offenders serve a purpose. The offending party serves as a self-esteem booster because you are not single like those other pathetic people; the offending party provides a sense of comfort in which occasionally the person can be reliable; the offending party gives the sense that you are not completely alone in life; and the offending party is the evil that you know.

The good character women/men are NOT  victims. They are willing participants in this heartbreaking cycle. They still have enough strength to be able to handle the crap that is thrown at them. Their spirits are not defeated as yet.  I told my coworker that these ‘bad guys’ have life quite easy. They know that there are always women out there  willing to put up with their foolishness. This means the bad guy does not care that he leaves a trail of broken spirits behind because there is always one more waiting.

As women, we allow bad behaviors from men. We allow ourselves to be abused physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally because of a lack of self-confidence and unstable self-esteem. As Christian women, God gives us something else to rely on in order to draw confidence and self-worth; however, the pressure of being married to or in a relationship with someone (good or bad) outweighs the big picture.