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Submitted and Free: My Review of My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife by Sara Horn

“I can think of at least two types of people who do not need to read this book. These include women who already feel like they have a strong grasp on what it means to be submissive to their husbands and women who are looking for a clear, concise guide or handbook with steps, charts and footnotes on what it means to be submissive to their husbands.”

This is how Sara Horn begins introducing My So-Called Life as a Submissive Housewife to her readers. She lets the reader know immediately that she is sharing her personal experiences in much the same way as she did with her first book, My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 wife. These two books chronicle year-long experiments undertaken by Ms. Horn in an effort to live up to the qualifications of a wife as written in the Bible. They read like getting a glimpse into a woman’s personal diary as she struggles to make sense of her role as a wife as defined by God’s word.

When I read the introduction to this book, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. The introduction sets the tone of Sara’s writing (humorous and serious in turns), sets the expectations (not a step by step instructional but an honest account of one woman’s year long quest to learn to be a submissive wife), addresses the sociocultural climate in which she is writing, and tells us why this subject is important to us spiritually. I knew that this book, if nothing else, would at least be well written and edited.

At the beginning of this experiment, Sara Horn is a hardworking Type A wife and mother riding high off of the insights her Proverbs 31 experiment have afforded her in recognizing her role in her family. She sees herself as the thermometer for the family, setting the emotional temperature. She sees tackling this project as a way to grow closer to the kind of wife the Bible says she’s supposed to be. She is also living with her husband’s family as he has recently returned from a deployment.

Most of the people she tells that she is going to be a submissive wife to are either skeptical or disagree with it entirely, including her husband. “Why would you want to do that? We work together as a team…That’s not us,” he says. His problem is what he pictures when he thinks of submission. Sara anticipates a major problem for her will be waiting for her Type B husband to make a decision on something she wanted to do. *Spoiler Alert*: this WAS a problem for her.

Sara struggles to put her husband first in a climate where women are encouraged to seek to be comparable to men in the workplace and relationships, to see submission as a bad thing.  She struggles with trying to balance her work schedule and role as a mother with her role as a wife. “I Think most of us assume we are putting our husbands first, or at least somewhat near the front, simply because of what we do…No, I think most of us who are wives and moms wake up thinking not about or husbands, but about The List. What we have to do…Who really wants to worry about one more thing to check off the list, like submission?” she writes. Her thoughts cross some of the same ground over and over again in her struggle to understand what God wants from her in this area of her life.

What I usually do when reading a book is try to find the popcorns, or the passages that reveal something that may be useful to note down the line, as well as some ways to show how I am relating to the material. I highlight frequently in non-fiction, so while the number of highlights is important, it isn’t a good gauge of how I actually feel about what I am reading. So I have to introduce other elements into the grading rubric. In my Kindle, I used “twinzies” to mark passages where Sara Horn responded as I would or had the same struggle I would; ITYSS (“ I think you said something”) to highlight passages that contained truths that sparked realizations in me or a strong chorus of “amens”, and; when I couldn’t articulate the right emotion to express much a passage really struck me, I used “!!!” When I really agree with something, I “throw my shoe.” Throwing my shoe is equivalent to Patti Labelle kicking her shoes off in concert: it is just that good to me, and I am about to really get deep into it. Throwing my shoe, then, is the highest honor I can bestow. SMH (shaking my head) needs no explanation.

In My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife, I did the following:

Favorite quote: This word submission is in the Bible. Not once but several times. So as much as we sometimes want to ignore it, I don’t think we can. I don’t believe we should. Not if we’re following Christ.

Highlighted passages: 186 (not including commented on passages)

ITYSS: 16

!!!: 22

SMH: 9 (mostly in her early attempts at submission)

Twinzies: 8

Popcorn: 2

Throw My Shoe Quotes: 3

I am not married yet, but like many young women today, I struggle with figuring out what Biblical submission should look like. As the possibility of marriage becomes more and more real for me, I, like Sara, wish there was a list of do’s and don’ts spelled out in plain English in my Bible. Even though Sara doesn’t provide a how-to guide, she provided me with hope that when you submit as God desires, the pieces will begin to fall into place as they should.

The things I didn’t like in this book are minimal. In the beginning we seemed to be covering the same ground a few times, which bogged me down in a section or two. There were a couple of soapbox areas whose preachy tones didn’t fit with the general tone of the book to me. There wasn’t as much focus on submission to God or how we are called to submit to one another as I thought there would be. But none of these makes this book any less worth reading.

I loved this book! It was real and relatable. I felt like Sara was really trying to figure out what being submissive meant and follow God’s leading in this area of her life. I felt like I was going through life with her for the space of this year, as if she didn’t hide any of the struggles and triumphs from me. There were times when I wanted to shake her and ask her what she was doing, as well as times I wanted to hug her and say thank you for expressing how I have understood it. Going into the book, I wasn’t sure that a book written in this diary style would be a good book to use in women’s classes or for discussions, but now I’m frustrated that no one else in my circle has read this book yet because I want to discuss it. It’s a discussion that is needed, especially for young women like me who need to know these things about being married. I would recommend this book to any woman, single or married, who wants to get a better understanding of how submission can work if you make the effort to follow God’s command to do so.

XOXO

Erica

cover28130-medium I was not compensated for this review, but I did receive a reviewer’s copy of the book. This book will be published by Harvest House Publishers August 1st, 2013.

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A “Successful” Courtship

 

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isa. 55:11

 

This scripture was in my head all day yesterday. I don’t know why, but when Joshua Harris asked what I would define as a successful courtship in his book, Boy Meets Girl, this came to mind. He started out by relaying how he’d heard about some friends who had decided to end their courtship. At first, he viewed this as an unsuccessful courtship. Then he realized that the courtship had accomplished what they wanted it to, it just didn’t have the hoped for outcome.

 

When two people decide to actively engage in a relationship with an eye towards discovering whether or not they should get married, whether or not it ends in marriage does not determine the success. Anytime you are able to make a clear, informed decision about whether or not you should marry, it’s a success. But try keeping that perspective and balance when you’re the one in the courting relationship!

 

It’s always amazing to me what happens when I share God’s word with someone. There have been people I really wanted to bring closer to Christ and His truth who just don’t fully embrace God’s word. It has frustrated me to see close friends and family pick and choose what to believe in the Bible or act as if they can decide to give God any kind of response they want. It doesn’t always matter how I present the Word or the timing of it; they just don’t want it. It has taken me a long time to realize that God’s Word accomplishes exactly what God means for it to accomplish. Sometimes it draws people closer and sometimes it drives them away. As a Christian, my job is to share the Word. I’m not supposed to be concerned with the results because I don’t know what a successful result is in any given situation. I can’t see all that God is doing. I don’t give the increase. Anytime I share the Word, it’s going to be successful. God’s word is going to do exactly what it’s supposed to do. That should be freeing. I can’t mess it up. But when there are feelings involved, it’s not so easy.

Throughout this season of courtship, I’ve learned that God answers prayers. I’ve also learned that sometimes the answer isn’t a simple yes or no like I’d want it to be. I wanted to know if I should marry Mr. Perfect, and my answer has been the Marriage and Family Workshops every 4th Wednesday, pre-marital counseling, and some uncomfortable revelations about self and others (To be fair, I asked for the wisdom to make the right decision. Maybe if I had asked a yes or no question, I could have received a simpler answer :D). I’ve also learned that God doesn’t have to drop out of the sky or send a blazing neon sign in order for me to get the message. He has placed some wonderful people around me who both knowingly and unknowingly have pointed me to the right scriptures at the right time, whose lives have been testimonies, and who have opened up their homes and hearts to share with me knowledge that I would have paid dearly to acquire through experience. Hearing the same things over and over again from people who don’t know each other nor do they know I’m dealing with decisions in the area they are speaking on just convinces me God knows I need some help and has placed study guides in this world for me.

 

Even if at the end of all of this I am back to being single, this courtship will not be without its accomplishments. I have learned to communicate better. I’ve corrected many negative traits I had. I’ve developed more discernment and a reliance on God for wisdom and not myself. I have written a book that will help many others wade through some of the wrong thinking we have about what relationships are all about because I’ve been disabused of such notions. I can say that I have conducted myself well in this courtship. I have done the work to know exactly what it is I bring to the table, good and bad. I’ve done the work to make an informed decision about my future. How can that not be counted as a success? 

Success simply means that something has done what it was supposed to do, even if it’s not what we wanted it to do. I may not end up saving a soul or flashing a shiny ring, but whenever God’s will is accomplished, it’s a success. This quote I saw on twitter by CS Lewis perfectly sums it up:

C. S. Lewis@CSLewisDaily

For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.          

A successful courtship, a successful life, is one that seeks out God’s will and then lines itself up with it. People like to think of sins as mistakes and God as this eraser that makes most of what you did disappear; that’s not how it works. God forgives sin, but consequences still come. However things end up for me, I strive towards eliminating sin and the need for God to have to work around what I’ve done to get me back on the path He had me on to begin with. Again, CS Lewis says it so much better:

C. S. Lewis@CSLewisDaily

Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed him. #CSLewis

Your Two Cents: How do you view success? Did your relationship work out as you intended? What are you doing for Christmas?

XOXO

2blu2btru

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The Fairytale

This year has been a rough one for me, challenging all of these long-held notions I’ve had about what I’ve wanted from my life, notions I didn’t even know I held on to so tightly. As silly as it sounds, I’ve always thought that making the second most important decision of your life would be like the Covergirl slog–easy, breezy, beautiful. I’ve heard so many of the stories about people “just knowing,” seen so many happy endings to the most improbable stories, that I just assumed that in a relationship that moved along so smoothly deciding on forever would be as uneventful as the summer rainstorms at three each afternoon here.

Needless to say that my notions of fairytale love have taken quite the beating this year. For one thing, going to all of the marriage and family workshops and pre-marital counseling sessions have shown me that marriage is hard work in a way that just thinking about the prospect has not. The major thing that all of my visions of how I would come to be married (on the remote chance that I ever WOULD get married) missed was that there would be this other person who would have to be equally as sure, equally as committed. Seeing the other person struggle to make a decision on you forever is surreal. It’s like having a magician systematically reveal the secrets to all of the tricks that left you in wonder. It takes the bloom off the rose. I keep thinking, “it really shouldn’t be this hard, should it? Either you do or you don’t, you will or you won’t.” There doesn’t appear to be any room for surprise or romance left. There’s not likely to be any “it’s always been you” moment in which the hero finally confesses he’s loved the heroine from the first and always knew it would be her, mainly because from the outside looking in, it doesn’t look like it’s “always been” anything.

I hate unromantic proposals in everything but a Harlequin. A Harlequin is just a book, a marriage of convenience just a way to keep these two idiots together long enough for them to figure out what we’ve figured out be page twenty; they were meant to be together. When I watched Love & Hip Hop Atlanta’s reunion show and saw Lil’ Scrappy propose to Erica, when I saw Jim Jones finally propose to Chrissy on Love and Hip Hop, when I hear about any lackluster proposal, it deflates me. I don’t know, maybe I want to much, but I want a guy that’s happy and excited and can’t wait to put a ring on it. I want a guy who only waits to put a ring on it as long as it takes him to be sure and to plan a proposal just for me. When I shop, I want to make comparisons and deliberate. I may leave the store without buying anything so I can go home and think about it some more to see if I still want it. But that purse I carried around on my arm like it was already mine isn’t going to feel led on if I don’t end up buying it, you know? *Sigh* I stopped making sense two paragraphs ago, didn’t I?

I went to New Orleans Thursday night. We stayed until midmorning Monday. I bet I don’t have to tell you all the number one question I was asked both before and after my trip. Was he going to propose? Did he propose? Even Pink Susie, who told me I needed to move on, asked. Even my boss asked. Seriously. No one had anything else to talk about except beignets and Hurricane Katrina when it came to my trip. I went on my trip trying not to let any of the proposal hype get to me, and I managed to have a pretty good time. I love New Orleans–the music, the art, the food, the people. I liked getting up and going for beignets in the morning, loved walking around the French Quarter for hours. I fell in love with jazz music all over again and missed my stepdad so much my heart hurt. It felt fantastic to get away for a few days and decompress a bit, stretch out and breathe. Would it satisfy my romantic side to have had a nighttime proposal in the French Quarter with a street musician on saxophone playing for his life and an artist immortalizing the moment on canvas, MensHealth on one knee in the dirty narrow street? Sure. Did I think it was going to happen? No. What I envision is something much more prosaic. I imagine that if MensHealth does decide he wants to marry me, we will sit down and discuss it rationally. Since he has said he would “state his intentions” but wouldn’t realistically be ready to propose (as in has a ring) until March or April, I am not imagining frills or poetry. But I like frills. I love poetry. A saxophone solo or hidden photographer would make my life. But I won’t have that.

This has been a tough year on my notions of love and my vision of how love should happen. I feel more like I’m negotiating during a lock out some days than I do like I’m on the brink of making a forever commitment to love. It’s hard to accept that MensHealth just might not be ready, but that’s easier than trying to convince myself I can wait a while longer. My counselor asked me about my decision and having a hard deadline, and my answer to her is still valid. I need a resolution like Aaliyah. I need to move forward or move on. I can’t even write in a straight line about this anymore. It’s all a big loopty-loop. January 1st, broken heart or not, I’ll be able to breathe, to just…breathe.

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Design of (Half) a Decade

Some of you may think this has already happened because of my harping on the number in my decision2012 posts, but today is a special day. Today marks my five year dating anniversary with Mr. Perfect. In the past five years, I have: graduated college, almost paid off two cars, found a great job after a few mifits, lived in three apartments, wrote countless blog posts, lost four people very close to me, survived at least three awkward Thanksgivings, and just about finished the first book I will publish…and Mr. P. has been along for the whole crazy ride.

The intent of Decision2012 was to bring the focus back to our relationship as we evaluate if we want to get married or move on. The crazy thing is, though, is that God had already provided the avenues by which we could critically evaluate this before I put my little hands on it. In December, my church had a big marriage and family workshop. They decided to continue to have these forums the fourth Wednesday of every month of this year. This started before devision2012. I don’t know the need at our church for such workshops or who the intended audience was, but it’s definitely helped me.

Along with this has been the more personalized approach of premarital counseling. We have had to think deeply about aspects of marriage as they relate to us. We get to examine and investigate ourselves just as much as each other. Instead of me looking at everyone else getting engaged, getting married, and having babies while our lives pottered along lost in questions of where to eat or do we want to go to the movies, I was able to take a good look at my relationship and decide if this relationship is the one I want to progress towards marriage. We had discussed marriage before, but very vaguely. “I think we could possibly be progressing toward seriously considering marriage” has been replaced with seriously considering marriage.

The last five years has not been without their ups and downs for us both individually and as a couple. I think that we have done the work necessary to make a decision. I was watching an episode of Dr. Phil where a couple was contemplating divorce. Dr. Phil told them that they hadn’t done the work to get a divorce. He said they had to really work on their marriage and relationship to get to a place where either they would continue to be married and moving in a positive direction together or to a place where they had some peace about the relationship and could move forward as an individual knowing that they weren’t making a rash decision. Either way, there was some emotional work to do to get them to a place of wholeness and peace as individuals so that they could make adult decisions. I feel like we’ve done that work.

Our relationship has been mostly good. We don’t argue very often. We have many of the same interests. We have the same values. We seem to want the same things out of life. We make each other laugh with our pop culture references and bouts of silliness. We encourage each other in our times of sadness. We make each other reach for the better. Through this relationship, I’ve learned to be a better communicator, to commit random acts of selflessness, to accept another person’s opinion, to put someone else’s needs first sometimes. I’ve been able to see the impact of my faithful, optimistic outlook on life on someone else, to see how my living testimony has inspired someone else. I’ve known what it was like to have a partner and a support to help with things I want to accomplish. We have grown in maturity and grace in the last five years.

There are still a few more weeks left in pre-marital counseling and this year. We still have one more trip left in us (to New Orleans next Thursday). One more holiday season before decisions have to be made. It’s at times like this you may wonder if I’m regretting things–either the past five years of my relationship or my decision to either get engaged or go our separate ways at the end of this year. The only answer I can give to both of those is “no.” For whatever else it turns out to be, our relationship has been a learning and growing experience for me that is invaluable to my life going forward, in whatever form “forward” takes. Perhaps if God hadn’t allowed there to be so many convenient ways for us to focus on marriage and what His word says about it; if we hadn’t had the opportunity to explore what marriage would look like for us without the commitment of being engaged; if we hadn’t had the opportunity to talk to so many people with so many different marriages; maybe then I would be hesitant over Decison2012. But the essentials to make the decision have been graciously provided to us. I have been in prayer my attitude towards marriage, asking for clarity and wisdom to make the right decisions. I’ve prayed for Mr. Perfect and his process of deciding what he wants to do, that it will be in line with God’s will for him with or without me. I’ve done the work.

Being the romantic that I am, I have always wanted getting engaged to be…effortless. I wanted flowers and sweet words. Somehow I, who never seems to have her nails done, would have perfectly manicured nails with which to take “look at my ring!” pictures. There would be a photographer hidden away capturing the moment for posterity. I’ve written proposals Shakespeare would be proud of in my head to mark the occasion. I would love to be taken by surprise and swept off my feet, but I’ve honestly enjoyed our process. I have felt relieved to look at rings and gently guide him towards something more my style. I like having discussed many of the possible hiccups after the honeymoon stage. I like feeling sure that this could work apart from all the warm fuzzies of a proposal. Perhaps it will leave me free to feel only happy bubbly emotion at the time of a proposal. Hopefully, I will still get to be surprised in some way.

This post is not the post I intended to write, but it’s the one I felt needed to be written. Later on, I will write my usual “Happy Anniversary” post, filled with the highlights of our year together. But for now, I am just being a bit introspective (and long-winded). Don’t let me get maudlin; tell me some happy relationship stories!

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Wedding Watch

I saw a wedding last Saturday while out with MensHealth. Since our pre-marital counseling session was cancelled, we went on a search to find our favorite local park. We can never find the stupid place on the first try, but it’s such a beautiful park, so tranquil. When we finally found it, my favorite area to visit was reserved for a wedding and a few people were milling around. I was less concerned with the wedding than I was with the fact I couldn’t go into the area.

After not being able to visit another favorite spot, where a family photo shoot was going on, we ventured back towards the first area. “Oh, look, the bridesmaids are walking up,” I said as we were passing by. We stand and watch a moment as the bridesmaids give way to the bride and her parents. We watch as the minister leads them in a word of prayer before moving on. The gathering looked to be no more than 20-30 people, standing on the steps in a public park. There were no additional decorations that nature didn’t provide. The whole thing probably took 15-20 minutes. They were there longer taking pictures than they were for the wedding.

We stopped again after making a few circuits of the park and sat on a bench not to far away. We discussed wedding pictures and watched babies toddling around the open space before being scooped up for group pictures. As we leave, MensHealth says “I think that’s why I don’t like watching all those wedding shows. They make it seem like you need all these things.”

He’s right; they do make you feel like a public park with 30 of your closest family members and friends for less than an hour just isn’t enough. I don’t know anything about the couple we saw get married that day. I don’t know why they chose to get married there. I know many people who go to court houses across the land and country on a Monday or Tuesday to get married, as well as those who plan for nearly two years. I wouldn’t presume to say that either of these options is any better than the other, but it does make you think.

I suppose that for some people, as long as you’re married at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. For me, I have a close knit family, both natural and spiritual, who I want their to witness my vows and continue to support us and our relationship long after. I want to be married by a minister who knows us and who has some wisdom to impart to us. I want to celebrate with those who have prayed for us and our relationship and who will continue to do so. It’s all in what’s important to you.

As much as I try not to be influenced by trends, wedding shows, wedding blogs, and my friends’ weddings, I know that there  are other things I can add to the above which will not add to my married life at all: Pomanders, personalized cocktail napkins, aisle runners, head table banners, and dance floor decals, a photo booth, chiavari chairs, chandeliers, candelabras, flowers, a Maggie Sottero gown (the MonaLissa Royale is a front runner in 2blu’s fantasy wedding), and the most perfect location I’ve ever seen (I would tell you where, but I can’t part with it; if I can’t have it, neither can you).

A friend of mine just got married this week and is happily making her first Thanksgiving meal as a married woman. I don’t know anything about her nuptials. I saw a picture on Facebook and MensHealth got a text from her husband to let him know they had gotten married. As far as I know, there wasn’t any pomp and circumstance at all, yet today, she is trimming a turkey as a Mrs. Maybe the woman in the park is doing the same thing. That’s the point of all of this, right? To be married? But what do you “need” to accomplish that?

No, really. That’s a real question. What do you “need” to get married?

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How Choosing a Mate is Like an Election…

Mr. Perfect was asking me about a remark our minister made about the election. He was talking about how it didn’t matter who was in the White House because God was in control and had set up the government. Mr. Perfect asked me if I believed that it really didn’t matter. I said I did. I believe God works all things together for good for them that love Him and are called according to His purpose. God can use even non-believers to carry out His will. At some point, the conversation switched to making bad choices in mates and divorce, as many conversations do these days for various reasons. As I was explaining my beliefs to him, it struck me that choosing a mate has a lot in common with choosing a President. Here’s my list of similarities:

  • You have to do your research. Anyone can tell you anything, but you have to look at a person’s record. Does he/she keep their promises? Are they swayed by special interests with deep pockets? Do their policies line up with your beliefs on how things should be run?
  • False advertisements and slander abound. Sometimes people oversell themselves when they are trying to get a position. They only put their best foot forward and pretend they have only done well their entire lives. They may even attack a rival’s record and cast doubt on their ability to handle a position. Even special interests groups not affiliated with either candidate will pay for advertisements against a candidate or in favor of a candidate that shares their beliefs. Similarly, when we are going about mate selection, a potential mate may only let us see their best qualities or will cast doubt on someone they see as competing for your affections. Your friends and family members may also have a lot to say about the person’s suitability. Their inner circle will have things to say about you as well. Discernment is key in determining who to let advise you. Read and listen for yourself and weigh biased opinions against the truth you have observed.
  • Debates don’t mean much. Being able to present your arguments for or against issues is important. Looking confident and keeping your poise under pressure bodes well for your ability to handle the position. But when you have your ceremony and are bestowed with the title, foreign leaders and even members of your own House aren’t going to abide by debate rules. There won’t always be a mediator to keep the conversation on track and mudslinging to a minimum. Everyone won’t be swayed by pretty words. How are you going to work with people to get things done? Can you concede the small points and stand firm on the more important ones? Are you willing to stay in the room until an agreement is reached?
  • Prayer is necessary. There’s no way to get around the fact that we will never know everything we need to know about a candidate endorse them unreservedly. Even if we could know this, there’s no way to predict how being elected can change them. At some point in time, you are going to have to choose one of the candidates or not vote. Time can run out and make the choice for you or you can decide for yourself. Either way, God knows all. He knows things we can’t possibly know. Prayer for God to show you who someone really is, to give you discernment, to help you know what questions to ask and who to believe is crucial. If you want God to be a part of your relationship, invite Him in early and let Him stay. Take advantage of the advantages you have in being able to have God personally involved in helping to prevent you from choosing the wrong person for the job.
  • You can only choose one. As good as the candidates may or may not be, you can’t vote for all of them. You may be compatible with one on the social issues and another on the economy. No candidate is going to match up perfectly with all of your ideals (or as Chris Rock says, you won’t meet anyone who loves Star Wars and the Wu-Tang clan as much as you do). You have to choose the best man for the job and support him, or don’t choose anyone.
  • A president can’t change anything without the House and Senate. There are a number of roles in our lives that need to be filled, just like there are many levels of government. These are checks and balances. If a democratic president has a majority republican congress, unless some bipartisanship takes place, they will cancel each other out. The congress won’t pass the laws the president wants, and the president will veto the bills that congress wants. You need a mate that can work well with your congress and you can work well with theirs. You can’t be engaged in a power struggle for every issue. Is this someone whose agenda you can support and push through, or will you constantly filibuster them?
  • There are strict rules for impeachment (aka you can’t undo your vote). Once your vote is cast, it’s hard to recall it. After someone is elected and they do a complete 180, it’s hard to get them out of office before their term is up. Only two presidents have been impeached, or investigated on suspicion of wrongdoing that may lead to removal from office (Nixon resigned before impeachment proceedings against him began).   Both men still remained in office. It’s equally as hard to undo a marriage. Divorce is “easy” in today’s society, but the spiritual and mental ramifications are not easy to overcome, let alone what God has to say about it.
  • Even if you pick the “wrong” candidate, God’s will can still be done. God can use your “wrong” mate. Even when what they do is meant for evil, God can use it for good. All things work together for good for us as Christians. You may be “stuck” with a less than perfect candidate who makes mistakes, but God is ultimately in control.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Leave yours in the comment section.

What are some other ways in which choosing a mate is similar to choosing a president? In what ways is it different? I haven’t even touched on the ceremony similarities. I probably won’t because I don’t want to drag election talk on past today, so feel free to start there.

XOXO

2blu2btru

 

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Thoughtful Thursday: Balanced Thinking

One of the MANY pictures I took in St. Augustine. This is at the Old Jail.

There are few things that people both critically overthink and fatally underthink in equal amounts. One of those things is the idea of commitment, of forever.There’s a saying that goes “marry in haste, repent at leisure.” Sometimes we are too quick to pull the trigger on major decisions and make mistakes we can’t take back. Sometimes, however, we face a bit of the opposite struggle.

As you all know, I am under a bit of a deadline in my relationship. Mr. Perfect and I will be at five years of dating in early December 2012. Our relationship could be in preschool, have started and finished undergrad (or a five year master’s program), paid off a car loan, or completed Insanity or P90x approximately 60 times. In the past five years, many, many friends have met and married and had babies. They’ve moved to new cities and started completely new careers. I’ve gotten to be deliriously excited about at least ten engagements, five marriages, and two babies of people I really know and interact with, not to mention countless facebook friends. While I’ve enjoyed everyone else’s happiness and success in the relationship arena, I do wonder if I’m in the remedial love class. I mean, if you can’t either seal the deal or decide it’s not going to work in five years…

I am at the point that I may be overthinking things when it comes to marriage and family. I am at the tipping point, so to speak. The content of this blog is not the extent of the relationship work and knowledge that I’ve acquired in the last three plus years I’ve been writing it. I’ve read so many books about relationships and marriage it is unreal. I have followed the blogs and taken the tests. I should be certified in relationship coaching. Still, I have NO idea what marriage will really be about for me. There are some things you just have to do to know, you know? I have a surplus of knowledge and no experience. In the current job market, you can’t get hired on that.

The key to this commitment issue, of course, is balance and perspective (OK, so maybe that’s two keys). This is why I decided to stick to my original plan of giving this five years (a really generous amount of time, IMHO). Any more time would be uncivilized. Anyone who’s ever even seen gambling on TV knows that there’s a time you have to place your bets and let it ride. Once Regis asked, “Is that your final answer?” there was no turning back. You have to lock it in. But how do you know when you have enough information to make an informed decision? When you have looked at it from every possible angle and ignored all the impossible ones. A balanced perspective.

If you haven’t been following my personal blog What I Wanted to Say (and why haven’t you, get on that!), then you are perhaps unaware that Mr. Perfect and I have started Pre-Marital Counseling. No, we are not engaged; it was something Mr. Perfect wanted to do before deciding on engagement. So far, we aren’t discovering too much; we have talked about nearly everything that’s been said over the last five weeks in six session by one mental health counselor and one minister and one book (huh? Yeah). Forever is such a far reaching decision that it requires a lot of thought and attention. However, at some point you have  to make a decision. The trick is to make a decision based on what you have learned and observed of yourself and your relationship, not other people.

Don’t play the even Miss Independent is getting married (which is true, and I’m beyond excited for her!) card, or the it’s been five years card, or the I’m awesome and you need to marry me card. In fact, just stop playing cards. Don’t pull straws or eeny meenie minie moe it, either. Make an informed decision.

I know many of you think that my sticking to a hard and fast deadline is silly. I don’t get the point of pre-marital counseling for a pre-engaged couple of five years, either. But we all have to do what gives us a level of comfort that we’ve explore all viable options and possible angles without overthinking and possibly missing out on something wonderful.

That’s my two cents anyway. Leave yours in the comments section

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Never Just for a Ring: Bad Reasons to get Married

Whenever I talk about being married, it’s easy for some to get carried away thinking about the process or the possible benefits and not the actual marriage. Many people today are wedding-minded and not marriage minded. I’m sure at some point all women who intend to get married have suffered from this.

I remember reading “One Perfect Day” nearly a year ago and saying “I’m never going to be spend that much money on that” or “why would anyone pay for that?” Now, when I try to envision a wedding, I realize I have some pricey words in my vocabulary. We all know some pricey wedding words: elegant, modern, personalized; it was featured in The Knot or Bride Magazine; Martha Stewart or David Tutera made it; Monique L’huillier, Maggie Sottero, Amsale, Pnina Torné (sp?). Weddings can be the most financially expensive mistake you make in life.

That’s not to say that people running to the courthouse to be married have a better idea of what matters. No matter how you go about tying the knot, there are several reasons that are not good reasons to base such an important decision on. I want to cover this in detail in my book, “It Takes One to Know One,” so I’m only going to give a few of those reasons here. We hear these things over and over, but it never hurts to be reminded.

  • Because she is—There’s nothing like comparison to make a woman get all in her feelings. She can be at a place in life where she doesn’t even want to get married, but then she’ll see that the girl who slept with everyone is getting married and looking respectable, and something inside her will start to whisper “why hasn’t anyone asked me to marry them? I mean, somebody is marrying her. She can’t be getting married before me!” We can think because we  feel someone “deserves” to be married less, because they aren’t as awesome as we are, that we should beat them to the altar. We don’t know if they are in good relationships or what they did to get that ring, but they must have did something because, well, it’s her. I’ve had to check this impulse a few times, the need to compare myself and my relationship to someone else’s. I’ve done the “they’ve only been together x amount of time and I’ve been with Mr. Perfect nearly FIVE YEARS!” But I’ve checked it. If getting married were a competition, I would have been left in the dust and declared the loser a LONNNG time ago. God’s timing is perfect. In the fullness of time. Blah blah.
  • For the benefits–please don’t ever take a job solely for the benefits. You will be a miserable person. I love the benefits I receive at my job, but just recently, they have changed a bit. There are now restrictions that weren’t there before, some things may cost a little more, etc. If I was only working there to receive those benefits, recent changes may make me start looking elsewhere. The same thing can happen in our relationships. If we are in it to split bills or have sex, what happens if someone loses their job or is no longer able/willing to engage in sexual activity? Having someone to help with chores sounds great, but what if that person becomes injured and needs to be taken care of? There are so many ways your asset can become a liability. It’s important to examine whether or not you will still be as committed if you don’t get everything you think you will.
  • For the wedding–Some people can’t wait to have the party of the year, see all of their old friends, receive a bunch of gifts and money, and be the center of attention.  Some are willing to spend a large sum of money they really don’t have to impress others with how much style they have and what a great party they can throw. They begin planning well in advance. Some are buying dresses and other things without a fiancé. A man is only another prop in the day; he is a plug and play and can be anyone. These same people pay little attention to the marriage. After this one day is over, they don’t have the skills to sustain a marriage, nor the money to maintain a household. It’s hard to go back to just being you without all of that attention you’ve been getting, and the diva complex you’ve acquired cannot be satisfied by the love and devotion of your husband.
  • Just to be married—it’s important to make sure you are marrying the man and not just the institution. I have known for a long time I wanted to be married, much longer than I’ve been with the boyfriend. The real question is do I want to be married to him? Marriage is great when you marry the right person and both are committed to making it work. It doesn’t help to be sure about marriage and not about your potential spouse. Marriage is more than a title or a state of being; it will be a major part of your life. In the vows, they ask do you take the person in holy matrimony, not the idea of marriage. Do you want this person? If not, then it’s not the time for you to marry.

There are, of course, many other reasons that aren’t valid for taking that walk down the aisle, many of which I will be discussing in my book. But right now it’s your turn: what are some bad reasons to marry? What are the good ones? Did you marry for the right reasons?

As always, you can leave your two cents in the comments section, or email me personally at 2blu2btru4u@gmail.com. You can also tweet me @2blu2btru or message me on the Indigo Moods Blog Facebook page.

XOXO

2blu2btru

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Taking a Big Step in an Unknown Direction

Warning: Long post ahead

I’ve been struggling with whether or not to share something here. I know, this is my “personal blog,” the blog on which I share all of the personal details that I’m trying to work through as well as personal triumphs and zany TMI questions, but there are some things I don’t know if I should share. It used to be that this blog wasn’t tied to any of my social networking and that only those who gravitated here from blogland (who I didn’t know personally) would read it. I loved the fact that most of you had no personal investment one way or the other and didn’t know us well enough for that to color your opinion. Now, however, it’s a little bit different.

It’s not like you all don’t know some major things about me and this area of my life. You know about the real Decision 2012, my counseling sessions, and my general lack of a filter in some areas. You know what INEBIGTDIA means. You know about my recent wedding blog addiction. You even know a thing or two about my lady bizness. And perhaps this latest thing isn’t even that big of a deal. It’s not like I’ve gotten engaged to or broken up with MensHealth in the last few weeks. It’s not like this is something I never intended to do…

To take some of the pressure off, I am not sharing this on twitter or anywhere else. It’s just a blog post. Just an anonymous drop in the ocean of internet blogging, indistiguishable from so many others (and it would be just my luck that something like this would be freshly pressed! Gah!).

OK, enough putting it off. In the spirit of INEBIGTDIA, I’m just going to say it and get it over with: MensHealth and I are going to be beginning pre-marital counseling. I’ll give you a moment to take in everything I’ve said thus far in this entry so you can fully grasp the “huh?” in that statement.

Got it?

OK.

MensHealth and I (who are not engaged, and at this point are still not sure we WILL get engaged) are heading to pre-marital counseling (aka, counseling to prepare for MARRIAGE). GAH! Who does this?! Here’s how this conversation went:

MH: I have something I want to talk to you about.

2blu: OK.

*I ask what, he says later. I get off work and he picks me up. I complain about my entire day, then remember he wants to ask me something. He says later. We get to my place, and as I am cooking dinner…*

MH: So, how do you feel about us starting pre-marital counseling?

2blu2btru: (bending over and sticking head in the oven) I like pre-marital counseling. I think it’s important to have. *Other slightly inane comments*

MH: This doesn’t mean that we’re getting engaged. *explains how he wants to do pre-marital counseling before engagement, as when he gets engaged, there is no turning back*

2blu: *thinking to myself* Say what?

This is how I feel and what I wanted to say (and did say…most of it):

I think pre-marital counseling is a great idea…for a couple that is going to get married. I don’t know if it has the same effectiveness for someone who hasn’t even decided that they want to get married. If you haven’t decided that you are going to get married and are going to learn any skills you may need to make you’re marriage successful, what are you getting out of it? I know there are people who have gone to pre-marital counseling and have decided not to get married, but really, we’ve been dating nearly five years!

However, I can understand his need to be sure. If going to pre-marital counseling will help him make up his mind about whether or not he wants to move forward with getting engaged, then I’m willing to go. If we were engaged, I would do it. I think it’s a little putting the cart before the horse, but at least both cart and horse are going somewhere.

So, we’ve taken a step in…some direction. We’ll see which one it is soon. But first, St. Augustine, a new camera, and maybe you’ll finally get to see 2blu2btru in the flesh. 😉

XOXO

2blu2btru

MH:

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Growing Up Geared Up

There are many set questions that I love to ask people in my marriage kit interviews. One of the most interesting is the question “What were you taught about marriage growing up?” I tend to think that most people take me a bit too literally when they try to answer this question. They usually look for specific things that people said to them or blanket observances like “if you got pregnant then you had to get married.” Don’t get me wrong; I think that these are valid observances. However, when I put this question to myself, I came up with a bunch of little incidents that I could recall over my life that gave me notions about love and marriage that I probably wouldn’t think influenced me all that much. Somehow, though, they influenced me so much.

Hopefully you won’t mind me sharing some of them with you as I psychoanalyze myself and look deeply into my heart on this. I’d like to start with a memory that explains a little bit about my stance on cohabitation vs. marriage. I give you “Ball of Confusion.”

When I was a little girl, a few of my family members lived with us at some point or another, so I got the opportunity to see quite a few family relationships up close. Even though a few of my aunts and uncles and even a lady I wasn’t the slightest bit related to by blood but was “family” had lived with us over the years for varying periods of time, I only remember us staying with a family member once.

We stayed with my aunt Chloe* when I was about eight or nine years old. I wasn’t really a fan of this, as I was an only child used to having my own room until I was eight, but I bore with my pallet on the floor and sharing a room with a cousin because I knew we would be moving out again soon.

I missed the normal timbre of our house: my stepdad playing his keyboards in the basement with me sitting on a makeshift stool of milk crates while he taught me how he played chords; my mother cooking in her big brown pot and the black caste iron skillet, swaying along to her own music on the big radio I wasn’t allowed to touch. That was the life, the home that I was used to. I was used to taking my plate on a tray to the basement to eat with my stepdad, watching Nascar (even though I didn’t understand the appeal of watching what seemed like hundreds of cars go around in a circle really fast hundreds of times) or football or basketball (my favorites) with him while he yelled to my mom that I was downstairs and wasn’t bothering him. I wasn’t allowed to hang out with the adults when his friends would come over and they would have a jam session, but I could listen by the steps. That was the music of my life–jazz in the basement, chicken frying in the kitchen, R&B in the dining room–and I couldn’t wait to hear it again.

When we finally moved out, I thought the new place was a little small. In all honesty, I don’t remember much about that house at all. It was my least favorite house of the four I lived in growing up. I remember I got roller skates and the Anne of Green Gables series for Christmas while we lived there, and that my stepdad took my mother to see Candyman for her birthday, but other than that, I only have one other memory of our time there.

At some point, my mother and stepfather had some sort of falling out that led to a brief split. Suddenly, there was no stepfather in the basement teaching me chords or explaining the thrill of Nascar. Suddenly, there was Rob.

Rob was a guy my mother had dated before my stepfather. I didn’t remember him at all, but he apparently remembered me. My stepfather was barely out the door before he started to come around. He bought me little things and talked to me like a little kid, crouched down to my level, something I hated. He drove a semi-fancy car and called me cute all the time. He bought ice cream and all of that “I’m trying to get in good with your mother” stuff, but I didn’t like him. He wasn’t my stepdad. Who does this guy think he is?

I distinctly remember he came over one day to visit my mom and stayed almost all day. It was close to my bedtime and I had to go in my room and lay down, but I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him hanging around my mom, nor did I trust him. He wanted to come and help tuck me in, but I put my foot down. I probably said something rude, too. After they went out, I propped my black and white 13-inch TV in front of the door so he couldn’t sneak in. What I thought he would do, I don’t know. I turned the volume on the TV down and watched Valley of the Dolls after I was sure my mother had shown him the door and went to bed. She may or may not have yelled “He’s gone; now cut that TV off and go to bed” on her way to her room.

When my mom and stepdad finally patched things up, I was relieved I’d never have to see Rob again (I was wrong about that one). He was a disruption in my well ordered, happy child world, an interloper who seemed to like rap more than jazz. It didn’t take too long for things to get back to normal.

Looking back, it wasn’t until this time that I realized that, unlike Pink Susie and her husband, my mom and stepdad weren’t necessarily permanent. There was nothing anywhere that said they had to stay, or even that there was anything more to be done than just leave. Not being married meant your union wasn’t secure. It was as secure or temporary as each individual chose, day by day, or even moment by moment.

After this skirmish, my stepdad and mother stayed together until his death in 2009, for a total of 22 (or 23?) years. I have a little brother who was 16 at the time. They lived and worked together to raise a family and supported each other through health issues and etc. until the end. In the end, my mother got…nothing.

That’s the other thing I learned from this whole thing. Legally, in this life you can only be three things relationship wise–single (never married), married, or divorced. No one cares about your “man” “boo thang” “baby” “hubby” (when used by singles who aren’t married to anybody), or “lover.” Common law used to help you, but they fazed that out for anyone who hasn’t been together since the sixties in just about every state. So, despite twenty-something years, (effectively) two children, and a dependence on both incomes, my mother received no insurance, social security, or anything Granddad wouldn’t have let her keep. Without your paperwork, you are just being a wife for free, working a job with no pay, no benefits, and no retirement plan. I’m not into that.

I realize that my mother and stepfather were very happy for the most part. There were mostly laughs and good times in our house, along with the struggle. I was one of those kids who didn’t realize I was poor for a very long time (ahem, little brother, ahem). I was raised to value education and strive to do better than they did. I was given just about any book that I wanted and encouraged to write. I knew I had that base of family support if I didn’t have anyone else. But legally, none of that was real.

Kids need security, and adults (or maybe just this adult) need it, too. I couldn’t feel completely comfortable without a legally (and spiritually) binding commitment. I know all marriages don’t last, but at least divorce gives you a recourse should the marriage terminate. What do you get as a single? Sometimes not even the things with which you came into the relationship.

That’s the first thing I learned about relationships that I’ll be sharing. Stay tuned…

XOXO

2blu2btru