Posts Tagged ‘Marriage’

Nomalanga: How To Win a Fight With Your Spouse

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

By Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses

One day last week, my husband made me so upset that I swear I could see red! I was steaming; so much so that my heart was racing and my nostrils were flared and I think I may have even broke a sweat.  I think my tongue still has bite marks from the series of things I felt like saying but did not say.

If you’re wondering why I was so upset, I have only one word for you: Business-as in mind your own! But on a serious note, below are three things that I did, that you can do as well, in order to win the fight.

1. Bite your tongue

Anytime you are upset, being upset colors everything. There is a reason why we use the word “mad” to describe being angry or upset. It really is true that in the heat of the moment, when a person is upset or angry, it could be said that they are “mad”. The wise thing to do is “bite your tongue” and not say anything until you have cooled off. If you choose to speak while you’re “mad”, you are more likely to escalate the fight-not win it. Running your mouth carelessly in the heat of the moment may feel somewhat good while you’re doing it, but it really only does damage in the long run and that is not winning.

2. Act the opposite of what you feel

When you married your spouse, you more than likely looked into each other’s eyes and made some declarations about what you would do as a husband or a wife. So if your spouse offends you in any way, you should be able to take it back-right? Wrong! Just because your spouse has made you “mad”, it does not mean that you can use that as an excuse to behave in an unacceptable way.

That day, after I wiped off the sweat and cooled off a bit, I proceeded to make my husband a delicious meal. No, there was no spitting in it or any ill will, somehow stirred into the food. What I was doing was acting in a way that was the opposite of what I was temporarily feeling. It doesn’t always have to be a delicious meal, it could be searching yourself and thinking about how you may have also offended your spouse and then approaching them and just offering an apology. Note: Offering an apology means just that-just an apology and no reason or explanations or expectations because that could just start something else. If you do this, you may not realize it, but you have won the fight with “the beast inside” and many, many marriages suffer from people not being able to tame that beast.

3. Say What you want

Saying what you want does not mean that you carelessly run your mouth and destroy  the valuable relationship that you have built. What it means is that you make sure that you have calmed down and then ask your spouse if they are willing to  hear what you want. If they agree, then it is okay to let them know what you do or do not want. This is not an opportunity to blame and name call-that is not winning; it is destructive and may just escalate the fight. If your partner says no to your request to let them know what you want or expect, repeat steps 1 and 2 and try step 3 again at a later time.

Most people typically get upset because they did not get what the wanted or expected. Saying what you want is an opportunity to open the doors of communication and allow room for negotiation and compromise. The only way to “win” a fight with your spouse is to dissolve it. Marriage is a partnership and no one wins when the two people in the marriage start to try to one up each other.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will add that any fly on the wall in our home can tell you that this process does not go smoothly every single time. If you fail at step 1, it becomes even more important to move on to step 2 and 3. Finally, remember that nobody’s perfect. We are all each a work in progress and a little forgiveness and humility can go a long way.

Nomalanga helps Black Women thrive in their lives and careers. She is a Social Commentator, an Editor at Your Black World , Assistant Professor of Professional Studies and the reigning Mrs Botswana. Visit Nomalanga’s blog at successfulblackwoman.com

Originally posted at Black Blue Dog

Let’s Support Fathers, Especially Black Fathers

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Today is the day that we celebrate fathers all over the world. It seems that we so often focus on how challenging it is for modern day mothers who are still expected to attend to all the needs of their children and yet are now also trying to succeed in their careers. While I have first-hand knowledge of the complexities of being a modern day working mother or just a modern day mother, period, I have an ever increasing level of compassion for the modern day Father, especially the Black father.

It’s no secret that, in the US, the two parent family is increasingly becoming the exception while the single parent home is increasingly becoming the norm. And if you take a look at Black communities all around the country, unfortunately, that becomes even truer. I’ll save my speculation as to why we are facing these circumstances for another day and instead bring the focus back to the Black father.

Most of these single parent homes that are increasingly becoming the norm are typically headed my Black women and the Black father is often subjected to the whims of the said mother. Today, I am appealing to all Black mothers to set aside their own feelings about a man they may not necessarily, love, like or even respect and let him be a father to his child or his children. It’s not enough to just be a willing participant; you have to be your child’s advocate in doing everything that you can to make sure that he or she has a relationship with his or her Father.

I’ve heard all the stories about the dead-beat fathers or the ones who don’t care or the ones who don’t pay their child support etc. The truth still remains that every child deserves to love their father and to be loved by their father, no matter who the father is or what he has or has not done.

One woman once relayed a story to me about how her mother would not allow her father to see her because he had disappointed her so many times by saying he was coming and then not showing up. Her mother then decided to “cut him off” entirely to spare her daughters feelings and the woman never saw her father again. Years later she found out that he had continued to attempt to see her but her mother would not allow it. This birthed a small resentment towards her mother and now she had to deal with resenting both of her parents, her father for not being around and her mother for not letting him. This is a sad story, but unfortunately, it is a common one.

I’ve had the privilege of not only growing up in a home with both of my parents who are still married today, and I am also raising my two children with my best friend and husband who is also their father. I am very grateful for my circumstances and very grateful to my parents who may have had numerous opportunities to go their separate ways but instead, put my well-being and that of my siblings, ahead of their own personal feelings and desires. I am also grateful to my husband who continues to put up with my many “complexities” because he loves his children and wants them to have a safe and secure home. That being said, I never fail to mention that our marriage has not worked because we were “lucky” to have found each other; it is actually quite the opposite. We work at it and we do so, amongst other things, for the benefit of our children.

I share some of my personal story for one reason and that is simply to say that we all have different circumstances and we all make different choices about how we live our lives but let’s make the same choice when it comes to our children and their fathers. Let’s support the fathers of our children in being the best fathers that they can be regardless of their circumstances. Let’s set aside any negative thoughts and feeling and just focus on what is good and what is possible when a man loves his child or his children and they have the opportunity to love him back.

Happy Father’s Day.

Originally Posted at Your Black World

Nomalanga: What Black Women Can Learn from Meagan Good

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

I have been following a lot of news about Meagan Good and her vow to remain celibate until her and her Pastor/Producer husband are married.

To some this may seem the most far-fetched idea that they can think of because celibacy is something that society has dismissed as both outdated and unrealistic. Let’s think about it though-Think about all the negative information that is currently circulating about Black women in America and the rest of the world. Let’s start with the rate of HIV infection as well as other sexually transmitted diseases. Let’s think about the rates of teenage pregnancy and the rate of single parenthood, much of which is the result of unplanned pregnancies and pre-marital intercourse.

I am not one to jump to conclusions that I cannot support with credible sources so I will not do that but I think we need to, at the very least, consider that Meaghan Good may just be somewhat of a hero. She is going against the grain and setting an example. I don’t believe she is saying that she is “pure” and angelic and that the rest of us are “sinners”. That would be off-putting. She is however, saying that it is possible for a young woman to stand her ground and do something different and still be popular, attractive and “modern”.

The lesson that I am drawing from her example is that just because you have engaged in what some would call “sin”, there is still room to take a different course of action and change your outcomes. To some, celibacy may seem like an extreme measure to take but considering the issues that we deal with, maybe we should consider it as a very viable option. Obviously, it is possible to avoid diseases and unplanned pregnancies through taking birth control and using other forms of protection. That, however, does not take the emotional and spiritual ramifications of having multiple partners (whether concurrently or consecutively) into consideration.

My passion is the pursuit of personal development, including but not limited to my own. I instruct, mentor and advise young women, especially young women of color, more than any other population so this is an issue that I tackle very often. I’m not trying to assign judgment to anyone for their choices but I think that we are often too quick to dismiss the idea of celibacy as either “old fashioned” or unrealistic. Let’s begin to look at it as a very viable option. Yes, there are other ways to be responsible and safe, but no one can argue that no other way is as safe as celibacy so let’s not discount it.

Check out Nomalanga’s e-book:
Seven Life Changing Habits; How I Changed My Life from Mediocre to Magnificent & How You Can Too!

Nomalanga: So what if First Lady, Michelle Obama, wanted to leave?

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

I recently read an article at the online version of the Daily Mail titled “New book claims Michelle Obama prepared divorce papers to separate from Barack – leaving him so depressed friends feared he’d kill himself”. My impression of the article is that, much like the book it is referring to, it was written to tarnish the names of President Obama and First lady, Michelle Obama.

My comment, on Facebook, in reaction to the article was as follows:

“So what? In the last 7 years, I have packed a suitcase a time or two-what of it? Although they wrote this article to “air the Obamas’ dirty laundry”, this actually makes me and others respect them more. They are normal people who, in spite of everything, have sustained their marriage AND won the Presidency!”

The reason why I responded this way is that I feel that anyone who has been married a significant amount of time or is close to married couples knows that all marriages go through different phases; some easy and some not, hence the common phrase “for better or worse and through thick or think”. This phrase is often included in many vows, on a couple’s wedding day, specifically to reiterate that couples should not view a “rocky” time in marriage as a time to leave.

My own experience, having been married for over seven years, has been that when things get “rocky”, the urge to leave can become overwhelmingly strong but that does not give me or any married person, not even the first lady, a reason to leave. I believe that those difficult parts of the journey are the very parts that will teach you more about yourself, your spouse and will ultimately elevate both of you to a higher level of spiritual enlightenment.

The Obamas have admitted that in the past they did go through a rough patch but that they patched things up and grew closer together. Although the details of the Obama marriage trials, assuming there was some truth in them, were revealed with what I perceive as malicious intent, I and a lot of other people are both encouraged and inspired by the Obamas. They are modeling, among others, one great lesson: Anything worth having is worth fighting for.

Many women look at Michelle Obama and wish they could have a wonderful husband and a wonderful marriage like hers. What I am drawing from the Obamas’ experience is that that level of success is not something that happens by accident. The problem with glorifying the Obamas and their relationship has always been that it made them seem “special” but now we see that they are just normal people, much like the rest of us. What sets them apart is their courage, discipline and an attitude of Never giving up on yourself, your spouse or your marriage.

Nomalanga: Three Questions to ask yourself before Divorce

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

By Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses

Less than a year into marriage, I experienced what I now call the “reality” phase. Anyone who has been married for a while knows exactly what I’m talking about. The “Reality” phase of marriage is when you start to come down off of the honeymoon phase of the relationship and start to really see your partner for who they are rather than the fantasy that you were projecting onto them.

Just as I was processing this rather confusing phase, I had a conversation with one of my “sisters” who, at the time, had been married for about eight years. What she shared were three major things that tend to affect marriages either negatively or positively. In other words, if you pay attention to these three “things”, you can sustain a happy marriage but if you neglect these things, trouble is inevitably around the corner.

I am generally an advocate of marriage; partially because I was born and raised within the confines of one. (Side note: My parents have been married for almost 40 years).

That being said, if you have neglected any of the three “things” I feel that it is possible to give each one attention and restore your marriage, rather than head to Divorce court.
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself:
1. Are we Communicating well?
Many times what couples think are major problems, are actually small problems buried in a series of miscommunications or no communication at all. Unless you have developed the skill of effective communication and are able to resolve conflicts and problems through effective communication, you have not earned your way out of the marriage. Rather than head to divorce court, explore ways to build your communication skills.

2. Are our finances in order?
My husband and I love to joke that we need to make sure that we get our finances in order because “broke people fight”. Now, I’m not sure where the saying “broke people fight” comes from but like most jokes, it has an element of truth in it. When finances are in order, there is a level of security that can quickly disappear if they are mismanaged. If you get to a point where your finances are a mess, rather than head to divorce court, put your heads together and explore strategies to restore the financial well-being of your family.

3. When was the last time we were “intimate”?
“Intimacy” is a topic that many of us shy away from because it is uncomfortable for some people to discuss. That being said, if you are not being “intimate” with your spouse, you’re trying to glue two pieces of paper together and omitting the glue. Before you head off to Divorce court, get creative about “rocking his world” (or hers). One thing that I would add to this is that many women ask, “what if I just don’t feel like it?” Well, I’ll tell you like I heard it jokingly said, “Sometimes you just have to take one for the team”.

As I approach our 8th anniversary in marriage and reflect back on my own marriage and those of the people around me, I can honestly say that what my ‘sister” told me all those years ago was marriage saving advice. That being said, none of the three “things” apply if you’re dealing with a partner who is abusive, is dealing with an addiction or is chronically unfaithful. Even these serious issues are not cause to end your marriage but they are certainly issues that need addressing though professional or spiritual intervention.

At the end of the day, a problem in marriage is no longer just your problem; it is the possibility of your children growing up without Both their parents or the shattering of a community that was partially bound by your marriage or another case of giving up on your own personal development journey which your marriage was facilitating. Make a decision, today, whether you are already married or not yet married, to ask yourself these questions so that you can stay married. Don’t let yourself down. Don’t let your spouse down. Don’t let your children down. Don’t let your family and your community down. Stay married.

Boyce Watkins: Why Black Women Can’t Find a Man

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

I watched an ABC News special the other night featuring Steve Harvey, Jacque Reed, Sherri Shepherd and my homeboys Hill Harper and Jimi Izrael. The show covered a tried and true topic that is sure to get sky high ratings from the black community: The topic was, Why successful black women can’t find a good man. I am not going to risk bringing on the wrath of black women by saying things that some of them may not want to hear, but I have to be honest about what I saw on this show. Let me just cut to the chase and lay the issues out one-by-one:

1) Why are black women taking relationship advice from Steve Harvey? Not to disrespect Steve’s ability to drop knowledge, but isn’t he a comedian? If we are taking relationship advice from a comedian and our relationship turns into a joke, who do we blame in the end? Bottom line – perhaps learning how to love another person means that after you put aside the book by the comedian, you should go out and buy a book by a relationship expert.

2) Most good women have little trouble getting married to decent men: One has to be skeptical of the beautiful, intelligent, fully capable woman who simply says that she can’t find a good man anywhere. Most women I know who are well-balanced and who also appreciate the idea of respecting men in the same way they would like to be respected, have no trouble finding suitable mates. Sorry to break this to you, but the only constant variable in your relationships is a person called YOU.

Rather than pointing the finger at the world, a bit more introspection might be called for: perhaps you have to reconsider your laundry list of expectations or wonder if you’re not doing a good job finding men who are open to commitment. It’s easy to find a man, just not easy to find a man who is willing to be with you and you only; a lot of brothers simply play the field and allow you to buy an emotional lottery ticket, hoping that you’ll be the one he selects in the end. You may be fishing in the wrong ponds in the first place or using the wrong bait to catch the fish you’re bringing home.

3) If you want something bad enough, take a class: There are classes on relationships and marriage out there that don’t cost much money. If you are determined to be the best mate you can possibly be, it might make sense to take a class that explains all the subtleties and challenges of making a relationship work (not just the counseling you get from your pastor). A relationship is not about a mate fulfilling your long and detailed list of needs and expectations. The bottom line is that if you hope to receive more, you must first fully commit yourself togiving more. Some of us are taught that we should expect the world and not offer anything in return: that’s a perfect recipe for getting dumped.

4) Big mistake – always chasing the alpha male: I know a lot of “regular guys” who are unable to find a woman that is interested in being with them. This is especially true in their mid-twenties, when everyone is single and living fancy-free, with little expectation for long-term commitment. Some of the women these ”regular guys” are interested in are not paying them much attention to them, mainly because the woman has become enchanted with the dream-like alpha male in her life: the guy who fits every single portion of the checklist (height, income, education, toe nail length, swag, etc.), but who may not be available for a monogamous, long-term relationship. What many women seem to forget is that there are some men who always have room for another woman on the roster. If you’re wasting all your time with the lying, cheating, super dog, you might miss out on the chance to be with the man who will love you forever and father all of your children. He may not come in the same package, and by comparing the two without considering the differences in what each of them offers, you may be passing up on your opportunity.

5) Relationships should not be a pissing contest: One of the by-products of many black children growing up in single parent homes is that their relationships become highly contentious. I once saw a neck swinging, energized woman say, “I need a man who can handle me!” What I wanted to tell her is that your man should not have to “handle” you as if you are a wild bull with his testicles sewn together. The act of love is a process of being open, feeling and sharing, not trying to dominate one another. So, if you need to be “handled” in your relationships, realize that you are likely going to only attract men who are mean, rough and insensitive enough to handle you effectively. In fact, you’re not searching for a mate, you may be actually looking for a pimp. Fighting and domination is not the same as love – let’s not get it twisted.

6) There’s nothing wrong with a few gender roles: Sherri Shepherd, during an especially volatile segment of the ABC News show, swung her hands around in the air saying, “I don’t have time to validate you every day!” – referring to the fact that she doesn’t feel that it’s her job to make her man feel good about himself on a regular basis. What’s interesting is that most women want their man to make them feel beautiful and to feel like a woman. So, why is it not acceptable for a man to expect his wife to make him feel like a man? A man doesn’t want to marry another guy – or rather, a woman who feels that any and all gender roles are an insult to her feminine independence and also expects the man to be willing to be regularly emasculated. It’s O.K. to make your man feel like he’s THE man, a king and a leader. A good man will surely return the favor and make you feel like a beautiful woman.

7) Let’s be real- many men aren’t as excited about marriage as women: As much as we want to believe that men grow up fantasizing about their wedding day the same way that many women do, the truth is that this is not the case. Many men see marriage as a frightening commitment that will cause them to be vilified for actions they can engage in without consequence when they are single (notice the millions of dollars that Shaquille O’neal and the rapper Nas have paid to get out of their marriages – every man gets petrified when he reads these stories).

A woman who gets her husband is the one who makes the man WANT to be married: she let’s him feel free, strong, needed, loved and supported. While this may seem to be a primitive concept, the reality is that the reverse is true for sex: Men and women both want it, but men know they have to work just a little bit harder to “get some.” They’ve got to buy flowers, take the woman to dinner, and make her feel comfortable. It would be silly for a man to think that a woman should buy him flowers and beg him to have sex with her. The converse is true for marriage – where getting a man to overcome his anxiety is a great way to get him to give you what you want.

I love black women: My mother, daughter and grandmother are black women and there is not a more precious group of women on the planet. But the truth is that this “woe is me, black men ain’t sh*t” attitude has to be replaced with something more constructive. If not, we’ll be having these same forums 20 years from today.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the author of the book,“Black American Money.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

Nomalanga:What we can learn from Martin Lawrence’s Divorce

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

It is being widely reported that after less than three years of marriage and 13 years “together” , Martin Lawrence and his wife, Shamicka Gibbs are getting divorced. Apparently, the couple had been together for 13 years and had two daughters together before they decided to tie the knot in 2010 and now it’s all over!

This is a very interesting trend that I have noticed does not only plague Hollywood couples. We see it all the time; two people who date for a very long time and are seemingly happy together decide to get married and end up getting divorced soon after-the relationship that they had before they got married lasted longer than the marriage.

I was just having a Facebook discussion in which I suggested that the lesson that can be learned from a lot of these unfortunate “train wrecks’ that they call marriages is that when people get married, especially after dating for a long time, it is important not to suddenly come up with a new set of expectations.

The way I put is was this: When people get married they change their expectations but the truth is you can’t live with a “dog” for years and then hope that after the wedding it will stop barking and start purring like a cat. It is a dog and it will continue to bark. If you wanted a cat, you should have married a cat.

Now, just to be clear, I’m NOT saying men are dogs-okay? What I am saying is that when you date a person, the time that you spend getting to know them, should also be time spent setting up realistic expectations for a long term relationship. Obviously, there will be small, maybe even major changes after you get married. A great example is that you will start to live together, assuming that you were not already. These kinds of changes in expectations are normal and reasonable. You cannot, however expect that a person will morph into a different and maybe more “responsible” life partner just because you both said “I do”.

Maya Angelou has been known to say, “When people show you who they are, believe them”. So, when you date a person, this is the time that they will show you who they are and that is the behavior upon which you should set your expectations. If their behavior while you are dating is unacceptable, marriage will only compound the degree to which you find their behavior unacceptable.

Again, the lesson is simple; if you want to marry your “honey”, understand that the way your honey is when you’re dating is basically the way that honey will be when you’re married.  If you marry him (or her), don’t ask him (or her) to change and certainly, don’t expect them to.

It would not surprise me to find out that this is precisely what went wrong with Martin and Shamicka. I reckon that Shamicka married Martin and thought that when they got married, he would change and she was disappointed to find out that he didn’t and probably wasn’t going to. And now…Divorce.

Kevin Hart’s message to “Strong Black Women”

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Funny man, Kevin Hart, has allegedly  taken to cartoon illustrations to get his message across to black women about their attitudes. In the cartoon, he shows a group of black women rejecting a black man’s friendly greeting and then goes on to show the same black man walking with a white woman. The funny part is that the same black women who rejected him are then angry to see him with the white woman. The following words are written at the top of the cartoon: Being a “strong black woman” does not mean have an attitude.

What is interesting about this cartoon is that even though Kevin hart is being funny, there is an element of truth in his joke. I have often heard the angry ramblings of black women when they see a black man who has chosen to date or marry a non-black woman. He is often accused of hating himself or hating black woman or some variation of a negative opinion of his choice of partner. Of course, not all black women are angry or even care when they see black men with women of other races but it can’t be said that Kevin Hart is entirely wrong for pointing it out.

What Kevin Hart’s cartoon did fail to illustrate, however, is that there are black men who have such a deep seeded loathing for black women that they will date anyone except a black woman! Most of these men do not date non-black women necessarily because they have been rejected by black women, but instead because they have taken the worst stereotype of black women and draped it all over ALL black women.

At the end of the day, we can keep accusing each other of “selling out” or suffering from self loathing but the numbers still speak louder than any of us can. There are too many broken homes in the black community and a lot of our children are not being raised in happy, healthy and functional two parent homes. An open dialogue needs to take place about how we can begin to bring those statistics down and maybe people like Kevin Hart, although doing it through humor, are doing their part in opening the doors to the dialogue that needs to take place.

Do We Sometimes Seek Out Abusive and Disappointing Relationships?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

In the video below, Dr. Boyce Watkins and Nomalanga Mhlauli-Moses ask whether or not many African Americans are using the wrong formula to build their relationships.(The audio on my end has an echo but is still audible).

Originally posted at Your Black World.

Why the Pastor who says married people should have sex seven days a week may be right

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

I just read an article about a pastor, Pastor Mike Scruggs who has brought a stripper pole, along with a bed, into his church, the Light of Word Ministries in White Oak, Ohio, as part of his new sermon series all about sex. Under normal circumstances, I would find this type of preaching over the top but in this particular instance, I find it quite appropriate.

The Pastor is suggesting that more married couples indulge in one of marriage’s most basic and traditional “rights” and I do not see anything wrong with that. A lot of the issues that we face in Black communities around the country stem from the results of extra-marital sex. Teenage pregnancy, unplanned single parent homes, higher rates of HIV infection and higher rates of other sexually transmitted diseases are among the many issues that ail Black communities.

The Pastor has taken it upon himself to address an issue that many other pastors shy away from. I can remember about seven years ago, shortly after I got married a wise woman sat me down and shared with me, what she thought were the three most critical areas of marriage to pay attention to. The first two were taking care of your finances and communicating well and the third was “intimacy”. The reason why I’m sharing this quick story is of course to highlight the third area that she felt was important. It also happens to be the area that she spent the most amount of time discussing. I remember her suggesting that at times, it is hard for women to keep up with their husbands’ “demands” but she insisted that it was necessary at times to just “take one for the team”. Although the conversation was light and full of humor, I have never forgotten what she said and have gone on to have many discussions with married women who also place a high level of importance on “intimacy”, among other things, as a way of keeping their marriages happy and healthy.

So, here is the bottom line; if you’re married, have lots and lots of sex! Pastor Mike Scruggs thinks it’s a great idea and I’m willing to bet that if you’re a married woman, your husband will agree with the pastor! If you’re not married, refrain from having lots and lots of sex! You may just be protecting yourself from many diseases and if you’re a man, you decrease the chances of sharing your paycheck (read: pay child support) with a woman you didn’t marry for 18 to 25 years!