July 2, 2014
Posted in Marriage, Men, Romance and Relationships, Women
1. Do I love myself?
Yes. I feel confident answering this affirmatively after going through the process of healing. I have worked and sought out God’s forgiveness for my past insecurities and transgressions. Until you can answer yes to this question, you will have challenges maintaining healthy relationships. Unfortunately, there are those who will prey, not pray, on those who don’t love themselves.
2. Have I purged the hurts and pains of my past? Am I ready to trust and be vulnerable again?
Yes. I have been through, and caused, some storms in my life. However, I can look back on those situations as learning experiences that have prepared me for being able to love without holding her hostage to my past. You often have to be purged before you can be promoted.
3. Do I truly know what love is?
Yes. I have been able to hold onto my faith as the foundation for what true love looks like. Love is being able to extend the same grace and mercy God has extended to me. True love is unconditional and that’s a very important component in a healthy and prosperous marriage. I now know I can pursue this type of love.
4. Am I more excited about the event or the life experience?
Life experience. The wedding is nothing more than a celebratory pit stop en route to a lifetime relationship. I want what my parents have. I want what both sets of my grandparents had before my grandfathers passed away. Being able to develop a never-ending relationship, build a trustworthy friendship, watch a family grow and create a lifetime of memories is worth a lot more to me than the wedding event.
5. Am I interested in changing the person I am marrying?
No. I have developed a love for who Tamiko is and accept the person she has become. I know that only God can truly change someone, but I sincerely love who she is today. One of my favorite statements is “Never take someone to the altar with the expectations of altering them.”
6. Can I see the person I’m marrying being a parent to my children (for those interested in having kids)?
Yes. This is one of the aspects I truly adore about Tamiko. Watching how respectful and well-mannered her son and daughter are gives me the trust and excitement about the possibility of co-parenting with her.
7. Am I prepared to be the priest, provider and protector of the home?
Yes. I take the role of being a man very seriously. I feel as if I’ve been in training for this transition for years and look forward to continuing my growth as a husband and father. I have a relationship with Christ and know how to communicate with Him. I have a multiple stream of income mentality and am unafraid to get my hands dirty in the event times get tough. I accept the responsibility of being a protector. This means keeping outside influences from harming my family physically, spiritually and/or emotionally.
8. Is this a rebound relationship or one built on friendship and love?
Our relationship is built on friendship and love. I took years off after my previous relationships. I did so because I wanted to reflect on my failures, successes and contributions I made toward the downfall of past relationships. Bouncing from relationship to relationship is an unhealthy way to operate. You will NEVER identify what you truly need in a relationship while remaining connected to temporary placeholders.
9. Can I see myself with this person until death do us part? Do I love this person so much that I can see myself with her as either of us takes our last breath?
Yes. I can see myself with her until one of us takes our last breath. I gleaned this viewpoint from our awesome pre-marital counselors. #thatspowerful
10. Do we know how to resolve conflict?
Yes. We are able to communicate difference in opinions without raising our voices, cursing, belittling each other, etc. This was a huge factor in me being able to open my heart to Tamiko. My past has presented a number of relationships that included too much voice raising, arguing and battling until there was a victory. Not all battles are worth fighting. I HATE ARGUING!
11. Do we have the support of friends and family?
Yes. We have both received the blessings from both sides of our family. This was a huge factor with me feeling free to move forward with our courtship. I wasn’t open to moving forward without having the marriage conversation with both of our parents. Call me old school if you want, but I believe in maintaining some of the old school traditions.
12. Are our purposes complementary? Do we make each other better?
Yes. I believe that she and I together can achieve a number of purposeful things on a much greater level. I have been sharing the concept of ‘greater together’ for years and I have now found my purpose partner.
13. If we were on a deserted island together, would we be able to enjoy each other’s presence and company?
Yes. I’m sure we would find enjoyment through fun conversations, dancing to our favorite childhood songs and creating fun games. The person you marry should bring light and joy to your life without the need of superficial things. The point of this question is to identify whether you truly love the person or their resume (e.g., job, money, status, cars, etc.).
14. Do we respect each other?
Yes. Enough said! You CANNOT marry someone you don’t respect. Doing so is a surefire way to destroy a relationship.
15. Is this the right time?
Yes. Although I don’t believe there is necessarily a ‘perfect’ time, I do believe there is no reason to wait once you identify the special person for you.
16. Do I know this person’s view of divorce?
Yes. We believe that divorce is off the table when it comes to our relationship. We know there will be ups and downs, but at the end of the day…we have both agreed to fight through the tough times.
17. Are we equally yoked?
Yes. Both of us are born-again, believers in Christ, who base our lives according to God’s direction. Our reference manual for life is the Bible.
18. Am I able to share the truth in love?
Yes. Tamiko and I have gone through the process of working through discussing some not-so-fun topics. Fortunately, neither one of us is combative or argumentative, which means we rarely have a disagreement. Compared to a number of my previous relationships I consider this #winning
19. Am I willingly ready to commit?
Yes. Any hesitation to this question means you’re not ready. I AM READY!
There is a twentieth question that I can’t answer by myself. Can you guess what it is? Stay tuned for the answer…
Updated as of July 2, 2014…She Said Yes!
June 16, 2014
Posted in Family, Love & Money, Marriage, Men, Romance and Relationships, Women
Over the weekend I had an opportunity to sit and chat with a number of different people and of course the topic of relationships came up. Not surprising, a number of questions were directed to me because of the transition I’m currently making from being unmarried. I don’t know why, being someone who has shared information about relationships for years, I feel even more certain about the perspectives I’m now able to share.
Allow me to set the landscape for my views.
First, I live in Atlanta, GA, which is home to many of the most beautiful, intelligent and successful women in the world. People often ask how any man can be single in this city…lol. However, I have to remind them that if those characteristics were the only ones that mattered, a lot more men (including myself) would already be married.
Secondly, after making a number of misguided choices in my younger years, I also made a MATURE decision to avoid momentary infatuation so I could pursue long-term love. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to disconnect your eyes so you can truly see people for who they really are.
Lastly, I made a commitment to advocate abstinence so sex wouldn’t become a distractor in pursuit of evaluating someone’s character. A friend of mine shared a quote and I wish I knew the source so I could provide credit.
“Sex only reveals how much someone loves sex, not how much they love YOU!”-Unknown
Now you might not necessarily agree with this quote, but sex can be a selfish act…especially when it’s not with someone you’re in covenant with. This isn’t a post about abstinence, so let me get re-focused.
Here are the 5 reasons I’m making a decision to marry:
1. I value her friendship - There is nothing more rewarding than making a decision to share your life with someone you truly value as a friend. Tamiko and I met back in 2011 and created a foundation of friendship BEFORE we ever went out on a date. I knew her sphere of influence, her values, how she treated others and what drove her purpose before asking her to Cirque du Soleil in 2012. It’s a foreign concept in today’s microwave society, but a romantic relationship without the foundation of friendship is destined to fail.
2. We have established an environment of trust - This is actually a byproduct of having become friends first. Our interaction as friends allowed me to build a level of trust and comfort to open-up to her. It also made me want to pursue her more seriously. Trust is the single most important element in making a man open-up his heart, mind and soul to you. A number of women often ask “Why don’t men communicate with me?” The answer is simple…he doesn’t trust you yet.
3. We enhance each other’s purpose - No relationship/marriage means much if it doesn’t result in a greater purpose. A number of individuals are in relationships that don’t enhance their lives, but actually restrict their lives. If your relationship feels like a weight instead of a sail, please reconsider the person you are with. I look forward to marriage because I can actually see us enhancing each other’s purpose both individually and jointly.
4. I respect her - There is something powerful about establishing a level of respect. I know her personal story of triumph and respect the woman she’s become as a result of her experiences. She is battle-tested and I know she doesn’t easily quit. I know the journey and sacrifices she’s made for her children. My respect for her is something that enhances my attraction towards her. Respect takes my attraction toward her beyond the physical beauty she possesses.
5. She has the ‘it’ factor - The ‘it’ factor is often ignored. There’s something about being so in synch with someone that you’re able to communicate without saying a single word. Being able to anticipate someone’s needs is something you can’t place a value on. The ‘it’ factor can’t be manufactured, either a person has ‘it’ or they don’t. There are a number of women who might have better resumes than Tamiko. However, her ‘it’ factor is a lot more valuable to me for the life I envision for me and my family.
Making a decision to marry goes a lot deeper than what restaurant you go to on the first date, who picks-up the tab or what gift you receive on Christmas. After sitting down with my parents, who have celebrated 40+ years of marriage, they shared two pieces of advice. Learn how to communicate. Learn how to sacrifice. Yep…my 5 reasons make me want to do both for her.
June 10, 2014
Posted in Life, Love & Money, Marriage, Romance and Relationships
As I continue my transition from single to married, I’m trying to cover all of the foundational items before saying “I do!” One of the areas people sometimes neglect is the topic of family. No matter the love that exists between two people, it’s still VERY important to understand where a person comes from, along with the potential challenges associated with their upbringing. As I have mentioned many times, marriage is merging the histories of two individuals. This includes their goals, dreams, desires, appearance, health, finances, credit, debt, spiritual beliefs, children, nightmares, educational level, character, accountability and more.
When it comes to family, you get a chance to see the DNA of the person you say you love so much. This includes both the good AND the bad. You have to ask yourself the difficult questions like…
1. If the person I claim to love turns out like his/her mother/father, will I be okay with it?
2. Has the person I desire to be with learned from the negative experiences of his/her past?
It’s important to take a look at these questions because you don’t take someone to the altar with the intent of altering him/her. The reality is the person you marry will most likely remain who he/she is at the core, and there isn’t anything you can do to modify him/her. To make it clear…we call that unconditional love, something that is missing from a lot of today’s marriages. I digress!
Tamiko and I have had pretty deep conversations about family including both the good and the bad experiences. We both realize that our family foundations are totally different. She has documented some of her life’s challenges in her book Wounds to Wisdom…I’m Still Standing. I appreciate her so much for addressing the challenges of her past and expressing an intentional desire to provide something different for her family. I truly see manifestation of her desires in her children Destiny and Michael. They are awesome young adults who have respect for adults, love for their mother and desires for their future. This is one of the many reasons why I learned to love Tamiko so much.
Also, I had to be honest with myself when it came to my family. I grew up in a two-parent household that was pretty conservative and filled with structure. Many see this as a positive experience, which is true. However, I had to ask myself if there is anything I would do differently? My answer…be flexible and not rely solely on the basis of MY experiences. I believe we all have something to learn in life and family and must be open to the ideas of others.
Marriage isn’t the process of imposing YOUR will upon the life of your spouse. It’s about creating a foundation and environment that is in the best interest of your family.
No matter what people tell you…family matters when it comes to understanding your spouse/future spouse.
June 2, 2014
Posted in Christianity, Love & Money, Romance and Relationships
First, I would like to say I’m totally blown away by the amount of responses my initial ‘Transition’ blog created. I never fathomed it would create such a response, but it’s definitely a pleasant surprise. I want to allow people to be a part of my transition from a single, celibate man to the next leg of my life journey. People have witnessed my public journey since 2005 and it’s only fair that I show what happens when God moves in your life.
One of the major struggles I continue to experience in preparing to transition into engagement, and subsequently marriage, is dealing with shifting my bachelor mindset. As I received confirmation about Tamiko being the woman for me, I had to break out of my comfort zone of being a bachelor mentally. For the past several years I’ve been able to come and go as I please, talk with whomever I please and go out with whomever I please. This may seem trivial to you, but I really believe that when you identify ‘The One,’ you become motivated to take on even more of a sacrificial mindset and change your behavior. I don’t want to follow the footsteps of so many others who live a single life within the covenant of marriage because that’s one of the issues with marriages today!
I also believe that marriage is a covenant that shouldn’t be taken for granted when God sends you someone special. I asked God for a God-fearing, beautiful, purpose-driven, nurturing, compassionate and fun woman who can come alongside of me for a greater combined purpose. Tamiko embodies these traits and so many more. The last thing I want to do is mess that up because I wasn’t willing to give up my bachelor mindset.
I will admit that it’s difficult changing ways that have become so very familiar. I once spent my time conversing, hanging-out and sharing special life experiences with a number of women who I considered to be friends. However, I am a believer that when you find ‘The One’ she becomes the vessel you pour all of those fun, challenging and special moments into. Fortunately, I have found her!
The hard part is seeing the distance begin to mount between yourself and the others who have been a part of your life. I know many may say it’s okay to retain friends, which I agree. However, I don’t think it’s wise to entertain a lot of CLOSE opposite-sex friends. Think about how you would feel seeing your husband or wife hanging-out with his/her opposite-sex friend(s)? I have willingly taken a step back from my opposite-sex friends’ lives once they’ve gotten married. I believe it’s the right thing to do. I also believe you have to release familiarity in order to experience what is deemed extraordinary by God. It’s tough to hold onto and catch something at the same time.
I have learned over time to be open to change and I look forward to seeing how my mindset matures and develops as I transition into a loving husband and prayerfully a loving father.
May 30, 2014
Posted in Love & Money, Romance and Relationships
I was initially hesitant about sharing my story publicly. However, I’ve been very open about the past several years of my life as a single, celibate man. I have had an opportunity to share my celebrations and challenges over the years via my blog (www.chatkafeonline.com), book (www.canyoudoitstandingup.com), radio show, workshops and many other outlets.
Well the time has come for me to share a very different part of my journey. After many years of living the single life, and pursuing my life purpose, I have identified the woman, Tamiko Lowry, I look to spend the rest of my life with. YES…I’m preparing to transition from being a single, celibate man to embracing the role as husband and prayerfully father.
It’s a very different feeling making the intentional decision to move beyond just addressing myself and regularly taking into account the needs and happiness of someone else. The past several months have challenged me to think beyond being single and to prepare for life going forward with an attitude of compromise and sacrifice. Until you get this right your relationships will often end in failure.
Many were very surprised by the photos I shared of my lovely significant other, as they should have been. I never was a fan of sharing publicly my dating experiences because I never wanted to be someone who changed relationship statuses regularly like I see so many others do on social media. I wanted to wait until I was truly sure of my status and the future I desired to pursue before ‘going public.’ Even then I was hesitant. However, because so many people have followed me since 2005, when I started sharing my experiences publicly, I feel a responsibility to bring this phase of my life to you.
On May 11th I shared photos with Tamiko as part of a milestone celebration in my life…turning 40 years old. However, the public revelation was only the result of the hard conversations and work Tamiko and I shared in private. It was over a period of time that I realized that she embodied everything I could have imagined. The Bible says “He who finds a wife, finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” Well I’m ready to move into that favor!
The time has come for me to transition and I look forward to sharing the journey with you. Because I’m a big fan of Love and Money, a lot of the focus will center on that particular topic.
Because of the abstinence life I promote, I will let you know that this phase of my journey will go pretty quickly. Once you identify ‘The One,’ there’s no need to delay doing it the right way. Please join me along this journey…it should be fun and entertaining.
One of the things I’m excited about sharing is my experience learning about and shopping for rings. All rings are NOT created equal and I’ll provide details about that soon enough.
I also look forward to being a relationship expert who isn’t single…LOL. I’ve had enough with having to defend my ability to share relationship principles as a single man.
December 11, 2013
Posted in Business, Business and Professional, Career, Love & Money, Romance and Relationships
Workplace love can be magical–or a complete disaster
Kevin and Tammy Jackson first noticed each other while working for a large telecommunications company in Dallas, Texas. Kevin was a mid-level executive in charge of running an IT support team, while Tammy worked as a technology analyst. The two worked together for about two years within the same group, but never in a superior/subordinate capacity.
Kevin personally acknowledged his immediate attraction to Tammy, but made a decision not to pursue her to be in compliance with the code of ethics regarding workplace relationships. He didn’t want to risk his job and career in pursuit of the unknown, but had a special feeling about Tammy.
The two were able to build a solid rapport in casual work interaction, and on special projects within their group. Even through their arms-length relationship, there was an ever-increasing curiosity in the minds of both.
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