My Transition – 20 Questions I Asked Myself Before Pursuing Marriage

20qs

July 2, 2014 | Posted in Marriage, Men, Romance and Relationships, Women | By

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!

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My Transition – 5 Reasons I’m Making a Decision to Marry

for-better-or-worse

June 16, 2014 | Posted in Family, Love & Money, Marriage, Men, Romance and Relationships, Women | By

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.

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Would you let your friend potentially marry the WRONG person?

November 15, 2013 | Posted in Love & Money, Romance and Relationships | By

marry-the-wrong-person

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5 Financial Questions You Must Ask Before Saying “I do” (blackenterprise.com)

November 6, 2013 | Posted in Business, Business and Professional, Credit, Debt, Finance, Money, Savings | By

Get the full picture before merging finances

CoupleWedding

The subject of love and money used to be an area of focus people wanted to ignore. However, with an increase in divorces citing finances as the primary reason, more and more people are now paying closer attention to finances prior to marriage.

Chemistry and compatibility extend far beyond the physical interaction you have with your special someone. If you are exploring the topic of marriage with your significant other, be sure to discuss the topic of money prior to saying “I do” in order to get a better understanding of what financial picture lies ahead.

Here are five “must-ask” financial questions before tying the knot:

  1. How much debt do you have? This is an important topic to discuss because it provides a snapshot of how your money will be allocated during marriage (at least early on). When debt is brought into a marriage it changes how much can be spent, invested, and shared. And just in case you’re wondering, $125,000 in student loans, $2,500 per month in child support, and $60,000 in credit card debt are things your significant other should know about prior to saying “I do!”
  2. Do you believe in joint or separate bank accounts? This is a decision that needs to be discussed upfront so it doesn’t cause a messy distraction later on. Some couples choose to manage their household finance like roommates, where each is responsible for specific household expenses and pay from separate accounts. Others decide to pool their money together and manage monthly expenses from a joint account. Ultimately, you have to determine what makes the most sense for your relationship.
  3. What are your credit scores? Credit scoring is becoming more and more important in relationships and marriage. Imagine wanting to purchase your dream home only to learn that your spouse’s credit won’t afford you the opportunity to do so? Or learning that you have to put major purchases in your name to avoid paying double-digit interest rates? Fortunately, your credit scores can be improved over time and with discipline. However, it’s a great idea to share your credit scores prior to marriage so you can begin the rebuilding process.

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Should You Let Your Parent Move in? by Kenny Pugh (blackenterprise.com)

October 3, 2013 | Posted in Family | By

Moving a parent in could put a strain on love and money.

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The decision on whether to move a parent in can be emotional and life-changing. As a larger population transitions into the latter years of their lives, this decision is one that will be faced by a number of adult children across the country.

James and Jennifer Cook, a couple who have been married for 20 years, are trying to learn how to deal with this situation. James and Jennifer have just sent off their only daughter to college and were welcoming the opportunity to begin repairing their fractured marriage. However, James’ mother has been sick recently. This is causing a level of added responsibility to the Cook household. James spends a considerable amount of time running errands for his mother, taking her to the doctor, and spending financial resources taking care of his mother’s household. Because of this significant investment of time and money, the Cooks are considering moving his mother into their home.

From a convenience perspective, the decision to move his mother in makes sense. James no longer has to travel across the city to pick her up for appointments. It also allows the Cooks to improve their financial focus because they no longer have to take care of two households. The aforementioned areas seem to be no-brainers when it comes to making this decision. However, as mentioned, the Cooks are experiencing some stress in their marriage. Moving James’ mother in could be the right move from the time and finance perspectives, but may serve as the final straw in severing their marriage.

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What Happens When Your Spouse Decides She No Longer Wants to Work? (blackenterprise.com)

August 12, 2013 | Posted in Finance, Marriage, Men, Money, Romance and Relationships, Wedding, Women | By

Figuring out a short-term solution to a long-term problem

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I received a message from a connection on social media about situation where his wife no longer wants to work. Matt, upon receiving a response from me, went on to share more of the story. He and Shelly were engaged to be married in July 2012. Shelly lost her job just before their wedding in October 2012. Despite their financial situation becoming a little more stressed, the couple went ahead with the wedding in front of about 100 family members and friends.

Matt and Shelly had a conversation prior to the wedding in which they both acknowledged the need to increase their household income. However, after the wedding took place, Shelly told Matt she would prefer to stay at home with their 2-year old daughter instead of looking for another job. Shelly’s profession blew Matt away and they have had ongoing, heated discussions about the situation ever since.

Matt works as an IT Support Analyst in Atlanta, where he makes $75,000 per year. This amount is allows them to stay afloat, but the couple is no longer able to save any money or do any extracurricular activities. Matt desires to take care of his family, but it becoming a little frustrated because he’s unable to progress at the pace he originally planned.

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