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.
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.
Until Death Do Us Part: 8 Reasons For Marital Failure Amongst African Americans by Dr. Umar Abdullah-Johnson
I received this article via Facebook and think it provides some very interesting insight. Dr. Abdullah-Johnson mentions this information as being relevant for African-Americans, but I believe the points are relevant for anyone of any ethnicity or culture. We cannot afford to keep hiding from the pink elephant in the room in an attempt to satisfy societal status demands or pressure from family and friends. Please share with your friends who are single, dating or engaged.
Please click the article to read in its entirety:
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I have been reminded by God time and time again that only He has the ability to orchestrate the footsteps of our lives. Unfortunately, in a quest for personal focus on self and the desire to create successes on our own, we make the mistake of trying to validate something that He never ordained or blessed into existence.
I have taken much ridicule about the process I promote for relationship development. However, I continue to hold strongly to the view that we were never meant to ‘date’ according to the ways we see demonstrated in our current society. If the current method was working, then we would see a lot more success stories than we do. The way today’s dating model is constructed causes people to inadvertently put the cart before the horse. It is impossible to operate in a fully committed relationship without having some knowledge of the person you are connecting to. Thus, confirming the need to operate as friends before exploring any other level of relationship. I know…the dreaded ‘friend zone’ is one of discomfort and sometimes frustration, but it really does expose the true reality of who someone is. Also, the dreaded ‘friend zone’ gives you the benefit of assessing whether or not a relationship may truly ‘fit’ in the lives of two people.
Do you want to learn how someone communicates? Allow them to operate in the ‘friend zone’ for a period of time.
Do you want to learn how someone operates under adversity? Allow them to operate in the ‘friend zone’ for a period of time.
Do you want to learn the habits of a person? Allow them to operate in the ‘friend zone’ for a period of time.
The ‘friend zone’ gives two people the opportunity to build a foundation before adding any other complexities into the relationship (i.e., sex, commitment, other superficial expectations). The keys to relational success hinge on two individual’s ability to communicate effectively, operate under the same values and beliefs, and resolve conflict (see communication). Without these core pieces in place, a relationship will struggle. Fortunately, establishing a true friendship gives great insight on communication, beliefs, and conflict resolution.
The moral of this blog is simple…
Most failed relationships can be prevented if two people pay attention to the signs. If God reveals that a relationship isn’t a good fit, then don’t try and force it! Otherwise, you’ll only have yourself to blame for making an erroneous and anxious decision.
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