Tag Archives: relationships

Wives Behaving Badly

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I thought this article was thought provoking.  Sometimes we are guilty of this.  I remember when my husband would wash the dishes and leave water all over the counter.  That is what caught my attention–the water and not the perfectly washed dishes.

Let’s try speaking words of encouragement to our spouses and see things in the best light possible.  Remember Proverbs 15:4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Ask Him

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Yesterday I started the following text conversation with Rhonda:

Me:  What do you think your husband likes about you?

Rhonda: He says I love with a big heart and I’m a caring person.

Me: Okay

Rhonda: Why do you ask?

Me: Just curious, you know how I get to pondering things, lol

Rhonda: Yeah, I know…lol

 A few hours later she texted again:

Rhonda: So I asked him what he liked about me after you sent that last text because I wanted to know if what he said had changed. We have been texting ever since. I’m glad we did. We were able to say some things that I believe we both needed to know. Thanks for getting the ball rolling! Love you!

Me: That is so awesome! You are welcome; it makes me happy hearing that! Love U2 girl!

Tonight ask your significant other what they love about you.  Ask in person, via text, over the phone, email, Skype, or in a letter.  Then tell him what you love about him!  It could be the start of something good…

Men @ Work

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No, I’m not talking about the Australian rock band, I’m alluding to the many men who have seemingly come out of  thin air to attract my attention.  I have been completely overwhelmed by the number of men vying for it.  Some, I’m sure, don’t have the purest of intentions.

A vast majority of my would-be suitors are people I work with.  I’m sorry, but I find this incredibly tacky considering that they know my situation.  It has only been four months for crying outloud!  I am really disturbed by their lack of decorum.  I am not interested in being pursued or going on any dates.  I know that I am not giving  them any signs to appraoch me; but  it hasn’t deterred them yet.

Here are a few of the said men who make their interest obvious:

  • The Headcase: If the world is indeed  a crazy place, then Eliza’s brother is the commander-in-chief!  How he would even have the audacity to think that I’d have him beats me!!!!  His arrogance is offensive!  In the words of Cher from the movie Clueless “As if!”
  • The Head Custodian: He is a handsome older man (mid 40’s) whom I have worked with the longest.  I am not interested.
  • The Substitute:  The female students and teachers alike describe him as gorgeous.  It’s crazy the reaction that he gets because I don’t find him good-looking and he is annoying to boot.  He is also a masseur.  I like “manly” men, not androgynous metrosexuals. I am not interested.
  • The Special Ed Teacher: Married, no need to say anymore (but if you let him tell it, he’s not happy at home, no sympathy found here!) I am not interested.
  • The Former Coworker: He is fair looking, but too intense for my liking.  He heard through the grapevine about  my husband’s death and attended the  funeral.  I am not interested.
  • The Neighbor: Married, no need to say anymore! I am not interested.
  • The School Police Officer: Older man, not my type.  He looks like Ving Rhames with a Caesar.  I am not interested.
  • The Mechanic: An older guy who seems nice enough. I’m not interested.
  • The Sheriff’s Deputy:  Another older guy (late 30’s early 40’s).  He is the same one who gave my battery a jump when my car wouldn’t start.  My husband and I knew him from our frequent appearances in family court.  He’s weird. I am not interested.
  • The Reverend: He is an older man who looks much younger than he is (66 to be exact) and was the same clergyman who baptized my husband as a child! He has not directly stated his intentions, but his actions (I relunctantly admit) do.  My friend Kara calls me “Shocked and Appalled” because some things that shouldn’t surprise me just do! I mean he is way too old for me, he knows my inlaws, he is a man of the cloth—-it’s too much for me to even ponder!  This one makes me the most uncomfortable.

 The bottom line is I am not interested!  I want to use this time to heal.  If I am meant to have another person in my life, I believe it will happen naturally.  At this point I am not seeking nor do I want to be saught.  Some men are disgusting creatures!

My Struggle

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I’ve been making my way through the New Testament and the resounding message in each book seems to be “love one another.”  Sounds simple, right?

While I’d like to say I love everyone, I know that I don’t.  I love those who love me which is easy to do.  The hard part is showing love to the ones who treat me bad or simply don’t deserve it.  Now I believe the Bible encourages us to be discerning about love.  Because you can love from a distance without getting yourself tangled in the mire or trampled on.  I love my brother, but I only deal with him on a “need to” basis and feed him with a long-handled spoon.  I show  love by taking care of Jazmine.

Right now I am having a hard time displaying neighborly love toward all.  I don’t love (or even respect) most of the people I work with.  Eliza and her family–forget about it.  And there’s no love lost between my husband’s middle sister and I.  Then there’s the weird family that lives next door to us.  Nor can I feel any affection for the many yahoos that seem to flock my way.  I try not to think about such unpleasantries but I can’t deny that feelings of animosity and bitterness live in me.

I imagine reaching this plateau would involve humbling one’s self.  Thus, I guess my first lesson lies in humility. I have so much work to do!

Peninsula

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Wetness all around me/True/But I’m no island/Peninsula maybe/Makes no sense/I know/Crazy ~Andre 3000

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of  the continent ~John Donne

For none of us lives to himself… ~Romans 14:7

As strange as it may sound, I pretty much live a life of seclusion.  In fact, one of my most outspoken students refers to me as “a secret.”  It probably doesn’t seem this way considering that I have a blog and post about many private matters. 

But I ‘ve been like this as long as I can remember.  If I really reflect on this side of myself, I know that it is rooted in rejection, fear, longing, and loss.

In some respects I enjoy my sheltered existence.  It limits me from dealing with fickle, crazy, cruel people.  My “island like” behavior serves to protect me from these things.  I was comfortable and safe with the world I had–my husband and my kids.  I could have lived this way forever.

On the other hand, it prevents me from enjoying the fullness of life.  When you are afraid to love or live for the fear of getting hurt or rejected, how can you seize the day? I’m gradually learning that it is okay toallow people into my realm.  It really does make the tempests of life more bearable. 

Life is lonely for me right now.  It’s only when things go wrong that you realize this.  You crave human contact and relationships.  What you once perceived as paradise can turn into a deserted dwelling.  And I don’t believe that God intended for us to live to ourselves.

Change is hard.  I am not quite ready to abandon my island living.  Maybe I am a parrothead at heart!  However, I know that I can’t exist solely to myself.  It’s just not healthy.  So I’m upgrading to a beachfront peninsula!  It’s a small step in the right direction.  I will be connected to others, yet I can retreat unto myself when desired. 

In my own way I am reaching back to those who are stretching themselves to be apart of my life.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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Speaking in general terms, we all want the good things in life.  We don’t want to experience any valleys.  Forget waiting–we want the good times to roll ASAP!

I know this is true for me, especially as a stepmom.  Dealing with Eliza, there has been a whole lot of bad and ugly.  I am ready for the good part.  My relationship with Ethan is still the same.  It has been two years and it really has not gotten any better.  He continues to be distant and rude.  It is not for a lack of trying on my part.  In this case it does take two to tango. 

 I’m sure he is aloof for a variety of reasons:

  • He misses his mom and I am a reminder that his mom is not available
  • He has been trained not to like me
  • He is a teenager
  • He has limited interpersonal skills (a few of his teachers have mentioned this)
  • He misses Evan and his other brother
  • He does not put any effort forth to be a part of our family
  • He is used to being in an environment in which there was little parental supervision
  • He wants to remain the same for Eliza

I have signed him up for counseling.  He rarely speaks, so I have no idea what is going on in his head.  He talks to Nicholas and does okay (barely) with my husband. 

I feel like I am living with a hostile stranger.  Yes, I have tried bonding with him.  Yes, my husband has tried talking to him on several occassions.  Yes, we make an effort to make him feel welcome.  I know it may take time, but my goodness, its been two years! 

I know in a family that you must take the good with the bad and the ugly.  That’s just what families do, yet I am having a hard time doing this.

Life Wife

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I’ve been thinking a lot about being a “second wife.”  Personally, I really don’t view myself in this manner.  I like to think of myself as a “life wife.”  After all, we are in this thing together for life.

Eliza used to remind me that she was married to him first as if that made her the winner of some contest that I didn’t know I had entered.  I have no idea why, as I have never had a problem acknowledging that fact that she is his former spouse.

At the inception of our relationship, she had attempted to get me fired from my job several times.  Once she went as far as going down to the superintendent’s office to air her grievances.   When Eliza soon realized that the school administration would not get involved in her personal vendetta against me she grew irate. My boss finally cautioned Eliza that she was trespassing on school grounds.  She also advised her to leave us alone and move on with her life.  She responded that my husband would never really belong to me because she had him first!  I was truly astonished by her immaturity.

I don’t see the glory in being involved in a failed marriage.  True, it is a fact of life but not much to brag about.  The best thing that came out of that particular union are the kids.  That’s it.

At the last court date, Eliza must have gotten tired of hearing the judge refer to me as “his wife.”  She quickly switched from calling him by his first name to “my ex-husband.”  Well, your Honor, my exhusband…My ex-husband said…When my exhusbandI asked my exhusband…we both found this peculiar considering how much she detests him.  Why would she want to lay any kind of claim to him–past or present?    This was my first time hearing her use the term.  Again, she simply threw it about as a reminder to everyone that she was “The First.”  But I think she failed to take into account that the husband she had is not the one I have.  It is afterall, his second time around.  His experience with her has helped him be a better husband to me. 

In our society we are consumed with being number one.  Everyone remembers the first man to walk on the moon, as well as we know that Martha Washington was the first First lady.  Don’t forget that must people want to fly first class.  We live for firsts because we are such a competitive society that second place just won’t do.  I mean look at the world of sports today. It’s only about the title.  But I can say that this is one situation in which being second is the best.

Sister Act

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Several days ago I was told by a couple of family members that my 21-year-old sister got married last week.  I felt so distressed hearing that! I assumed that my sister was playing a joke; but was shocked to find that she wasn’t.  I am bothered that she didn’t bother to call me.  Plain and simple my feelings are hurt!

I must begin by telling you all that I am the oldest of five siblings.  I have two sisters and three brothers.  Chloe, my youngest sister was born when I was nine. 

She was a gorgeous baby.  When I first saw the chubby bundle of cafe au lait that mother held in her arms, I was in love.  Her face was even shaped like a heart!  Chloe had dark, thick wurly (a mixture of waves and curls) hair with big doe-like brown eyes and a tiny button nose.  Her skin was soft and smooth.  She stared into my eyes as she sucked daintily on her petite thumb (a habit that she has not abandoned).  In a word she was the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on.  Even to this day, there are not many babies that I would place on par with her.

Chloe was a good, quiet yet spoiled child.  My stepfather doted on her.  “Baby Girl,” as she was called by him, was the princess of the house.  She could do no wrong.

Shortly before she turned nine, I headed off to college. Therefore our time living under the same roof was brief.   I was also very involved in school activities, ballet class, and I worked part-time.  Plus, I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house so I really wasn’t home much. 

But I still made it a priority to spend time and do things for her as she was growing up.  To highlight her 13th birthday, I gave her a slumber party at my house.  I wanted her to know that she was valued as my little sister.  I took her on many outings and even involved her in my volunteer efforts as a “sisterfriend” to pregnant teenagers at The Birthing Project

As the years progressed we grew distance.  I am not sure how or why because I certainly loved Chloe. However, the older she got, the less she would interact with me.  As a teenager she developed a wild streak.  I didn’t like a few of her boyfriends which didn’t go over well with her. 

For a while she was a student at the high school where I taught.  I let my colleagues know and asked them to get me abreast of her progress.  Chloe, however, seemed embarassed that her big sister was a teacher at her school.  She would barely speak to me in the halls and would try avoid being in the same vicinity as me.  I guess she didn’t want me keeping such a close eye on her (considering that she liked to cut).

I tried to keep her on the right track, but I think this only served to increase the distance between she and I.  Thankfully her wild days were fleeting.

Over the years I talked to my mother often about how four of my five siblings seemed to view me.  She summed it up by saying that they just didn’t understand my good intentions. My mother knew that I had pure motives.  She also reminded me that they did not like being admonished by anyone, including her or their dad.  While this was certainly understandable I was still at a loss.  What else was I to do?  I always thought that they were too lenient with them.  She was a lot stricter on me growing up.  So I took it upon myself to get the job done.

As the first born I always felt obligated to set examples for them.  I viewed it as my  sisterly duty to correct them when they were headed in what I felt was the wrong way.

It always rested heavy on my heart that it was “me” and “them.”  Not only were we seperated by time, we were also divided by blood.  My mother’s first husband was their dad.  I often wondered if this was  part of the reason I was so hard for them to swallow. I felt like the wicked, half-blood sister. 

I know this concerned my mother as well.  A year or so before she died I promised her that I would always look after them and would not let their attitudes about me get in the way.  I know it troubled her to see us so fractured.  

When she died I thought we would all magically grow closer.  Of course, this has not been the case.  Don’t get me wrong, when we see each other we are social and civil.  In fact, a few months ago my husband and I had lunch at the restaurant where Chloe works as a hostess.  She seemed genuinely happy to see me.  She ran and gave me a big hug and chatted with us for a spell.  But I didn’t hear from her after that.  I called her once or twice but she never returned my messages.

Sometimes I get the impression that Chloe (and probably my other siblings as well) thinks I will have “something to say,” about what, I don’t know.  Since they are now adults I don’t try to fix them anymore.  I haven’t “said” anything about how they chose to conduct their affairs in many moons.  Now when hear about something that I don’t necessarily agree with, I immediatedly send a prayer up for them.  I now know that God is much better suited to correct them than I am.

I have spent the week pouting about her selfishness.  But today I sucked it up and headed to the store to buy a gift for the newlyweds.  I am going to invite my sister and my brother-in-law (one of the boyfriends from her youth that I did not like) over for dinner as well. 

Afterall, I will always be their big sister and I have to continue acting as one.  I won’t give up on them!

And the Winner is…

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Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.  Galatians 5:26

For several years Eliza was consumed with competing with me.  Believe it or not she asked my SIL what was so special about me!  Shortly she started to emulate my dress and speech.  As if that was not enough she started wearing her hair in the same style as mine! 

When I had Nicholas record our  voicemail greeting, she promptly had Evan do the same.  Strangely, she started telling people that she was a kindergarten teacher! I think she was intimidated by my level of education because she left a voicemail when we first started dating saying he has a girlfriend who is supposedly well educated…but I doubt that! 

There were other little acts of competition along the way, too.  Even presently when I would send her letters at her request about the boys I would include some of the things things that we were doing with them (i.e. On Friday we took them to a Pacer’s game and the boys had a great time!), she would write back telling me what all she has done with and for them.  Not wanting that kind of competitive exchange, I quickly discontinued providing her with too many details.

When she married her current husband, she gave up.  She went back to doing things the way she normally did.  It was a relief because it felt so ackward being that it painfully obvious as to what she was doing.  Truthfully I felt embarrassed for her.  I also wanted her to realize that I didn’t want her to feel that she had to compete with me.  What for?  We are both winners.

Today I was thinking about how different yet similar Eliza and I are.  I noted a few comparisons below which caused me to ponder why competition seems to be a common factor in relationships between women. 

Obviously our persoanlities are different.  I really don’t have to go into detail here.

We married the same man–enough said!

If I had to rate her in the looks department I would give her a 6 on a scale of 1-10.  I would rate myself an 8.  We are the same exact height, 5 feet tall and we pretty much weigh the same.  I weigh 129 pounds and she doesn’t look much bigger.   We have the same skin tone, too.  However, that’s where the resemblence ends.

She is a more casual dresser.  Eliza likes jeans, t-shirts, jogging suits, tennis shoes, and simple shirts.  She used to relatively old-fashioned for her age.  But now she dresses more youthful.  I am a more conservative/funky/fashionable dresser.  I tend to favor blouses, slacks, blazers, suits, camisoles, sweaters, twin sets, skirts, and stilettos.  I love signature pieces and mixing things up for an expected yet elegant combo.  Some of my favorite stores include:  Banana Republic, Ann Taylor Loft, Target, Macy’s and The Limited.  I pretty much dress this way all of the time.  Sometimes I do wish that I approached dressing more casually.  I can be somewhat prissy but I am learning to relax.

My hair is quite long and hangs well past my shoulders.  I like my hair simple and typically styled in an iron-out.  For special occasions I will wear soft curls.  Eliza likes the more intricate do’s.  She wears it all: braids, ponytails, fountains, humps and other trendy hairstyles.  Her hair looks “fun.”  She also styles her own hair.  Unfortunately I don’t have that talent so I have to go to a stylist.

We both like poetry, food, and conversation.

I am an avid reader and she stated that she likes to read as well.

She is a hoarder and I am a minimalist.

Eliza once had temporary custody of her niece, too!

We are the same age, although she is almost exactly a month older than me.  She was born December 21st, me, January 22nd. 

Eliza has held a lot of jobs in her lifetime.  She usually works for a month or two here and there.  I don’t think she has been at one job longer than six months.  In my adulthood I have only had one main job, teaching English and one part-time job, teaching ballet.

Both of our moms are deceased.  Sadly her mom passed before mine.  Neither of us communicate with our fathers.  I have 5 siblings and I am the oldest.  She, too has 5 siblings but is the second youngest.

We both have three children, two of them I “share” with her.

I have two college degrees and I am currently working on a third.  She earned her GED while in jail.

She revealed that English was her favorite subject in high school.  It was mine to which is why I made a career of it.  Eliza also stated on her pre-sentencing report that she eventually wanted to attend college to major in Business and minor in English.  Go figure!

She is insanely afraid of dogs–both big and small.  I like dogs, especially the little baby-sized ones.

When she moved out of her old neighborhood, I moved in.

We are both stepmoms.

We are both women.

We are both daughters of the King.

I am healthy enough to know that she has some good qualities as well as some bad ones.  So do I.  Do her bad characteristics outweigh the good ones?  This is a question I can’t answer because I don’t know the complete contents of her heart.  And really, this is a job best left to the Master.

I like to celebrate and acknowledge Eliza when I can.  I have told her that she does a good job staying connected with her boys (she really does, she writes them pretty faithfully every week).  Eliza also has a nice smile and I have commented on this before.  I am not fake about it and only do so when I am able to be sincere.  It is my small way of helping her build self-esteem.  This helps tone my grace muscle as well!

I’m aware of the adage that says imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I do believe that too much imitation is really insecurity.  Too much insecurity leads to jealousy and envy.  When you feel complete there is no need to compete.

And because we are all human, we all tend to feel this way from time to time.  In these moments it is wise to reflect on our strengths.  This always puts things into perspective for me.   I know that we are all blessed with gifts and talents.  Sometimes we just have to discover them.