Think Before You Speak

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Last week we celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. Considering how young we were when we married, it is an amazing milestone. A follower of this blog suggested I expand on the lessons learned.  So in addition to my regular posts, I will further elaborate on each lesson.

The goal is not to exploit our personal experiences but instead to prevent others from making the same mistakes. Dr. Maya Angelo said it best, “When you get, give. When you learn, teach.”

“I learned that speaking my raw opinion, without considering hubby’s feelings was inconsiderate and to think before I speak.”

As a child I carefully observed the adults around me give tongue lashings (deserving or not) to one another. Only the children were expected to bite their tongue.

Occasionally I tried to express my opinion but mom wasn’t having any of that nonsense. A quick backhand to the lips stifled further opinions from exiting my mouth. Adulthood and freedom of speech wouldn’t come soon enough.

At 17, hubby and I hooked up. From the outside looking in, I appeared to be a thin, innocent and harmless girl, but cross me in smallest way and I exploded like a match to gasoline. Boom! 🔥

We rarely argued, but I remember our first one well. I just didn’t know when to shut up. He was upset with me for offering the use of his new engine red Toyota 4 x 4 pick up.

Instead of letting the conversation end as he did, I continued to push the envelope and pointlessly rant and rave about how I felt. The world revolved around me (so I thought) and that’s all that mattered.

My rant and rave led to a physical altercation. No, he’s too much of a man to hit me. He slightly pushed me and I ridiculously went off. Swinging and punching, calling him and his family outrageous names and threatening bodily harm. Absolutely out of control and for no valid reason.

His feelings were hurt and I was too self-absorbed to recognize that I hurt his feelings. Today we laugh about the incident and several others where my mouth escalated situations unnecessarily.

Words can cut deeper than a knife. In some cases, they leave permanent scars. Apologizing doesn’t always take the pain away.

My displaced anger and a lack of self-control was damaging.

When you have something to say to your significant other, especially when you’re angry, stop. Breath. I mean really take a deep breath and slowly let it out of your mouth.

Then ask yourself, if you really mean what you are about to say and how you would feel if your partner mouthed your words to you. You probably wouldn’t like it, so don’t go there. Sometimes it is best to say absolutely nothing that than to mouth words you’ll later regret.

Sweet dreams!

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25 Years Going Strong!

Twenty-five years ago, June 4, 1988, 3:10 p.m. I walked down the aisle of Second Baptist Church In Atlantic City, New Jersey to exchange wedding vows with hubby.

Not one clue did I have about the amount of patience, love, sacrifice, commitment, and dedication needed to sustain 25 years of marriage and 30 years of friendship.

The one thing I knew for sure was that I deeply loved him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. How that would occur was a mystery that I would later sort through.

My father-in-law performed the ceremony, which made the day even more special. Although Reverend Cain died in 2003, the blessings he bestowed upon our marriage is still present today.

We were young and naïve but very committed to respecting and loving the other. I the extrovert; a crazy out going and out spoken hot-head. The contrast was my laid back introverted husband who internalized and mulled over everything before speaking. Talk about a contrast! I have wondered, “How on earth did it work?” Maturity, time, prayer, maturity, time, and more prayer helped immensely. I learned to speak less; he learned to speak more. Somehow we found a solid balance.

While I cannot speak for hubby, the past 25 years has been an enlightening journey for me. A personal journey that included bumps , bruises, detours, and exciting discoveries. Childhood relationships with my parents and between my mom and dad affected my relationship with my husband with great surprise. I saw glimpses of characteristics that I liked and that I disliked. The realization that I, and only I was empowered to make changes about myself that needed to be made was a relief. Cycles… some are meant to be broken.  The fact is that we don’t have to repeat what has been done before us. Some family traditions should end.

Sadly, I closely witnessed the shattering of too many marriages. I have never judged other marriages or thought that my marriage was better than another. I did, however, extract the lessons that I could from the failed marriages around me. So often spouses point the finger of blame, but don’t ask what did they bring to the table. In turn, my reality check is to stare in the mirror and ask, how am I doing? Do I need to make adjustments? Have I fallen off course?

Sometimes there are issues that exist within me, which require me to adjust and make changes. Other times, the pulse of our marriage needs adjusting– I think of it (the pulse) as a heart rate– Neither too fast or too slow is not good. I strongly believe that at least one person in every relationship, should have their finger on the pulse of the relationship at all times. The pulse being, the pace and mode of the relationship. Is it steady? Is it regular? How’s the vibe? Is it positive? Do things feel out of sync? They are just questions that have worked for me.

My point is that marriage is not easy. Point blank, it is hard work and by no means do I claim to be an expert. We’ve been blessed for 25 years and I hope and pray that we are blessed we a good 25 more years. While reflecting on the years, I came up with many lessons that I have personally learned. While this list could be longer, I dedicated one lesson for each year of our happy marriage.

Lessons I learned from 25 years of marriage:

  1. I learned that speaking my raw opinion, without considering hubby’s feelings was inconsiderate and to think before I speak.
  2. I learned that no matter how “I preferred” he do things, hubby is entitled and will do things the way he chooses to.
  3. I learned that I can only change and improve myself and that’s what I ought to work on.
  4. I learned that when you marry your spouse, you also marry your in-laws.
  5. I learned that just because you create babies together, doesn’t mean you will share beliefs on how to raise them. Your ideas on child rearing will differ. Compromise.
  6. I learned that your spouse will do things behind your back and you will do things behind his back.
  7. I learned that, if you allow it, children can take the sex right out a marriage.
  8. I learned that one of the two will always appreciate romance more than the other.
  9. I learned that saying, “I told you so” is unnecessary.
  10. I learned that somebody ought to know how to cook a decent meal.
  11. I learned that you will like some of your spouses friends and you will despise some of your spouses friends. You opinion won’t change his relationship with his friends.
  12. I learned that married family and friends will divorce. Try to stay neutral. Your harsh words may return and bite you in the butt.
  13. I learned not to compare my marriage to another marriage. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and you cannot predict the future (of yours).
  14. I learned that solid marriages are built on friendships. Maintain a friendship with your spouse.
  15. I learned to establish and maintain my identity and independence.
  16. I learned to become educated, even if you wish to be a stay-at-home.
  17. I learned to expect the unexpected.
  18. I learned to plan for the future, but live everyday in the present.
  19. I learned why older couples like my parents slept in separate beds. Thankfully, we haven’t gotten to that point.
  20. I learned that the affirmation, “A women’s work is never done” is true.
  21. I learned that husbands and wives should have separate clothing closets and bathroom sinks.
  22. I learned that spirituality is important to a marriage.
  23. I learned that spouses who work hard as a team can accomplish amazing feats and can overcome incredible obstacles.
  24. I learned that spouses who hang out together are genuinely happier couples.
  25. I learned that your spouse is not a mind reader.  Don’t assume that your spouse knows what you want.  Tell your spouse what you want.

Hubby and I have shared 25 solid good years. Were the years always perfect? No, but we’ve always managed to work through our differences in the most respectful ways and treat the other the way we wish to be treated. I am thankful for the 25 shares we’ve shared and pray for 25 more.

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June 4, 1988

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Exchanging wedding bands

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Spontaneous trip for our anniversary to Cancun, Mexico (2002 or 2003)

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Hubby forgot to tell me that we had an appointment for a family portrait immediately after leaving spending the day at an outdoor park. OMG! Look at those heads! LOL!

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NYE late 1990’s (I wasn’t natural then… I wish I were)

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NYE, Washington, DC – Late 1990’s – The Beehive look.