You’re the only woman…

The risk I took at 23 is a different risk today at 47. Times have changed. I’ve changed. I see life differently and my physical abilities aren’t as good today like years ago. Okay, these are a few of my excuses for a long-time engagement with a slow crawl to the alter. Yet, I can clearly recall what she said to me about a year ago, ‘Felita, you’re probably the only woman I know who would be engaged this long without getting married [paraphrased].’

My immediate response was silence, and then I thought to myself, “She might be correct about that statement.” Yet, just the other day I reminded myself of how listening to that and giving it weight is the sentiment she carries, and not that of my own. Albeit a disagreement or an indifference, we have independent decisions to make for particular reasons. Hence, my decision to remain engaged- with a brief hiatus- is a mutual agreement in my relationship.

Truth be told! There’s a hesitancy between us with approximately 34-years of past luggage we both are still unpacking. He, formally married for 18 years and I for 16.5. Our wounds of past agony are slow to heal, and we can now finally see progress with our communication skills where, formally, we spoke at one another. Today we now talk to and are empathetic towards each other. We further understand our beginning was in haste; hence, perspectives are realized. Nonetheless, reaching this stage has been an uphill battle but neither he nor I would have it any other way.

Conversely, we are now beginning to apply helpful tips to strengthen our relationship, such as ‘working on our whole self’ and bringing that person to the table. Though remedial to a few, these relationship nuggets are useful reminders of how the slightest misunderstanding of words can potentially lead to a large ordeal that, if mishandled, can take days or months to heal. We’ve gracefully been through that also.

With that said, me and my fiancé are going on 6-years strong with no plans of turning back. So today I will say this: Yes, you’re correct about the ‘very few women‘ who will hang this long. However, my urgency to marry is different than the next (it’s not an urgency at all)! Grant it – your and my decisions are independent but our positions are the same – direction, forward. So, I wish you well at your pace that will officially occur in a few months with one simple request … I pray you will also appreciate my walk to the alter – regardless of how slow of a pace I take.

Congrats 🎉 Mrs.!

Care with Deliverance

Challenges are plentiful in a relationship, but nothing trumps Communication. I remember the beginning of many relationships, two of which I was able to salvage after I identified the complex, yet simple problem – my Communication style. Twelve years ago before I became a parent communicating my candid thoughts weren’t as important as they are today. Not because my relationships carried less significance insomuch that I had less to lose than I do now. As a submissive wife, who wholeheartedly trusted her husband, I rarely vocalized things of the heart that was largely attributed to the incapacity to process and translate thoughts to feelings, i.e. head to heart because of the fear of what would become if I did so. Hence, it was adequate for me to suppress my inner voice and starve the heart instead. The outcome? A consensual divorce.

 “In my next relationship I will do everything in my power to not repeat the same mistakes, even if it means ‘telling my story to others to save their marriage.'”

My life at 35 carried a different perspective than my current age of 47. The reference point of knowing that I have less years ahead of me than I do behind me is relevant to the Why, When, What, How and Where of my Communication process today.

  • Why (the relevancy): Why should I communicate this today, right now instead of later? Why is it important to know what I am thinking and feeling? Why is it significant? Why do my thoughts matter?
  • When (the timing): When is it appropriate to address my (our) issue, i.e. when things have calmed or at the peak of frustration? When did I become affected by what was said?
  • What (the intent | content): Will what I say break or build the relationship? Will what I say matter insomuch to improve or takeaway from the quality of our friendship? Is the What greater than the We? What is the timing of the message: do I wait until we arrive home or should I say what is on my heart here in public?
  • How (the delivery): Will How I say impact us greatly – for better or worse? Will my message be received or ignored and How so, e.g. with love or anger, respectively? How do I phrase what I intend to say so that what I do say is accurately felt, spoken and delivered with love?
  • Where (the venue | environment | internal space): Is the setting suitable to discuss our personal matters? From where (internally) am I gathering my thoughts – a place of compassion; a place of frustration or hate; a place of jealously; a place of resentment and the list continues?

I could continue to expand upon the aforementioned points, but the focus of Communication should always be on these five main points. Attempt to always ask yourself is my message Relevant; is the Timing appropriate; what is the Intent of the Content; contemplate the appropriate deliverance by asking ‘will it lead to harm or love’ and how so; is the setting appropriate from where the problem occurred and from where the sentiments are birthed.

Again, I never said Communication is easy but I will attest to its importance! Remember I spoke of the two relationships I was able to salvage?

The first one was my marriage of 16.5 years. Although my former husband and I did divorce, we are more friendlier to one another now than we could have ever been married. Why? Because (1) We both apologized for our wrongdoings in the marriage – realizing that beginning anew would not be possible without this step, (2) We realized we hindered one another as a couple, although we were accomplished financially, because our dual obligation to cherish each other’s hearts was inadvertently and sometimes purposely ignored in the marriage, and (3) in hindsight we’d have it no other way than to remain cordial because what was not offered to us as kids, who had parents that did not communicate, would be the very thing to combat. So our daughter will forever have what she deserves – to have genuine love in her life with parents who can look beyond themselves.

The second is my current relationship to my fiance – this second g’round. After a 3-year courtship and a 2-year engagement we broke off the relationship because we grew separate and distant in personal goals. Conversely, that one-year break up was the best thing that happened to us! It allowed him to commit to a sole person, while I dated on and off. Albeit we each missed each other and didn’t realize it until we decided to remain friends (a philosophy I had never condone) separate from our individual lives. However, had he and I not decided to take a leap of faith and express our dismay about the breakup to one another, while respecting our intimate space with others, we’d be living a part wishing we should have communicated what we missed most – us. So, despite our flaws, inadequacies and divorces to our former spouses, we believe one of the most complexities of relationships can be achieved if we dare to put forth a genuine effort to understand our Communication styles.

Note the words Why, When, What, How and Where are intently used because they are the beginners of open-ended conversations that stimulates a dialog between and not at one another. Applied and used correctly will allow the initiator and receiver of words to not only respond to each other, but possibly have a discussion unknowingly – thus, the objective. Open-ended questions are widely used to gather feedback in the most clever of ways.

Once Told. Believed. L-O-V-E

Once told you will never meet another, then I met him. Once told that you will never be another, and then I defied odds. Once told that you may have a challenge loving again with your whole heart because you guard it like someone has robbed you of your most private possessions, yet he still stayed. My point! Let no one, and I mean no one, put limitations on what you will or will not become, particularly as it relates to listening with your whole heart and trusting with complete vulnerability.

Is it a wonder why one guards their heart in fear of letting go because intuitively they sense and subconsciously know something does not feel correct (rhetorical). I am a part of a prayer network site where persons will post their most intimate of stories for all to not only see, but more importantly to pray about. Today I read a post from a women who was in a relationship for one year, yet recently found out that her male partner announced he was becoming a father with someone else and this announcer wanted to know what actions she should take about how she felt. Of course, I contributed my thoughts along with others.

Over and over again there are stories similar or somewhat different than the one described above. Conversely, each time an article is posted, a Facebook post is shared, a conversation occurs or an exchange of thoughts are delivered, the denominator called L-O-V-E is in the equation. This word is so powerful, yet overly used where it has and continues to lose its connotation. Instead of it meaning compassion, nurturing, maintaining, reciprocating, giving, receiving, exchanging, offering and the list continues, the acronym to mean Lusting Over Various Events (L-O-V-E) is put in its place.

Casting judgment you ask, no. Analyzing one’s actions, no. Wishing ill-intent on another, absolutely not. Perceiving myself as better, not I, who has and continues to write about my flaws and transgressions. However, I am speaking from a ‘been there done that’ perspective where finding L-O-V-E has become a regular-everyday practice such as getting up to report to a job or posting a resume in pursuit of the ideal career, rather than patiently working together toward a unified goal of becoming one, where both partners bring their whole self (100 percent respectively) to the relationship with a single purpose.

Writing from a ‘single woman’s’ perspective is not an easy task because I too desire that ideal male companion who instead will say and usher support of  the “possible” instead of the “impossible” when I am unsure of how to unwrap my whole heart for him to hold and be trusted with. He, wherever and whoever he is, will have the discernment to be patient, understanding that relationships are building blocks versus stepping stones. So, to you my prayer peer who requested advise I write, “if an open relationship existed, the outcome of you and he was to be expected. I am sorry! What should you do? Embrace your heart, cry when and if you feel the need to do so, pray and give it to God, nurture You (the whole you: good, bad and indifferent) and the hardest part – wish him well, praying he finds true love with her. Work on you so that when your [future partner] arrives you can give your whole, complete self to him. I know this is hard, yet I also know it’s possible with God at the front and center of your focus. And besides, you deserved better and this is evidence of your true worth.”

To you the reader, do not be negatively overcome with the label ‘single woman’ that I once classified as a stigma, particularly when you are at my age of 47 this year. Of course, the perspective is different when you are put in a situation that you once viewed. So let my admission be the lesson of what not to do! Hence, I am not new to the scenes of the ‘single’s life,’ yet I am exercising different principles, ridding myself of what did not work the two times prior. And I am observing my flaws, working on my voids, praying often, engaging in dialogues, welcoming advice, socializing with others, listening to my heart more and less with my head (A Libra trait to a fault) and praying to be prepared to give of myself completely to whom is equally prepared to go with me in God’s path. Hopeful thinking? Perhaps too soon, yet whose to say there is a time frame for quality companionship. *Photo credit: Inspired Whole-Self Therapy (Purple Sage Healing)