For those of you who do not know, I was with my daughter’s father for seven years. At the top of the month I encouraged people to invest in their relationship. The emphasis and importance I put on maintaining a healthy relationship comes from some the lessons I learned from my own. I wanted to share some of those lessons.
The first one is self-love. I want to be transparent and come from a perspective of me looking at myself as half of the problem with why our relationship failed. This first point is related to some of the negative comments I received from him and outsiders. So, I had to love on myself. I have always been a believer and I didn’t suffer from low self-esteem even though growing up others made me fun a lot. My Mom always affirmed me and when I was a young adult, I learned to affirm myself. Affirmations weren’t a known thing at the time, but I would do self-talk in the mirror every morning and reminded myself who I was in Christ and I why I was important despite what was being told to me.
The second lesson I had to learn was to be humble. I was dealing with constant criticism and self-talk was beneficial however my true nature is to carry this layer of pride. I think confidence is healthy, but God had to show me that when you are pushed or back into a corner you can’t tear down another person. That anything that I speak against someone may come back around and you be faced with that same dilemma or worst your loved one might have to deal with it. So, I believe that I was worthy to be treated the way that God had outlined what loved look like in the bible however I had to emulate those same characteristics and in order for me to do that my pride had to go.
Along with my pride I had a strong need to be right or win arguments. It is crazy because I value my peace so much but growing up, I was so quiet. I rarely spoke up for myself so when I recognized the power I had in my voice; I didn’t back down from an argument debate etc. Once I reflected, I had to come to terms with me not winning a trophy but creating strife in my home and causing division. I realized that we should be on the same team and the mission should always be what is best for our home.
In addition to arguing, I didn’t let things go. I didn’t know how to let him get a break from the constant arguing because once we got started, I wanted to resolve it, so we could make peace. My ex didn’t like that, he didn’t like his boundaries being pushed in general, but I did it anyway. I would call repeatedly to talk (smh it was immature and very annoying) but I wanted to do things on my own term and didn’t care about what he wanted it that moment. I would follow him out the house to continue to argue. Our tempers would flair up, one day we got into it over a girl calling. We wrestled over the cell phone and my neighbor called the police. The police officer looked at me and told me hey if he wants to leave to clear his head when he’s upset, let him, and yall can discuss the issue when things are calmed down. I learned it is OK to table a conversation or take a time out during an argument. Of course, issues shouldn’t be swept under the rug, but the following statement can help:
I know I am upset right now and based on your body language and tone you appear to be upset as well. We can come back to this conversation at this time ______
Make sure you commit to coming back afterwards and even apologizing for your actions if it is warranted.
Next I learned the value of submission. My home was ran by control, me trying to control him so that he doesn’t cheat. I didn’t trust him so there was no way that I wanted to submit. To be honest I didn’t know what it was. He would try to teach me, but I didn’t compromise at all. In hindsight most people would say well if he was…. or you did this because…. which may be true however it didn’t make it right. To watch myself grow over the years and recognize why God called women to submit their husbands makes sense. It is a certain order that helps that house run smoother, but I wanted to play both roles. I did and not only was it tiresome, but the result was an unsuccessful.
I spoke on trust and I realized he wasn’t the only person I didn’t trust. I was a guarded individual and I truly believe to this day people are learning who I am. The same for my ex, so my past relationship taught me to be vulnerable. Since a young girl, I have always been a listening ear. I truly believe that’s how him and I connected emotionally. I’m extremely compassionate and if I can help I will but I don’t let people know my weak areas. What makes me tick, what makes me sad, asking for support. I am a pleaser and currently working on allowing others to reciprocate that same type of affection to me. If I am being honest this is something that I must actively practice daily.
Finally, my last lesson was investment. I really didn’t know how to love a man properly. That’s just the honest truth. I was in love with the idea of love, but I didn’t know what investing in my relationship look like. At that age and most of my life people always talk to me about their problems, I was a fixer and I fixed things. I knew how to be there when things were rough and got hard but outside of that I was pretty selfish. In my past relationship I was selfish and only cared about my needs and what made me happy as an individual. I remember we fell on hard times financially and he asked me to stop going out every weekend. I really thought that wasn’t reasonable and I did whatever I wanted to. Never stopping to check in and say what do you need, what in your opinion will make our relationship move in a healthier direction, etc. This why as a single you must have some type of self-awareness. When your heart isn’t ready to serve your partner and their needs, you aren’t ready for marriage. I didn’t invest in my relationship because it wasn’t time. I was supposed to invest in myself first.
So, in case you are wondering my ex and I tried to date a again a few years after we broke up. It didn’t work however the second go round I felt comfortable with knowing I had applied the lessons from my past to our current situation. I know that we weren’t made for one another in a romantic way and are better as friends. If I had met the guy that God made for me, during this time I wasn’t ready, and it probably wouldn’t have worked. That’s why it is vital to seek God’s wisdom and guidance and wait on his perfect timing. I’m currently working on my final certification to be able to work with married couples and families. Raising my daughter without her Dad living in our home, being a product of a single parent household and working with a multitude of teens that come from broken families, is why I am so passionate about teaching people how to have and maintain a healthy, happy, loving home. I hope me opening up about my own struggles will help you as well.
Father God I want to pray for singles first, that before they seek a committed relationship, that obtain a servant heart and mind. Living in a culture where everything is about what I can get instead of what can I do for others is difficult, continue to renew our hearts and our minds, reminding us that we should be set apart. I pray anyone that may be struggling with the characteristics I mentioned. Align them with the right people, the right words and help them recreate a new standard for their relationships. It is in your name I trust. Amen.
Your Sista on the Sofa,