marriage

5 Ways I Changed My Mind and Saved My Marriage

5 Ways I Changed My MindOne of my most vivid memories in my almost six years of being married (I am a newbie so forgive any naivete that is written here) is sitting in absolute dejection wondering why nobody bothered to tell me that it was absolutely possible to love your husband with everything you have and still feel completely unfulfilled in your union. I was a new wife and a new mom. Our infant did not sleep the night before and was screaming his head off, tears and all, for some attention. I asked my husband to attend to him and the man I love put our only child in his Pack-and-Play and walked away, unbothered. I. was. livid! That moment is forever seared in my memory because of what it spoke to me about my husband, whether my thoughts were true or false. It said that he did not care that I was struggling with sleep-deprivation as a new mom; he could not have cared about our son; and obviously he felt that the work associated with raising our children was beneath him and only fit for the maid-wife he had married. The thoughts all collided with each other and angry tears spurred me to call one of my leaders to unleash all the pent-up rage of postpartum frustration and anxiety.

After that moment, I looked for reasons to validate what my fears said was true. That my husband did not care; that he thought the kids were my responsibility and not his, and that he thought less of me. Anytime any of his actions lined up with those thoughts, I added it to my list of small betrayals. Once I did this long enough, I became a walking, talking personification of my worst fears. I was insecure about my place in my husband’s affection (wondering if he really liked me or if he thought I was a burden) and overly-sensitive to any of his criticisms (perceived or real) about my abilities as a wife and a mother.

When I finally noticed what misery I had created for myself, I had already wasted two years to insecurity and feelings of unworthiness. Those two years were not miserable years by any means. We created many fun and lasting memories. I am sure we had more than a few moments of deep joy and absolute marital bliss, but underneath it all was my belief that my husband does not really value me because if he did, he would have helped me more. What finally snapped me out of my “woe is me” mentality was a candid conversation with a friend. Her marriage was facing the same challenges that we were facing but had deteriorated to the point of separation. Underneath the tirade of issues they were experiencing was one common foundation – each spouse sincerely believed the other to be his/her adversary, not their partner.

Alarm bells went off in my head. I had been harboring the same exact thoughts about my husband. Believing the worst about him without speaking it aloud; complaining to our closest allies in hopes that someone would call him to the carpet. It felt like I was the perfect wife to an undeserving husband.

If I did not want my marriage to end in separation or turn into simply a marriage on paper (where we live under one roof and have completely separate lives), I had to change my mind.

Here are the 5 Ways I Changed My Mind and Saved My Marriage:

  1. Remember that I chose my husband just as much as he chose me. Nobody forced my husband on me, nor me on him. We saw each other. We observed one another’s character. We liked what we found in each other and we deemed one another worthy of a lifetime commitment built on Christ. I went into my relationship with my husband with my eyes wide open (for the most part). I knew he was not perfect when I met and fell in love with him. I had plenty of opportunity to decide if he was what I wanted (we have known each other for over 17 years and began our relationship eight years ago – so I had almost a decade of a head start to figure out who this man was before we were romantically involved).  After weighing all my options and seeing him, faults and all, I still chose him and I still believed God when God said my husband was His best for me. Remembering the fact that my spouse is my choice forces me to remember why. It brings to mind all of the qualities  that I saw before I gave him my heart. When I remember those things – his love for family, his generosity, the simplicity of his faith in Christ, his sense of humor, his intelligence and on and on like that – it is easier to honor him and our union. If my spouse is absolutely without redeeming quality, then why did I choose him? Chances are high that who he is, is who he has always been. Marrying him is my affirmative statement that “I accept you for who you are and I am committed to loving you for life with the knowledge that you might never change.” If I did not intend to make such a statement, then marriage was a premature move on my part.
  2. Treat my husband as my teammate, not my adversary or competition. Husband and wife are designed to become one flesh. That is what the whole journey of sexual intimacy in marriage, combining households, resources and finances, being emotionally vulnerable and monogamous is suppose to aid us to do. In name and in practice, we should be on one team, and speak with a unified voice. When I start harboring beliefs that my husband values his contribution more than mine, I am treating us as if we are competing with each other for “best spouse.” I am not treating us a team. Whether he works and I stay home, or we both work or he stays home, every effort made by either of us, is for the good of the both of us. Me taking primary caregiver responsibilities at home frees him up to focus on his work in the marketplace. It is not a lesser contribution. Him staying home with the children while I work full-time does not make him lazy or a bum. The care he provides at home saves us thousands in outside care as well as providing peace of mind that our children are in the care of those who love them best (their parents). All of the work and all of the effort goes into the same pot. There is no “his or mine,” only ours. And as a good teammate, if I see that my team member is struggling in an area where I am strong, I jump right in to support their efforts. I don’t share insider information (my husband’s confidences) with third parties. I don’t expose his weaknesses to those who may use it against him. I honor him both publicly and privately. And if there ever comes a point where I need to “take one for the team” (by sacrificing a personal non-essential desire for our collective wholeness) then that is exactly what I do.
  3. Give him (and myself) permission to grow.  The most dejected I have ever felt about my marriage were the moments when I would convince myself that things would always be like this because this is who we were as a couple. When we are in a hard season as a couple (bumping heads, on different pages or simply not connecting emotionally), that thought is absolutely terrifying. It feels like “I chose the wrong partner” every time we have a difficult day. But when I give my husband full permission to grow, I realize that husbands are grown, not born. What is hard today is not necessarily going to be hard a year, two years or ten years from now. My husband minimized holidays and birthdays when we first got married. He did not grow up celebrating them so he never made a fuss about them and rarely gave gifts. I used to be so disappointed when what should have been milestones would pass just like any other day in our home. I would do my best to celebrate for the both of us. As the years has gone on, my husband has adjusted to my love of holidays and I have adjusted my expectation of him as well. I do not expect a parade at each occasion and make it a point to appreciate thoughtful cards and token gifts. He, in turn, has done an amazing job at surprising me in recent years with meaningful gifts and celebrations. We have both grown in that area. If I did not give us permission to grow in this particular place, I would have interpreted his lack of gift-giving as a measure of love (or lack thereof) and he could have decided my disappointed response from our early marriage was a measure of my ungratefulness for the many ways he takes care of and shows affection towards me year-round.
  4. Celebrate my portion. There is a lot of good in my marriage. I do not always have time to shout it from the rooftops (my Facebook and Instagram page) or throw a party about it, but nevertheless it is true. And I am almost sure that there is something to celebrate in every marriage. If I am married to someone whose company I genuinely enjoy (and I am!), that is something to celebrate. Although it should be true for every marriage, I am sure we all know at least one couple who have chosen to stay together but it is obvious to everyone on the outside that they cannot stand each other. If that is not your portion, please celebrate the friendship that you have with your spouse. If I am married to man who is a great provider, then I celebrate the peace of mind that comes with knowing that my partner invests into our family without having to be prodded. There are some men (women too) who do not want a marriage unless it comes with a “roommate agreement” (split the bills and everyone must pay their own share) so if you have a spouse that joyfully tackles whatever responsibilities may come to your household, with no regard for whose name is on what (no “yours or mine,” only ours), then you have a partner worth celebrating. If my husband is completely in tune with my emotional needs, then I celebrate that. If he is an amazing father and hands-on parent, I celebrate that. If he is a man devoted to private prayer and corporate worship, I bless God for that as well. There is always something to celebrate in my portion, and I am sure if you look for it, you will find something to celebrate in yours as well.
  5. Quit the comparison. One day I was listening to a woman I greatly admire as she was talking to a group of us about her marriage. She told us that her husband sent her to the hairstylist after two days of her rocking a “do it yourself” hairdo while awaiting her hair appointment from her regular stylist. At home, I looked at my wig-less head in the mirror and busted out laughing. As much as I admired my friend’s union for all of the wonderful things that God does through her and her husband, I realized immediately that I would never thrive if my husband was an exact replica of hers. I can go months without a proper visit to my hairstylist. And this is not because I am doing my hair everyday at home. Most days, my natural hair is braided down and hiding underneath one unit or another. My husband always shows me extra loving when I get my hair freshly done, however he has verbally expressed that he does not mind my hair however I choose to wear it at home. I use that light example to drive home the point that God has given me what I can handle. I am designed to flourish exactly where God has placed me in my marriage and with my husband. Comparing my life to anyone else is a fruitless exercise because what looks amazing on them would never fit me properly. Someone else’s marriage is not my size – it will either be too big and swallow me whole or it will be too small and choke the life out of me. Besides, great husbands are not born, they are grown. I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of effort, pain or growth it takes for some of the marriages I look up to, to become what they are today. Some of the experiences that strengthened their union, could very well kill mine. There is no point to coveting something when I do not have the whole picture.

These are five ways I am reminding myself not to be the foolish woman who destroys her home with her own hands but rather, be the wise one who builds her house. Some of these points may be too “pie in the sky” for some readers. That is okay. Everything is not for everyone. But if any of these points resonate with you as the underlying reason for whatever friction has been on-going in your marriage, then I encourage you to take these words to heart and do whatever it takes to have the marriage of your dreams. Great marriages do not happen by accident. Pray for me as I pray for you. That our marriages will be ones that we all enjoy, rather than institutions that we simply endure.

Uncategorized

Incredulous

31DC82D5-F46C-40B1-9D3E-56037968E148.jpegI love my husband. I do. I just do not trust him. Okay let me explain before you get the wrong idea. I do not believe he will ever do anything to hurt me, at least not on purpose but I firmly believe that I am the best person to know what I need so I trust myself more than I trust him. Jordan and I have been married for 10 years, college sweethearts. Jasmine and Jordan. It’s almost corny, right? We determined that we only wanted two kids, but after the birth of our daughter (Glory), I really do not want anymore. I have been too scared to tell him. It feels like a betrayal to go back on what we initially agreed so I am hoping I can wait him out. Glory is five years old right now. I am inching closer to forty everyday. My window is closing. He has asked me more in the past year than ever before. He really wants to try again for another kid but I keep telling him I am not ready. It is not that I would not like another kid but having our daughter cost me years of traction I had been building up in my career. While I was out on maternity leave, one of my colleagues got the promotion I have been vying for over the last year. Candice and I are work friends but we are also each other’s biggest competition in the company. As the only two women and minorities in our entire department, we collaborate on most of our projects. We are neck to neck on expertise and both great candidates for the open C-suite position in our tech company. We have the same level of experience and comparable degrees, mine from MIT and hers from Yale. The chance to move up to an executive level position in what began as a startup in 2001 and has ballooned as a technology heavyweight was exactly the catalyst I needed to rocket my career into the stratosphere. I knew the competition would be fierce when I became pregnant with Glory. At first nobody cared as long as I was showing up and killing the game. But as my bump grew so did their concern. Suddenly, I was not representing the company on all of our usual yearly conferences.

”We don’t want to overtax you, Jasmine. You need your rest,” the sentiment was echoed in so many words, always accompanied with a sympathetic glance at my belly. They could have saved the niceties. I was not concerned with losing rest (pregnancy insomnia anyone?). I was concerned with losing ground. Sure enough, a few weeks into my third trimester the unofficial company policy was that I should not be scheduled for any work related trips that were beyond a hundred miles of the office. I missed the company retreat to Colorado and for the first time in five years, I could not attend the biggest tech meetup of the year that was taking place in Las Vegas as it was too close to my due date. Candice of course showed up for all of it and brought her A-game. I do not blame her for her promotion because it was well-earned but I really really wanted that job.

By the time I came back from my leave, Candice was my direct supervisor. She was always gracious and we still function more as collaborators rather than competitors but seeing her at the head of the table in our department meetings is a constant reminder that the position should have been mine. I love my daughter but I paid a heavy price to be her mother. It has taken me another five years to rebuild the momentum I had before I had Glory. I am a contender for the next exective position as one of our directors of tech innovation is leaving by the end of the year to pursue other opportunities. There is no one even close to my level of experience and expertise within the company and I have it on good authority that the company is not hiring an outsider to fill the seat.

My husband is a surgeon and he is doing amazing work that gives him joy. I supported us through his years of residency and I am now reaping the rewards. He initially wanted me to stay home with Glory for her first year or two but I explained to him that it was out of the question. My career is in a field that is being innovated every moment of every day. Missing a day is like missing a week. Missing a year would be like missing a decade. There is no way to catch up. So I continued working and we hired a nanny and the best daycare money could provide. Glory is my pride and joy but my work is my passion. Technology touches almost every life on this planet. Developing something as simple as an application on a smartphone that makes it easier for people across the globe to find a safe place for their children to sleep or to access medical assistance that would otherwise be unavailable is meaningful work. I am honored to be a part of that process, even if all I do is make the use of a valuable tool more widespread. We can live comfortably on my husband’s income alone but it is important to me to work. And that my work is being valued appropriately and compensated accordingly is icing on top. Money is not the goal but it is an easy tool to measure how my work is being valued. And for now I can tell you that I am well regarded in my field.

My husband and I have a deep and mutual respect for one another. I respect his integrity and work ethic and he respects my determination and honesty. I tell it like it is. I don’t sugarcoat anything. I do not believe I need to filter myself to say something in the “best most respectful way” in order to be heard. We are both grown. I should not have to sugarcoat my words before he can take constructive criticism from me. Just like he does not need to treat me with kid gloves to get what he needs. As much as I love him, his happiness is not the focus of my world. Of course I want him to be happy but I am not going to sacrifice my sanity, peace of mind or sense of purpose for it. And if he ever asks me to, then I will know we have worn out our welcome in each other’s lives. My career and my marriage are both equal on my list of priorities. I would never sacrifice one for the other. I make sure both work. The only thing that can possibly trump both is my daughter. I would do anything on this earth to make sure she is happy, safe, loved and cherished.

One of the few financial hiccups we have endured came recently when my husband’s tax filing was audited. Apparently he had underreported one of his income streams over the last few years and owed about $100,000 in unpaid taxes. The bill was a head ache but it was not insurmountable. With some savvy representation, our accountant worked it down to $50,000. The worst part of it all for Jordan was that he had to liquidate some assets to get the cash flow. He does not keep a lot of cash readily accessible to curb his appetite for expensive purchases and train himself to invest more than he spends. As for me, I have been aggressively saving one third of my income since I started working. I have over $300,000 in a tax exempt holding and intend to leave it untouched until I need it for retirement or alternatively as an inheritance for Glory.

It is still a sore point with my husband that I did not give him the money to pay off the IRS bill but to me, it just was not a wise move. Having an extra 50K attributed to my income for the year would have jumped me into the next tax bracket and my tax bill would have been astronomical. It was not worth it. He has no issues making the payments; it just took more effort than if I had wrote a $50,000 check. For the most part, we have worked past the friction. It has created this tendency for him not to ask me for major favors, financial or otherwise. Personally, I think his ego is just bruised. He knows I would do anything for him – within reason of course.

This week has been one for the story books. I have a major presentation at work for a new would-be client (the deal is in the bag if they like what I have to say). This is a seven maybe eight figure deal for our company. If I close it, that office in the C-suite is guaranteed to be mine. My husband has surgeries all week. He’s usually focused (stressed) when he has one surgery on his schedule. This week he has five (three scheduled, two tentative), including three that are high risk patients. To say he is stressed out would be putting it mildly. My husband doesn’t react when he’s about to snap, he retreats. From everything and everyone. He doesn’t eat, he barely sleeps and spends all of his time buried behind medical journals, research or reading and re-reading patient files (I am sure he has memoried all their favorite colors and home addresses by now). I try to leave him be, sending gentle reminders for him to eat or take his vitamins. I keep his favorite snacks at hand so he can always grab something and go even if he forgets to eat a full meal. But other than that, the best thing to do is to stay out of his way and not break his concentration. Unfortunately, I am also under a lot of stress right now. I haven’t had a minute to do any grocery shopping and my hours for work are currently 5am to 11pm. I spend the first three hours and the last fours hours of my work day working from home before I go into the office and after I make the 45 minute drive back. The nanny is picking up and dropping off Glory at daycare and staying with her until bedtime. Meals are ordered or microwaved. The only time I am seeing my family is when I look in on Glory at bedtime  or when my husband crashes into bed anywhere between two and five in the morning. The house is a wreck so a cleaning service is coming every two weeks until life slows down.

“We don’t have any granola bars,” my husbands states matter of factly.

I look at the clock, 3:15am.

“Granola bars in the middle of the night?” I ask groggily.

“I have a surgery scheduled in a few hours. I am not gonna have time for breakfast. Couldn’t eat it even if I tried anyway. I just wanted something quick for energy. The gas stations don’t sell the brand I like,” he replies with brows slightly furrowed.

I do not like his tone. I know he’s not angry about some granola bars he could have picked up the thousands of times he has driven past the specialty grocer where we do our household shopping.

”Honey, I have been swamped at work just like you have. I did not have time to do any shopping. You can order it online and have the nanny pick it up for you on her way to drop Glory off at school.” Having offered a comparable solution to this mountain-from-a-molehill issue, I turn over and close my eyes. If I am lucky I can get another hour of sleep before I have to start my day.

After a few minutes of dead silence, I hear him leave the room, closing the door a little too firmly for my liking. If he wakes Glory before the nanny gets here, I will personally wring his neck.

Willing my heartbeat back to even pace, I go back to sleep. My alarm wakes me at 4:45am and I hop out of bed, anxious to start the day. After a quick shower, I throw on my favorite T-shirt and yoga pants. I pull out my blouse and skirt for the office and get comfortable in front of my laptop to work.

By the time the nanny arrives to pick up Glory, I’m dressed for work and she’s bathed and dressed in her favorite pink unicorn sweatshirt with matching tights. Her coily hair is swept up in a pretty puff secured with a pink and purple ribbon. I have missed my girl. She has my dark brown eyes and her father’s everything else – height, cocoa complexion, his strong checkbones and bright smile. Sometimes the way I love my daughter scares me. I would do anything and fight anyone to keep her safe. I am not sure I love anyone like this, not even her father.

“Mommy, will you take me to school? You never take me to school. It’s always Claire. Never you or Daddy,” Glory pouts, her brown eyes misting over

The guilt is instantaneous and crushing. My heart drops as I look at my only child. Her dad and I are working hard to provide for her and show her the importance of doing what you love and doing it well. Are we neglecting what truly matters in all of our ladder climbing?

”I am so sorry, baby girl! Mommy is so busy today so I can’t take you today but I promise on Friday, I am all yours. We will have a special Mommy-Glory Day! Okay? I will take you to school and pick you up then we can go get our nails done and have lunch at your favorite restaurant  – just you and me! No work allowed,” I promised with a grin at my pride at joy.

“You mean it, Mommy?” Glory asks, her brown eyes dancing with joy! When I nod my head yes, she squeals with joy and squeezes me into a tight hug. My heart is bursting.

When she leaves with Claire, her nanny, I finish up my work and quickly dress for the office.

I  never want my baby girl to feel like she is not as important as my work but this season is just a stressful one for us all. I once heard a woman say, “you can have it all, just not all at the same time.” It seems when I am flourishing on the home front, my career is leaving me behind. And when I am killing it in the market, my family feels like I am neglecting them. Do men have to make these kinds of choices? Of course not. They can climb the corporate ladder as quickly as they like while their wives and girlfriends do the grunt work at home.

That is absolutely not going to be story.  I have a friend from college who is living my worst nightmare. Her and her husband were college sweethearts and got married before they even graduated. He finished, she didn’t. Now she’s on baby number 5 while her hubby is killing it in the industry and earning almost seven figures. She stays home to homeschool and they do not even have childcare or a nanny. She has no job, no savings apart from her husband. If he ever decides to leave her, she would be on the street with a dozen kids. I cannot believe women actually live like this in 2019. Cannot be me.

My big presentation is today. I realize that my husband dearest did not even wish me good luck when he woke me up about those stupid granola bars. I send him a quick text. I’m sure he’s in surgery still but maybe he will see it by lunch.

“Presentation day. Wish me luck.” I told myself not to expect a response. He is busy.

As I am backing out of our driveway, my phone buzzes.

“Good luck, babe. I know you are gonna kill it. About to meet with patient’s family. Talk later.”

My heart melts at his vote of confidence. I blink back the quick tears. I have missed my husband. I miss us being friends and laughing and flirting with each other like some newlyweds. Date night is another thing that I have gotta plan as soon as I nail this presentation. Presentation. Get my promotion. Mommy-daughter date then husband and wife time – in that order!

I kill my presentation!  I mean it was literally the best meeting I have ever had! I had the clients eating out of my hands. When I mentioned the millions of downloads our past clients reached within days and weeks of partnering with us, I could almost see the dollar signs in their eyes.

On top of that, both the CEO and CFO insisted on hi-fives when the clients left the room. That empty corner office is as good as mine. I am so excited. My heart is still racing from the thrill of a job well done. Our lives are about to change. My salary is gonna triple within the next year. I can do so much more for my family. Save more. Travel more. Take more vacations as a family. The sleepless nights and months of stress were absolutely worth it!

I cannot wait to share my news with my hubby when he gets home tonight!

When doctor bae (he hates when I call him that) walks through the door I fly into his arms and wrap my legs around his waist!

“Whoa there! Where’s Glory?” He asks with a chuckle.

”Upstairs with Claire. They are playing tea party for five more minutes before bath, then bed,” I said, keeping my vice grip around his body.

His laugh gives me butterflies. When he nuzzled my neck I squeal in delight, finally releasing my grip and ending our embrace.

”Well, aren’t you gonna ask how my presentation went? I ask with a fake pout.

Gotta milk it for all it’s worth

”Yeah yeah yeah! I thought you would have called me by now. How did it go? Did you kill it like I said?” He asks with a hopeful smile

”I not only killed it, I KILT IT!” I half-yell with a laugh.

”YES! That’s my girl! I’m so proud of you, honey! Come on! We are celebrating. Where’s that champagne the hospital gave us for Christmas?” my husband asks, already heading to the wine fridge in our kitchen.

I laugh at his excitement. It feels good to have my husband say he is proud of me. Sometimes I feel like he might resent my work because it keeps me away from home so much. Jordan’s mom  stayed home with him and all of his siblings as children. He half-expected me to do the same after Glory was born but I told him in no uncertain terms that it was completely out of the question. It is a relief to know that he sees the value that I bring into the work I do for a living.

When Glory is ready for bed, I send Claire home and decide to tuck her in myself. We both got a pleasant surprise when her dad decided to join. He reads her a story while I twist her hair.  By the time storytime is over, Glory’s pretty brown head was drooping. Baby girl is beyond tired. We turn down her lights and watch her quickly snuggle up to her favorite plush giraffe. Within minutes, her breathing was deep and even.

I slide my fingers into my husband’s and lock our hands. His palm is rough, occupational hazard of the frequent handwashing required by his chosen profession. We get ready for bed and settle into companionable silence, listening to each other breath as I rest on his shoulder. Feels good to have my best friend back.

A few weeks after my killer presentation, life has settled back into a manageable routine. I would say we are happier than we have ever been. The promise of a better income has really taken the stress off my husband. For as long as we’ve been together, he has been on this constant search for the next big thing. Even though we are comfortable, according to him we are not set. Six figure joint income is a nice start but we are far from rich, he would remind me. We have just as many liabilities as we did assets. We needed more income or some kind of big break. My new salary was just the kind of catalyst that would launch us into long-term financial security. We are so close to our next level, I can practically taste it.

It feels amazing to know I helped get us here.

When I get off work that Friday, Jordan asks me to meet him for dinner at our favorite restaurant. Claire would pick up dinner for Glory before we get home. When we are seated and waiting to order, Jordan tells me he has some news.

“You remember my friend Tolu from medical school? Well him and his wife are buying a practice from a retiring doctor. It is a great location and a lucrative venture to boot. It is worth millions in accounts receivable and the deal they have with the doctor who is selling allows them to bring in a third partner for more capital. It is a lot of capital upfront but babe, I have seen the numbers. We would make it back and triple within the next five to ten years.  I just had to let you in on the deal as soon as they told me. So what do you think?” His eyes are fixed on me and his smile is a mile wide as he waits for me to speak.

The longer I take to reply, the less confident he appears. Why does he always do this to us? He gets a crazy idea that could possibly jeopardize everything we have built and he wants me to put my entire nest egg behind it with no guarantees. We still have a daughter to take care of and a college fund to consider. Not to mention multiple mortgages and other expenses. Everytime he has a money-making venture, I am supposed to throw my weight (and my savings) behind it just because I am the only one whose money is not all tied up in his countless investments and enterprises.

We were in such a good place. Now he is gonna make me into the bad wife who does not support his dreams.

”You are making me nervous, babe. Say something,” he pleaded gently with a soft laugh.

”How much are we talking about?” I ask, trying to keep my voice even so I don’t betray any emotion, good or bad.

When Jordan mentions almost seven figures, I almost fall out of my chair. It is official. He has lost his mind! I am married to a crazy person.

“Where are we supposed to get that kind of cash, babe? Are you crazy?” The question bubbles out of me before I could reword it.

“Come on, babe! You are about to get a fat raise! If we go to your bank for a loan and use your savings as collateral, we can get them to lend us almost the whole thing! This practice is making money hand over fist and we have a chance to get in on the ground level. These kinds of opportunity are once in a lifetime. And the fact that they are approaching me with it now that your income is about to multiply exponentially is kismet! How can we say no? Please, honey! I wish you could see the opportunity I see here. This is the break we have been praying for. Please, let me do this for us, for our family, for Glory.”

I sigh audibly before I can contain it. I wish my husband would not do this to me. Everytime I make a decision to keep my money safe, he acts as if I am choosing the money over him. And that is not the case at all. If it was a matter of life and death or a necessity like housing or health, I would gladly spend my savings to help but all of his “big ideas” are always brimming over with risk. I cannot put what is supposed to be my daughter’s inheritance into the hands of some doctors he knows from a decade ago in school. What if they are complete frauds? What if someone embezzles from the business? What if they get slammed with another IRS bill and they cannot climb out from under it? I would loss everything and have to start over. Who knows if I can accumulate that kind of money again, especially now with all of our money tied up in these other ventures my husband is crazy about?

”Babe, you know I do not make decisions as quickly as you do. Please give me some time to think it over,” I finally responded.

”Babe, we have to strike while the iron is hot! Tolu has given me a week, two max to get back to him. If I don’t respond with a yes soon, he is going to exercise his other options,” Jordan pleads.

“Babe, I said I will think about it. Give me a few days. Let’s just enjoy our dinner and forget all this money talk for now,” I ask gently, caressing his hand on the table for good measure.

The warmth in his eyes lets me know he catches my drift. A mischievous smile play on his lips and I cannot stifle a giggle.

“Stop flirting with me, sir. I am a married woman,” I retort, doing my best to appear scandalized.

“What your man gotta do with me?” My husband replies with fire in his eyes.

I throw my head back and laugh at his antics. Gosh, I love this man.

Two weeks after our dinner, I am still bidding my time, avoiding the conversation because I know my husband would not like my answer. I really do not want to fight.

Thankfully, work sends me on a short trip to London. We have been conferencing with a new potential client based in England. He is booked solid for the next 6 months so if we wanted face time with him, we would have to meet him before he left town for his three-month stint in India. I happily volunteered and my bosses agreed that I was the best woman for the job. It was to be a quick trip. Four days for me to meet the client, tour his company and rub elbows with anyone he wants me to meet before he is comfortable entrusting us with his life’s work.

I am also taking an extra couple of days to rest and see the sights. I’ve earned it.

The trip goes off without a hitch. Three days into my London work-cation, I get an email from my bank asking me to look over the forms for the new line of credit that was secured in me and my husband’s name.

My heart hammers in my chest as I read the terms for our loan for $1.5 million dollars. The collateral named to secure the loan are a few of my husbands investment properties and my savings!

He didn’t! He wouldn’t! I would kill him!

Also attached is a copy of the financial power of attorney that my husband and I signed giving each other the ability to act on the others behalf in the case of incapacity, death or qualifying event.

How is my travel out of the country a qualifying event?

My heart is hammering. My ears are ringing. I might faint. If he actually did this to me, I am done. I am getting a divorce. Before he ruins my life with his get rich quick schemes, I will cut my losses and leave him.

I told you I did not trust him!

By the time I make it back into the country, Jordan knows he’s no longer on my good side. I move into the guest room to make it known that the cookie factory is closed. He has been trying to talk to me for weeks. Even suggesting we see a marriage counselor. So they can tell him to forgive him and to not let money ruin my marriage? Too late! Someone should have told my thieving husband that stealing is not the way into your wife’s good graces.

True to his word, the new clinic turns out to be a pretty good investment. Jordan is wrapping up the rest of his contractual obligations to the hospital and letting his patients know where to find him. The hope is to leave on great terms with the hospital so he can retain his privileges there. As the months go on, we are closer to the grand opening of the clinic and I do finally get my promotion. I am still excited to do this work and get this bread but some of the luster has  worn off. Jordan and I are practically housemates. We have not had a real date night in weeks. Not that he did not try but everytime I sit across from him I remember what he stole from me. How do I trust my life with someone who would take from not just me but his daughter?

That money was as much Glory’s as it was mine.

I do my best to lose myself in my work and focus on Glory but I miss my husband. How could he do this to us? When I start waking up, my face wet from tears I must have cried in my dreams, I decide that it is past time to make a change. We cannot go on like this. We either need to mend what is broken or go our separate ways.

I say as much to Jordan when I hear him come through the doors this evening. When the word “divorce” comes out of my mouth, the coldness that glazes over Jordan’s eyes sends a chill up my spine.

I do not want a divorce.

I want him to fight for me.

I want him to understand how badly he rocked my world with those antics and never do it again.

Instead, Jordan stares at me evenly, his face absolutely void of emotion. When he walks around to my side of the table, it takes everything inside of me not to run. I do not know this stranger or what he is capable of. He reaches towards me, stopping just inches from my body. He bends sharply to get the office bag that is sitting on the floor by my knee. As he rummages through, I take a few quiet deep breathes to steady my pulse.

“Here!” Jordan pushes a piece of paper forecefully in my direction. “It’s post-dated but it’s good. That is from the clinics account. If you think I am that much of a thief, there is your money back. You can walk away a free woman now. Buy a house, go on a world-wide vacation, heck bury it in your new backyard for all I care. I did not realize money was such a slavemaster to you but you have it all back now. Do what you want. What I am going to do is STOP waiting around for a woman who has shown me over and over again that when it comes down to it, she will pick her money over her marriage, any day. I am done. If you want a divorce, you can have it,” Jordan almost spits the word ‘divorce’ at me as he pushes away from the table and out the front door.

My heart thunders in my ears. Was I really the one to blame? I look down at the check from “Glory Family Clinic” and my heart sinks.

Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

He even added interest.

Cashing this on the date noted would promptly restore my nest egg but it would be death of my marriage.

What do I do?

How do I get us back on the right track? Maybe counseling is not such a bad idea. I have to fix this.

And quick.

I make an appointment with my hair stylist and aesthetician and schedule a full body wax. Then I call my gynecologist for an emergency appointment. Thankfully they can see me right away.

Two hours later, my birth control implant has been removed. My doctor said I might have some discomfort but I do not care.

It is time to save my marriage. If luck is on side, Glory is going to be a big sister by this time next year.

I pray this works!

When my husband returns home, I have moved back into our bedroom. I bought new sheets and had a large mirror installed by the headboard…for research purposes.

Mind your business.

I made his favorite dinner (lobster tail, roasted potatoes, seafood Mac and cheese – I added a salad because black people do not eat enough greenery. Do not quote me. Just saying).

I wore his favorite dress – the short, black and green sequins one that should come with a warning label. It caused quite the commotion at the hospital Christmas party last year. According to my husband, I can only wear it if he’s with me. He said he had to be there to beat the brakes off anybody who did not keep their eyes in their head.

I giggle at the memory. Magic dress don’t fail me now. This outfit screams “put a baby in me!” If this doesn’t get me pregnant, nothing will.

I spray on his favorite scent. Last season’s Burberry that never fails to make his head turn. Then I went downstairs to wait at the dinner table. Claire has put Glory to bed for us. As soon as he walks through that door, it’s showtime!

My heart skips a beat when I hear the garage open. He is home!

God, please let this be enough!

Please!

As soon as he walks in the door, I rise to meet him. “Welcome home, honey! Dinner is ready,” I motion to the table now behind me as I saunter up to my man to give him an eyeful. “Then we can have dessert,” I add with a wink.

The shock on his face is worth the scheming I have done today. Exhaustion turned to surprise turned to delight in my husband’s eyes within the blink of an eye and before I know it, he is beaming.

”Let me take a quick shower and I am all yours,” he replies with a chuckle, mischief dancing in his eyes.

Oh you have no idea, sir!

Three months later as our clinic officially held it’s grand opening, I am proudly sporting my newest accessory, my love bump!

We are pregnant! Glory is going to have a new  brother! I thought I could not be any happier after my promotion but I was wring, this new reality is a such a deep and joyous one, I am afraid to close my eyes and realize it was all a dream. I did not want a second baby because I thought it would steal my career. That was fear talking and it was a complete lie. With two women in the C-suite of our company now, we have a new maternity leave policy. Six months paid leave and an additional six month option to work from home. All of the executives agreed to a pay cut to fund it and it has gotten us voted one of the best places to work in the country.

My fear of losing my nest egg was also unfounded. My husband is an unapologetic dream-chaser. But if I do not give him permission to fly, his dreams will never fully  blossom. Once I threw my full weight behind our new clinic, I was able to offer him sound advice that protects our capital even as he invests. Because he trusts my advice and I trust his instincts (eventually), he tripled my initial investment for me and returned it to my private account. In turn, I took two-thirds out and gave it back to him to reinvest in the business. Life has been more than good to us. Glory is thriving and she is so excited to be a big sister. She talks to my belly everyday, telling her brother about her day at school and showing him her toys. She also warns him not to kick Mommy too hard and to play gently. She is a natural born protector already and the bond between my kids does my heart so much good.

Fear told me that my husband could not be  trusted because he does not move through the world the same way I do. He is carefree where I am careful. He runs ahead when I want to wait and see. Instead of seeing our differences as our strength as a couple, I almost allowed the lies I believed to destroy my marriage.

We are still working through our differences. We get marital tune-ups every month from a licensed counselor. There are still times that I have to be the level-headed one in our home but now it is a joy rather than a hardship. To think I almost gave up my life for something as cheap as a quarter million dollars in savings.

What I have, right now with this man and our children, I cannot put a price on it. Money could never buy this kind of joy.

The End.

 

 

 

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15 Ways I Am Choosing Faith Over Cynicism

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Cynicism is everywhere online – especially in the age of social media. Recently I started paying attention to how often negative memes and online posts were no longer resonating with me. Even fellow Christians were consistently writing and sharing posts about how “you can’t trust everybody” and how we must be careful with sharing even prayer requests or successes because others do not want to see us win.

Okay. Sure. We live in a world where not everyone has our best interests at heart. That is a given. All will not be made perfect until we get to heaven. I get that. But do I really have to magnify the negative in my life or in the world in general in order to be called a “realist?” The Bible says in Romans 14:23 that whatever is not done out of faith is sin. And I believe the reason the constant cynicism has started grating on me so much is exactly that. It is a sinful attitude that makes no room for the God of wonders who is always working to do the impossible on our behalf, whether we are aware or not. My faith in God is big (I’m having a mountain top experience; there’s been some valleys but the current season is a GREAT one). If I serve a God who can conquer anything and do everything, why would I choose an attitude that ascribes evil intentions to any and everyone?

I refuse! In fact, I unequivocally reject cynicism. I will not capitulate to a mindset that magnifies those that are “against me” and discounts the innumerable number that are sent by God to fight on my behalf. With that said, here are 15 ways I am choosing faith over cynicism in this season of my life:

  1. By celebrating my portion. I refuse to focus on what I do not have. If I need it and don’t have it, I choose to believe that it is coming because God said no good thing will He withhold from me. And if it turns out that God does not want it for me then I can celebrate the fact that He knows best and what I thought was good may be an enemy of God’s best.

  2. By assuming the best unless/until I have proof that says otherwise. Much of the cynicism around me is based on ascribing ill intent to others when in actuality the person you thought was ‘hating’ on your win may actually not be thinking about you at all. So if someone does something that seems intentionally hurtful, I will assume that they have no ill intent until I am proven wrong. I will give people as much grace as I am hoping they will show me in my own time of need. Quick story – a friend of mine once accused me of intentionally trying to embarrass and destroy her marriage. The whole exchange was humiliating and deeply hurtful because for someone who knew me for almost a decade, she did not give me any benefit of the doubt in the moment. It was always deeply painful to me that despite our long history of genuine friendship, she assumed the worst about me without hearing me out.

  3. By being quick to listen and slow to speak or respond. When someone comes at me with a sharp retort, I wanna throw mine right back. But doing that only stirs the pots and adds fuel to the fire. If I take just one minute to breathe and consider the relationship between the person and I and the kind of impression I want to leave on others, I am more likely to respond with kindness than cynicism and might even give them an opportunity to clean up their sharp retort.

  4. By not “spilling the tea.” If the news I have about someone is interesting but likely to do more harm than good to the subject’s reputation, then I commit to shutting up. People of the world may delight in a “I knew she/he was no good” news about others, but as children of God, we are not called to be entertaining. We are called to be salt and light. Salt and light are both QUIET  (lol).

  5. By giving grace – especially to the people who do not ‘deserve’ it (because to be honest, I don’t deserve it either). It is easy to be pleasant to those who are pleasant to us but withholding a cynic attitude from people who have hurt me or are purposefully unpleasant to me is gonna require grace. But we are called to do hard things.

  6. By celebrating (GENUINELY) when others win. This one relates to point number 1. If I do not have a good eye and a grateful heart about whats happening in my life then it will be easy to feel like “he/she/they always get the good stuff and I don’t.” I am committed to keeping cynicism out of my heart by rejoicing when others rejoice. And if I can’t rejoice because I am just feeling that sorry for myself, then being real about it and asking God for the grace (there’s that word again) to be able to rejoice with others with a genuine heart. Story time – In 2008 one of my best childhood friends got married. When I was on her wedding website before the big day, I bawled my eyes out – not because I was happy for her but because a part of me felt like I would NEVER have what she had. But I was honest with God about my emotions and I kept submitting them to Him until He gave me genuine joy.  By the time her big day arrived months later, I was able to celebrate and serve her as fully my heart truly desired.

  7. By praying for those that do not like me  (or vice versa, LOL!). It is really hard to have a hardened heart towards someone that you are praying for. Even if their very existence feels like a personal affront, I promise that when I commit to praying for my least favorite person whenever they cross my mind, (you know, instead of rolling my eyes and sucking my teeth – guilty!) the cynicism seeps right out of my heart and I find myself growing in compassion towards them – even if (God forbid) they happen to chew with their mouth open or clip their toenails at the dinner table (*gags*).

  8. By canceling the ‘pity party’. When something (*coughs* someone) really gets under my skin, the first thing I want to do is text one (or two…or five) of my friends and tell them every irritating detail about the offender so we can all agree about how truly awful it-he-she-they are. But when/if I do that, all I am doing is inviting everyone into my misery so we can all magnify how awful everything is. If I take a minute and process it (through reflection, self-evaluation and hopefully prayer) without spreading it far and wide through my circle then I have done much to quarantine the cynicism from creeping into other hearts as well.

  9. By remembering who God is! This is a big one! Much of the doom and gloom of our attitudes comes from this unspoken belief that people just do terrible things or bad things just happen for no good reason and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Not so! We serve a God who is completely sovereign! Nothing that happens to us is wasted because there is no evil He cannot redeem. Jesus Christ being crucified, bloodied and buried seemed pretty awful to everyone who watched but it turned out to be the greatest comeback in history! If God can do THAT, He can do anything – even if it seems completely hopeless to my human mind.

  10. By saying what God says. It is amazing how much of my perspective on the world gets corrected if I simply agree with the word of God! For example, if sickness comes knocking on my (or a loved one’s) door, it would be completely understandable for me to grieve the difficulty of illness and also harbor some fear of death as an unknown. But two things can be true at the same time. Yes, I or someone I love may be sick (even terminally so) but we can also hold on to the word of God at the same time. We can believe God for healing and stand on His word, hope against every hope in the midst of that storm and see how God writes the end. Because every diagnosis is not a death sentence and even if healing does not take place on this earth, we already know that death lost to Christ. Agreeing with God’s word immediately fixes my perspective from “woe is me” to “God can do that!”

  11. By remembering the last time everything went RIGHT. Nothing makes a cynic out of us humans faster than a perpetual cycle of “going through.” When it feels like you are always in one storm/fight/trial or another, it is very easy to lose your joyful outlook on life. Trust me. I know. I am living it in real time. There have been days where I have literally yelled at God like “can I just please get a break, a breather, something? I literally just came out of one situation and you’re gonna have me go through another??!” Sorry to tell you this but Jesus promised us trials and tribulations – nobody wants to claim those promises though. “In this world, you WILL (not might) have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” (emphasis mine). That is Jesus Christ talking. Tribulations are guaranteed. But so is victory! When I am sorely tempted to roll over and die because yet another awful thing is happening, I challenge myself to remember the last time God blew my mind; the fact is that God made a way for me out of some pretty hopeless situations and I am still standing. I force myself to recall the last time God came through, the last time He answered my prayers and the last time He met my need. Those thoughts keep the joy in my heart and the cynicism out.

  12. By switching my seat. Psalms 1:1 states that a man is blessed if he does not “sit in the seat of the scornful.” I know exactly who to go to if I am looking for snark and side-eyes. (Just like we all know which of our cousins is always ready to go with us and fight somebody because they are about that life). If I truly want to kick cynicism out of my heart then I cannot surround myself with those who never see the good in any situation. The Bible calls them “the scornful.” If I am having a hard day or someone has genuinely offended me, rather than pouring my heart out to someone who will encourage me to hold on to the malice, I have to switch seats. I need to call friends who are encouragers and who are more versed in prayer than in gossip. Walk with the wise and you will become wise.

  13. By taking God’s promises personally. There was a time where I was struggling to believe that God actually made any promises to me. The Bible was for everybody (or every believer) so God could not have been talking to me, personally, could He? Yes, of course He could and He is! The Bible is the living word of God. It breathes! It speaks! God’s promises for me are indeed yes and amen! Even if others have decided that there is no good thing left in the world and all we can expect is heartbreak and loss, I have decided to hold on to what God has promised me, which is life and life more abundantly (so there)!

  14. By focusing on my focus. Look, y’all! I have been dreaming since age three about what my life would be, what trajectory it would take and what impact or legacy I would leave behind. It is the main reason that I as a toddler told everyone who would listen that I was going to be a lawyer. That dream never wavered or changed. As I have grown, God has given me dozens more passions and developed me in ways I never thought possible back when I was living recklessly and outside of His will. But now, in Christ, I have a completely different focus. I have to make Christ known in my own little world (family, friends, community, circle) and I have to use every last gift He has given me to make a difference for others (whether it is writing, speaking, encouraging or lawyering). I have a LOT of work to do before my time on this earth is up. I use to be so consumed with the years I wasted but now I’m more concerned with making the rest of my days count. I do not have TIME to be consumed with cynicism. I cannot spend all of my days worrying about who is not for me or whether or not I have haters (I don’t! I ain’t nobody). There is work to do! When I give an account of my life, my Creator is not gonna excuse me of a selfish, fruitless life because “the world was just so terrible and I couldn’t get anyone to support me.” That’s not gonna fly. So I have my hands to the plow and I am not looking left or right, talk less of looking back.

  15. By agreeing with God’s vision for my life. There is a version of myself that God had in mind when He breathed life into me in my mother’s womb. I get glimpses of her when I am fully walking in purpose. That woman is something fierce and I can’t wait till she looks back at me in the mirror. Nowhere in that vision is there room for someone who believes the worst about others, backbites, gossips or operates her life in fear. Nowhere. In order to be the woman God has called me to be, cynicism cannot come. The “oh, they don’t want to see you win” attitude has to go in the trash. It does not help me. It is not beneficial to anything that I have to do. So whenever bitterness tries to creep into my heart and convince me the world isn’t all that great and people really are as awful as I fear, I will choose to remember the vision God has given me for my life. I will hold tight to picture of the person I know He has created me to be, and I will not give room for evil to triumph over good in my outlook on life.

So this was a lot longer than I anticipated. I really wanted to keep it short and make a list of just bullet points but you guys already know by now that short and sweet is not my style (LOL!). I like words! I got stories to tell! And honestly, this was a fun and thought-provoking post to write. I almost wanted to cut it short to ten points but I promised on my Instagram (@attorneymo) that I would give you guys 15 points, and I wanted to honor your expectations (plus I already designed and published the graphic and I can’t have you guys thinking I am a liar! LOL!)

I hope this post made you laugh, think and contemplate the various ways that casual cynicism may be robbing you of your joy. And I also hope that like me, you will commit to choosing faith over believing the worst regarding the world around us and the people in it.

I am committed to operating by faith and doing the hard things this year! Are you in?

Yours in Christ,

Omowunmi