Tag Archives: Church

Question number six: How do I keep my family out of my relationship?

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Dear Louise,

I always wanted to marry a handsome, intelligent, dark skin African man and I did.  But coming from a different background (Caribbean) there were some prejudices that my family had against him.  They (parent & siblings) felt he was beholden to them because he should have felt privilege to be in a relationship with me.  This meant in their minds that he was supposed to make himself available to meet their needs (financial, errands, etc…) in addition to my own.  I want to tell my family that he is my husband not theirs, but I don’t want to be disrespectful.  I know that if I say the wrong thing I risk causing a level of drama where I would lose my husband and family.  What do I do?

-Nubian Queen

Dear Nubian Queen,

This is a sticky situation indeed!  When a member of a family get’s married it creates a change in the social dynamics which can be an emotional roller coaster for everyone involved.  Though a new spouse is an addition to the family, they are also taking away a beloved member.  Which needs to be done.  The bible says that a “man shall leave his mother and cleave to his wife” Gen 2:24.  In the process of acclimation, many assumptions will be made by all who are involved based on their personal world view.  If these worldview differ then there is a risk of encountering major problem.  As a sibling of someone who is married, I experienced mixed emotions. I loved the fact that my brother found his love and was getting married. I also had to mourn the loss of what once was.   I had to accept that there were certain things we couldn’t do anymore.  He had to shift priorities to make his wife come first and as a sister who loved him, I decided to give him my support.  Thankfully, he married a wonderful woman.  We were clear about our roles in each other lives, which made for a smoother transition. But what if there is not a clear understanding within a family about roles and boundaries when a member enters into a marriage? What should you do?  In a perfect world, you would have seen the signs and addressed them before you got married.  This is not the world we live in.  More often than not we have to backtrack and tweak and fix.  It looks like you might need to have some challenging discussions.  Here are some suggestions to help you along the way.

1. Find the gatekeeper:

Generally speaking, In every person plays a role in every social group.  It’s an unspoken agreement made between social units. This is clearly displayed in T.V. shows like friends.  Though in reality the differences in roles are a lot more subtle and in every group there is a gatekeeper. The one who has the most influence over the group.  This person is not always the loudest or the bossiest.  They are not necessarily the one starting trouble but when they speak, everyone listens and are converted.  Their power of influence in the group is bar none.  This person is critical because they normally would be able to understand where you are coming from and do something about it.  Provided, of course, if you communicate with them effectively.  Which is my next point.

2.  Communicate effectively:

You need to understand the language of the person you are speaking to.   This means you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes and see where they are coming from.  You might learn something!  Knowing their language is so important because it lets you know how to say what you need to say.  For example, there is a book called the five love languages, by Gary Chapman.  In it he explains that when it comes to communication, most people can be generally categorized into five categories.  The categories are words of affirmations, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.  Though this theory was developed initially for married couples he has since found that it could be applied to all relationships which brings me back to my point. If you understand them then you have a better chance of reaching them rather than saying  something that can turn them off.  When you do speak, articulate clearly what you want then re-enforce your words with behavior.  The next thing you can do is the following.

3. Give it time:

Once you have had the conversation, changed your behavior, you need to give everyone time to get used to the changes. You re-enforce your boundaries accordingly and continue as planned.  They may not like, you might get opposition, but eventually they will get used to the change.  Mind you, there are extreme cases where a relative refuses to budge on an issue.  It’s their way or the highway.  If you come across that type of behavior.  You have to make a decision about how much power they will be able to have over your life.  Then act accordingly.

I am not saying this will be easy.  This will probably be one of the hardest things you will ever have to do because everyone involved is important.  But you have to cut the cord (cut the figurative umbilical cord that keeps you as a child, not your actual family) if they are not willing.   Your marriage has to be given a chance to succeed.  In all honesty, there is no way I can give you a proper answer to your question because so many details are missing and I am not a marriage counselor. (now she tells me…) I would suggest in addition to what you have just read that you speak to your clergy or a person who has been married successfully for a long time.  Read books on the subject.  There is a lot of information out there.  But remember, you are no longer a child.  you have to deal with this as an adult and that means not ignoring the situation.  I will leave you with this quote.

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family” Anthony Brandt 

All the best,

Louise

I know that more can be said on this subject.  So come on!  What do you think? Do you have any comments, or advice?  Feel free to post them!  I just ask that you remain respectful in what you say.   If you have any questions for me send them to lifeaccordingtolouise1@gmail.com.  I would love to hear from you!  Just remember, I am not a licensed therapist therefore not liable for any advice that is shared here. – Blessings!

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Question number five: How do I protect a new relationship from judgemental friends?

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Dear Louise,

My friends don’t like my boyfriend because he doesn’t meet their standards.  They say I can do better and laugh at the idea of us being together.  I love my boyfriend and think that he is the sweetest guy I ever met. I also love my friends. What should I do?

Conflicted

Dear Conflicted,

I don’t like the fact that your friends laughed at the idea of you being in a relationship with your boyfriend.  That is just rude!  You have the right to have friends and a boyfriend. However, if they are truly your friends, they love you and want the best for you.  Ideally, it would be great if everyone got along but sometimes that doesn’t happen even when all parties involved genuinely love each other (or in this case – you).  It’s during these moments  you need to lovingly but firmly clarify your boundaries through communication.  The following are some suggestions for you to do prayerfully…

1. Be clear about what you want 

You need to be clear about what you want in this situation.  Think about it.  What is it about your relationship that you love? Are you confident about where you stand in your relationship? Is that being expressed by you to the world? If you want to keep your boyfriend that is your decision and yours alone.  Others may express their opinions but they cannot force you to do anything without your permission. Also, ask yourself, ‘what kind of relationship do I want with my friends within the context of my love life?’ How much involvement will you allow?  Now you must understand that whatever behavior you expect from them you should expect give as well.  Whether you decided to stand your ground and stay in your relationship or breakup with your boyfriend then next thing you should do is this…

2. Re-enforce your boundaries

Once you make your decision stand by them unapologetically.  This is an issue of self-worth.  You should feel confident in your abilities to make a decision.  You also, want to be in a place where you are not bothered too much if your decision is not met with the full backing of your friends and loved ones.  I suggest you have a private conversation with your friends.  This situation might be resolved with a simple heart to heart conversation asking for support and respect. However, respectfully resolve yourself to live your life the way you decide if they choose not to deviate from their position.  When you are ok with yourself, the world tends to be ok with you. If not, you won’t notice, because it won’t matter.

3. Be open

It’s all about getting into a space where you can be open to think clearly and logically.  The truth is that there is a chance that  your friends might be right and your boyfriend is not worthy of your love.  If that is the case, these steps allows your mind to be clear enough to make rational observations and decisions.  When you reinforce your belief in your capabilities not only will you express yourself effectively, you will be able to listen effectively as well and appreciate it.  Your friends might point out some things that you haven’t noticed which may cause you to change your mind.

Please remember to engage with one another respectfully.  Remember that you love each other.  Come from a place of grace and understanding with the intention of resolving this issue.  I will leave you with this quote.

“Whenever, you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it.  That factor is attitude.”  William James

All the best,

Louise

I know that more can be said on this subject.  So come on!  What do you think? Do you have any comments, or advice?  Feel free to post them!  I just ask that you remain respectful in what you say.   If you have any questions for me send them to lifeaccordingtolouise1@gmail.com.  I would love to hear from you!  Just remember, I am not a licensed therapist therefore not liable for any advice that is shared here. – Blessings!

 

Question number four: I’m dating an agnostic. If we marry, what will happen to our kids?

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“Dear Louise,

I am a Christian that is dating a great guy who is perfect in everyday except one… He is agnostic. If we get married, I want our children to be raised as Christians.  How should I go about approaching this situation?”

Sincerely,

Christian Lady

Dear Christian Lady,

I am glad you decided to tackle this issue while you are still dating.  Dating someone whose religious beliefs differs from yours heightens the challenges you already have in a relationship.  You say your a Christian, so I am assuming that you know about the scripture that says “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” 2 Cor 6:14. As a Christian I am also assuming that you are praying for God’s will in both your lives about this.  This, at its core, is an issue of compatibility. An ideal situation would be to marry someone who share your same core values and religious belief.  However, more and more singles are connecting with people not just of different faith but of questioning or no faith at all.  What is a single person to do?  Especially since women out number men in the church?  Since your question concerns how to approach your significant other to discuss a difficult topic I will offer the following response.  Pray a lot!  Make him a nice dinner and talk to him about it (you may have to revisit this topic a few times).  During this process, consider the following…

1. Level of respect of values

When you speak about your concerns to raise your children in a religious context, does he listen respectfully or does he show disdain?  Seriously, how does he feel about the fact that you are a Christian? Is that something about you that he would like to change or can he respect and honor your belief.  Are you comfortable talking to each other about challenging subjects such or do you avoid confrontation? On the flip side can you listen to him speak about his agnostic views without rolling your eyes or wanting to shut him down?  Are you hoping he will eventually change and be converted? If he doesn’t convert are the other elements in your relationship strong enough to keep you together? Does being a Christian dictate your lifestyle and can your lifestyle complement his ’til death do you part?

2. What are the terms for your agreement?

You want your children to be raised as Christians, but what does that mean?  What would that look like in you every day life?  Does it mean that you will take the kids to church every week while he stays home?  Does it mean that he will come with you and play the role of a Christian for the sake of the kids?  Does it mean that you can freely be a Christian and he can feel free to be an agnostic in front of the kids?  If Dad is free to be agnostic, how will you feel if your children decide they want to do what Dad does?  Can you live with that?  What kind of reaction of support would you want from your husband?  Does his feelings matter at all in any of this?  You may want to meet with a mediator or counselor to sort this out.

3.  If he doesn’t agree, then what?

Is this a deal breaker?  Can you stay with him or will you leave him? What kind of relationship are you looking for and does this meet your ideal?  Whether you come to some kind of agreement or not you should ask yourself why this is so important to you?  Is this really the only way? Are there no other solutions?

I have seen a few interfaith and faith-no-faith marriages that stood the test of time.  In all those instances someone always succumbed to the lifestyle of the other.  I think you have decided who that should be.  The question is whether or not he will feel the same way.

I will leave you with this quote:

“I have no way of knowing whether or not you married the wrong person, but I do know that many people have a lot of wrong ideas about marriage and what it takes to make that marriage happy and successful. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s possible that you did marry the wrong person. However, if you treat the wrong person like the right person, you could well end up having married the right person after all. On the other hand, if you marry the right person, and treat that person wrong, you certainly will have ended up marrying the wrong person. I also know that it is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the rightperson. In short, whether you married the right or wrong person is primarily up to you.”
— Zig Ziglar

Do you have any comments, or advice?  Feel free to post them!  I just ask that you remain respectful in what you say.   If you have any questions for me send them to lifeaccordingtolouise1@gmail.com.  I would love to hear from you!  Just remember, I am not a licensed therapist therefore not liable for any adverse reaction to this blog. You will get your answer based on life according to me – Louise.  


Question number three: How can I get over a broken heart?

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“Dear Louise,

I was in a relationship for three years with a guy that I felt was “the one”.  We recently broke up (his idea) and soon after he started dating someone else.  I am heartbroken and I can’t stop crying. What do I do?

Sincerely,

Broken”

Dear Broken,

Breakups are painful.  Especially if you have to watch the one you love move on with someone else.  Sooner or later, everyone faces rejection and it’s never easy.  I want to encourage and affirm your decision of taking steps for recovery.  It shows that you are courageous.  Here are some tips that has helped me over the years.

1.  Be gentle with yourself.

Right now your emotions are like delicate china. Please be gentle and patient with yourself.  This is not the time to beat yourself up, or do anything that might be harmful to your body, mind or spirit.  Allot a short period of time to grieve.  Do things that are loving towards yourself, like going to a spa for a manicure or a massage and meditate on healing words, music, and promises in scriptures. For example, here are two Bible references that I found helpful in the past:

Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

or Jeremiah 30:17

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD, `because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.”

I had a massage once while nursing a broken heart.  I went because of a previously made appointment not because of my broken heart. I  felt like the masseuse was massaging all of my emotions to the surface.  I let out tears as she worked on my back until it was all gone. It was an amazing experience.

2. Be intentional about putting the pain behind you.

Though I said you need to be gentle with yourself, you must also be purposeful about putting the pain behind you in order to live fully again.  I don’t mean go into denial.  You don’t want to get stuck in a painful rut.   Make moves to move forward. Separate yourself physically, spiritually and emotionally from this person.  You have to break the ties that bound you together as a couple.  Plan activities that you will find fulfilling away from your ex. Get involved in a charitable project.  Create a fresh new vision  your life without this person and follow through.

3. Seek counseling.

Find someone to talk to like a good friend or join a women’s group.  Sometimes a breakup can cause depression.  You may have developed issues of trust and fear being hurt again.   If so, a professional counselor or therapist that can help guide you  back to normalcy. They can also assist you in plotting out a course for your future. Also read books and articles offering advice on this topic.  There is a lot of information out there.  Much more than what can be covered in this blog.

The end goal is to be able to love and trust in a positive light again.  You were meant to live more abundantly.  If you are clear on your intentions you will get past this and live and love again.  Until then,  I will leave you with this quote.

“When we are in love, we are convinced nobody else will do. But as time goes, others do do, and often do do, much much better.” 
– Coco Ginger

All the Best,

Louise

Do you have any comments, or advice?  Feel free to post them!  I just ask that you remain respectful in what you say.   If you have any questions send them to me at lifeaccordingtolouise@gmail.com.  I would love to hear from you!  Just remember, I am not a licensed therapist therefore not liable for any adverse reaction to this blog. You will get your answer based on life according to me – Louise.  Blessings!

Question number two: Why do I keep attracting men who are married or in a relationship?

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“Dear Louise,

Congratulations on your new blog! I am so happy for you!  This is my question. Why do I keep attracting men who are taken (married, in a relationship)?  I know my worth and I am above playing second fiddle! These guys are disgusting!  Yet that is all I seem to be attracting.  No one single.  But if they are in a relationship, they seem to find time to harass me. What am I doing wrong? The worst part is that they are in the church!!! Why can’t I attract someone who is single? Am I sending out a wrong vibe?  If so, what can I do to change that and attract a good SINGLE man?”

Hi There!

Thank you for your uplifting words.  Please feel free to share this blog with all of your friends.  I hope it’s a blessing to you.  As for your question… It’s really disappointing to hear that this type of behavior is going on period, much less in the church.  unfortunately, this is one of the pitfalls that a single woman has to look out for.  There are men out there (yes, even in the church) who just aren’t honorable.  They are selfish, self-absorbed liars that look out only for number one.  In the interest of fairness, I want to state that I know that there are women like this as well.  I don’t want to be unfair.  Since this question came from a woman, we will approach this from a female perspective.  I met a woman who approached me with the same situation. it all about killed her self-esteem because she felt so dirty after each encounter.  She wondered if these men spoke to each other because their behavior was so similar.  After some serious questioning and soul-searching we discovered the following that you might find helpful in your situation…

1.  Sometimes we attract the wrong men because we’re subconsciously afraid of attracting the right one. Attracting a good man offers the possibility of a committed relationship, and that can be scary. So I want you to ask yourself, “If Mr. right were to show up right now, would I be ready to receive him?” “Am I sure?” Why? Why not?  If your answer is no.  You might have a wall up that is blocking him or anyone like him from accessing you yet allowing mr. wrong in because you know they have no chance whatsoever.

2. There ARE single men around but they aren’t viewed by you as attractive. My good friend came up with this theory that the majority of men or women spend their time chasing and being attracted to the same eight people who everyone else wants.  There is no way that these eight individuals can marry everyone therefore someone will lose out.  However, while this chase is going on good, viable single men and women are simultaneously being overlooked because they do not meet the “criteria” (which is more often than not, superficial).  If they are being overlooked guess what’s left?  All you will see are the bad apples.  Take a good look around you.  Are you really ONLY attracting married and taken men Or are there any single men that are approaching you but you are not noticing because they are not your “type”?  I am not telling  you to lower your standards, I am asking you to look at your mental list and see if it’s realistic or reasonable. It just might need some tweaking…

3.  Stop being so nice! Let me tell you what I mean by nice.  I think the word nice is misunderstood therefore misused.  Women are raised to be nice all of the time.  Remember the story the Bible of the 10 virgins in Mt 25:6 – 7 ?  Five were wise and five were foolish.  The foolish virgins used up their lamp oil and asked the wise virgins to share their oil with them.  The wise virgins did something that women rarely do. They refused, stating that there was not enough oil for everyone.  They went so far as to instruct the foolish virgins to go buy their own oil. While the five foolish virgins were buying their oil they missed out on receiving the bridegroom.  Had the wise virgins given away their oil then all ten would have missed out.  This is a great example of women setting clear and healthy boundaries which makes this story unique.  Most of the women I know would have given the oil and asked God why they missed out.  There are times in your life when it’s appropriate to set up clear boundaries to protect yourself. Please note: Even if it means hurting someone else’s feelings (not intentionally, mind you, but it happens).  Too often, I see a woman get hurt because she thought to be nice (AKA a good Christian) is synonymous with being a doormat. Manipulative individuals bank on this belief in order to get away with bad behavior.  Please protect yourself!

You may be sending a subconscious message to these men, but they are also sending a message to you.  It is one that says they do not respect you, their family, God and themselves.  Feel free to set your boundaries clearly and firmly.  Give no thought to their feelings, they are obviously not thinking about yours.

I know that there are exceptions to every rule, but if this is happening to you constantly then something is up.  Please search your heart to discover what you really want and when you want it.  Does it line up with God’s will for your life?  If so, embody it and your non-verbal messages will be clear for all to see.

I leave you with this quote.

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
~W.C. Fields

All the best,

Louise

Feel free to leave a comment below.  If you have any questions send them to me at lifeaccordingtolouise@gmail.com.  I would love to hear from you!  Just remember, I am not a licensed therapist. You will get your answer based on life according to me – Louise.  Blessings!