QFTestimony: Forgiving your spouse after infidelity

I would like to thank the beautiful woman out there who chose to share her testimony on how she is working on forgiving her husband after he cheated on her. Truth is, we hear stories of infidelity all the time, but rarely do people talk about the pains of getting through the emotions of being hurt in such a way.

Beloved, if you are struggling with forgiving your spouse, or anyone for having done you wrong – please find hope in the post below from an anonymous contributor.

She writes…

“Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself” – Bishop TD Jakes

forgiveness1

The statement above resonated with me because forgiveness is something I have struggled with for the better part of the last four years.  I have always justified and rationalized it to myself that I had a right to feel the bitterness and resentment I did towards my husband because of what he had done…

That was the biggest load of rubbish I ever allowed the devil to whisper to me.  You see rewind to four years ago after I had been married for about 13 months where while having dinner with my husband; the intercom rang.  He looked at me and said “Are you expecting someone?” to which I replied no.

He went to the gate and after about 10 minutes of talking to two women I was instructed to stay indoors.  So I remember thinking:  “God what is going on????”

Anyway I went to our bedroom and started channel hopping and as I started praying;  I knew something was wrong and it had to do with my husband.  Fast forward to about three hours later, he came and said:

”I need to know that you love me, please tell me you love me?” 

My heart sank and I knew that my worst nightmare had come true… I said nothing and asked him NOT TO TOUCH ME…

To cut a very long and complicated story short, my husband – the love of my life had cheated on me with another woman in the year prior to getting married while I was completing my Masters in America.

I was horrified; disgusted; angry all at once.  Angry at myself for ever trusting him because not only had he cheated but said the woman had a child to prove it.  Unbeknownst to me, my husband had gone for paternity tests and yes it was true that the child was his…

I had always made a vow to myself that should I ever find myself in that situation,  I would pack my bags and leave. Mmm easier said than done.

When this happened I was 3 months pregnant with our first child; and I made a decision then that I could not allow myself to feel and deal with the raging emotions because I could lose the child I was carrying.  So yes, I shelved the rage and the hatred.  I did however go on to cry myself to sleep every night after that for a long time. As I cried out to God, I asked him to just get me through the pregnancy without passing on the negative feelings and emotions I felt about my husband towards my unborn child.

I had never felt so completely betrayed, broken and lonely in my life; because I was too embarrassed to tell my family or my friends about what was really going on.  So I suffered in silence.  I hated my husband with so much venom that I never knew was possible…

Through all of this I had no desire or interest in communicating with my husband. After the initial conversations where I conveyed how I felt and how he had humiliated me, I was still stuck in limbo because a part of me still loved him but EVERYTHING had changed. I didn’t look at him the same way. In fact, he disgusted me and I wanted to do anything and everything possible to hurt him so he could feel if only a snippet of what I felt.

Things came to a head when I broke down before God and told him I was tired of carrying the weight of hatred and anger that I felt towards my husband.

It was then when I made the decision to forgive him – not for him but for myself. I realized that the only person I was harming in carrying the hatred was myself.

Forgiveness is not a feeling but a conscious decision where you can only do it with God’s help. The truth is sometimes you have to say over and over:  I choose to forgive….

You know true healing comes when you are honest with God about your feelings. For years I struggled because I just buried how hurt I really felt and as a result I was constantly angry and sad because I hadn’t allowed God to heal my broken heart.

I have shared this not to air my dirty laundry but to encourage someone who is hurting and struggling to let go of how you have been treated.   God loves me and HE loves you and there is nothing more painful than seeing someone go through things and think they are alone.

I am still a work in progress and find just meditating on how much God loves me helps when I have moments where I feel like…God after everything I did for that man and this was the thanks I got.

I have made a decision to not let the devil steal my present and my future by constantly dwelling on what he did because the fact is it’s done – I can’t change it but Lord knows I know that God is continuing to give me beauty for ashes…

My marriage is still very much in ‘rehab’ J I was ready to walk away but for some unknown reason God has not given me the peace and release to walk away.  It has only been very recently that I have begun praying for my husband and the marriage itself.

I had wanted the end of this post to be different where I would be sharing how my husband and I are so much in love but I felt like God wanted  me to be real and that it was okay to let people know that God is still working on me and the marriage.

Forgiving my husband was an important part of my healing process but the most important person I am now working on is myself – forgiving myself.  I say this because I was stuck in a quandary where I was obedient to God and stayed in the marriage, but on the one hand was angry at myself for staying with someone who had cheated on me.  As I prayed and processed my feelings one thing that God said to me was: ‘ You are Enough’.  This was liberating because at one stage I felt like I was not woman enough and should have done more to ensure this nightmare would never have happened.

I want to encourage anyone struggling to forgive to just go ahead and do it…God loves you and your life will be so much better for it.

Quintessentially Yours,

Anonymous

 

 

When bad things affect good thinking

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Adulting has a way for bringing forward unanticipated situations, some of which leave you wondering why things have gone south. In my early 20s, I was a victim of identity theft, except the act was carried out by someone very close to me. Unbeknownst to me, they wormed their way into soliciting personal information that was then used to secure credits cards in my name and make a series of online purchases. Thieves always get busted right? I only found out about this after the bank called me and alert me to the damage that had been done, investigations now being underway and so on.

This situation created a series of problems for me which you can only imagine how expensive the cost was in the long haul. As a result of that incident, I put my guard up and taught myself not to trust anyone. To me, everyone was “a fraud” until they proved otherwise.

You see the problem with staying in that frame of mistrust, is that it affects future relationships and opportunities that may be working at making an entry into your life. You can’t let love and faith in with the level of skepticism I carried. It becomes so easy to bring forward to new relationships, the rot from those past.

Beloved, unless you cut the tree of disdain and mistrust at the roots, you will always drag in the branches from seasons past into a new spring. I did that – for a time – to no real gain. Yes, there are some pretty shady folk out there but there are even more people who stand to be a really insightful and enjoyable part of one of your life’s chapters.

As I read my morning devotional, Philippians 4:8 wherein it states, “If anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” – I was reminded of how impactful having faith in the perceived goodness of others has served me. Gone are the days when all my interactions were smothered in suspicion. Yes, I tread cautiously when those warning (Holy Spirit) bells tinkle or begin to ring very loudly! But ultimately, I choose to believe there is good intent in everyone and navigate each interaction as we progress. People can put up a front to have their way into your sphere, but the front always washes away to expose the real deal. Similarly, if the person involved carries good intentions, had to you operated in the realms of suspicion, you may have very well missed out more that could have come out from that relationship with the passage of time!

I have over the years, learned that every single experience is part of our training, and preparation for the things that GOD has in store for us. Whether a friendship encounters some form of strife, or you work with a really difficult person, or your landlord asks you to vacate his property without warning, or your car breaks down en route to the most important interview of your life, OR YOU CAN’T YOUR MONEY OUT OF THE ATM! – all these situations are working together to teach us something – if not about others, then about ourselves. It is however important to ensure that we do not harbor anger over the more difficult cases in our lives, but seek to understand if there is a lesson in it all. A lot of times, lessons are only discovered in hindsight.

What’s that saying about experience being the best teacher? Our levels of discernment also become heightened as we gain experience in seeing people and situations for what they are. Choosing to see the good in as many a thing as we can almost always keeps the good coming or in the least, the wisdom to deal with the bad should it present itself

So ask yourself today – are you doing your best to operate in the realms of positivity and trusting that the outcome will work in your favour? Or do you let the hurts and struggles of before prevent you from seeing your blue skies. Are negative feelings clouding your ability to let trust in again? I will soon share a testimony about mending bridges after broken trust, and how GOD is faithful in restoring all so that life and relationships become easier to navigate moving forward.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Yvonne

Comparison isn’t the answer

We live in an age where we are so quick to pass judgement. We are so quick to draw conclusions about the outcome of our lives and those of others without taking a second to process the very things that bring us – and them – to where we are.

I had an opportunity to “bond” with a colleague a few weeks ago wherein she got to talking about her life and upbringing. It was a short conversation but brought so many things to light to where I felt like I finally understood why she did some of the things she did. From growing up in different countries (her father was in the army) to being separated from her sibling on account of her parents’ divorce, dabbling with drugs at 100 miles an hour on life’s dangerous expressway I thought “Wow…I think I get it now”…

A few days letter, a similar situation arose wherein an acquaintance talked at length about her struggles and why she felt her life wasn’t quite as she has planned it. Insightful this conversation was too, as it reinforced the notion that not everything is as it seems. Seemingly strong-willed young woman with a myriad of successes under her belt – she said she had given up on life and was merely pacing through the motions day after day. Indeed, nothing is as it seems. It never is. Oftentimes, unless we ask the questions, we find ourselves entertaining thoughts and deductions that are so far from the truth – ours and that of others.

I meet and work with a lot of different personalities as part of my profession, and with that comes plenty of opportunity to learn about different cultures, religions and traditions, cuisines, practices, habits, languages and so on. In a few short moments we can discuss anything from my having children to them praying for the gift of conception, them having booked a ticket out to Thailand and me wishing I could in this very moment do the same, excitement about clearing a debt and them having a fear of getting into debt or swimming in it, my complaining about the size of my condo and them saying they just closed on a villa. The list is endless.

Just this morning a friend called me to say hi. We chat from time to time, but on the whole, her calls usually come with a request for information or something of the sort. Today she said she was checking in, and proceeded to ask what I was doing for the summer. “Working,” I said. Then came the “Oh, you aren’t travelling? Because we are headed to such and such for the summer” and the description of what sightseeing she has lined up for her and family. Admittedly, a part of me was like “Nje that’s really why you called init?” In a few short seconds I went from feeling the sting of jealousy to wishing her a pleasant trip and carrying on with the days’ plans.

In many a short conversations such as these, what has been more pronounced to me over the years is that we all want the same things. We all want happiness, peace, health, an opportunity to experience new things while staying out of trouble. We want what we want and only pray that we are satisfied with status quo. If satisfaction isn’t the case then the hope is that we are taking the necessary steps to get there. We compare, consciously or subconsciously, we wonder how they have managed to get x, y and z done while we are trying to figure out the a, b and c of it all.

Comparing our achievements to those of others comes naturally as we journey through life. How much more weight has so and so lost, how many degrees do they have now, which neighborhood do they live and what car do they drive. But is this really a holistic way to live life? Is there true joy in living a life that is driven by the workings of others and not GOD’s working in our own?

Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

1 Timothy 6:6-8

Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

Matthew 6:31-33

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Beloved, as you read the verses above, I pray like me, that you are reminded of how GOD works tirelessly to supply our needs. Nothing surpasses the peace of contentment with where we are in life. GOD is in the business of answering prayers, and exceeding all our expectations. However, much is required from us. Plenty of it is tied to faith and prayer. That in itself is a better investment than to spend time wallowing in the successes of others. Rather, chose to celebrate the good fortune of others, as it is an illustration that your moment of elevation is well on its way.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Yvonne

The power of the keystroke

A brilliantly written piece by the newest member of our QF family – Chido Mashanyare; one that challenges us to be weary of the impact of our words even in commentary on events, behaviours and circumstances that differ from our own. Thank you QF Chido – for such a powerful debut to our world of inspirational sharing…

Chido Mash writes….

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”. – Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

I recently read about Wentworth Miller’s response to a body-shaming meme that was making the rounds on social media.  For those of you who may not remember who Wentworth Miller is (he was the cute lead actor from the popular series Prison Break) or may not have seen the meme, it was basically a side-by-side photo of a shirtless, chiselled Wentworth at his physical peak during the Prison Break era next to a somewhat chubbier version of Wentworth sporting a red t-shirt and a smile, with the caption “When you break-out of prison and find out about McDonald’s monopoly.” The meme, which was first posted by an online publication, The LAD Bible, is said to have amassed over 101 000 “likes” and over 12 000 “shares”.

In his response, which was both poignant and damning, Wentworth posted a screenshot of the meme to his Facebook profile and explained that the second photo was taken in 2010 at a time when he was semi-retired from acting and keeping a low-profile whilst battling severe depression which had left him suicidal. He went on to explain that he has suffered from depression since childhood and that he had turned to food as a form of solace from the mental anguish that was threatening to destroy him. Thankfully, he survived that dark period of his life, only to have this meme emerge six years later and bring it all back into stark focus. The most heart-breaking part was when he said that “it hurt to breath” when he first saw the meme on his social media feed.

Social media posting

What struck me the most about his post, however, was that rather than launching into a self-righteous rant lambasting the authors of this cruel meme and all those who “liked” and “shared” it, Wentworth chose to take the high road and instead, shared what he has learned from this experience:

Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without.

Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.

Anyway. Still. Despite.”

 

He ended the post by sharing a link offering help to those similarly afflicted by depression. As a fellow survivor of depression, his words had a personal resonance for me and brought back similar memories of battling personal demons and emerging stronger, victorious. It also got me thinking about the power of words. The Book of Proverbs states that “death and life are in the power of the tongue[1]. Our words literally contain within them the power to either give life or to kill, to build or destroy.

Whilst this scripture is referring to the spoken word, I believe it equally applies to our written words too. With the advent of the technological age and the ubiquitous use of social media platforms, the internet has become the primary mode of expression for many people, allowing us to interact with people all over the world. With the touch of a keystroke, I can send a happy birthday message to my brother in Australia or send my condolences to a bereaved friend overseas.

As a means of communication, the internet and social media are invaluable tools for bridging the gap between friends and family separated by distant lands and generally making the world a smaller place. As with any technological advancement, however, these tools can also expose the darker side of human nature. Emboldened by the relative anonymity of the internet, many will post online what they wouldn’t dream of saying in person. How many of us have posted or commented on a joke or scandal about a celebrity or public figure, without sparing a thought as to what personal struggles that person might be facing at the time or how this might be affecting them and their loved ones. When Wentworth shared his story in response to the meme, the outpouring of love and support on his page was overwhelming and heart-warming. The LAD Bible also posted a sheepish apology and subsequently removed the meme from their page. But how many other victims of cyber-bullying have chosen to suffer in silence and humiliation, not daring to reveal their pain for fear of being subjected to further abuse.

Before you dismiss this as an issue that only affects celebrities or those in the public eye, in a recent Zimbabwean case, a little-known former model Tafadzwa Mushunje saw her reputation dragged through the gutter when she was accused of deliberating infecting her boyfriend’s 2 year old son with HIV. The story came to light when a so-called “concerned friend” of Tafadzwa’s posted it on a dubious “name-and-shame” website. Over the course of about 2 weeks, the shocking story was shared countless times on Whatsapp and other social media platforms, as well as being published in both the national and international media. The poor woman also found herself facing criminal charges and spent two nights in jail before the case was finally thrown out by the court for lack of evidence when it emerged that she tested negative for HIV. By that time however, she had been called every name under the sun, with strangers baying for her blood, despite there being no evidence to corroborate the story.

Why are we so quick to believe the worst about each other, to laugh at another’s expense and to share these views online with vengeful glee, with no thought of the detrimental and life-changing consequences to those affected? Could it be that we fail to recognise the potentially devastating power of the tongue, or in this case, the keystroke? Or equally, do we fail to recognise the power our words have to build up and encourage? Proverbs 10:11 says that the mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life. What if we took the time to use the social media tools at our disposal to share words of encouragement, or a testimony, or just to let someone know we are thinking of them? We have been given this immense power by God to bring either death or life into a situation through our words.

Just a little food for thought the next time your finger is hovering over the send button…

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Chido

 

[1] Proverbs 18:21

Failure to “mona bhodho”: When relationships surrounding your marriage start to struggle

I got down to writing on this subject after encountering numerous crossroads on the issue of managing relationships as a married woman. I’ve enjoyed countless discussions on this subject with my married sisters who have also experienced an interesting turn of events after struggling to “mona a bhodho” or being asked to attend some family function that involves mbudzi’s (goats) being slaughtered or an interrogation on the subject of when the first baby was coming. Interesting thing though is that listening to women from other cultures and nationalities – you come to realise that we have to navigate so many misnomers, and misgivings, and heightened expectations that bear such similarities and literally make developing certain relationships quite a chore.

I got a call from one of my girlfriends the other day that was going through some things with her i.l’s (In-laws….but in this situation she felt they were her outlaws). I listened to her rant for a straight 30 minutes and found myself thinking “boy…the drama!” Thing is in some ways I could relate. I had heard and seen the drama she was dealing with countless times before across my social circles. Plus my parents are marriage counsellors so some of the juice you get wind of is

Here was her gripe:

Tracy* has been married for a little under a year (*she asked me to share her issue on condition that we employed a name change and that my piece was wrapped up in what I’ve found to work for me as and when similar situations arose). When she got married she encountered such a challenge, where the pressure to please mother-in-law and become her best friend became an everyday reality. Her husband asks whether she has spoken to his mother at least 5 times a week. Her aunts (her mother’s sisters) ask when last she checked in on mom and dad and her siblings send occasional text messages alluding to the fact that she is no longer as available as she used to be for them so “what’s up with that?”

Tracey feels torn, as husband is equally demanding his attention and rightfully so. She loves being married but is struggling with the tugging from in-laws who now seemingly feel they are shareholders to her day to day existence while her family feels neglected. She says there are unending requests to manage all relationships according to excerpts from “some rule book”. Also, it seems that these very same rules advocated actively “leaving behind” relationships that dominated her single days, to adopt relationships that were to “blossom” in a future unknown.

“Ndiwe wave muroora pano…mai vepano”…and the calls for “Huyai kwakati, parikudiwa zvakati” are now adversely impacting her relationship with her husband as he doesn’t seem to know how to say no to certain requests and when he does – all hell breaks loose from the requesting parties nana sekuru nana tete and errbody!

Her issue was how she didn’t see this level of pressure coming. To be honest there could very well be more to her story and what she is going through as she was on the phone literally sounding like she was about ready to throw in the towel. These are the bits of thought I threw her way…

  1. You Cannot Know Everything About a Person from your First Encounter. Yes, you can absolutely meet a person and hit it off of the bat. It was pretty much what happened when my husband and I met. We all normally put our best foot forward and present the “ideal” us. Only the passage of time reveals your authentic traits and the chaff that was part of the introductory package. So it is therefore impossible to know everything about your in-laws from your introduction braai neither is it likely that they will have you all figured out on the same momentous occasion. Believe me, family secrets, the crazy uncle that no one likes and all the stuff that’s less than savoury will present itself. Deal with it when it does if it does – don’t go fishing for trouble asking too many questions or unleashing the Nancy Drew within.

 

  1. Follow your Spouse’s Lead. Simply put – if your husband is the gregarious type who likes to hang out with his siblings, cousins and uncles; you best get in where you fit in. You will be rapidly coined the “unsociable” daughter or sister-in-law if you fail to figure out how to integrate on the onset. Try to organise get-togethers at your house if you must; but make your new family feel welcome as much as you can. If on the other hand, your husband’s family is marred with family drama – play it by ear. There is a good reason why he doesn’t go to Aunt so-in-so’s house (she may be married to the crazy uncle!) or doesn’t attend family gatherings often. There may be some deep-rooted issues that he may have chosen to keep you from. Trust that he knows better – don’t try to be the UN Peace worker – that could get you killed.

 

  1. You are one, but are also still individuals. Many wives are confronted with the pressure to conform to certain methods or act in a certain way in an effort to please the new family. Give each other enough space to create realistic relationship expectations. If you come by your mamas house every day, or visit thel’s with a trunk full of groceries and dollars popping…the day that you don’t do that the aunty will call asking what changed. It is important for you to present your authentic self at the very beginning so people aren’t met with surprises down the road. Some folks are less socially gregarious than others and are happy to spend their days alone than surrounded by a million and one folks. Others are the opposite. Whatever the case, do your best to present your best, but most realistic you.

 

If you don’t understand what something means or how it’s done, do not be afraid to ask. I may not know to “mona the bhodho” kumusha but aunties over there may not know how to change the channel on DSTV! We all have our weaknesses!! Relatives will almost always have something to say about you but that chatter eventually simmers down. Be yourself as best you know how. Eventually you will be viewed as endearing by most.

 

  1. Family Competition is Rife. Play no part in those types of games. So brother-in-law’s wife is now driving the latest Benz, sister-in-laws kids are attending private schools while yours didn’t get a place. Who cares? Remember that everyone’s race is different and you all have different goals in mind. You may have the misfortune of being married to a man whose family members are so intrusive they want what you have. You get a new couch set – there goes Aunt Pookie wanting the address and contact details for the furniture store you made your pickings from. I’m like this; I find out Aunt Pookie is that kind of aunt??? – and she’ll be by my house only during the next 29th of February…if ever!

 

  1. Set your Boundaries….Real Quick! I feel very strongly about this one because it forms the foundation of how your relationships progress moving forward. Ok…just because I am married to your son, daughter, brother, sister or cousin, it doesn’t give you license to rock up by our home every morning for breakfast. Neither should a caucus be had about a decision that my husband (or wife) and I have made. In short, let folks know earlier on what sort of conversations can be had with you and those that cannot. Let them know that it’s not okay to come by 100 times a week without calling. Let them know it’s not okay to rearrange the furniture in your house in your absence (yes, this happened to a friend of mine!#thenervethough!) Let them know it’s not okay to borrow my shoes and leave the nanny with a note#NO.CAN.DO

 

  1. Learn to Love them. It’s so much easier accepting the flaws in others if you are open to loving them. They are as imperfect as you are so if you find they are getting on your nerves and grinding your wheels, chances are in one way or another you do the same to them. The truth remains that you are two families with different values and norms that are brought together by marriage. Love them as Christ has taught you to love any and everybody else. You will soon come to find that the stuff that erked you before really isn’t that serious. That which is serious can be worked through if you employ love as an aid.

 

  1. Communicate as often as you can. With the joys of smartphones and social media platforms, many a time you do not have to carry out the track across town for some face time with the relations. Life gets in the way and in many instances these family type gatherings are just a stress. With that being said, take as many an opportunity to send an SMS or a quick note on Facebook just letting folks know what’s happening on your turf and asking how they are doing. It’s a great way to feel included in family goings on and staying clear from the dreaded “unsociable/unfriendly” label. I’m not saying that social media and letter writing should substitute the visits – because then you will invariably become the “unsociable daughter/sister-in-law” I spoke of earlier. I’m saying balance is key. Folks shouldn’t wait till Christmas time to hear from you – when you are jetting in from London and need a couch to crash on: /

 

  1. You do not have to be Besties. Look here! 9 times out of 10, if it wasn’t for you being married to their family member, you would not have an encounter…not even by chance. So free yourself from the perceived notion that you must become BFFs with his sister or take “the Aunt” out to lunch ever so often. You run the risk of setting yourself up for failure in the event that you discover that certain habits or characteristics do not quite appeal to you so you have to pull back. Relate with your folks in a manner that makes you feel comfortable. When you are comfortable in your skin around them, they are likely to find you more pleasant to be around.

 

  1. Interaction on either side is rarely equal. You relate to and speak more with people who know you better and you them. So in my opinion, the perception that you put your family members on the back burner whilst you foster other relationships is borderline bonkers. The probability is higher that you will chat more to your mom than your mother-in-law or hang out more with your cousins than you will with his. Again, don’t sweat it and dust the pressure off. In time everyone will get used to it. Navigate your relationships in healthy wholesome ways that keep everyone at a good place.

 

  1. Adapt. Adapt. Adaptation is critical in accepting change. Gone are the singleton days of bar hopping 5 nights a week and going on monthly girls retreats! Once married you and your spouse may employ more mellow methods by which to entertain each other. Bring on the kids and come 6pm you will be too zonked to even think of going out for drinky-drinks! Embrace the momentous changes that are taking place in your life and make lifestyle changes better suited to your new life.

 

Meeting new relatives and maintaining newly formed relationships does not have to be as daunting as it appears at the wedding ceremony. You are likely to meet hundreds of family and friends then, but never see them again for a good while. Marriage and relationships that are formed therein can be as beautiful and fulfilling as you allow them to be. The critical component is ensuring comfort in one’s skin and being the best person you can be to you and your loved ones, especially to your spouse. Do tell us ladies, what are your thoughts on managing relationships with your in-laws and those with your own family members? Has is gotten easier or harder since having gotten married?

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Yvonne

happiness_habits

Honeymoon over: May the real marriage please stand up!

Part of the excitement that comes with joining the league of “marrieds” lies in the talking about personal experiences since the exchanging of vows. As many of my friends have approached and surpassed the 30-years- of- life mark there seems to be either a scurry down the aisle or a widespread reflection of how much life has changed in the past couple of years since earning the titles of Mrs or mom. A topic that is always makes it to the list of top tens of marriage lies in the changes that have since come about since wedding or lobola day. Truth be told your life does take an about-turn. What should be increasingly apparent is that a successful marriage involves a great deal of work. The minute husband and wife stop working at their marriage through daily rediscovery of one another, communication, prioritisation of the needs of the relationship and so on, is the same minute that things seemingly begin to come apart at the seams.

I bumped into a friend of mind at church the other day. I hadn’t seen her for a while as she had been basking in the glory of being a new bride. Wedding’s over, they were back from the honeymoon and now steady wondering where they would be moving to and whether the kitchen is large enough to carry all the glasses and plates and rice cookers that came as gifts. I asked her how being a Mrs was now. She was cute. The first thing she mentioned was how she hated picking up after him, especially his socks and gym kit…sweaty et al. I chuckled as I thought honie “you’ll be picking up a lot more than just socks should you grow your family beyond just the two of you!”

To many of our sisters who are still awaiting their encounter with the man they will spend the rest of their lives with, coupled with others that have recently jumped the broom, marriage is effectively what you make it and how you view it. One thing that is for sure is that your life is no longer what it used to be…which for many couples out there is the thrill of it all. I’ve shared countless debates with my married and single friends, with questions flying across both ends of the table. Here are a few bits that came up that I found to be pretty interesting.

  1. Singletons vs Wifeys: Who has more fun? In my opinion and based on a mini survey I conducted on this, the levels of fun in either group of these women cannot be compared simply because, No.1 fun is subjective and 2, it depends on one’s definition of fun. What we can say as a part answer to this question is that much like any phase of life, when one gets married, their priorities must and do change. This is to say that perhaps Friday nights were about cocktailing with the girls but now hubby wants his time so its couch time watching a football game or the latest action movie release. Perhaps public holidays were designated for out of town holidaying excursions but have now become the preferred choice to visit the rellies or that dreaded trip to “the roots.”

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  1. Social Dynamics. This one is a huge one. “Can I keep the same friends I had in my Singleton days?”…”Can I still party like a rock star?” Again, this one falls very much in line with our first byte; what you constitute as fun and who you are intent on having a blast with. Part of maintaining an enjoyable marriage involves maintaining your individual characteristics yet ensuring that you serve the interests of your marriage first before your individual pursuits. What most married friends shared was that being joined to their husband means spending more time with him and delving more into his interests or finding things they can enjoy together. 9 times out of 10, this means some of your “peops” (and his) will fall away on their own because there is very little room left for them to fit in. As a couple you may have to spend time with other married couples or get involved in groups that involve coupling. You will still have those few priceless relationships that understand and appreciate the changes in your life therefore will not hold you in contempt if you aren’t able to hang out as much. But rest assured most will view you as “having changed” to a degree and may struggle with adapting to the “new you” with your spouse in tow. If you aren’t about the hectic state of putting extreme boundaries, you should be able to carry on with your relationships and interactions like nothing has changed. This applies to most new age couples where girl’s retreats and boys fishing trips sans the spouses are perfectly in order. In truth, I think those actually have a way of keeping you both in profound appreciation for each other and what works for your marriage.

 

  1. The Dreaded Domesticities. A common thread for most independent women turned married was their disdain for all things domestic. I heard from some that hated the routine of house chores and baby minding 24/7, severe lack of “me-time”, unending encounters with the stove, navigating the heaps of laundry, the socks that get left all over the house yet one can’t even drop a chip in hubby’s car….and so on…and so on. Beloved, the sad truth is this is what you were built for. Unless you are bent on having a fleet of maids to pick up after every mess, don’t mind any kind of mess, chores and so on at all, your hubs doesn’t mind takeout or the maid’s cooking (which usually doesn’t come recommended), or your husband is just so superb he can tell from your side-eye that it’s his turn in the kitchen (lucky you!)- this thing coined “lady of the house” carries with it huge responsibilities and expectations. All things house and home related are indeed your domain so learn to love on them. Also knowing that you are serving your family, and doing so in love, makes it easier with the passage of time. Hubby misplaces his other sock because he knows you will find it. The kids leave the toys all over the place because mom will put them away. Yeap…no shortcuts here….that’s just how the cookie has crumbled for me. I confess to actually hating all things domestic but I view them as some of the other stuff I must do anyway. So I just carry on…

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  1. And the Flowers? So you used to get the flowers and card delivered to your doorstep every Saturday morning before the phone call from your man telling you how you are the best thing that ever happened to him, how you are his sunshine et al. Chances are the romancing may have simmered down some and you wonder why. Do you remember the part where we said a happy marriage takes work? Many couples complain about things not being the same anymore because the element of pursuing your partner has been replaced by taking each other for granted. I’ve even heard from many a woman who asserted that they and their husbands lived completely separate lives in the same house! If this is the case in your situation, it isn’t and shouldn’t be the norm. Communicating your individual needs coupled with taking the journey through the things you used to do to and for each other should get you back on track. Don’t ever let things that are important to you and him remain ignored for extended lengths of time as normalcy (and disgruntlement) soon takes a hold.

 

  1. Fashionista Aside? On this one we won’t delve into much detail. Daisy dukes at your m.i.ls house?#Not!!! Low rise jeans at a family gathering that have you bending over to pick something up every other minute…and folks turning away in the process, micro-minis at a couple’s church retreat….look we are sure you get the gist here. No one is saying you have to get all granny-regalia-fied here. What ultimately matters is what your husband thinks about what you are wearing and where you are going #infused.

 

I continue to learn from a lot of my girlfriends as we share how we navigate the pressures of marriage, parenting, career development and so on. Making your marriage work and accepting the resultant changes takes a lot of work. I’ve had seasons where I’ve wished my babies could be 21 already so they could get about their own chores or we take a trip that doesn’t involve us packing bottles of milk and yogurts in warmer bags and cooler boxes through airports. Seasons and times. What remains as truth is what choices we all take as we accept the changes in our lives and the people who are a part of those changes. Cheers to growing up!

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QF would love to hear more from you about what you feel about your life has changed since getting married. There was plenty shared from our sisters far and wide so by no means scraped the surface. As the adage states “change is constant” and experiencing the changes that come as a result of marriage are no exception! Do share what came to you unexpectedly and that which you may or may not struggle with that wasn’t a part of your former life.

Be careful who you talk to

 

A few months ago I saw a Facebook post that both made me cringe and broke my heart. It was of a woman exposing her husband’s affair with a younger woman. When I first read it I cringed because I thought it was the wrong platform to air this. I asked “why do people air their dirty laundry” in public? Upon reflecting on the action the woman had chosen to “air her dirty laundry” in public my heart broke for her because it was obvious this post had been written from a place of hurt. By exposing her husband like that, she was probably in a very vulnerable state where she felt she could not talk to anyone so she turned to social media.

Social media has been both a blessing and a curse in our lives. A blessing because it gives us the opportunity to communicate and keep in touch with our loved ones and friends who live in faraway lands. Social media ensures that we “stay connected” with the rest of the world. However it can also be a curse when we don’t know how to use it, understand why it exists or what to post or not post.

Often times we see posts on our timelines and we immediately think “TMI too much information or OVER SHARE. What is making me really cringe these days on social media especially on Facebook and Instagram is couples who share every bit of their lives with us. We know what they eat, what they wear, what their bedrooms and bathrooms look like, where they go on their dates, where they go on their honeymoon, what presents they buy each other..etc. Please don’t get me wrong here. I am no hater. I subscribe to the “to each their own” philosophy but there is a real danger in over sharing or posting too much information on social media.

In times of sorrow I have been one to run to Facebook and post about how heartbroken I am after the passing of a loved one or sharing my sadness on the anniversary of the death of a loved one. I remember last year on the anniversary of my cousin’s death I did what I usually did which is post to Facebook. I was quite disappointed by two of the comments on this particular post because I was told to move on. I was sad. I was angry. I was hurt. I could not believe how people could be mean to say such a thing in my time of distress. Truth be told I was in a vulnerable state but I had done something wrong. I had turned to the wrong platform; I had turned to the wrong people in my time of vulnerability.

Genesis 25:29-34 (NKJV)

29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom.

31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”

32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”

33 Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.”

So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

This story of Esau selling his birthright is one of the most popular stories in the Bible. Esau had just come in from the fields where he had toiled probably all day in harsh conditions. He was hungry. He was tired. The New Kings version says he was weary and weary means feeling or showing extreme tiredness, especially as a result of excessive exertion.

That sets the scene really well. Esau returns home from the fields extremely tired. Not only was Esau hungry and tired, but he was also vulnerable. The tiredness made him vulnerable to such a point that he made a deal without even thinking about it. All he wanted at the time was food. All he wanted to do was feed his hungry belly.

How many times in our lives have we run to social media or friends in our time of vulnerability? How many times do we rush to update our status on Facebook in times of distress? How many times do we rush to pick up the phone and share our problems with family or friends? Esau was in a vulnerable state when he arrived at home. Instead of preparing a meal for himself, instead of doing something for himself, he turned to his brother and asked him for a meal. Jacob then saw this as a golden opportunity to take something from Esau that he had probably always admired and wished it was his.

Who do you turn to in your times of vulnerability? You see the first person you turn to in your vulnerable state can either make or break you.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

We live in times when you just don’t know if the next person has ulterior motives or not. I am not saying we should not trust people but we have to be careful who we turn to in our vulnerable states. You could be innocently telling someone about something bad that happened in your life and they could be rejoicing in their heart on the other end of the phone. You just don’t know. Who would have thought that Jacob would ask his brother to sell his birthright? As siblings shouldn’t have Jacob just given Esau the meal without expecting anything in return?

Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)

28 Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Instead of us running to other people in our times of vulnerability, let us run to the Lord.

Quintessentially Yours,

QF Colleen