All Articles Tagged "relationship advice"
For Joi-Marie McKenzie, The Engagement Game came about one winter night in New York. “I was home watching another episode of Say Yes To The Dress for like the 400th time. I was in a very frustrated place in my relationship…and I just got up from the couch and started writing.” Twenty pages later, McKenzie looked up feeling good about what she’d written. “I forwarded [the pages] to my mother saying, ‘what do you think? I think this could be a book.’ ” How right she was. Her mother sent the text to an editor who happened to want to buy and publish the story.
That chain of events told McKenzie her story was one she needed to tell to help other women like her—women trying to figure out that next step in their relationship. What McKenzie wants readers to know about her book, The Engagement Game, is that the underlying message is singular. “Apply things that you think will work for you and disregard things that won’t. I’m a firm believer in that.” Still, there are three things the authors hopes every reader will take away from her debut work.
1. Clarify what you need in a spouse
Think Law of Attraction. Make a list of what you want in a spouse as a way of visualizing and clarifying what you want. “This helped me tremendously because although I was in love, when I wrote it down I realized some of our values honestly didn’t add up.”
McKenzie had God-fearing on her list, yet the man she was with didn’t go to church. “The list helped me see what I truly wanted, irregardless of how wonderful the person may be.”
2. Strengthen your inner voice
According to McKenzie, when we delay a commitment to a person it’s because we’re unsure. And while that’s perfectly okay, not to mention human, this behavior likely reflects a lack of confidence in our decision making. “When dealing with relationships, our decisions aren’t based on data. They are the most scary decisions because you don’t have evidence, you just feel like, ‘I like this guy.’”
By strengthening our inner voice, we become better able to make tough decisions with confidence because we can trust those gut instincts that tell us a situation is right or wrong.
3. Enjoy the waiting process
We are so used to getting what we want when we want it. As capable human beings we often wonder why can’t we figure this last part (relationships) out. “I hope through my storytelling I can give people encouragement through the wait… There is release in finding beauty in the wait.”
McKenzie believes there’s always a reason for the wait, and once you discover yours, you can relish that period of your life. Use the time to deal with whatever suppressed issues come up. “For me, I had to switch the lens. Instead of asking what’s wrong with him, I needed to look at myself. I asked, ‘What do I need to do to be a better wife or a better mother for someone?’”
This shifting of the lens is what McKenzie calls the Sixth Secret Step. It may be hard for us to admit there are things we need to work on, but there is a benefit to making a list that describes who we want to be as well.
“I was cursing a lot. I never cursed that much before. But I had become this person who was very unhappy and that’s how it was coming out in the world.” So McKenzie added “stop cursing” to her list. She also challenged herself to do one thing each week that was strictly an indulgence, whether it was going out and drinking an expensive glass of wine, walking in the park, or taking the long way home. “It was a process for me to get back to the place of being happy.”
While we think about engagements as the joining of two people, The Engagement Game is really about putting yourself first. For McKenzie, love is an act of service, and just as you would do on a plane, you need to secure yourself first before you can serve the person beside you. Once you get back to your true essence, then you can focus on inviting someone to share their life with you without any doubts about the commitment you’ll make.
“I truly believe I could have avoided some missteps had I listened to my inner guidance,” Mckenzie admitted, which is why she invites you to reflect and ask what you need to do to prepare yourself for love and play The Engagement Game the way it should be: with inner peace.
The Engagement Game: Why I Said ‘I Don’t’ to Marriage and ‘I Do’ To Me hits bookshelves March 21, 2017. Pre-order your copy here.
Go into any bookstore, better yet, just look on Instagram or Facebook, and I can pretty much guarantee that you will come across information on how to act more like a lady, and what you need to do to find, get, and keep a man. As was pointed out yesterday, a lot of this sage wisdom typically comes from men. We are part of a generation where a good half of the relationship books are written by men. Hallowed manuals on how to be a great catch that become bestsellers. Why? Because we have a penchant for consuming the thoughts, ideas and directives of men.
Granted, one could argue that who better than a man to give us women some guidance as it pertains to dating men? But I happen to have a very big issue with this.
We live in a world where women are consistently being told what to do, how to be and live by men, and I for one am not a fan. In doing some research, I’ve been hard-pressed to find pointed books or advice columns on being a better man, written by men. I often ask my friends in relationships with good guys why their men don’t drop some knowledge for the rest of the guys out here. I truly don’t believe that men talk to one another and counsel one another unless one has found himself in a bad situation. So why is it that you’re able to watch your friend mistreat his partner and not say anything? Your friend could be engaged in an extramarital affair, yet you don’t admonish him? How do you sit back and comfortably watch someone hurt someone else?
I asked a few friends about this, some married, engaged, and single. Even a single father. The general consensus among most of them was that “You can’t tell another man what to do.” But my response was “Why not?” Who better than your fellow man to counsel you on how to behave better or carry yourself in a more positive way?
For instance, I asked my married friend about hypothetically calling out a friend who was having an affair. He felt that unless he was asked for advice, he should say nothing.
MN: Is this a man code thing?
Married Friend: “I guess, but then if you’re religious or something, you may say something. But most men would let that grown a– man make grown a– decisions.”
I deferred to two friends who are engaged and the response was pretty consistent. Something along the lines of the aforementioned “You can’t tell another adult man what to do.” Losing a bit of hope, I asked a single friend and his feelings on the matter were quite different. When asked about a hypothetical situation, say, another man crudely hollering at a woman in public, he said he’d step in, especially if it was overt harassment and he felt like the woman couldn’t handle herself.
MN: Even if she could handle herself, you wouldn’t step in?
Single Friend: “There is no bro code on a guy being crude. Courtesy matters most, for me. I can’t speak for other guys, but I know I see and handle things differently than most.”
MN: What about the argument that you cant tell a grown man how to act?
Single Friend: “No, you can. Honestly, to me its just an excuse guys use to avoid confrontation and also to shirk responsibility for bad behavior around them.”
I get it. I’m realistic about the fact that you cannot be Captain Valiant in every situation, more so with strangers. But I do question why men don’t counsel the friends they hold dear. Why is there this aversion to calling out bad behavior, not publicly, but even just privately? If at least every good guy counseled another on behaving and doing better, specifically when it comes to the things they put the women in their life through, it would probably go a long way.
But what do I know? I’m just a woman who needs to be told by men what I need to be doing to make my relationship last–like I’m the only person in it…
How do you guys feel? Should guys talk more to one another about being better for us? Are you a man who speaks honestly to your friends? If you don’t, why not?
Today’s episode of #LunchtimeChat posed the question: should divorced men give “expert” relationship advice? The ladies share their opinions based on a recent article that pondered if celebrities like Steve Harvey, Tyrese, Rev Run and Keith Sweat should hold authority on the topic of relationships considering their pasts.
Catch the chat and share your thoughts below! Make sure to tune in to #LunchtimeChat every weekday at noon on Facebook Live!
Last weekend my family and I went to a cookout with whom it would be a disservice to just call church family. You know, where you see people you genuinely love but only see once a year and whenever there is a lull in conversation someone says “I remember when you were this big” and holds their hand up to their waist. Good times, good food, and lots of being told “God Chad, you look just like your uncle!”
Towards the end of the night my sister and I were sitting and talking. Mrs. Payne came by saying that she and her husband were heading home. Growing up, Mrs. Payne taught my sister how to sew and Mr. Payne was my basketball coach. As clever as I think I am, I can’t quite put into words their dynamic. They were always in sync. It seemed like except for basketball on Saturdays and sewing class on Wednesdays one is never too far away from the other. Always happy and always smiling.
Out of nowhere my sister asked Mrs. Payne: “How do you and Mr. Payne make it work after all of these years? Like, what’s the best advice you could give me at this point?” I was about to walk off and get another drink, but I stopped and paused wondering what would her answer be. I thought to myself “work.” Mrs. Payne didn’t even think about her answer. She replied “You have to remember why you’re in it.”
Mrs. Payne had effortlessly described even the most intricate of relationships. She has been married for 54 years and I could imagine that most of them have come along with trials and moments of adversity. However, as younger people we often put too much stock into the hard times. For example, I would often say that the key to a healthy and lasting relationship was hard work. In theory, I was right, but the language that I was using gave a negative connotation. My wife and I had been through it. We were also in our early-to-mid twenties. While it seemed like we lived a lifetime during those five years we often fought about the littlest things and contemplated calling it quits once a month. Yes, a strong and lasting relationship may be hard work, but a change of language can change one’s outlook.
Without taking a breath the next thing Mrs. Payne said was: “I tell my granddaughters all [of] the time you want someone who will love you like your grandfather, provide for you like your father, and make you laugh like your uncle.” As a man I think that is exactly it. At this point in my life, I don’t have the time or energy to date unless there’s potential for a future. If she makes it past two or three dates I’m looking to see if she’s a good fit for me to serve in the manner Mrs. Payne talked about. Truth be told, most men are.
We often make finding, appreciating, giving, and receiving love much more complicated than it really is. I think what my sister and I were told is a microcosm for how to successfully view a relationship. While it may be deep, just keep it simple. In two sentences someone who has been happily married since Kennedy was president basically said your partner is going to try you, piss you off, disappoint, and even break your heart. While they may do those and many more, focus more on the fact you will do the same to them, so there will always be room to keep trying. If they can/will continuously try to meet your needs and make you smile through it, what else is there?
The best relationship advice I can give is actually from the book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”: begin with the end in mind. I told Mrs. Payne I was taking her words and sharing them. She told me “Please do.”
I don’t know why it took me up until this year to realize that, in addition to his gospel music for the masses, Kirk Franklin actually has some very empowering words to share as well. My boyfriend and I attended one of his concerts and I was surprised to hear not only his comments but the thought, revelation and honesty behind them. He’s more than just the frontman, the performer and showman I thought he was. More than just his concert, he preached this sermonette type thing in his studio one day that was so good I had to share it on my Facebook page.
He has insight.
So, when I saw that a post he shared about his marriage to his wife Tammy was getting quite a bit of attention on Facebook, I decided to see what he had to say. And true to the pattern I’d witnessed, Kirk was dropping some knowledge.
So, where’s the story?
Well, after I read Kirk’s words, I scrolled down to see a comment that had over thirteen thousand likes. 13,934 at the time of publication, to be exact.
That certainly puts a different spin on things now doesn’t it? I just knew after reading Crystal’s comment that people were going to be UPset. I assumed that they were going to call her bitter, lonely, miserable, negative and everything else they call women with an opinion they don’t agree with. And while, there were certainly those who didn’t agree with her, they did so respectfully. There were those who liked it. And there were those who responded saying that they could see the beauty in both Kirk’s story and the truth in her response to it.
And in the words of DJ Khaled, “I like that.”
Sometimes, quite a few times, issues are not simply black and white, right or wrong. There’s gray area. There’s common ground. There are two sides of the story and each of them raise valid points.
Is it a beautiful thing that Kirk’s wife Tammy decided to stick by him when he was acting a fool? Yes, absolutely.
Do men with platforms often use them to tell women how they should move and behave in the world? Sho nuff.
Kirk can only tell his story, from his perspective. And his perspective is that he’s thankful his wife stuck by him, waiting for him to grow up. That’s what he knows. But I’m sure Kirk Franklin is not the only man who has felt abandoned and then turned around and did that same thing to other people in his life. I’m sure that men, who are completely unaccustomed to getting relationship advice from high profile men, would have heeded his words. It’s a real story. Instead, Kirk, fell into the paternalistic trap so many men do. Instead of digging deeper into his own shortcomings as a man, he spoke about his wife’s willingness to stay while he grew up. And that would have been fine if he were speaking about their situation specifically. But then he turned it around and offered advice to other women, encouraging them, without knowing the particular men they’re dealing with, to do the same.
Honestly, this idea of standing by your man, whether he’s right or wrong, is not new or radical. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that women’s default position is to stay, give one too many chances and hope that the person they love will eventually do and be better. We don’t need to hear that we need to wait for a man in a relationship. That’s what we do! In fact, far too many of us are sticking around for far too long.
Instead, now more than ever, it’s time for men to start talking to each other about how to behave in relationships. It’s time for them to be open and honest about their mistakes, not laughing them off or rationalizing. It’s time for them to take responsibility for how their actions may have hurt the women in their lives. And it’s time for men to ask tough questions of their friends who are living foul. There are some things men will never understand about women and some things women will never understand about men. So instead of them offering advice, from a position that is unlike ours in the world, why not speak to the people who can better relate to your stories and struggles. Speak to the fellas. Lord knows there are quite a few who could use the guidance.
If you’re married to or live with your partner, it’s easy to take for granted that you’ll get to spend time together and that you’ll always feel bonded. But that’s a dangerous mentality because you’ll quickly let everything in your life overshadow your relationship; you’ll let work, social engagements, and family obligations take every spare moment, until you have no quality time left to spend with your partner.
But neglecting your relationship goes deeper than neglecting to spend time on it—there will always be someone or something that believes it deserves most of your attention and loyalty. If you want your relationship to survive, you have to protect it from being overpowered by the needs and demands of others. Here are 15 times you need to put your relationship first.
There is no genre of memes I hate more than the faux-deep, build-a-bear-a** sayings bitter little creatures disguised as men create to shame women for having standards. Not sure what I’m talking about? I’m referring to those simple little memes that litter my timeline from time to time and read something like, “Shout out to all the women who aren’t afraid to build with a man.”
Are we building our first home together?
So what you’re saying is this is some warped attempt to convince me I have no right to expect a man in my same age range who approaches me as a potential suitor to at least bring the same things I bring to the table?
Yeah, I’m not here for that.
In fact, I’ve wanted to write about the ridiculousness of said memes for some time now but I never found the right tone for a piece that wouldn’t make me sound like a man-hating you know what. I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with “building” with a man if that’s what you want to do (and he demonstrates potential that leads you to believe you will actually have built something when all is said and done). But I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling like you come to the table as a ready-made woman and you want a ready-made man. Sure, we can — and should — help each other get to the next level as partners. But what you won’t do is tell me my standards are too high if at, say 30, I don’t want to wait for Jason to get his GED and catch up on his child support to “see where things can go.”
I’m starting to sound like a man hater aren’t I?
Well let me stop there because there’s actually a meme that sums up my opinion on this topic better than I ever could in 1,000 words or more and this, my friends, is it.
Have you caught your breath yet?
Yeah, sorry fellas. You’re not about to have me out here with a left arm that has right-hand capabilities just to prove to you I’m ride or die and not superficial. In other words, this whole notion is a– backward!
It’s not a woman’s job to build a man, that was your mama’s and your daddy’s. If they didn’t do it, that’s not my problem to fix unless I so choose. Furthermore, when’s the last time you heard a man, in all of his innately visual being, say “I bet she’s gonna be fine one day. Let me wife her now”? Or “It’s okay you don’t have a job and still live at home at 32. I’ll take care of you. I see your potential”? And please note I’m speaking of regular, every day school loan debt having guys, not wealthy men and rappers who nip and tuck their girlfriends into “models,” “stylists,” and trophy wives whose only “job” really becomes popping out babies for them.
I’ll build up my husband any day of the week. What I won’t do is invest more in a boyfriend in 6-18 months of knowing him than he’s invested in himself in all of his years on this earth. Men, think about that idea for a second as you create these selfish expectations of women. Ladies, if you’ve ever been one of those types of women (and I can admit I have) just study this meme and see how that behavior has you twisted — literally. Everyone else, just have a good chuckle at the absurdity that is social media relationship advice and be glad you know better.
As much as we’d love to believe that romantic relationships come easy, we know better. They’re hard work! Which is why we sometimes seek out advice from friends, loved ones and so-called love gurus to gain perspective and insight. That’s true for single and married women alike.
But sometimes the advice you receive from someone on the outside looking in can be detrimental and end up doing more harm than good. That basically translates to not all relationship advice is created equal. Use your judgment to determine what, if anything, works best and makes sense for you. Have you heard any of the following bad advice and tips before?
Pick A Fight
You shouldn’t have to pick a fight with your partner to be heard or to get what you want. This so-called tactic could blow up in your face and end up causing even more problems in your relationship.
I am a damn good listener. Sometimes I wish I could exchange my platinum-grade listening skills for equally brilliant creative skills of any kind – singing, dancing, Shonda Rhimes-ing. I ain’t picky. While the skill typically serves me well, there’s one instance in which it works against me: When I’m listening to a friend go on and on…and on and on and on about a dude who isn’t worth her time. An immature guy who disappears and reappears as he sees fit; who continues to disappoint her over and over again. An emotionally unavailable dude who made her chocolate chip pancakes one morning and in one fell swoop wiped her memory clean of the long list of offensive strikes he racked up. Got her singing Case’s “Happily Ever After” despite the fact that he introduces her to people as a mere friend and thinks she magically “caught feelings” much like one catches a common cold.
But depending on the friend, I can’t tell them what they need to hear without it falling on deaf ears or without suffering through an accusatory lecture about how I need to be more supportive. It can be a slippery slope. The one time I give it to them straight – no chaser, no sugarcoating, no traces of make ‘em feel better BS whatsoever – suddenly overrules all the times I listened intently, doled out positive advice they chose to ignore and consoled them when the relationship went south.
Now, I know what it’s like to be smitten beyond belief and fully gone – mesmerized by the “D,” hopeful about the future you want to build with a man who seems to have everything you’re looking for in a partner. But both rationale and receipts have to be factored into that lovey-dovey equation. When they’re not, you can fixate on the wrong things (see: chocolate chip pancakes) and fall into a downward spiral despite the obvious signs and straight up verbal cues a man gives you.
For example, if a man says, “I don’t want a relationship right now,” that means – wait for it – he doesn’t want to be in a relationship. It can also mean that he does wish to be in a relationship, just not with you. But all you heard was the “right now” part, which turned up your hope dial and set you on a mission to change his mind. You interpreted his words as a challenge and willingly took him on. He played along, of course, but when he reminded you that he doesn’t want a relationship, you acted as though you heard this for the first time and took serious offense. Both parties are to blame in this instance.
For me, the friend who has been listening and offering advice that has been turned down this entire time, it’s really difficult to continue to be supportive when this happens. I’m not saying my advice is the cure-all. Lord knows I’m no relationship expert. But I know what you want. You’ve told me many times. I know what you’re looking for, I know how you feel, I know how upset and unhappy you are. And I know that you deserve better. But if you ask for my advice and then repeatedly ignore it while expecting that what you’ve been doing all along is finally going to get you somewhere, what exactly is the point? And then to complain to me afterwards about how he did this and that…that’s when I’m out of everything – interest, patience and time to give to this sad but perfectly amenable situation. Sorry, not sorry.
People have long referred to love as a drug. If that’s the case, every addict has to want better for themselves. They have to recognize their worth as well as the underlying issues that influenced their bad habits and poor choices. And then they have to make the necessary changes to make healthier decisions moving forward. So, as a friend, at what point do you say, “Girl, I love you and I’m here for you, but I can no longer participate in this back-and-forth drama. You deserve better, and I can’t continue to support you in this manner”? I understand that sometimes we don’t want to be alone (though it’s always better to be alone than in an awful situation) and that we hold onto the belief that one day the guy we’re dealing with will wake up and see how great of a woman we are. But nah, girl. Wake up. Stop trying to make a bad thing work. It’s time to move on.
Have you experienced any of these situations with a treasured friend? What did you do to help them see the light?
When I met my boyfriend of six years, he had downright lickable abs. We were both fresh out of college where we had free gym memberships and plenty of free time. But these days with hectic schedules, grinding to make our dreams realities and the everyday stresses we never knew in college, his workout routine went down the drain. Those abs I used to love turned into a donut.
At first I thought it was cute, endearing. We had moved in together, I was cooking and I took his little pudge as evidence that he enjoyed the meals I so painstakingly prepared for him.
I can’t remember the exact moment the donut stopped being cute. Maybe it was the way it stood in between our bodies when we slow danced, acting as a cushiony barrier. Maybe it was the way it looked with him siting slovenly on the couch, eating Cheetos watching television.
But it was definitely the way that I saw him looking at himself in the mirror disapprovingly. We were on vacation and after he’d changed into his swim trunks, seeing his belly sitting on top of the elastic band, he was less than pleased. And asked me if he should wear a t-shirt.
He hadn’t quite reached that point but if his little pudge was starting to bother him, it was time that I help him do something about it. The thing I’ve learned is that most people don’t need you to tell them they’ve gained weight. They know their body better than you. They realize it. What they might need is encouragement to make a change.
I’ve always been big on keeping the romance in our relationship. I’m big on date nights. Now, I just make sure that one of our three monthly date nights has some type of physical component. I make sure my meals are as healthy as possible and I may or may not have mentioned how much I would love for those abs to make another appearance.