I was the queen of the first dates. In my 10 years of living in LA I have probably dated half of the city. My reasoning was simple: dating more should have increased my chances of finding love. I figured the law of averages would have to apply. If I went on 100 dates surely there would have to be ONE in the bunch!
After years of working my plan, I was exhausted. I didn't want to tell my life story again. I didn't want to waste a cute outfit and a beat face to be disappointed. I've cried, yelled and screamed at God to send me my husband but it didn't work. How could He let me be in such agony? Didn't He want me to be married? Can't he feel my heart breaking in one million more pieces after experiencing all of the rejection I endured. I finally surrendered.
I got busy loving God. I decided I wanted God more than a husband. I may have never gotten the man but I had to have God. I decided to give up everything remotely tied to a man for Lent. No flirting, dating, talking to men I found attractive, NOTHING! I flipped a switch overnight. I cut my roster and decided I would spend the time I would have ordinarily used for dating to watch YouTube sermons, pray, read my Bible and find out more about my maker. I stopped obsessing over finding my man. I became content with the idea of only having what God wanted me to have when He wanted me to have it.
I gave up my list of wants. I started being grateful for my very full and amazing life. It was when I let go, I received. Fully Surrendered!
I was shocked by Mary J. Blige's divorce announcement a few weeks ago. I was even more shocked to learn that she and her husband didn't allow each other to have opposite sex friendships. Could that be at the root of the demise?
My husband's friends are mostly women. Before you start murmuring "girllllllllll....." let me say it's only an issue if it's an issue. Let me explain.
I firmly believe EVERY woman knows the man she married. If your man sniffs up every skirt, you know. If your man is a faithful as a Labrador you know that too! Not that there aren't exceptions but in general I think women know. So here is what I know about my husband. He's a man of his word. If he says she's a friend she's a friend. Now, he has said, "She's my friend but I did hit it back in the day." We all have those, I get it. Nevertheless, she's still his friend.
I made a decision to do things differently with my husband. My last relationship (10 years ago) really did a number on my self-esteem. I felt insecure because he was an NFL player and we were in a long-
distance relationship. I snooped and I found. I vowed that if I ever had the urge to look through someone's phone, go through their drawers or rummage through their car, I would just leave. I didn't like whom I was becoming as a result of my insecurity. It was about really about trust. I decided if I couldn't trust the one I'm with, I wouldn't be with him.
Trusting my husband has freed me. I don't worry about whom he is talking to on the phone, where he is or if he is in someone's DMs. I do not own him. He does not own me. We are together because we choose to be together. We make that choice every day. We have full transparency and respect for each other. I know all of his codes/passwords and he knows mine. But it's not to check behind one another. It's more for convenience of not having to bother him every time I want to use his phone, computer or iPad.
I remarked to my husband that I've lost nearly all of my male friendships since we've gotten married. Not because he told me to cut them but rather the majority of my guy buds self-selected out. My best friend is a guy I've known since I was 11. He asked me if I can still take his calls and I said absolutely! Edward knows exactly who he is and is not threatened by our friendship.
I believe that my husband will respect and honor me in whatever setting. He can have his friends and I can have mine. Our relationship is built on trust and openness. I cannot hold him or contain him from anyone or anything. He's with me of his own free will. We don't believe in forever. No one can promise that. We are here. Together. Now and hopefully the next day. We both get to choose. I hope he chooses me for many more days to come and he's hoping I do the same.
Just because I eloped doesn't mean I'm broke or pregnant!
Some misconceptions about eloping are that the couple can't afford a "real" wedding or that the bride is pregnant. While those certainly could be reasons, Edward and I do not fall into either category.
Our elopement was spur of the moment. Having just lost my mother, planning a wedding had become increasingly depressing. Edward saw my anguish and came up with a solution! He said "let's get married tomorrow!" I didn't hesitate.
Here are my 5 reasons to Dope Elope
1. It's fun!
Eloping was the most spontaneous, thrilling thing I have ever done! Rushing to find a dress, booking a venue all under 4 hours was exhilarating! To top it off, the immediate gratification of seeing the end result was the next day not months away.
2. It's on your terms
Our elopement was all about US! We wore what we wanted, ate what we wanted (Edward had a burger and wings for his first married meal) and we LOVED every second of it!
3. It makes for a great story
Now that we are married, I find myself retelling the story of our elopement very often. People always have so many questions. It's a great icebreaker with couples since someone usually asks about our love story. I'm happy we don't have the cookie cutter engagement/wedding story.
4. It's romantic
Nothing is more romantic to me than the fact that my husband only wanted me. He wanted to marry me ANYWHERE he could. Edward didn't care if I had a dress or sweats he just wanted his bride. We actually tried to elope while we were on vacation in Houston. We got the marriage license but there was not one, single judge on 12 floors of the courthouse that day. So we kept the license as a souvenir. I had no clue we would actually be married a few weeks later.
5. It's just DOPE
Proverbs 18:22 - He who finds a wife finds a good thing (and a spokesperson). At least I did. Now you won’t find ERAC quoting scripture too often but these words ring true everyday. She’s better in a crowd than I am. She’s better at making friends out of strangers than I am. Actually, I don’t think she even uses the word stranger. Not that I can’t hold my own, but it wasn’t until after I let my guard down did I learn that I wasn’t as awesome as I thought I was. This probably speaks to my last blog post on vulnerability, so let’s just call this part of a series. A series where I let go of me and embrace “we” even more. Something that is particularly difficult for men, even married men.
Even though it’s a “deadIy sin”, I am a PROUD dude! Even when I shouldn’t be. I can think of at least 50 times (in the last year) when humility would have gotten me out of a tough spot. But nah, I’ve always liked to go the route where I bang on my chest like a caveman in order to solidify my rightness. I consider myself an intelligent, well researched fella and when I’m settled on a reason or decision I am not easily swayed. This is the single man way of thinking. 38 days into marriage and I’m realizing that sometimes, maybe, probably that I could possibly be wrong…Ok! I'm wrong a lot - but a lot less now.
For instance, I realized that I am a total amateur when it comes to doctor visits. I always come out having not asked pertinent questions which, in turn, leave me without pertinent answers. Now I have a wife with the right of mind to accompany me to the doctor’s office (who does that?). But I come out with answers and results that I would not have on my own. Thanks wife.
For the last 20 years I’ve have very little input on my decisions. For the good decisions, I’ve always held my head high knowing that it was by my composure and intellect, and mine alone, that I made the best decision. For the bad decisions I would often look around (like a kid looking both ways before crossing a street) to find someone to blame. But at all times, it was only me. And even when I did make the right decision, i hoped that there would be someone there to hold me up in the case that I fell. Releasing fear in my young marriage has enabled me to look to my wife for guidance. I mean, I chose well but I couldn't have known she would balance me in such a way. She's an educated woman with a sound mind and kind spirit. Seeking her counsel in my personal decisions and family decisions have made all of the difference.
My new wife has even made me a better father. Because…guess what???? I have no idea what teenage girls need. When I was a teenager all I thought girls needed was me. Wrong again. I haven’t the slightest idea about how to address and adapt to their emotions. I know now that I won’t feel so helpless when there’s some kind of lady emergency when the girls visit. Even though we are both trying to understand the world that these millennials live in (as our parents tried to understand ours) doing it together has made it that much better.
Advice from a novice: Despite how long you’ve been in you relationship, make sure all paths lead to ONENESS
Stay Dope, ERAC
I'm an entrepreneur who has been making six figures for many years. So the idea of sharing my hard earned dollars wasn't very appealing at first. I wanted a prenuptial agreement. I had already advised my lawyer of my intent to protect my assets. However, one night in marriage counseling, I had a come to Jesus moment. See, the idea of potentially losing everything if we were to get divorced was petrifying! Growing up I was taught to keep a stash! You know, just in case! I was taught that the stash ministry kept you safe. Our marriage counselor said "Well, don't get married!" It was my Eureka moment!
I'm all for pooling resources but what happens when one person income surpasses their spouse? How should we divide the bills, should we join our bank accounts or keep them separate? So many questions to consider!
We couldn't have figured out the answers to these questions on our own. We were lucky. Our marriage counselors walked us though this topic. Here's what's we learned about finances within marriage:
1. Stashing hurts your marriage
Great marriages are built on trust. Having secret accounts or hiding money in a shoebox will erode trust because your spouse will find out! Why would you want to share a bed with someone you don't feel comfortable sharing your money? How would you feel if your spouse withheld money from you?
Ultimately, we decided to join our money together and pay all of our bills from that account. However, I have a business account, brokerage account and investments that he is aware of but is not on the accounts because they were acquired prior to our marriage. But it's not a secret. I'm not saving money in case we don't make it. Stashing is deception. If you lay everything on the table before the marriage that is not operating in dishonesty. If you are keeping a stash you can expect you will eventually use it .
2. Sharing finances fosters communication
Having a joint account means we have to communicate with each other. Our rule is any purchases over $1,000 must be discussed. Sharing money requires a level of trust on both sides. It tells the other person you have faith in their judgement and that you trust they will not put you into financial ruin.
3. It makes you vulnerable
If you read this blog regularly, you have read both my husband and myself speak about the power of vulnerability within our marriage. Financial transparency is truly an exercise in being vulnerable. When I got engaged to Edward, he gave me his social security number and I ran a background check and credit check (we got engaged on our first date so I needed to know he wasn't an ax murderer with a 400 credit score). I did not ask him for his social. He freely gave it to me. It showed me he wanted to give me all the knowledge I needed in order to trust that he was who he presented himself to be. It established a level of trust that I had never experienced with a man. It made me more comfortable disclosing my finances because he had already modeled the way.
At the end of of the day, there isn't one way to handle marital finances. You have to find what is comfortable for both parties. I don't believe in 50/50 relationships in general. I could have a roommate for that! We have decided that we will both give 100% in our marriage and finances. He pays our bills from the joint account. He contributes. I contribute. It's what works for us. The key is communication. Discuss your fears around money. I had to uncover some deep notions I was holding onto from past programming. With respect, love and honest communication you will settle on how to manage your finances as a couple.
We want you to share your stories! Send us pictures of your elopement and why you and your love decided to dope elope! We look forward to sharing in your love. Email us your stories, comments or congratulatory messages to firstname.lastname@example.org