The 21-Day Relationship Reset Challenge Day Three: Reset Boundaries Around Your Relationship

dreamstime_xxl_89251993Day Three of The 21-Day Relationship Reset Challenge will encourage you to reexamine the boundaries that you’ve established around your relationship.  One of the fastest ways to sabotage your relationship is by discussing what goes on in your relationship with your friends.  The problem with that is everyone isn’t your friend, and everyone isn’t cheering for your happiness.   Don’t know who your friends are?  Here’s how you find out…

Start talking about everything that’s good, going right, and happy in your life—especially if your happiness is the direct result of a healthy and fulfilling relationship with your significant other.  Then, watch how they react to and listen to what they say about your happiness.  If they appear to be genuinely happy for you, then it’s highly likely that they’re truly down for you.  If they don’t, that should be a clear indication to you that they’re not truly your friend.

Those are the people you need to keep OUTSIDE of the boundary that you establish around your relationship—and around everything else in your life that contributes to your happiness, for that matter.  Misery loves company, and will always show up in the form of a person pretending to be in your corner to help you get through to the other side of your problems.

These people just can’t help themselves.  They truly believe that they have your best interest at heart, which is all they need to allow themselves to think that it’s okay to poke their noses in your business; especially when it comes to giving you advice on how to handle the goings-on in your relationship.

The thing to keep in mind here is that you’re not in a relationship with them; therefore, you don’t have to tolerate that level of intrusion into your relationship.  You must be careful to NOT make the mistake of allowing people too close to anything or anyone important enough to keep in your inner-circle because their negative energy will only rob you of your happiness, deplete your energy, and disturb your peace.

So, how do you set appropriate boundaries around your relationship?  There’s no easy, one-size-fits-all approach to effectively and efficiently stop people from overstepping.  No two relationships are the same, which is why it’s so difficult to this topic is so difficult to approach.

The quickest way to start setting appropriate boundaries around your relationship is by raising your comfort level with using your words to express your thoughts and feelings about the inappropriateness of any type of unsolicited advice, commentary, etc. about your relationship.

Your words will prove to be the most effective tool you can use to construct an impenetrable boundary around your relationship because your words have the power—how you use that power to defend what’s yours is up to you.

The Challenge

As you begin to think about the boundaries in relationships, your challenge will be to think about the boundaries that have been established around your relationship and jot them down.  While you’re thinking, take a moment to consider the reasons why those boundaries were established, and write those reasons next to the corresponding boundaries.

Next, think about the aspects of your relationship those boundaries were meant to protect, and make note of those aspects. After you’ve completed your list, encourage your significant other to do the same.

Once you’ve completed your list, your real challenge will be to initiate an open, honest, transparent conversation with your significant other about the boundaries that you both noted.  Ideally, this exercise will spark a level of conversation that will only serve to strengthen the boundaries that currently surround your relationship because it will force you and your significant other to either define, redefine, recognize, or fortify the boundaries that were established to protect your relationship.

Your willingness to work through this challenge will not only help you strengthen your relationship by fortifying the boundaries that undergird your relationship, but also by strengthening the foundation upon which your relationship is built.

 Next Steps

The fourth topic will be introduced on in the coming days, so be sure to subscribe to TheWifeFiles and to follow us on all social media @TheWifeFiles so that you can follow along until the end of the challenge.  We look forward to connecting with you.

Thank you for accepting this challenge!

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The 21-Day Relationship Reset Challenge Day Two: Reset Your Pattern of Conflict Resolution

dreamstime_xxl_89251993Day Two of “The 21-Day Relationship Reset Challenge” will encourage you to take a deeper look at how you resolve conflict, as well as to consider whether the way you understand, manage, and resolve the conflicts that arise between you and your significant other perpetuate an underlying pattern of dysfunction that threaten the stability of your relationship.

Conflict resolution can be defined in many ways, depending on the spark that ignited the conflict; and, there are just as many strategies that you can use to resolve the conflict.  For the purposes of this challenge, conflict resolution will be defined as a way for two or more parties to work together in pursuit of a peaceful solution to settle any disagreement that arises between them.

Establishing New Norms Around Conflict Resolution

In other words, the key to resolving conflict begins with a desire to work with the person you’re in disagreement with to achieve resolution.  Without that desire, your efforts to work toward solving the problem will be sabotaged by your inability to see beyond your perspective in the situation, which will limit your ability to accept the other person’s point-of-view and to understand why that person feels the way they do about the subject that ignited the disagreement in the first place.

That’s why it’s so important for you to recognize how you resolve conflict in your relationship; especially if you believe that you’re not part of the problem.  If, whenever you find yourself in a disagreement with your significant other you either:

  1. find yourself being dismissive of the concerns being raised;
  2. place the blame for the conflict on your significant other;
  3. become unwilling to accept responsibility for how your actions contributed to the disagreement; or,
  4. you become overly loud, boisterous, disrespectful, etc., as you stonewall your way through the confrontation, you need to reset the way you resolve conflict.

Yes—you can change your conflict resolution default settings.  All you have to do is recognize the pattern of behavior that you default to whenever you find yourself in conflict with your significant other, accept responsibility for how your actions contributed to the conflict, then hold yourself accountable for changing how you react and respond during all phases of the confrontation.

The Challenge   

As you begin to think differently about the way you resolve conflict, your challenge will be to shift the way you think about the purpose for conflict in your relationship.  Conflict arises whenever there’s a breakdown in the communication process, and the disagreement always present an opportunity to learn how to strengthen not only communication between you and your significant other, but also your relationship, overall.

When you find yourself in conflict with your significant other, take a moment to “check-in” with yourself before you do or say something in the heat-of-the-moment that could cause irreparable damage to your relationship.  During your “check-in,” try to identify what led to the conflict and how your actions could’ve contributed to the disagreement.  Then, try to understand your significant other’s perspective on what led to the conflict.

Once you understand the differing perspectives around the conflict, shift the focus from the feelings and emotions attached to the perspectives by suggesting possible solutions, based on the perspectives as expressed.  Then, you’ll be able to get to a place of agreement about the nature of the conflict so that you can work toward resolving the problem.

If you want to see and experience change in this area, you must be willing to do the work of improving how you handle, manage, and understand conflict.  Then, allow everything that you learned about how your resolve conflict to guide you through the process of setting appropriate goals to help you remain consistent in your efforts to honor your commitment to this process.  This consistency will go a long way to help you resolve conflicts before they arise.

Next Steps

The third topic will be introduced on January 3rd, so be sure to subscribe to TheWifeFiles and to follow us on all social media @TheWifeFiles so that you can follow along until the end of the challenge.  We look forward to connecting with you.

Thank you for accepting this challenge!

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The 21-Day Relationship Reset Challenge Day One: Reset Your Pattern of Communication

dreamstime_xxl_89251993Communication is traditionally defined as a two-way process of reaching mutual understanding in which the participants not only exchange information, ideas, and feelings by encoding (sending) and decoding (receiving) messages, but also create and share the meaning of those messages through spoken words and body language (gestures) to further express and confirm understanding.

Based on the concepts expressed in the definition of the communication process as highlighted above, we can conclude that the communication process is most effective and efficient when both participants feel comfortable enough in their relationship to freely express themselves from a place of complete honesty and mutual respect for each other’s point-of-view.

Conversely, we can also conclude that the opposite is be true because the communication process can become ineffective, inefficient, cumbersome, and counterproductive whenever something interferes with the participants’ ability to efficiently and effectively send, receive, process, and interpret messages.

Those “somethings,” also referred to as “breakdowns” in the communication process, are the primary threat to the overall health and stability of our relationships.  Why?  Because they misconstrue the purpose that initiated the communicative exchange in the first place.  We need to work toward changing this, which is why the first day of the “The 21-Day Relationship Reset Challenge” will encourage you to “Reset Your Pattern of Communication.”

The Importance of Self-Assessment

Before you can reset your pattern of communication, you must first identify your communication style (either passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, or assertive).  Understanding your style will help you to better understand why you express yourself the way you do, which will make it easier for you to figure out what you need to do to improve your communication skills, overall.

After you’ve identified your communication style, you should take some time to think about how you come across to others—especially your significant other.  For example, does your assertive communication style make you come across as being bitchy, inconsiderate, bossy, nagging, etc.; even when you’re not trying to be difficult?  Does your significant other see you as being confrontational, even when there’s no conflict brewing between the two of you because you tend to communicate in an aggressive style?

This process of self-assessment will require you to take a long, honest look at how you communicate.  The challenge will be for you to use what you discover about yourself as you work through this process to hold yourself accountable for your efforts to change.

The Challenge

Using everything that you discovered about your communication style during the self-assessment phase of challenge, initiate a conversation with your significant other in which you seek to gain a clearer understanding of their perception of your communication style.  You challenge will be to listen to your significant other’s thoughts; constructively and without interrupting.

As you listen, identify any consistencies between what you discovered about your communication style and what your significant other is telling you.  Be sure to also make note of any differences identified.  Then, allow the information that you gleaned to guide you through the process of setting appropriate goals to help you remain consistent in your efforts to honor your commitment to this process.  This consistency will go a long way to help you work through problems before they arise.

Next Steps

The Second topic will be introduced on January 2nd, so be sure to subscribe to TheWifeFiles and to follow us on all social media @TheWifeFiles so that you can follow along until the end of the challenge.  We look forward to connecting with you.

Thank you for accepting this challenge!

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The 21-Day Relationship Reset Challenge

dreamstime_xxl_89251993Psychological science tells us that it takes approximately twenty-one days of consistent work and targeted effort to form a new habit.  Whenever we decide to change any aspect of our behavior in terms of how we think about, act in, and respond to real-life situations, it takes the brain approximately twenty-one days to establish new connections to recognize and facilitate that change.

In other words, the process of forming a new habit is dependent on three variables—a conscious decision to change a behavior, consistent work toward that end, and targeted effort over a minimum of twenty-one days.

As we sit perched on the eve of the New Year, tradition tells us to “resolve” to set goals around changing some aspect of our behavior that we believe will lead us to happier, more fulfilling lives in the coming year.  And, what do we do?  We make a list of “New Year’s Resolutions”which most of us will not keep—because we recognize that there are things about ourselves that we want to either change altogether or improve for the better.

So why do most of us abandon our efforts to achieve the resolutions/goals we make; oftentimes even before the month of January is over?  The answer to this question is rooted in our inconsistencies with fully commit ourselves to working through the entire process of forming new habits, which is why we either fail in our attempts meet the goals we set or quit before we reach them altogether.

The same dynamic expressed in the answer to the preceding question can be used to provide insight into why our relationships with our spouses/significant others breakdown when we fail to recognize the connection between our inconsistencies with fully committing ourselves to the process of working through the issues that threaten our relationships and holding ourselves accountable for implementing the actions we need to take to be the change that we want to see in our relationships.

This is the primary reason why TheWifeFiles felt compelled to challenge everyone involved in a relationship that they’d like to see grow stronger in 2018 to accept “The 21-Day Relationship Reset Challenge.”   The idea behind this challenge is relatively simple—you can change the trajectory of your relationship for the better if you’re willing to make a consistent effort to change your mindset and your patterns of behavior in your relationship IF your can accept responsibility for the things you need to change with respect to how you relate to your significant other.

As you work through the “The 21-Day Relationship Reset Challenge,” you’ll be required to make a commitment to establishing twenty-one goals that correspond with twenty-one specific topics over a period of twenty-one days to help build consistency in your efforts to strengthen your relationship in the new year and beyond.  Once you establish your goals, the challenge then becomes for you to have an open and honest conversation with your significant other so that you can begin the process of reconciling your differences before it’s too late.

Repeat this process with each new topic until you work your way through the challenge; then start over and keep repeating the process until you’ve developed new habits with respect to how you interact in your relationship.  One new topic will be introduced everyday over the next twenty-one days, so be sure to subscribe to TheWifeFiles and to follow us on all social media @TheWifeFiles so that you can follow along.

Thank you for accepting this challenge!

Trusting After Trust Has Been Broken

Woman thinkingTrust is one of those things that when it’s broken, it’s very hard to rebuild.  In marriage, or in any relationship for that matter, trust can be broken in many ways—lying, cheating, abuse, infidelity, addiction, disrespect, etc.—and the list of violations is infinite.  The unintended consequence of broken trust in any relationship is that the person who violated the trust will always be regarded as dishonest and untrustworthy in the eye of the person who was violated until the one who was violated sees AND has sufficient reason to believe otherwise.

Some folks will argue that once trust is violated, it’s unlikely that trust can be restored in that relationship; regardless of the type of relationship that ended because of the act that violated the trust.  It’s easy for us to get stuck in a place of unforgiveness when we feel as if we’ve been wronged in some way.  It’s even easier for us to stay stuck when we’ve been wronged by someone close to us—someone whom we love, trust, and respect.  That’s why it’s so hard for the person who was violated to either accept or believe that any effort or action made by the offender to make amends for their actions is coming from a genuine place—especially is the offender is inconsistent in their efforts to right their wrongs.

On the other hand, there are those folks who believe in the power of forgiveness to right wrongs.  These are the people who are more likely to take a chance and trust again because they understand that forgiveness, in-and-of-itself had a healing and restorative power that is the key that unlocks our ability to give and receive love unconditionally.  The love that springs forth from the well of true forgiveness is the foundation on which our strongest relationships with others is built.  Nowhere is that statement than in marital relationships.

The Process Rebuilding and Restoring Trust

So, the question becomes whether it’s possible to rebuild trust in marriage after trust has been broken, and, if so, how can that broken trust be restored.  The short answer is YES…it IS possible to rebuild trust.  The not-so-short answer to that question is that while it is possible to get to get to a place of forgiveness and restoration as you work through the process of rebuilding trust, the “process” of rebuilding trust in-and-of-itself can be a bit complicated—especially when you consider the offense that caused the breach of trust in the first place.  

The ONLY way to rebuild and restore trust after it has been broken is with complete honesty and absolute truth—yes, there’s a difference in that you must be honest in all of your dealings and you must speak the truth at all times.  In other words, you must do whatever is necessary to reestablish your integrity while you work through the process of rebuilding and restoring the trust that was lost.  In reality, there is no single process or set of steps that you can take to magically make things right to rebuild and restore the trust that what was lost.

The process of rebuilding and restoring trust will not look the same for everyone, and should be guided by an introspective process of self-assessment to help you determine the extent of the work that needs to be done to rebuild and restore trust.

When we don’t’ fully embrace the power of forgiveness, we tend to default to using a de facto level system of accountability to guide our ability to determine the level of forgiveness we’re willing to extend to cover a violation of trust corresponds with the emotion that we felt; based on the type of violation that was committed against us.  The problem with this “system” is that it’s counterproductive in that it keeps us bound by negative emotions, which limit our ability to be guided from a place of love.

So how, then, do we get to a place of determining how long it will take for the healing process to repair and restore what the trust that was broken so that everyone involved can move forward in love?

The Power of Self-Assessment

To answer either of those questions, you must be honest enough with yourself to own your part in the breakdown that’s contributing to the trust issues that pose a threat to your marriage.  You’ll need to take a long look at yourself in juxtaposition to what’s happening in your marriage to help you identify how your actions, your attitude, and your inaction (in some instances) contribute to the trust issues that are infiltrating your relationship with your husband, and opening the door for mistrust to take root.

Of all the reasons why marital relationships breakdown, broken trust is likely to be at the top of the list.  Trust gets broken in marriages when one spouse begins to feel as if their needs aren’t being met, which makes that spouse more susceptible to venturing outside of the marriage to get those needs met—whatever they may be.  This is why some spouses risk compromising their integrity as they pursue “outside” interests to get their needs met.  This reckless, self-fulfilling behavior is yet another contributing factor to the breakdown of the marriage itself.

If you’re consistently unable to identify your flaws or see how you contribute to the trust issues, it’s likely that you’ll always stay “stuck” because you’ll never be able to see how you contribute to the problems that could potentially lead to the violation of trust.

Key Take-Away

Trust is the foundation that all strong relationships are built on, especially marriages.  Whenever trust is violated, you must be willing to work through the process of rebuilding and restoring trust through truth, honesty, forgiveness, and love.  You must also be willing to work through the process of self-assessment to identify how your negative behaviors contribute to the types of breakdowns in your relationships that could lead to violations of trust.  Then, and only then, will you be able to take responsibility for your actions with consistency and integrity as you work to rebuild and restore trust in your relationships.

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“What’s A Wife to Do? This Chick Just Made a Pass at My Husband…”

dreamstime_xxl_86228324Of all the e-mails that I receive from wives asking questions about how they should “handle” different situations that arise in their marriages, I felt a strong connection one e-mail that I received in which a wife asked about how she should address a situation in which one of her acquaintances made repeated “passes” at her husband.

Although her concerns are specific to her marriage, the question that she raised with respect to how she should handle the situation speaks to the fact that her problem with her husband exists on a much larger scale, and likely impacts lots of couples at some point in their respective relationships.  I’ve copied the text of her e-mail below to establish the framework for my reply.

The Dilemma

Dear Tawni,

I’m not sure how to start, but I’ll just go ahead and put it out there. My best friend and I have been friends since elementary school. Even though life has taken us in different directions at times, we always managed to keep our friendship intact and pick up where we left off.

An old acquaintance that we both graduated high school with recently reconnected with my best friend, and now that they’ve reconnected, I see the acquaintance on occasion when I see my best friend because she always manages to find a reason to be with her. I never really thought of as a friend, just someone I would make small talk with.

My best friend likes to host family events, and I’m always available to help because our families are very close and my family is always in attendance. So here’s the problem. The acquaintance has made a couple of passes at my husband during a couple of my best friend’s events! My husband told me about her advances, but not when they happened because he knows that I would’ve knocked her out and ruined my best friend’s events.

This is why I decided to reach out because I need to hear some advice from somebody outside of this situation. I’m the type of person who will slap first and ask questions later, and I don’t play when it comes to my husband and my children. I’m trying to decide how I’m going to handle this acquaintance because I don’t care for her much anyway. She crossed the line and I know that when I see her Its going to be a problem. What’s a wife to do?

Signed,

I Won’t Be Disrespected

The Connection

I COMPLETELY understand EXACTLY where this wife is coming from! Trust me, I do. I recently found myself in a similar situation; one in which an old acquaintance hit on my husband while we were at a party…AND I was in the same room! Talk about bold. What’s worse is that this chick wasn’t my friend…wasn’t even so much as a factor in my life. To be clear, the only connection that we had was through my best friend. Oh the drama!

My husband told me about her “advances” after we left the party. When he did, I thought to myself, “why didn’t you tell me this while we were still at the party when I could’ve addressed her directly?”  Perplexed by my husband’s decision to NOT divulge this information when it happened, I asked him WHY he didn’t tell me what she did while we were at the party, and he told me that he knew that if I would’ve confronted her in that environment, the outcome wouldn’t have ended well for her.

In complete and total honesty, I imagined slapping her to sleep one good time; however, I was convicted in that moment.  I was instantly reminded of God’s grace.  I said a quick prayer for her, and one for myself as I asked God to help me to forgive her so that I could go on with my life—a life that she obviously wishes she could have with my husband.

As a reformed “slapologist,” I know how quickly one can reach out and slap someone for just about any reason whenever you feel as if you’ve been wronged in some way.  From that, I learned how counterproductive it is to allow your actions to be dictated by your emotions because emotions are inconsistent and unstable; and, will make you to jump to the wrong conclusion every time.

Whenever you find yourself standing in the heat of a moment of confrontation, you must have the foresight to stop and consider everything that you have to lose in that moment when you let logic give way to emotion and YOU end up in handcuffs sitting in the back of a squad car, pending an assault charge.

In other words, you must count the costs.  It’s far better to forgive and move forward then it is to hold onto a situation that will rob you of your power and steal your joy.  You must also be diligent in keeping your emotions in check so that your actions will be guided by wisdom and personal accountability, as opposed to whatever you’re feeling at any given moment.

The Key Take-Away

Wives, here’s the bottom line—we must establish clear boundaries around ourselves that clearly indicates the cut-off point for the levels and types of disrespect we’re willing to tolerate—my “Boundary Line” is set to “zero” because I have a “zero tolerance level” to entertain any level of foolishness, and rarely does anyone receive the benefit-of-the-doubt from me in scenarios such as this.

The undeniable truth of the matter is that we already have the upper-hand simply because we’re wives.  That’s why we must learn how to leverage our power as wives without conducting ourselves in ways that make us compromise our dignity, our integrity, or our worth.

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The Double-Standard of Maintaining Friendships and Relationships with Exes and Members of the Opposite Sex After Marriage

dreamstime_xxl_97735725There’s no easy way to delve into this topic; especially if you’ve either experienced, or are experiencing, a rift in your marriage because of your husband’s continued friendships/relationships (i.e. “frelationships”) with his exes—or with any member of the opposite sex for that matter—now that you’re married.

For some, the answer to the question of whether men and women should remain friends with their exes or with any member of the opposite sex after they get married is pretty cut-and-dry. For others, the answer to this question is not so simple.  There are two distinct lines of argumentation regarding the appropriateness of spouses maintaining “frelationships” with members of the opposite sex, including their exes. Here’s the dilemma…

To Friend or Unfriend?

On the one hand, there’s a subset of wives who feel as if their husbands should NOT have any friends of the opposite sex; especially if those friends are not mutual friends. Period.  End-of-discussion.  These are the wives who believe that ANY type of relationship, fellowship, communication, interaction, or friendship with an ex- should NOT happen under any circumstance, for any reason—except in situations involving children where co-parenting is required…maybe.  Some would argue that the wives who fall into this category may feel a bit insecure in their relationship with their husbands, which could be a sign of some underlying trust issues that need to be resolved in that relationship before they start to negatively impact the overall health of the marriage.

On the other hand, there are those wives who believe that it’s perfectly okay for their husbands to have friends of the opposite sex, and are equally accepting of his efforts to maintain those “frelationships”—even if they’re with exes.  Some would argue that the wives who fall into this category are a bit more secure in who they are and in what they add to their husbands, which makes them more open, supportive, and secure in their relationships with her husbands, and less likely to question their fidelity to the marriage.

Regardless of where your opinion on the “to friend or unfriend?” continuum, always remember that your thoughts and feelings on this issue are important, and that you should feel comfortable enough in your marriage to address your concerns with your husband—especially when it comes to his decisions around maintaining friendships, relationships, or any type of alliance with a member of the opposite sex that makes you uncomfortable…for any reason.  As his accountability partner in life, it’s your responsibility to hold him accountable for his “actions” by bringing your concerns about his behavior and how his behavior affects you to his attention…no matter how inconsequential they may seem.

Stay Solution-Focused

Remember, wives…maintaining healthy patterns of communication with your husband is the most effective ways to leverage your power in your marriage.  Therefore, it’s critically important for you to check your motives before approaching this topic with your husband.  Begin the conversation with the end-result in mind, and be open, honest, and clear in your intentions for addressing the issue.

It’s okay to feel what you feel; just be honest enough with yourself to acknowledge what you’re feeling so that you can use your feelings as a tool to help you effectively leverage your power from a place of authenticity.  The last thing you need to happen while you’re in the process of navigating your way through an already delicate conversation is to let uncontrolled feelings to get misinterpreted and emotions to overrun the discussion.

The key here is to be clear about the “why;” that is, to be clear about “why” the issue of maintaining “frelationships” with exes and people of the opposite sex is an issue in for you in the first place.

Before you even begin to formulate an answer to your “why,” you must start by examining the reason why you feel the way you do, as this will help you gain a clearer understanding of why you see this as a problem.  Are these “frelationships” somehow upsetting the balance in your relationship with your husband? Have you noticed any changes in your husband’s behavior that could be attributed to his “frelationships?”

Asking yourself those two questions are a good place to start. For every question, there is usually an answer, so you must then ask yourself are you prepared to embrace and/or hear what your husband has to say about th

ese “frelationships” specifically, with respect to why maintaining these associations is so important to him.

Beware of the Double-Standard of Accountability

In much of the same way as you examine your reasons for feeling the way you do about your husband’s “frelationships,” with members of the opposite sex and/or exes, you must examine your actions in the same way. Now, take a good, long look at yourself in the mirror. Are you the one maintaining “frelationships” with members of the opposite sex and with your exes that you should let go?  Will your husband be able to attribute any discrepancies or oddities in your behavior to any “frelationships” that you insist on maintaining with members of the opposite sex or with any of your exes?  Do you think your husband will be prepared to embrace and/or hear what you have to say about your “frelationships” and why maintaining them is so important to you?

Do you and your husband share similar points-of-view regarding the appropriateness of maintaining friendships and relationships with members of the opposite sex and exes? If so, that’s great! However, if you don’t, the difference in perspective will begin to show itself as a lack of trust, which will cause turmoil in every aspect of your marriage to the point of causing you to doubt everything that your marriage is built on.

Key Take-Away

So, the only thing you need to figure out is which type of wife you’re going to be when you reach this crossroad and must address this issue in your marriage.  You have to decide whether the “frelationships” that your husband chooses to maintain with members of the opposite sex and with his exes is worth fighting over in the long-run.  Then you must be woman-enough to be okay with however you choose to handle the situation.

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WifeCode Principle #7: “Be Authentically You.”

dreamstime_xxl_102635109There will come a time in your marriage when you’ll begin to question who you are, the woman you’ve become, and why everything that used to matter to you doesn’t seem to be as important to you as they used to be BEFORE you got hitched.  These questions will start to creep into your thoughts as you become more settled into the routine of marriage, which usually coincides with the point at which the honeymoon phase of your marriage ends, and real married life begins.

You’ll know when you reach this point in your marriage because the answers will be embedded in the routine you’ve settled into…in the routine way in which you live your life day-in and day-out…the routine that dictates everything that you do and how you do them…independently and collectively with your husband…in the same way…at the same time…day-in and day-out.

The more you think about these questions within the context of how to strike the balance between growing into a new dimension of womanhood now that you’re living under the grace that comes with being a wife and remaining connected to the woman you before ALL while attempting to live up to the expectations of what a good wife should be in the eyes of everyone standing on the periphery of your marriage looking in.

Ladies, if we’re not careful to manage those expectations, we’ll lose ourselves in our efforts to live up to the optics associated with being “seen” as a good woman AND a good wife.  If we place too much emphasis on being everything that is good and acceptable in the eyes of everyone around, we subconsciously suppress, surrender, and sacrifice bits and pieces of ourselves that don’t fit that image until the authenticity of who we are gets replaced by routine, learned responses to the demands and expectations that get superimposed on us.

So, why is this? Why is it so difficult for us wives, to strike a balance that allows us the time and space that we need to maintain our sense of self…that is to maintain those things that are important to us…our unique personality traits…our identities, our hobbies…our interests…our thoughts…and whatever else that makes us unique, different, and special; all while being everything that we need to be to everyone in our lives WITHOUT sacrificing the essence of who we are? That’s what final principle of The WifeCode will address—the importance of being authentically you.

Shatter Expectations with Authenticity

The duality of our existence as wives is complicated because we must learn how to navigate our way through the process of becoming a wife without the benefit of having any preparation for the role. There is no course we can take on how to be a wife beyond the traditional introduction to marriage that typically comes through pre-marital counseling.  There isn’t a Cliffs Notes-like handbook that we can refer to for the quick-and-dirty on how to be better wives.  

Most of us receive our initial introduction to wifehood by observing how other wives experience. We see their happiness…their joy…their laughter…their excitement…their love. We see whatever it is that we think is consistent with our beliefs about how we should be as wives. Then, we hone-in on it, study it, and let it serve as a frame-of-reference for how we should be as wives.  Is this so bad? I mean, is observation in this context that much of a problem? I believe so, and here’s why.

When we conduct ourselves in ways that fall into alignment with what we think and/or perceive to be consistent with what everyone around us expects, elements of us that make us “us” get masked and often go unnoticed—more often to our detriment because we’re left feeling unfulfilled, dissatisfied, disillusioned, dejected, distanced, and so-on because we cannot be free to be and express ourselves authentically.

Ladies, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that we keep our vulnerabilities hidden from folks to protect ourselves emotionally.  Call it what you want, but that place does exist, and it’s where we hide all our fears—our fear of rejection, our fear of not being “good enough,” and, the worst of all, our fear of not “measuring-up,” regardless of the context. Whenever we decide to play things safe, we remain vulnerable to those things that limit our willingness to be our authentic in everything that we do, we lose our ability to give of ourselves fully so that we can leverage our power in every area of our lives. Nowhere is this truth more pronounced than in marriage.

Key Take-Aways

The truth of the matter is that your ability to leverage your power in life, in marriage, in your place as a woman, and in your role as a wife is all connected to the authenticity of who you are at the core of your being. You must be authentically and unapologetically you.  Besides, it’s better to present the real you as opposed to a cheap, after-market version of the woman you believe the world wants to see.

You must make the time to nurture yourself so that you’ll be able to balance all the aspects that feed you as a woman with interests, thoughts, beliefs, and opinions and as a wife who is a partner in a marriage where your interests, thoughts, beliefs, and opinions are just as important as those of your husband’s.

As a wife, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice bits and pieces of who you are to fit into an unrealistic mold of a woman with whom you’re not familiar just to be accepted by folks whose opinion of you shouldn’t matter in the end. Remember—your husband married you, which, in and of itself, is enough.

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WifeCode Principle #6: “Be Balanced.”

dreamstime_xxl_82952163Up to this point, each principle of The WifeCode addressed specific areas where wives tend to stumble into places that can leave us feeling confused, depleted, and unsure about how to navigate our way through to the other side without disturbing the delicate balance of power within our marriages.  If unchecked, those feelings will conspire against us and begin to negatively impact how we see ourselves as wives, how we relate to our husbands, and how we leverage our power in our marriages.

In the preceding keys to The WifeCode, we addressed the importance of maintaining open, honest, and healthy patterns of communication with our husbands, learning how to fight fair when we disagree with our husbands, serving our husbands, and of the importance of protecting our marriages by keeping our matrimonial business within our marriages.  The sixth principle of The WifeCode will focus on shifting the focus from leveraging your power in your marriage to preserving it.  So, how does a wife do that; preserve her power???

The answer is quite simple: a wife preserves her power in her marriage through BALANCE.  A balanced wife is a powerful wife because she not only knows that she cannot be everything to everyone all the time, she accepts that fact…and is okay with it.  A balanced wife will always find ways to allocate equal parts of her time, effort, and energy to attend to the things and people that are important in her life in ways that don’t leave the other areas neglected.  That’s her biggest strength.

Balance is the key that unlocks stability in our lives. It’s just like the old saying goes…too much of anything is bad for you…or is it that you can never have too much of a good thing??? Either way, the point is that when you’re living a life that is in balance, you won’t allow yourself to become bogged down by the extra weight associated with taking on more than you’re capable of managing in your own strength…especially when that extra weight causes you to neglect your responsibilities to your marriage.

Marriage—The Ultimate Balancing-Act

Marriage is one big balancing act. As a wife, your challenge is to find a way to find a way to strike the balance between being everything that you need you to be, everything that your husband desires you to be, everything that your marriage demands you to be, and everything that society says is acceptable—all at the same time; above and beyond being the woman that YOU were created to be.

As women, we tend to fall into the trap of working twice as hard to live up to all the expectations that get superimposed on us by people whose opinions about how we live our lives shouldn’t matter in the first place because it’s none of their business.  We start to believe that we must be able to handle it all so that it appears as if we have it all together.  If we don’t, we run the risk of being perceived as “less-than” or “not good enough,” which is all that’s needed to leave the door open just wide enough for fear and all the other outside influences associated with it to walk into our lives and upset the balance that keeps everything flowing smoothly.

Eventually, those outside influences (e.g. friends, careers, social commitments, etc.) begin to demand more time, effort, energy, resources, and attention. To keep up with the rapidly-changing pace, we divert our time, effort, energy, and attention from the most important components of our lives to supplement those things that now demand more of our attention. This cycle will repeat itself until it consumes every aspect of our lives, thereby leaving us out-of-sync, out-of-touch, and out-of-balance to the point of making us question the two of the most important aspects of our identity as wives: (1) our worth in our marriages and (2) the value that we add to our partnerships with our husbands.

Know When to Say “NO”

As soon as we give ourselves the respect we deserve as wives, we empower ourselves to be free to set our own boundaries.  The freedom that we get from living within the boundaries that we define and establish on our own terms is that we get to decide what’s a priority in our lives.  In other words, if something is important enough to us, we’ll make time for it.  If it’s not, we won’t.  It’s really that simple, and it all comes down to a choice…a simple “yes (‘I will allow…’)”/”no (‘I will not allow…’)” choice.

So, why is it so hard for us to live by the choices that we make; especially when those choices are meant to limit the unnecessary burden that comes with overcommitting ourselves whenever we choose to say “yes” to everything and everyone that demands our time and attention?  It’s because we can’t help ourselves.  As wives, we often feel as if we “have to” help; as if we have to say “yes” to whatever demand is placed upon us.  There’s the catch-22 in all this.

On the one-hand, it’s important for us to recognize that over-extending ourselves keeps us bound in a counter-productive cycle of over-commitment that leaves us feeling out-of-sync with yourself and out-of-balance.  On the other hand, when we force ourselves to limit our commitments by saying “no” to everything and everyone that is not a priority frees us up to focus on the priorities that we’ve established for our lives.

That’s why it’s so important for us to know when to say no, then have the courage to be okay with that.  When we use the power of saying “no” to things and people that divert our time and attention from the priorities we define for ourselves, balance will reestablish itself in our marriages because our decision-making process will be driven by our desire align our priorities with those things that are the most important to us.

Key Take-Away

Ladies, if we are to leverage and preserve our power in our marriages, we must find a way to balance the overlap in our identities as women with separate interests outside of our marriages and as wives with a commitment the institution of marriage.  In other words, our ability to leverage and preserve our power in our marriages is directly proportionate to our ability to leverage and preserve balance in every aspect of the many roles that comprise our lives as women. Yes. It is possible for us, as women, to have it all; but we must remain mindful of what, if anything, we’re willing to risk as we work to achieve that end.

And with that, we’ve come to the last principle of The WifeCode, which will focus on the importance of being yourself.  In the meantime, keep the conversation going. Join TheWifeFiles e-mail list today to receive each principle directly in your inbox as soon as it’s released!  Thank you in advance for subscribing, as well as for following.

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WifeCode Principle #5: “Protect.”

dreamstime_xxl_89891625Regardless of how long you’ve been married, you can trust and believe that there will come a point in your marriage when some outside force will try to penetrate the foundation that you and your husband worked so hard to fortify.

That’s why us wives, must remain vigilant against these ill-intentioned foes because they can and will assume many forms. That’s what makes them so tricky to identify because, like chameleons, they find a way to blend into the surroundings of our lives so that they can wreak havoc and stir up turmoil before they move-on…all while we’re left trying to figure out the source of the chaos and confusion.

These masters of disguise will present themselves in many forms; however, their purpose always remains the same—to take or destroy what you have because they want it for themselves. Whatever the motive that drives those outside forces, the end-result is always the same. So, what’s a wife to do to combat these outside forces, and how does she go about protecting her marriage from them? These questions bring us to the Fifth Principle of The WifeCode, which is simply to protect your marriage with ALL diligence by keeping your matrimonial business within your marriage.

Eliminate Outside Distractions in Your Marriage

As wives, it is important for us to understand that our ability to maintain the balance of power in our marriages and in our relationships with our husbands is contingent upon our ability to eliminate anything that threatens the foundation upon which our marriages are built.

In other words, we must be willing to identify and eliminate anything that comes against our marriages to create dissention in our relationships with our husbands; recognizing that we are the only ones with the power to weed-out distractions before they take root and sprout strife and chaos.

This is what it all boils down to—you and your HUSBAND worked hard to build what YOU have together; I repeat, you and YOUR HUSBAND worked to build what you have TOGETHER…not you and other forces outside of your marriage like you and your BFF…not you and “Sister Super-Christian” from church…not you and your mother…not you and your sister…not you and anyone else other than your husband put in the time, energy, and effort to lay the foundation upon which your marriage is built.

So, why would you allow anyone or anything to come into your marriage that: (1) does not directly contribute to the success of your marriage; (2) that does not directly contribute to the happiness of your marriage; (3) that does not directly contribute to the intimacy of your marriage; and, (4) does not contribute to your marriage in any real, meaningful way threaten what you have?

You might not even recognize the outside forces when they show up knocking on the door of your marriage because they could come disguised as the caring friend who always lends a sympathetic ear as you talk about everything that’s going wrong in your life or as the bottle of wine that you find yourself reaching for every time a problem arises in your life.

Key Take-Away

If you can hear the forces knocking, here’s the most important thing you can do to keep those forces from entering your house and wreaking enough havoc to penetrate the foundation of your marriage—NEVER DISCUSS YOUR MATRIMONIAL BUSINESS WITH ANYONE OTHER THAN YOUR HUSBAND! In other words, keep your private life…i.e. the intimate life that live WITH your husband…private as your marriage should ALWAYS be off-limits as a topic of discussion between you and anyone other than your husband.

Ladies, this is the most fool-proof way to protect your marriage.  As wives, we must do a better job of NOT discussing any aspect of our marriage with anyone outside of our marriages.  That’s it…that’s all…it REALLY is that simple.  That’s the best way to close the information loop between what’s happening in our marital situations and the outside forces that are waiting for the perfect opportunity to pounce.

The truth of the matter is that no one outside of your marriage can fix the problems that happen in your marriage EXCEPT for you and the person you’re married to.  Every time you discuss the problems happening in your marriage in real time with someone other than your husband, you surrender certain aspects of your power as a wife—aspects that affect your credibility with your husband, which can be hard to regain, depending on the information disclosed and to whom.

Unless you and your husband are experiencing problems that require a level of intervention that, other than God himself, only a licensed, certified counseling professional can provide, you shouldn’t go around telling your matrimonial business to anyone who will listen! You must know that everyone with whom you are associated does NOT have your best interest at heart.

In fact, some of those folks may be secretly plotting to take you out altogether in hopes to claim your position, and you’re steadily giving them everything they need to do just that. Remember, loose lips sink ships, so don’t let your mouth be the reason why the ship that is your marriage starts taking on water.

And with that, we’ve come to the Sixth Principle of The WifeCode, which will focus on the importance of maintaining balance in your marriage.  In the meantime, keep the conversation going.

Join TheWifeFiles e-mail list today to receive each principle directly in your inbox as soon as it’s released!  Thank you in advance for subscribing, as well as for following.

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