Friday, March 2, 2007

What are You bringing to the Table?

By: Mia Black

In recent months the topic of relationships has continually come up in my random discussions with friends. Some friends are married, others going through divorce, and some are on the dating scene. Despite the difference in relationship types, I keep hearing the same themes over and over again, to the point that I feel compelled to explore and discuss the current state relationships between men and women as I see it and as they have been presented to me.

It is a complex subject, so I am going to take baby bites and start at step one with the dating scene, and “The Hunt for Mr. Right.” I will explore this entire subject from a black woman’s point of view and dating/marrying the black man. It is not that other races cannot relate, but the women and men that I talk to and hear about are of African-American descent.

Now back to the question at hand, what are you bringing to the table? I ask this question because I believe how you answer this question is going to determine how well you sustain that life-long commitment that you have made or will decide to make. In order to sustain a lasting relation ship you have to really know yourself and what you have to offer someone else before you gout out there trying to offer “it”.

  • Are you are the type to just show up to the table waiting for dinner to be served, you have pushed at least 90% of your relationship’s responsibility on your significant other.
  • Do you show up at least with the table setting, you are showing an honest effort, and you can raise your expectations a little?
  • Or are you waiting at the table custom place settings and five-course meal spread.

Waiting to be Served: All of us have encountered this person in our pursuit of happiness at one point or another. Men may call her a goldigger, and women may quote TLC and call him a scrub. By either name, this person offers you nothing but a head and heartache. They are needy because they have nothing to offer so they suck the living life out of you. Unfortunately the more soft-hearted person gets caught up in being needed and providing a little longer than necessary, because you can’t do anything but feel sorry for this person.

The Scrub/The Goldigger: This person has no car, no job (by choice), excessive debt, and a couch in their friend’s living room is their home or in other words, no adult responsibilities. I am by no means bashing this person because I believe there is someone out there for everyone. The problem I have is that they always leave the person serving the five-course wondering why their love and efforts have not been reciprocated.

Now I’m not a psychologist or some expert on relationships, but from my experience in dealing with this person, they really don’t take anything seriously. Because when you get to the point to where I was, (wanting to settle down and get married), investing your time on the this person became draining and expensive. Supporting someone who was not ready to become an adult yet, was not who I was looking to raise a family with.

Ready to Set the Table: Now this person may not be exactly where you are in life, but they have getting there. I think this is the person who most of us date and end up marrying. They have their life together, for the most part. By the time you realize that there are some real flaws, you have already let your guard down and are well into the relationship. But you may have also gotten to a point in the relationship that you feel comfortable with disagreeing and voicing your opinions, and begin to feel like all you do is fight. Are these just arguments or warning signs that this is not really the right person for you.

Just an Argument Vs. Warning Signs: There is such a big difference between the two. Let’s be honest, within any relationship arguments are going to occur. For instance you are dating for four months and your partner asks to borrow $300. Whoa! But let’s face it finances can mess up any relationship/marriage. And it’s happening more and more these days, opening our wallets before there’s even an engagement ring. Just an Argument: you’re upset because you are giving up $300, but the transmission in his car just went. But because you have your own car, you know car repairs never come cheap and they have the poorest financial timing. Warning Sign: He wants to go on a trip with his buddies. Hmmm…$300 for a trip you’re not even invited to. Does this make sense? Blowing your last dime on a trip for him?

The tricky part about the warning sign is that we have all at one point in our lives ignored them in the hopes for the “change”. And in the process of waiting for that miraculous change, we have wasted valuable years just to have the relationship end anyways or we end up bringing children into the mix.

The Five-Course Meal: This person is the full package, the one that we are all pretty much looking for. They have their quirks, but basically everyone in this relationship is on the same page (you have both completed your education, you are at the same level in your careers, your financial goals and savings are on point, family values are similar). But unfortunately many of us rushed, out of desperation to achieve marriage and a family by age __ (everyone’s goal is different), and haven’t waited for this person. Instead we have let the above examples in and become comfortable with our lower expectations.

Well this sums up the dating scene players. In a blog to post by the end of next week, I will go into more depth about how we need to date all of these types of people.

WAIT! Before you read the next blog do these two things for me.

1) Figure out which person you are

2) Figure out which person you date

What I know about: Feeding the Monsters

By: Jennifer Texada

Monsters like Fear, Self-doubt, Anger, and Drama come to visit me all of the time. They used to love me, because I would put a bowl of food out for them whenever they would come around. But lately they don’t come around so much anymore, if they do come around they don’t tend to stay long. I don’t feed them anymore, if I do, they don’t get much.

I call them the monsters because they can be so big and destructive. When they creep into your life you can choose to feed them, and give them energy or you can starve them until they go away. And they always go away, eventually.

Feeding the monster is giving it fuel;

Step 1, if I call something drama, no matter how little or big it is, then it becomes drama.

Step 2, I tell my friends about my drama (i.e. Ooh girl, do I am going through some drama…).

Step 3, I let them feed my drama, invite them to comment and get angry or scared right along with me. Now this little issue has become very big, and will continue to grow until it is solved or I stop feeding it.

I know how tempting it is to feed the monsters. It is natural to want to label, validate and discuss your feelings, especially the negative ones. However the key to not creating monsters lies in how and how much you label, validate and discuss them.

It is not to say my life is monster-free, but when it they show up I know I have choices. I try and put those things that challenge me into perspective. If it deserves some energy I try to give it positive energy. If I must speak on it try to talk about its solution, or minimize its importance in the grand scheme of life. If I call it small, then it tends to become small in my mind, and in turn I handle it like a small problem.

If it becomes bigger than I want it to, or I feel like it is getting away from me, I give it to God. In the face of these things I draw my strength from knowing that there is no problem to big for my God to handle. As big or bad as something may seem my God is bigger and badder.

So stop feeding the monster and start greeting the challenges. Life is too short to allow obstacles to take over…and that’s all they are, obstacles. Some may be big, some may be small, but know that God will not give you anything you can’t handle.

Next Article: What I know about: Being happy in the now