Category Archives: Love

Hating on Marriage

Recently I have seen a lot of articles hating on marriage. More specifically, married women. Which could lead me into an entire diatribe of why society feels that when men get married it shows that they’re committed and honorable and when women get married it shows that they’re desperate and need a man to define them. But that’s a topic for another time.

Right now I want to discuss why society is hating on marriage. I mean, there’s a huge global movement fighting for the rights for marriage. Gay marriage has been a hot button issue for my entire adult life and yet, getting married is selling out or losing yourself or giving up your freedom. If that’s what marriage is for heterosexuals, then the homosexual community should turn back now! Do not enter! This marriage place is THE WORST!Tandem Love

Except that it’s actually not. And that’s why they’re fighting for it.

Obviously the real aim of these articles is to celebrate being single which I fully support. I just don’t think you have to hate on marriage to love the single life. In fact, I think if you need to hate on marriage to love the single life then you’re really not loving your single life, but rather rationalizing why it’s better than marriage. I won’t rationalize to you why being married is better than being single because I’m not trying to convince myself that being married is better than being single. My path ultimately led me to marriage. Maybe yours won’t. Both are still good paths.

I know a lot of women. I have known a lot of women. Married, single, divorced, old, young, feminists, pro-life activists, religious, atheist, gay, straight, smart, not so smart, funny, mean. A lot of women. I am a woman. I’ve been on this planet for twenty-seven years. It was bound to happen.

Some of the women I know started looking for marriage at a ripe, young age. My freshman year of college I was introduced to the “Ring Before Spring” concept. That is, the girls that go to college simply to find a husband and fully expect to be engaged before they graduate – and maybe even forego graduation in favor of marriage. Some of those women are happily married. Some are still single. Some are maybe divorced.

I know other women, like myself, who were never going to marry. That’s right, I’m writing a blog post talking about NOT hating on marriage and yet, when I was twenty-one I could have written a post on exactly the opposite. Namely, why marriage is an unfounded institution that is the work of governments to keep better track of their citizens. But you know what? I didn’t hate on married people. In fact, I used to tell my parents – who have been happily married for over 40 years despite that they married at a young, impressionable, hardly knew themselves age of 19 and 23 – that they gave their children unrealistic expectations of marriage because theirs is so wonderful. So, despite not needing marriage to find fulfillment in my own life, I recognized that marriage could be an incredibly beautiful and powerful union.

I knew myself before I met my – now – husband. And I know myself now. And they’re not the same people. Because I have had some significant life changes. I opened myself up and let myself be vulnerable. I moved to Cartagena, Colombia without much of a plan and loved/hated every minute of it. I learned more about the immigration process than anyone should ever have to know. I have had multiple real, life-altering experiences with God. I road-tripped across the United States. I picked up my home base and moved it across state lines permanently for the first time in my entire life. Oh yeah, also, I got married.

Wedding DayAnd you know what? I love being married. Not for the title – in fact, two and half years later and it still freaks me out a little bit that I’m someone’s wife – or the security, though sometimes that is nice, but because I love my husband and we both know that our marriage took work and significant commitment before we ever said any vows or signed any papers. That sounds sappy and a little ridiculous even to my own ears and I don’t know if I would feel exactly the same if I was in a committed relationship with the same man and we never signed papers. If we were just partners instead of husband and wife – because marriage really is just paperwork in many ways. But marriage was the path for us – the best path for us and I don’t regret it for a single second.

Sure, sometimes I long to buy a plane ticket and just take off. And I can’t. And, you know what, that moment sucks. And then I think about why I can’t do that and it doesn’t suck quite as much anymore. I remember how much I really love my life now and maybe taking off to a foreign country isn’t the right path or direction for my life in this moment. And when it is again – and it will be, I assure you – then everything will fall into place and we’ll come to it on our path.

The moral of this story? Being married isn’t a bad thing. A married woman isn’t a sell out and a single woman isn’t going to be a cat lady. Being single is amazing and if you are single, enjoy every second of your single life. But don’t love being single because you think I, the married woman, am miserable. Because I’m not. And you don’t need to convince yourself that I’m miserable in order for you to be happy.

Being Up-Cycled

Garden & HerbsSeptember of 2012 found me working part-time, primarily without a car, and aimlessly searching for some unknown outcome. At times I felt like I was drowning in my marriage and at other moments I was blissfully enjoying my new surroundings. I read with an urgency and made friends with my library card when I struggled to find genuine connections with other individuals. By all accounts, it wasn’t a terribly happy time of life and yet… I don’t look back on it with sadness or remorse. It was a time of growth and perhaps a necessary passage to get to where I am now. Like a teething child who is miserable while his teeth breach the gums, but will take his teeth for granted later in life. Sometimes pain and discomfort and struggles give way to greater endings.

During that season of my life there was a thrift store about a mile from my home – I could walk there – of which I was a frequent wanderer. There were also signs of a fair trade coffee shop that, sadly, had taken its leave before my arrival. I have only ever purchased one thing from this thrift store despite my many visits, but I just enjoyed looking. Seeing. Exploring. And maybe, in retrospect, it was an escape.

You see, this thrift store isn’t really thrifty, it’s more artsy. They sell a lot of up-cycled pieces. So they intend to have items that please the eye and inspire the mind. They do not simply sell second-hand items and that is what I loved about them. They took items that were old and worn and turned them into something worth seeing again. They brought back the beauty lost in a broken table or a dented hubcap or a broken canoe. Where the world saw destruction and waste, they saw a new creation, a piece of art, a new beginning and it’s because of their vision that when I walked into that thrift store, I saw beauty too. I saw innovation and revitalization and a renewal. And, in turn, it renewed me.

Canoe RenewedI was reminded with each newly upholstered chair and each broken record player converted into a side table that there was never going to be a time in my life when God couldn’t work with what I gave him. A truly great chef can make a meal out of anything and a truly great artist can see beauty in the simplest object. And a true visionary, like my God, can literally make something out of nothing.

So, inspired by a thrift store, I threw myself into my faith head first. I spent more time in prayer than ever before. I was diligent with my prayer journal and was fervently seeking the Word. And life got better. Not instantly. Not overnight. It took time. It took patience. It took devotion. It took change – a change in me. The up-cycle artist needed to make a change to the broken canoe to bring out its beauty and likewise my creator needed to make a change in me.

Months later I wrote a post on this very blog absolutely gushing about the degree to which I loved my life. And it hasn’t been the last of its kind. And once I started truly loving my life and feeling joyful from the inside out, life started loving me back. Relationships manifested. Finances improved. Resolutions stuck. And love became this flowing current going and coming in all directions. I still seek him daily for he is my renewal. Because just as the silver needs polished to keep its shine, I too need to be washed to keep my luster.

#DPChallenge

One World

Have you ever heard of the website Meetup.com? It’s basically just what the web address suggests. It’s a site where people schedule meet-ups based on common interests. There are all kinds of groups – fitness groups, book clubs, adventure clubs, young professionals, sci-fi groups. I have even seen one that was for people without kids. As you can see, a smattering of something for everyone. There’s just one thing…

A lot of the groups are defined by something more than just a common interest, but a common personal characteristic such as sexual orientation or skin color. Living in a city that is almost 50/50 black and white I see a lot of Meet-up Groups pop up that are for, well, basically black people only. Obviously they can’t specifically state that if you’re white you can’t join, but you can name your groups Ebony Ladies Reading, HandsMocha Sista Retreats, or Young Adults of Color. All real groups in my area.

I feel that I must now immediately make a disclaimer that states, I do not discriminate against any group of people. If I discriminate against a person, it’s based on that individual and I don’t care who they want in their bed, what color they are, what god they worship, or who they voted into presidency. Case in point, I have had gay friends since I was a babe (though admittedly not quite as aware way back when), am married to a black man, just made a friend who best describes her religious beliefs as Buddhist, and have a very good friend of nearly twenty years who could not be any further from me on the political spectrum. Now, I feel I can move on without receiving vibes of hate from anyone reading this.

There are times that this abundance of race-based groups is frustrating for me. I don’t begrudge them their right to want a common bond of race with a group of people. I just don’t get it. Do they really have that much more in common because they’re all a common race? And in those moments when I look up (and it happens fairly often) and somewhere in the back of my mind realize I’m the only person of my race in a gathering of people, should I then feel ostracized somehow? Like they all have a secret that I can’t be a part of strictly because I was born pearly white and they are other more similar, though still varying, complexions?

I had dinner with a girlfriend recently who is Ethiopian American and we discussed the issue of race. She shared with me that in Africa it’s still very common for women to use creams or chemicals to bleach or whiten their skin (a la Michael Jackson). Even in the States there is racism present within certain races – a mentality of the lighter the better. While in the white world, people are risking skin cancer daily trying to become darker.

And what I am forced to acknowledge is that most people do prefer their own race and it’s not because they’re racist or discriminatory. It’s because they’re human. Because in the United States of America we’re still living with a post-slavery mentality. Where certain races live in certain neighborhoods. A country where many churches could be defined as black or white. Where in the same breath the government is trying to tell us we’re all equal and pushing programs to try to erase the past. Make people forget. The Civil War ended almost 150 years ago. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr died almost 50 years ago. And the races and cultures in this country are not a melting pot – they’re more like a lunchable.

Some day I will probably have children. And I am praying, even before their conception, that the world they face will be in color. All colors. That they will see how beautifully the colors can be when they are blended in harmony. That they will treat every person with the respect they deserve as an individual and that the people they face will treat them with the same respect. That they will come into the world where rather than so strongly celebrating the traits that divide us, we might learn to celebrate the oneness of mankind.

 

Married withOUT Children

I have been scouring the internet looking for books to compile my quarter-life reading list. There have been some common themes that seem expected – Pride & Prejudice, Feminine Mystique, Eat, Pray, Love. Some common themes that were surprising to me, but make perfect sense – The Alchemist, Garden of Eden, The Great Gatsby. Most of the books seem to be stories of independent women or the journey of finding yourself. I’m not really looking to ‘find myself’ as I feel fairly well ‘found’, but learning more about me is never a bad thing. I also appreciate any independent woman story. As long as they don’t encourage me to burn my bras (I’m busty, I need my bra) or try to convince me that men are evil.

Reading WomanWhat I also discovered, however, is that all of these lists I found on-line – every single one – had at least one book relating to being single. Like, It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken or Girls in White Dresses or Seductive Delusions. Not that these aren’t all viable books for some women in their twenties, they are. They just aren’t good books for me. To contrast all the single books, there were a few books about married women. Such as, The Awakening and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Both tragic portrayals of a sad married life. Not exactly encouraging for a young, still relatively newly married woman.

So, I started to wonder. And I started to search. Where were all the married women in their 20s? Where was my representation? Here is what I found when I searched ‘married women in their 20s’:

Maybe you’ve noticed the common theme. Women who get married in their 20s were rash and are now doomed to fail. Apparently. According to a web search, which probably pretty accurately depicts society’s views on the subject. Or, at least, the way the media has decided society should view the subject.Wedding Day

I don’t begrudge them their viewpoint. A few years ago I could have written articles about why young marriages are rarely ever successful. I touted that same mantra. Being married at twenty-five with an almost 29 year old husband, I’m not sure if I fit the stereotype per se, but I was married in my twenties and, alas, it seems society is rooting for divorce court.

What I have surmised is that the vast majority of female twenty-somethings are dealing with being single and successful or married with children. Those seem to be the two camps. And the married with children camp isn’t seeking a book list to edify themselves as they don’t have time. But I exist. I am here, so I must be part of some camp. Or are married without children twenty-somethings destined to wander aimlessly through the wilderness until they conform to one camp or the other?

I’m okay with wandering. I’m good at it. I spent my young(er) adulthood jet-setting around the world fairly aimlessly. As luck would have it, along the way I found myself and my – now – husband. I promise you I wasn’t looking for either. We just kind of ran into each other. And yet, it still doesn’t seem fair that I don’t have a place to call my own. And I really like for things to be fair.

Being that I have no desire to conform by leaving my spouse or getting knocked up (people keep telling me I can’t call it this when people are married, but I disagree), and considering that the idea of creating a new camp seems beyond tedious, I have decided that my list will just be for women. Young(ish) women or perhaps young at heart. That are at least old enough to rent a car at regular rates, but not so old of spirit to be afraid of change and new experiences. For those women, you shall have your list.

Soon.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas

Perhaps you’ve heard of this idea full of goodness floating around the blogosphere. I read about it last year on someone’s blog. I was searching endlessly on the internet for some traditions we could start with our first year of marriage that would follow us through. And, sure enough, this one has.

We also started a tradition this year of buying an ornament for each year. In fact, our tree is a little sad as we only have a handful or ornaments to our name. We decided that rather than running out to buy a bunch of decorations to fill up our tree that we’ll just spend the next, oh, 50 years together filling it up. After Christmas we plan on heading out and finding some that we really like to purchase at a tune of less than $1 a piece.

andthatswhoiam.tumblr.comTonight is a Pajama Party date. Clad in pajamas we are sitting down to Madagascar 3 (we opted for this choice over a Christmas movie) with hot chocolate, homemade pizza and chicken wings. I even bought ingredients for raw cookie dough should the mood strike us. You never know what kind of madness a pajama party can entail.

When I was a little girl we did the strangest things at sleepovers. I know boys – even grown men – like to think that it was all Olsen twin movies and painting our fingernails, but it was so much more than that. There were the prank calls, of course. Light as a feather, stiff as a board was big for a minute. Other parents weren’t irresponsible enough to feed us raw cookie dough, but my parents were cool enough to trust that we wouldn’t get salmonella.

We went skinny dipping. Played jail break, naturally. There were icing fights (if it was a birthday) or a shaving cream fight back when the foam kind was still in our bathrooms. Once I flipped over on a bike (accidentally and I blacked out). Midnight walks to Sheetz. Sneaking into someone else’s pool. Truth or dare featured heavily. Oh! And forts!Blanket Fort

Forts were the best! (By the way I googled blanket forts in search of a picture and there is definitely an eHow and a wikiHow on building blanket forts. Wow.) We always built them in my basement and it was usually in the dead of winter when it was cold or possibly snowing outside. They were never as pretty as the one pictured, but they were awesome in their own right. Maybe next year we can have a ‘Build a Blanket Fort’ Date Night. That would be a pretty sweet date.

Other dates have included Christmas Caroling (with a group, we weren’t just a weirdo couple out knocking door to door). Taking a walk/drive to see all the beautiful Christmas lights. And we had a fancy coffee date yesterday and wandered around Downtown. Lovin’ is for the whole year, but Christmas most especially. Do something special with the ones you love. Make a blanket fort. Make it a tradition.

  • Christmas Countdown Day 15: Family time (jillcobb.wordpress.com)
    I don’t know this blogger, but her family made a blanket fort as part of their family Christmas traditions and I thought it seemed so lovely to share.