This morning I was moved to read and reflect on this scripture in the Bible:

First pride, then the crash— the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. –Proverbs 16:18 MSG

I then began to write the reflection below followed by a prayer, that you can read in its entirety by visiting my Breaking Bread With Natasha blog. My message for today is lengthy but as it helped me to share it, hopefully it will help someone to read it.

Pride

Pride driven by ego is a dangerous weapon that always leads to self-inflicted torture. This form of pride should not be confused with being “proud of” overcoming obstacles or being proud of your children. That’s not the pride that causes crashes.

Pride, as referenced in the scripture above, is the manifestation of being so self-absorbed that you refuse to ask for help, admit that you’re wrong, admit that you can’t do something, etc. You could be struggling financially, spiritually, mentally, or physically yet you refuse to reach out for assistance so that you can struggle less or not at all.

This level of pride would allow you to leave a job or a relationship simply because you couldn’t see yourself letting go of the little control that you thought you had because you refused to be vulnerable, open and exposed with someone else. Not wanting it to appear that someone outdid or outsmarted you, you would rather uproot, disrupt, destroy, and walk away than to give in to the process that could bring peace, harmony, and restoration.

Ego says that you don’t need to pray to God before speaking, because “you’ve got this“. Ego convinces you to never surrender in an argument, to fight relentlessly to the end regardless of the collateral damage, and regardless of the fact that you could be and probably are 100 percent wrong. Pride says, “oh well if I am, you won’t get me to admit it”.

Strong people have a difficult time letting go and asking for help, and admitting that they simply don’t know or that they are weak in certain areas. Highly intelligent people oftentimes can’t fathom not knowing the answer to a question, having a solution to a problem—so pride will step up and declare all sorts of misinformation, distortions, and even blatant lies to mask the truth. Pride will sacrifice everything for self-image.

The ego doesn’t want to lose so pride steps in and cheats to win. To the ego the consequences of actions are meaningless or can easily be counteracted. The reality is there are always equal or greater consequences to the actions that we take, even if not immediate, they still come with a heavy penalty.

My Admission of Guilt

I’m guilty of letting my pride get the best of me. My ego can be whopper size and my stubborness to defend my position at all costs can and has left me severely injured and a lot of collateral damage along the wayside.

My pride has caused me spiritual, physical, emotional, and financial harm. My pride has caused damage to personal and professional relationships. Things said and done oftentimes can’t be reworded or undone. It’s usually set in and embedded so deep that your only options are to flee (pride) or work to make things right (humility). You have to be willing to surrender, admit that you’re wrong, and pursue the steps required to make right your wrong. The ego hates that. It digs deep into your gut causing you a pain that makes you feel like dry heaving (also known as “retching”).

In the late 1990s to early 2000s, my pride cost me my career, car, home, furnishings, and lifestyle. I hit rock bottom and had to humble myself to slowly get my face up off of the ground. It was a devastating blow. I was reminded that my priorities were off and that I was listening to ego when I was supposed to be listening to God. My pride was quick to blame others, but God quickly silenced me with the bold reminder that the decisions I made were done so consciously, so credit and fault rested with me. You can argue with God but He has time on His side, so choose wisely.

Pride stepped in and caused me much grief after my March 2017 divorce. Ego told me that I could deal with the trauma on my own, alone, and isolated. Ego told me that I could heal, recover, and rebound faster and better if I did it by myself, without help from anyone. The problem with that scenario is that you tend to also block out God’s voice and avoid seeing the blessings in the form of opportunities and redirection.

God speaks through people, but if you’re isolated how can you interact with them to hear His message? And sadly, because I’ve always projected myself to be “strong” and a “super woman”, others see me this way, so when I did reach out for help, friends and associates dismissed the level and severity of my pain and circumstances because in their mind, “Natasha’s strong, she’s got this,” but what in my past has ever truly prepared me for divorce?

In my past I’ve experienced gut-wrenching heart break, I’ve experienced extreme loss and numerous human deaths (all of which were untimely). But nothing has ever prepared me for the devastating blow that comes from divorcing the person that you planned to spend the rest of your life with. You’re not given a handbook or put through a training program before or during marriage that prepares you for divorce.

Church, family and society preaches “for better or for worse, til death do you part…” and with that your mind isn’t focused on the death of your marriage, your union, your relationship—but that’s what divorce looks and feels like for so many of us—death—and you have to go through ALL of the stages of grief to fully heal. My ego was even fighting that process. My ego had me to wear the mask of “I’m perfectly fine with this situation, it is what it is…” knowing that it was a bold and blatant lie. I wasn’t even an inkling of “fine” or a shade of “okay”.

I was in denial and the pain and frustration reared up and clobbered me in November 2017 and dragged me like a ragdoll through January and February 2018, and plopped me on a stump in March 2018 with my truths staring me squarely in my face. I finally got my head turned around and senses together so that I could sit up and assess my situation. That happened in April 2018. I had a tumultous 2017 and 2018 had some very painful stumbles, but it didn’t have to be so extreme, had I listened to and obeyed God instead of my ego.

For two years my company, Foreman & Associates, LLC suffered because I wouldn’t get the help that I needed personally so that I could focus on the work that needed to be done professionally. Because I didn’t protect and take care of myself, my business was punished. That collateral damage is real!

I’ve come to realize that it’s not one single thing or even a handful of things or circumstances that prepare you for life’s clobbering sessions. It’s the culmination of all of the times that you were beat down in the “boxing ring” of life, and you got back up. It’s all of the times that life beat you and you found yourself pinned against the “ropes”, trying desperately to fend off the hits and not get knocked out—yet you never looked to your corner begging with your eyes for your trainer to throw in the towel of defeat.

When I look at all of my failings, disappointments, heartbreaks, losses, and blowups, I can see how I would pick myself up and go through the necessary steps to rebuild. I can also see the times when I thought that a shortcut to healing and recovery would work better, and jeesh was I painfully wrong. I can reflect on the pain that I felt and still feel from loved ones passing away and knowing that I won’t see and hear them here and now as I did before. Selfishly I want them here.

All of those experiences have tested, strengthened, challenged, and refined me. All of those experiences made me wiser and more humble. And yes, all of those experiences combined have prepared me for the death called divorce and the rebirth that I’m experiencing post-divorce.

It’s the shedding of one layer for the growth of a newer and better layer. It’s going from the caterpillar stage to emerge as the amazing and graceful butterfly. It’s being less of who you were to be more of who you’re supposed to be. It’s opening yourself up to the possibility of loving and being loved by someone new and unfamiliar in a way that is pleasantly new and unfamiliar.

Divorce is not the end. Losing your job, car, and house is not the end. Those things and experiences are only pages or chapters in your life. They are not your everything. What will you do, see, and experience on the next page or in the next chapter?

Through God I am confident. Through God I love and am loved. Through God I forgive myself and forgive others. Through God I can let go and gain more than I ever imagined. Through God I have peace, joy, happiness, and comfort.

The opposite of all of that comes from choosing ego instead.

This Week…

I’ve been under a lot of stress over the past two months—tied to work and house-hunting. This week my anxiety flared up and reached a level that scared me. I had to meditate on being present and not focusing on the what-ifs of the future or the past. The unknowns of the future are irrelevant when you’re focused on the present, and you can’t change the past so obsessing over it is deflating and counterproductive.

That’s ego getting in the way. I have to learn to stiff-arm ego like a football or rugby player and slam it to the ground.

Today I’ve been presented with a test, an opportunity, to do exactly that—put my ego and pride to the side and instead focus on God’s plan for my success. Will it be uncomfortable at times? Yes, that’s why it’s called “growing pains”. Would I prefer the temporary discomfort over the long-term agony that comes from being ego-driven instead of God-led? I will take those growing pains so that I can be, see, and do what God has called me to be, see, and do.

Will I slip up and let pride step in from time to time? Yep, I’m sure that I will. It’s my go-to default switch when I’m being stupid.

What I pray for is God’s love to see me through, the discernment to know His voice above all others, and the courage to stand and quickly realign on His path.

Change Starts With You

We can counter our pride with humility. We can start by saying:

…I don’t know”

“...I have no clue what the answer is”

“I don’t know but I can try to search online for the answer or ask someone who may know…

“…I need help with _____”

“…That’s not my strength. I’m better at doing ____ but maybe I/we can find help through ____”

“…I’m sorry. I was wrong. I won’t do it again. How can I make things right?” (And then you work to make things right)

“…I’m sorry I was being selfish/childish/stupid…

“…You’re correct, I’m wrong…”

“…I can see your perspective and that it differs from mine, so how can we compromise?”

Do you see how making it less about you (ego) allows you to be whole, healthy, and complete with and through God?

Being flexible and fluid, like water, allows you to bend and consider more than your perspective—it allows you to discover that it’s not all about you, you don’t know as much as you think you do, you can’t do everything you set your mind to, and the world doesn’t revolve around you. And it’s perfectly fine that way. It should actually be liberating to no longer carry that baggage that you have been lugging like deadweight for decades. Let it go!

We have to decide if we want growth or stagnation. Do we want pleasure or pain? Do we want health or sickness? Do we want prosperity or suffering? Do we want to be right or do we want peace?

We are given the freedom of choice. Our decisions have lasting consequences. What will you choose to do today? Don’t concern yourself with tomorrow. What choice will you make today about how you will think, speak, live, treat yourself and others?

Lovingly,

Natasha

Copyright 2019. All Rights Reserved. Natasha L. Foreman.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc

Please Note: This message was originally written and published under the title of “Wedding vs Marriage…There IS a Difference” on July 5, 2017.

I saw it today and felt moved to share it again, but this time—with a different title and I’ve made some slight modifications to highlight some additional points to consider, while also aligning the structure of the post to and with my current formatting preference.

I hope that it helps you and/or someone that you know. Enjoy the read and please comment, and share!

~Natasha

(more…)

Audio Message

What I’ve shared below can also be heard through this audio message. Click play and enjoy.

I’m sitting here at my desk reflecting.

My reflection is focused upon my life, specifically my love life.

I’m a romantic. I’ve always been. I don’t need the big and grandiose. I love the simple things in life and love. Oftentimes it’s the smallest of gestures that have the biggest impacts, the smallest packages can contain the best of gifts—and that, for me, brings me the greatest joy. A handbag has a price tag and can be damaged, lost, stolen, sold, or given away; sitting by my bedside holding my hand, rubbing my head, kissing me and telling me that all will be well, while I’m in the hospital fighting fear and whatever else—that’s priceless and can never be damaged, lost, stolen, sold, or given away. That time, attention and affection is for me and only me. That is precious and everlasting in my heart and mind.

(more…)

Here’s another message that I reflect upon from the past. On April 5, 2016 I wrote this message as a reflection to a Facebook post written by a man who was reflecting over his marriage and the ups and downs that he experienced trying to juggle marriage, career, and family.

balance-work-family

I shared the message as I share it today, with hopes that it reaches those single individuals who dream of one day marrying, those married couples who are struggling and contemplating divorce, those married couples who haven’t yet hit any bumps, and to those who are divorced and aren’t quite sure if getting married again is the thing for them.

Please read this message, reflect on it, share your thoughts, and then be sure to forward this message to others. With more and more people waiting to marry, others divorcing in staggering rates, or an increasing number of people opting out and choosing to bypass marriage altogether—it’s refreshing to look through the lens of someone who struggled, recovered, and reclaimed the connection he was losing because his priorities were misaligned. It can be a message that can help others before they cross that bridge, as well as those who have crossed it and are sliding down a collapsing hillside. It can also help those who have reached the bottom of the hillside and wonder if it’s worth taking the journey again.

I look forward to your positive comments.

~Natasha

Original post: https://natashaforeman.com/2016/04/05/a-post-on-marriage-family-career-and-community/

I’ve been divorced for 9 months.

Most of you are shocked to read those words. But they are true no matter how many times you re-read them.

This message has been sitting as a draft on my phone for six months. I wasn’t ready to share this at that time. I thought I could three months ago, but I still wasn’t ready. I made the decision that I would share in December. Symbolic for many reasons. Year-end, holiday cheer, families together, and because I hoped that this December would feel and be better than last year.

So today I share the life-altering news with all of you—family, friends, associates, students, and strangers.

No, I will not share details.

I didn’t share intimate details of our courtship, engagement, wedding, and married life. I didn’t even rush to let people know I was dating, engaged, or married. That’s because I value and wanted privacy. I wanted to protect my man, my life, and what we had together. I didn’t want a bunch of folks all in our “mix” because I know that there are twice as many people hating on you than loving you. So I did my best to protect one of the most valuable relationships I had second to my relationship with God.

You got a highlight reel of my life. So guess what?

I won’t be sharing details about how we got to this point. Because plain and simply, it’s my life, and I value and want privacy.

No, I won’t feed your need to gossip at my expense. Even though some of you will most likely materialize your own content to feed upon. *smile*

We do like “tea” don’t we?

You can ponder and speculate but the end result will remain the same…

What once was is no longer.

I’m only making this statement because I’m frequently receiving emails and comments on my websites, messages through social media, and being approached in public by people who joyfully praise me, him, and us. People make comments about “#MarriageGoals” and I slightly cringe because they haven’t a clue.

Countless times this year I’ve spoken with people who have expressed a level of pride from looking at my marriage, the image that was publicly portrayed and lived, and seeing us over the years at various events. I’ve had people contact me to let me know that they pray for our marriage and the work that we do in the community. I couldn’t bring myself to tell these strangers, “thanks but he’s my ex husband now“. So I always find discreet ways to thank them for their kind and loving words and prayers, and then I leave the rest alone.

I’ve discreetly removed myself from so much but clearly it hasn’t been enough. My absence hasn’t made clear my current status, it’s only made me less visible. People assume they don’t see me somewhere because I’m busy.

There’s so much content of us online that all online searches express and imply the same “message”–that we’re still this visionary powerhouse couple. When the truth is, we used to be but now we are merely two visionary, powerhouse individuals focused on our own separate missions. We are on separate paths. We are no longer a couple. There is no “we”. We can’t erase or rewrite our past, and why would we? It was ours and we lived it boldly and I have no regrets. At the same time we must move forward to what is now the present.

I will not clarify what is most clear. The first sentence of this post can’t get any clearer.

Many who know us personally, professionally, or indirectly through our very public work are or will be shocked by this admission. But just as everything else in life, this too you will get over, get past, and it will soon become a distant memory that resurfaces in random moments and even more random online searches.

But your life will go on, move forward, unscathed, uninterrupted, unbothered—and for those and other more important reasons, I ask that you refrain from further inquiry. There’s no need to dig for what is already at surface level.

If you know me and didn’t already know this big shocker then you should be able to answer your own question as to why you didn’t know my reality months ago.

No offense. I’m good. Really I am. I’m strong. I’ve “got this”—well, God has this and I’m rolling with Him.

Thank you. I love you.

All I want and need right now is peace and the clear space to hear and act on what God is calling me to move forward on. I want to be free to embrace the opportunities that come my way. God has huge things planned for me and I can’t waste His time or mine, because He’s not giving me forever to get these things accomplished.

Please respect me, respect my former husband, respect what once was, and respect what God has planned for our individual and separate futures. Our union is no longer. A seven-year history has ended. Lessons learned, experiences shared, milestones reached, and excellence attained. We built some amazing ideas into real masterpieces.

I’m honored to have served in many roles through Operation HOPE. I’m proud of the work I accomplished, the tireless commitment and sacrifice to seeing an idea become a reality with HOPE Business In A Box, my 7 years as a HOPE Corp volunteer sharing Banking on Our Future with students all over, and my life will forever be changed by the lives that I encountered and embraced over 7 amazing years. Being away from both programs, away from the students and the pitch competitions feels awkward, abnormal, and like a huge void. But I will just have to find a new “home” to connect with, serve, and share my gifts.

I’m glad that my advice and suggestions have led to the start of other programs, technologies, organizational practices, social groups, and organizations over the past few years. No one and nothing can change that. It was, it is, and it forever will be a part of my legacy and the legacy of this great organization and those affiliates that have launched in the past two years. May they all thrive and be successful. I’ve done what I was supposed to and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

If you’re a supporter of the work then increase your level of support, there’s a global mission to fulfill. If you’re not a supporter then consider being one. Support their efforts—or support another organization’s efforts, just do something. Don’t just be a spectator, be a positive change agent.

My job there is done. Sooner than I thought. I wanted to do so much more. But that’s an “oh well”. The season is over and it’s time to move forward.

Now it’s time to end one chapter and begin a new one. Well I’ve already started on my new chapter, I’m just telling you so that you can catch up (*smile*). You can’t keep holding on to the page of this book trying to re-read the sentences, and I won’t entertain you as you attempt to stall. The story doesn’t just pause or remain in your fragmented happy-limbo state simply because you don’t move forward. It’s time to turn the page….

As the saying goes, “people are in your life for a reason, a season, and a lifetime” and the latter just wasn’t in the cards for us. The “reason” for me was and is clear—to see and feel the possibility of giving, sharing, supporting, and believing in someone else as much and in many ways more than myself. I supported the man and his mission while focused on my own. I made it “look easy” (as some have said) because it wasn’t “work” in my mind, for me I was doing my part as a partner, I was doing what it took to help a man fulfill his mission.

Was I perfect and flawless? Heck no. I’m imperfect and have numerous flaws. I did the best I could with the resources that I had. Could’ve done more. Could’ve said more. But coulda, shoulda, woulda doesn’t matter.

For seven years I loved and sacrificed for a man, and I have absolutely no regrets. I was blessed to love so deeply and for as long as I did. If I couldn’t say that, then I would have to question a great deal about myself and my relationship. I put my trust in God and He never fails me. My hurt and disappointment will be temporary because what I have with God is eternal. I keep my eyes, ears, and heart tuned into His station.

For me, my marriage was the commitment to be selfless and to dive in with both feet, dedicated to fulfilling my vows in all ways. I’ve grown tremendously, learned a great deal, and seen (and felt) the joy of giving myself to another while pushing and praying for that person so that they might reach every goal and overcome every obstacle. I did all that I could to protect him, the organization, and the mission.

Marriage is a wonderful union and commitment. I will always honor what it means to be married and to be a wife—both in the spiritual and literal sense.

My ex-husband taught me a lot about life, business, entrepreneurship, perseverance, overcoming adversity, facing fears, the value of building relationships not just networking, having the courage to try anything at least once and to ask for what you want in business—as he always says, “you walked in with a “no” it’s your goal to turn that “no” to a “yes”, if you don’t then it doesn’t matter, you had “no” coming in….”. Those are wise words that I recite when I need a pep talk.

I will take some of the lessons that I learned from observing, listening, and being guided by him, and I will build upon them as I climb to goals yet achieved. I will reattempt things that I failed at, like scuba diving (my deep sea experience was too much for a beginner) and getting back on a scooter (after falling and getting second degree burns from the motor—two weeks before our wedding).

I’m focused on being a better person, servant, woman, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, educator, and entrepreneur. I’m focused on preparing myself as a mother and maybe one day, even a wife again—well, the latter isn’t my focus, but as the saying goes, “never say never” and since I’ve been wrong about my “never’s” before, I will let God guide me.

Let me stop you now—no, I’m not in a relationship. I’m taking this time to focus on healing, praying, and getting stronger spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It would be unfair of me to subject a new person to my post-divorce life. I still have “muscle memory” of living with and sharing life with one man for seven years. I can’t just abruptly jump into a new relationship as though I’m healed, good, and ready to move into something with a new person. That would mean that I didn’t value my marriage and my role in it. That would mean that I had and have no feelings for him and for what we shared and built together. That would be a lie.

It would be cruel and disrespectful to subject someone to that space in my life, when I need to be open and free to give myself without reservations. I’ve grown accustomed to a routine with one person for seven years. That’s not easy to unwind and realign. I’m in no rush.

I need to feel and experience all that God needs me to realize, so that I can embrace, learn, and grow into the well-rounded woman He needs me to be. I can’t be the woman that a new man needs if I’m still wired to what my last man needed. And a new man shouldn’t be compared and contrasted to my last one. I need time and space for a clean slate—or as clean as can be expected.

I’ve spent this year working on me and learning what I want and don’t want, and what I need and don’t need in both my personal and professional lives. I have to work through and push past some fears and doubts. I have to walk the walk as it relates to my faith in God. If I say I know He has me, then I have to walk with my head up and eyes focused with the confidence in knowing that God has already taken care of my needs—He’s just waiting on me to catch up.

All that I want for Christmas is to be surrounded by my family and the peace that comes from knowing “all will be well because I walk with the Lord”. I asked my family for onesie pajamas and a $40 Atari classic game set. I’ve never been about the big, pricey gifts. I’m sentimental, so what is “small” to you is huge to me.

Some of you may be shocked to read this. Shouldn’t I be bitter and enraged? No, not at all. God is constantly blessing me and how ungrateful would I be to wallow in anger and misery when He has blessed me even through this transition. I’m saddened to see a relationship that I valued greatly come to an end—I planned to grow old with this man, and die loving and committed to him— but I know that God has other plans and He has never left or forsaken me. I’m not being punished. I’m being molded, strengthened, focused, and prepared by God. I accept what has happened because I know that if God intended for it to be it would still be.

So although I’m no longer married I am not broken. I am not alone or lonely. God has me in His Hands. I’m surrounded by family and my true friends. My cup runneth over. That brings me absolute joy!

It’s difficult to balance a private-public life and I’ve done a pretty good job with it for several years. I yearn to continue maintaining a semblance of privacy as I look forward on the path God has placed before me. It’s already difficult to remain focused with life’s distractions, I don’t need anything extra coming my way through rumors, declarations, or inquiries. Of course you will see my highlight reels, but the full and complete story of my life is reserved exclusively for me.

Just consider if you were me–try walking in my shoes for a moment and consider how you would want to be treated, and then please try your best to walk, act, and speak accordingly.

Please don’t attempt to be a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys new-age sleuth intrigued by missing puzzle pieces. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out the how, who, when, why, and where. You won’t have time to focus on your own life. Just let us move on with dignity. Please.

Thank you to those of you who have prayed with and for me, been supportive, a shoulder and a sounding board, wiping my tears and holding my hand, and never wavering a moment as my truest of friends. Thank you for never altering your relationship with me, but remaining the same as you have always been. Solid and true to your word. I love, value, and respect you.

Now let’s all get up, get out, and do what God has called us to do!

May He bless each of us abundantly and I pray that we are prepared and ready to embrace those blessings. May your year end better than it started, and may your New Year be better than this year. I know mine will be!

Warmest wishes and deepest respect,

Natasha

Copyright 2017. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

I performed an Internet search for topics related to marriage and specifically the term “marriage” and the vast majority of the pictures were of weddings and all of the things we associate with weddings, like engagement and wedding rings, cake and cake toppers, wedding gowns, bouquets, bridal parties, etc. I decided to do a little digging through social media and blogs to see what people are saying about marriage and what they seem to be focused on when the topic is addressed. Interesting enough the focus is overly directed towards the engagement ring, wedding ring, ceremony and reception, bridal party, and then there’s a gloss over of the actual union of marriage. Even when I typed in “same-sex marriage”, nothing but pictures of weddings appeared. I really had to dig to find content that focused on couples and family, not on the pomp and ceremony that leads to marriage. 

Which means that wedding industry professionals have done an awesome job of marketing and selling the wedding to us, while the embarrassing divorce rates prove that our families and society as a whole have done a lousy job of embedding the principles, practices, and expectations of marriage—so that we don’t enter and exit it so casually. 

Ring the alarm! Weddings versus marriage. There is a huge difference folks!


Pictures 1 through 4 above represent weddings. While pictures 5 through 8 reflect the layers of marriage. 

Some of you are overly consumed by the wedding ceremony but aren’t ready for the long-term commitment of marriage. It’s not the ring, it’s the union. It’s not the cake, food, dj, choreographed dances, bachelor and bacherlorette parties, or the gifts. It’s about the union. It’s not the titles you will earn as a “husband” or “wife”, it’s the union. Some of you want the glitz and glamour but don’t plan for or want to put in the work required for marriage. You want romance novel cookie-cutter, special, dynamic, and/or unique, but think it’s going to be effortless. 

Disillusioned are we? 

Spend some quality time (several months) in premarital counseling (and checkups every few months after you’re married) and work out the kinks, connect the dots, explore the possibilities and unknowns, and dive deep into what you BOTH need and want in marriage. It’s important to discover how you both see and define marriage and your respective roles within it. 

Prepare yourselves for the biggest commitment of your life. Walking blindly into it is one reason why millions of us are now divorced. 

Don’t take the stance of “we’ll figure that out when we get to that bridge”. The problem with that is you may find yourselves not able to even cross the bridge when that time comes, or at least, not together. Put everything out on the table upfront, before you say “I do”. 

Want kids or not? If so, how many and when? What are the expected household and career roles you two will assume? What will your social life be like as a married couple? What are your views about relocating to another state/country? Do you expect your family to follow your religious beliefs? What’s the rules about in-laws? Who’s the best money manager between the two of you, and how will your money be managed? How will you deal with infidelity? 

Get it all out there so you can truly see if you’re compatible, equally yoked, and have what it takes (and are willing to invest what is needed) to thrive in your marriage. Don’t just rush for a bridal magazine or zoom over to your dream store to set up a bridal registry. Sit down and have a partners meeting with the person who you’re planning to be a life partner with, and plan for your future together, not just obsess over a 1-8 hour event that will put most of you in debt and fighting!

And if marriage isn’t a partnership in your opinion but it is to your significant other, the two of you need to seriously sit down and talk because that’s a recipe for a short and/or extremely painful marriage. If you don’t want children but they do, neither of you will win trying to convince (or manipulate) the other to change their mind. If your significant other refuses to show you how they are doing financially, show you their debt and assets, then something is wrong. That’s a red flag pointing you in directions that you surely don’t want to explore. If you’re big on monogamy but your significant other thinks that it’s not normal to be faithful in all ways to one person, Houston you have a problem. If you’re expecting to receive an engagement ring and/or wedding ring that costs and looks like the amount spent to purchase a luxury car or house, but your significant other thought it would be more symbolic and romantic to give you an heirloom ring their mother or grandmother wore, you may not see eye to eye about this and other financial matters. 

Address it now. 

I see people starting their marriages eyeballs high in debt from a wedding that both of them probably didn’t even eat at because they were too busy entertaining everyone else to really enjoy themselves. That’s ridiculous. Guess what? It’s usually one of the first huge fights you have as a married couple. That’s because from the very beginning you both weren’t on the same page, thinking and planning as partners, and preparing for a long future together. You got caught up in the wedding storm and lost your everlasting mind. 

Those magazines, wedding registries, wedding vendors, and your twenty-plus member bridal party will still be there after the two of you have had some serious grown folks conversations. Remember, the magazines, registries, vendors, and your bridal party members won’t be there to build your marriage—and they can’t do anything to save it when it takes a hit. It’s going to require the two of you to fight for your marriage, and that first starts with you defining what marriage means and will be for you as a couple. 

We need to learn to take marriage seriously, enter it with our eyes wide open and fully aware and fully informed, and committed to whatever terms that we agree to with our significant other. If we can’t or won’t do that, then what’s the point in getting married? If all you want is the image of marriage (the material and symbolic things) then play house (the adult version to our childhood game) but don’t get married. Let’s stop making a mockery of something so powerful and beautiful. 

~Natasha 

When my husband, John Hope Bryant, and I first started dating, we would play each other songs that expressed how we felt. One of our favorite artists was Alicia Keys. Her songs hit home with us. One being, “Un-thinkable” (“I’m Ready”).

For me, it was a song proclaiming a love, a readiness, and a desire for something more, deeper, and more committed. For me, it was a song declaring that no matter what outsiders thought, said, or did—I was ready to be by my now-husband’s side. I would fight for and protect our love. I would stand by his side and always have his back. I would smash anyone who dared to attack him or us.

Neither of us were looking for the other, but we found each other anyway. It’s amazing how God works, especially when you stay out of His way!

I’m a “ride or die” kinda woman, so hearing lyrics that expressed this sentiment, touched my heart. So much so that I had this same song played at our wedding reception. We danced together, looking into each other’s eyes, knowing exactly what this song meant to us and our relationship….

Us against all others.

Us against everything that would stand in our way.

Us making sure that we put God first and our union second.

Us—two people in love with each other, with life, with the possibilities, and most importantly–with our Creator.

So let me ask YOU some important questions as we near the end of 2016…

What are you ready for? What are you committed to doing right now? In the New Year? What are you willing to fight for against all odds? What goals have you not defined and pursued out of fear? What person are you not committing to out of fear? What cause are you not leading, out of fear?

Claim it and go get it! Watch this video. Listen to the lyrics. Don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way!

~Natasha

The day that changed my life…

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The day that I married my husband, John Hope Bryant, changed my life.

The wedding is easy (hence why I wasn’t a bridezilla)…it’s the vows, decluttering your lives and meshing parts of it together, coming together as one, being loving even when you don’t want to, thinking for two not just one, truly being ride or die…it’s all WORK!

For some odd reason, even if you lived with the other person for years before marriage (which we did), matrimony changes certain dynamics. Maybe because while dating you always had an exit strategy, nothing truly kept you there. But as a married couple, there’s a bond that’s not easily broken (or shouldn’t be). You have made vows that you didn’t have to make while single. Is your word worth anything? Or are you all talk?

I took and take my vows seriously. People who attended our wedding walked up to me and said, “wow I could feel those words as you recited your vows. You truly meant what you said!” I don’t play with the commitment that I made to God, my husband, and our families. If you recite marriage vows and have some hesitancy or absolute repulsion, then save you and him/her the grief, and don’t say them.

If you’re lazy or self-centered, then don’t take this leap. It truly isn’t for everyone. Marriage takes work, you have to be actively engaged. Marriage is about being self-less NOT selfish, unless of course you’re preserving your marriage from outsiders…then that team selfishness is acceptable—it just can’t be a solo experience, both of you have to take part in that preservation.

Some people are quick to marry, desperate for the image and appearance of marriage. But if you aren’t putting in the work NOW as a partner, then how do you think you will mystically, magically alter yourself once you become that person’s spouse?

If you don’t have his/her back now, being married to them won’t change that, and if they don’t have your back, guess what? Yep, marriage won’t change that. If they can’t come to you and lean on your shoulder and back, and whatever else they need in order to stand back up on their feet…then guess what? You won’t let them do it once you’re married. If you can’t lean on them, being married to them most likely won’t change that for the better. If the two of you aren’t willing to share the responsibilities of a union now, you won’t be inclined to do so as a married couple.

If the two of you aren’t willing to toss away some of your bad, nasty, ignorant habits and behaviors now, you most likely won’t toss them away once you say your “I Do’s”.

If the two of you struggle to live together (or spend several days in the same place), then how can you possibly live under the same roof as a married couple?

If you don’t make the time for your significant other now, when in the world will you make time for them as a married couple?

If you don’t want children (or you don’t want anymore), but they do, then why subject the two of you to the pain of a battle? Marriage isn’t going to change either of your minds.

Look folks, it’s more than ‘putting a ring on it’. It’s more than sharing someone’s name. It’s more than the public perception of marriage.

Heck, if you want a ring, then you can go get one. Call it a commitment or promise ring. Are you really obsessed with changing your name? Ask yourself “why?” What does it really mean to you? Is it the public appearance and perception that sharing the name guarantees that you’re married to each other? There are a lot of married people who chose not to change their last names, probably because of the headache it causes trying to change it professionally and through the numerous government agencies, etc. They are secure within themselves to not get hung up on a name.

As far as public perception goes, if you’re overly concerned with what other people think, say, and do, then you really should not get married. Marriage is about two people. Your decisions should be made by and for the two of you, not others. No one should have a say in your marriage, not even family. The union is supposed to be supported by your loved ones. They are the ones who are supposed to figuratively (and sometimes literally) smack you upside your head and remind you of your vows and how you don’t have the right to slack in your marriage. They are the ones who are supposed to keep you and your spouse prayed up.

Your bridal party (no matter how big or small) is assembled to be your foot soldiers, not just super cute models for one day. Your bridal party is supposed to be made up of the people who are sworn to protect your marriage and family from all attacks, even when the attackers are you and your spouse. Your bridal party members are supposed to be there to help lift you and your spouse up in your time of need. So why in the world would you be concerned about public perception? Who cares what other people think and say about you? It’s supposed to be the two of you side-by-side, looking out for each other, like a positive Bonnie and Clyde (please no shooting sprees and robberies…please!).

Here are some other things to consider:

Are you willing to sacrifice all for this other person? Would you give your life to spare theirs? Would you do whatever it takes to care for them in sickness, and/or if they lost their job? If the answer is “no” then back away from the altar.

If they are close to their parents but you can’t stand their parents, just leave the marriage thing alone. They aren’t about to choose you over their parents. Marriage isn’t going to make them like you or you like them. If anything, it will pull you farther apart.

If you don’t bring out the best in him/her and they don’t bring out the best in you, don’t even consider marriage. You’re bound to end up in divorce court, wasting money on legal fees, and contemplating changing your name back to the one you had for so many years.

Marriage takes work. It’s labor intensive. But when you truly love, value, respect, and appreciate each other (and your union), then it’s all worth it—and you will do whatever it takes to protect it.

I work each day to protect my husband, our marriage, our family, and our legacy. I can’t risk being lazy or casual about our lives together. We both have the power to lift each other up, or tear each other down. We have a responsibility to each other. I don’t take this responsibility lightly. If you’re also married, you shouldn’t either. If you’re contemplating marriage, please don’t do so casually. Take your time to understand the commitment, the bold as well as the fine print, layout the ground rules and expectations about everything that matters most and least to you, and get plenty of pre-marital counseling so that you both know what you’re getting into before you jump into the deep end of this pool.

With love,

Natasha Foreman Bryant                                                                                                                             (or you can just call me “Mrs. Bryant”)


I want to wish my husband, John Hope Bryant, a happy anniversary. 


Here’s to three years of marriage, six years of love, and a long, bright, bold and adventurous future together. 

I LOVE YOU! 

Loving you always,

Natasha                                         

(“Effortless”)

balance-work-family

Three years ago I ran across this Facebook post, “3 Things I Wish I Knew Before We Got Married” written by Admin khuy, and I read it, before I got married.

What is interesting is reading it three years later and my mouth kept dropping, because it felt like I was reading it for the very first time. It’s been 6 years into a relationship, three of those years have been as a married couple—and I think this is a great article for those individuals who are career driven and/or mission driven, and think they “got it handled” when it comes to marriage and family.

Today I share this post with those of you contemplating marriage, engaged to be married, newlyweds, and even those of you married 8-40 years. I share this with the married ones who place their careers before their marriage (knowingly or unknowingly), and ignorantly think there will be harmony in that arrangement.

I share this with those of you planning to start a family, currently pregnant, have a newborn, and of course to those of you with multiple children of various ages. I share this with those of you who put your children first and your marriage second, or even last. Before your first child is born, it’s just you and your spouse. When your last child leaves the nest, guess what? It will just be you and your spouse. Your partnership deserves more than being placed second or worse, last to anything and anyone.

These three things that Admin khuy writes about sound simple, but oddly enough, many couples aren’t doing these things and that’s why current statistics are showing high divorce rates by or before year 8 in the marriage. It’s not money causing divorce, it’s disconnection, and as khuy wrote, “unawareness” that is the root cause. The byproduct ends up being money, adultery, abuse, neglect, etc. But before these things took place the roots were formed by one or both people being unaware of what marriage requires, and then the two who were once connected became disconnected—and as they grew farther apart the “issues” took center stage.

Please read this husband’s post (below) and try these three things for at least one month, and see how it can positively change your life, your marriage, your family, and even your community. If you can then see the possibility, maybe then you will embrace it as your way of life.

Marriage isn’t about living happily ever after with that one person who “completes” you, it’s about the journey of transitioning into a better, more selfless you.

Read Admin khuy’ post and then share your thoughts in my comments section…

(more…)

This article hit my inbox and I felt moved to share it with others. It’s about love, real love, love beyond the physical, the love that can’t be bought. This article is about the love of a husband for his wife. Below I have included excerpts from Edward Lee’s post, What a Husband Loves About His Wife:

But the real lasting love we have for you as our wife comes from character and who you are on the inside (all of my Bible readers can look to 1 Peter 3:1-6):

1. Forgiveness. We love it when you forgive us. We all mess up, that’s male and female, but nothing is greater than knowing you have forgiven us for our mess ups. We “see” your love when you accept our apology and we can put it to rest.

2. Respect. Every man, at some point crosses the “I need to be respected” bridge. It is also true that every man defines respect differently. However you define it, let your wife know. Because it is an essential component of being a man. At its core, value the weight we bear. I know, you carry weight too, but for whatever reason, men see (my non-scientific opinion) respect as reciprocal.

3. Courtesy. We love to be asked to do something; it goes with knowing we are valued. But I don’t know any man that enjoys being told what to do. Please, Thank You, and Babe go along way.

4. Trust. Trust is hot. When you trust me and I trust you, what can come between us?

5. Openness. We love it when we don’t have to guess what is on your mind. Make us guess and we will get it wrong, tell us and we will know.

Read more here

Be sure to share your thoughts, and any changes or additions that you would make to the list!

Source:
http://blackandmarriedwithkids.com/2011/11/what-a-husband-loves-about-his-wife/

I read this article written by Amy Morin, that I thought I would share with my readers to engage in a healthy dialogue about love, how we fall in and out of it, and how we can build upon our relationships to keep the spark alive for years to come.

Morin wrote that usually after two years (according to numerous studies) people’s high intensity feelings for each other begin to subside, as they come off the ‘high’ that falling in love produces. This ‘high’ has been compared to the same intensity associated with the hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder. But for whatever reason, usually after two years, people begin to disconnect from that wild ride and begin seeing themselves and the other person differently.

Morin wrote that oftentimes it’s around this time when a person begins to pull away, be less affectionate, think they are bored or lonely, consider life with someone new, begin having wandering eyes, etc.

They think that something is missing in their relationship, and it is—they stopped investing in the relationship so it gradually became less exciting. The veil was removed, and instead of reinvesting in the relationship and the other person, people tend to pull away even more. It’s not as easy and seemingly effortless as it was in the beginning. Now they have to work at it.

What? Work in a relationship, why?

Morin shared some interesting points such as:

Once the romantic, intense “in love” feelings subside, you have a choice to engage in a more mature love that can be even deeper and more meaningful. Mature love offers couples a true life partner. It doesn’t have to be boring or stale. Instead, it’s what you make of it because it’s based more on how you behave, rather than simply how you feel.

She then goes on to share eighteen things that those in mature love relationships do to keep that spark alive and growing, such as, “People who experience mature love don’t indulge themselves in thoughts that aren’t productive to the relationship” and, “They understand that this is the person they’ve chosen in life and that the relationship will be what they make of it“.

To read the entire article and to find out more about the 18 things people can do to stay in love, visit: 18 Ways to Prevent Falling Out of Love

Then after reading the article, share with me your thoughts on the article as a whole, your opinion about the 18 steps, and what you personally do to keep the spark in your relationship, or what you intend to do to reignite the flame.

Maybe something shared can help new couples, honeymooners, or couples who are in the “falling out of love” phase. Maybe something shared can help you in your current relationship, or help you to be mindful in a future relationship. Maybe, just maybe, something shared can help those who have fallen out of love and don’t see any other options but to call it quits.

With all of the cheating, scandals, breakups, separations, and divorces—isn’t it a breath of fresh air to sit back and converse about how to work (positively and passionately) at keeping the love strong?

Love is work. It requires you to invest time and energy even when you don’t feel like you have much of either. We had no problem investing time and energy in the beginning of the relationship. We had no problem staying up late, losing sleep, making love several times per week, spending countless hours talking and getting to know each other, and putting in the effort to look good for the other person.

Why can’t we continue investing the time and energy now and years later? Let’s stop accepting and engaging in the “I/we fell out of love” phase.

You love your spouse/significant other, so speak it, claim it, and put in the work to make your love last!

~ Natasha L. Foreman

Source: http://blackandmarriedwithkids.com/2013/05/18-ways-to-prevent-falling-out-of-love/?inf_contact_key=b29cb6c5802326576d1fbacc9d6ebaf1038b143358385200e04e8264e71a7cfe

Copyright 2013. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved Unless Otherwise Noted.