Afterword for The Unhappy Wife by Anita Charlot

TUWcover2I’ve talked a lot about the stories and the women of The Unhappy Wife, but there’s something else unique about this book. There’s an AFTERWORD by relationship coach, Anita Charlot! This afterword is special because Anita offers online relationship coaching, so anyone…anywhere can benefit! What follows is the first of her three pages of wisdom.

 

Kathy has done an excellent job of sharing the different and very complex struggles of women in unhealthy and unhappy marriages. As I read each story, I saw many similarities between what was written and many of the women that I have coached in the past, myself included. The pain, the disappointment, the second-guessing, and the tolerance are all too familiar.

How is it that women find themselves in unhappy marriages? Here are a few reasons I’ve uncovered while coaching my clients:

They are afraid to be alone

They do not know what a “healthy relationship” looks like

They have not yet learned to truly love and honor themselves

They have yet to find their voice

They do not know how to identify the person that will not only make love to their bodies, but also to their heart

They are confused about what LOVE really is

They mistake good sex for love

They rush into marriage for all of the wrong reasons

They don’t feel worthy of someone better

Learning to love and honor yourself first is key to any successful marriage. As a dating and relationship coach for over sixteen years, I’ve seen many women sacrifice their own needs and desires in order to win a man’s affection, or to gain their family and friends’ approval. They are so confused as to what a healthy relationship is that they begin to settle, to second guess themselves and to allow other people’s judgments to convince them that they should stay when they should be running in the opposite direction.

Of course I want you to see the rest of her sage advice, but you’ll have to order the book.

 

 

Veda from The Unhappy Wife book

unhappy-wifeVeda’s story came recommended by a mutual friend. When I first began speaking with her, she was hesitant. Veda didn’t believe that she was an unhappy wife.

“My husband doesn’t beat me or anything,” she said.

To which I replied, “Good. That’s my point with telling these stories. You don’t have to be in an abusive relationship to be unhappy. You just have to have questioned how you ended up in a situation, married to this man.”

Veda agreed to open up to me. I was grateful.

At the time of our conversation, her husband had suffered a stroke about a year prior. The effects of his illness were numerous. Basically, Veda had gone from having a helpful partner to being somewhat of a caregiver, while continuing to mother three daughters and working a fulltime job.

Concept: I knew I wanted to present Veda as a committed wife for several reasons. Whereas Darlene was committed due to religious principles and Crystal was committed because of her mother’s advice, Veda was committed because she loved her husband and took her wedding vows seriously. You know, “in sickness and in health”? As I listened to her story, I wondered how many women had actually thought about what that phrase might look like. How many of us could really imagine what may happen?

Veda’s story is unique because it gives a brief depiction. “In sickness and in health” looks like telling your husband to seek medical attention because another stroke might kill him, and accepting the idea that he doesn’t want to listen. “In sickness and in health” looks like enduring your husband’s stroke that left him debilitated in many ways, while maintaining some semblance of a household you both once knew.

I asked Veda if she felt as if she’d had a fourth child.

“No,” she said, “I love him. That’s my husband.”

This is what I wanted the final narrative to show. A woman can love her husband, but unforeseen circumstances can develop and cause the entire relationship to shift, thus creating aspects of unhappiness.

Additionally, I hoped this story would help women think to themselves, could I have remained with my husband if he didn’t listen to me and ended up having a stroke that totally changed our relationship and way of life? This is why I chose the past, present and future format. None of us knows what the future of a relationship will bring. The most we can do is know ourselves so that we can make conscious choices that are aligned with our values, and follow our intuition with each situation.

unhappy-wifeI hope you’ve enjoyed discussing each story with one another. I also hope that you’ve found the stories as useful reflections of your own relationships. Next month, I’ll re-blog part of Anita Charlot’s afterword from the book. Her expertise as an online relationship coach provided valuable insights. The Unhappy Wife will continue to be for sale.

Crystal from The Unhappy Wife book

unhappy-wifeCrystal was the fourth woman that I’d interviewed. By the time I wrote her story, I had to admit that something metaphysical was happening whenever I began typing. I say this because I knew bits and pieces of her life with a drug-addicted husband, so I kind of already had a set beginning, middle and end for what I was going to write.  I assumed she was going to express regret for staying with him so long. Her interview was a technicality.

But she didn’t. Listening to Crystal, I realized that she saw her role as the person who never gave up on him. I had to write a love story about forgiveness and hope with unhappiness along the way.

How was I going to do that??? Were readers going to think I was condoning abuse and drug addiction? I decided it didn’t matter. I wrote the story she told me and allowed the narrative to unfold with metaphysical guidance.

Concept: The first thing I wanted to show was the pattern of drug addiction over the years, hence the episodes. The next thing that was important was to develop a sense of how drugs rule people’s lives. For Crytstal, each episode yielded a different phase in life: having a kidney transplant, delivering a baby, and going to college. But for 20 years, Tré focused on one thing, getting high.

The third part of the relationship I wanted to present is by episode five Crystal had decided there was nothing she could do about Tré’s habit. She realized the only person she could control and save was herself. She finished her undergraduate degree and secured a great position. She also raised her daughter. But she did these things all while remaining married.

Commentary: What’s the point? What is the point of being married to someone if you’re going to live separate lives? I thought marriage was a union, a coming together of two people because of love. Can you love someone and remain married to him, while watching him destroy his life? My husband says all the time, “You have to decide do I love this person exactly as he or she is, or do I love certain parts about him or her?”

There is a happy ending for Crystal and Tré. Crystal waited 20 years for it, but deliverance did occur. How many of us would be wiling to wait two decades for someone to get their life together and be the spouse we always wanted?

I’m not ignoring one important part to this story. Crystal’s mother kind of guilt tripped her when she first committed to Tré. She reminded her of all the other hobbies she’d given up on and basically told her that being married wasn’t a pastime.

I agree. But I think if Crystal’s mother would’ve known that Tré was an abusive drug addict, she might’ve given her different advice. Maybe.

unhappy-wifeWhat did you all think about Crystal and Tré? One of the Amazon reviewers said the she couldn’t understand why she stayed. Do you agree? Should she have left? Are concepts like forgiveness and grace just for religious books and spiritual leaders? Let me know what you think?

We’re coming to the end of this journey. Next week, we’ll discuss Veda, the last woman in the book and the Committed Wife section. Again, it’s never too late to order a copy of The Unhappy Wife. You can catch up on all of the commentary and add your thoughts whenever you can.

Pamela from The Unhappy Wife book

Pamela was the last wife that I’d interviewed. My plan was to have 13 women’s stories, but by the time I’d actually spoken to everyone and written each narrative, I was worn out. Twelve was enough.

unhappy-wifeWhile Pamela’s marriage includes similar tropes as the previous women, I was happy to include her story because it was about infidelity from a real woman’s point of view, something that isn’t always depicted or discussed in media. Additionally, Pamela had no remorse for committing the act, and that was a part of the adultery narrative that had to be told.

Concept: At first I was going to only focus Pamela’s story on her mother and how she influenced Pam to give up on college and get married. But as we continued our conversation, she not only revealed her adultery, but also told me it helped her as a person. I knew then her story had to be about more than simply her and her mom’s relationship.

Likewise, I wanted to provide a counter narrative to how society views affairs. There are three ideas about cheating that I’ve noticed: (1) it’s the worst thing that can happen in a marriage; (2) it is an irreparable break of trust; and (3) it’s something only men do. I thought Pamela’s story would shape a different conversation.

Let me be clear. I’m not trying to condone cheating. I’m just saying that it’s time to expand the narrative, especially as women take on different roles than they once did in the past.

Commentary: I believe Pamela felt bad about herself long before marriage. It began when her mother crushed her university dreams. And then, like a lot of women, post-pregnancy weight added to her insecurity. On top of that, she relied so much on Reggie’s degrees and income that his unemployment added another layer of disappointment.

By the time Kurt entered the picture, she all but invited the escape. This is how some affairs occur. They begin with an insecure woman being noticed and paid attention to by another man. In this case, Kurt uplifted her, something that her mother didn’t seem to do. Kurt also had the money to pamper her and he accepted her body the way it was at first. According to Pam, Kurt was a Godsend. Without him, she would still be living in despair.

Pam’s story showed my overall message with this book:

  • Know yourself.
  • Love yourself.
  • Be yourself.

Pamela didn’t know herself. If she did, then she would’ve been able to determine if going to college or getting married was a better path for her. She didn’t love herself. If she did, then she wouldn’t have ended up in Kurt’s bed, seeking love and attention through his admiration and wallet. She wasn’t being herself. She had assumed an identity, wife and mother.

What did you all think about her? Was she wrong for cheating with Kurt, even if it did lead self-discovery? What about overbearing mothers? Do you think parents should guide their children so much that they influence their life’s path?

unhappy-wifeOne more thing: My editor said this story was the best in terms of writing. I suspect it’s because it was traditional. It has a clear beginning, middle and end. The ending is nice a neat and tied with a bow. Readers tend to like that. What do you think?

If you haven’t ordered or read The Unhappy Wife yet, there’s still time! We have one more section to discuss, The Committed Wife. Next month we’ll start off with Darlene, mmmhmm, the preacher’s wife.

3 Unexpected Outcomes of Self-Publishing by K.E. Garland #Spotlight

Many thanks to Felicia over at NesiesPlace for this Spotlight invitation. Check out the feature about The Unhappy Wife, give her a follow, AND check out her own book In The Best Interest of the Child.

Nesie's Place

I’m honored and pleased to have Dr. K.E. Garland on the blog today. An educator by profession, Dr. Garland is not only finding success as an indie author, but her works of creative nonfiction are fostering discussions for social change [among women especially] on an international level.

Today, Dr. Garland shares three outcomes she never imagined when she first decided to self-publish.


TUW coverThe Unhappy Wife was conceived during one of my former 320-mile commutes to and from work. During those drives, I used to call family and friends to keep me company. Many calls were with one of my male cousins. This time, his marriage woes were exhausting.

“I’m going to write a book called The Unhappy Wife,” I told him, “and I’m going to ask your wife to participate!” He laughed and laughed at me, but I was serious.

It wasn’t just his wife and their drama. I had…

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Miss Sharlene from The Unhappy Wife book

unhappy-wifeMiss Sharlene was the 11th woman I’d interviewed. She invited me to sit in her living room and listen to her stories. For four hours, she described each and every marriage in detail. Here was a woman, old enough to be my own mother, outlining over 40 years of marriage to three different men: an adulterer, an alleged drug dealer and a drug addict. For much of our conversation, I sat with my mouth hanging open. The remainder included laughter and a lot of mmmhmmms.

Concept: With Miss Sharlene, I grappled with re-telling each marriage. Did readers need to hear about each man? Ultimately, I figured that’s what would make her story different. The book didn’t have the life experience of an older woman to demonstrate how one could fall in and out of love and continue to be unhappily married over and over again.

Like many of the women, Miss Sharlene sounded as if her husbands had done something to her. But surely, I thought, she must’ve learned something about herself with each of these unions. So, I asked her one question in order to prompt self-reflection. What advice would you give to younger women? That’s when Miss Sharlene provided me with lessons:

  1. You have to learn a person before you get married, but learning a person happens on a daily basis.
  2. Just cause you get pregnant from somebody does not make him your man or your husband. It makes him your baby’s dad.
  3. There’s no perfect person. We as women are not perfect. We have imperfections. But the thing is, we’re looking for perfection in a man. And that’s where we go wrong.
  4. We can’t be in a relationship when the person feels like we are his savior. You can’t save a person.

She actually gave me seven lessons. I wrote these verbatim in the book, but placed them at strategic points so that they seemed as if she had applied them to each of her marriages.

Commentary: At the time of our conversation, Miss Sharlene was two years newly wed to her fourth husband. I was shocked. Was she a hopeless romantic? Was it religion and the bible that kept her seeking marriage? Maybe it was her age? I didn’t ask her any of these questions because our interview was already lengthy.

But this came to mind. It’s easy to judge Miss Sharlene, or any woman for that matter. When we read about someone who’s been married 3-4 times, it seems obvious what the “issue” is, even when the men and relationships seem different. But none of our so-called challenges are ever apparent to ourselves. They can be though.

We have to be willing to look in the mirror and face what’s there. Change cannot happen without self-reflection. We have to be willing to admit our backgrounds have not only affected us in the past, but also shaped who we are in the present, including what types of relationships we attract. And ultimately, we have to take responsibility for the choices we make, whether conscious or subconscious. Otherwise, we’re doomed to be stuck in a cycle, same relationship, different man.

With that said, I included Miss Sharlene in the Detached Wife section because she seemed to be disconnected, not from her husbands, but from the reality of her self.

unhappy-wifeQuite a few readers have told me this story was their favorite. What did you think about Miss Sharlene?

Next month we’ll be discussing the last wife in this section, Pamela. Be sure to order your copy and catch up so you can join the conversation!

Side note: Many thanks to Mek over at 10000hoursleft.wordpress.com for the featured image.

Book Review: The Unhappy Wife

I can count on both hands how many men have read The Unhappy Wife, and Darryl is one of them. Check out his review of the book. And, if you don’t already follow him, then you’re in for a thoughtful and critical look at all things in society. Thanks again Darryl!

Zone of Non-being

After months of resistance, I finally purchased and read Dr. K E Garland’s The Unhappy Wife. My original thoughts about the text were a barrier to engagement. Based on the title alone, I assumed that only married women could extract pearls of wisdom from the book. This mythical position was dispelled after reading just a few pages of the first section. This wonderful collection of short stories has use-value for most people, irrespective of sex/gender and marital status.

The Unhappy Wife is an assortment of twelve visceral testimonies inspired by the actual experiences of married women. Each relationship goes through a period(s) of disenchantment – owing to a wide range of internal and/or external factors. The varying responses to these circumstances are presented in three parts and corresponding themes: The Voiceless Wife, The Detached Wife, and The Committed Wife. These narratives are powerful and captivating. Overall…

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Book & Author Feature: The Unhappy Wife by K E Garland

Thanks for an amazing interview experience Leslie Reese! Leslie is a book blogger and also a skilled writer. I was fortunate enough to have been interviewed by her. If you don’t follow her blog, then please go check it out!

I subscribe to KE Garlands’s blog, kwoted, where she always “keeps it real” by writing honest and thought-provoking posts about societal experiences, personal relationships and insecurities; how and why we celebrate holidays, being reflective, and finding inspiration in daily life. In 2015 she published Kwoted, a book of original quotes which “encompass advice and mantras that the author lives by and offers to those around her.”

kwoted

Early in the fall of 2016 I learned that K E Garland had written and was self-publishing a book titled The Unhappy Wife, and my first thought was “I’m going to read her book and review it.” But while reading this 112-page volume, I decided I wanted to do an author feature, instead. I asked Kathy – aka K E Garland – if she would mind me asking her some questions, and she was down, so what follows is our exchange. Enjoy!

Leslie Reese (LR): Okay, Kathy, let’s get this party started!
K E Garland: LOL okay…I’m ready!
LR: When and how did you first conceive of The Unhappy Wife as a project and a book?
K E Garland: I was actually on the phone with a friend. As usual, he was complaining about his wife. This seemed to be commonplace for many of my married men friends. Because I’d also begun doing the work of self-reflection about who I’d been in my own marriage, I was able to offer a bit of advice. But when that was over, he continued to complain. Right in the middle of his diatribe, I said, “I’m going to write a book called, ‘The Unhappy Wife,’ and I’m going to ask your wife to be in it.” He laughed and laughed. I didn’t. Three years later the book was conceptualized.

Read more…

Mrs. Little from The Unhappy Wife book

unhappy-wifeMrs. Little was the second wife that I’d interviewed. Although she’d given me quite a few details about her marriage, what kept resurfacing were small anecdotes and feelings about her mother-in-law. She was voiceless, but in a much different way than either Jasmyne or Gina.

Her comments reminded me of Steve Harvey’s movie, Think Like a Man. In it he approaches how so-called “Mama’s boys” affect relationships, but I thought this was different because the mother-in-law’s actions were subtle, or like people like to say nowadays: petty.

Concept: Her husband, Mark knew how Mrs. Little felt, but she’d never really expressed herself to the mother-in-law. Quite honestly, I have issues with my own MIL that I’ve never shared, so I began to wonder what it would be like if Mrs. Little could tell Ms. Little everything she wanted to say over the past two decades. Then, I thought wouldn’t it be great if she wrote her a letter? Wouldn’t we all like to do that with someone, in a way where they don’t get to respond, but just read?

I also had fun using the epistolary format. It seemed that would break up the monotony of reading traditional narratives, yet still explain the past and present challenges with the relationship.

Commentary: I’ve never been a mother-in-law, but I have one and I’ve talked to a few. What seems to be challenging (sometimes) is accepting that their son is no longer a little boy, but rather a man with his own responsibilities. Essentially, it’s an issue with transitions and change that manifests through marriage. From my perspective, it seems that mothers want to still “mother” their sons, while either not embracing the daughter-in-law, or ignoring her altogether.

That doesn’t work.

And there was a twist for this story. Mark was using his military salary to pay his mother’s bills before he married. The mother-in-law had to not only deal with a new woman in her son’s life, but also not being financially taken cared of anymore. She’d lost a lot all at once. I’m not sure they’d ever discussed a plan for this change.

I tend to believe that conversations can heal all things. People underestimate the importance of sitting down, airing grievances, setting the stage to move forward, and then actually moving forward with a clearer understanding. I’m not saying this always works, but I do know that unacknowledged issues are rarely solved.

unhappy-wifeLet me know what you thought about Mrs. Little and Mark, what I’ve said here, or anything else that you felt was important. Next month, we’ll move on to the next section, The Detached Wife. Thom’s wife signed a waiver that doesn’t allow me to discuss the story in this format, so on to the next chapter we’ll go..

Interested in purchasing a copy and getting caught up to discuss the rest of the wives? Order here.

4 Things I Learned while Self-Publishing

TUWcover2#1 Outsource your cover design; however, be mindful about how much you pay. The same person who designed the Kwoted cover also created The Unhappy Wife cover. This time around, she charged $265. This is not what I expected for a simple eBook jpeg. But instead of complaining, I paid her for it and then learned about a site called Fiverr. On Fiverr, you can find anyone to do anything digital for you. By the time I was ready for a cover for the paperback, I simply signed up, listed an ad with these words: I need a 6×9 paperback cover for Lulu specifications, and then narrowed my choices down from international graphic designers. Someone I didn’t know produced the paperback cover in less than 48 hours for $15.00!!!

img_1603#2 Outsource your editor. I started to ask an English major friend to proof and edit The Unhappy Wife, but everything I’d read stated that this should be completed by a paid professional. I used a book called 2015 Guide to Self-Publishing in order to find an editor. The book lists several different editors by state. I vetted a few Florida ones through email in order to determine cost and efficiency. Each one offered a free/sample editing of the first 500-1000 words. Once I emailed the story, I compared editing style, personality and expertise. For example, the editor who charged $700 had a lot of industry knowledge and mentioned book characteristics that I wasn’t familiar with. Another editor who charged significantly less didn’t notice things like number formatting. I decided to go with someone in the middle, Erin Foster Books. She had a great personality, didn’t charge an arm and a leg, and offered two passes (read and edited twice).

#3 Outsource the formatting because it has to be precise. You probably can figure out the formatting yourself, but by the time I’d written a book, revised a book, and edited a book, the last thing I wanted to do was format a book. eBook formatting is so very finicky. It has to do with styles, style changes, making the book reflowable, etc. (big yawn). Paperback versions have to be formatted totally different than eBooks because whatever you send to your distributor is what will be printed, exactly as is. Take it from me; just have someone else do it. In my case, I asked Erin. She was wonderful and both books were published with no issues.

#4 Choose your publisher/distributor wisely. I chose Amazon because it’s the largest retailer of eBooks and authors earn 70% profit, which is the highest in the industry. But because I’m also not a fan of having all of my eggs in one monopoly basket, I chose Lulu.com to publish/distribute the paperback. Again, Lulu is known for paying the largest profit (as long as you sell from their site). This site also offers mass distribution to places like Barnes & Noble. Finally, Lulu prints books that look and feel like traditional books. I’m sure you know what I mean.

If you’re planning to self-publish a book, then I hope this information helps you in some way. If you’ve already self-published a book, then what else would you add? You know I’m all about helping one another!