22 Years and Counting: Falling in Love Intuitively

IMG_2990I’m glad I had the opportunity to “find a man” when I was in my early 20s.

I’m glad I fell in love in my youth.

I’m glad I fell in love when I was younger because I was  not as conscious of all of the things I wanted and needed. All I knew is that this guy is a cool dude. He likes hanging out, having a drink or two, or four and walking in the rain. He was about to graduate with an accounting degree and wanted to work on a cruise ship.

I thought that was brave. I mean who finishes undergrad and then aspires to work on a cruise ship?

I didn’t have the list that so many of my friends over 25, 35, 45 seem to currently have. I didn’t even have the list that has accumulated after two decades of marriage.

I wasn’t thinking about if he saved money or if he had a 401k. He made about 27k at first, and he spent most of his money. I wasn’t consciously thinking about how or if he would love our future kids. We eventually had two daughters; he avidly watches superhero films with one and advises the other about the importance of self-respect. I wasn’t worried about if he would clean the house or take my car to the shop. He ended up being obsessive about cleaning, at first, and he rarely serviced any of my cars. I wasn’t concerned about if he’d support my future goals. He does. Always.

He played tennis and I barely ran across the street even if I saw a car coming. He only ate rice for lunch and dinner, while I devoured several servings of any and everything in front of him. One of our first dates was to Red Lobster. Because he didn’t have enough money, he let me eat what I wanted while he ate salad and cheddar biscuits. I didn’t condemn him for not having money, cause he was 23. Plus, I didn’t have any money either.

I didn’t follow a 90-day rule.

I didn’t care if he believed in God, was a Christian or an atheist. Our philosophies about a higher power developed and intertwined like violet Wisteria on a white trellis. Most days we would just be. We would talk about hypothetical situations and what-ifs grew to be realities.

I didn’t read a bunch of magazines (or blogs) about how to get a man, how to keep a man, how to stop your man from cheating.

I’m glad I fell in love in my youth because I had the time and space to follow my intuition and my heart each step of the way.

Image. ©2013 K E Garland. All Rights Reserved.
Image. ©2013 K E Garland. All Rights Reserved.

And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 22 years of our marriage.

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.

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.

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.

Gina from The Unhappy Wife book

unhappy-wifeGina was the third wife that I’d interviewed. By the time I began putting the book together, I knew that she fit into the Voiceless Wife category. At first glance, her story may seem similar to Jasmyne’s. She knew she shouldn’t have married Bryan, but wed anyway and sought counseling through marriage ministry. However, her story is a tad bit different. Whereas Jasmyne seemed to heed advice from people she trusted, Gina never told anyone how she felt. Her mother, father, and best friend never suspected that she knew Bryan wasn’t the man for her.

Concept: Gina began our interview by saying, “I knew I shouldn’t have married Bryan as soon as he proposed,” so I wrote the story around that idea. I wanted to show the reader how we can have a suspicion about a person, and even if they do something blatant, we ignore those feelings and proceed with our own illusion.

With this narrative, I wanted to also illustrate how we keep relationship secrets due to something I’ve talked about on this blog before: shame. Gina didn’t want anyone to know that she’d given up her dog, her weekly visits with her mother, or her relationship with her best friend, simply to please Bryan.

I have to add that this wife’s story is one of my “favorites” because of the bloody kitten scene. I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t read the book, but the imagery of the animal gasping for its breath stayed with me for quite a while. This part of her story is true.

Similar to Jasmyne’s chapter, I created the part about her stomach twisting and turning in knots. The reason I continue to use this analogy is because intuition is oftentimes described as a gut feeling. If you’re familiar with chakras, then you know the yellow one is associated with your stomach and trusting what you feel. This is a message I felt important to continue.

Commentary: What stood out to me is the progression of abuse. Bryan slowly pulled her away from her loved ones, including her dog. He never physically hurt her, but rather imposed psychological abuse. He was jealous of everyone she interacted with, but it wasn’t obvious to her until after the experience. This is common. When you’re in a situation with a person who’s mentally abusive, then it might not be as apparent, especially if you’re ignoring instincts.

The other part of Gina’s story that intrigued me was the shame she carried. The shame grew at the same rate as her instincts about the relationship. This fit into another reason I felt compelled to write this book. There are many women who keep the details of their marriages secret because they believe they’re the only ones going through horrible situations. I’m not suggesting that we tell everyone, everything about our unions. I’m just saying perhaps it’s time to be a little more authentic in how we present ourselves to our friends and family. And if those people can’t be trusted, seek counsel that is aligned with who you are and what you believe. There are ways to discontinue the abuse and the loneliness that accompanies maintaining this type of secret.

unhappy-wifeLet me know what you thought about Gina and Bryan, what I’ve said here, or anything else that you felt was important. Next month, we’ll delve into many readers’ favorite character, Mrs. Little.

The Unhappy Wife is on sale here.

Guest Post: War Room Review

Last month, I also delved into a new arena: movie reviews. Have you seen War Room? It reminded me of one of my unhappy wives, Darlene, except praying didn’t quite help her situation. Her story is in the “Committed Wife” section of The Unhappy Wife. Also, if you like movies and/or movie reviews, be sure to check out my blogger buddy KG.

KG's Movie Rants

Earlier in the year, I promised to have regular guest posts on this blog and today I’m happy to bring you another. KE Garland is a friend to this blog, a talented writer and a fellow KG :). Her self-titled blog is one of my favourites to visit and having her guest post on my blog is a real honour. Her talents extend beyond merely blogging and she’s releasing a new book this year called The Unhappy Wife. Read below for more information on how to get your hands on this book but first let’s get into her review of War Room.

fb_mainWar Room is a faith-based independent movie released in 2015. The directors and writers, Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick are quickly becoming famous for their Christian-themed movies. Many times indie films suffer from low budgets, but this is not the case for War Room. I imagine…

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3 Ways to Avoid Being an Unhappy Wife

Many people ask, “How can you write a book called The Unhappy Wife, when you are a happy wife?” Well, for the couple of decades that we’ve been married, Dwight’s been a great husband. For some of that time, however, I was unhappy, but didn’t understand why. Here are three not-so-simple steps that helped me and I hope they’ll help you too.

Know your SELF. Knowing your self is an integral first step. For a long time, I thought I knew myself. I knew I liked birthday parties and seafood. But that’s not what I mean. You have to know who you are at the core. For me, the realization came when I did a relationship meditation. One of the reflection questions was what are you afraid of? When I stopped to think about it, I feared that there must be something wrong with me. The realization was a culmination of abandonment from my biological mother, adopted mother, and adopted father. I was afraid that if I were to really be my SELF, then I would discover that there must be something terribly wrong with me. Consequently, I lived half-committed to married life for fear that one day Dwight would leave too, just like everyone else. This just wasn’t the truth.

Love your SELF. Loving your self might sound cliché, but it’s the only way to have a healthier relationship with your spouse. Kind of like birthday parties and seafood, I also thought I loved myself. But, again I was wrong. I loved my identity. My self-esteem was inflated by years of external validation. You’re so pretty. You’re so smart. You’re so witty. Deep down inside no one would suspect that I felt like shit because of the abandonment described above. I was adept at covering it up with my big smile, big vocabulary and big personality. Once I faced my fear, then I took an objective look at my experiences. My biological mother gave me up for adoption because of her circumstances; my adopted mother passed away because of her circumstances; and my adopted father gave up parental rights because of his circumstances. Of course their lives affected me, but I stopped taking each event personally. I learned to love me, irrespective of anything external. Over time, I developed self worth based on simply being a human being. I’m not important because I have three degrees. I’m important simply because I am alive here on this earth.

Be your SELF. I was like many women who have chosen to marry. Because I didn’t know or love my self, I entered my nuptials not being myself. Consequently, my issues manifested through infidelity. What does that have to do with being yourself, you might ask? Well, I knew that I struggled with being faithful before and after I said, I do, but I kept this information hidden for a while because I didn’t understand the root cause: fear of abandonment. Today, I’m different, and subsequently, my marriage is too. Instead of making decisions out of childhood fears, now I’m free to be my true SELF by making conscious choices aligned with who I am in this world.

unhappy_wife_ipadCurrently, I’m a content person, who knows and loves her SELF and who is 100% authentic with her SELF, her spouse and everyone else.

Interested in reading short stories based on real-life events of wives like me? Order a copy of my The Unhappy WifeAnd if you should find that your own life resonates with one of these lady’s stories, then maybe it’s time to work on your SELF.

 

3 Ways You Know You’re an Unhappy Wife

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Did you notice that the example given is “an unhappy marriage”? Aside from this Googled definition, I’ve interviewed and written about twelve unhappy wives and here is what I’ve learned.

Are you voiceless? This is the first type of unhappy wife that I’ve grown to understand. Society quieted her. Sometimes it’s a mother who gave advice based on her own failed marriage. Sometimes there are passed-down, cultural practices the wife felt had to be followed. For example, Asian culture dictates that you marry and follow your husband’s lead. Sometimes the wife silences herself by holding her tongue about things she doesn’t think she can change, such as how much her in-laws are involved. Either way, I’ve learned that you might be unhappy if you feel that you cannot follow your intuition, speak freely or raise concerns about your marriage. Consequently, your mouth is closed, but the energy surrounding your unhappiness festers inside. This wife feels as if she cannot tell anyone about her woes, and even if she does, no one acknowledges or listens anyway.

Are you detached? There are many ways husbands and wives can be detached. The wife could be emotionally disconnected, like I was for a while, thus perpetuating a state of misery. A husband could be physically present but withholding intimacy, thus producing an unfulfilled home life. I’m not saying 100% of the marriage should be sexual, but how can two perfectly healthy people be happy if they’re not consummating their relationship with sex every now and then? Detachment can also come from wives who don’t know themselves. Stay with me as I explain. If the wife is separated from knowledge of herself, then how can she truly connect with her spouse? You might be an unhappy wife if you or your husband is disconnected in some way.

Are you committed? But kg, this doesn’t make sense? How can a wife be unhappy if she’s committed? It’s possible good people; it’s possible. Maybe the wife is committed to a marital situation that she never thought, in a million years would ever happen to her. The committed wife would never think to leave her husband. One reason is because she wants to see the marriage through. Another reason is because she loves her husband. You know? She takes the “in sickness and health” part of the vows very seriously. However, just because she’s committed doesn’t mean that she’s always happy. I mean, quite honestly, it takes some dedication, fortitude and downhill battles to remain married sometimes. You might be an unhappy wife if you’ve chosen to remain married through a specific tribulation.

unhappy_wife_ipadAre you a voiceless, detached or committed wife? Do you know an unhappy wife, if so, then you or she might be interested in reading my upcoming book, The Unhappy Wife. It includes short stories based on real-life events of the above-described types of women. Order the eBook or paperback via my site: kegarland.com

Cover Reveal: The Unhappy Wife

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eBook pre-orders available August 4, 2016.

Paperback available October 20, 2016.

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Synopsis

Twelve women share one thing in common – the quest for being happily married to the men they chose; however, each one finds herself in an unexpected marital predicament. Inspired by real events and told from each woman’s perspective, these short stories are firsthand accounts detailing the realities of marriage well after each woman uttered, “I do.”

Four women represent The Voiceless Wife. Although circumstances vary, these women give their power away to friends and family. At some point, only they can determine next steps for their lives. The Detached Wife symbolizes five different ways wives can be disconnected from their husbands and themselves. Sex, intimacy and self-discovery are central to understanding these women’s narratives. The Committed Wife includes three women who demonstrate the depths of devotion. These final stories show that wives sometimes need more than loyalty to be happy.

Also included is an afterword by Relationship Coach, Anita Charlot. She gives valuable insights as to how and why some women become “unhappy” wives and what we as women can do to maintain healthier relationships.

About the Author

headshot_3_scaleddownKatherin Garland is a published writer, whose work has appeared in the South Florida Times, Talking Soup, and For Harriet, a popular women’s blog. Her writing focuses on creative nonfiction intended to inspire. Though born and raised on the west side of Chicago, Illinois, Katherin now lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband of twenty years and her teenage daughters.

Author Links

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eBook pre-orders available August 4, 2016

Paperback available October 20, 2016