Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mr. Good Enough and Interracial Dating

I came across Lori Gottlieb's book "Marry Him: The Case For Settling For Mr. Good Enough" while browsing at a local bookstore. I first read the page where she describes the impact of feminism on her  dating life and women in their 30's & 40's. It was hilarious, eye opening and realistic but boy did she stir a hornet's nest! Tons of letters poured in angry at her phrase "settling for Mr. Good Enough."

Unless you've read the book - don't knock it just yet. She is funny and has some great points like don't blow off a guy because he didn't fit all your top ten criteria. Don't ignore a man who is not on the career field you 'require' - he could turn out to be your Mr. Right. Her definition of "Mr. Good Enough" is a man who meets most of your criteria but not all of it. She sites examples of friends who ended up happily married despite having 'settled' for their Mr. Good Enough. Gottlieb regrets blowing off guys in her 20's who she thought were beneath her but now in her 40's thinks they would have been a great catch!

In the book "Don't Bring Home a White Boy: And Other Notions That Keep Black Women From Dating Out" Karyn Langhorne Folan tackles the sensitive topic of black women and interracial dating. She reminds them to expand their dating options. For the full online article check out Washington Post. She describes the loyalty and guilt black women carry over the thought of dating outside the community. My take on it that you never know who God intended you marry until you take a step of faith and say yes to a coffee date. I dated outside my race prior to meeting my husband and though I did not get married to the guy, it was an enriching experience.

I got to know my husband when we did a US music tour with a Christian ministry band. He didn't fit all my list requirements because some were unrealistict! My only non-negotiable one was that he had to be a practicing Christian because I was involved in ministry. Other items on my list included being of the same tribe to avoid possible inter-tribal drama. I bet you didn't know that existed! God must have laughed when He heard my plans - I did not bring home a Kamba man - he was a Luo. We are celebrating 10 years of marriage this year and the blessing of our two sons. I'm so glad I didn't let expectations to marry within the tribe block me from a happy marriage.

Please note cultural differences can pull a couple apart if you are not prepared or realistic with your expectations. When you find your 'one' do attend some type of premarital counseling before your wedding. Your Pastor, Priest, Rabbi, Imam, Counselor or a trusted married couple would be a great place to start.   If you are looking for resources on how to have a happy marriage when you come from two different cultures email me at info@earlyfamilyyears.org and I'll email back some resources.

What's your story?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Baby Interruptus - Marriage After Babies

The birth of our first son launched my efforts to help young couples thrive in their first years of marriage. We now have two preschooler boys so the craziness of being a first time parent is waning but boy was it a ride! In between night feedings, mystery burps, checking the color of the baby's rear end 'product' and sleep time drama - romance and sex took a beating!

If women are honest, we resent men for not needing to recover from child birth. They are unaware of new hormonal changes that make us crave or hate them! We crave their hugs but resent that wondering hand suggesting more. I'm reading the book 'Baby Proofing Your Marriage' and these ladies were reading my mind! Its the most realistic book I've read on how couples act once they become parents.

Babies are the sweetest creatures on the planet, but they don't encourage romance! 'Baby interruptus' occurs when you are finally getting your groove on and your sleeping baby starts wailing! No 'happy ending' for either of you and that makes one cranky morning! Don't give up just yet, there is hope around the corner.

With a little humor and planning, you'll discover golden moments when the baby sleeps and you can finally spend some quality time together. Keeping a sense of humor is the greatest asset during your baby's first year. Learn to schedule your romance because spontaneity clashes with baby's little plans.

We also learnt, you MUST go on a date within a couple of weeks after baby's birth or adoption. Get a trusted friend, relative or a church "parents night out" to watch the baby. You need the sanity of stepping away for a moment and remembering you are a person with grown up needs craving grown up attention.

A sanity saving idea is to drop unrealistic expectations and welcome the word 'flexibility' to your home. If you are a nursing mom and constantly worried if the little one will take the bottle from someone else, get creative.  Plan to go on a date after the baby's bed time - you will avoid needing the sitter to feed him/her. A date night might also consist of feeding and bringing baby along on the date so she/he can sleep as you chat over your meal. There's no wrong or right way,  find out what works for you and your spouse and take care of your romantic lives!

Spending time away from the baby will greatly impact how you feel about romance in your marriage. Most husbands want to care for the baby but we cling to the duties like a badge of honor! Communication is the greatest asset you will have during the baby's first year - express what you need in clear specific terms. Your partner cannot read your mind! How have you dealt with your romantic life after giving birth?