Don’t Leave Your Husband Behind….

Jennie's Snippets, Love

I have learned a valuable lesson this week. A lesson I never noticed until I started to see some tension or, even, started feeling a bit lonely within my marriage. And then I finally realized why I started to feel this way.

In our first year of marriage I was constantly including my amazing husband, Bruce, in everything that we did. Because we were MARRIED. In our first year of marriage I was making sure we did everything together because that is what marriage is – a bond, a partnership, and an adventure that you do together – we are a team.

But, it started to feel different. It felt more like being roommates rather than partners.

As I started to evaluate our life and how we got to where we are – I noticed that it was all my fault.

I am an obsessive control-freak, and it shouldn’t be put any nicer because it is 100% true. I am a monster when it comes to getting things done, doing it my way, and on my clock.

In the corporate world this is great – being a boss lady and fighting your way up the corporate ladder is a plus! But, in my marriage? No.

Some things have changed that I have taken control over. But, I don’t want to be in control because I miss our bond over the things we once did together.

  • Doing laundry together
  • Watching shows together
  • Playing games together
  • Grocery shopping together
  • Cooking together
  • Dancing silly together

I now do all the grocery shopping and cook all of our meals because I want us to be healthy! I now delegate laundry and chores as to who does what and when because I want a clean house. We watch our own shows rather than watch things together. I order anything and everything that we need for the house as soon as I notice we need it: toothpaste, new door handle, deodorant, laundry detergent, etc.

You can call it a “caring and loving wife” if you want, but that ain’t it for me. That’s a controlling wife. And controlling wives are not fun.

Like, “what in the absolute world am I doing?”

By the end of the day I am so tired that I don’t want to do anything. And you want to know what else I do? (I am so ashamed of myself). I COMPLAIN to MY husband that he might not be doing enough and i’m tired of doing everything.

Like, wait, what? Did she just say that?

I did. Please shake your heads at me. I welcome it.

I took over everything on my own. I do what I see fit within an HOUR if I notice it. I do not consult him before I do anything when it comes to caring for our home. And if he doesn’t do it fast enough, when I ask him to do something, then I do it anyway and then complain about doing it.

For real? You want real marriage talk? Marriage talk that will tell you that a marriage joined by Jesus Christ isn’t perfect? Marriage talk that is raw and not covered up by the “blood of christ” holiness facade? Phew….then let’s talk.

This crap happens. And, I’m ashamed to admit that I am the root cause.

If I don’t acknowledge that i’m the literal problem then how in the world do I recognize that the change should come from me – not him?

Over the last few days I have been constantly thinking, and thinking, and evaluating, “when did this freaking happen and WHY did it happen?”

And, I figured it out.

I brought home my “work mind” and applied to our lives. OUR BLOODY MARRIAGE.

And it started when I began working from home, and it worsened when my dad died.

I couldn’t separate my “work-self” from my “home-self” because my job was IN MY OWN HOME. #Thanks2020

I started my day at work – which is only, like, 10 feet from the bedroom. I wouldn’t emerge from the office until 6pm or later depending on what I needed to get done. Sometimes, I would even work in the kitchen, in the living room, and in the BEDROOM.

My mind, literally, couldn’t separate itself from my own personal life and my work life, and I already struggled with the work-life balance thing. Now, I had zero work-life balance.

Then, when my dad died, all of these fears started bubbling up from within and tearing my mental health a part.

  • What if my marriage fails?
  • What if Bruce takes on the habits of my dad and drinks alcohol heavily?

I mean, my parents struggled HARD and were separated earlier this year before my dad died. Watching them interact, while growing up, has developed these tendencies within me to question the life I lead, and, literally, fear a miserable marriage. Like, what if that becomes us? Or what if we become alcoholics? These are fears that sit in the bottom of my stomach. And they NEVER leave my mind. These are constant battering fears that flood my mental space almost daily since my dad died, and because of that, my need for control grew much much worse.

Not only did I control our house, but I also tried to control Bruce as a person. I would be like, “Hey, maybe you shouldn’t drink at all. Maybe you should eat this way. Maybe you shouldn’t do this or that and BLAH BLAH BLAH.”

To be frank, like I’ve been so far, so much of this comes from this inner fear of everything falling apart, and that the falling apart is all my fault. And now look at where it got me.

My need to be the glue, to be the controlling element that made it feel like it was all together actually created the space between the foundation and frame that held it together. (PS: Don’t worry about me, or Bruce, or us. Bruce and I are great communicators. He let me figure this out on my own, and allowed me to fall so that I could see it for myself – and write a blog post about it because that is how I process, haha. I really do have the best partner in life that I could have ever asked or dreamed for <3).

This year has been hard. For all of us. It has challenged us in so many new ways. Especially me.

And, as we close out this year, I hope we can all reflect and make necessary changes to remain healthy and happy with ourselves and with each other.

2020 isn’t a year that we should forget even though all of us want to. It’s a year of serious growth. We should take it and glean from it.

For me? I’m cutting back from working at home. It’s time that I set boundaries with my work and my personal life. Time for me to be patient. Time for me to include Bruce. Time for me to embrace activities that he loves. Time for me to let go and relax, because I love Bruce more than my own need to control everything.

I need to breathe. Let go, and experience life as it hits us rather than predict the future and control its outcome. I also need to ensure that I’m not rushing ahead and leaving Bruce behind me. This is not about me, me, and I, and doing it all solo. Marriage is about partnership.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

PS: I hope you loved this article and got a lot out of it. It’s definitely raw for me, but I always invite my readers to experience my ups and downs alongside me. There isn’t a perfect person in the entire world, and I’m willing to admit to all of my flaws out in the open. Too often we find ourselves comparing our lives to the picture-perfect scenarios displayed across our screens on social media. However, for me and my life, you will not find that. That is what Jennie Laureen is all about.

Sneak Peek: I’ve been working on moving all of my content to a brand new platform, and renaming my site from Jennie Laureen to Ownesty. I once used Ownesty as my business account for marketing and branding; however, in this new season, I have a better use for it. A permanent place to house my written content.

Ownesty means, “Owning My Honesty.”

Can’t wait to launch in 2021, and hopefully you join me on the ride of owning your own honesty too.

Love you all dearly! ‚̧

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Dear Dad.

Jennie's Snippets, Love

Was.

The past indicative of “be.”

As of late, I have grown quite ill of this word. I am unable to utter it’s existence in a string of words to form the sentence, “My father w__ an incredible father figure.”

To use it means to give it power and life to the reality that an unforeseeable end has been met.

To let it pass my lips means to agree that the life of a man well-loved will no longer appear in the formation of new memories.

The weight of “was” is unbearably deafening.

I’d rather swallow a stone, for it already feels as such to let the word sit on my tongue.

Truth be told – there is no such thing as “was.”

Although someone may no longer be present in their flesh and bone their essence still rest within us. They are not lost, for they become amplified within our memory.

We finally see who they always are. There is no “was,” but always will be.

Jennie L. R. Hayes

Despite the challenges faced by my family, and the many hardships we have endured due my to dad’s insufferable disease of alcohol addiction – I am unable to recover a single bad memory.

When I look back over the last 7 years of hospital visitations (or just 26 years of being a daughter) all I can muster to my frontal lobe are the conversations, the laughter, the hugs, the birthdays, the father’s days, the summer days, the holidays, and all the beautiful days in between.

Hardship allows for us to draw closer to the familial ties that bond us – if we allow it.

Hardship can easily cause a blackened stain of regret – a disease of unwavering rage and hatred toward the last few years of a person’s physical existence. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Because, I want to stay in the “is” and not the “was.”

We have to remember the beauty of recognizing the core of someone’s “is.” Not the result of hardship and pain. What do we remember as the core of the person we love? What defines them and makes them who they are?

Who really “is” this person?

Who my dad naturally is, is amplified in my mind. He is not lost and he does not lose the qualities that define him.

He IS what I see.

He IS what I feel.

He IS my dad and that does not change. Therefore, “was” is not a word to be used.

Because now, he is solidified in existence as the man I will never forget – forever etched in my memory.

No one has to tell me, or remind me, that my dad w__ a good man.

My dad IS a good man.

And I will always love him.

Dear Dad,

I love you. I hate to say this, but i’m selfish. If I had a magic lamp I would wish you back into existence. But, not the shell you were living in.

I know you were in pain. I know you were suffering. I wish I could have taken it away. But, please know, I never saw you as weak. I never saw you as “less than.” I never looked at you differently because of your struggle.

I saw you. All of you. The whole you. The beautiful you.

We all did.

My love for you is blinding. I did not see you in your hospital bed. I did not see your drunken days. I did not see your broken and cracked skin. I saw your struggle. I saw your pain. I saw your misery. I saw how much you desperately wanted to alter the reality you lived in, but had to hide the pain behind the treacherous golden waterfall.

I was never afraid to touch you. I always wanted to be close to you. I never let go. I still can’t and I won’t.

I’m not Rose. If the ship were to sink then my grip only tightened. Although you saw some distance between us I can promise you that I lived on a life boat ready to paddle back to you whenever you needed me.

My love for you is stronger than it ever has been, and it will only grow stronger as I tell our stories to the grandchildren you so desperately wanted.

The memory of you will never fade. You have left yourself, in pieces, among us as details of the lineage we will carry forward.

I see you in Sarah’s eyes – deep green and wide.

I see you in Kellie’s personality – temper and all.

I see you on the surface of the lake – your presence thick as our nostrils breathe in sunlight, air, and peace that only the calmness of a still lake can bring.

I see you in the gardens you have planted in the back yard. The love you had for farming and growing your own food sparked a new passion inside me.

I smell you at every mechanic shop – grease, motor oil, and dirt. It smells like you – an honest, humbling, and laborious earning.

I hear you through the lips of friends and strangers who share the memories of you. I learn more and more about you through people I have never met. And, I love it.

Regardless of where we are today, I am surprised by the community you had that you may not have realized. It’s so big. You were so loved. You had so many in your corner. You still do.

And, we love you. We can’t wait to see you again.

My greatest lesson from this experience is this:

I understand it now. When I was young I never understood why people thought living to 100 was so bad. I thought, “Man, life is beautiful, I want to live to 120! I want to live the longest.”

I now disagree.

Life is made up of the people you call home – people you love and cherish. As they slowly pass on, and into heaven, you wish to be with them. It’s difficult to replace those relationships (you can’t), and their loss leaves a longing in you to see them again.

When my time comes I want to be able to run to Christ, run to YOU, run to Memaw, and run to Pappy. To move on and see them again. Life on earth is not to be lived out for lengthy periods of time. The pain of loss is too much to bear, and the need to reunite grows stronger with every passing day.

I am so happy you finally get to see your mom again. I am so happy that you finally get to meet your dad. I am so happy you finally get to meet our little brother/little sister. I am so happy you get to reunite with your first love that you lost so long ago.

Although my time is not yet here I understand now that I will embrace it. I will happily run to my place in heaven knowing that our family reunion awaits my return.

I will love you forever and always, dad. No one will ever rob me of that.

Love,

Jennie Laureen ROBINSON Hayes

Learn to say “i’m sorry” in your marriage.

Jennie's Snippets, Love

I can be a bit of a prideful person.

Admitting that I am wrong is something I rarely do, and something that I clearly need to work on. I’ve always been the person in my family to argue over the fact that “I am correct” ever since I was small.

If you asked my mom today, she would tell you that I was known to always get the last word. I wanted to feel triumphant because I won the battle. I wanted to speak the last few utterances to prove that I was the ultimate winner.

But man…..what a waste of energy.

If I was arguing with my family I would let an argument continue for hours after it started because I STILL did not get the last word. My whole day would be spent feeling frustrated, getting angrier, and losing patience.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The worst part of it all was that these days almost always coincided with an adventure: swimming at the lake, going to the park, going shopping, etc.

These days were supposed to be fun! Instead, I can only remember arguing.

For example, one time my little sister, Kellie, got on my nerves so much while we were visiting a theme park (Kings Dominion) that I “half-way” punched her in the face. It wasn’t hard. I swung very slowly and tapped her face with my fist. I did that because she wouldn’t be quiet – she wanted to make sure that I didn’t get the last word, and so I tried to shut her up so I could.

I was 12.

How ridiculous I feel telling that story.

It’s a funny memory now because I was a kid who couldn’t control her temper, but I also know that I missed out on the memories I could’ve made if I wasn’t so busy “keeping my pride.”

I mean….what’s pride if you make a fool of yourself, no longer have fun, and miss the opportunity to create memories?

It’s stupid.

Sticking up for your pride is not worth it if all you do is destroy the relationships in front of you.

The same rule applies in marriage. We have to let our pride go.

Being married to someone means you know your spouse in an intimate way. You know their successes, and their downfalls. You know their quirks, and their habits. You know how to love, and how to hate. We even know how to hurt them in an argument.

And what a shame it would be to do that.

We argue because sometimes we are baffled that our spouse thinks we are wrong and say “I can’t believe you aren’t on my side on this – you’re my husband/wife – you’re supposed to be on my side.”

But, it’s not about choosing sides. It’s about growing. At times, my husband will tell me things that I can improve on like: cleaning the dishes, or remembering to switch the laundry from the washer to dryer (which I forget often). He isn’t trying to be mean – he’s trying to make me better. But, my ears can fall short.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

I don’t want to hear it, and my response can be…well….bad. Sometimes, I can respond so bad to correction, or an opinion not similar to mine, that I can get kind of mean. Maybe not in a blunt way, but I don’t act super nice.

Because of how I respond I slowly destroy everything I have built with my husband. I react, rather than wait in patience for the right words to say.

Why am I destroying what I love? Because I care that my pride might be hurt?

Am I married to my pride? No.

I’m married to Bruce.

We all get into arguments. It’s inevitable. Arguing is a part of marriage. The difference between a healthy marriage, and an unhealthy marriage, is how you handle these arguments.

I refuse to go to bed angry. I will muster up all the courage that I have so that I can apologize to my husband for anything I have said or done in an argument EVEN IF I think i’m right.

Because, at the end of the day, it’s not about being right or wrong, it’s about choosing who we love most over our own self.

My pride does not matter if I have hurt Bruce. I vowed to love this man with all that I had until the day I died. And, I will.

Regardless of my stance in an argument I will come to my husband and say “i’m sorry.” I will apologize for anything I have said or done, and mean it.

It’s not a ritual. I can’t just say “i’m sorry” and let the day keep going. That doesn’t have meaning. I have to admit that I am wrong, point out why I was wrong, and show him how much I love him when I say “i’m sorry.”

It can be awkward to swallow our pride and apologize, but it’s always worth it in the end.

Choosing our spouse over ourselves will always prove rewarding.

It will deepen your relationship with one another, and build a foundation of trust that cannot be broken. Over time, you will learn to see eye-to-eye and understand the why behind actions, and work through every obstacle you face together.

And that all steams from coming forward, losing your pride, and saying “i’m sorry.”

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Seeing The Person Behind Your Perception

Lies, Live, Love

Personally, it’s no secret that we all struggle with judging people based on minimal facts, and mostly appearance.

It’s easy for us to put people in our own self-constructed boxes so that we could interpret and understand them, and the world around us, in “black and white.”

It wasn’t until I was an undergraduate student, studying Interpersonal Communication, at Meredith College for me to realize what I was doing (and that was 5 years ago, geez)!!

You know…I grew up a certain way. I knew the world through the eyes of my parents for the first few years of my life, and interpreted the world as I experienced it.

Growing up, as we try to understand the world we live in, we take what people say about others to heart. It’s a “survival method.” We don’t want to instinctively put ourselves in harms way so we listen to others words as truth to protect and ready ourselves for the future.

Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

This is also where the media comes in whether it be social media, television, movies, books, news media, etc. We grow up watching, and reading, content and absorbing what is being presented to us in order to understand the world.

In time, we inherently believe it to be true, and it eventually becomes an instinctive judgment of the people we meet.

New people are pre-judged by what we have learned so far in our life. It’s sad to think that way, but is also helps us understand how far we still have to go in each of our own societies.

Questions we should be asking:

  1. How are all people presented in the content that is consumed by a majority of the public?
  2. What roles are they playing, and how are they interpreted based on our societies standards?
  3. In each of these roles, how are they economically presented?
  4. What is currently unbalanced in the media we consume today? Are there roles that are continuously given to certain sexes, races or identities?

Each of these questions are starter questions we should be asking ourselves as we consume content so we can recognize where our perceptions of the world come from.

We need to know the basis of our perceptions so we can see the person that exists behind our perception.

Understand this….if we are never introduced to new people, or experiences, we end up getting trapped in our own worlds, our own interpretations, and continue to put people in our self-constructed boxes without seeing them for who they truly are.

People are beautiful, and there is always something we can learn from each individual that we meet.

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

And let me tell you something…I notice myself accidentally making a judgment on someone all the time: someone I have never even met, someone I have never sat down with to hear their story, someone I pass by on the street, someone I see in the store, someone I drive by on the road, etc.

I don’t ever want to be the person who never grows past my own perceptions. I want to understand people. I want to love them for who they are, and everything that makes them, them.

I know who I am, and I would want other people to take the time to get to know me.

What about you? Wouldn’t you feel the same way?

I hope, from now on, you take the time to realize where your perceptions may be rooted, and work past them so that you can see the real person that exists behind them.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

In Marriage – Don’t Build a Fence Over the Small Things.

Love

Being married is one of the best things I have ever committed to. It’s also one of the hardest things I have ever committed to, and I truly mean that.

I dated my handsome hubby for 9 years before we tied the knot. We had so many necessary conversations to prepare us for marriage like: setting boundaries, financial discussions, raising-a-family, etc.

We were ready (and all those talks paid off, phew)! But, there was one thing no married couple could truly explain to us until we experienced it ourselves.

Loving someone so much, but also being so irritated at them all at the same time.

I love my husband, and I will love him until I take my last breath.

I will fight for my husband, and do my best to honor him in all the ways that I can.

I am fiercely committed to our relationship!

But.

But.

But.

I was not prepared for the internal fences I would easily put up after 6 to 7 months of marriage.

You see…he has a really bad habit of leaving his hats around the house. (And I have a super bad habit about leaving my cups around the house – ever since I was a kid – so I am no saint).

Exhibit A.

Some days, when I get home after a long day of work and I see a hat lying randomly in the living room, I come undone (it’s okay to call me insane).

Sometimes I have to take a breather because I will let that one little thing eat at me. Then, when I see my husband, I let that irritation build into a pile of frustration because I point out other things: the dishes in the sink, the clothes on the bedroom floor, or the blankets that aren’t folded.

I would get so worked up. In my head i’m like “I can’t believe that he can’t just pick up his hats – I mean…they are hats….just put them away!

But.

But.

But.

After some much needed self-reflection, I realized that I really am being ridiculous. Why am I forgetting all the beautiful and wonderful things about my husband that make him who he is over some hats – HATS!!!

Why am I getting so worked up, and amounting everything I know about my husband, over his inability to put away a hat.

My husband is so much more than someone “who can’t put away a hat.”

He is literally my prince in shining armor who loves me unconditionally!

  1. One time, I had a super bad tummy ache and he got me medicine and a heating pad, and let me rest in the bed until my tummy was better.
  2. Or, the time he brought home flowers that made our house smell and look amazing.
  3. Or, the time he came home and randomly danced with me in the kitchen (that’s my favorite).

There are a million little things that make me fall in love with him more and more each day.

But, if I don’t keep myself in check, then I will eventually only remember those small things that irritate me (that shouldn’t irritate me), and forget all the other small things that make him who he is – the reason I married him.

I also have to remember that I could be a total irritation too. I am not perfect! For instance:

  1. I leave cups all over the house.
  2. I open a can of drink, take a sip, and put it back in the fridge.
  3. I hate cleaning the bath tub (now…he is a saint for taking care of this).
  4. One time, I left a compost bucket outside for 2 months, because I forgot about it, and it smelled like straight butt when it finally got warm. But, Bruce took care of it for me (again, he is the saint in this house!!).

So, you see, we both have things to work on!

I just have to remember that he is more than the little things that irritate me. He is my husband that I have vowed to love and to cherish. I can’t cherish him if I build a wall of irritation over some hats.

I have to talk to him, love him, and continually remember why I choose him before I ever lose focus because of the little things that frustrate me. I also have to remember that I am no where near perfect, and I have things to work on too.

Our marriage is more important to me than a bunch of hats around the house.

Because one day, if something were to ever happen, I would miss picking up each hat every day and taking it upstairs to his side of this closet. ‚̧

Love is about having continual conversations, and developing deeper bonds with one another by looking past the small things that really don’t matter.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

Being Okay With Changing Friendships.

Lead, Love

Friendships evolve.

And that’s okay.

You know…everyone has a certain tolerance for change. Some people have a high tolerance for change while others have a low tolerance for change.

Regardless of that tolerance one thing is true – everyone is not 100% okay with all of the changes that happen in their life.

And most people are not comfortable with changing friendships.

I am one of those people.

I consider myself more inclined to develop interpersonal relationships via one-on-one interactions. I can be just about anyone’s friend, and be a part of the “crowd hype” at gatherings, but I cling to those friendships that are intentional because it requires sacrifice, commitment, and trust.

I will admit that it is hard for me to adjust to people who change, and to people who especially change their mind about the relationship we have.

Photo by Katarzyna Grabowska on Unsplash

But, over the last year, and being married to the most handsome and amazing man I have ever met, I have noticed that my current relationships have changed. They’ve changed quite a lot.

I’ve noticed that some friends have started pulling themselves away. I’ve noticed that some friends personalities have changed. I’ve noticed that I’ve developed new friendships and have grown deeper relationships with those who choose to stay.

People grow. People change. People don’t remain the same.

I’ve come to terms with it. As we all gain life experience, and overcome new challenges we are faced with, we will all eventually bring new perspectives, values, opinions, and beliefs to the table.

Because of that, not everyone in our current circle will be okay with the changes. Those who grow with you will stay while others who no longer wish to take part will fade away.

It’s a part of the process of growing up, and you never stop growing up.

I want you to know, just like I have come to know, that it is okay for your friendships to change. This means accepting your current friends for who they have grown into, or saying good bye to those who want to leave (even if they leave silently – you’ll notice – I promise).

The people who work just as hard as you in keeping your friendship alive are those you fight for. Don’t be worn down or weary by those who choose to walk away. It’s okay. They may not be meant for you in this season.

And, if you have friends who have changed because of things they have experienced then sit down and listen. Try to understand where they are coming from, and gain a new perspective on life. That’s how we all grow.

And, if you have developed some new friendships in this season then take the time to grow some roots. It’s okay to invest in new people (albeit a little scary), but they could be who you need right now.

Although change can be uncomfortable it can mostly be beneficial into growing us in to the women we are meant to become.

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

We are all doing life together. It’s truly a forest.

It’s full of twists and turns, dry seasons and wet seasons, good growth and bad growth, and most of all, people who help root us despite the ever changing climate.

There will be shallow planted people, and deep-rooted people you will encounter in life.

Take it in stride, grow from every encounter, and allow things to fall into place.

.

.

The last thing you want to do is to stay stuck in the “I wish things never changed.” Doing so will rob you the opportunity to truly connect with the people around you, and who are with you, right now.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

You need to be independent in your romantic relationships.

Love

I’m writing this article from my perspective of being in a long-term relationship, and I didn’t learn this until probably year 4 or 5 of being with Bruce, and we are about to hit year 8 (geez-la-weez). And for the record, year 4 or 5 is when we became adults – 18/19 (I think I was 20) years of age – so this will definitely look different for someone who is starting to date someone in their 20’s!

It is vital that you maintain some level of independence while in a loving and caring relationship with someone. Codependency isn’t healthy. Codependency is, in relative terms, an “addiction to the relationship.” It means that one cannot function, physically or psychologically, without their partner.

It may sound crazy, but it’s similar to being addicted to a substance. Both have psychological effects that make someone dependent on the “item” or “you” to where life cannot continue unless that “item” or “you” is a present and constant force in their life.

And codependency can get a little fuzzy when you first start dating. At the beginning of the relationship that’s all you want. You want to spend every second with this person, text and call them around the clock, and just be with them! And that is OKAY. Because that is the honeymoon stage.

The honeymoon stage is where couples are “ooey-gooey,” “lovey-dovey,” and are, simply put, love struck. You cannot see any wrong in them – they are perfect and with no flaw. You two can conquer the world, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after! This stage doesn’t last long – typically between 3 months to a little less than 1 year.

Once the honeymoon stage is over then you need to observe how you interact in the relationship and how your partner interacts in the relationship. And, there are some signs of codependency that is easy to catch as long as you are looking for them.

1. Your “purpose” in life seems to revolve around your partner which involves making extreme sacrifices to satisfy their needs.

For example, you are about to go on vacation with your family. Your flight leaves the next day. Your partner calls you, crying, because he/she is going to miss you too much for you to go and begs you to stay. Without question, maybe some hesitation, you stay. You don’t go on that trip with your family, but you really should have!

 2. Your emotional involvement in the relationship is quiet because you constantly worry about their opinion. Therefore, when unsatisfied, a conversation is never had because you want to avoid an argument. 

For example, you really want to discuss where you are in the relationship. Maybe you do notice that you need some space, but are too worried that your partner may look at you differently. That he/she may break it off because you aren’t “happy” in the relationship. Because of that you stay quiet and choose not to have that conversation because the relationship matters more than your own emotional well-being. You pretend to be happy.

3. Saying no to your partner doesn’t feel like an option even when it drains you mentally, physically, and financially.

This is a tough one because I have trouble saying no any way due to my personality type because I enjoy helping people. But, we aren’t called to be people-pleasers. God calls us according to his will and his way. Therefore, saying no to something that doesn’t align with his word is VITAL.

Regardless, as an example, when your partner asks you to do something you have trouble saying no because you want to keep the peace and the relationship “stable.” But, let me tell you something, if your relationship is codependent than you are in a very unstable relationship. It’s like losing yourself.

4. Boundaries no longer exist. 

For example, you have a strong faith but somehow this relationship becomes more important than that faith you have. You will try things, do things, and say things with your partner (because they suggest and/or say so) that goes against everything you believe. That line in the sand has been crossed.

5. You, or they, need constant reassurance that your relationship is okay. That you or your partner feel loved, and that others approve of your relationship. 

For example, you have to constantly ask your partner “do you love me?” Or, you have to ask your friends how your relationship looks or if your partner is a good guy/gal to be with. And when they say he/she isn’t good you simply ignore the warning and, again, ask your partner “do you love me?” You aren’t confident in each other’s relationship and you seek approval.

6. Relationships outside of your romantic relationship, including friends and family, become nonexistent. Your partner takes up all of your time. And, when you do finally make time for your friends and family, your partner makes your feel guilty for it. 

This one doesn’t need explaining, but is the most obvious indicator of codependency. Your life revolves solely around your partner and no one else. You become isolated.

Being in a codependent relationship isn’t satisfying – it’s life wrecking. As a person, you have so much potential that you deserve to discover. God doesn’t call us to depend on a partner, but to depend on him. This isn’t a two-way street with just you and your partner. God has to be involved in your relationship. We rely on his strength and his will for our life – not our partners.

Our partners can never give us the right direction for our life. They love you and care for you, but will never know you as intimately as God knows you. Your partner can pray for you and be a sturdy foundation, but cannot control who you are meant to be/become.

If your partner tries to control you and allows you little freedom and no independence then it is most likely time to step away from the relationship.

I am not saying that if and when you show some signs of codependency (every once in a while) that it’s time to end it.

We all have our moments or time-periods where we become a little more dependent on our partner, but that shouldn’t turn into a pattern.

Being independent in a relationship means loving your partner for who they are and encouraging them to seek God and develop a greater faith in him. Don’t control your partner to be who you think they should be – that’s completely against what God asks of us. And don’t allow someone to control you – you deserve better.

Bruce and I love each other. With that comes an understanding that we each have lives. We each have friends that we love and care about. We each have goals that we want to achieve. We support each other in them, but we don’t make decisions based on what the other says nor do we try to control the outcome of each other’s life.

Let’s say it’s a Friday night and I just saw Bruce Thursday night (we went out to dinner or something). I don’t have plans and would love to spend time with him again, but he has a game night planned with a few of his buddies. I will never ask him to cancel those plans to spend time with me. I JUST saw him. He has friends and he deserves to have friends outside of our relationship, because that is what makes a healthy relationship in the first place.

We are two independent people who have decided that we want to spend the rest of our lives together. That doesn’t mean sacrificing everything that we are, want to become, or are meant to be to satisfy the other. We are in mutual agreement with the direction that God has for our lives. We support each other, love each other, push each other to be better than before (towards God), but will never manipulate, control, or force what we think is “right” on each other.

And to get to that spot requires time, trust and patience.

You don’t earn that kind of relationship over night.

You have to face trials, work through the tough times and be willing to discuss difficult questions and face the facts in all of it – BEFORE MARRIAGE. I would hate to enter into marriage with someone that I honestly don’t know at all.

And to be honest,  I wanted to be a married women after year 3, but I am so glad we didn’t because I wasn’t fully confident in us to become a married couple until the end of year 6. We grew up, became adults, and learned to lead independent lives outside of our relationship.

Side note: at year 6 I turned 22 years old. The timeline will look different for you! Please don’t go and wait 6 years to get married because that’s the “right time.” You could get married after year 2 or year 10. You will know when you are in a confident place – I promise.

Love,

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

 

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Finding real adult friends seems almost impossible.

Love

Relationships are tough to build. They require persistence, connection, exposure and vulnerability. They require us to be more than a face and a person to hang out with – especially if our hope is to connect with someone so that we can bear our true selves. We want to be able to relate to one another on a deeper level.

But, the ability to build relationships gets harder the older we get. 

I’ve been talking to some of my closest friends, who are between the ages of 20 and 27, and their greatest struggle is finding relationships of their own that result in the same deep connections they had with the friends they grew up with.

As we all know, we grow up and move away to new cities with new jobs, or to new opportunities. We still have those close relationships we built when we were younger, we don’t forget those, but we still need friends to lean on in this new place we plant ourselves.

The difference for making friends now is that we aren’t put in a situation where it’s easy to make friends. All throughout our school life, and college, we were surrounded by people that we saw almost every single day. We had no choice but to make the effort to get to know them and expose ourselves to them. We had the TIME to build and nurture those relationships.

Today, as an adult, I work all day. Everyone is doing their job and trying to get their part done. Relationships are cast aside and you are considered a singular part of a complicated machine. You keep moving and the machine keeps functioning.

We are planted in places where relationships aren’t considered important, but that doesn’t mean we can’t build them.

Not only that, but we forget that adults have gone through some nasty relationships.

Adult’s carry a weight of mistrust for people because of their past mishappenings. They don’t let people in as easily as they did in their youth. 

If we want to be considered a friend then it’s our job to work on the relationship we desire to have. We make the effort.

We can’t hold expectations for the people we want to be friends with to make the effort themselves first. 

We can’t just “show-up” in their lives and expect for them to automatically trust and love us. They have baggage and we must offer a shoulder to help them carry it. We won’t gain their trust unless we show what we are willing to give up or expose first.

I don’t ever believe that friendships should come easy. If friendships come in easily then they leave just as easily.

For relationships to truly matter then we must do our part. Text and call them first, ask to hang out first, tell your story first. AND, continue to do so until it’s consistent. Don’t do it one time – do it multiple times. It takes TIME and PERSISTENCE in order to show them that you care and are trying.

Adults don’t want to waste their time on a one-off relationship. Who wants to expose their deepest struggles and desires just for someone to leave tomorrow? Adults, like myself, are looking for stability in their relationships.

You must take the chance to be open and exposed if you want to find a relationship that is fulfilling. As humans, we need friendship and connection to survive.

Sadly, we live in a world where quick satisfaction of “likes” and “comments” are encouraged to satiate our hunger for more, but in the end, we will end up starved.

Get off your phone and into a booth and build that relationship from the ground up.

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

 

 

Set boundaries for your family if you want a rewarding relationship with your significant other.

Love

It took me time to realize what was causing me so much stress and strain over the holidays and in general life settings. It wasn’t until I had a startling conversation with my significant other that helped me open my eyes to how much of a hold certain people had in how I made my decisions.

There are people in our lives that mean more to us than life itself. You would give up what was your last, you would love until your last breath, and you would sacrifice yourself to ensure their safety. To me, this represents my family.

We all have some form of family – whether through blood, marriage, real or imaginary adoption. These are your forever people. They will stick around until death parts you. These people deserve attention, love, praise, admiration, etc. They create the make-up of who we ultimately are and eventually become.

I love my family.

But, as I look at the future I want to create and the dream I envision in my head that I want to be a reality, my steps don’t align with the steps my family wants me to take.

My family has molded me, in many ways, to who I am. I also have my friends, my church, and my education that have molded me in other ways that I also give credit to. I am a Robinson, but I am also Jennie. A different person from the rest of my family just like they are all different from myself and each other.

We all have varying ethical standards and models of behavior that we follow based on our personal life experiences. We clash because it doesn’t always align.

This holiday season, the time of year where we spend a significant amount of time with our family, I realized that I have to start setting boundaries to prepare for the future I want to see. I really value creating a sustainable, loving, and fair relationship that communicates and listens to each other. I value this above many things!

My significant other, the amazing Bruce Hayes, is someone I have been with for over 7 years. Yes – I will marry him and I literally can not wait! We have had a million conversations about the marriage we want to create. We have seen the successes and pitfalls of other couples and we know what we want to have and what we want to avoid.

This year, and every year, we have spent the majority of our days with my family: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Years Day.¬† Every holiday is centered on my side of the family. The woman’s side.

My dad has said on a handful of occasions that he doesn’t feel appreciated. Father’s day is not a big day we celebrate, his birthday isn’t made into a grande ordeal, and we hardly make a significant effort about visiting his side of the family even¬†though we love them equally.

 

The point is, I made every effort this year to please my family. Every time they wailed about me not spending time with them I caved and satisfied their needs. Therefore, I spent Christmas Eve, most of Christmas, and I will be spending New Year’s Eve and New Years with them.

One of my sister’s said to me: “You aren’t even engaged. Family should come first.”

Sure…there is a lot of truth to that statement, but what am I creating in our relationship NOW by¬†allowing this?

Marriage doesn’t change how you act as a couple – it’s what you build prior to that, that will determine how your marriage will be.

I never want Bruce to feel like I don’t care about his side of the family. I don’t ever want Bruce to feel insignificant because we don’t celebrate Fathers’ day with as much enthusiasm and excitement as Mother’s day!

Bruce has told me on several occasions that he can’t wait to be a dad, and he wants to be a great one!! I want to take that time to build appreciation into our relationship and care just as much about his wants and needs during the holidays and every other celebration.

I want to build a marriage that is fair and loving. Where we listen to each other’s needs/wants so we can grow together. We will change as people as we age and experience life. I need/want to build a foundation that can support the changes.

I know my family wants me for the entire holiday, and that makes me feel SO good to be loved and wanted. But Bruce’s family wants him there too, and they also want to see me, because we are building a future together.

I need to set boundaries for my family – when to say yes to their wants so I can spend time with them, and when to say no to their wants so that I can meet Bruce’s needs.

What are you building in your relationship now to prepare for the future you two envision?

Love,

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

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Bad relationships aren’t worth investing in.

Love

There are many of us who think we are incredibly strong-willed in our relationship with God. That there is nothing that can separate us from the love we have for our Savior. Our promises are promises, and these promises are easy to make when we are at our highest spiritual peak.

I bet many of you went to a camp when you were younger and experienced God for the first time, and every time, that you went. And each time you would say the same thing – I’m different and changed and will never go back to the old person I once was, I will drop the sin that is holding me back.

That’s the easiest part – experiencing the freedom, and letting go of everything and giving it to God. Here God – take it.

But everyone always forgets part 2…..the work.

Work requires that you give your best effort to truly letting everything go, and it comes at a cost too many people are not willing to pay….because it hurts.

The most difficult part of your journey is letting go of the people who influenced you into your prior position. This could mean: spending less time with them, or no time with them at all. Regardless, these people influence you no matter how strong your faith is.

Boundaries must be created for you to have a sustainable relationship with Jesus.

I don’t mean: if you don’t cut out these relationships you will inevitably lose your relationship with Christ. No. It doesn’t work that way. Jesus’ love for you is an undeniable love that reaches for you in your darkest depths. Jesus Christ chases you down and down again no matter how many times you turn away because his love is unexplainable.

When I say “cutting out relationships,” I am simply telling you to make a choice. I was once this person who led a “rollercoaster relationship” with Christ because I didn’t want to give up the relationships that I loved, especially when I believed full-heartedly that I could change them.

A rollercoaster has twists and turns, ups and downs, and several spirals. There are peaks and valleys, and highs and lows. It was sickening to see myself go through these phases where Christ and I were walking side by side, then I would stop dead in my tracks. I would be at my peak and plummet to a deep valley.

People influence you whether you want to believe it or not.

We believe we are so strong, and we say “i’m not like that – I can influence them.” Do you have any idea how many times I have heard that? When I hear it, and have given all the advice I can give, I sit back and watch. And every time, I see the people I love the most stumble. Our own strength and capacity cannot influence the lost at an intimate capacity.

We are human and sin is in our nature.

Our goal is to love unconditionally, guide when needed, and introduce the lost to the one who can ultimately influence at an intimate capacity. We can only entangle ourselves but so deeply. Imagine jumping into a pit of twine. At first, it’s pretty easy to move around and breath because you are at the surface. But, once you wiggle and move around further you start to sink, and the web starts to wrap around your arms and legs. It’s rather difficult to escape something that is wrapped around you.

If you have ever been to a trampoline park then you understand quite well. If you jump feet first into the foam pit,  it’s much more difficult to climb out. The farther you jump the worse it is, and the more tired you become in trying to climb out and onto the platform.

I have a very small pool of friendships now that I consider just as giving to me as I am to them. They walk close to God, and are “equally yolked.” I can turn to them for advice that is biblically sound rather than culturally driven.

If you are tired of the roller coaster ride like I was then you may want to reconsider who you have decided to keep in your life for the long term.  If it damages your ability to keep your relationship with Jesus Christ – is it really worth it when you think about eternity?

 

Love,

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

 

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You don’t need a best friend

Love

Have you ever¬†noticed that a great deal of media portrays a well-known concept called¬†“the best friend?” It seems that in our culture, we have an ideology dedicated to a “soulmate” friendship. I can name at least 8 films/shows that will swoon us to believe that this one friendship will provide us with happiness and meet all of our ultimate needs.

Jess & Milly (Miss you already) – Great movie…you will cry.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (Sherlock Holmes)

Tom & Jerry (Tom & Jerry)

Lucy Ricardo & Ethel Mertz (I Love Lucy)

Fred Flintsone & Barney Rubble (The Flintstones)

Bert & Ernie (Sesame Street)

Meredith Grey & Christina Yang (Grey’s Anatomy)

Dean Winchester & Jared Padalecki (Supernatural)

From kids shows to adult shows these movies portray this “best friend concept.” If you have a best friend…that’s fantastic! It is good to have this kind of stability, but on the flip side, we also need others in our life to give us the words of advice for our particular season.

It is hard for me to believe that we can have all of our needs met by 1 person. And that 1 person can fulfill all of my needs.

Life is full of events that bring about life-altering change. Life will alter our perception of the world, and we will grow into a new person through each season of life.

AND…you will come across a different person in these different seasons that God will place in your life to meet your current needs.

I can’t allow myself to¬†find, or have only,¬†1 best friend that can possibly meet all of my needs for every season of life.

For instance: I work full-time, I am done with college, at the beginning of a career, and I am in a serious relationship. This part of my life calls for a friend who is in the same stage as I am. It also calls for various mentors who has either been in this stage, or is at this stage, and can provide advice. If I rely on one person for the rest of my life then they may give me “bad advice” because they can’t relate or haven’t been there.

Another instance: One amazing friend of mine who I have known for over 10 years is about to get married. I love her to death, but I do not expect her to come to me for marriage advice – I haven’t been there! I can’t tell her anything beneficial if I have never been in those shoes.

Another instance: A few of my friends are having babies. Again – I have never been pregnant, nor do I have a child. I cannot give the proper advice to the parents of these kids. I don’t have life experience to give them. That season, for me, has not yet come.

If we rely on one person for all of our needs we will eventually come to a point of resentment, disappointment, and lack of relational fulfillment.

God built us for relationship – and relationships change. Some friends will be close to you for years on end, and others will be there for you for just 1-2 seasons. And guess what?¬†That’s okay!

We also can’t keep every single friend we come across for the rest of our life. You¬†will eventually wear yourself tirelessly in an attempt to keep up with all of these friends. Some friends will want to stay…even though you know God has called you to let them go.

Yes – it’s hard and difficult to let those who want to stay go, but if you know God has called you out of that friendship (especially if it is unhealthy for you), then we must find a way for ourselves to move forward.

We need to come to an understanding of where we are in life, who we need in our life to meet our relational needs, and also ask God where He wants us to go in life so that He places the right people in our path to get us in that next season.

On my TimeHop, for April 4th, I posted over 7 years ago a status that says: “God determines who walks into your life….it’s up to you to decide who you will let “walk” away, and who you let “stay…” (crazy that, that is my TimeHop for TODAY! That just tells me I am meant to share this).

And I share this because God will provide us the people we need, but we also need to have discernment as to who we need to let walk away and who we need to let stay…

Because, we as humans, let our fear of change hinder us. We will allow the wrong people to stay in our life, and also let the right people leave it.

I once had a best friend when I was kid. She was incredibly awesome at the time. Later, she¬†moved away, and we attempted to keep up with each other. Well, that didn’t work out. I eventually moved on and made new friends. We now live completely separate lives and we are in completely different seasons. I would have never expected her to be the one person for the rest of my life. I had to let go in order to find new¬†people who would meet my current needs.

It’s important to learn when it is time to let go, or when it is time to keep. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in a moot point where you no longer grow. As Preston Stack puts it, “when a hermit grows it must shift it’s shell or it will die.” I know you won’t die (that’s extreme), but you will need to shift in order to grow because your old relationships will not match your new season if they aren’t growing at the same rate, or on the same path as you are.

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I would love to hear your thoughts! Comment below, or send me a message!

Jennie Laureen

 

 

 

Photo by Joshua Sazon on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sex is bad.

Love

This post was a little hard for me to write. I’ve been working on it for over 3 weeks, but felt that it needed to be written in a way for you to understand my perspective. I realize¬†that other people out there struggle with a similar attitude, and I hope this also helps you.

So…ever since I was a little girl I promised God that I would give myself away to the man who meant¬†to take my hand in marriage.

And I have been an extremely lucky woman to have been dating this wonderful man for 6 years (close to 7) and he has been waiting for me like I have asked. Of course I am not a saint, but to have someone wait for that part of your life is more than a blessing!

When I think of marriage I think of the wonders of raising kids, building a home, and growing old together. This may sound harsh, and¬†it isn’t my intention, but the last thing on my mind is the physical aspect of marriage. It doesn’t mean it’s not there – it’s just at the bottom of what I think about when I hear “marriage.”

I KNOW that sex is a part of marriage. I KNOW that it is a gift from God for a man and a woman to enjoy who come together, with their vows, till death do us part.

But, there is a problem. I grew up with 2 completely different ideals taught to me through the church and it has become a battle in my mind.¬†The church didn’t mean any harm in it at all either. The church said these things as a way to protect us. The people who taught me this were fearful that I would walk the same path they did. I don’t blame the church – I love the church for everything they have taught me. But no one knew the side effects of the teaching, even if it was meant for good! These two ideals are:

  1. Sex is beautiful and meant for marriage. God made it for you to enjoy – so enjoy it. But, if it’s outside of marriage then…
  2. Sex is dirty and disgusting, and you are viewed negatively if you perform it.

I get the waiting ideal. That’s why I have been waiting my whole life because I aspire to be the wife who gives this as a gift to her husband, and to enjoy it with him.

But, I am also terrified of that intimacy. I do feel that once it is all said and done then I won’t feel honored to have given that to my husband. I would feel dirty and disgusting instead. And it terrifies me in 2 ways: I don’t want to disappoint my husband, and I don’t want to feel gross over something that is suppose to be beautiful.

This is something that has been plaguing me for¬†years on end. If I am honest with you then I can tell you that I don’t mind how long I have to wait to have a ring on my finger. I absolutely and utterly love the man that I am with, but the fear keeps me at bay that waiting doesn’t bother me.

Although I have faced the battle in my mind, I have sought out advise on overcoming this irrational fear. Because I know it is based on what people have taught me. I have to reverse the teaching in order for me to overcome it. Of course I am still planning to wait – no worries on that part – but I have been teaching myself consistently over the past few weeks to view that part of marriage as something beautiful.

I even discussed it with my e-group (aka small group), and crazy enough, people were in the SAME boat with¬†similar fears that I have and it honestly helped. I love the “me too” concept.

Here are just a few suggestions that have helped me over the past few weeks and I hope they help you too:

  1. When you wake up in the morning just say to yourself “love is beautiful.” Because it is. All aspects of showing love it beautiful.
  2. I recommend, highly, for you to read the book “Song of Solomon.” It is a scroll about a husband and wife professing love to each other and also showing¬† love to each other. It has become my favorite book, because even the bible doesn’t fear the discussion of an intimate topic even when so many people in the church are. God made it – we can discuss it.
  3. If you haven’t heard of the book Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers¬†then I also suggest reading this book. It is a beautiful depiction of what love is in ALL aspects of a marriage and it is absolutely beautiful. It is based off of the book of Hosea and it is an inspiring novel.
  4. Stop listening to the teaching “sex is bad” because it is an irreversible teaching that will harm your view of marriage. Sex is beautiful – not disgusting. You still need to guard your heart and mind, and continue to wait (both boys and girls) if you are still waiting.

I am continuing to work on this list. This is very short compared to what it could be, but these few things have helped me so far!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and maybe some tips to add to this list – maybe more books to read (I love reading). Comment below if you wish to share.

Jennie Laureen

Love is more than that fuzzy feeling.

Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

I just realized that my Tuesday blogging falls directly on Valentine’s Day, and I cannot be more excited for today! It’s my 2nd favorite holiday of the year! (Christmas is obviously first!).

I LOVE this day because love is a treasure. Love is endless and boundless, beautiful and tragically insane. Love is meaningful and used meaninglessly, and my favorite of all is that love is not easily understood.

When people first think of love their first thought goes to a couple. That love is romance meant for 2. But, love cannot be confined to such a narrow definition.

Love is the breath of life that brings joy to all. Love is a sincerity to the broken and a hand to pick up the lost. Love is a forgiveness that shatters the darkness and wraps a blackened heart with light. Love is a comfort that eases the mind and hugs a torn soul. Love is a warmth that dries the tears of suffering. But love is also a longing for the lost that are forever gone.

Love is showing kindness to a stranger. Love is answering a phone call at 2am to talk to someone who’s desperate to hear your voice. Love is preventing yourself from using words to harm another human (whether in person or behind their back) and then erasing such thoughts from your mind so you love them deeper inside.

Love is staying with someone through life’s ups and downs because you believe in one another.

Love is holding your newborn child after carrying them 9 months just so you can meet them once and for all!

Love is allowing yourself the freedom to forgive others to ease your mind.

Love is allowing yourself to love oneself first in order to love others.

Love is continuing to be kind to someone who lashes hate at you.

Love is easy…but people make love hard.

Love is the simplest form of communication but our ego and our pride rip us from that opportunity.

Love does not have to be between couples – love only has to come from you to another. Embrace what love is by stepping outside of your small box of reality you’ve¬†built inside your mind and allow yourself the freedom to love unconditionally.

Effort must be made to love like this, but it ultimately fulfills our purpose as humans.

Love,

Jennie Laureen