The 3 Friends You Want to Have as a Couple

The 3 Friends You Want to Have as a Couple

Last night Mr. M and I had one of my best friend’s from college and her boyfriend over for dinner. We spent a couple hours with good food and good conversation. After they left, while Mr. M and I were cleaning up the kitchen, I smiled to myself because this is exactly what I pictured doing as a married couple.

Before our wedding, I heard horror stories about couples that got married and fell off the face of the earth. I remember reading a blog post from Helene In Between in 2014 about the desire married people had to still be included. After reading that blog post as a single lady, I made an extra effort to ensure my married friends still felt included and were invited to the various girl’s nights, date night activities, etc.

After Mr. M and I got married, I knew there was no way we’re going to become recluses. Once or twice a month we try to have people over for dinner or we go out on a date with another couple, or we’ll have our own respective girls/guys nights.

A term Mr. M and I talked about while we were dating was the importance of dating in community. Now that we are married, I believe those values hold true even more so in marriage. When you have a community that surrounds you in you marriage, you have a support group to hold you up during the good times and the bad.

This past year I have learned so much from the community that loved on us and continues to love on us as we go through life together. Mr. M has a group of guy friends he can go to when he needs accountability, and I have a few heart friends that I lean on to tell me I’m crazy when I’m being crazy.

When we do life with other people, we find that life may not be easier, but it is more fulfilling because you’ve got a tribe of people who support you – especially when you have these three types of friends.

the 3 type of couple friends you want

The Mentors

Mentors are typically an older couple that has been married several years. They are people that live their life in such a way that you want to follow in their footsteps. Mr. M and I have a couple that mentors us. We get together every other month or so to catch up, have food, and learn from them. They are also people we can go to when we have a disagreement and we know we will get solid, biblical advice from them.

The Couple Friends

These are the friends who are your peers who are either dating, engaged, or married. They are people you can have fun and double date with. I’ve often thought that finding coupled friends as married people is like finding a new boyfriend. You ask the other couple out to dinner, you have a good time. At the end, where do you go from here? Do you set up a second hang out right then and there? Do you text them after the date to say “thanks, I had a great time!” Do you wait 3 days to text them? It’s stressful.

I recently told some of our new couple friends about the stress of finding couple friends to hang out with and played out this whole scenario for them. After we left their house, the husband texted mine and said, “We had a great time, thanks for coming over. Or should I wait and text you in 3 days?” We laughed and now we see them almost every other week. Moral to the story? Live in the awkward and you’ll make new friends.

The Heart Friends

Heart friends are the people closest to you that encourage you, push you, and tell you when you’re crazy. Every couple needs to have a heart friend they lean on when they’re feeling blue. Because I’m not interested in my husband having a best friend who is a girl (other than me) I think that heart friends are people who are the same gender as you are. But also, I spend most of my time communicating what it’s like to be in a girl’s head for my husband. Sometimes I just want to talk to a girl and have her echo and understand where I am coming from.

While I strongly believe your best friend should be your spouse, I also believe that you and your spouse need to have a close friend outside who is a safe space. I’m protective of what I say about my husband and to whom I say it. If I am struggling with something, I’m not going to complain to everyone. I am either going to speak to my mentor or my heart friend because I know they will speak the truth in love and encourage me with our marriage being the best interest at heart.

What kind of friends do you need in your life and in your relationships?

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Living Healthy on Purpose

Healthy Lifestyle Tips - 5 Things That Happen When You Hit Up the Gym!

Hello friends! Last week I took a brief hiatus while Mr. M and I made a whirlwind trip across the entire state of Tennessee and honestly, I was just over capacity to do anything other than driving and responding to emails. And if we’re still being honest, I’m still over capacity, so prayers & coffee would be delightful, k thx.

If you remember at the beginning of January, I mentioned doing goals a little differently this year. Rather than be unhealthily goal-oriented (which oops, I already am), this year I’m practicing different disciplines.

My discipline for the month of January was to start the year of with a healthy start. I chose this by focusing on two main things: exercising and no-sugar.

I knew I could do exercising as long as I made myself verrry discplined.

The sugar part though? That’s the part I was scared of.

In addition to exercising and eating healthier, I also kept track of other healthy habits: drinking 64 oz of water a day, eating my fruits and veggies, and going to bed by 11pm.

You all will be glad to know I kept track of all this through a bujo inspired habit tracker on a random note page in my planner, and there are zero days where I was in bed to sleep by 11pm. In bed by 11pm to read? Yes. So maybe next month I should be a little more realistic and say “in bed by 11pm” rather than “be asleep by 11pm” because trying to balance working until 5, working out, and cooking dinner is not an easy feat. I don’t know how you crossfitters do this.

8 Unexpected Reasons for Healthy Living #healthylivingtips

5 Things I Learned from Working Out

Workout Classes are the Way to Go

Mr. M and I got new gym memberships at a fun gym here that offers an array of amenities, including classes. Yay! Nothing has ever motivated me on a Saturday morning to go work out like this hip hop WERQ class has, but I’m not even mad. It just gives me one more reason to love Saturdays, and I mourn the days I can’t make it due to adulting obligations (#work is not as fun as #WERQ.) I’ve already looped one friend into the class – because who doesn’t love to drop it like it’s hot in a very clean, but sweaty fitness room on a Saturday morning.

When I’m disciplined, I’m as disciplined as all get out.

If we say “we’re working out three times a week,” I’m sitting down with my planner and figuring out what three times that week we’re going to make it happen. I’m proud to say the only week I only worked out twice was when I spent the whole day on the couch feeling like I was going to throw up.

Working out with your spouse can be fun. . . and torture. . . for your spouse.

I learned a lot about myself and how I like to be motivated, and how I handle stressful situations all through working out with Mr. M this week. In fact, I’ve decided that every couple should work out together before they get married so they can better understand each other, and work through little things like, “How to respond to my wife when she’s sassy because she can’t do a pull up.” This happened. Mr. M passed with flying colors. But also, I need to work on my gym attitude because some days I walk in there feelin’ like I’m gonna kill it and then other days I wonder what IT is that I’m gonna kill.

It takes a while to see results, but hard work pays off. 

While I didn’t lose weight according to the scale, I can definitely see more muscle definition in some areas – like my legs. And I have lost some measurements in the areas I don’t want to lose .  . . but don’t worry, the taco baby is still going strong as well get out. So I guess my next step is to work on core. That being said, two weeks ago I couldn’t do a pull up. I just hung on the bar like a sloth with the assist supporting my knees, and laughed at myself to keep from crying from embarrassment. Then all of the sudden on Monday, boom. I could do 8 pull ups three times . . . with the assist.

The more you work out, the more you like it. 

Last week when I got home from our quickie road trip, I experienced a weird phenomenon where I actually desired to work out. As soon as we got home, I set my bags down and rushed off to the gym. I originally went with the intent to just get a quick 15 minute cardio work out in to shake out the cramped-in-car-legs, but then I ended up spending an hour doing so much more. And it was fun!

I know, I’m a freak. Let’s talk about what it was like to give up sugar.

Healthy Lifestyle Tips - No-Added Sugar!

3 Things I Learned From Giving Up Sugar


Rather than do a full month of no-sugar, Mr. M and I set out to do a 21 day sugar-free diet, but had to cut it short due to the unexpected roadtrip we took last week. Instead we did a 2 week no-sugar diet, so a modified whole 30, if you will. We didn’t do 100% no sugar, but instead we did no-added sugar. Which brings me to my first point. . .  It took me a bajillion hours to grocery shop because I looked at labels on everything and I was appalled and abhorred to find that there is corn syrup in so. many. things. Like canned beans! Or canned tomato soup!

I feel cheated by the FDA.

No-added sugar isn’t actually that hard. 

I was really worried that I was going to live my life for the next two weeks deprived of all goodness in the world. And yes, I couldn’t eat my regularly scheduled corn syrup infused chex mix, but GUY’S. CHEEZ IT GROOVES HAS NO ADDED SUGAR. That was exciting to discover. And also, I survived post-dinner dessert! I found a paleo chocolate brownie recipe that I love even more than regular brownies! Finally, luckily, I was still able to properly season all our food because most spices don’t add sugar! I was also able to find marinara and salsa that had zero added sugar as well. Aldi to. the. win.

But also, Larabars are gross.

I actually enjoyed how I felt without added sugar in my diet.

When we did no-added sugar, I did get dizzy in the afternoon the first couple of days, but then my body adjusted and I found that I felt lighter and healthier. Now that we’ve incorprated sugar back into our diet (just in case you didn’t see my Five Daughter’s Baker post, here it is right now because YUM) I’ve noticed my face break out again, and I don’t feel as great anymore.

No-added sugar is definitely a lifestyle choice we are willing to make!

What healthy lifestyle choices have you brought into your  new year? 

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Why I’m Glad I Changed My Last Name

Why I'm  Glad  I Changed  My  Last Name

Right about this time last year, I went to the social security office, the DMV, and the bank to do the big thing – Change My Last Name.

It was an intimidating venture. There were so many places where I would need to change my last name (and if we’re being honest, I still haven’t changed my passport. Ooops!) and I didn’t even know where to start. I did a lot of research on Pinterest on where to start and all the places where I should change my name. This graphic was suuuper helpful.

But before we got down to the details, I had to decide whether or not I wanted to change my last name. My maiden name was 10 letters long, and my married name is 12 letters long. As a joke, I said I was going to hyphenate it. And then I started to think about it more seriously.

Why I Considered Hyphenating My Last Name

The closer I got to our wedding date, the more sentimental I became about my last name. I had lived with it for over 20 years; it’s who I was. It was what kept me attached to my parents.

The thought of changing my last name almost felt like I was divorcing my parents. Which, in a way, I was. In Genesis it tells the husband and wife to leave their father and mother and cleave to each other.

Stepping into an African tradition nuanced the struggle for me as well. I felt as if my parents were literally handing me over to his family. And a part of me still wanted to run home and be known by my maiden name.

And then another part of me emerged from all the women’s studies feminist classes I took in college. Why does the woman have to change her name? Why can’t the man change his name? Why can’t we make up a new last name together?!

Because it would make all the Baptists and Zimbabweans faint.

In my heart, I knew that I would take my husband’s last name. It was always the plan – but when it came time to give up my maiden name, it was hard.

Why I'm  Glad  I Changed  My  Last Name

Why I’m Glad I Took My Husband’s Last Name

The thing I love about Mr. M is that even though he couldn’t empathize with what I was going through, he understood. I specifically remember one afternoon about two months before our wedding when he came over for lunch, and I was in a dark and twisty place. I was mourning the loss of my maiden name, and apprehensive about marriage in general. But instead of getting offended and hurt, he held me and let me talk through what was going in my  head.

Our last name is so unique. Not many people can say it, and it’s always an ice breaker when I show up at the doctor’s office and they try to say my last name. And I love it. It gives me an opportunity to teach someone how to say my last name, and it gives me an opportunity to brag on my husband. “Oh yes, my husband is from Zimbabwe.” And let’s face it, the name is so unique that you may not remember how to say it, but it will ring a bell when you hear it.

I get such a sense of pride when I write my new name – even though I sometimes get internally stressed out that I don’t have enough space or it’s taking too long. It makes me proud to be associated with my husband. He is an amazing leader in our community, and he does so by serving and empowering those around him. If having his last name means I get to be associated with him, then yay!

Why I'm  Glad  I Changed  My  Last Name

Why I Changed My First Name, Too

So readers who have been around a while may remember the post I wrote last year about changing my first name from “Nina” back to “Christina.” And BOY that has been hard for me and for everyone around me to get used to. When I decided I was going to change my last name, I knew I still wanted to honor my parents in a way. My mom never wanted me to have a nickname, but like the dramatic 9 year old I was, when we moved to Tennessee I told everyone my name was Nina.

Now I go by both. If you call me Christina – cool. If you call me Nina – cool. You’ll notice I didn’t even completely change it in the signature at the end of these posts, because it is still a part of who I am. My close friends call me Nina, and I’m Christina in the professional world. That transition has been almost as hard, if not harder, than changing my last name. And that’s OK. Because I’m finally filling into both of my long names.

If you are not married, do you think you will keep your name or change your name? 

If you are married, what did you do with your name change and why? 


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5 Cozy Winter Reads

Winter Books for Adults

You guys, IT’S SNOWING! Last year we got zero snow days, and that was very sad for me. I had great dreams of a second honeymoon with my boo where we wore sweatpants all day and drank coffee and read books. But alas, that was not in the cards for us last year. Today, however, we get an extra Sabbath via an unexpected snow day.

It’s been a lazy day – we stayed in bed until midmorning, had a delicious brunch, and then I’m cozying up with a good book.

Winter is my favorite time to be a reader, because it’s the perfect excuse to say no to anything else except books and fuzzy socks and extra cups of coffee (or tea.)

50 Books in 12 Months

Over this year, I am going to start incorporating more book-ish posts. Last year I completed 24 books over 12 months, and this year my goal is 50 books over 12 months. I am keeping track of my progress on Goodreads and also on this little bookshelf I drew for myself in my planner. As I read each book on my list, I’ll color it in on the shelf. Any additional books I read I’ll stack up next to the bookshelf. I’ll be posting my progress on my Insta-story because I’m so goal oriented and I also like affirmation.

Winter Booklist

I’m the type of person who has book preferences based on the time of year. In the summer, I love to read books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In the spring, I love to dive into books of poetry – Nayyirah Waheed, Rupi Kaur, and Mary Oliver are my favorites.

In the winter, however, give me a big book full of detail and whisk me away into another world.

5 Books You Should Read This Winter

Winter Book List

This post contains affiliate links meaning that if you click/make a purchase through those links you are supporting Hugs & Lattes! 

 The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

I am slowly but surely working my way through this series. I never got through it as a kid! However as an adult, I know this is a series I will one day want to read to my future children. I can only read The Chronicles of Narnia in the winter. Maybe Narnia is forever winter in my mind. Next on my list is Prince Caspian! Y’all, it legit might take me 7 years to read this.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

A lot of people hate Wuthering Heights, but it was quite possibly my very favorite read in my Victorian literature class. I love the gothic themes, and I feel like it is a more well-written high brow version of Twilight.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

This is another Victorian read that I couldn’t put down my senior year of college. The Bronte sisters are so strong and sassy, and I had a secret desire as a little girl to be a governess one day. Then I grew up and realized I lived in the 21st century instead of the 18th. I also had a not-so secret desire to own a goldendoodle and name him Mr. Rochester. My husband never acquiesced on the goldendoodle or the name.

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

You guys – I just put this book down at 12:30 in the morning after trying to escape from real life every chance I could get. It was one of those books that kept me awake afterwards just thinking about it. The way Anthony Doerr describes the surroundings and life of his two main characters makes you feel as if you are at an art museum, spending hours in front of two particular paintings. I highly highly recommend. (Plus it completes your 500 page requirement if you are doing Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge!)

Rules of Civility – Amor Towels

This is one of my book club’s recent reads. It took me a few pages to get into, but if you like The Great Gatsby, you’re going to love this book. It is a) impressive that Amor Towels writes from the persepctive of a woman so eloquently and b) like a literary Gossip Girl of the 1930s.

What books would you add to this list? 

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Why Your Marriage is the Best


Why You Should Think Your Marriage is the Best Marriage

I was talking to one of my good friends the other day about the tension between talking about your relationship in a healthy way versus bombarding everyone with how “perfect” your lives are.

In today’s social media society, the feed is constant. We are seeing what everyone ate, what they are wearing, and why they are celebrating this and that. Being a lifestyle blogger who likes to talk about relationships, I’m very aware about what image I set forth. I first and foremost want to honor my husband in everything I say and do – whether in person or online. So you won’t see me over here airing out our dirty laundry. In instances where I have talked about an argument or point of tension, it is always something I have first cleared with him, and I am sharing it so as to speak constructively to that issue.

Even though Mr. M and I laugh, and have healthy and constructive conversation 85% of the time, 3% of the time I’m being whiny and dramatic, and 2% of the time we do pick at each other and argue.* (The other 10% of the time is filled with important things like paying bills and watching Netflix.)

*It is here that I would like to send out a general forewarning to all single and engaged women: husbands find it funny to purposefully annoy you or hide behind doors and jump out and scare you as you’re walking up from your creepy basement.

When I was in college, I was having dinner one night with my same friend as mentioned above, and her boyfriend at the time (now husband.) She had gotten up from the table to go get something from the cafeteria, and while she walked away, her boyfriend turned to me and told me how amazing she was and how much he loved her. Listening to him talk, I found myself wishing that one day I would get to marry a man who would be as verbally affectionate about me as my friend’s boyfriend was about her.

(Fast forward four years later, and my friend is now married to her college sweetheart, and I’m married to a man who is incredibly verbally affectionate towards me and about me to other people. Anytime I hear him talk about me to someone else, it warms my heart and makes think back to that time where I got to witness that kind of love between my friend and her man.)

Why You Should Think Your Marriage is the Best Marriage

In Dating

At that time, I was not dating my husband, and since I was not yet married, it was appropriate for me to notice something that worked well in someone else’s relationship that I wanted too. I was able to see how my friends and their boyfriends treated them and see what I wanted in a healthy marriage relationship one day.

When you are single or dating someone, this is the season to observe the relationships of those around you. In the season of singleness and/or dating, this observation period is vital for the health of your marriage one day. If you see an unhealthy relationship through your friend, you know what not to do and what not to look for in a partner. Whereas if you see a character aspect you like, then you get a better idea of what characteristics you would like to see one day in your future spouse.

In Marriage

In marriage, things look a little different. Once you have said, “I do,” your goal is “till death do you part.” So when you see something you love about your friend’s relationship that is absent in your own, it would be inappropriate to dwell on that aspect in comparison to your own relationship in a negative light because it can cause resentment against your spouse.

What do I mean?

When you see something in someone else’s marriage that you want, celebrate it for their relationship. If it is something you want to bring into your relationship, ask yourself a few questions:

Why do I want to incorporate this into my relationship?

How would this positively affect my relationship with my spouse? 

What can I do to incorporate this into my marriage? 

Noticing what works in other people’s relationships is healthy and should be recognized. If it something that convicts you and makes you realize you want to be better at X,Y, and Z with your spouse, then celebrate that as you bring it into your marriage. But using others’ highlight reels as a measurement against what doesn’t work in your own relationship is a dangerous downward spiral.

Why You Should Think Your Marriage is the Best

I am a huge advocate of “If you don’t think your marriage is the best, you’re doing it wrong.” Why is that? Because I want to enjoythe uniqueness of the type of relationship Mr. M and I have. Much like those around us, our relationship cannot be duplicated. There are so many nuances and quirks that each of us bring into this relationship that can either make us laugh and draw us closer to each other, or irritate us and push us away from each other.

Let’s take working out – for instance.

I’m a super whiny work out partner. I wish I wasn’t, and I’m sure my husband wishes I wasn’t too.

But lately I’ve been bucking up and going at my work outs like a beast.


He made me do something that was hard that I didn’t want to do and I whined to him in front of all the cool strong kids at the gym. Not my finest moment, I know. But he knew what he was getting into before we got married.

If he looked around and saw another couple who was killin’ it and said, “Look at them! Why can’t we be more like them?” Then I would  have been DEVASTATED (and probably started passive aggressively lifting something really heavy to get my angry energy out.) But instead of looking around and comparing us to someone else, he took my whineyness in stride (and laughed rather than getting angry.) It frustrated him, but like I said – he knew what we was getting to before we got married. And even if he doesn’t like that sometimes I’m dramatic in the gym, he celebrates me and he honors the type of relationship we have.

Your relationship is not going to be like anyone else’s. So celebrate the gift that each of you have brought to the table. When you are able to look at your spouse and truly appreciate them for who they are, then you will have the best marriage you know.

Celebrate Your Marriage!

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