Marriage: 6 More Things That Surprised Me

6 More Things that Surprised Me About Marraige

Last night I got deep into the sentimentals when I thought about the most amazing bachelorette party my sister threw for me. A year ago yesterday we were partying at a bookstore in Asheville, the most unique place to throw a bachelorette party, but perfectly me. It really was the perfect way to start off wedding week, so I am feeling ALL the feels and remembering all the great mems.

To commemorate anniversary week, I am sharing all things wedding this week. Six months ago I shared 6 things that surprised me about marriage. Mr. M and I can hardly believe we’ve been calling each other husband and wife for a whole year. I can honestly say that our first year of marriage has been BETTER than our years of dating.

We Fight Less Now That We’re Married

Mr. M and I had a couple mentor us our first year of dating. They encouraged us to be as open and honest in our communication as we could be, and so we did that. And we fought. . . a lot. I’m sure it was a culmination of things – being in college, being in grad school, and trying to communicate through two different perspectives and ideals made for a rough and rocky beginning. However, I am so thankful we learned how to communicate early on in our dating period, because that has carried on into marriage.

It also helped that we had the “newlywed” conversations before we were even engaged. We talked about our dating history, our future, whether we wanted kids, where our hearts aligned with what ministries, etc. After a counseling session during our engagement, we talked about how difficult it would be had we not discussed all the necessary deep aspects of marriage beforehand, but because we were equipped with the knowledge and communication, it made our first year of marriage easier than our years of dating. (Being free to make out all we want helps to.)

How Busy We Can Be

When I dreamt of marriage as a single lady, I thought we would spend every night entangled in each other’s arms. And while we do that some times, half the time we collapse onto the couch with Netflix. Mr. M and I try to stay intentional with our date nights, but there have definitely been seasons over the last year where it has been a leftovers and Netflix night. With our work schedules + our social calendar, we stay pretty busy. Thank goodness we are both extroverts.

How Much I Love my In-Laws

This is not as much of a surprise as it something I’m incredibly thankful for. Before I met Mr. M, I worried that one day I wouldn’t love my in-laws. I am incredibly close with my parents, and my parents’ parents – both sets of my grandparents – are best friends.  I always hoped that my husband’s parents and my parents would be best friends. Proximity is not on our side with this one, but my family and Mr. M’s family love each other, and we have even celebrated Thanksgiving together for the past two years. It’s been the best. It is a great feeling to honestly say that I love my in-laws like I do my own parents.

Marrying into another culture can be scary on the forefront, especially when it involves relationships with the parents. Having my mother and father in law and entire M clan embrace me and teach me their customs has been amazing.

6 More Things that Surprised Me About Marriage

How Many Adventures We’ve Been On

Mr. M and I want to avoid the stigma of being a boring married couple. And while we definitely have our introverted – be in bed by 10pm nights, we have had so many adventures this year.This summer I did a mini travel series on the blog, because there has not been one month since we got married (or even engaged!) where Mr. M and I have stayed in one place. It has been exhausting and a great adventure. How do we do it? Basically we have friends all over the country + air bnb’s are my jam.

The New Dreams We Share

Couples always talk about how fun it is to dream together, and it’s true! I love having a marriage partner who pushes me to dream, and dreams alongside me. We both passionate about our own things, but they often align with each other which makes the dreaming process fun. Mr. M is a big scale dreamer, and I’m more realistic, so he challenges me and pushes me to open my mind to bigger dreams. It’s scary as all get out.

How Deep Our Love Goes

If Mr. M and I have learned to love each other more deeply in year one, I can’t imagine what it will look like when we have children, and go through different seasons of life together. While I try to stay light hearted on the blog, there have definitely been unique challenges Mr. M and I face. Rather than look at these challenges as obstacles, we have used them to draw closer to each other and the Lord. Mr. M always reminds me that we are on the same time.

6 More Things that Surprised Me About Marriage

 

 

Celebrating Color

 

This post originally appeared as a guest post on Sage the Blog in April 2017. 

celebrating color & creating safe spaces

I didn’t grow up thinking white people were better than any other race, but I never grew up around anyone who wasn’t white. When I was in middle school, I discovered the Fresh Prince of Bel air and crushed hard on Will Smith. In high school I befriended the two black guys in my high school. One of whom reminded me of Will Smith. I knew they were black, but I didn’t think anything else of it. I’m sure the words, “I don’t see color” fell out of my mouth a few times.

It wasn’t until I was in college and started dating my now-husband that I realized how many things I had done in ignorance could be perceived as racist. When  Mr. M and I started dating, I had that safe place to ask the ignorant questions. I learned about systematic racism, I learned about the white savior complex. I learned that saying “I don’t see color” whitewashes the incredible experience and story each person of color carries.

My parent weren’t the least surprised when I called home one early spring day to tell them I was going on a date, and the guy I met was from a country in Africa. In fact, my dad once said, “Christina, I would be surprised if you marry a Caucasian.”

I had one of those moments on my first date with Mr. M- I knew we were going to get married. (He did not have that moment until several months later.)

Mr. M and I live in East Tennessee. We have more than one stoplight, so we aren’t pure rural Appalachia, and we are lucky enough to live in a college town that does have quite a bit of diversity. I never knew how large the African community was in our area until he and I started dating. I guess I just never noticed.

Nonetheless, I could still feel the eyes. A couple of times I noticed (mostly from the older generation) people staring at us as we walked, hand in hand. And in my lack of graciousness, I would look them dead in the eye as I held on tighter to my handsome chocolate man. Once, when we went home to see my family, I noticed someone staring at us as we were stopped next to each other at the stoplight. I turned to Mr. M and said, “Kiss me” and then made sure I kissed him passionately. He thought I was being sweet. I was being rebellious against the ill-conceived notions that races shouldn’t mix.

I don’t necessarily recommend that route. It’s rooted in pride, and while I am proud to stand next to, and be affiliated with my husband and his family, it is definitely not the most Christ-like approach. Mr. M is much more gracious in his responses.

In the spring, on our way back from a friend’s wedding in Savannah, Georgia, we stopped at a McDonald’s in South Carolina to use the restroom and grab a cup of iced coffee to fuel us on a road trip. I was leaned against Mr. M while waiting in line. There was a man in the back of the restaurant who stared at us until Mr. M looked his way, to which Mr. M smiled and waved and the man slowly shook his head in disgust. I promptly turned around and shot fire darts from my eye. I imagined what I would say if I worked up the nerve to confront him. I never did. I’m more talk than game.

But Mr. M is compassionate. He speaks the truth in love and he is gracious towards those who don’t understand or disagree. It’s something he has had to accept and learn growing up in America. He told me that when they first moved from Zimbabwe to the United States, as he and his brothers became pre-teens and teenagers, their dad sat them down, making them aware that in the United States, they were more likely to receive prejudice, so they needed to make sure they carried themselves well, dressed well, were respectful at all times to authority figures, etc.

As parents, of course, we would tell our children this anyway: “Be respectful, and carry yourself well. Don’t tarnish the family name!” But for the minority groups in America, it’s more than tarnishing the family name, it’s survival. Over the past several years, through conversation with Mr. M, reading and listening to accounts from other moms of African-American, Latino, or biracial children, I find this is something that is stressed more so to children who do not look predominately white.

So what can we change? I’ve written from my hopeful millennial perspective about why it is important that we support our friends trying to use their voice.

But how else do we support our minority brothers and sisters?

celebrating color & creating safe spaces

 

We see color. We celebrate color.

When I am home alone with Mr. M, I sometimes forget that we don’t look like each other. It’s in those moments where I’m getting ready and he comes up behind me and wraps his arms around me that I see our colors contrast. When we are lying down, and my arm lays against his and he says, “Oh my gosh your arm is translucent!” I remember that he is black and I am white. I see and bask in the color of his dark skin. It is, after all, one of the things I am most attracted to in him- aside from his compassion, and the way his eyes crinkle when he smiles, and the way his heart seeks to right social injustices. I celebrate his dark brown skin because it carries his heritage. He is a Zimbabwean who still speaks in his native tongue when he is with family. His Shona name is a badge of his culture. The way he thinks and sees the world has been shaped by growing up in two different worlds – a third culture kid.

I want to say that our relationship is more than the colors we reflect, but in a sense, our relationship is the colors we reflect. When you see a married couple who are both white, you don’t automatically think, “Oh, I bet they have a lot of compromising they have to do.” (Which, by the way, is still totally untrue, as you married people know.) But when you see my husband, me, and read our incredibly long (but phonetic) last name, you probably wonder how it works.

And here is how it works: We love hard. We listen well. We learn from each other. We celebrate our differences, and embrace the cultures and traditions we each grew up with.

For instance, in my mind, I had a perfect American wedding planned out. In reality, our families threw the biggest Zimbabwean-American wedding anyone has ever seen. Our dance floor was packed the entire time, whether Zimbabwean, South African, or American music was playing. Our guests had their choice of Zimbabwean food: sadza (a cornmeal patty), collard greens, and beef stew, or my favorite American food: chili and potato soup. Our friend surprised us with a communion meditation that was given in both English and Shona.

If I didn’t embrace who Mr. M is and where he is from, I would miss out on the blessing of finding a new piece of the world. If I didn’t ask questions and learn, I wouldn’t fully be able to say I know my husband. It is important to me that our relationship’s foundation is first of all on the word of God, and secondly on celebrating who we are.

celebrating color & creating safe spaces

Mr. M and I were humbled and amazed by the responses I received on my most recent post, When You Call My Husband the N-Word. One thing my husband and I are careful to acknowledge is that we do not want to play the victim card. Playing the victim doesn’t offer any options for victory. We are victors in our circumstance. We want to find ways to embrace each other’s cultural identities and differences. But in order to do that, we do have to acknowledge the hurt and pain that comes with racism.

Our culture makes it clear that we cannot just be silent. Desmond Tutu said that “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

White people are not the saviors in defeating racism. White people have the responsibility to reverse the curse we brought into this country 400 years ago. I asked a friend how white people can be an ally to the minority community, and she said “Listen.”

There is a desperate need for raw and vulnerable conversations between the white community and the minority community. In order to align ourselves with our brothers and sisters who suffer under the institutionalized racism in our country, we have to listen. We have to hear their stories, and we have to be willing to acknowledge the generational pain our ancestors brought upon minorities in our country. Then we must create space. We move off the stage to allow room for the minorities in our country to speak.

For the next several weeks, I will be hosting conversations with some friends that I have been privileged to make within the blogging community on identity, racism, and how the white community can continue to create space and take action racism in a healthy way alongside our brothers and sisters. Check back each Wednesday in the month of November for a new installment of “Creating Space.”

never
trust anyone
who says
they do not see color.
this means
to them
you are invisible.
-is

Nayyirah Waheed

When You Call my Husband the N-Word

When You Call My Husband the N-Word

You could say that I invited ourselves into this situation. There was a festival a few counties down the road that I wanted to go to for the last several years, and this was the year.

It was a rural county where the KKK is rumored to meet on occasion.

But my husband is the type who doesn’t allow fear to dictate his choices. So he sweetly obliged to his wife and set out to go to the festival with me, knowing he may very well be the only black person around.

The moment we got out of our car and started to walk towards the festival, we received a few stares. Hand in hand, we walked with the confidence and love a newlywed has. We fell in step behind a lesbian couple and their kid.

The streets were crowded with white people and hispanics; I kept my eyes peeled for anyone else who may look like my husband, keeping a running tally in my head.

We stopped at a vendor to say hello to a friend when a white man approaching, muttered the n word under his breath.

My head snapped around, heat rising to my face, my heart pounding furiously. I bore a hole in the back of his head, wishing he would turn around. If looks could kill. . .

I calculated the risk in my head. He was 8 inches taller than me and looked like he worked a manual labor job. If I punched him in the face I could either get pummeled, arrested,or worse. We were in rural, open carry East TN.

If I yelled at him to turn around, what could I say? I rehearsed my vehement monologue in my head.

Sir, when you call my husband the n word, you reduce him from a human to a one dimensional victim of prejudice.

You negate his humanity with your racism.

You disregard his soul, his thoughts, his being.

When You Call My Husband the N-Word

If your family were too poor to have a Thanksgiving dinner this year, my husband would be the one to set you up through a food drive. He is a respected man in the community, both secular and within the church.

He is the type of man who sees an old lady with a cane in the grocery parking lot, and loads her cart full of groceries in the car for her.

He stops in the street when he feels Holy Spirit to compel him to pray for a stranger.

He has been known to send money to a friend he met years ago at a conference, who is still struggling to make ends meet.

He contributes to his family’s ministry – a ministry that provides education, food, and wells for the impoverished, widows, and orphans in his father’s village in Zimbabwe.

He loves furiously and graciously. If he heard you, he would turn the other cheek.

When You Call My Husband the N-Word

But I can’t. I can’t allow myself to turn the other cheek. Because you and I have something he doesn’t have – white privilege.

You say what you want without worrying about the consequences. The freedom of speech only applies to the privileged.

I can be outraged and heard. I have the privilege to react. Should my husband react in the slightest, the rest of the white community would respond with their own political protest.

Respect the flag. Look at what this country has given you. 

This country has given him opportunities, but made it exceedingly difficult as a Zimbabwean immigrant to do so.

This country has given him freedom, but only freedom to move within the parameters we as a white community has set for him.

This country has given him privilege, but only the privilege he has carved for himself by standing up straight, being respectful in his tone at all times, dressing near-business casual, even if he is just going to the grocery store.

When You Call My Husband the N-Word

He carries himself in a way that makes the white people say, “He’s not like the others. He wears a belt.”

He speaks in a way that makes the ignorant say, “Wow, for growing up in Africa, your English is impeccable!” (English is an official language of Zimbabwe.)

But when you call my husband the n word, you take away the blank space of knowing and opportunity and instead fill it with the graffiti of your hate.

When you call my husband the n word, you reduce yourself.

You become one dimensional.

Maybe you’re a family man. Perhaps you love fiercely and work hard, just like my husband. I’m sure you laugh in moments of joy, and you’ve cried when you’ve lost something dear.

Your heart beats like the rest of us.

But all is lost within the label you’ve created for yourself.

Racist.

When you take away the humanity of someone else, you lose a piece of your humanity as well.

 

 

The Perks of Being Under Mistletoe

After I no longer had any boyfriends in high school… so mainly when I went off to college, my mom thought it would be fun to hang mistletoe in the foyer for any and all unsuspecting guests to bump lips.

I, of course, didn’t have a boyfriend to pull under the mistletoe, and it would have been awkward and inappropriate to meet one of Dad’s med students under the mistletoe, so I was left to wander through the cold, in search of love.

I gave up and binge watched Netflix instead.

But alas! I captured this cutie one February eve, and I have managed to keep him long enough to stand under the mistletoe with me.

So we meandered throughout the house, laughing gaily at anything and everything, because that’s what people do when their in love; it would be best to imagine this whole scene in a neutral or black and white color, because that’s how all tragic love stories go. And suddenly. . . we stopped.

I pulled him into a hug and pointed above our heads.

As I leaned in for the Christmas kiss I’d been waiting for ever since I saw Santa Clause 2 make mistletoe out of thin air. . . 

I never got my kiss under mistletoe that night.

via

The End.

There are no perks of being under mistletoe.

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5 Easy Steps to Being a Girlfriend During the World Cup

I didn’t know if you knew this, but the World Cup starts today in Brazil at 4 pm. Unless you’re in Texas like me, then it will start at 3 pm. Or if you’re in Brazil, the official start time is 17:00, or 15:00. I don’t know, the Internet is confused with itself.

 

Reasons to never move to Brazil: they use military time. Although, according to the Buzzfeed quiz I took yesterday, “Which country do you belong in?” I belong in Brazil. 

 

This world World Cup thing is all very exciting, except that I don’t watch soccer on tv. I did however play soccer for one year in high school and I loved it. I was even the leading goal scorer on our team with like 5 goals the whole season. Don’t worry, we lost all the time. 

 

My boyfriend, though, played soccer pretty much all his life. I guess that’s what happens when you have an African boyfriend, he rocks at soccer and even has a cool accent sometimes. (Thank You, Sweet Baby Jesus, for answering my prayers.)  Yesterday I woke up to a text from him and I thought “Awww he sent me a good morning text!” Good morning texts are always wonderful, unless there is no good morning, and it just starts with “I wish it was like other countries. They shut down businesses so people can watch the World Cup.” He has to work right about the time the game starts. If I were a sweet girlfriend, and lived closer than two hours away from him, I would totally DVR it for him. 

 

If you are a soccer girlfriend, though, here are a few ways to keep your man happy during the World Cup

 

Isn’t he dreaaaamy? 😉

1: Download an app to know when all the games are, and especially when his favorite team is playing.

 

2: Know his favorite team. If you don’t know his favorite team (Manchester United) then you’re already off to a rough start. It helps to know a few players as well. Also, know what constitutes a goal. Hint: They kick the ball into the net.

 

3: Don’t text him during the game, unless it’s about the game. If he doesn’t respond for like 3 hours to an important text, just check your app. This is why the app is super important. It’s basically an easy way to keep track of your boy toy – in a totally non-creepy, non-stalkerish girlfriend kind of way. If you see there is a game going on, no worries! He’s just in his FIFA cave.

 

4: If you are physically with him, don’t talk to him until commercials. Bring him chips and open his drink for him, too. Let’s just flush feminism down the toilet for like one month. 

 

5: If you have the attention span to watch a sports event on TV, watch the game so you two have something to talk about. Earn brownie points, and watch your relationship blossom in front of your soccer watching eyeballs.

 

No, friends, that is not a nickname.

 

Note: Things NOT To Do
 
Root for the team with the nicest uniforms
Root for the team with the cutest players
Root for the Spain just because they are ranked #1
Root for Brazil just because it’s their home turf 

 

 Happy World Cupping, Friends!

 

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