This was on my mind ...

Women are Odd and Men are Weird

Sometimes it’s hard to understand how your spouse, someone who lives with you, loves you and knows you better than anyone else has a hard time understanding you.

“What fresh hell is this?” I’ve often muttered to myself. “How in the world can he know me this long and not understand what I just said.”

“What is wrong with this woman?” I’m sure my husband has wondered, “That’s not what I said at all.”

I’ll tell you what the problem is.  Men are weird and women are odd and that’s what’s just what that it is. The best way I can describe the difference between how my husband and I conduct business, is that he thinks like a laser beam and I think in photon bursts. Consequently, I contend he has tunnel vision and he believes I’m a ping pong ball.

I see how everything I do effects everyone in the house. I pay attention to the  emotional and physical well being of everyone around me. To me, this whole ball of wax we call a family is inextricably interconnected.  I think it’s weird that he can’t pick up on disparate clues from different places and figure out how someone feels. If I didn’t manage this all male household no one would have the faintest clue when they needed to go to the doctor.

On the other hand, my husband thinks I am odd because I talk so much about extraneous stuff. My desire to manage everyone’s emotions is a hindrance to him. I clutter up his time and mind with emotional details that don’t really affect what we need to do at the time. “What are you asking him for?” he says to me when I am talking to my son. “Tell him what to do and tell him to do it now.” He wants to establish authority. He knows how important that is. I want to have a conversation, one they have no interest in at all. I have to say I stood back and let him take that one on whole when any one of the boys turned 15. Those people would have had me for lunch had I not listened to him.

The beauty of this joint bewilderment is that we are both right. He is weird and I am odd. Moreover, that’s the way it is supposed to be and neither one of us is wrong. Between us we have it all covered. I may not understand why he thinks something or other but I do have enough sense to know when his way of doing business makes more sense.  Likewise Big Man has figured out when my point of view is the best way to go.

I’m not going to lie, it took us a while to get to here and it’s still not all smooth sailing. It still drives me crazy when he’s riding around the parking lot looking for just the right spot. And his eyes still glaze over a few minutes into 1/3 of the conversations we have. But I bite my tongue even on the third trip around parking garage and he hangs in there for the fourth story.

Love doesn’t mean never having to say you’re sorry. You have to say it all the time. Sometimes it’s just knowing when to suck something up or leave something else alone.

for more see Making Marriage Work Chapter 6.

Look Deep in the Eyes of Your Lesser Self

The Bathroom Mirror Mandate

 

Deep below consciousness are other forces, the likes and the dislikes, the predilections and the prejudices, the complex of instincts and emotions and habits and convictions which make the man, whether he be litigant or judge.

                                                           ~Benjamin Cardozo, The Nature of Judicial Process

 

There are all kinds of people in this world and as much as we would like to think of ourselves a wholly unique and different in a world full of snob, jerks and geniuses – of pests and partiers – the sad, the stupid and the simply off their rocker – of the kind, the weak, the magnanimous and mean – odds are you are sporting an identifiable personality quirk that may or may not be serving you well.

This rule asks you to stare into the eyes of your lesser self. It requires you to take a good hard look inside. It asks you to fight the urge to put your best foot forward and focus on the one dragging behind.

Think through all of your major mistakes. Take a peek at your minor ones too. Search out their causes, peruse them for patterns and then figure out what they reveal about you. This soul searching is not designed to make you feel bad rather its purpose is to heighten your state of awareness. Remember, your faults and weaknesses will never hurt anyone else as much as they hurt you. But if you know what they are and understand how they work, they will be less likely to do you harm.

This rule also requires you to take into consideration all of the things that Political Correctness does not allow. Gender, race, class, sexual orientation, education, family and exposure all influence how we feel. And when we’re under stress it’s how we feel and not what we profess that most often dictates what we do.

Your hormones have not read Gloria Steinem; nor has your up-bringing been de-briefed. So you have to make a conscious effort to find whatever prejudices you have (and you do, there is no way around it). And when I say look I mean hunt them down. Most of our prejudices rest so close to us they are almost impossible to see.

You personality, your peccadilloes, your Odd Things A -Z, they are what make you, you and there’s nothing wrong with that. But you have make sure what’s odd about you isn’t impeding your progress in any way.

I know it’s hard; we’re not used to doing it and it’s not something one would inherently find fun. But it’s not about beating yourself up because you have faults. Your imperfections are not indictments. They are just a part of what makes you human. The decision you have is whether or not you’re going to make a point of knowing what they are.

 

Because it’s not easy, I’ll go first. Here’s how it works:

 

I talk too much; I talk too fast and if I am talking to someone I think talks too slowly I will finish their sentences for them. I am fearful. I am relentless. I get disproportionality angry about odd things. I am lazy. I am a control freak and a bit of a slob. I’m not very good at friendship. I don’t call, text or reach out. I resent the fact that if I had a penis and made the kind of money I do no one would expect me to know how to cook.

I used to have an immediate guttural negative response to anyone who looked like this one particular person I really didn’t like. I worked on that for two years before I was able to finally sit that one down. But even before then I understood that was how I felt and made it a point never to let it sway me.

I don’t like people who I perceive as lazy even though I see that in myself.

I curse far more often than I’d like and I am impatient with people who don’t listen. Lastly, I am cheap … in the extreme. I can hang on to a dollar so tightly you can hear George Washington scream.

This is just the tip of a very large, endlessly morphing iceberg, but I think you get the drift. The point is I know all of these things about myself and I never use them as excuses. I keep these monsters well in my sights whenever I enter a situation that might implicate any of them because I know that the first battle in any war I have to fight is always with myself.

I think that’s true for everyone. We can be an inordinately lethal species for some very less than admirable reasons. I believe it would behoove all of us to do battle with the least of who we are.

updated from:

My Mother’s Rules: A Practical Guide to Becoming an Emotional Genius

How to Stay in Love 101 – Feed the Right Dog

 

Falling in love is the easiest thing in the world. Your hormones jump in and do what they’ve done for thousands of years. There is no real effort involved; mostly, you just enjoy the ride.

The work begins after that first wave  passes you by. When passion has been put on pause and everyday distracts step all over everything. A relationship is a living breathing thing that changes with time. And like any other live organism it must be fed in order to survive.

People often talk about finding love. I want to talk about staying in it.  So every once in a while I’ll throw a few suggestions your way. Here’s the first:

Remember to Feed the Right Dog

Pretend you have two dogs, one named Displeasure and the other Joy. They both live in your house and you and your spouse are in charge of feeding them. Displeasure, bitch that she is, barks a lot. She is easily annoyed and she snarls and growls and carries on the moment something does not go her way. If her food is late she starts up. If she doesn’t get to go outside when she wants the yapping begins. You have to throw her a bone to get her to stop.

Displeasure gets fed a lot.

Joy, on the other hand, is a quiet and content canine. Loves to be petted but doesn’t cause you any trouble if you don’t. She will sit quietly in the corner and await the attention she deserves, but she does not howl when it doesn’t come her way.

She often gets ignored.

Here’s the thing: you have to make a conscious effort to feed the quiet dog. Acknowledge all kindnesses. Thank your spouse for the everyday things that could easily go ignored. Whoever is paying the bills should feel like you respect the effort that it takes. If you enjoyed something your spouse said or did let her know. If he did something that anyone on the street would be impressed with, don’t let the fact that you have seen him do it before keep you from mentioning it again.

from Making Marriage Work p. 63

 

Enjoy the Book, Ladies

 

 

I answer a lot of relationship questions in different places. One is on my Facebook Page “My Mother’s Rules.” I also answer questions on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Eastern live on Divorce Court’s Facebook Page.

Sometimes I find that I get the same kind of question over and over again. The details are different, but the underlying issue is the same. These days the one I get most often goes something like this:

“I am 22 years old. I have been dating this guy for a year. I think he’s cheating on me. He doesn’t respect me and he causes me a lot of heartache. But I really love him and I want this to work out. What should I do?”

Before I answer questions like these I usually warn people about my biases and history. To do otherwise would be misleading.

When I was single, boyfriends didn’t have Angst Clearance. In other words, they were not valuable enough, especially in the early going, to warrant agonizing over them. In my 20’s I was all about my education and destination. If a guy wanted to be with me he had to act right because I had other things to do. Whether or not he hung around while I was doing them depended on whether or not he clogged up my mind or my time with negativity.

When I was in my early 20’s I had boyfriends because they were fun. Once they weren’t, they got fired. Or just as often, I’d get booted because they found me less than accommodating or just a pain in the ass. Such was life.

Around 26 or so I’m not going to lie, I did want to settle down. That’s when Boyfriendhood became a probationary period. Is he good for me or no? If the answer was no, I moved on. The important thing is I did not feel that the time I spent discovering that was wasted. It had value. In the interim, I enjoyed his company and had some fun. I didn’t lose anything because I had not altered my life for him; I had merely let him join me for a small part of mine. And that part was fun because once it got ugly I cut him loose.

I never asked myself, “How do I handle it?” or “Should I try to wade through it?” I always thought, “Wow, dodged that bullet.”

Now, I’m not going to lie. I may have taken the whole thing a little too far. My date and run attitude left me ill-prepared for marriage. Once married, I couldn’t just leave. I had to learn to deal with problems and I didn’t have much experience with that. So there were a few rough years as a result.

I think, however, there is some middle ground you can aim for. Having a boyfriend with whom you have a few issues is not a bad thing. Life is lumpy and there are always going to be problems.

But once it becomes a story of unrelenting unhappiness you have to know it’s okay to let go.

One young lady told me she wasn’t into all that “starting over mess.” She wanted me to tell her how to handle the misery she was in because she wanted to stay with the guy that made her miserable.

In fact, I’ve had a number of young ladies (21, 22 or 23 years old) tell me they want to make a bad relationship work because they didn’t want to feel like they wasted the year or two they’ve put into it.

My response? Any time you’ve spent learning something, enjoying yourself or progressing as an individual wasn’t wasted. So you dated someone for two years and it didn’t work out. Did you have fun? Did you enjoy your time with him? Did you learn anything from him? Did you have any new and interesting experiences with him? ALL OF THAT HAS VALUE.

Once it becomes a truly negative experience, though, it’s simply time to move on. Yes, you will feel bad but you will get over it. To be without a man is not a failure. To feel like you wasted your time just because that relationship didn’t end in marriage or a permanent relationship of some sort is, however, a mistake.

There is one very important caveat to this entire line of thought. You have to take care of your business in a way that does not make you vulnerable. If you don’t control your fertility you cannot control your life.  Don’t make major moves to please him that hamper your ability to make decisions that allow you to move on. Got that part? It’s important.

That said, feeling that you’ve wasted your time in a relationship if it doesn’t end in forever is like reading the end of a good mystery book before you’ve read the book itself. The journey, the red herrings, the false turns, the snappy dialogue, the words themselves have value.

I get it. We women want to settle down and have a permanent relationship. What concerns me is women who settle for misery in order to achieve that permanence. Please don’t.

What’s worse than not having a man?

Being stuck with one that makes you miserable.

Enjoy the book, ladies.

Make the most of everyday.

Don’t worry so much about whether you can tie down

your tomorrow that you miss today.

You early years are not about locking down a guy.

They are for loading up your life.

JLT

 

Love in a House Divided

I just spent a heart wrenching, spirit deflating several hours on YouTube watching videos in which black women defame black men and black men demonize black women. Of course, I knew of the great – and I claim quite damaging – divide between black men and women. I hear about it a fair amount because of what I do. I read a lot and watch enough TV to know what the current mood is. But I never just dove in and watched what was out there on line.

I got pulled into it because a guy on my twitter page tweeted a picture of a black woman, with a weave, a big booty and shopping for designer sneakers and asked me something like “Can you save us from our black queens?” I responded by saying that “Black Love often struggles to survive in inhospitable circumstances. We should all do better ourselves and stop blaming the other side.”

 

I included this with my response:

FullSizeRender-13

 

His response was hilarious. He said, “I guess I should better myself. I’m not going to lie, I had to look up the word inhospitable.”

Of course, gender blaming is not unique to our community. As I always say men are odd and women are weird. Accordingly, we’re always going to have a few ‘What the hell is wrong with those people?’ thoughts about the other gender. To some extent we have always found each other befuddling and a bit confounding.

But I digress.

Before today I just never sat down and went through the cesspool of negativity that exists on the subject of black men and women that WE generate ourselves.

Sometimes the videos simply contained a man or a woman commenting on behaviors they have seen or experiences they’ve had. Many were accompanied by videos or pictures of either gender displaying what no one can deny is less than beneficial behavior.

Unsettling as the behavior was, what truly alarmed me was the vitriol with which each side spoke about the other. “Black women are single handedly destroying the race.” “Black women hold their children’s minds hostage to ignorance.” Or, on the other hand, “Black men are worthless.” “Black men are the weak link in Black society.’

I have a lot to say on this subject and I will return to it. But what I will leave you with at this moment is this. To universalize your own experiences or that which you see on TV and YouTube is a mistake. Each reflects certain stratum and populations within a very diverse black community.

There are historical and cultural reasons for how things have ended up the way they are. They serve as reasons but not excuses … so no one gets a pass  … but it helps to understand the challenges.

Here’s my point. What has become culturally common in certain parts of the black community cannot be solved by blaming one gender or another. We all have some fixing we can do. Demonizing one another does nothing to fix the problems we face for no other reason than that kind of dart throwing rarely, if ever, gets others to change their behavior.

I see a lot of anger and hurt, not thought and understanding. My concern is we’ll become our own worst enemy by tearing each other down in a way that doesn’t do us any good.

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My Mother's Rules" is a humorous, easy to follow self-help guide to managing your emotional life.

My Mother's Rules" is a humorous, easy to follow self-help guide to managing your emotional life.

Using lessons learned on the bench along with humorous anecdotes from her own 30 year marriage, Judge Lynn Toler wrote "Making Marriage Work" as a logical and simple guide to bringing back the practicality lost in relationships over the years.

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Women are Odd and Men are Weird

Posted by on Jul 18, 2016 in This was on my mind, Uncategorized | No Comments

Sometimes it’s hard to understand how your spouse, someone who lives with you, loves you and knows you better than anyone else has a hard time understanding you. “What fresh hell is this?” I’ve often muttered to myself. “How in the world can he know me this long and not understand what I just said.” “What […]

Look Deep in the Eyes of Your Lesser Self

Posted by on Jul 15, 2016 in This was on my mind | 2 Comments

The Bathroom Mirror Mandate   Deep below consciousness are other forces, the likes and the dislikes, the predilections and the prejudices, the complex of instincts and emotions and habits and convictions which make the man, whether he be litigant or judge.                             […]

How to Stay in Love 101 – Feed the Right Dog

Posted by on Jul 14, 2016 in This was on my mind | No Comments

  Falling in love is the easiest thing in the world. Your hormones jump in and do what they’ve done for thousands of years. There is no real effort involved; mostly, you just enjoy the ride. The work begins after that first wave  passes you by. When passion has been put on pause and everyday distracts […]

Enjoy the Book, Ladies

Posted by on Jun 28, 2016 in This was on my mind | No Comments

    I answer a lot of relationship questions in different places. One is on my Facebook Page “My Mother’s Rules.” I also answer questions on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Eastern live on Divorce Court’s Facebook Page. Sometimes I find that I get the same kind of question over and over again. The details are […]

Love in a House Divided

Posted by on Jun 8, 2016 in This was on my mind | No Comments

I just spent a heart wrenching, spirit deflating several hours on YouTube watching videos in which black women defame black men and black men demonize black women. Of course, I knew of the great – and I claim quite damaging – divide between black men and women. I hear about it a fair amount because […]