Monday, January 10, 2011

Quarterly Marriage Tune Up

On a scale of 1-10, rate the following statements, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.

1. I am happy with my marriage / relationship.

2. My needs are being met in my marriage / relationship.

3. My marriage / relationship is in a better place than it was this time last year.

The number you chose should signify your gut reaction to each question. Why isn't the number lower than the number you chose; why isn't worse? There is a reason you chose your number. Why isn't your number highe; why isn't it betterr? How can the number improve, even a half point. What do YOU have to do to move your number up in practical steps. For example, you rated the statement my needs are being met with a number 3? Well, what has to be done to move your 3 to a number 4? What can you tangibly change to make this better in these next 3 months, even if that means communicating this with your spouse ? You can only be responsible for changing your own behavior. You can't change anyone else!

Think of the quarterly checkup like a tune up for your relationship. If you check in with your spouse on a regular basis resentment has less of an opportunity to build up. Use it as a tool, NOT AN ARGUMENT STARTER!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Day I was Born

It was August 19, 1999. I’ve always been an active person, had a life with friends and family around. I’ve had loving relationships and people who have cared about me. I’ve been in love a couple of times, but never like this. On this day, I truly learned what love is and what it takes to love someone truly unconditionally. This was the day that my daughter Alexis was born.

I was fearful of her birth even resentful, even until the day if her delivery. Her birth meant the death of the person that I knew myself to be. I was just coming into being a woman. I was 25 and recently married. We had only been married about 6 months when she was born. She represented pain, disappointment, and joy all wrapped up in this neat little package. I resented her presence because she came at a time when she should not have. As I said before, my husband and I were only married for 6 months when she was born, so obviously she was conceived while we were engaged. For me this was catastrophic.

My daughter was born on August 19, 1999 and looking back, I feel like that was the day I was born too. For the last 6 months of my pregnancy, I was at home. During this time, God decided to reveal many things to me. He revealed that my daughter was not a burden but a blessing and that this was one of the greatest gifts that He could have given me. He revealed that yes it would be a lot of work and an awesome responsibility, but it would also be and awakening for me. During my time at home, I developed focus and a vision for my life. He revealed that I could continue to look at her as a burden or I could look at her as the blessing that she was. He would also reveal that my daughter is a blessing in many ways but the first would be that she did not have Sickle Cell a disease that plagues many African Americans, even though my husband and I are carriers of the Sickle Cell trait. This was truly a blessed day.

Many blessings were to follow. He showed me that my life was full of meaning and purpose even though I had my doubts, that I was meant for more than I was doing with my life at the time. He showed me that if I trust in Him, my vision could come true. God and I have had an incredible journey together, but no moment has been as great as the day I was born.

I was born on August 19, 1999. I truly came alive, I became impassioned and shown that you don’t have to go through life aimlessly and uncertain about your future. I was given wisdom, vision, truth and courage on that day. I was allowed the opportunity to become manager of a small organization. I was given fuel for a fire that was lit in me many years ago but never realized until that moment. I learned what true love is and what true sacrifice is. I became a woman. I was born. I want to thank God for giving me this wonderful gift and blessing me to take a journey of discovery, understanding and wisdom. A journey that has empowered me and a journey that has inspired me to empower others. A journey that will take me to many places unforeseen. A journey that has awakened my soul, my spirit, my joy, my pain, my love, my worry, my understanding, my caring, my nurturing, my sense of self, my determination, my drive, my courage, my desire to do what’s wise and best, and my desire to be the best mother that she could ever ask for.

I wrote this when my daughter was about two or three and today she is 11. I could not have asked for a better blessing or be more proud. Even though I have made many mistakes along the way and have been unsure of my choices a lot, the young lady she is growing into being assures me that no matter what God is in control of all that I may mess up. I know that I am only a steward over this Great gift. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank Him for blessing me on this day 11 years ago with the greatest gift. I am truly humbled by how He moves in her life and by the fact that He chose me to be her mother.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

10 Tips to Have That Wedding Day Love Last a Lifetime

Marriage takes a lot of hard work and effort from both partners, but there is still such a thing as being able to say, I Love Being Married.

1. Respect One Another. We have so many people who come in to see us and their primary complaint when it is all boiled down is that they feel disrespected in some way or another by what their spouse has said or done. Find out what your partner sees as disrespectful and work on correcting any behaviors that are needed before they become an entrenched part of how you deal with one another.

2. Over Communicate. We call it over communication especially in the first years of marriage when you are still trying to get into the groove of a steady marriage. We also call it over communication because you need to talk about everything even the minor details so that there is no room for misunderstandings. You especially need to communicate about what your expectations are for one another. For example, women, do you expect the man to be responsible for doing all of the yard work? Men do you expect that your wife will be the primary caretaker of your children? Many of the expectations we place on one another come from that unspoken place of your childhood based on what you did or did not see and can cause a major issue if they are not spoken.

3. Love Unselfishly. You know that wedding day love or the love you have right now before the reality of life hits. This is that, I will do anything for you love. This is the kind of love that loves even when the other is unlovable. Unselfish love looks like giving up your favorite show and watching a basketball game with your fiance (without complaining). Unselfish love looks like going with your soon- to- be wife to look at the bridesmaid’s dresses so that she can feel like you are a part of the process even though you could care less about what the women are wearing in the wedding.

4. Work to Become One in Thought Word and Deed. Being married is a team sport and you have to be playing for the same team, working for the same goals, which should be for the betterment of your family. You cannot allow other people or preoccupations come between your ability to begin to act as one unit.

5. Positively Resolving Conflict. One of the biggest differences in having a successful marriage and one that fails is finding a way to work on your conflicts in a positive way. Conflict can turn ugly and cause continued turmoil if not handled effectively. We call this Rules of Engagement, which are the rules you put in place to handle your conflict so that both parties can feel like the issue was resolved in the best interest of your family (your team).

6. Maintain Your Friendship. Fellas, I always tell people that my wife is my best friend. She is the one who knows the most about me and has my back. She is my ride or die chick. Ladies the same should go for you. My husband is my best friend and he is the one that I can’t wait to tell my good news or even the bad. He is also the one that I go to when I have an issue even with him, which leads me to my next point.

7. Keep Others Out of Your Relationship. How can you become one when you have your girlfriends, your boys and even your momma in the middle of your relationship? One exception to this tip is; we do believe everyone needs some wise counsel. You should choose at least one person of the same sex who has similar values and ideals to be your accountability partner to help keep you in check. This person should be someone who is always willing to tell you the truth whether you’re right or wrong. In most instances, we would advise that this person is NOT your mother unless she is truly able to keep herself from taking sides.

8. Nourish and Cherish One Another. Take care of one another. Understand and appreciate your mate. Find out what their love language is according to the Five Love Languages of Dr. Gary Chapman and then learn to speak their love language. The five love languages are 1. Words of Affirmation 2. Acts of Service 3. Gifts 4. Quality Time 5. Physical Touch. These are the things that make your partner feel loved and appreciated. These are also the things that if they are not done can make your partner feel deprived. For example, my love language is quality time and my husband’s is physical touch. This means I feel loved appreciated and in complete connection with my husband when we spend time together with no interruptions from kids or distractions from phones or other gadgets. For my husband, this means that he feels loved, appreciated and completely connected when I physically touch him in any way. We have found that one of the core issues couples have is they don’t know how to take care of one another. They don’t know how to nourish and cherish their partner.

9. Communicate With One Another Intimately on a Regular Basis. There was a study that came out recently that says that physical touch is even more important in the communication between partners than verbal or nonverbal communication. Do not deprive each other sexually out of anger or selfishness. In the age of Facebook and other social media it is too easy to reconnect with someone you once loved.

10. Create Shared Values. Create your own values for your home together. Don’t base them solely on the values you developed growing up as a child or those things that you are now trying so hard to do the opposite of or those things that you didn’t see done as a child. Fellas many of us grew up without a father in the home, so we try to overcompensate when it is our turn to be a father based on what we didn’t get as a child. Create shared values from a space of what you do want not from a space of what you don’t.

*Bonus Tip – As our pastor would say, we are going to throw this one in for free. Be Willing. Be willing to ….. forgive, take chances, be flexible to the ebb and flow of life and the changes that it can bring, and love hard.

As we have said, marriage is not easy, but if you are willing to put in the work and listen to what your partner is asking for, you can maintain that wedding day love for a lifetime.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mommy and Daddy and 46 Years!

Mommy and Daddy in the Beginning Years 

Yesterday March 7th marked the 46th anniversary of my parent’s marriage. When I spoke to my parents yesterday to ask them how many years it was my mom said, “oh it’s been about 40 years”. My dad was in the background yelling, “46 years”. Talking to each of them yesterday was very funny, as usual. When I was talking to my dad, he remembered that our anniversary is at the end of the month and he asked me how many years is it, and I said 11 years. Then he said, “oh that’s just a drop in the bucket”. I could do nothing but laugh. He was right in comparison to his relationship with my mom, but I told him that a lot of people don’t even make it as far as we have.

I thought about how I would write about them and what I would say. I thought about the number of years they have been together and the number of years they have known each other. They have known each other since they were in the 6th grade. I thought about the ups and downs they had as a couple, the struggles they had as well as the triumphs. I think back now about how they raised my sister and me and the values they instilled in us, education, family, respect of self and family, love for one another and family and many more. I think about the butt whoopings my sister got and I avoided. I think about the family vacations, the family holidays and the sense of love and security that I felt as a child. As I now look back on their marriage and relationship, I remember watching the Huxtables and not envying them for having a two parent household as so many others did. I think about how many people have adopted my dad as their dad, because theirs was absent or non-existent.

Now don’t get me wrong, my parent’s marriage has its quirks just like anyone else’s relationship, but the good outweighs the bad. Their marriage reminds me of what sacrifice is and why it is so important in a marriage. They walked out in real life in front of my eyes what people do, who say, ‘til death do us part. Throughout their marriage, there have been financial issues as well as sickness just like in many other relationships, but they stood by each other no matter what. No matter what is no longer in people’s vocabulary. The words these days sound a little bit more like, only if, which puts a lot of conditions on why people decide to stay in their marriages. One recent episode of no matter what occurred when my mom broke her right arm in California while they were attending a family reunion back in July. Because of the severity of the break to my mom’s arm she was unable to do most things on her own, including doing her hair. Now my dad comes from the old school where dad’s don’t know how to do a girl’s hair so for him to roll and then comb my mom’ s hair was huge! He cooked and served all of her meals, gave her twice daily insulin shots for 7 months and even drove Miss Daisy around wherever she wanted to go including meeting her partner so they could go to work. The level of care and concern that my dad showed my mom during this time showed me what sacrificial love looks like on a daily basis and emphasized his love for her. Seeing how he cared for her brought me to tears on many occasions and I had to thank him for what he was doing. His response to me was that’s what I’m supposed to do.

I have often thought about why some of my favorite characters in movies were the ones in which Black women stood proudly by their men and supported them through thick and thin. In my eyes, my mom was the original ride or die chick. She had my dad’s back through so many years of marriage, parenting and everyday life. She showed me what it looked like to take care of your family at all costs. She even in later years showed me what it looks like when the bible talks about a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife. On one occasion in my first year of marriage, my husband and I had an argument and I called myself leaving with my baby on my hip dragging my bags behind me. Because at the time we lived about ten minutes away from my parents, I went to their home for refuge. When my mom answered the door and saw what looked like I was leaving my husband, she gave me the once over to make sure that I was okay and politely told me, “we don’t condone that, you can stay here tonight, but you have got to go home in the morning”. What? Can you believe that, they told me to go home! In retrospect, that was the best thing they could have ever done. That evening they made sure I was okay physically and never made mention of that evening again. No matter the struggles we have gone through they have never questioned nor inserted themselves into our marriage. Although their marriage has not been perfect but neither is mine, watching them has taught me many things that I can and do carry into my relationship and what I can share with others, which is their love and sacrifice for one another and for us, their undying support for one another, their commitment to their relationship, and their continued desire to be married even after 46 years. Happy Anniversary mommy and daddy, I Love you!

Mommy and Daddy after Years Together!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Why I Love Being Married

For those of you who don't know, Ben and I started The Marriage Coaches in November of 2008 as an answer to God's call for us. We have been married for almost 11 years (March 27). We have had many trials and tribulations and issues in our marriage to varying degrees. I always say we have dealt with everything except abuse and infidelity, almost everything else, you name and we have dealt with it.

Even early on in our marriage, we dealt with issues of one of us wanting to end the relationship or being impacted by the divorce of a close family friend. Even then, God was preparing us for this day. We decided to do a monthly tribute to marriage. Our pastor at the time gave us permission to have seasoned couples get up during service and share with the rest of us what it took to be happily married. We even planned a cruise for married couples. During that time, we got to hear from several couples, but two couples stood out to me the most because the husband of one couple (Jones) and the wife of the other (Brewtons) have since passed, but the memory of their words and inspiration still lives on as an inspiration of what a lifetime of love and commitment looks like even in death.

Fast forward several years and here we are after logging many hours as a therapist and providing pre-marital sessions for the church and various groups, the message of I Love Being Married was delivered. My husband was talking to one of his good single male friends who told him, I can see that you have a great relationship with your wife. You are the same person even whe she is not around. You act the same way around her and she lets you be yourself and she can be herself. Side Note: Ben is very active and busy and energetic, I on the other hand am very laid back, but we compliment each other very well. Anyway, he told Ben you make me want to get married because you look like you love being married. Wow, what a statement! He could see the love my husband had for me even when I was not around by his actions and his words. This is how I Love Being Married was born. God used him to show us how He wants to use us! I thank God for using him and for our ability to move in faith to follow.

I Love Being Married is a movement that we want to take over the world! This is something bigger than us. I think we had taken for granted the power of these words recently. But, these words carry a lot of power. The words I love being married carries a lot of emotions for people good and bad based on their experience with marriage. We've had many reactions from, I love that where can I be a part of it, to his wife made him wear that shirt or even you're such a liar. Unfortunately, the bad comments have resounded louder than the good. We want to change that. We're not asking people to join a movement to support us as individuals, but in support of The I Love Being Married Movement. You may not be able to say this today but on days when I don't even feel like saying it, seeing those words plastered everywhere makes me stand up and take notice. I have to check myself. Who gon' check me boo, if I don't check myself. Please share this note and your commitment to this movement by asking others to become fans of The Marriage Coaches on Facebook and by using our symbol of the I Love Being Married rings on your wall or even as your profile pic. We love each other and our extended family on all of our communities and want to spread some of this love and inspiration to others to show that you can go from thoughts of divorce to being able to say, I Love Being Married.

Thanks for your support,

Benjamin and Alisha Walker
The Marriage Coaches

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tame Your Snake

My daughter and I were having a discussion about making choices and how you can make the best decision for your life. It is so divine that we were having this discussion now because Ben and I are in the midst of making some pretty life changing choices as well. I have wanted to write something about this video for the longest because it epitomizes what I tell my daughter and MYSELF all the time, face your fears and do it anyway.

My daughter is extremely shy, just as I was at her age and on into adulthood. She is coming out of her shell a lot earlier than I did.  I didn't really release some of my shyness until I was an adult and only after much prayer, faith and waterwalking. All of us will have choices in life that we have to make that could change the course of our lives forever. I call this the sliding door moment. You can choose to go left and your life will open up to new adventure, change, excitement, some pain and heartache because all of this is a part of life, but you are living fully present everyday, because you have chosen to be there. The other choice is to go right, the way that you already know because it is familiar, it is comfortable, it is easy and there is no fear or faith invovled. Well, after I saw my daughter holding this snake and allowing it to move around her even though she was afraid, I learned in an even greater and tangible way how adventure and the unknown are only conquered when you face your fears and do it anyway. Tomorrow is unknown. You must have faith to move forward. At times when God is growing your faith, He only gives you just enough light for the step you're on and you have to face your fears, have faith and do it anyway. Many of us have fears of the unknown and want to shrink back into the familiar. But, I want to challenge you to face your fears and do it anyway. TAME YOUR SNAKE.

Mattew 6: 25-34
25 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you,O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

2Timothy 1:7
7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Today is February 18th, the day my daughter was born. She was born one year ago in 2009. She is definitely a miracle and definitely a blessing. She came at a time shortly after my husband and I had a miscarriage. On February 8, 2008, we lost a child to miscarriage. This child came to us just as easily as the two prior. We had no problems conceiving, we were happy about the pregnancy, and were going through the motions of pregnancy. Because we were old pros at this, we waited on going for our first appointment. We were taking for granted that everything was okay. We were moving with business as usual and not putting a real emphasis on this pregnancy… this blessing we were given. Then on February 8, 2008, everything changed….

I went in to see my doctor and she was pleasantly surprised to see me because we had just had a child in 2006. We went through the routine of the visit. They took my vital signs, they took my weight, they did the monitor for the baby’s heart beat…. The nurse did the monitor for the heartbeat, but she couldn’t find it, so she called in the more senior nurse to try it and she couldn’t find it. They then called in the doctor to find the heart beat and she couldn’t find it. I still wasn’t that worried because maybe I wasn’t as far along as I thought. Maybe, something else was going on because I had been feeling strange this whole pregnancy, something just didn’t seem right. After all of this, including drawing some blood, they sent me home with an appointment for an ultrasound in a couple of days. That evening I came home and I felt this gush of fluid. I went to the bathroom and it was blood! I was frantic because I was at home alone with my two daughters and something is going wrong. I called my doctor right away and told her what was going on, and as I sit here and I write this I can remember her words like they were yesterday, she said in a motherly kind of hush tone, “sweetie, you’re having a miscarriage”. After she said that it was as if the world went silent. The silence was so loud. After I registered what she was saying I began to bawl uncontrollably, you know that gut wrenching cry. She said, “ honey, it’s not your fault, I knew when you came in that something was wrong. It will be okay.” In that moment, it didn’t feel okay. It felt like I was being punished for something wrong. All kinds of things were running through my mind. She told me to allow it to happen naturally and then go to the ultrasound appointment in a couple of days that was already scheduled to make sure that there were no remains. I asked some more questions and she said, “if it will make you feel better, you can go to the emergency room, but there is nothing they can do at this point to stop it”. Whoa! Everything was spinning and I wasn’t really sure what happened after that. I just remember calling my husband, my sister and my parents. My husband must have been doing 100 miles an hour because he got home so quickly. I don’t even remember what he said. I just know he was in shock and was there to take care of me. Later on that evening, my sister came over to console me and just held me while I cried, all the while I was continuing to have cramps like I was in labor. Even while she was rocking me and I was crying… I was losing the baby. Needless to say this was one of the most painful experiences I have ever had in my life, the kind of pain that reaches down into your soul. I spoke to my parents and they asked, “do you need us to come?” I was trying to be brave and said, “no we will be okay”. My dad heard my voice as only a father can and said to my mother, “we need to go”. That night they packed up and arrived the next morning. Even now that feeling of unconditional love takes over me and makes me get emotional.

During this whole time, I was kind of like in a trance because I couldn’t believe this was happening. I didn’t know why after two perfectly healthy children, we had a miscarriage. One of the consoling things that people told me during this time was, it’s okay, I had one too, it’s very common, and this is just a natural thing that happens. After the initial pain and tears, I really was okay. I realized that I was taking the fact that I could get pregnancy easily as well as the actual life for granted. I was grateful for many things. I was grateful for my husband and my family. I was grateful for my two daughters who were healthy and had no medical issues. I was grateful for the discerning spirit that God had given me throughout this time to recognize that something was wrong and I just praised God for taking the baby so early on. He knew how much I could bear. Even since that time, I have been able to use my pain and struggle to bless others in their pain. I have been able to give God the glory and for that, we have been blessed again with our daughter Aaliyah. As I said, she was born almost a year to the day that I miscarried the previous child. GOD RESTORED WHAT WE HAD LOST! Not because we had been so good, but because He is so good. He gave us back what was taken away. I am so thankful for her and her birth. God is a healer, He is a comforter, and He is a provider. He showed up in so many ways for me in that situation, from my doctor, to my husband and family, and the unconditional love they displayed for me just like The Father displays for us every day. He even showed up in the friends who shared their stories and support for me. God is able to restore what has been taken away. He is able to repair what is broken. I call this restoration day because my daughter’s birth is a reminder of the grace God has shown us. God is waiting to show that same grace to you in your personal life and in your relationships. He is waiting to repair what is broken and to restore what has been taken. We need only ask. Ask Him today to repair your broken places, your broken relationships, and restore what once was. Ask Him to reveal to you His grace and praise Him in advance for what He has already done. Hebrews 13:15-16, 18-21 15Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. 18Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way. 19I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon. 20May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Decide that today is YOUR Happy Restoration Day!
This is a picture of our blessing helping mommy with the dishes.  :)