This blog was created to serve as an inspiration to all who read aspire, to love and to live a life of purpose.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ask Amy: When is the "Right" Time?

Read this letter today on The Washington Post. I did a re-post about this same topic in December in 7 Signs You're Ready to Get Married and similarly in 7 Keys to a Successful Marriage and 7 Keys to Finding a Good Husband but I've been approached with this question in conversation at least 4 times in the past month (and in a 'please reply but don't post' dear nwavic letter last month)- enough times that when I saw this letter today, I decided it needed a re-post as well.

The Letter

DEAR AMY: I am a 33-year-old man who is in a relatively new relationship with a woman. (We’ve been together for four months). We’ve both said, “I love you,” but not with haste.

We have each had experiences in which we were hurt by significant others and took time to mend. At this point in my life, I know what I want, I know what I am looking for, I know what I am willing to contribute and I’m ready for the next step. We have already had conversations about expectations in a marriage but not necessarily with regard to each other.

Can you offer questions a couple should ask before deciding to marry each other? In a perfect world where everything can be measured by some standard, how long should a couple wait before considering becoming engaged? -- D

Amy's Response
DEAR D: In a perfect world, couples would delay marriage to enjoy the golden moments of engagement forever. In terms of how long to be together before becoming engaged, let me just say that when it comes to a true love match, you know what you know and time is immaterial.
Your thoughtful approach tells me that you and your beloved are ready to ask some challenging questions about money, family relationships and work-life balance. The real issue is: Can you hear the answers accurately and respectfully?
A book I like (which will stimulate important conversations) is “The Hard Questions: 100 Questions to Ask Before You Say ‘I Do’ ” by Susan Piver (2007, Tarcher). These questions, ranging from what you think of when you think of “home,” to how you handle friendships, family relationships, work and money, are important questions for any couple to tackle.
NwaVic's Two Cents
There is no rock solid universal number of months or days to know when to propose. While time is an essential part, it always depends on the couple's unique circumstances. In other words, a number of factors play on "time". Think about this, it matters more in what you do in the time that you have, than in the length of time itself. Make sense?  

I've seen people get married after a month or a couple of months and it works. In the same light, I've seen people court for years on end and end up being married for less time than they were dating. So you see, when it comes to "time", it's not so black and white. 
1. Age/Maturity of the couple/Trusted Intuition: With age+ maturity, comes clear intuition. Notice I didn't just say age because that alone doesn't guarantee maturity. When you are at a certain maturity level, you have become so well-seasoned in people-reading that you can spot signs know what you want and when you see it, its so glaring, no one can tell you any different. 

To make an "early" leap, you have to trust yourself and your judgment. How can you ensure you trust your judgment? I wish I could tell you. The best I can say is be attentive to signs, pray about it, listen to those quiet voices in your head and in your heart and ask yourself, "Can I really stand this person after the honeymoon stage fades and for the rest of my life?". Can I tolerate being next to this person when there's no money in the account, there are screaming children and work is driving me crazy? Like they say, sometimes "when you know, you just know".

2. Distance: But I must say, in order to "know", distance is really important. If you're dating someone long distance, you need more time to get to know the person because you need to spend more money/effort to figure out how the person acts in your presence and in social gatherings and most importantly, how they relate to your family and friends. This requires commitment (both monetary and otherwise) on both ends. But like I've told some close family and friends, in my books, if you're dating someone within close proximity to you, 6-8 months from official dating (assuming you spend time together at least 3 times a week) is enough time to "know" the person, but long distance requires at least 10months-1 year of regular visits since "talking" because you need time to get rid of the "best behavior for the weekend/visit" phase. 
3. Mutual plan: Before you propose or agree to a proposal, you have to know what the other person's life plan is. Are they ready to settle down? Do they have the same mind-set in regards to important life decisions e.g. how to raise kids, etc. This is an important question to know the answer to because if you marry someone who is not on the same page as you, you will end up in a marriage alone. Enough said. 
4. Important Questions: My big brother always says marriage is like a business partnership. I couldn't agree more. Even though a very important element of marriage is love, believe it or not, there are some business elements to it. So, before you go in, you have to know what you are getting into. Some important questions to ask?
a. What exactly do they do/plan to do for a living? Believe it or not, a lot of people marry someone when they are not even sure what "business" they do. Ask questions. Do research. I'm not saying judge them based on what they do. But knowledge is power. 
b. How is their credit/debt? If you live in the States, this is especially important for the sake of future decisions. You don't want to marry someone only to find out you can't get a mortgage because their credit score is 400. Again, I'm not saying this should be your deal breaker. But you should know. 
c. Do they want children? If you want children and you marry someone who doesn't want children, you will end up in divorce. Trust me, I've seen it happen.

d. If you get married, where will you live? if long distance, who is willing to move? Someone told me a couple of weeks ago that they hadn't decided who would move and they were planning a wedding. What!? Have a life plan, people.
5. A "friend" yet?: Have you become "friends"? It's time to marry someone when you have become true friends. The "try to impress each other" barrier has fallen and you can be your true selves with each other without fearing judgment. When your partner knows all your flaws and loves you anyway, its a good sign. I hate to break it to you, a "forever" marriage won't work unless you enjoy each other's company without sex. Believe it or not, when the butterflies in your stomach dissipate and life's difficulties start to creep in, its the friendship that will hold.
6. Honesty & Trust: You have to know for sure that this person is an honest person.that they are open with you about who they are and even the nastiest details of their life. With this openness/honesty, comes trust and with this trust comes an indication that its okay to settle down with this person. I have testimonies- the heartache of being with an untrustworthy person will create a marriage overshadowed by arguments and spy-acts. Before you know it, you will loose yourself acting all crazy looking through their phone, email, facebook and stalking them every time you "suspect" something is up. 
So, there you have it. I know I said "two-cents", but I ended up giving you "6-cents". hehe
Your thoughts?
Stay Inspired...
*Email with any issues, concerns, questions, suggestions for a prompt and neutral response/advice. :-)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dear NwaVic: He Calls Me Fat & Worthless. Am I Being Abused?

Dear NwaVic,

I have been dating this guy for  2.5 years. We had a good first year but soon after we moved in together, he changed. Before I continue, I want you to know he has never hit me but his behavior hurts me. He tells me all the time that I'm fat and worthless. But he also says he wants to marry me and start a family. He controls the finances and makes me write him an email every time I want money for even basic things. I also have to get permission to see my friends because otherwise, he'll accuse me of cheating.  I just recently lost some weight but I am still very insecure because everytime I make up, he just laughs at me and tells me it won't help. He spends a lot of time with his friends, sometimes overnight but when I ask, he tells me "I ask too many questions" so I just shut up. Whenever he asks for sex and I'm too tired after a long day of work, he says he has a right to sleep with his girlfriend and calls me a horrible girlfriend. Most times, I feel bad and give in. One time, I refused to give in but then I woke up to him on top of me. He apologized several times and I later forgave him because I love him and believe he loves me too. Without these things, he is a great man. Everyone calls us the perfect couple. When he's in a good mood, I feel like a queen because he can be romantic at times. But I'm feeling really down and I want to know what to do before I marry him. I just told my best friend of an incident and she thinks I'm being abused. If he has never hit me, how can I be abused? Please help. 

May be Abused.

Dear May be Abused,
Your letter sent chills down my spine. Its really unfortunate that you have to go through this. Abuse is not only physical. It can also be emotional/psychological, sexual or financial. A person can take control of your mind and make you doubt even your existence, all in the name of love.

Every word in your letter is indicative of emotional/psychological and sexual abuse.  Emotional or sexual abuse is as bad as physical abuse. A person doesn't have to hit you to hurt you. Words alone can choke/kill you.
First, let me lay out the abuse warning list/signs of abuse;

1. Destructive Criticism/Verbal Attacks: Name-calling; mocking; accusing; blaming; yelling; swearing; making humiliating remarks or gestures.

2. Pressure Tactics: Rushing you to make decisions through “guilt- tripping” and other forms of intimidation; sulking; threatening to withhold money; manipulating the children.

3. Abusing Authority: Always claiming to be right; bossing you around.

4. Disrespect: Interrupting; changing topics; not listening or responding; twisting your words; putting you down in front of other people; saying bad things about your friends and family.

5. Abusing Trust: Lying; withholding information; cheating on you; being overly jealous.

6. Breaking Promises: Not following through on agreements; not taking a fair share of responsibility; refusing to help with child care or housework.

7. Emotional Withholding: Not expressing feelings; not giving support, attention, or compliments; not respecting feelings, rights, or opinions.

8. Minimizing, Denying & Blaming: Making light of behavior and not taking your concerns about it seriously; denying the abuse happened; shifting responsibility for abusive behavior; saying you caused it.

9. Economic Control: Interfering with your work or not letting you work; refusing to give you or taking your money; taking your car keys or otherwise preventing you from using the car; threatening to report you to welfare or other social service agencies.

10. Self-Destructive Behavior: Abusing drugs or alcohol; threatening suicide or other forms of self-harm; deliberately saying or doing things that will have nega- tive consequences (e.g., telling off the boss).

11. Isolation: Preventing or making it difficult for you to see friends or relatives; monitoring phone calls; telling you where you can and cannot go.

12. Harassment: Making uninvited visits or calls; following you; checking up on you; embarrassing you in public; refusing to leave when asked.
Now let's apply them to your situation accordingly.
First, he calls you fat and worthless. He tells you make up won't help you. He laughs at you. These are clearly destructive (not constructive) criticism and verbal attacks.  

Secondly, he guilt-trips you into having sex. That is a pressure tactic. 

Thirdly, he makes you officially request money for basic things by email. This shows he thinks he has authority/economic control over you, like a boss will have over his employees. 

Fourthly, when you ask him where he was overnight, he says you ask too many questions. He clearly doesn't care to respond to your concerns.

Further, he always spends the nights with his friends and doesn't care to tell you where he was? He is more than likely cheating on you my dear. Then, he even forces himself on you after you have said no. Girl, that is borderline rape and physical abuse. 

You need permission to see friends? This man wants to isolate you from people you love so he can have complete control of you. Please don't let the fact that he says he wants to marry you cloud your judgment. Marrying him won't change him. It may even make things worse because he know it'll be harder for you to leave.  You deserve better than a man who insults, controls and/or rapes you. and NO "great" man does that. That is not true love.  True love is patient, nurturing, kind and will uplift you not put you down.

I'd advice you leave this abusive situation AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND I know its not an easy thing to do. So here's a link that has a personalized safety plan, hotlines, referral numbers and national information centers across the country. Please do take the time to read it.  

I hope I was able to help. I'll be praying for your safe departure from this situation and discovery of true love in the future. And remember, a person doesn't have to hit you to abuse you.  Plenty hugs!

Stay Inspired....

*Email with any issues, concerns, questions, suggestions for a prompt and neutral response/advice. :-)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Forbes' Partners In Power: The World's Most Influential Couples

So Forbes just released its Ten World's Most Influential Couples. 

When you see things like this, you can either let it make you feel inadequate in your life or you can let it inspire you to strive to reach your full potential. 

I've chosen to do the latter because many people on this list started "ordinary" like you and me. In this life, every day is an opportunity to become bigger and better...So, look, gaze in awe and choose to be inspired.....

10. Patrizio Bertelli and Miuccia Prada
Fashion legend Miuccia Prada, 64, runs the luxury goods and clothing company Prada with her husband Patrizio Bertelli, 67. Prada is the lead designer, while Bertelli handles the business side as CEO. Combined worth? $19 billion. 

9. Gerard Pique and Shakira
The Colombian-born performer and her footballer-boyfriend welcomed their first child, Milan Pique Mebarak, in January. Shakira is also a UNICEF ambassador and a judge on "The Voice" as a judge. Pique plays for FC Barcelona, one of soccer's most valuable teams, and is one of Spain's most popular athletes.

8. Hillary and Bill Clinton
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton are both rainmakers! Steadily making the "most influential" world list, this couple have been through the ups and the downs. Recently, its been reported that Hilary charges an estimated $200,000 fee per event for speaking events and has a $14 million book deal in her pocket. Bill has also raised $73.1 million in commitments from major philanthropists, CEOs and heads of state through his Global initiative to fund charitable action around the globe. 

7. Marissa Mayer and Zachary Bogue
Mayer is Yahoo CEO and Bogue is a former lawyer who invests in big-data startups and founded investment fund Data Collective. The couple married in 2009 and recently welcomed a baby boy, Macallister.

6. Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres
The only gay couple to make the list, the talk show host/comedienne and ‘Arrested Development’ actress married in 2008. In March, DeGeneres took to her blog to urge the Supreme Court to strike down California's Prop 8: "Portia and I aren't as different from you as you might think. We're just trying to find happiness in the bodies and minds we were given, like everyone else."

5. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
Brangelina wedding watch has been in effect since the couple became engaged last year, but the parents of six remain tight-lipped about their plans to tie the knot. The couple is also popular for their charity-support around the world. 

4. Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan
Peng Liyuan is the stylish second wife of newly-installed Chinese President Xi Jinping. The first lady is a former superstar folk singer, and it's often joked that she's more famous than her husband: "Who is Xi Jinping? He is Peng Liyuan's husband."

3. Jay-Z and BeyoncĂ©
Everyone knows them as the first couple of entertainment. Enough said.

2. Melinda Gates and Bill Gates
With a net worth of $67 billion, Bill Gates is the United States' richest man, and through the work of the foundation he founded and runs with wife Melinda, he's also the world's most generous. The couple's Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation last year gave away $3.4 billion, and its primary goals this year have been to eradicate polio worldwide by 2018 and get modern contraceptives to another 120 million women by 2020; the Foundation has committed $140 million annually to this cause. Melinda, a Duke alum, delivered a commencement address at her alma mater this spring and encouraged the Class of 2013 to recognize “the boundless dignity of all people.”

1. Michelle and Barack Obama
With 67% of Americans viewing first lady Michelle Obama favorably, she's more popular than her husband. The President has never been shy about publicly expressing his adoration for his wife; in his election night victory speech, Obama gushed, "I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you too as our nation's first lady."

Good list, you think? If I had the chance, I'd make Bill and Hillary number 1. They're my fave couple of all time! 

One day one day, one of us will make this list. My prayer for you (yes, you) is that your every move will be one step further to "achievement" and "influence". Amen!

Stay Inspired...

Source: Yahoo Finance

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

NwaVic's 32-Woman "Romantic Gesture" Confessional

Aloha peeps!

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine. She was complaining about her beloved boyfriend who was wonderful in every way but in the romance department.

"Ral, how can I tell him what I appreciate most?"
"Ermm, with words"

She didn't think that was enough.

Ladies, we've all been there, where we'd wished our loved one would be more romantic. Being romantic varies from person to person. That's the very essence of has to be personal...tailored to what the recipient enjoys or needs. If you pay attention to your partner, you'll find what makes them light up. Being romantic means using that as a demonstration and your appreciation of what makes them uniquely happy.

So for the sake of all ladies out there, I surveyed 32 women. The question was "Describe the most romantic gesture your man has done for you". And the responses poured in....I loved every minute for it. By the time, I was done collecting "data", I was all "awww'ed" out. Made my day, in fact.

Across 32 responses, I found the theme to be "In romance, little things matter the most". It doesn't have to be grande or expensive. It just has to be thoughtful, sincere, creative and inspired by love.

So here you go, in their own words. Ladies, forward to your men. Men, take note. :-)
He wakes me up every morning with a kiss. It’s just what I need to start my day J

Two weeks ago, he drove 9 hours just to see me for a day. I couldn’t have felt more loved.                                                                                                             -S

One time I had a cold, he drove to my house with flowers and a teddy bear. It didn’t work out but I’d never forget that.                             

When I have crazy busy days at work, I get home pretty late. When I get home I can always count on dinner being ready, the house clean, dishes washed, and our 6-month old changed and ready for bed. My husband is a blessing. 
Once he upset me, so I left his house, only to get home to find him at my doorstep. It was sooo heart-melting.                                                                         -C

The day he sent me flowers, and then showed up an hour later all the way from another state.                                                                                                             

I got home from work after a long day. While I shuffled for my keys, he opened the door and while I was trying to take in the rose petals on the floor, he carried me upstairs, where he started with a foot rub. I don’t have to tell you how the night ended ;-)
F (my man) and I were on a ‘break’. Then one Friday, I saw him at the club. I was with my friends and he was in the corner with his friends and a bunch of plastic dolls.  We didn’t even acknowledge each other. Then one drunken man walked up to me and started talking down my neck. I kept asking him to leave me alone and “running” away from him but he kept trapping me. Before I knew it, F was right beside us. He pulled the guy off me, stared him down and gently said to him “leave her alone”. The drunken man quickly scurried away while F walked right back to where he was with his friends. Needless to say, we made up soon after. There’s nothing as romantic as a man who looks out for you, regardless of whether you’re fighting or not. It means he’s mature enough to separate good emotions from bad.
                                                               - CA

I had been hinting that I liked something on the store but he kept acting like he didn’t hear me so I let it go. A week later, I found it on our bed. J

He'll always wake up late at night when he was sure I was asleep or super early in the morning, and drop me a message cause he always wanted to be the first person I heard/read from in the morning. So literally, every morning whilst we were together, my first message of the day was from him and it was all kinds of messages; biblical, inspirational, etc.
-Lucy O
He knew how much I loved to sing. One random day, he sang “Kenny Rogers-The Best of Me”. Croaky voice and all, it was too cute.                                     -Anonymous

He told me we were going to dinner, and then traveling for the weekend to go rock climbing. After dinner, as we were walking out of the restaurant, I spotted a table with 15 of my closest family and friends. He had even flown in my best friend from another state just for the day! They all started reading poetry to me (apparently from him), and then he dropped down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Nothing could have been more perfect. Of course, I said, “Yes!”                  -Naa

Sometimes when we go out to social gatherings, especially when I’m wearing heels, he’d let me sit as a queen, while he brought me food. So romantic.

When I’m tired, he cooks!

Every morning and every night, if I can’t count on anything else, I can count on a “Good morning beautiful” text from my baby. 5 years and counting.
My hubby is not the romantic type. Old school Naija.  After our "iku aka" "knocking on the door" he told me that's it ohh (naija accent). That in Naija you get your engagement ring and wedding band on your wedding day. I was sad but I said to him "story" lol. Meanwhile my bday was approaching, it was on a weekday so I thought he would do it then but nope he sent me flowers at school (awww). Lol. Then that weekend he told me to pack an overnight bag that we were going away with his friend and his wife. I thought hmmm this could be it but I wasn't fully convinced because we had company. We went to the national harbor for that weekend. Nothing happened at dinner and I knew we were leaving in the morning so I gave up. Then while we were walking around the very scenic lobby/ back to our room, he pulled me back and said "babe I have something for you" and pulled out a box. He said something nice but I was zoned out staring at the box. The couple with us finally turned around and realized what was going on and took pics. It was so nice and romantic and out of character for him. I will never forget.

Every lunch break, he never fails to call or text asking if I’ve eaten. He cares, that much.

When I was in school and broke, he gave me a debit card where he’d put money in for me to food and gas. The essentials. Loved it.                                     -H

Sometimes, when he’s not working my husband shows up at my job with lunch and flowers.
One time I was studying late at night in the Library and he showed up with my favorite meatball pasta for dinner. Just what I needed.                                                                                            -Anonymous

We had been on the phone when I mentioned a random pizza craving. 30 minutes later, my doorbell rang. Pizza just from him. It made my week!

I had only met him 3 times when we exchanged numbers. We started talking on the phone for 3 hours per day. Then it became 4 hours. Then it became 5 hours. Our record was 8hrs on the phone. At that point, I knew I liked him but I wasn’t so sure if it was more. When he finally visited, I was so scared and anxious that our feelings were “phone feelings”. I wasn’t ready to face the feeling- I wanted to talk on the phone with him forever. However, the moment I set my eyes on him, feelings I can’t describe eroded my body. We just hugged and held each other for a long time in the middle of the airport. It was the most romantic moment ever. Today, that man is my husband of 7 months.
-Shantal time, in Abuja, I wanted to get my hair done and didn't have enough money. My boo had called and asked what I was up to, I told him I was sitting around with my hair in a mess. Forty-five minutes later, he brings me the money to get my hair done. He spent 3 hours in a traffic jam just to bring me money to get my hair done.
-       Ifunanya

My boyfriend is a typical Nigerian man.  He is not that romantic, so most times I try to tell him what I want him to do for/to me ;-) Sometimes, he gets the message and sometimes he doesn’t. One faithful night, we talked about breakfast in bed, and I kept going on and on about stories of my girlfriends whose boyfriends brought breakfast 2 bed" (some I even exaggerated loll), just to buttress my point. The next morning, I woke up and there was nothing, there was neither a sign of *break* nor *fast*. I was upset because I had been expecting it but I brushed it off. Three days later, the day I was supposed to leave, I woke up and I saw 3 trays on d bed and a note, which read, “I got your message in your story 3 nights ago. I promise to be more romantic. The 3 trays signified the 3 mornings I made you wait for it”. 

 I hate the rain and when it’s raining at night I literally can't sleep. So whenever it rains, even if he was sleeping or we were in a fight, he'll always ring me and stay with me on the phone till the rain subsides or till he makes me fall asleep... I found that so sweet and really appreciated it.
                                                                                                            -Lucy O

- Calling randomly on a day I'm stressed about stuff to pray for me,
-Leaving simple notes in my purse
- Simply doing stuff outside his comfort zone with me e.g. going kart racing, karaoke, and cooking!!
-Good surprises :-) e.g., sending flowers, jewelry, gifts, and ice cream as random as can be.
 And I think it's easiest if he understands my love language, mine is word of affirmation and of course gifts, trust me these will definitely leave me grinning all day.

He took me to dinner at the Eiffel tower in Paris. So romantic!
                                                                                                            - O.N
On Valentine’s Day, he surprised me with dinner. He had chilled champagne, a customized picture of us and flowers delivered to our table.
-       O.C

The simplest things. When I’m tired, he’d carry me all the way to the car. Or hold my hand in the mall. He’s mine. He wants the world to know that.
-       R

In the first year of our relationship, my fiancĂ© then boyfriend surprised me with a basket of healthy study snacks to my door. Why is this thoughtful and romantic? 
 Well, it was my final year in undergrad and so you can already imagine that exams are going to be tough, coupled with the fact that I was on a diet (let’s just say I had to go on it haha). So safe to say that it was tough to study without your usual chips, cookies, chocolate bars, candy etc. (the typical study food). I had never gone on a diet before and he knew how hard it was for me. So imagine my surprise one day I am sitting at home studying and the doorbell rings, I go to answer it and right in front of me was a huge food basket full of grapes, crackers, cheese, apples, pears, plums you name it. It came with a note that read: “Here’s a little something to help you study”. I was so shocked and overwhelmed with joy, it wasn’t anything over the top but it was exactly what I needed at the time to help me get through the process of studying for exams and being on a diet. From that moment, I knew he was a keeper.
-       Chioma

Just that he tells me he loves me and is lucky to have me everyday. 
                                                                                                            - Anonymous

We were taking a walk once and he picked the flowers off a nearby bush. And handed it to me. Simple and cutely romantic.
-       I

What's the most romantic gesture a man has done for you? Comment away :-)

Stay Inspired....