This book was impactful for me because it gives a lot of resources to help with mental health, specifically depression. The book starts very relatable because the way he mentions his depression episode was exactly how I felt during mine.
Chris provided information I had not known about depression and even talked about the music genre “the blues.” He informs of the genre’s origin and how it relates to depression. This reminded me of the Spanish music genre “Bachata” because usually, the lyrics are very miserable.
One thing that stood out to me was that he talked about vulnerability and mentioned that there are two people we cannot lie to ourselves and God. He knows everything; he knows us from the inside out. And another thing that stood out to me was when he wrote about needing balance in our lives. We need to stop and check ourselves to see where our life is when we feel depressed. Is our work, family, hobbies, etc. balanced? What can we do to make sure it is?
“Stop trying to do everything and focus on what God wants you to do.” – Chris Hodges
Whether single, dating or married, you should read this book. I loved how honest he was and that he included his wife in the book. He provides practical biblical advice about being single, dating, and married. And there’s a chapter about sex, which I find very important. I know some Christians don’t like talking about sex, but sex is something that God created to be enjoyed between a husband and wife; we can talk about it.
I highly recommend this book to everyone.
With Love Heidy
Have you read either of these books? What were your thoughts on them?
I recently went to a Latina small business owners networking event, and one of the other attendees was talking about motherhood, and she said something that really intrigued me. She said (this is me paraphrasing), “when a new baby is born, a mother is born, which is a new version of yourself. You don’t know how to be a mother, you have to learn as you go, but you were also a person before you were a mother; you still have an identity.” It reminded me of this blog post I had on my list to write, three ways not to lose your identity in motherhood.
It seems like once you become a mom, that’s all society wants you to be, a mother. But we are much more than just a mom. Yes, it’s a demanding, tiring, most rewarding job, but it’s not the only thing we are. Think back to who you were before you became a mom. What did you like? What did you do? What brought you a sense of self? Do you still do those things? Why or why not?
Yes, there are certain things you probably won’t continue to do once you become a mom. For example, if you were an everyday party animal before, that cannot continue. But that’s not what I’m talking about; I’m talking about what was your identity before you got the title “mom?” So, today I want to bring three ways not to lose your identity in motherhood.
What are your hobbies? What do you like to do outside of spending time with your children? Do you like to read? Do you like to write? Do you like to go for walks? Do you like to swim? Write down a list of things you like to do and schedule a time to do them.
I love reading and writing, hence why I’m writing this blog post, but I have to make time to do this with being a mom of two. Currently, my husband is with my son, and my daughter is next door playing with her friend, so I am able to write this blog post. When it comes to the reading part, I include my kids sometimes. I’ll read to them what I’m currently reading if it’s age-appropriate, of course, or sometimes it’s poetry that I read to them, but it’s something I enjoy.
Self-Care / Take a break
Being a mom is exhausting! And if we do not take a break, we will burn out, which can cause harm to ourselves. TAKE.A.BREAK! Make a list of things you like to do to feel relaxed or take care of yourselves. For example, massages, getting your nails done, taking a nap, going to the beach, or meditation. Whatever it is for you, make sure to schedule it throughout the week.
What self-care looks like for me is reading the bible, journaling, getting my nails done, and getting a massage every once in a while. Yes, I have mom guilt at times, thinking that getting my nails done is taking too long, or maybe I should be doing something with the kids. But then I remember, how can I take care of my family if I’m not taking care of myself? I cannot pour from an empty cup. I’m always putting my family first; sometimes, putting myself first is okay. And you should too.
I wrote an article for Medium about why adult friendships are so hard, and as mothers, we know that once you have kids, certain friendships fade. However, true friendships will last because those friends understand that you no longer have the same freedom you once had.
Although adult friendships are hard, I still believe it’s important to maintain friendships and not lose our identities in motherhood. Why? Because we need adult conversations from time to time. We need connections with other adults and a good laugh every once in a while.
When was the last time you had a lunch date with a friend? If you cannot remember, text a girlfriend and set up a time to meet. If you cannot do a lunch date, maybe a dinner date, or even invite them over to your house for a little bit for some coffee or tea. Whatever it is, make an effort to meet up with at least one friend because you deserve it.
*Bonus* Don’t Neglect Your Marriage
Many people say kids come first, but I don’t believe that is true when you are married. Before you go clutching your pearls, hear me out. Yes, my children are a high priority to me, and my husband and I take excellent care of our kids, but my marriage comes first, and here’s why.
Once my kids leave the house, my husband is who will stay with me, and if during all these years, I’ve lost my identity and I wasn’t putting my marriage first, I’m not going to know who I am anymore, and I’m not going to have a marriage because I haven’t been putting effort towards the marriage, I’ve just been kids, kids, kids. Do you see what I’m saying? Yes, you aren’t just a wife, but your partner should help you to not lose your identity, and if you have, they should help you get it back. Don’t neglect your marriage.
Alright, all you wonderful mommies – you have some homework to do! Make sure to make a list of your hobbies and do them, make a list of things that you find relaxing and do them, schedule a friendship date, and work on your marriage.
Picture this…. you’ve been dating someone for a few months, or maybe a few years. And everything seems to be going perfectly. There have been barely any arguments, only a few disagreements. It looks like this person is the person that finally gets you. They understand you when you express yourself. You can be your complete self with them, and they don’t judge you. It seems like you’re in heaven. You know everything about this person, and they know everything about you, so it’s a no-brainer to say yes when they pop the big question, “will you marry me” but do you know everything about them?
It’s impossible to know EVERYTHING about a person but before you walk down the aisle to marry this person and start a life together, have you guys discussed the important topics before knowing for sure that this person is the one?
Here are three topics that should be discussed before getting married.
You may think you know everything about your fiancé. Still, you’d be surprised at what you’d find out when you ask questions or things that might come to light later because they didn’t think it was a big deal to say before getting married, which is why it is important to talk about everything pertaining to their history.
For example, personal history, like where did they grow up, went to school, etc.? Family history, are they close to their family, were both parents around and just one, etc.? Family history plays a significant role in people’s personalities, so this is important. Sexual history, your significant other should be open about this with you; if they aren’t, that may be a red flag, but that is a whole different topic.
Talk about previous relationships, how did they end and why did they end? This is important because wounds and trauma of earlier relationships affect present or future relationships even when people think they are ‘over it.’ Do they still communicate with their exes? If so, why, how often? Sometimes relationships don’t end on bad terms, and some exes may stay as friends but discuss with your partner how comfortable you are with this. Also, were they previously married, are there kids from that marriage, why did they divorce? You’d be surprised at how many people don’t really think this is a big deal to discuss. Ask questions!
We’ve heard the statistics before that the main reason why couples divorce is because of finances. And if you are at the point of being engaged, I’m going to assume you both have had some discussion about finances, like who earns more money. If not, definitely need to have this talk, and also, does it matter to the other person who earns more.
Men are usually labeled as the ‘provider’ of the family, so it is common or the ‘norm’ for them to earn more, but that isn’t always the case. Have this discussion early and make sure no egos are hurt if the woman earns more money. At the end of the day, finances should be ‘ours,’ not his and hers, although every household is different.
How will the finances look in your household? Will there be one joint account, maybe his and her accounts? Some couples have one together and then each of their own. Many couples do finances differently, which is okay; you don’t have to do what your other married friends do. Come up with a plan that works for you both, that you both agree.
Other questions to ask: Who will pay the bills? All of the bills or just some? Who spends more? Can you guys stick to a budget? Please talk about the debt’s you guys have, since after marriage, it becomes debt for both. What is your partner’s credit score? Are you willing to help them if they have bad credit? It’s essential to get these questions out the way first and set a plan for the future, so this doesn’t become an issue in the long run.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but expectations should be discussed because you two are two individuals coming together as one, and you both think differently and might have different expectations for this marriage. It’s better to get them out now before the wedding than during a heated argument.
The book has a great worksheet that you can do with your finance about your expectations for every area of your life. The worksheet about expectations starts by stating, “Expectations are so basic that we often don’t even recognize them, yet they influence our behavior every day – how we treat people, how we react to different situations.” Speaking about expectations to your significant other is vital prior to getting married.
Let me give you some examples of areas and questions discussed:
Marriage and Relationship: How will decisions be made and how will disagreements get resolved?
Home: where will you guys live and what type of home does this look like?
Social/Entertainment and Home Environment: how often will people be invited to the home, and how often will date night be? How will the television be watched, and are there any guidelines about what is watched? Who has hobbies? What are they? Will they be done together, or will this be something always done individually?
I have an excellent example on this one; my hobbies are reading and writing, and before I post any blogs, my husband reads them over to make sure I didn’t miss any grammar errors or need to change anything. Before I write, I discuss the topics with him and sometimes get his insight on things too. When I’m reading a book, I’ll discuss anything I find interesting with him, or he sometimes asks me questions about the book. He takes an interest in what my hobbies are. One of his hobbies is to watch boxing, I’m not a big fan, but I’ll ask him questions, or I’ll watch a boxing match with him; I also put an effort to be a part of his hobbies.
One of the hobbies we have in common is that we like the same sports team, so we enjoy attending those games together and watching them together.
Ok, now more questions and examples from the book:
Household Responsibilities: Who will cook, clean, laundry? This is a big one because we are no longer in the 1950s when women did not work.
Parenting/Children: How many children, if any? When do start having children? How will you discipline your children?
These are a few examples of the expectations that should be discussed before getting married; the book does an excellent job at going more in-depth on more topics, which sometimes you don’t think you need to discuss until the time comes. Still, it’s better to discuss before so you know where each of you stands when it does come.
As my husband and I were going through the book, and we were answering the questions, some of them I knew how he would respond because we had talked about it before, but it gave me such peace of mind that I was making the right decision with marrying this man. Even though I knew he was the one, he’s the man I prayed for….more about this on a later post, LOL. But I want the same reassurance for you. I want you to feel secure that when any challenge comes your way, which they will, that you guys will face them together, not against each other.
Marriage isn’t the same as being in a relationship, it’s much more profound, and it’s a more significant commitment. You are making a promise to share your life with this person as long as you both shall live. That is not something to be taken lightly.
A book all couples should read is “The Five Love Language, By Gary Coleman.” Yes, you can take the quiz online to know each other’s love language, but I suggest you guys read it together. This way, you get an idea of how to fill up each other’s love tanks and keep them full. 🙂
The worst thing you can do for your marriage is compare it to other people’s marriages!
People are different, personalities are different, you don’t know what their spouse likes or doesn’t like. You don’t know their dynamics. You don’t know how long it took them to get where they are or the struggles they’ve been through.
What works for them will not work for you. You are not married to their spouse you are married to your spouse. Talk to your spouse about what they want, like, or desire, talk to your spouse, and see how you can be a better spouse. But be willing to listen. I mean, really listen. Not listen to respond but listen to receive, to understand, to comprehend where they are coming from.
Talk to God and ask Him to reveal how you can be a better spouse for your significant other. Pray for your spouse.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 NIV
Watch how God transforms your spouse, you, and your marriage as you seek Him in your marriage.
Marriage is between two people. Not two people and their friends, and friends of friends, and their family, and their long lost cousin, NO! Marriage is between you and your spouse.
If you need advice, seek advice but be intentional on who you ask for advice. Seek it from a couple who you look up to, who you can tell they have a strong connection and have it together because not everyone wants to give advice, some just want to be nosey.
Also, seek it from someone you know has your best interest at heart. A couple who you know will be genuine and honest. But don’t compare your marriage to theirs because, again, those are two different individuals to you and your spouse.
“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end, you will be counted among the wise.” Proverbs 19:20 NIV
My best advice is to seek guidance from God. Only He knows both of you from inside out, only He knows each of your hearts, and He can guide you on how to overcome challenges together, instead of against each other.
You are a team and God is your coach.
Your marriage will not flourish if you keep comparing it to Maria and Jose’s marriage or Sally and John’s, because those are different marriages, different people, and different situations. Even your parents marriage, don’t compare it!
Keep your focus on God and your spouse and see what works for you guys. If something isn’t working out then change it and try something else, but find what works for you and your spouse.