Helping Her Choose Good Friends

I hope you've enjoyed this little middle school friend series...I missed a few days because life has been FULL!! And it still is. For the next two days I'll be attending various events at my Alma Mater for Homecoming weekend, participating in a couple of alumni events...always fun.

I thought I would re-post one of the most popular posts from last year about helping girls choose (and be) good friends. I love to do this object lesson with girls, because they are the ones coming up with what's written down, not me.

So they really come to conclusions based on what they say, not what I say. (and that's always better than being told what to think, especially for teens).

Our pretend friend- this object lesson involves writing down the positive and negative traits of friendships on individual circles and gluing them on a silhouette of our fake pretend friend! (We always have to name her first!) The good traits went inside, and the negative traits went outside.

The girls think of various things that a good friend does- things like compliments, stands up for, is honest, etc. Those are written down and put inside of the silhouette.

Then they come up with traits that cause division and problems among friends- lying, insults, rumors, etc. Those go on the outside of the silhouette.
We discuss how everyone makes mistakes (and will at times do things on the outer parts!) so friends have to be open to talking through and forgiving each other. But also, if we are hanging out with a friend that does mostly negative all of the time, that sometimes we have to rethink if that is a good friendship.

Are we constantly disappointed or in conflict with a friend, or is it just occasional? Can you usually work it out together or does it just get worse?

Then the biggest question is, where do we ourselves fit? Am I mostly exhibiting the good character traits? Do I try and make the negative traits minimal? And then, where do my friends fit?

We are not judging people, but learning how to choose good relationships based on what makes healthy friendships. All make mistakes and we must learn to discuss and forgive.

But we do have a choice of who to spend large amounts of time with and who to invest our lives in.

Who we hang out with determines much of who we become!

Discussion Starter:

Draw a big circle. What's important to you in a friendship? Think about your favorite friends. Name 5 reasons why they make a good friend and write those inside of the circle.

Now try and name 5 things that girls do that make friendships difficult- traits that girls have that make you not want to be friends with them. Write those 5 negative traits outside of the circle.

As you look at your picture, where do you fit most of the time? Where do your friends fit most of the time?

Help your daughter understand that everyone makes mistakes, but hopefully the majority of our behavior, and our friends behavior, is positive.


Join us for a Chat!

Ladies and girls, I’m excited to announce the FIRST COMMUNITY TALK for Tulsa!

Community Talks are educational, interactive talks about pressing cultural issues of the day,

open to all teen girls, young ladies and the women who care about them.

Teen girls, college girls, moms, teachers, youth workers YOU are invited!

Let’s start the conversation, together.

Thursday, February 28, 2013 from 6:30-9:30pm

February is National Dating Violence Awareness Month.

“Wait. Violence awareness? That doesn’t apply to me!”

Well, come anyway. 1 in 3 adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. 1 in 4 of 18-25 yr olds have experienced physical violence. According to, the rate of dating violence for Oklahoma 9th graders is more than 3 times the national average, at a rate of 26% for OK freshmen.

Hear my friend tell her REAL LIFE story of how she got out of an abusive dating relationship.

Discover early warning signs of unhealthy relationships.

At 8, the Lifetime movie, Reviving Ophelia, will be shown, which covers this topic well from many angles & provides great discussion from a fictional high school storyline.

February Venue: Believer’s Church, 4705 S. Memorial Tulsa OK

6:30pm - 9:30pm. This event is free!

Let’s start the conversation, together.

Holly Tumpkin
Girls 101 Workshops, Raising Girls in Today's World


2 Things Girls Fight Over the Most

So after years of listening to girl drama, I can tell you two things girls fight over the most. (You probably already know this, no big surprises).


And BFF's.

Who likes who..

and who's hanging out with who.

I like him, oh my gosh, no I like him! She's looking at my boyfriend, I hope she knows she better stay away from him, he's mine...or...Why are you so obsessed with boys? Come one, let's go ride bikes. I'm gonna go home if you don't get off the phone with him.

I don't want to go out of town Friday mom! Jackie asked me to hang out with her and I really want to! If I can't then she might not ask me again, or she'll hang out with someone else instead. If you make me go I won't get into this group! Or....Ohhhh, I guess I'm sad because Sophie started hanging out with the new girl in our class. They keep ignoring me, it's like I don't exist anymore.

We girls love to be loved, don't we? We all have a tendency to want to be the queen. It seems everyone is peddling and jockeying for the best position, where they will then feel secure. Girls will fight for the position of "girlfriend" or "best friend". If anyone dares threaten her position, the gloves may come off.

Almost every fight comes back to a girl feeling like someone is threatening her position.

She wants to be Todd's girlfriend. So she "claims him" and tells everyone she likes him. Now no one else is "allowed" to talk to him or look at him because he's "hers". She gets mad at girls who may also be after him, and she may even get mad at girls who simply answer his question or hand him a pencil. She's declared her "position", his girlfriend, whether it's true yet or not. And don't mess with it! Or else.

Having a best friend is vastly important to some girls. If a third person comes along and threatens a girl's position as "best friend", all hell can break loose. Devastation may ensue. Girls may do all sorts of things to someone who appears threatening to her.

One thing I try to get across to girls is that first, none of us own each other. Just because you like a boy doesn't mean that you own him or you can control who he has a conversation with.

Secondly, friends are gifts, they aren't possessions. There is even room enough for three (or more) to be friends! There's enough friendship and love in the world for everyone to survive if one more person is added to the mix. No one owns you and no one should be able to make you do certain things or hang out with certain people. Conversely, you don't own a friend and can't control who they like and do things with. You may or may not be included every single time in others' plans.

These are big thoughts for middle schoolers, but they can "get it". Not everyone will play along, and some will always choose competition and drama, but explain these truths to those who listen to you, and it will help those who have the ears to hear.

Be flexible. Give space. Give grace.


Don't Re-Live Your Own Drama, Mama

Middle school.

What do those words conjure up in your mind? Fun and popularity? Misfit and misfortune? Alone and invisible?

It's really quite interesting how well many adults still remember the dramas of their own teen experience.

When moms have daughters experiencing friend problems, especially girl drama, it can muster up some surprising emotions in moms still, who have not quite forgotten what they themselves experienced years ago.  Perhaps that's why a handful of adults dread having children of this age to guide- they don't feel like they were guided through, and really don't know how to navigate these years again, this time as the adult.

One word of caution- be careful not to project your old feelings and fears onto your child's experience.

If you find yourself riled up about something your daughter is going through, step back and ask yourself, "What am I really worked up about? Is it her situation, or is there something more?"

Are you re-living the old feelings you felt as a teen? Those feelings may be completely misplaced on your daughter's current situation.

Don't react quickly.

Step back.



Be open minded.

Don't assume how she's feeling. Ask a question or two, but not too many.

Resist the urge to step in right away.  Help her think through how to navigate things herself.

Remember there is another side of the story. Help her try to see it from other angles.

Most problems blow over and solve themselves, so give it time.

If it's a problem that is bigger than one that would just normally blow over, let her know you're in it with her and will help her figure out how she can handle it.

Be her support and listening ear and place of acceptance.

Pray with her.

Encourage her to still act with character even when others may not.

Mom Activity just for yourself:

If you're a journaler, journal out (or at least think through) answers to these questions.

What are bad memories of girl drama that you experienced that still come to mind?

Do you have unresolved feelings about that?

Is there anything in particular you fear about your kids going through teen years?

Getting in touch with your own thoughts is one step to help you navigate through these years as a parent.


Making Friends

jadyn noelle photographpy
I think we could agree that all girls want to have friends. Some have a hard time making friends but for others it's easy.

Some of the best advice my daughter got from a family friend when she started a new school was this- YOU decide who your friends are going to be.

Don't rush. Wait and see how people are, then choose friends who are good. You don't have to be friends with whoever "picks you" first. You want to choose friends with good qualities, and you can't know that right away. Take your time. It's okay if you sit alone the first day at lunch. Or if you change tables the second day. You're you, and you're deciding what you want.

Starting a new school (or a new club or lesson) is a scary thing for anyone. Helping your daughter realize that everyone feels scared is key, that it's normal. In uncomfortable new situations, look for someone who looks nice, or someone else who is alone, and ask them a question. "Hey are you new too?" "Do you know where the lunchroom is?" "Do you have anyone to sit with?" "First days are brutal, can I sit with you?"

If your daughter is wanting to make some new friends but is shy, have her role play with you how to get to know someone. Help her think up some topics or questions to ask the friend. Complimenting someone is always nice. Offer help. Ask their opinion. Ask if they've seen a certain movie.

Sometimes shy girls are mistaken for stuck up if they never talk to anyone. Reminding her to smile occasionally or reach out with a simple conversation is often all it takes.

If her attempt is not met well by the hoped for friend, remind her that that person may not be the friend she was looking for, and to try again with someone else. But to be patient. It's better to wait for a good friend than to hurry up and end up in a crowd of not so nice girls, just because you were desperate to fit in somewhere.

If your daughter is not the new one, remind her to watch for those who are and to help them feel welcome and to fit in. To be the one who goes out of your way to be nice and helpful to a new person.

Often, not by malice, girls just live in their own world, doing their thing, and don't think to reach out to someone who may not fit in or know people. Teach your daughter empathy, thinking beyond themselves, to see those around them.

She may just meet a new friend in the process!


Friendship Pie

One of the most common things teen girls confess to when asked is feeling lonely. It seems to be all through the teen years, not just at a particular stage.

Girls are so hard wired to have relationship and connection, yet the teen years can be very difficult relationship wise. Often this results in girls feeling lonely. Sometimes it helps just for girls to hear this and realize they are not alone, or "the weird one" for feeling this way.  

Another factor girls have said leads to this feeling is being so busy they don't have time to get together with friends much just for fun. We moms are good at making sure our kids have all kinds of opportunities- this is a gentle reminder that even when we don't feel like making it happen, it's important to make sure some friend time occurs too.  

Of course there are personalities to consider- girls that need to hone down friend time to learn how to be alone and have some down time too...and girls who love to be alone and don't think of planning friend time may need a little nudge on occasion to do something social. Different personalities require different amounts, but learning balance is always a good skill.  

Friendship Pie is a visual I've used with girls who feel like "I have no friends". When forced to really stop and consider honestly, most can come up with one or two people in each category above that they have some sort of friendship with- friends can be at church, in the neighborhood, at school, at their dance lesson, on a sports team, friends of the family, etc.  

When options are seen on paper, they realize there are at least a few choices they can go for if they want to invite someone to come over or hang out. It takes a little gumption to reach out, but that's part of life that they'll need to learn.   And I always tell girls that the vast majority of people say they only have one or two close friends, so if you have that, you're normal. People can be surrounded by lots of "friends", but most only feel connected closely to a couple.  

Another reason for Friendship Pie is discussing the benefits of having more than one friend.   Many times girls get obsessed with BFF's and want so badly to have A BEST FRIEND that it becomes consuming. What happens when that friend is gone? goes on vacation? or can't hang out? or gets a new BFF? It's so beneficial to have a few different friends, and friends in different areas of life.  

My own daughter told me she found so much help in having a very good friend who was not at her school, but from the neighborhood. She could come home and hang out with someone who wasn't associated at all with the middle school drama she dealt with during the day.  

It's helpful to "see" options we have in friendships and to understand benefits of different types of friendships. Girls feel such pressure sometimes from friends to do everything together, or never leave someone out, or not to invite someone new into a group for fear of what others will say, or to never reach out to a new friend for fear of being disappointed.  

If they can just get past that, many find relief in having different types of friends- one to see movies with, one to talk deep with, one to ride bikes with, the one who loves to plop on the couch and chill with, one who loves group hang outs.    

Often all of those things don't come in one friend. Branch out!


Are You Feeling Middle School Drama, Mama?

I am a parent survivor of middle school 3 times over. WHEW!

Here are some things I've learned.

No one is perfect.

Not even my sweet infallible children (or yours).

Girls interpret every move, nuance and breath as directed at them during this critical stage (whether it's meant toward them or not).

Some girls thrive on drama and will always cause it or gravitate toward it (for whatever reason). (Well, many girls would rather connect with conflict than have no connection at all.)

The majority of girls are terrified of discussing conflict with a friend (for fear of losing the friend).

The meanest usually have the worst behind the scenes problems (still doesn't make being mean okay, just a bit more understandable).

Listening to your daughter describe the friend drama, then leaning toward and teaching empathy first and as a way of life, is in my opinion the best first step. (Well maybe she had a hard day at home, or maybe she didn't mean it that way, but it still doesn't make how she treated you okay. Stay clear of her for awhile, or speak up for yourself respectfully. Empathy + removing yourself OR speaking up for yourself).

Your daughter (and mine) are most likely not telling you the entire story....(and just may be leaving out inconvenient self-incriminating details).

Few moms believe their daughters capable of some things (and many are surprised when they find out they are). So make sure and ask about their own role in the drama.

All the girls are navigating their way through some of the toughest years for girls. 

Moms get emotional about it and don't know what to do.

You're not alone. We all want to figure out this out.

Hence, this series! 

More to come. 


Is Girl Drama Inevitable?

I'm breezing through the book "Girl Wars" again by Cheryl Dellasega. So here's a few lines from what I'm reading this morning!

5 Random sentences that are interesting:

1. "Today's young women are subtly influenced to interact in ways that reduce rather than enhance their underlying power to connect with one another."

(the thing is, girls are actually designed to be good connectors. but in many atmospheres though they are "taught" to be competitive instead. the opposite.)

2. "Bombarded with messages about their physical appearance at an early age, they are expected to dress provocatively while maintaining straight "A" averages and excelling at sports."

(have heard it said this way too- expected to dress sexy but not act out on it, expected to get good grades, but have shallow interests, etc etc)

3. "They are labeled as mean "Queen Bees" but given no alternatives for more positive behaviors."

(if girls are not learning good behaviors from someone close, they will most likely be mimicking what is portrayed in media, which is not very positive. good behavior is not hard for those who see it lived out in family and close friends, and who learn from early age to respect other people. sometimes bad behavior isn't intentional, but when girls are caused to stop, think about and discuss things, they see the difference and can choose good over bad. they can relearn).

4. "Role models for today's teens are not powerful women who have succeeded because of their persistence and kindness to others, but rather superstar singers acting like sexy schoolgirls".

(enough said).

5. "No wonder young women find themselves in a state of extreme confusion, unsure of how to relate to either themselves or others".

(agree. very confusing to girls. be sexy, don't have sex. be young, be old. be smart, play dumb. be skinny, be happy with yourself. be nice, stand up for yourself.)

(continued excerpt): "The good news is that all across the country, mothers, girls and others are finding ways to help adolescents feel more secure about their own abilities and safe in their relationships with others. Slowly, their efforts are changing the "girl poisoning culture". There are groups around the country meeting with girls, teaching character and life skills. The number is still too small, but growing! It makes a world of difference to just meet and have a place that girls can talk through issues in life that are confusing. That's one of the things we'll be doing at this community workshop. Talking about healthy relationships, and how to deal with what is sometimes "accepted" as normal girl behavior (meanness), but shouldn't be.

Which leads me to the final quote from Girl Wars:

"We believe girls are NOT inherently cruel, and that although behaviors such as jealousy, gossiping, and joining cliques may be normal in terms of what we expect, they are not what we have to accept."

She says that after all her work and research, she believes "not only can girls be kind, they feel better about themselves when they are".

Top 5 Pressures of Middle School Girls

When I asked 13 year old girls in 2006 what the top pressures they face are, here's what they said:

1. peer pressure
2. teen years being a popularity contest
3. people trying to be something they're not
4. guys
5. being skinny

(a close 6th being pressure from parents, fyi)

When I asked the same in 2011 of 13 year olds, they gave me this answer:

1. trying to be perfect (like a model)
2. boys
3. peer pressure
4. girl drama
5. text/facebook wars

(with the 6th being eating disorders)

Hard to imagine that back when I met with those girls in 2006, Facebook wasn't even in their vocabulary. Those were the days! I just looked and it was launched February 2004, so just a few short years ago, social media was not a part of raising teens. (Just an interesting reminder).

Discussion starter:

Ask your daughter what she thinks the top 5 pressures are on girls in general today. See what she says. Then show her these lists and see if she agrees.

This will generate great discussion and hopefully lead you to a conversation where you can find out what specifically your own daughter feels pressure about. Don't respond, just listen first. Hard to do. Constantly have to remind myself of the same. Once we think about their situation, gain some empathy, then talk about it again.


Some Helps for Friendship Drama

If you have a girl (or are one), there are friendship worries and woes going on at any given moment.

We can learn how to get better at handling them.

The next few blogs will be on this topic.

For starters, if you're looking for a book you or your daughter can read, there are some out there that I recommend.

Here are a few resources I have used that I find pretty helpful.

For elementary through possibly middle school- Christian Girls Guide to Friendship

For elementary, ideally 3rd-5th grade, American Girl has Friends- Making Them and Keeping Them

For middle school, American Girl has A Smart Girl's Guide to Friendship Troubles.

For some of the more serious, intense, true mean girl stuff for older girls, from a Scripture based approach, I'd recommend Mean Girls- Facing Your Beauty Turned Beast by Hayley DiMarco.

For middle and high school, a newly found resource that seems to look great so far is Coping With Cliques by Susan Sprague.

Now, as I recommend other sources to you happily, while I'm writing my own, please support these great authors now, then support me when I finally have my own in print! (smile).

I tried to recommend a variety of types of books, as we have a varied reading audience. Check these out and find one that fits you.

Know that you will get alot of good advice and insight from each, but you may or may not agree with every answer given. Each of our girls situations are unique and each of us have strong opinions about relationship issues, especially involving our girls.

So use these as a guide, not as a rule book.

More to come!!


When Love Blinds- Part 5 (and final one)

This week, we've read stories from 4 different ladies about warnings (or red flags) they recognized in dating relationships, but unfortunately chose to ignore.

All 4 married these men, had very difficult marriages and painful divorces.

All 4 of them wish they had paid better attention to the clues they excused away.

All 4 of them had wonderful children in their first marriages that were in no way a mistake AT ALL, and the best part OF those marriages.

Our human minds can't figure this out. Only God knows how all the pieces fit and work out. He thankfully brings beauty out of ashes, and redeems every mistake if we let Him. Children are never a mistake, but always a blessing.

All 4 of these ladies don't want other people, especially their own children to have to go through the pain they went through. There are few things in life more painful than a bad marriage and divorce.

This is why they were all willing to expose their experiences, as well as the thinking they remember having during the "love struck" dating phase.

If anything you read rings true with you, or hits a vibe in you, or seems oddly familiar to a situation you are in now, I beg you, on their behalf, to sit down with someone who cares and confess those concerns.

If the top 5 people (or even a majority of them) in your life that love you and have always cared about you have an issue with your current dating relationship, don't rush it. Stop and consider. Listen to them. Anything done in haste is usually iffy. You can always still get married later if you find it all okay after considering the issues with them.

But why not put it through the fire first? If it survives the consideration, great! You can get married. But if it doesn't, isn't it better to have some pain now, to save yourself pain later?

The main reason girls go through with a questionable marriage, is they don't want to be alone. Or they are afraid of the backlash that will come by ending it. Or they just want to have sex or have the security of a husband. Or don't feel worthy enough to find someone else.
Women who have been through this would line up to tell you that everything wears off, then you are stuck in a marriage with all the bad things you ignored, and you'll be trying to figure out how to get out. Once you're married, you can't just "go home" anymore to get away. You will be living in the house together. Very together.

So choose well!


When Love Blinds- Pt. 4

Haven't you appreciated the honesty of all the women who have shared difficult stories this week?

We've been concentrating on "red flags" (or warning signs) women missed while dating men they eventually married. Several women  share their story anonymously, in hopes of saving girls and women from similar fates.

This is one subject that applies to all ages! You may have adult women who need this as much as dating teens. Catch up here before moving on:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Today my friend shares her experience:

Red flags when dating...

Here are my rambling thoughts.....

In college when I was engaged to my now ex-husband, as a senior in college, I did have red flags.

I chose to ignore them, thinking I would never have a chance to get married after college if I didn't marry then. I think a lot of girls think this. I have heard many express this fear, worried that if they don't get engaged during college, they may never find a good husband.  Knowing what I know now, I would have waited. 

Just because you may not marry before you are out of college does not mean God won’t place that right man in your path later! Don’t get ahead of God.

1. How deep is his spiritual commitment? If the wind blows hard....and storms rage....does he stay strong? He didn’t. I saw inconsistencies that brought me concern. I thought it would get better after being married. It only got worse.

If it’s not right before you get married, it will only get worse after. You can’t fix someone by marrying them. Or visa versa.

2. If they compromise on morals or values, or you are not in agreement in this flag. Example: Your views on drinking, sex before marriage, where to go to church, or how to raise your children. I saw him compromise in a lot of these things. We disagreed on drinking, (I didn’t want drinking....he did). Eventually this led to him partying and getting in with the wrong crowd in medical school.

When he was living well, he was great, but when he loosened morals, it got scary....RED FLAG!

My second and current husband always said to me when we were dating, that we needed to go through each season together. Literally and figuratively.

We needed at least a year with each other to see the real person! How do you respond when you are sick, on your period, going through a trial, when you are faced with difficulties.....seasons reveal this about the person you will marry. If there are any to be seen, red flags will be revealed in time!

3. I will get honest here. My ex husband was gorgeous. He was a cheerleader. Mr. Popularity.  All the girls wanted him.....and he chose me. I was like YES!

I saw many areas that he compromised in yet I had the cutest guy on campus asking me to marry him.

I was in a fog....thinking all the compromising would stop after we got married. I can tell you only took me a week into the marriage to see I had made a big mistake.

With my current husband I knew that I knew that I knew. There were no red flags.

I saw consistency in every season with my now husband. I saw him keeping the promise that he would only touch my heart before we were married. And he kept that promise. It gives time to see how they will hold out to remaining pure. Will they push the limits, can you trust them? Seasons reveal red flags.

The only concern I had with my current husband was my fear of his perfectionism, which we talked about extensively. I knew if he didn’t change at all...I would be ok. It wasn’t a make it or break it deal. But I say with a chuckle....I think I brought him to the dark side. Dogs sleep with us, laundry is thrown onto shelves (not ironed and folded perfectly) Our carpets are dirty  from 3 dogs. His jeans are not dry cleaned and starched to stand in the corner alone.......and he is a-ok with it. We met in the middle.

4.  My biggest regret was letting my low self esteem make the decisions for me, and not God. Love who YOU are! Love who you are and don’t settle for less. Don’t be afraid to admit you are seeing red flags. It will save you from the big mistake! God will guide you every step of the way!

And it's the truth....I really thought if I didn't get married while in college....I wouldn't be able to find a Christian guy out there. Sad isn't it? My self esteem was in the pooper then. Boy I struggled in that area. Not loving myself enough to trust God with the desires of my heart.

College kids I've talked to today seem to feel the same way....I have had many long conversations with gals who are really down on themselves....and compromise as a result. Makes me sad. It will affect the rest of their lives. I love these girls so much.

Don’t deny red flags! Don’t want the relationship so badly that the thought of being in love clouds your perspective of warnings!
Don’t compromise! Stay true to your convictions and your walk with the Lord. Seek Him daily about His choice for you. And don’t be afraid to hear that maybe the guy you are with may not be the one God has for you.

Don’t lie to yourself! That’s a biggie and easy to do when feelings of love are clouding things.


"When Love Blinds"- Pt. 3

Know any teens (or adult friends) that are dating a questionable guy? Can you see bad signs that they can't see?

Isn't it always that way....things are obvious to everyone else, yet the rose colored heart shaped glasses that the one "in love" is wearing, somehow block her eyes AND ears from seeing and hearing what is readily evident to others.

I know it's hard to convince those in the thralls of love of red flags that we see, but it can't be impossible, so let's try anyway!

Perhaps reading some real stories from real ladies who ignored dating red flags, then lived to regret it will get their attention. Maybe a story will look strangely familiar to someone in the midst of an iffy relationship.

For that reason we are sharing a variety of stories from some willing, but anonymous women. If you missed them, PART 1 and PART 2 are worth going back and reading.

Today, another woman shares her experience.

After a long difficult marriage, this lady is now divorced from her first husband (but has a beautiful story of restoration. She's now married to the man of her dreams who treats her like a princess). Here are her words:

1. Both friends and family would say things like "I don't like how he treats you." But blinded by what I thought was love, I always found a way to justify his behavior and excuse him.

2. I often took the blame for the way I was treated..surely I did something wrong to make his behavior reasonable.

3. I didn't recognize the sly or obvious ways I was being manipulated or controlled. He played with my emotions.  He taunted and threatened that if I were to leave him or break up, that somehow my life would not become all that it could be if I stayed in the relationship.

For example: he would hold my engagement ring hostage, demanding it back when we got in a fight. He made me feel as if he made a huge sacrifice to "pick me" out of the vast crowd of women on the planet...that I was somehow honored above the rest and if I didn't want to be "his lucky girl" someone else would easily take my place. He may or may not give me back the ring, and it was on certain conditions. It was very manipulative. One time he gave my engagment ring back to me right before I got on a flight to go home for the holidays...where he knew I'd see my ex-fiance.

He broke up with me various times, always with him in control of "the ring".  The disgusting part of this is how that played out in marriage. I always got a bigger ring/diamond or piece of jewelry after the apology of each affair. I had quite a stockpile by the end...ha!!

When married, he literally wrestled me to the ground trying to pull the ring off my finger, and grabbed my diamond bracelet off the counter.

4. When dating, he pressured me to do things he knew my parents had asked me not to do. A simple example: I flew home for the summer during college and kept my car in storage in my college town. He wanted to drive my new car instead of his jalopy around town while I was gone. My parents and I both said no. He actually stole it out of storage that summer and didn't admit it until months later when I noticed scratches on the paint job where he'd locked himself out and used a coat hanger to unlock it.

Lies, lies, and more lies. These all seemed reasonable to me, because I was compassionate towards others needs, and felt as if somehow it's not fair how my life is good and someone else has to struggle with less.

5. He pressured me into a physical relationship even though he understood ahead of time my resolve to keep our relationship pure. He used moments to try to seduce or entice me...he said this is how I prove to him that I truly loved him and was committed to him. Beware of anyone who begins a relationship making the statement, "Whatever you do, don't lie to me or cheat on me." Realize it very well may be out of their own fear of being capable of the same!!

Remember, his story will become yours. Whatever demons are chasing his life, will become your battle.


"When Love Blinds"- Pt. 2

We all want our children to marry well. We want them to pick a spouse well and have a great life. Yet there seems to always be someone I know worried about who their child is dating. Many times, rightly so.

I've heard so many women who've experienced bad marriages say "If I'd only listened to people", "If I'd only seen the signs when we were dating".

One friends of mine just said something all girls should know. "If the top 5 people in your life that love you all have a problem with who you're dating, listen to them. Even if you can't see it."

Finally I asked women to share their stories, so maybe we can put them in front of girls who are dating and save them the same mistakes.

Yesterday we started a series of women's stories- (did you see yesterday's post?!) If not, click on this title and check out "When Love Blinds" Part 1.

Today, another friend shares her experience:

I had many "red flags" before I married my ex-husband, but I ignored them or made excuses for them.

1. He had a flash temper - he would yell and scream and rant and rave for hours at a time.
2. He also expressed his anger toward me with the silent treatment. Sometimes this would go on for days and weeks at a time.
3. He was very controlling in every area of my life. Money, time, sex.
4. He lied about anything and everything for no reason at all.
5. He cried alot....over nothing or over anything at all. Looking back, I think it was his way to manipulate others.
6. He disrespected his parents and his parents still treated him like a child
7. His family was terribly dysfunctional. I knew that his dad had molested his sister from the time she was young until her late teens. His mom knew about it too and said, "Better her than me." (I didn't learn that part until much later.)

That's not all inclusive, but that is a gracious plenty.

Now why did I love him? or justify these signs?

When I met him, I had been praying that I would meet a good Christian guy. In many ways he seemed like all that and more. He would pray with me and we would have Bible studies together. He even wrote my dad a letter asking if it would be okay if we dated. He talked about how he would treat me with respect. It impressed my parents and it impressed me. No one had ever done that before. We started talking about getting married. There were positive happy moments too.

We got engaged after dating a few months. At one point while we were engaged, we were apart a couple of months. I was really seeking God about my relationship with him. I wasn't sure if I missed him or not, or if maybe God was trying to lead me in another direction. I stayed with him.

My parents wanted us to be engaged for a year. Looking back, I think a year long engagement is too long to ask a young couple to stay pure. We stayed pure up until 2 months before our wedding day. Anyway, I started having doubts about our future again after our first intimate encounter, but I thought that no one else would want me. I was used. I had always wanted to save myself for THE one and now I felt like I have to marry him.
I also felt like it would have been an embarrassment to my family to call off the wedding the day of the wedding but I know now that it would have been perfectly fine.

My parents were having doubts now too, but I also justified that because my parents didn't like any of my previous boyfriends, so why should I expect anything different? My dad was especially controlling and I just thought this was par for the course.

We went through alot before and after we got married. All the wedding preparations were stressful and that is one thing that I made excuses for. The week before we married, he was mad at me about something and was ignoring me. We went out to dinner with my mom and she commented on how badly he was treating me. (This is the same way my dad treated my mom.) Maybe it was a learned behavior.

The day of the wedding, as my dad was getting ready to walk me down the aisle, he said, "You don't have to do this. It's not too late to change your mind." I told him he was being ridiculous.

I later learned that my mom prayed to God for a week that He would strike her dead or at least make her so ill that the wedding would be postponed. Obviously, my parents could see the problems.

Then, after we got married, we moved from across the country. Neither one of us had a job to go to. We had very little money. And apparently no sense! Once we arrived in our new destination, the next morning we discovered that our truck and moving trailer had been stolen. Everything that we owned, all of our clothes, wedding gifts and what little furniture we had was stolen. What a way to start an already troubled marriage.  

Even on the honeymoon I saw bad signs. Once the day came, he was unwilling to buy tickets (not expensive) to an event we had planned that I had really, really looked forward to.

(The marriage didn't last. But she says the child she had with him is the best most wonderful part. This is one thing that I've heard many women say. Though a marriage feels like a mistake, somehow in a way that is beyond our human ability to understand, God works all these things out. Children are never ever a mistake. They are a beautiful, planned miracle. God has restored this woman and her child. She is now in a wonderful marriage with a man who became the husband and dad she hoped for.)

Random follow up's definitely important to date someone long enough to see how they are and how they react though all sorts of life situations. If their personality appears to be questionable in some important areas, that's worth stopping and seriously considering, alongside people who love you and have lived longer. Even if you see many other good things in that person. It's never too late to call something off. It may be uncomfortable, but it's never too late. Thoughts on purity- Those who strive to wait until marriage to have sex is a noble thing and one I recommend and believe in. But making a mistake doesn't take away all hope. Not at all. It does change things, but there is always hope and change available.

Very thankful to theese ladies for sharing their stories.


When Love Blinds...Pt. 1

If you follow me on Facebook, you might know that a few months ago I asked ladies who have been in difficult marriages to anonymously share their stories, and to share any "red flags" that they missed during dating life, which could have saved them the turmoil they experienced.

We girls are often so good at explaining away "red flags" and defending boyfriends poor behavior. Yet it seems that so many friends I know who are divorced can look back and say "If only I had seen it then...."

Maybe, just maybe we can save some girls from going through the heartache of a bad marriage and divorce, by identifying some bad signs in dating life. By hearing others' stories, we can learn.

The response I received was great. Stories came in from different states- women I know and women I don't know. They seemed eager to share their mistakes, in hopes of saving someone else from a similar fate. I'll be sharing a few of these stories in the next few days.

Today's brave lady:

"I was once married, and never recognized the red flags along the way that ultimately led to the end of that marriage. I pray that the daughter I am raising now learns to spot them better than I did! I saw some red flags, but I improperly viewed them as just challenges. I thought that our love would overcome these challenges and grow stronger instead.

1. I think the most substantial red flag that I deliberately minimized was the inequality of our faith. I was raised in a Christian home and my faith was, and still is, very important to me. I realized pretty early on in dating that my ex husband's faith was very surface, yet not totally nonexistent. He was raised in church and still attended, but didn't see it as much more than that. I viewed it as though I had been placed in his life to help lead him to a deeper faith. I assumed that he was attracted to that part of me and appreciated who I was because of my faith and values.

I saw the red flag of our faith. I sincerely believed that although it was not as important to him as it was to me, that it would only get better because of our love.

2. I also noticed that he was very deceptive with his mother, but I chalked it up to her being a controlling busy body, not a necessarily a problem with his honesty. I would have never dreamed that someday he would behave the same way with me. Had I paid more attention at the time, I would have seen he behaved that way with other family members and people that we knew. It was not until after we were already married that I was able to see that dishonesty went well beyond his mother. He white-lied when the truth would have served him better.

The deception, I never saw as a red-flag. It was an "unappealing act" that I made an excuse for, even though I didn't see how prevalent it really was until after we were married. I had no idea what exactly I was justifying. In my defense, if you knew his mother, it would have been easy for you too! Trust is essential to any relationship. Our marriage was irreparably damaged the first time he lied to me. I truly forgave him, but things were never the same between us.

3. When we were engaged, he was well aware that I wanted to be a homemaker (my mom was also) and I intended to homeschool. We were on the same page in this area. What I never took into consideration was that he was raised by a single working mother and his grandmother, in a very inconsistent home with little stability. His father had little to do with them and never contributed financially. He knew it was important to me and that it made so much sense, but he really had no idea what a home like that would be like. Eventually he grew to resent his role as breadwinner, despite the fact that it would have actually COST us money for me to work outside of the home. He began to resent everything about our life, including me.

I knew that we were raised in different kinds of homes, with different values and experiences. I did not see this one as a red-flag. I trusted that we had talked enough about it as were up for the challenge.

I do believe that when we women are in love, we overlook things that otherwise we would never tolerate. For example, I never saw his slovenly home as a huge conflict with my compulsive germaphobia and organization. He was just a sloppy bachelor-who I loved- in need of a woman's touch- who he loved. It turned out to not be as simple as that.

4. I believe the reason I missed SO many red-flags, or chose to ignore/rationalize them, was because I didn't want to admit that the man I fell for was not the man that would suit my deepest needs. I knew I loved him deeply, and he loved me too. I thought that because of that love, he would come to fulfill my needs, and I his. I believe another reason that I didn't see some of the red-flags, was that I was ignorant, or naive to some of my deepest personal needs.

For example: I am very bookish, a bit of a nerd. I love art and intellectual pursuits. He was very physical, outdoorsy, and didn't like to read. This is a red-flag that I never saw. Our difference in intellect was a non-issue. I never saw myself as smarter than him, we were just smart in different areas. I was unaware how much I needed intellectual stimulation from my spouse. This matter became a source of great friction, as he (I later found out) had always felt below me.

I needed a strong leader, a protector, a man that adored our home as much as me, a romantic, a man that could stimulate me intellectually, and that would carry our family spiritually. I never fully understood what his needs were (I don't think he even knew), but I was just as unable to fulfill his.

5. Lastly, I ignored the well intended (and unsolicited) input from one of my best friends. She just didn't see how he and I could possibly ever bridge our differences well enough to make a home together. I became very defensive and assumed she was just envious.
I hope that my experience can be of use to someone else. My divorce was one of the most painful experiences I have ever traveled through, and one I never dreamed I would endure. But God is good and has restored all that I lost. My daughter and I have a very close relationship and I continue to homeschool. God taught me things I could not have learned any other way. Years later, He has brought a very special man into our lives. This time I am paying attention, I know myself better, and we have a great pre-marital counselor from our church.

Here are a few things I've discovered from my experience:

-pre-marriage counseling is wonderful and should be mandatory. Do it, and pay attention to what you learn.

-how he treats the other women in his life matters (mom, sisters, ex mates/children's mothers, nieces, sisters-in-law, coworkers), so pay attention.

-his values (and faith) must align with yours, so pay attention.

-he will be a product of the environment/climate he was raised in, so pay attention to how he relates to his upbringing.

-his dishonesty in areas that don't include you will one day include you, so pay attention.

-if he already has children, watch how he treats them. There is a difference between physical distance and emotional distance. Pay attention for the latter.

-his idea of home/family/roles needs to mesh with yours, so talk, talk, TALK about your future and pay attention!

-he is who he is, not a project for you. Know what/who you are looking for in a mate, pay attention, and if he doesn't meet your needs AS IS, he isn't the one.

-it is easy to be so caught up in the "in love" feeling that you grow blind to things that are obvious to your closest friends. They love you and will tell you, so ask them. Don't get defensive, and pay attention.

-pay attention because you are in a wonderful state of love, complete with rose colored glasses which make the flags almost invisible!

And finally, a quote from Dave Barry (to his daughter who just began dating): "A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person."