We celebrated 2 birthdays this week, and the first one left me feeling angry, frustrated, and disappointed.
I want to share with you why I was feeling that way and show you what I learned from all the wallowing I did.
This episode is sure to amuse you and hit close to home if you've ever felt like what you want doesn't matter, or you've been mad at people for being the way they are.
Don't worry; it will all make sense once you have a listen.
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I was glued to my phone. Waiting for a response. An ETA, anything that would give me a clue as to when he would be back.
It was our daughter Chido’s fourth birthday, and I wanted it to be special.
We had put off getting a gift and making a plan until the last minute, and now Dad was MIA.
I was mad at myself for agreeing to wait until instead of just getting something last week. I was mad at him for promising to make time for it and then disappearing on her birthday.
I kept expecting him to be back any minute or at least call, and all I got was radio silence.
Inside, my stomach continued to squeeze, my back got all stiff and prickly, and my face continued to squish into this puckered look like I had eaten into a rotten lemon.
I was unimpressed, disappointed, and mad.
He knew that this was important to me.
So when he called at 8 PM and said he would be home in 20-30 minutes, I cooly said, “don’t worry about it, we already did the cake stuff at dinner.”
Welcome to the Forever Love Podcast; I’m your host and relationship coach Lily Mtongwiza.
So, it was our daughter’s birthday this week, and I want to give you a little bit of context because the story I told you at the beginning makes me sound like the victim of a heinous crime.
Our daughters Chipo and Chido celebrate their birthdays two days apart.
Chido, the younger one, has her’s first.
It was this past Monday, and I have this dream of being able to spend 3 whole days just enjoying quality family time.
By the way, my love language is quality time, and it was recently pointed out to me that I share a lot in common with the enneagram type 1’s.
Now, if you follow the whole enneagram thing, 1’s believe that there is a right way and a wrong way to do something, especially in my case, quality time things, like celebrating birthdays.
Now, it’s also important to know that a couple of weeks ago, we celebrated my husband’s 50th birthday.
And that went smoothly because I got to make all the plans, and I executed them beautifully.
But now it was my baby’s birthday, and I had told them that we would do something special, and Dad would be home shortly, and they should go take a nap so that when they wake up, they’re ready to have fun.
And a family friend had called and told Chido that Daddy would be bringing her a big surprise for her birthday.
Basically, I felt like I had set her up for a world of disappointment because there we were, at home, waiting for Dad, who didn’t arrive until close to 9 PM.
To be fair, I knew there was a possibility that this would happen.
We live in Zimbabwe, and he was doing work in the rural areas, and there are 100 different reasons things can be delayed and take 10x longer than expected.
Typically, I account for that and plan for it.
But this time, I didn’t.
And that made me mad.
Mad at him, angry at myself, upset with the whole situation.
And you know what,
As a coach, I could see exactly what I was doing. And I didn’t care.
I knew I was indulging in this anger I was settling into, sinking myself deeper and deeper.
The thought occurred to me that this would be an excellent opportunity to practice unconditional love and acceptance of my husband, and I shattered that thought like a glass ball being hit with a steel bat.
I thought instead about how frustrating it is to live somewhere and not be able to drive myself where I want when I want.
I thought about all the ways in which I was trapped and reliant on him to do things for me.
I thought about how much better things are in Canada and how I don’t have to wait on anyone if I want to take the girls out to the park or the movies or the zoo. I can just do it.
When the still small voice within pointed out that this isn’t entirely accurate since most things in Canada are still shut down due to covid, my brain quickly decided that this was not the point and hushed it.
But none of this compared to when my husband actually got home.
The girls had said good night and gone to bed, still giggling from cake and the giddiness of chasing balloons around the living room for the last hour.
Up until this point, I had been playing it cool.
On the one hand, I was in total agreement with why he had been out all day. In all honesty, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
But then I slowly began to open up about how the day had gone and how I had spent the whole day waiting to hear from him and that Chido had been sad because we didn’t do anything special for her B-day.
That’s when he began to remind me that he never liked birthdays and thinks that celebrating them does more harm than good. He could write a book about how the whole thing is nothing but commercialized nonsense that makes kids feel entitled and makes parents look bad for not catering to their children’s whims, and everyone ends up being disappointed.
Then he had the nerve to ask for a piece of cake.
That’s when I lost it.
Now, when some people lose it, it’s loud. They argue and point fingers and all that stuff.
I get icy.
I cut him a sliver of cake and gave it to him with the snarky comment about how;
To which he replied
From this point forward, I spent the next 18 hours being icy and distant and pretending like I wasn’t.
I wanted him to know I was mad, but not crazy.
As I proceeded to drive myself crazy.
Now, I’m telling you all this for a reason.
It may seem like this is a silly thing to make such a big deal out of, and I would agree.
But in all of this, I noticed that there was a deep well of disappointment under the anger. And my overwhelming desire was for him to change so that I could feel better.
I went into full victim mode and gave away all my power.
Because when we’re in victim mode, that’s what we do. We rely on someone else’s actions or words to make us feel better.
I wanted and waited for him to apologize or change his mind about how he thinks and feels about birthdays. I wanted him and the circumstances to be different.
And when none of these things changed, I wanted to be mad about it.
Now, during a few moments of clarity, I had the good sense to do what I could do at that moment to create a lovely day for our daughter. We baked a cake, made birthday cards, and got birthday balloons.
The girls had a lot of fun, but I missed most of it because I was busy judging Dad for not being there.
I’m sharing this with you because when we value something, and the person we are in a relationship with doesn’t share that value, it hurts.
It’s very easy to slip into victim mode when our values are challenged or attacked.
Unconditional love comes off the table, and we can slip into all kinds of unhealthy behaviors like, pretending, people-pleasing, stonewalling, belittling, etc.
And we do all of this in an attempt to control and manipulate the other person into believing what we believe.
We desperately want them to share our values so that we don’t have to compromise.
Because compromising is terrible, it doesn’t just leave a bitter taste in your mouth; it creates all these fractures and cracks in your integrity.
It damages who you are.
Now, the reason I reacted to this situation the way I did, is because it brushed up against my core values; love and integrity.
I like to express love through quality time, and I like to do what I said I was going to do.
And so I was especially sensitive to this whole thing, and I made it mean a lot of things that contributed to the drama I was creating around it.
But the truth is, birthdays are neutral.
They’re not good or bad; they’re not special or problematic until we give them that meaning.
And Lovingson and I give birthdays different meanings.
But in the grand scheme of things, birthdays aren’t a big deal to either of us.
While the emotions I just shared with you were very intense for a while, I was able to process them and let it go through my self-coaching practices and tools.
I’ve been doing this for a while, and now I’m on to myself. I can catch myself when I’m doing it and start to make better decisions.
And it got me thinking about all the people in relationships where they don’t share their core values, and they feel like this all the time.
What if this didn’t just brush up against a sensitive spot but was a continual daily assault?
What if this was about your relationship with God or your desire to have children or pursue your dreams.
The idea of being in a romantic relationship where you are continuously compromising your core values to keep the relationship intact is heartbreaking.
And sadly, I know that there’s an enormous number of relationships in which that is all too common.
Sadly, it’s all too common for people, women especially, to value their relationships over their values.
And the bigger problem is, for that relationship to continue, you have to turn your back on yourself. You have to step out of integrity and wholeheartedness to preserve that illusion of a relationship with the other person.
But it’s a lose-lose situation because you’re not yourself, and the relationship isn’t what you actually want.
The real tragedy is that we as a society and culture, condone and celebrate this behavior as good, cooperative, and easygoing.
We praise women who say things like “ it doesn’t matter what I want, and we say that they’re so selfless as if that’s a good thing.
Especially in the church, this is celebrated as being submissive and humble.
And while I think being submissive and humble is beautiful, it’s not authentic if you have to step out of integrity, love, and truth to do it.
It might come as a shock to hear this, but it’s actually quite manipulative.
I hope that in sharing this little story you will be more inclined to know and honor your core values as you pursue your God-given desire for marriage.
Don’t step out of your integrity to make others happy.
Don’t destroy your relationship with yourself to preserve your relationship with someone else.
Love yourself and your relationship with God first, then and only then, do the kindest, most loving thing for those affected by your decisions.
There’s an excellent reason why we need to be in equally-yoked relationships, and it’s about so much more than just marrying another Christian.
The problem is that when two people are unequally yoked when they don’t have compatible core values, everything is more painful, and both parties suffer.
Have you ever seen an unequally yoked pair of animals?
Here in Zimbabwe, it happens out of dire necessity, and there’s no other option.
Sometimes a farm only has one ox, and since there are no other ox around, he will yoke it with a donkey because if they don’t get the field plowed, they will all starve.
But being unequally yoked causes tremendous damage to both the ox and the donkey. Sure, they might be able to get the field plowed, but it takes way longer, and both of the animals and badly hurt in the process.
This is not what God wants for us.
He wants us in marriages that bring out the best in us and allow us to grow.
Romantic relationships should leave us better, not worse.
That’s why I can’t overemphasize how important it is to know your core values cause everyone’s got a different combo and share those values with a potential partner to make sure that yours and his are compatible.
They don’t have to be identical, but they do need to allow you to move towards that ultimate goal of hearing God say ‘Well done, good and faithful servant”.
If you want more help with identifying your core values, please check out my Free Relationship starter course.
It’s a 3 part mini training series where I show you how to identify your core values, lean into your relationship with yourself and God, and then share your core values with those you’d like to get to know romantically.
You can sign up for Free today by heading over to proverbs2426.com/start
I’ve included a link in the show notes so that you can get started today.
It is always a pleasure to be here with you and I want to thank you so much for spending this time here with me today.
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Again, thank you for letting me share my story with you today, and I will be back next week with more words of wisdom to help you on your journey towards Forever Love.
Until next Time: God Bless You.