Hello, Hello, Hello! Welcome to the Life Lessons on a Sunday podcast – Episode 8. I’m your host Jaimeson and today I’m getting a little personal and a lot real with you! We’re going to laugh, we’re going to think, but hopefully we won’t cry. Are you ready? So am I …

Today we are going to get personal and real – are you okay with that? We’re all friends here, so I feel confident I can share with you.

Before we dive into these Taboo Topics, let me give you the back story of how they even came to be …

Way back in 2003, I was a young, divorced, single mom, working full time, trying to finish my college degree, be the best mom I could be, and make sure all the bills were paid – to say I was exhausted, would be an understatement. To say I had an “free” time or “me” time – Ha I was lucky to get 6 hours of sleep at night. Like, that felt like “me” time … sleeping.

At the time, I had been working full-time with my local Hospice for about 3 years as the Community Liaison and Volunteer Coordinator – I absolutely LOVED my job, my co-workers, and my volunteers – especially my volunteers! We formed great friendships that went beyond scheduling patient services. We knew about each other’s children, family, spouses, you name it. We’d schedule “extra” luncheons at the office just to catch up with each other. I would even go check on them if they called off sick – we just grew really close.

Well, one day, one of my sweet, sweet volunteers said that she had someone she wanted me to meet – someone that could be my “friend”. What she was politely trying to say, was that I needed a date and to go out! Ha Ha

I decided to meet this man for a lunch date – remember I have no time after I get off work, so a work lunch was the only viable option for me at the time.  Well, what was supposed to be a 30 minute lunch turned into 2 hours!  At which time, he politely said that as much as he liked listening to me talk {I’m a huge talker if you haven’t already guessed it}, he had to get back to work. Those two hours changed our lives forever!

To say that we fell in love fast is an understatement! We met in October 2003 and would have been married by Christmas, except there were a few family items out of our control that kept us from marrying until July 2004. (Side note: We will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this July!)  With falling in love so fast, our relationship naturally moved quickly.

And to give you even more background, Heath had also been previously married. So here we were, two young 20-something’s divorced people falling fast for each other. To say I was scared and nervous would be an understatement, but the feelings of love, security, and him just feeling like “home” pushed all of that aside.

Two main things happened during that engagement period that helped us start our marriage off on the right foot. First, I was a single mom, so we were starting our marriage as a family of 3 from the very beginning … and I will say, this was actually the scariest and hardest part of our new relationship for me. Beau had never seen me with a man, he had never seen me go out on a date – nothing – all he knew was just he and I.  So the first time Beau met Heath, I remember my heart racing a hundred miles a second. This is my baby – was Heath going to love and cherish him as much as I do?  Well, not only did they get along wonderfully, it just felt natural, as if we all belonged together and we had been together since day one. Again, it felt like “home”.

The second thing that we did was have these “hard” but “heartfelt” talks – that I have since named “Taboo Topics”!  The reason for the name “taboo” is because when you are in love, or just starting to get to know someone, you tend to focus on the “easy” stuff – like, what are your hobbies, what is your favorite restaurant, where do you like to go on vacation … all surface stuff!  Nothing that will ruffle any feathers, nothing that will set off red flags, nothing will make the other person think – “oh, maybe they aren’t right for me” … Nope, everyone likes to keep it nice, neat and on the surface.

THEN – BAM – you get married, and you can’t stay on the surface anymore – who you are at your core, comes out and since you two didn’t share who you really are before marriage – now there may be problems and there may even be divorce.

So, since Heath and I were both divorced, we decided very early on that we needed to get to the heart of who we are, what our expectations are for each other and make sure that we were compatible before we said “I DO” again. We vowed that if and when we got married – it was for life – there would not be another divorce.

And to be completely honest here, remember we were in our 20’s, so we didn’t know everything or every situation that would come up, but over the last 15 years, we have handled every “tough” situation or conversation head on, just like we did way back then. It has proven to work well for us, and I hope it will for you too.

Okay, let’s start to dive into these Taboo Topics!

The first thing I’m going to bring up, which is a touchy subject in itself, is EXPECTATIONS!  Everyone has differing opinions on expectations, but the bottom line is, when you are thinking about your spouse, who you are going to spend the rest of your life with, there are expectations and they need to be discussed or there will be hurt feelings and lots of tension in the air. For example – I am sure your EXPECT your spouse to be faithful. See, everyone has at least one expectation – ha ha.

No, seriously, let’s talk about Expectations. This may be the hardest and most taboo topic of them all. Because essentially you are letting your partner know what you expect of them, and if they don’t deliver, then you will be disappointed in them and have negative feelings. And who wants to bring that up when you’re in the lovey dovey phase?  Well, this is the EXACT time that you should bring it up. Here are some things that Heath and I said were our expectations of what we were looking for in a spouse:

  • I expected a provider – now, yes, I am a very independent woman, and I was making it on my own as a single mom, BUT, I also want someone that WANTS to take care of the family. Whether that is by paycheck or household duties. And that someone makes sacrifices to provide for the family.
  • He expected a great mother for our children – to him, that meant, someone putting the kids first, above themselves, someone that would take care of them when they are sick, someone that would run them to all their after school activities, someone that made sure they had everything they needed, fix their lunches, basically taking care of the day to day items and taking off work if needed.
  • I expected him to take out the trash and mow the yard – Yes, we even discussed things like this. Because, let’s be honest, how many times have you been frustrated with the small stuff like this, and think the other person is going to do it, or should do it. These little things are what fester inside of us and grow and grow until we have a big argument over who takes out the trash! So, even if you think – of course he knows I want him to take out the trash, you still need to say it – because you know what assuming can do.
  • We both expected the other to be faithful. You may, think – well, duh, of course you do, but we took it a step further to discuss where the “line” was for each of us and how that would affect the other person. We have always said that if either feels like we are “falling out of love” and thinking of someone else, that we had to tell the other person. “Say something before you do something” has always been our motto.
  • He expected someone to never tell him what to do … Now this one is important because I expected the same thing and we were able to have a really open and honest conversation that has continued on through our marriage. What we mean by “Never Tell Me What To Do” boils down to respecting the other persons time and things they want to do with their life. For example, He would not like it if I said, we are going to do this on Friday at 8pm. First, I didn’t ask him if he had plans on Friday, nor did I ask if he was even interested in doing said activity. I would not be respecting his time or what he wanted to do with his time. Another example, would be if I said I’m going shopping on Saturday and he said, No, I planned for us to do this instead. So, for the last 15 years, we have never told each other what the other is going to do – we have simply ASKED each other if we have plans on a certain day or time and if the other would like to join us. Some other examples are … I just turned 40 and so did all my girlfriends, so we are taking a week trip to Florida to celebrate! What I did not do, was ASK PERMISSION to go, What I DID DO, was ask if he was busy the week we selected so he could make sure he was able to take care of the kids. And same for him … when he started hiking the Appalachian Trail every year, he didn’t ask my permission to go hiking a week at a time, he asked if I would be fine to cover everything while he was gone.  This mind shift of asking versus telling is HUGE! I have never felt like I couldn’t do something I wanted to do and have never felt obligated to do something I didn’t want to do. We love to do things together, but we certainly don’t have to do everything together, much less force one of us to do something. I know this expectation can be a hard one and a little more work, because you have to actually ask questions and check other people’s schedules, not just yours – which I totally get, because I’m a planner, but this one expectation has made us truly respect each other and our time and what we want to do with our time so much! I’m telling you – it can be a hard one to swallow, but it is so worth it! So remember, Ask, don’t Tell.

Okay, I think you get the gest on expectations … just remember, it’s always better to know than not.

Next Taboo Topic … Children and Step-Children

Now, you may be thinking – why are children a taboo topic, they are such a blessing. And you are right, but there is SO MUCH involved with children that some ground rules should be laid out …

First, do you both even want children? Now, we started our marriage with a child, so the next logical question was, do you want any more children? If so, when? How many? Who’s going to do this, this and this for the child – decisions to be made come quick, so it’s good to already have that foundation talk where you can better understand each other.

Since we started our relationship with Beau, who turned 4 a few weeks after we met, we were at a stage in Beau’s life where we had to discuss things like … Bedtime rules, what types of food would we allow him to eat, punishments and who was the enforcer, and basically I had to realize that I am not the only one making decisions for him now.

So, let’s side track and dive into this a little bit more. I’m not sure how unique our situation is, but I can guess with a 50% divorce rate, that there are MANY blended families. Ours may be a little more unique in that Heath adopted Beau, and we have kept a close relationship with Beau’s biological paternal side of the family – his grandparents and aunt and uncle. Now, that relationship, while being dynamic, truly demonstrates how to keep the love of your child above your feelings, (which could be a show in itself), but I will say here for the Taboo Topics – that Heath and I had to have a serious conversation with each other about how he felt knowing they were such a big part of Beau’s life already and if he felt comfortable continuing that, and me sharing my thoughts on what I thought was best for Beau. Then a serious conversation with that side of the family to move forward as one, unconventional, and loving family all in the name of Beau! And, now that Beau is an adult, I can honestly say that we all did what we promised, and Beau is a more loved child because of it!

BUT, what worked for us, may not work for you. You may have both come to the relationship with children and be co-parenting with your ex. And he/she may not like that there is another “parent” figure around. OR, they may embrace your relationship and realize the more people to love the children, the better. This is for you all to decide, but I highly recommend that you do so early on. Not saying that it will be set in stone, but when children are involved in the beginning of a relationship, I think it’s best to set everything out on the table as soon as possible, not tip toeing around as the children will be the ones to suffer if we adults can’t figure it out.

Okay, back to Taboo Topics with Children …

Some other items for you to figure out, once you’ve established that you want to have children, how many you want, and the time frame (God willing – we all know that it never happens exactly when we want) – ha ha! Now, you can discuss the fun stuff like …

  • Are you going to breastfeed? Will you bottle pump so the Dad can get some bonding time too?
  • Who’s going to get up in the middle of the night for feedings and changing those stinky diapers?
  • Who’s responsible for bath time? And don’t answer, “We both are!” Because yes, you both are – BUT inevitably there will be times and days that one of you does this more than the other and that said person will notice and say, “Hey, why aren’t you helping me with the baby?”  So go ahead, put some guidelines out there. Maybe it’s not as structured as you take Monday, Wednesday, Friday and I’ve got the rest, but maybe it’s just starting conversations and realizing that you guys can talk about these things before they blow up and cause problems. For example, maybe you’ve got a busy week coming up at work, so you say, “Hey babe, I’ve got a lot going on at work, are you okay if this week you do more for our sweet baby, then next week, when things calm down, I’ll do a little more so you can get some rest or go do something to get out of the house”.  Just having open conversations and respect for the other’s person time, is so important.
  • Who does the baby’s laundry?
  • What about animals, do you have them? How will they be with the baby? Who is going to have more responsibility for them?
  • And the list goes on and on when they are babies …. But it is so worth it!

When they get a little bit older, you’ve got to start worrying about things like …

  • Discipline – time out or not – who is going to enforce? I highly recommend that this is where you start your UNITED FRONT as parents (and this goes for parents that are living together or co-parenting in different houses) your children need to know that YES or NO means YES or NO, they can’t go to the other parent and play you against each other. (AGAIN, this could be a show in itself, but for today, let’s just agree that you guys are going to be a United Front.)
  • You will need to start deciding if you want them to play sports, musical instruments, maybe start noticing if they have any special talents that you can encourage more of. Now, I’m not saying, go sign your kid up for stuff as soon as they turn 4, what I’m saying is that you all need to start having these conversations because the time to start and them starting school will come sooner than you think and you will want to know how the other feels. For example, I REALLY wanted Beau to play soccer because that’s what I played all growing up and Heath REALLY wanted Beau to play football, because that what he played growing up. So, we agreed to sign him up for each and let him decide which one he liked better and we would support him. Well, wouldn’t you know, he played both, didn’t like either – and feel in love with baseball! So, you can have the best laid plans, and it changes, but the main thing is that you guys discuss it!

Then they start the school age years – the next 12 years will be a roller coaster for you and them. Not only because of school, but because of all the changes they will go through too …. Puberty, bullies, first loves, good grades/bad grades, driving, oh the list goes on and on. And I bet you can guess what I’m getting ready to say … HAVE THOSE TOUGH CONVERSATIONS WITH EACH OTHER AND AGREE ON YOUR GAME PLAN AND TO BE A UNITED FRONT WITH THE KIDS.

Okay, let’s move onto the next Taboo Topic … FAMILY and In-Laws …

Yes, this is something that MUST be discussed before marriage – but if you’re already married, and this goes for any of these taboo topics, if you’re already married, YOU STILL NEED TO DISCUSS especially if you haven’t up to this point.

So, let’s start with an easy one … Holidays – ha ha – easy right.  So, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you and your family have holiday traditions – whether that be Easter Dinner, Thanksgiving lunch, or Christmas Morning breakfast – what you have done with your family your whole life is also now your family tradition.  Well, guess what – so is your girlfriend/boyfriend’s – they have their own as well and I’m going to go even further on that limb and say that there may be some overlapping.  UH OH – what does this mean for you all as a couple and as a family once you have children?  Will you go to only one side for each holiday, will you rotate, will you nix what you’ve grown up with and start your own traditions?  Oh the decisions we must make – AND we must make them with our other half. I know, this is going to be a tough one.  It may take you a few years to get it where you both feel comfortable and of course, it could and probably will change as the years go on. I know when Heath and I first got married and had our first Christmas together, that is much different than the way we celebrated this past year. Some family members have moved, some have passed, some have divorced, it’s ever changing, but what stays the same, is … you guessed it … we both share our thoughts on where we should go or what we should do together, then we decide and compromise. But honestly, after 15 years, it is very easy for us.

Another Taboo Topic with Family and In-Laws comes with their involvement in your marriage AND especially when you have children … Do you run to your parents every time you have a fight with your spouse? Do they tell how to raise your kids? Do they over-step their boundaries? Well, my family and Heath’s family are very different. It was a HUGE adjustment for both of us when we would go visit the respective family’s house for a simple dinner. My family is loud, talkative, 15 people in the kitchen, in each others way, drinks flowing, food grabbing, then when it’s time to sit down and eat, it’s family style – so you are passing food across each other in front of each other and eating when you can, but mostly you are talking and a lot and loudly. Sometimes there’s even arguments … oh, how I miss those dinners. Anyways, I can distinctly remember the first family dinner I went to with Heath’s family.  I think I was probably late, that was my first no-no, then I remember trying to start conversations and I just kept putting my foot in my mouth – over and over again – ugh. I honestly think they probably took bets on how long I was going to last. Ha ha … All kidding aside – it was like night vs day – loud vs quiet. Neither is wrong, just very different! So I had to adjust a little and so did he. We both got more and more comfortable as time went on, but the key for me was him telling me to be myself and that he loved me no matter how awkward I was at his family dinners and for me to say to him, that it doesn’t hurt my feelings if you leave the room and go watch TV because you can’t stand all the noise. It was freeing for both of us, and we weren’t mad at each other because we shared why we were doing what we were doing.

The last Taboo Topic with Family that I will share here today is when a family member passes. Unfortunately, we have had great losses during our marriage. When that devastation and grief comes, you are not prepared, you don’t know what to say or what to do for the other person because you have also just lost someone you loved, but you know it is their blood relative, so maybe you feel a little less part of the family at those times. I am not going to sugar coat this – it is hard, it may the hardest chapter in your marriage and it may last a long time. We all deal with and handle grief differently and this is not a topic that I feel you can talk about beforehand and get a “game plan” down on how you will react and who will handle what. The reason I am bringing it up, is because death, accidents, grief, they are bound to happen throughout your relationship and may happen more than once. So, instead of having the conversation with your significant other beforehand, why don’t you internally decide a few things. For me, that was to “love him through it”.  That meant I didn’t force conversations. I didn’t ask to be included in making arrangement decisions. I would let him know that I was available to do anything he needed and when he finally did ask me to do something, you better believe I stopped what I was doing and did it, so he knew that I meant what I said. I would sit in silence with him. Just letting him know I was there. I didn’t try to “take away” his sadness by deflecting the conversations or not even acknowledging what was happening, I was just there. I also, kept my feelings to myself – now this was my personal decision and I’m certainly not saying you do it, but I decided to deal with my feelings of loss for his family members by sharing my sad feelings with others than with him because the last thing he needed was me adding more sadness to what he was already going through. Again, grief is going to affect all of us differently and death is not something we can prepare for … I just want to make sure it is something that we all are aware of that will happen during our lifelong relationships.

Another topic this is inevitable and can definitely be Taboo is  …. MONEY!

That’s right, money, money, money!  Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some money! You can do a lot of good with money … but for some reason, money causes the most arguments in a relationship! Go figure!

Now, this topic was very short and sweet for Heath and I, so I will dive into more detail with you guys, but basically when we had our “money” talk it went a little something like this …

Me: Okay, I think it’s time we talk about money and how we’re going to do the bills, split them up, savings ….

He Interrupts Me:  Stop right there … I have the solution …

“Oh really!” (is what I said because I am a complete control freak, especially when it comes to money and I want to be a good steward of my money and I hate debt and I like checking off when I pay something, so my first thought when he said this was … Oh no, he wants to take this “job” over and handle it – and I started freaking out)   But to my surprise, he said ….

“We put everything together in one checking and one savings account – you manage the money and I won’t question you unless my card doesn’t swipe!”

Now, ladies, I am sure you are thinking one of two things …. First, you could be thinking … “Geez, I would love it if my husband did that.” OR you are thinking … “That’s BS, there is no way he said that.”

But, my hand on a Bible, from my lips to God’s ears … that is the truth – that is what he said and that is what we’ve done for 15 years! BUT, it is not all it is cracked up to be. First, THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY of our family’s financial future is dependent on how I spend the money we both make – and neither one of us has a set salary every month – talk about stressful! OR, when we decide that we’re going on family vacation (and remember, we don’t like debt) so I have to plan, budget and save for said vacations while hopefully not messing up our everyday lives. OR, when he says, I would like to buy ________ fill in the blank with whatever. Or, oh, the kids want to go to camp – I get to figure it out – Kids need something extra, you guessed it – It’s my responsibility to find the money. And to make sure you know that I am not saying that I do it all alone, when we need this extra money, HE is the one that picks up the extra shifts, HE is the one who works longer hours – HE is the provider for the majority of the money that we have (remember my first expectation?) So we both do our parts … He makes most of it and I spend all of it … Hmm, I’m being silly.

But seriously, I will say, we do talk more about money in the past year than we ever have because I am trying to get us completely debt free (including the mortgage – which I will be talking all about finances in March), and he is on board with it, I just have to make sure there is money for certain things …. See … give and take. This scenario works for us. It certainly isn’t going to work for everyone. So, what are some questions that you guys need to ask each other and make sure you are on the same page about?

For starters, I would say – you need to decide if you are going to have a shared account or separate accounts? Or you could even have three accounts, one for house/family bills that you both put into and then you each have your separate accounts for your fun money.

Are you both expected to pay the same percent of the bills even if one of you makes more than the other? Who is responsible for actually paying the bills every month or do you divide them up?

When children come – will both of you keep working or will one of you stay at home and bring your household income to one instead of two?

Do you like to vacation? If so, who pays for it and how do you pay for it – cash, credit card, savings.

Car payments – do you have them? One at a time or you both have cars with loans out? Do you agree on saving for a car vs getting a loan? How much are you each willing to take out of the family budget for a car?

Eating out? Cable? Cell phone plans? Work clothes? Shopping for fun? Christmas allowance?  Anything and everything that cost money and that the two of you don’t agree on is potential to do permanent damage to your relationship.  You may not think so now, but I promise you, if you guys don’t have discussions about money and how it’s spent, you have a tough road ahead. What is important to you may not be important to them. What you feel is a lot of money for something, they could feel is a good price.

Oh, money, money, money – how we love you and loathe you at the same time!  Remember, I’ve more to come on money in March, but this is a good starting point to get the conversation going and feel each other out.

Which brings me to FEELINGS … Yes, Feelings are a Taboo Topic.

Love, Comfort, Safe, Trusted, Wanted, Anger, Resentment, Disappointment, the list goes on what feeling any of us can have on any given day. And while the happy, go lucky feelings are what we all want everyday and hope our loved one gives us – the reality is, that’s not life. Whether our spouse gives us these negative feelings, or the outside world, they will happen, so we need to “own” them and share how we react when they happen.

For example, when I get upset, I can go one of two ways … I will either go into serious cleaning mode where I just clean and scrub and sling clothes around until I’m done and ready to talk because I’ve already had the conversation in my head 20 times while I was cleaning. OR I will dig my heels in and be more stubborn than anyone I know. I mean, I have outlasted a 2 ½ hour screaming tantrum from when my daughter was three, so I’m pretty confident in my stubbornness. Basically, it takes me a while to get over things and then when I calm down, I HAVE to talk about it – we HAVE to discuss it – it’s the only way I will feel “good” about the situation.   On the other side – when my husband gets upsets … he gets quiet – more quiet than usual – and doesn’t want me around him. He likes to be left alone. Then, in an hour or however long, he’ll come back up stairs like nothing is wrong and continue the day … he’s done – he’s over it – he doesn’t want to discuss it – he’s moved on.

It took us a while to figure this one out, but I am so glad that we did.  There is no right or wrong here, there is no magic to do list – it is just you recognizing how you react, how you want to be treated during that time, letting your partner know, and hopefully you will respect each other’s space for that time.

We also need to make sure that if your loved one says something that hurts your feelings, you need to tell them right away because they may not realize it and say it again. I am sure we could all share stories on this one, but just know, from experience, that your loved may think they are being funny and not realizing that it is hurtful, so please be forthcoming with your feelings.

Shew, I think that’s enough for today! There are definitely a lot more Taboo Topics that need to be discussed to have an open and honest relationship, but I think this will give us a good start.

As I said earlier, Heath and I had a lot of these discussions before we ever got married, but we do revisit them from time to time as life happens, we change as people, we grow – so even if you’ve never done this before, I highly encourage you to start. Just start with one topic – maybe even go on a date and make it casual, but still talking about serious stuff!

And remember, you make think you know what their expectations are, what their answers will be to some of the questions, what their opinions are, but honestly until they TELL YOU themselves, you don’t – you’re just guessin’.

Time for our THOUGHTFUL TIDBIT.   Today, I’m going to change it up a bit and have a HUGE THOUGHTFUL FAVOR to ask of you …. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please hit the subscribe button and please leave a kind review. If you think it’s worth a share, please do share it. If you have a Life Lesson or Taboo Topic you want to tell us about, please do so and use #TabooTopics or #LLOAS for Life Lessons on a Sunday. I want to connect with you guys – I want to make sure that this is beneficial for you – I want to make sure that I’m not just rambling, but that what I’m saying is reaching you – if it is. I truly put my heart and soul into each show and try to share enough of my story to connect with you, but not to make it all about me because this “For A Lifetime” message that’s happening, is for all of us!

We can connect on Instagram, Facebook and the website, which is FORALIFETIME.ORG.

Oh my gosh guys … okay, what did you think? I don’t know about you, but I’m digging it – I absolutely love talking about Taboo Topics, so maybe there will be more in the future.

Until Next Sunday …

2 Comments on “LLOAS 008: Taboo Topics

  1. This was a great episode. It is so important to have this hard conservation early. Sure, they are uncomfortable at times but I believe it can help you grow your bond. One taboo Topic I would add to the list is the faith base conservation. My husband was the son of a Baptist minster and had some strong feelings about the raising of our children and family structure. Although I believed is the same Christian concerts is was a adjustment for me for sure. Thanks and kept em coming

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