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4 things I learned from my wife's cancer scare

Marriage vows are promises that we make to our soon-to-be spouses during the wedding ceremony. Most of us say these things with all intentions of reaching 'until death do us part'... But, what happens when "in sickness and in health" becomes a relevant vow much earlier than you expected?

Do you stay or walk away?

This was the case in my marriage. 3 years ago, in 2012, when I married my best friend I didn't really expect to have many issues since we were both in our 20's and seemed to be in tip-top shape. Little did I know that about 1 year into our marriage a heart problem that my wife had a while back would decide to rear its ugly head again. A few doctor visits and an internal heart scope discovered that there was actually nothing to fear and that her heart was in great shape after all.

*Sigh of Relief*

The health scares were over...

Until one day in 2014, when she found out that she had a large nodule growing on her thyroid gland. We were told that in most cases they were harmless, but in some case they could be cancerous. I don't know about you, but "Your wife may have thyroid cancer" was not particularly high up on my list of things that I ever wanted to hear.

Over the course of another year she had to go to the hospital numerous times for painful biopsy procedures, consultations, ultrasounds, and x-rays. All of which failed to give a clear and concise diagnosis, and this meant that surgery was the only option since it was still growing. She ended up getting half of her thyroid removed in 2015 and I am happy to report that it was diagnosed as a non-cancerous mass.

I know that I told you guys that I don't love my wife, but that is beyond false. These ordeals actually helped me become a better husband and played a part in making our marriage stronger during the process. I realized that 4 simple truths helped me get through everything we experienced and I wanted to share them with you.

1. It's not their fault.
One of the first things I had to do was help my wife understand that what she was going through was not her fault. She was understandably upset a lot of the time because she didn't think it was fair that she had to experience something so serious at such a young age. She would also constantly apologize to me because she believed that she was damaged goods and that she wasn't the woman I signed up to spend the rest of my life with. To me, that sounded crazy because I knew that I loved her no matter what. There are some men out there that would leave their wives if anything was wrong with them though so I could understand her fear. I had to assure her that I was not one of those men and I would never leave her during her time of need because I meant my vows.

2. Be there for them.
I had to really dig deep and keep my wife's needs in the forefront before, during, and after her surgery. I did whatever was necessary to make sure that she was comfortable and taken care of. I handled everything around the house and didn't complain while I did it. That's important to remember, do not complain. Your spouse probably already feels bad enough that you're in the position that you have to cater to them in the first place - complaining will do nothing but make them feel worse. The last thing you want to do is make them feel as if they are a burden.

3. Be understanding.
If nothing else, I have learned that you have to develop patience very quickly within a marriage. It is all too common for partners to become frustrated with each other in the midst of extremely stressful situations. Staying level headed and showing empathy goes a long way. At the end of the day my wife really appreciated the fact that I didn't let her stress affect me in any type of way that would cause me to get frustrated with her.

4. Always be ready for anything.
I think the most valuable thing I learned was how important it is to be ready for anything. You can never predict how a relationship will turn out, and that's part of the beauty of it. I think that some people paint out a perfect picture of how things are supposed to be and if they don't happen exactly that way, they can't handle the deviation and immediately head for the exit. I chose to put my faith in God and in the belief that my wife and I could handle whatever was to come because we would work through it together. I never let myself view the health issues as her problem - it was always our problem, and now it's our story.

Has something similar happened in your marriage or relationship?
How did you handle that experience?

***This article was also featured on the Huffington Post***
How to deal with difficult people

In this world, there are many different types of people. One thing I've learned is that many of those types are just outright difficult to deal with. For me, the most challenging people that I have to deal with are in my workplace. We have everything from know-it-alls to the "I'm not racist" racists.

My workplace experience has given me various encounters with difficult people. One thing that I've learned is that you really have to know when to fight your battles. Where I work, know-it-all types run rampant and try to make sure that everyone can hear each and every thing that they have to say. It's almost daily that I see someone getting into an intense "conversation" because something is said that they don't agree with and they take offense to it. When these types of conversations come my way, I'm pretty sure that I frustrate people. Why? It's simply because I've figured out the best way to shut down a know-it-all is to basically make it clear that you don't particularly care about what they think they know. I generally try to avoid conversations about money, religion, and politics - even though they tend to be the most popular they also tend to be the most controversial...

"Ain't Nobody Got Time Fo' Dat" - Kimberly "Sweet Brown" Wilkins

My career field is predominately not black. But, in case you haven't noticed, I am black. Difficulties arise from the fact that I'm college educated, speak well, write well, handle myself professionally, have goals, actually love my wife, and favor doing homework over the party scene. I have actually been told that I am "an anomaly" by some of my counterparts. I don't really understand what that is supposed to mean or how I'm supposed to respond. Like, would they prefer me to be an unruly country-boy with a GED? What the hell is a 'regular black person' anyway? I abhor that phrase. I have even had someone ask me why it's okay for black people to say the N-word and not okay for white people to say it. Seriously.That's the type of people I deal with. It's frustrating because I think to myself "Why do you even think that is an acceptable thing to ask ME?" I don't even use that word, but that's besides the point...

How do I deal with it? For one, I don't react the way they probably expect for me to. My wife always tells me that it's a blessing and a curse that I am extremely hard to get stirred up. It takes a lot of effort to really get a rise out of me. I'm sure that people in similar situations would cuss the person out, beat them up, or respond in any number of other negative ways.

For me, the best way of dealing with difficult people is by not giving them the time of day. I don't allow myself to be bothered and therefore I don't get upset with what goes on around me. By handling things this way I can keep my sanity, maintain my professionalism, and most importantly I can keep an assault charge off of my record.

How do you deal with the difficult people in your life? I choose to pretty much ignore their crap but I'd love to know what your tactics are. Leave a comment below and let me know!

Have you found the one? Are you even interested? Well, I can save you some trouble if you are currently searching - You will never find the one. Let me explain what I mean.

See, there are a lot of people actively looking for the one but they are actually willing to settle for anyone. If you ask people to describe their ideal partner, I'm almost willing to bet that it'll sound more like they are describing a car than an actual person. "I want them to be pretty, fun, exciting, etc. etc." Don't even get me started on all of the endless apps and websites that can help you in your partner search.

Let's say that you do find the one person that you think you'd want to be with for the rest of your life or you use some outside help to get you matched up. What will you do then? Will the relationship be perfect because the person matches all of the requirements you listed in your search?

My guess, is probably not.

Something I've noticed is that we tend to get so caught up in the search for the one that we forget to prepare for when we actually do find them. In order to keep this person that you've been looking for and trying to find, you have to be certain that you bring some kind of value to the relationship as well. Are you as 'pretty' as the person you said you wanted to find? Are you as fun to be around? Do you offer any non-physical attributes like goals, intelligent conversation, motivation, compassion, etc?

It's perfectly fine to have an idea of exactly what you want in a partner, but you also have to keep in mind that relationships are about both people. You have to be willing to prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally to handle the relationship that you want in the future. You may get lucky and find someone that could be perfect for you, but if you haven't done your due diligence to give yourself a chance at being perfect for them as well, then you may as well prepare yourself for heartbreak later on down the road.

Honestly, I'm not trying to discourage you from looking. It's fine to look, it's actually a good idea. My point is that you have to make sure you're not so focused on the search that you forget the most important thing is making sure that you are prepared. You have to ask yourself the hard questions like: "Am I over my last relationship or am I still carrying baggage?" "Do I have anything to offer in a relationship? Do I even know what I want?"

Just think about it for a while. And hey, sometimes, the moment you stop looking for love is the very moment you'll find it. [click to tweet this quote]
Men are never satisfied

As a man, I'll tell you that we can often be a real pain when it comes to relationships. Most women probably feel like we are never satisfied, and truthfully, most of you are probably right. By nature, a lot of men are indeed difficult to be in relationships with, but luckily for you, the vast majority of us are relatively easy to figure out. 

See, the media will lead you to believe that all a man wants is a woman that can cook, clean, and do a good job in the bedroom. I don't know about most men, but what I desire in a woman has evolved far beyond the characteristics of the common "housewife". I think that the media contributes to this notion that women should try to attain a certain look or physique in order to get the men they want and they even go as far as saying women should cater to every need or whim of a man. Listen, guys do enjoy being catered to, but you have to understand the type of man you're dealing with before you decide to take that route. Have you ever heard the phrase "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free"? I think that a lot of relationships suffer from this problem when they first start out because some women feel like they need to do everything for their man from the very beginning. If you aren't dealing with the right type of guy, you will eventually find yourself pouring all of your energy into someone with no plans of returning the same effort. And most of these types of men will eventually gain a false sense of security that will cause them to do something stupid. 

And yes, by stupid, I do mean cheat.

How do I know that? I used to be one of the very guys that I'm talking about. I constantly see women getting their feelings hurt because they feel that they are at fault because they got cheated on. They wonder how they can do everything right and still get the short end of the stick at the end of the day. I would say that 99% of the time the guy is to blame but that other 1% definitely falls on the woman. It falls on her because she chose to direct all of her efforts towards the wrong person.

So how do you know if this guy is actually worth your effort? Well, you have to determine whether or not he does anything for you. I'm not talking about things like taking you out to nice dinners, buying you flowers, and getting you expensive gifts. Honestly, most of that stuff is just game and doesn't mean much. Regardless of whether or not those may be nice gestures, here are some things that you really need to pay attention to:

Does he build you up and push you to be better in a constructive way or does he just criticize you?
Does he support your dreams or does he put them down and make them seem insignificant?
Is he considerate of your needs or only his own?
Is he interested in knowing you personally or is he only concerned with knowing you in the bedroom?

Answering these questions honestly may save you a lot of wasted energy if you'll commit to keeping yourself on the straight and narrow. I agree that us men-folk can be a bit of a handful, but a woman that can accurately spot a troublemaker will save herself a great deal of heartache in the long run!

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