You are safe…

The other day I read the funniest tweet ever…

“been quarantined with my wife for four weeks now. At this point, I have more risk of getting killed by her than by a crummy virus.” 

I laughed out loud and shared it with my friends and especially my husband.

I couldn’t help but think how stretched our relationship has become during this time.

Robert and I have a strong relationship. It’s definitely not perfect, but we have mutual respect for each other that allows for each of us to live in our lanes confidently, cheering each other on to be and do our best.

We laugh, argue, cry, love, with respect and when we’ve had enough we can sit quietly.

What have I learned about marriage during this forced in your face quarantine with your significant other is the following: 

Marry someone you like

Marry someone you respect

Marry someone that makes you laugh 

Marry someone that respects your need for space in the same space!

Marry someone that will step up when you need to step away 

Marry someone that lets you sleep

Marry someone that brings you breakfast, lunch, and dinner in bed!

Marry someone of the same faith

Marry someone that will encourage you when you feel discouraged 

Marry someone that loves the natural you

These past 20 plus days have been nothing but a rollercoaster ride in our home. Navigating through food, toiletries, finances, family issues, and figuring out how not to lose our way.

One thing I know for sure, when we look at each other we know we are safe. 

We are in the same space together,  yet we are safe.

We are laughing so hard we cry,  yet we are safe.

We argue to the point of exhaustion, yet we are safe.

So for those relationships that feel stretched, challenged, and are exhausted- remember you should always feel safe.

Lesson:

Choose your partner wisely.

‘Til Tuesday

It’s the little things…that adds up!

Dearest Robert,

Tomorrow, February 5th, we will celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary.  The moment we cried (well I think you cried more than I did) and said I do to each other.

And with that being said I want to say the following…

Thank you for asking me to be your wife.

Thank you for seeing in me what I couldn’t see for myself.

Thank you for teaching me to trust in love again.

Thank you for buying me beautiful clothes… he threw all my old clothes away, long story.

Thank you for buying me my first car – Volvo Wagon…oh how we loved that car!

Thank you for loving our sons unconditionally..the Jeannie Mata way.

Thank you for bringing me coffee in bed…when you are home!

Thank you for always telling me you love me, even when I’m not so lovable..real talk.

Thank you for holding my hand… even when I’m mad.

Thank you for always laughing at my jokes, as ridiculous as they may be!

Thank you for standing by me in all my crazy dreams and projects!

Thank you for being my biggest fan, you love to hear me sing and you love my writings.

Thank you for trusting me with our home and finances…not as easy as many would think.

Thank you for trusting me with running our businesses!

Thank you for always telling me how smart I am…you are truly my biggest cheerleader!

Thank you for always doing the evening dishes, the laundry, setting the table, buying the groceries. (You make your presence count when you are home)!

Thank you for standing in for me when I couldn’t stand up at my mom’s funeral.

Thank you for protecting me and our family from gossip and drama.

Thank you for being the most amazing provider for our sons and me.

Thank you for being my closet confidante and secret keeper…oh the stories you can tell!

Thank you for accepting my friends and my family as your own!

Thank you for putting up with all my Puerto Rican-ness…it can be a lot!

Thank you for just wanting to be around me all the time…we are an awesome team!

Thank you for always thinking about the concerns of our family first before your own.

Thank you for teaching our sons what a man, father, friend, husband looks like.

Thank you for choosing me every day!

Thank you for dreaming with me!

And finally…

Thank you for being the most kindhearted man I have ever met.

Your integrity and loyalty radiate in your work and in our home.

I love you more than you’ll ever know…

but I promise to spend every moment showing you!

Happy 26th Anniversary!

Your Crazy Puerto Rican Wife…

Six Weddings…

This was the year of weddings!

We received six wedding invitations of which we were only able to attend three.  It seemed that each time I opened my mailbox, there was another engagement, save the date and wedding invite.

We take our attendance at weddings very seriously.  Someone very wise once said, when you commit to showing up to a wedding you are committing to the success of the marriage.  You are making a promise to the couple that you will pray and support them through their married life.  That concept truly made me think.

 How many of us think of our attendance in those terms?

So as I pondered on all these beautiful weddings that we attended this is my advice to the newlyweds of 2019!

During conflict 

Talk, talk and talk some more; Go for a walk in silence; Ask for forgiveness

Communication

 Understand your spouses’s personality; Have real expectations (he/she was always this way, he/she didn’t change); Take time to listen without being defensive; Keep a short account (let the grudge go)

What you wished someone had told you

It’s not his/her job to make all your dreams come true; Keep something for yourself – job, hobby, friendships; Everything doesn’t always have to be perfect; He can’t read your mind; Marriage is WORK; Be flexible

Rules of friendship w/ the opposite sex

 Talk about relationships that are non-romantic, How does he/she feel about that; Your spouse must always come first; Trust and boundaries must be clear.

Maintaining Intimacy 

Keep healthy boundaries with your kids and your time; Make your bedroom a sanctuary; Hold hands;  Stay connected phone calls, texts, emails; Words of Affirmation (we each need to know we are desired); Dates are key, whether during the day, noon or night and even in your own home; He/She must always be your boyfriend/girlfriend; Stay on point with your grooming and appearance.

Extended Family Conflicts 

Set boundaries; Create your own family traditions w/ your spouse and kids; Don’t allow guilt to drive your decisions.

When things are difficult

Remember who you fell in love with, that person is still there.  Life is happening to you and sometimes those circumstances are beyond your control. Forgiveness is key.  Record keeping is never a good thing. People grow and can change. Be open to new adventures. Be an encourager. Hold hands even when you don’t want to. And ask for help when you’ve hit a wall.

So to all these newly wedded starting their “forever” life, may we commit to pray for you, encourage you and support you …

Because…Marriage is work!

Lesson:

Don’t judge someone’s marriage.  You don’t know the work they are doing.

‘Til Tuesday

Twenty-Five years and counting!​

Yup, it’s our 25th Anniversary. On a cloudy day, February 5, 1994, at 11am in the morning, Robert and I stood before God, family, and friends and made the most significant commitment of our lives. Saying I do to… forever! Yup! FOREVER…What has that looked like the past 25 years? Well, let me tell you!

Our 25 years have included, unbridled passion, intensive conflict, mixed with exhilaration. The first 5 years included locations, travel, and our firstborn. The next five years included our first miscarriage, my cervical cancer, two new address, and lots of time spent apart. The next five years another miscarriage, the birth of our second child, radiation for my thyroid disease and more time spent apart along with unbearable personal loss. The next five years came with more conflict than resolution. Came with challenges that seemed unimaginable. We were stretched to the brink, but we always bounced back. Everything we held close and dear was ripping us apart. We walked in different directions and sometimes in circles feeling trapped. In the midst of it all, we held on to our promise to each other –

Forever…It’s forever!

The past five years have come with unimaginable loss and grief. Some of it is still unbearable and difficult to process and accept. Committing to marriage and committing to each other is an act of selflessness. It requires forgiveness, compassion, empathy, understanding, trust, respect, and honor. It requires waking up each morning and choosing each other no matter how hard the circumstances are. It requires having an identity in your relationship that is separate from each other so that we don’t place the expectation of making the other person responsible for your happiness.

So! The past 25 years in our lives have included a myriad of experiences that are all our own. It’s our journey that has kept us incredibly committed to each other. One thing I am sure of..my lover has my back and I have his. He is mine, and I am his.

What I know for sure is that he was created for me and I for him.

I look forward to the next 25 plus years that will continue to be an amazing journey of our lives together. Creating memories and experiences that are personal to us and only us. Living in a sacred space that we know is full of love, respect, and honor and laughter, lots of laughter.

So we celebrate 25 years of marriage with the scars that clearly show we fought for us and won! FOREVER!

Lesson:

Key to a healthy marriage, love, commitment, laughter, forgiveness, respect, trust, and intimacy. FOREVER.

“Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Til Forever

Saying I do…..

I said yes.  I moved across the country, and I gave up my identity.  I became a wife, his partner.  I became the homemaker, housekeeper (well not for long), I became the accountant and soon after I became the mother of his children.

During the past 24 years, I juggled my identity, our lives, the lives of our children and our marriage.  I have managed to live in an unconventional marriage where being apart from each other is the norm and being together is unusual.

We have weathered in our distance, family divisiveness, disagreements, financial challenges, two miscarriages, illnesses, different homes and false accusations.

You see when you say I do, no one can actually tell you how it’s going to work out because each person is different.  You can read as many books on marriage and relationships, but it isn’t until you get married and start doing life together that you come to understand what you really said I do to!

One critical decision we made in our marriage, no matter how difficult and painful the challenge we were facing..we would never walk away.  No matter how much we hurt, we would sit still and hold on.

We have cried, forgiven and loved.

I often look at seasoned couples and think to myself, how much have they forgiven.  How much have they given up?  How much have they laid their lives down for the other partner so he or she could rise up?   How much have they loved when love didn’t come easy?

In the past several years I have regained my identity.  I still hold the role of wife, mom, partner, homemaker, accountant, business owner.   With our years of experience and respect, I have come to understand the true meaning of “I do.”

I said I do to love, laughter, fear.  I said I do to holding your hand when I didn’t want to.  I said I do to sitting quietly when there are no words left to say.  I said I do to our children, I said I do to the unpredictable journey.  I said I do to accepting and walking through many valleys. I said I do to hopes and dreams deferred.

In saying I do to what didn’t seem familiar or comfortable for me, I found my voice.  I found my identity.  I found my purpose, I found my calling.  I began to remember that young woman that dreamed.  I remembered the woman that I was before the name change.  She was always there.  Just waiting for her turn…and it came.

To her I say, I do.

Lesson:

Don’t lose yourself.  Hold on to the person YOU fell in love with. Hold on to the person HE fell in love with.  Keep your identity and always remember to hold hands.

 “Til Tuesday

*image was taken by our son Paul.

Just keep polishing…

I have attended several weddings in the past months, and one ceremony had a poignant moment. They asked specific people to surround them.   They stood up, walked up to the couple, surrounded them, and prayed over them, blessing their marriage. These were their mentors.  Folks that will keep them accountable in marriage. Now that’s a powerful moment.

What a great way to start their commitment to each other!

I love being married-

The partnering to create a life together that will leave a legacy.

 I don’t like what marriage can do to one another.
As a wife and mother, I often find my role diminished, by choice.
We often give the power to our spouses to make us happy and bring us joy.
We have expectations that we believe are clearly defined as their role in our lives.

Love me and make me happy!

Well, I have learned that is not a healthy relationship. That is not a healthy expectation.

Marriage is work!

And like any kind of work, that are successes, failures, and losses, but you keep doing the work.
When we get up to go to work we put our best face forward, we show respect to our co-workers. We do our best so that the company and team succeed. When you fail at that, you are replaced.
Think about it…if marriage is work. Why don’t we treat it with the same respect? Why don’t we give it our best? Why do we choose not to succeed for the team?

As I’m getting older, I realize that the glitter and magic of our newlywed love can easily turn into tarnished metal.

Every day we have to take out our special cloth of grace, kindness, forgiveness, and polish the metal so we can see the reflection of what it once was. 

Yet, this takes a team, two people committed to each other, committed to the work!

Lesson:
Marriage is work.
Forgiveness is greater
Choose every day to do both!

‘Til Tuesday

I married a Mexican American…and I don’t regret it!

Yup….and I didn’t think it was a big deal either… until I moved to Los Angeles, CA.

Growing up in New York, the melting pot of diversity, I didn’t think twice about my husband’s ethnicity. He’s Latino, I’m Latina, we are a match!!!

Not so fast sistah!  

Firstly, I quickly learned not all Latinos are alike which is why we are such a complicated community to rally behind.  His culture and upbringing are very different from mine.  How they celebrate holidays was utterly different from mine.

I remember my first Christmas, I cried myself to sleep.  Where was the pasteles, Arroz con gandules, pernil, lasagna, guineo en escabeche, Ensalada de Tomate, flan, pudin, Arroz con dulce.  He had no idea what I was talking about. These delicious plates were never a part of his upbringing until he met me. I am happy to say that they are now apart of our holidays along with his tamales, pan dulce, and occasional menudo!

Living in Southern California ethnicity is something that goes before you. It’s the immediate judgment someone makes of you without even knowing your story.  They immediately place you in a box!

Growing up in NYC, I always walked around freely, never thinking that my ethnicity would be an issue.  Not so here in Southern California.  Here they immediately question your citizenship.  Our family is a blended culture.  Mexico and Puerto Rico.  Our sons are Mexiricans, and we have raised them to be proud of both.  I never imagined that marrying outside of my ethnicity would create such a  divide between them and us.  We have decided to change that narrative on how to see each other and treat each other.

In our current climate, them and us have become a definition of the social and ethnic divide.

Yes, our food might be different, our music and our culture.  But our ability to love and share and give and embrace is the same.  We all need each other!  Let’s stop creating such a divide among ourselves and start embracing what we know to be the same in each other.

Lesson:

We must remember that we are no different than the differences that we create…

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month

‘Til Tuesday