Are You a High Maintenance Spouse?

BY: - 4 Feb '13 | Marriage

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I wouldn’t normally label myself as high maintenance, but a recent encounter with a White Castle sign made me second guess that thought. The sign read “Valentines Day Reservations, Call Now.” My initial thoughts of spending Valentine’s Day with my husband in White Castle were that it would be very unappealing. We don’t normally celebrate this particular occasion anyway because we usually honor one another throughout the year. But when I thought about my husband presenting White Castle reservations to me, I wasn’t too sure how I would have responded.

My husband has often described me as easy going and drama free. I know part of that comes from my not requesting too much too often. It doesn’t require a whole lot to keep me satisfied and the same is true for my husband. Which doesn’t mean we don’t put forth a great deal of effort to gratify one another. But I questioned my first reaction to that sign. It brought to mind conversations I used to have with friends as a young adult. I recall me and my girlfriends debating the topic of relationships back in the day and what a boyfriend had to do for us. Things like pay for every date, help out with certain bills, and buy us things just because, were all things boyfriends had to do in order to maintain our interest. We were young and placed value on the amount of money a man was willing to spend. Once, it came down to the engagement ring. I remember one friend even declaring if the ring didn’t cost at least a specific dollar amount it wouldn’t be accepted. Now it never went that far for me. But I also had certain childish requirements. I am so grateful I grew out of that mode.

My relationship has gone beyond material things. It focuses on how my husband makes me feel, not what he can buy for me. So although I didn’t think, at first, a date at White Castle for Valentine’s Day would be of interest to me, I came to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter where we are. Not every date can be lavish, sometimes the budget may be a little tight and we have to get creative. Or it’s something to do just for fun. The bottom line is to keep focused on what’s most important in my relationship and it isn’t where my husband takes me on a date.

BMWK — Are you a high maintenance spouse? Would you be okay with reservations at White Castle for Valentine’s Day?

About the author

Tiya Cunningham-Sumter wrote 635 articles on this blog.

Tiya Cunningham-Sumter is a Certified Life & Relationship Coach, founder of Life Editing and Author of A Conversation Piece: 32 Bold Relationship Lessons for Discussing Marriage, Sex and Conflict Available on Amazon . She helps couples and individuals rewrite their life to reflect their dreams. Tiya has been featured in Essence and Ebony Magazines, and named one of the top blogs to read now by Refinery29. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two daughters. To find out more about Tiya, and her coaching, visit and


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25 WordPress comments on “Are You a High Maintenance Spouse?

  1. Ashley

    I have too say I know for a fact I am not high maintenance, I feel white castle is better then nothing, plus I love me some white castle. you wrote this in good timing Tiya, you no women and men would go broke just to please their mate.

  2. Superwife

    This society is too materialistic in general. Basing the value of another human being on how much money they have is a mistake….no matter which partner in the relationship does it.

  3. RJ

    My husband always talked about eating at Pizza Hut with his family when he was a kid and how it was one of his favorite things. For his birthday I surprised him by taking him to Pizza Hut and he loved. We both are pretty laid back when it comes to stuff like that.

  4. gina

    Honestly, no. If he can’t put in the effort to do something so obviously cheap and phoned-in, why bother? There are lots of things that don’t cost a lot (for example, he could stay at home and be your personal masseuse for free, or make a home-cooked meal for the price of what he paid in gas and greasy premade burgers) that say that at least he tried. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be thoughtful.

    1. Anonymous

      Right Gina! Cooking @ home would be a lot cheaper then going to freaking White Castles LOL!! Hell, I ate white Castles on a late night, just got in from the club! Not for dinner anytime!

  5. Adrian

    Well maybe thats for yall. I’m going to keep it real. I don’t want White Castle for Valentine’s day. We can stay home for that matter and just cook. I agree with the as long as we’re together part and I would be in it for better or for worse. But since the money is possibly tight its best that we cook. And we can make a meal out of each other. Just my thoughts.

  6. Cheryl

    I thought that my local White Castle was the only one that did that! I am not high maintenance in that respect, but no belly bombs for me! My husband and I enjoy celebrating Valentine’s day, as an excuse to give gifts. To not celebrate it is like not celebrating my birthday because I am alive the other days of the year. We never break the bank or anything – sometimes just a card and something needed but not purchased – I got a purple mechanical pencil once (loved it). We celebrate just about everything – we have had at least 5 honeymoons.

  7. Rose

    i know many women that would not be with their boyfriend or husband taking them to White Castle at anytime! At one time when I was younger I would been looked at my mate like are you serious, “me going to a fast-food joint for Valentine’s Day”. I’m glad I grew up as well! My mate is more concern about taking me to nice places and buying me nice things then me. He feels that his woman should have the very best of things. We been talking about engagement rings and I said I would not care how much one costs that he buys for me, but I know he’s going to do it big 🙂 I’m a lucky woman. SN: People are too worried about material things than the love from their mate!

  8. Yana

    I must be high maintenance then (kanye shrug). I prefer to call it having standards though. I mean we are in our 30’s (he 40 in two weeks) now and financially in a better place then we were 18 years ago when we met. Since we are doing better now, naturally I expect better. Now if White Castle held a special significance in or relationship ( i.e. first date there, where we met) then going there would be sweet, but since it doesn’t he would indeed get looked at sideways. I get tired of people equating having standards with some how being shallow or high maintenance. I personally equate women who let a spouse or a boyfriend repeatedly get away with shabby gift giving, ill planned special occasions etc as lacking in self worth. Black people need to stop the love is all we need nonsense, because it most certainly is not. God put alot of beautiful shiny things on Earth and for our pleasure and if we can afford them then I want them. Now if you truely are a person that doesn’t value these things, that’s one thing, but for those of us who do I don’t see a thing wrong with having expectations and wanting them to be met. That included my wedding ring!

    1. Tiya Cunningham-Sumter

      Yana, I just love the honesty in your comment. Shiny is nice, For me it’s all about the experiences. Now a nice tropical, island vacation and he got me in the palm of his hands lol. Love for me is about the actions. I want something that can stay with me always. But you’re right, absolutely nothing wrong with those who want something else.

  9. Anonymous

    The main thing is noone goes broke buying these items. I know of a couple who was always eating out and taking mini road trips. After the wedding she discovered just how deep in debt he went just to date her. She was not aware of his finacices before hand so this was a shocker to her.

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Are the Words, “I Love You,” Really All That Important?

BY: - 5 Feb '13 | inspiration

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Photo Credit: Linds :) via Flickr

Photo Credit: Linds via Flickr

Ever since I wrote the article “13 Ways I Promise to Love My Husband,” I have been making a conscious effort and reflecting on those promises I made. I’ve honestly slipped up a few times in which my husband offered to print out the list and hang it up somewhere I could see it at all times (you know…just to spark my memory). But my reflections encouraged a conversation that I started with him about our individual upbringings. The conversation was centered around the question of why we don’t tell each other we love each other more often? In speaking with my husband about our upbringings, I realized that neither one of us had parents that expressed this sentiment to their children. I honestly don’t remember hearing those words from my parents until I was well into adulthood. But it’s not something I ever thought I had a problem with. I just assumed that it was “normal” especially for our culture (my parents moved here from Uganda just months before I was born), and that saying “I Love You” to your children was just something Americans did. My parents also rarely showed affection towards each other, and I can’t say I remember ever hearing them tell each other that they loved each other growing up.

Subconsciously, I made a promise to myself that when I had kids they would always hear, “I love you” from me, and that they would see affectionate interactions between their father and I. It brings me tears of joy when I see them telling each other (unprompted) that they love each other, and giving each other hugs whenever they’ve been apart for longer than a few hours. I love hearing my kids say it to each other and then surprise me by tell me out of the blue, “Mommy, I love you!”  or “Mommy, I missed you so much!” I’m a sucker and it melts my heart every time. No matter how hard they try to work my nerve, they know I will melt the moment they say those words to me. But I was noticing that although we were telling our kids that we love them every day (several times a day), we were not saying it to each other nearly as often.

It took me back to the arguments we used to have surrounding this very subject when we were dating. I wanted to hear it more, and he didn’t want to say it so much that it lost its meaning. His take was that people tell each other they love each other all the time, and then end up mistreating each other. He wanted to do better than those people by telling me he loved me through his actions. And I guess I didn’t feel the need to say it more because it wasn’t being said to me (I know…kinda childish, but true nonetheless). So in having this discussion with my husband, his response was, “Don’t my actions say it more than my words?” It was a very genuine question as his concern was that I felt like he didn’t love me, which is obviously not the case at all. He wants to express his love for me by treating me with love…whether it be breakfast in bed, doing the dishes or allowing me to sneak in a nap while he tends to the kids…that’s how he expresses his love for me.

This conversation reminded me that we love and express that love in many different ways. I just downloaded and started reading my copy of The 5 Love Languages, which is something I’ve been meaning to do (I know, I know, I’m late to the game…but better late than never, right?). One of the first things I read from the book was,“Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English.” This statement couldn’t be more true, as I’m realizing for the first time in almost fourteen years, that we definitely speak two very different love languages. So what’s important for me, may not be as important for him and vice versa. But it’s all about learning what the other needs in order to feel loved and appreciated.

BMWK — What do you think? Do actions always speak louder than words, or does it depend on your personal love language? 

About the author

Christine St. Vil wrote 153 articles on this blog.

Christine St.Vil is co-author of the Whose Shoes Are Your Wearing: 12 Steps to Uncovering the Woman You Really Want to Be. A happy wife to an amazing hubby of 8 years, and homeschooling mother of three, she teaches moms how to FLY (First Love Yourself). She uses her corporate background to work with women who are ready to start a new business, accelerate their career growth & design a life they love. She's on a mission to help moms to battle the mom guilt epidemic, so they can begin to put themselves first on their never-ending list of priorities.


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