Tuesday, March 23, 2010

10 Tips to Have That Wedding Day Love Last a Lifetime

Marriage takes a lot of hard work and effort from both partners, but there is still such a thing as being able to say, I Love Being Married.

1. Respect One Another. We have so many people who come in to see us and their primary complaint when it is all boiled down is that they feel disrespected in some way or another by what their spouse has said or done. Find out what your partner sees as disrespectful and work on correcting any behaviors that are needed before they become an entrenched part of how you deal with one another.

2. Over Communicate. We call it over communication especially in the first years of marriage when you are still trying to get into the groove of a steady marriage. We also call it over communication because you need to talk about everything even the minor details so that there is no room for misunderstandings. You especially need to communicate about what your expectations are for one another. For example, women, do you expect the man to be responsible for doing all of the yard work? Men do you expect that your wife will be the primary caretaker of your children? Many of the expectations we place on one another come from that unspoken place of your childhood based on what you did or did not see and can cause a major issue if they are not spoken.

3. Love Unselfishly. You know that wedding day love or the love you have right now before the reality of life hits. This is that, I will do anything for you love. This is the kind of love that loves even when the other is unlovable. Unselfish love looks like giving up your favorite show and watching a basketball game with your fiance (without complaining). Unselfish love looks like going with your soon- to- be wife to look at the bridesmaid’s dresses so that she can feel like you are a part of the process even though you could care less about what the women are wearing in the wedding.

4. Work to Become One in Thought Word and Deed. Being married is a team sport and you have to be playing for the same team, working for the same goals, which should be for the betterment of your family. You cannot allow other people or preoccupations come between your ability to begin to act as one unit.

5. Positively Resolving Conflict. One of the biggest differences in having a successful marriage and one that fails is finding a way to work on your conflicts in a positive way. Conflict can turn ugly and cause continued turmoil if not handled effectively. We call this Rules of Engagement, which are the rules you put in place to handle your conflict so that both parties can feel like the issue was resolved in the best interest of your family (your team).

6. Maintain Your Friendship. Fellas, I always tell people that my wife is my best friend. She is the one who knows the most about me and has my back. She is my ride or die chick. Ladies the same should go for you. My husband is my best friend and he is the one that I can’t wait to tell my good news or even the bad. He is also the one that I go to when I have an issue even with him, which leads me to my next point.

7. Keep Others Out of Your Relationship. How can you become one when you have your girlfriends, your boys and even your momma in the middle of your relationship? One exception to this tip is; we do believe everyone needs some wise counsel. You should choose at least one person of the same sex who has similar values and ideals to be your accountability partner to help keep you in check. This person should be someone who is always willing to tell you the truth whether you’re right or wrong. In most instances, we would advise that this person is NOT your mother unless she is truly able to keep herself from taking sides.

8. Nourish and Cherish One Another. Take care of one another. Understand and appreciate your mate. Find out what their love language is according to the Five Love Languages of Dr. Gary Chapman and then learn to speak their love language. The five love languages are 1. Words of Affirmation 2. Acts of Service 3. Gifts 4. Quality Time 5. Physical Touch. These are the things that make your partner feel loved and appreciated. These are also the things that if they are not done can make your partner feel deprived. For example, my love language is quality time and my husband’s is physical touch. This means I feel loved appreciated and in complete connection with my husband when we spend time together with no interruptions from kids or distractions from phones or other gadgets. For my husband, this means that he feels loved, appreciated and completely connected when I physically touch him in any way. We have found that one of the core issues couples have is they don’t know how to take care of one another. They don’t know how to nourish and cherish their partner.

9. Communicate With One Another Intimately on a Regular Basis. There was a study that came out recently that says that physical touch is even more important in the communication between partners than verbal or nonverbal communication. Do not deprive each other sexually out of anger or selfishness. In the age of Facebook and other social media it is too easy to reconnect with someone you once loved.

10. Create Shared Values. Create your own values for your home together. Don’t base them solely on the values you developed growing up as a child or those things that you are now trying so hard to do the opposite of or those things that you didn’t see done as a child. Fellas many of us grew up without a father in the home, so we try to overcompensate when it is our turn to be a father based on what we didn’t get as a child. Create shared values from a space of what you do want not from a space of what you don’t.

*Bonus Tip – As our pastor would say, we are going to throw this one in for free. Be Willing. Be willing to ….. forgive, take chances, be flexible to the ebb and flow of life and the changes that it can bring, and love hard.

As we have said, marriage is not easy, but if you are willing to put in the work and listen to what your partner is asking for, you can maintain that wedding day love for a lifetime.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mommy and Daddy and 46 Years!

Mommy and Daddy in the Beginning Years 

Yesterday March 7th marked the 46th anniversary of my parent’s marriage. When I spoke to my parents yesterday to ask them how many years it was my mom said, “oh it’s been about 40 years”. My dad was in the background yelling, “46 years”. Talking to each of them yesterday was very funny, as usual. When I was talking to my dad, he remembered that our anniversary is at the end of the month and he asked me how many years is it, and I said 11 years. Then he said, “oh that’s just a drop in the bucket”. I could do nothing but laugh. He was right in comparison to his relationship with my mom, but I told him that a lot of people don’t even make it as far as we have.

I thought about how I would write about them and what I would say. I thought about the number of years they have been together and the number of years they have known each other. They have known each other since they were in the 6th grade. I thought about the ups and downs they had as a couple, the struggles they had as well as the triumphs. I think back now about how they raised my sister and me and the values they instilled in us, education, family, respect of self and family, love for one another and family and many more. I think about the butt whoopings my sister got and I avoided. I think about the family vacations, the family holidays and the sense of love and security that I felt as a child. As I now look back on their marriage and relationship, I remember watching the Huxtables and not envying them for having a two parent household as so many others did. I think about how many people have adopted my dad as their dad, because theirs was absent or non-existent.

Now don’t get me wrong, my parent’s marriage has its quirks just like anyone else’s relationship, but the good outweighs the bad. Their marriage reminds me of what sacrifice is and why it is so important in a marriage. They walked out in real life in front of my eyes what people do, who say, ‘til death do us part. Throughout their marriage, there have been financial issues as well as sickness just like in many other relationships, but they stood by each other no matter what. No matter what is no longer in people’s vocabulary. The words these days sound a little bit more like, only if, which puts a lot of conditions on why people decide to stay in their marriages. One recent episode of no matter what occurred when my mom broke her right arm in California while they were attending a family reunion back in July. Because of the severity of the break to my mom’s arm she was unable to do most things on her own, including doing her hair. Now my dad comes from the old school where dad’s don’t know how to do a girl’s hair so for him to roll and then comb my mom’ s hair was huge! He cooked and served all of her meals, gave her twice daily insulin shots for 7 months and even drove Miss Daisy around wherever she wanted to go including meeting her partner so they could go to work. The level of care and concern that my dad showed my mom during this time showed me what sacrificial love looks like on a daily basis and emphasized his love for her. Seeing how he cared for her brought me to tears on many occasions and I had to thank him for what he was doing. His response to me was that’s what I’m supposed to do.

I have often thought about why some of my favorite characters in movies were the ones in which Black women stood proudly by their men and supported them through thick and thin. In my eyes, my mom was the original ride or die chick. She had my dad’s back through so many years of marriage, parenting and everyday life. She showed me what it looked like to take care of your family at all costs. She even in later years showed me what it looks like when the bible talks about a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife. On one occasion in my first year of marriage, my husband and I had an argument and I called myself leaving with my baby on my hip dragging my bags behind me. Because at the time we lived about ten minutes away from my parents, I went to their home for refuge. When my mom answered the door and saw what looked like I was leaving my husband, she gave me the once over to make sure that I was okay and politely told me, “we don’t condone that, you can stay here tonight, but you have got to go home in the morning”. What? Can you believe that, they told me to go home! In retrospect, that was the best thing they could have ever done. That evening they made sure I was okay physically and never made mention of that evening again. No matter the struggles we have gone through they have never questioned nor inserted themselves into our marriage. Although their marriage has not been perfect but neither is mine, watching them has taught me many things that I can and do carry into my relationship and what I can share with others, which is their love and sacrifice for one another and for us, their undying support for one another, their commitment to their relationship, and their continued desire to be married even after 46 years. Happy Anniversary mommy and daddy, I Love you!

Mommy and Daddy after Years Together!