Before I was married, I always remember people saying that people like me couldn’t comment on marriage because you don’t have any experience. Then I got married, and I heard that people like me hadn’t been married long enough to really know anything about marriage. (Not that I’ve EVER cared about anyone saying that…stay tuned for my new book on parenting! LOL)
Now I’ve reached two whole years, which I guess gets me out of “Newlywed Land” and makes me an official VET! So, since I’m an expert now…in honor of the occasion, I’m going to share a couple of things I’ve learned over my first few (well two is the fewest few you can have before it’s not a few and becomes one…but you know what I mean…) years as a married man #MajorKeyAlert!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Communication is ALL of the things.
One of the major issues I’ve seen in couples I’ve known and counseled is a lack of CONSISTENT communication. Fellas, I KNOW you don’t always feel like hearing about her day, but it’s less about the actual events that drove her crazy and made her want to throw a stapler at her colleague as it is being in the regular practice of hearing her heart and honoring her feelings (regardless of whether ANY of it makes sense to you). This practice will make life much easier when it comes time to address difficult topics, things that make one another upset, surface issues that need to be repaired, etc. Ladies, if you HAVE a guy who doesn’t like to talk (BTW, the notion that ALL women are the “Talkers” and ALL men are the “Would-Rather-Do-Anything-But-Talkers” is misguided and dangerous…maybe we should talk about that another time), he could become a guy who doesn’t mind talking AS much when the environment is conducive for him expressing his thoughts/feelings (Again, no matter HOW dumb they may seem at a given point). Either way, make sure you talk about your respective worlds and occasionally have intentional “check-ins” to make sure you’re both doing okay. Oh, and make sure you have physical communication on a regular basis too, MAJOR key. Speaking of that…
- Be NAKED.
We talked about communication, both verbal and physical, but the key is to be NAKED…transparent…honest…however you decide to phrase it. Intimacy is the goal, and I always remember my guys (and pastors) Jeff Simmons and Keith Battle break it down as “In-To-Me-See”. Communication is great, but if you’re not keeping it ALL the way funky, you’re stopping short of the benefit of truly allowing your hearts to intertwine. As far as the physical part, I mean fully-clothed, half-clothed or full blown “Garden of Eden” (prior to “the fall” folks)…whatever rocks for you two, have at it. When it comes to what you’re saying to one another, remember, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45), so keep it 100 (insert emoji) at all times. Also…
- Each couple is like a really small GANG.
“For this reason shall a man leave his father and mother and CLEAVE unto his wife, and the two shall become one flesh…” (Genesis 2:24) Once you say “I Do” (even if you mumble it under your breath, folks” the two of you are beginning the PROCESS of becoming one…you’re not individuals anymore and everyone NOT agreed to that covenant of marriage in a sense is on the outside.
Now that doesn’t mean that you’re the Bloods and the couple in your kids’ play group are Crips so you try to keep it “Bool” whenever you see them even though you’re supposed to be predisposed to beefing. It doesn’t mean that your family, friends, etc. aren’t allies in the game of life, but it DOES mean that the health and best interest of your relationship institution with one another is the priority…and (absent utter wackness like abuse, etc.) any person or entity that tries to tear it apart is probably the enemy (unless you can get one of the O.G.’s to sit down and broker a truce). Your marriage is precious and must be protected against anything that endangers it. That leads me to…
- You can either be RIGHT or you can WIN.
Here’s the real…no matter how well you communicate, how honest and raw you are and how unified you are, YOU WILL FIGHT. And not just a light argument over where you’re going for dinner or on vacation, like “why did I do this to begin with?!?!?” “who the hell are you anyway!?!?!” “this is NOT what I signed up for!!!!” level arguments…and it’s okay. Here’s why…remember that whole “cleave” thing I mentioned earlier? It doesn’t happen all at once…and as you grow together, you will experience growing pains…ALSO…you’re both people…two separate people with your own background, experiences, strengths, flaws, misconceptions, preconceptions, selfishness and a whole bunch of other stuff…so in the process of learning how to merge your lives AND exist in close proximity, YOU WILL BUMP HEADS.
Also, you’re both just simply going to mess up…because you’re human…imagine that.
However, how you handle those disagreements can go a long way towards promoting the health of your marriage. VERY often, because we have feelings and such, we’re upset in a disagreement and want to drive home our point…and be RIGHT. Here’s the question though…what’s more important? Successfully arguing my side of the issue OR reaching some consensus that gets us to a resolution that’s best for the MARRIAGE? Now, sometimes that resolution may be best served by a particular side of the argument (my wife would tell you that it’s usually hers, but we know that’s not quite right…love you Bae LOL), but BOTH parties have to step back enough to see what the best outcome for the marriage is.
It’s one thing for someone to be right…it’s ANOTHER for the relationship to win because out of the disagreement came greater understanding and clarity of vision for the best way forward.
Welp…I could go on and on, but these are just a few things that came to mind that I wanted to share. By NO means is this exhaustive or exclusive…I didn’t even talk about money, faith or children (SHEESH), but I’m always willing to share and discuss anything I’ve learned on my journey if it’ll help someone else.
Listen, #MarriageIsDope and all that, but there are all kinds of factors that, if not managed properly, can conspire to pull two people apart…be mindful, I’m cheering for you!