My hubby recently shared a conversation he had with a friend, during which his friend said, “Man, you and your wife really look happy.” Hubby simply replied, “We are.”
Yeah, I agreed. We are happy together. But why?
I know. It’s an odd thought to have. Who questions the good that’s happening to them?
*Slowly raises hand from a corner in the back of the room* This girl right here, that’s who.
Was I actively looking for chinks in our matrimonial armor? Did I subconsciously believe I didn’t deserve to be happy?
It was quite the opposite actually. I wanted to understand the source of our wedded bliss so I could replicate it for another 25 years, at least.
First, let me make one thing abundantly clear. In no way am I suggesting Marc and I have the model or even the ideal marriage. Many things that work for us may not work for other couples. Every relationship has its own unique dynamic. The one common denominator among most, though, is love.
Before we were married nearly 25 years ago, someone gave us a piece of advice – albeit unsolicited. This person said that it takes more than love to hold a marriage together. How very true that turned out to be.
Most people probably don’t know there’s an actual science to love. It’s based on three factors: Lust, Attraction and Attachment. Each is driven by a unique combination of chemicals in the brain that influences how sexually appealing we find another person, our excitement about being around them (i.e. when we get butterflies in our stomachs) and the close bonds we create with them.
This individual’s point all those years ago was simply this: Love is a beautiful thing, but it is not the foundation on which lasting marriages are built.
Even though love can be scientifically explained, it’s still unpredictable, emotional, fragile, and fleeting if it isn’t properly developed.
Make no mistake, Marc and I love each other deeply. But more importantly, we have a genuine friendship. This, in my opinion, is a much harder connection to maintain. But if I’m being honest, it’s been the bedrock of our entire relationship.
So how have we kept our union strong for 25 years? Following are a few of our marriage mainstays:
Common counsel isn’t always good counsel
Just because folks have always said something doesn’t make it true. I absolutely hate generic advice like, “Communication is the key,” and “Don’t ever go to bed angry.” Whatever! *insert hard eye roll* There have been puh-lenty of times I’ve gone to bed firecracker hot with my husband (and vice versa) and the last thing I wanted to do in that moment was talk. Sometimes, you just need time to cool off. It increases the chances that you’ll avoid saying things in the heat of the moment you might regret later.
Checking in with each other is essential
And speaking of talking. Anyone who knows my hubby also knows this man can CHAT!!! I’ve always been a bit more reserved, operating under the notion of “speak when spoken to”. Despite our differences, though, we’ve never struggled with conversation. We always said the worst thing that could happen would be to wake up one morning and no longer know each other. Our one-on-one time (usually at night sitting on our patio) is how we check in and make sure each other is okay. At the end of the day, everyone just wants a chance to be heard.
Equity is real
I’ve often heard women say what they want/need in a man. However, it isn’t too often I hear those women say what they’re willing to give in return. If you want compliments, also make sure you give them. If you don’t want to be responsible for getting dinner on the table every night, ask him to contribute. I certainly do. Our marriage is an equal partnership and it’s been that way since the very beginning. Equity may not be one of the five official love languages, but it works for us.
Be selfish about uninterrupted time together
We reserve one week out of every year just for us. Without fail. No matter what. We take trips to places we’ve never been or we revisit places that we previously enjoyed. The point is, we’re constantly creating memories which contributes to building a stronger bond between us.
Everybody has their own role to play
While our relationship is based on total equality and cooperation, every ship has to have a captain. Marc is and always has been commander of the “SS Brewington.” I absolutely trust him to lead and guide our family in the right direction. He has never let us down and I’m grateful for it.
I read that the average marriage in the U.S. lasts between 7-10 years. The fact that we’ve been able to more than double those numbers tells me we’re doing something right.
As I said before, our methods may not be for everyone. But in any relationship, as long as you’re actively lifting each other up and keeping each other grounded, you’ve got an excellent shot at success.
Photos: Christina Jones Photography