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5 Steps Toward a Stronger Marriage

Black Marriages DO Work!

I am 41 years old and recently celebrated 20 years of marriage with my best friend. We met at a small, liberal arts college, dated for a few months and then, BAM, I got pregnant before we even reached our one year dating anniversary. We got married within two months of finding out about my pregnancy. Fast forward to today- we have two beautiful children and are still madly in love with each other!
The odds were definitely not in our favor. We were young, Black, in college and living in a society where 50% of all first marriages end in divorce. Truth be told, our beautiful journey is not absent of some real struggle, hardships and drama. But the good times far outweigh the bad times and we have created a beautiful tapestry of experiences together over these 20 years that I would not replace for anything.
So what keeps our marriage going after two decades? These are a few of the things that have worked for us:

1. Be a cheerleader for your spouse: Having someone there that always has your back is incredibly important. Your partner should be your biggest cheerleader when it comes to pursuing your goals and dreams. We should never hold back from positive statements that can mean the world to our partner, such as “I am proud of you” or “You are awesome.”
2. Ask what’s strong, not what’s wrong: Focusing on the strengths of the marriage, instead of focusing on the weaknesses of the marriage is important. People often get stuck with focusing on things that we don’t like about our spouse or the relationship. By simply shifting our thinking to the strength of our partner and our relationship, we can enhance the marital experience.
3. Laugh together: Have a good sense of humor and laugh together! Everyday life can be so serious: dealing with jobs, bills, and multiple daily stresses. Laughter is a beautiful escape from the daily stressors. It can also be quite therapeutic to laugh at the tough times in your marriage. Laughter is a way to get your spirit to sing. And why not let your spirit sing with the one you love?
4. Be careful about disclosing marital problems with others. It is normal to want some support when dealing with difficulties in your marriage. But when you share with others, long after the problem is resolved, your friends, family and/or co-workers will remember. Learn to think for yourself and trust in prayer, meditation or professional counseling when dealing with marital difficulties.
5. Keep the fire burning: Physical and emotional intimacy is very important. It is important to be in tune with your partner and know when they need a hug, a kiss or if they just need to hear you say the words, “I love you.” In order to keep the fire burning, you have to do things with intention, like planning a date night or a romantic evening. We have to remember that for many of us, we had a serious fire burning when we first met. Why not keep it burning after 10, 20, or even 50 years of being together?

These are just a few things that have helped us have a wonderful marriage for two decades- a marriage where every challenge is an opportunity for positive transformation. I believe that anyone that has been together for a long period of time has made a choice to LIVE in the good times and push through the tough times.