The Barber Shop

A barbershop philosopher/theologian talks about religion, current events, and issues concerning black america

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

About Marriage…

Marriage is a mutual commitment to a set of ideas, love, selflessness and respect being chief amongst them.

Before I can talk about anything else I have to talk about partner selection. At its baseline your relationship needs to be easy and enjoyable. Being with your partner should feel natural and pleasant. Your communication should be open and free flowing. Your going to face tough challenges together, some that might threaten the marriage. If your spouse is work to be with in the good times, they will be unbearable in the hard times. Life is hard enough without setting yourself up for misery.

It’s also important to choose a partner that shares your values. The longer you’re together the more this will become important. If you don’t share similar values you’re going to have friction that will build up over time. I’m not saying you need to be clones but you need to share enough values as to not conflict with each other very often. If you’re a saver and your partner is a compulsive spender, you’re going to have friction. If you want to serve Christ and your partner thinks it’s a bunch of B.S. you’re going to have friction.

One more thing I want to say about partner selection. Don’t think you can change them. If you’re thinking about marrying someone, you need to determine whether you can live with him or her just as they are today. What if they never change? Most people don’t really change that much. If they get on your nerves now, you will want to kill them in a few years.

Also, there is a reason why I haven’t mentioned looks. Looks are icing on the cake, but not the cake itself. Good looks can’t make a relationship last, and they can’t make it enjoyable over the long run. Sooner or later you have to come to terms with the person behind those good looks and love them too. The problem with looks as a basis for relationship is that looks only conger up emotions, and a marriage needs more than some warm feelings to be successful. Now if they happen to look good and you respect them and they’re easy and fun to be with and you share similar values, then more power to ya because you’ve hit a home run.

Many people enter marriage doomed to failure because they commit themselves to their feelings. Doing this I a terrible idea because feelings are fickle and come and go. Marriage is a shared commitment not a feeling. Commit yourself to the principles of marriage. Build into one another and help and encourage one another to maximize each other’s potential and life experience.

Communication is king. You have to be able to talk about your issues together. I think communication is one of the toughest issues because men and women often don’t speak the same language. Technically we do, but in a practical sense we don’t in our day-to-day encounters. Women often speak in a coded way that men do not. Often what is said is not what is meant and honestly I’m still not very good at interpreting it. In my experience it seems all women speak this way to varying degrees. Whatever the case you both have to come together and find a middle ground where you can communicate well together. In some situations counseling might be needed to help you find that middle ground. There is nothing wrong with seeking professional help. Sometimes you can’t fix it on your own.

Another marriage killer is selfishness. If you are more committed to yourself than your marriage you aren’t going to last long and it wont be as fulfilling an experience as it should be. Serve each other, respect each other and consider each other as you walk through your lives together. My wife and I will be 7 years next month, and sometimes I have to remind myself not to take the blessing of her and the kids for granted. It’s easy to take your situation for granted, especially if it’s been good for a long time.

Marriage can be wonderful, but like all good things in life you both have to work at it and want it to be great. All relationships take some amount of work and commitment or they slowly drift and fade into the past. The next thing you know you’re saying what ever happened to so-and-so, or remember when me and so-and-so used to hang out. You can end up basically doing the same thing with your spouse even though you’re sleeping in the same bed.

Never stop dating your spouse. Never stop talking. Never stop considering your spouse’s life experience. If you both want the best for each other your walk will be more enjoyable and satisfying. Your marriage is what you make it.

Be encouraged!