by Jonathan Pope
Some say that the institution of marriage is based on prehistoric concepts and expectations. Others say that there is a need for new negotiations, ideologies and concepts of marriage and what it means in the 21st century. I’m not sure if those sentiments are true, but sometimes I wonder. What I do know is that complacency and taking your spouse for granted, will lead to a slow deterioration of your marriage. This is a fact, no matter how antiquated the ideology.
The key is consistency; however, it is HARD WORK. Let’s be honest, show me a relationship where a couple is ALWAYS communicating; ALWAYS romantic; ALWAYS loving; ALWAYS understanding, ALWAYS forgiving and I would expect you to direct me to a TV Land episode of ‘The Cosby Show”. I’m sure you would agree that Cliff and Claire had a special something, something, when it came to their televised marriage. Don’t get me wrong; I loved their relationship. However, as we continue to praise that show for its positive messages and excellent family example for African Americans; it still presented a false sense of consistency. After we turn off the television and snap back to the real world, consistency is hard work. However, I do stand firm in the belief that consistency is essential and worth the struggle toward perfection.
Below are five tips that may be helpful in your journey toward a healthy marriage with consistency.
Five Tips to Promote Consistency
- Refresh your Memory – Often times we forget about the sweet things or the thoughtful gestures we did during what I call the “Unconscious Stage” (usually the first couple of years). Pull out some old photos/videos or cards and refresh your mind and spirit with how you felt about your spouse in the beginning years.
- Communicate – Circumstances, maturation and experiences most often change a person; which in turn affects perspective. More specifically, what you thought was acceptable to your spouse all of these years, may not be considered acceptable right now. Communication will minimize the surprise of new expectations. Also, renegotiate the terms of your marriage, with what mutually works and what doesn’t work.
- Listen – Active listening is a seldom used art form in marriages, especially with those who have been together for a number of years. Normally, when one person is talking, the other is preparing their response, instead of listening. Active listening requires your undivided attention, patience and focus. This will enable you to receive exactly what your spouse is trying to convey. Remember, “understanding” is one of the goals of a conversation. If your spouse feels misunderstood, especially when you have failed to listen, the connection will be lost and that can lead to more challenges.
- Self Awareness – self evaluation is a key ingredient to growth and prosperity. Always check in with yourself. Take the time everyday to think about what you are doing, what you have done and what you can change for the better. As you perform maintenance on the inside, the fruits of that hard work will manifest on the outside.
5. Date your Spouse – planning time together along with doing what you enjoy, can go a long way toward a healthy marriage. Create a favorites lists including, but not limited to, foods, hobbies, places to visit, travel destinations and romance. However, the key is to stay consistent!
Jonathan Pope is a freelance writer, professional actor and co-host of the J and T Show found on www.blogtalkradio.com/jandtshow. Jonathan has been married for fifteen years to his college sweetheart. Both are happily raising their two daughters in the DC/MD area.