When I saw an article titled “The Secret to Lasting Marriages”, I had a couple of ideas what the secret would be. It’s only my 5th year in marriage, but every day teaches you a thing or two.
They could say communication, for instance. More and more, people are talking to other people about their marriage issues instead of talking to the person they’re married to. You’d be shocked at just how silent partners can be on things that matter to them. Something recurrent is pissing you off, you won’t say; she thinks everything is okay when nothing could be further from the truth.
Something is not sweeting you, you won’t say; he just keeps wasting precious time doing whatever he’s doing. Even for those who communicate, an accusatory tone, hurtful words and lack of discretion often make it worse than zero communication. Then there’s the issue of proper timing when bringing up issues, as well as being able to state one’s real message clearly. Yup, I would have understood if they said “effective communication”, but they didn’t.
Another possible answer: sex. We all know that if you take away the comfort, intimacy and pleasure that sex brings, the marriage starts to suffer and things can go downhill very quickly. In fact, when a couple stops kissing it’s a sign of trouble, the kind of trouble that doesn’t seem very bad until it successfully sneaks up on you and brings the house crashing down. Both husbands and wives need sex, and it’s not just enough to have it. It has to be good. And for sex to be good the relationship outside the bedroom has to be fulfilling. It’s the relationship that makes the sex great, not the other way around. A healthy marriage is near-impossible without a mutually satisfying sex life. Did these experts say sex, though? No.
They could also have said money. Lord knows money matter is a leading cause of marriage wahala, so an abundance of it coupled with a mutual understanding of how it should be managed could very well be the secret to lasting marriages…but these people did not write that one o.
You can imagine how surprised — and a little disappointed— I was when they said research showed that the secret to lasting marriages was kindness. Common kindness! Ordinary kindness! I mean, to simply be kind to your fellow human being who shares a home and kids and body fluids and a whole life with you. I felt like crying.
Our nearest and dearest are usually the ones we don’t bother showing kindness to. We become so confident and secure in their love (or in their dependence on us) that we don’t bother with kindness; we just treat them “anyhow” as we say in Naija.
Anticipating another’s need, thinking before we say something harsh, going the extra mile to help someone, giving to meet another’s need even when we don’t have that much, being courteous, forgiving a debt or offence and never bringing it up again, taking time to really listen and show empathy…there are countless ways to be kind to people. And it turns out our spouses need it most. See finish is real.
Show kindness today, not just to strangers, or the less privileged, but to the one you married. You may not have the energy (or funds) to be ultra-sexy, super-romantic, or lavishly generous, but you can be kind. Of course after being kind to other people all day, one just wants to be oneself (read irritable, snippy, and bad-tempered) with one’s spouse, but if you resist this temptation and make it a habit to hold on to kindness even with the one you’re married to, you just may have discovered the key to a marriage that lasts.