Looking Up to Another Couple Can Help Your Marriage Last

Janelle Harris
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Niecy NashI love Niecy Nash. She’s a friend in my head. I’m not a fan of Clean House, but as an actress and TV personality, she’s just cute as a button. So I’m happy about her falling all deep in love and even more excited about her upcoming wedding.

A few days ago, I interviewed Niecy, aka the soon-to-be Mrs. Jay Tucker, and she mentioned that instead of having the standard bachelor and bachelorette shindigs, she and her fiancé decided to host a party with happily married couples. The affianced pair basked in advice on keeping their love healthy, and their guests showered them with morsels of wisdom that Niecy says she’ll carry into her second time around as a newlywed.

What a cute idea! I told her. And I promise I will be borrowing it, since I give bachelor parties the screw face for causing too much trouble. Besides, who couldn’t benefit from having a relationship role model (or two or three)?

I’ve never been married — y’all should all know because I darn sure talk about it enough, right? But I think a lot of relationships fail because folks are so guarded about what’s going on with them and their boo. So many of us are wrapped in making it look good when we should invest that kind of energy into making sure it is good.

When Boyfriend Deluxe is plucking my nerves or has done something infuriating (which is right now, as a matter of fact, so stay tuned for another post on foolish man pride and the consequences of being stupid dumb stubborn), I share it. No shame in my game. Because keeping it contained won’t fix it. It just festers, like a closed mouth with bad breath, no peppermint, and a sudden rash of things to say to the person next to it.

So that’s why I think this idea of looking up to other couples who've been making it work for years and years is such a cool concept because it gives newbies — even 41-year-old ones like Niecy — a chance to get outside of themselves and listen to what seasoned vets who’ve been there, done that have to say. Old couples can laugh some stuff off, I swear. And when you tell them something that’s irking you about your man right now, they give each other this knowing glance like, remember when we were there? That was so 30 years ago. 

That’s where I’m trying to be. So I don’t mind the mentorship.  

I have a few relationship role models. My mother, awesome woman that she is, was never snatched up by some handsome, worthy gentleman to give me a power pair to mold my own relationships after. But my grandparents were adorable. They left an impression of what a happy lifetime together can and should look like.

They met in the 1940s when my granddaddy, in an attempt to hit on my shy, quiet, church-going Nana, got too tipsy to hold his weight and fell off his bar stool in a jook joint. Naturally, she wouldn’t give him the time of day after that. I used to tease her about having the nerve to be high-class and uppity when she had her rear end parked there just like e’rybody else. But natural charm will take you far, and even after a less-than-ceremonious introduction, Granddaddy wore her down, then won her over. Several decades of happy marriage, five kids, and a heap of grandchildren later, I’m the product of that love story.

There have been other folks along the way — my aunt and uncle, who celebrate their 20th anniversary next month — and my pastors, who have been living out their own happily ever after for the past 25 years. And (don’t laugh) Cliff and Clair Huxtable and Dan and Roseanne Conner. Fictional characters, yes. But the writers who developed them took time to make them into believable people with personalities and habits and qualities that helped them reflect realness and real love.   

So, that’s my spiel. What do you want your marriage/partnership to look like in 20 years and who are your relationship role models?


Image via Clorox Toilet Products/Flickr 

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