I was watching the Netflix Chris Rock special, Tamborine, and haphazardly learned some solid marriage advice. The words he was speaking seemed like common sense but maybe it is not so common if marriages are getting a divorce based on lack of sex, commitment and communication.
For starters, Chris Rock is my favorite comedian. Not only is he funny but he is impactful. I have never watched a Chris Rock special and not learned something from it. In Tamborine, he was open and transparent about his marriage. He admitted to infidelity and reasons his marriage did not work. His remorse towards the part he played is very visible in his script and it appears that he wants to help prevent other married couples from making his mistakes.
After watching this special, I kept thinking about his words and decided to implement his wisdom nuggets to my own marriage. I decided I wanted to share his advice with those that may have missed it, but seriously if you haven’t watched it, you should check it out. It is hilarious. In this special, Chris presented several points for a solid marriage that I condensed to three bullet points.
I believe Chris Rock listed commitment first because everything is moot if the spouses are not willing to commit to the relationship. Commitment is not limited to infidelity and extends to dedication of time, energy, and emotions. In the marriage vows each partner promises to stick with this covenant no matter the situation. At the wedding we promised to hold each other down and weather every storm together.
Commitment is not one dimensional it has a dual meaning. According to google the first half of this word means dedication.
Dedication is a one-track obligation. Either you are in or out. Either you want to be with this person or not. Each day we are required to dedicate a part of ourselves to our mate even in those times we may not feel like it. I know someone would read this and not understand that last sentence. But let’s be honest sometimes you just want to do you and not even bother especially in those times the marriage is strained. Nothing is wrong with doing you but it must be done within reason. When married, other parties are involved and each decision made can directly affect them. This point segues into the next portion of commitment.
This is the portion of commitment I believe a lot of married couples struggle with, including my own. When we are single we come and go as we want and our decisions only affect us. Then we get married and some of those single habits no longer complement our lifestyle. For instance, when I was single I loved hanging out with my friends in the wee hours of the morning, however, when I married that was no longer something I could do. I still hung out but I came home at a respectable hour. I did not do this because my husband demanded but I did it to respect him. When you show respect you get respect in return.
When we were kids we could not wait to be grown and experience freedom. After we move out our parents house we smelled the sweet scent of freedom. Then we fell in love and took these vows and as time passes began to feel suffocated and miss our single life. The only solution I have for this feeling is to share this feeling with your mate because it’s a pretty big chance they feel the same way. This conversation should transition into compromising and setting precedents for each other to help both parties breathe again.
Communication is key. Reaching a middle ground in a situation allows your spouse room to still be him or her.
I am not an advocate for a person losing themselves in a marriage. I am a firm believer that you can maintain who you are while married while being mindful of certain actions to assure you are not stressing out your mate. For instance, if a spouse wants to open a business they have every right to do it. But if this new business venture is slurping all of the money from the accounts making it hard to pay bills or even get necessities then maybe the spouse need to reroute how they are going about it.
The point I am driving is setting borders around our single behavior is necessary if you want a healthy relationship. If you genuinely love your spouse this should not feel like a chore. You should want your spouse to feel comfortable and vice versa. If you have placed restrictions on certain behaviors and your spouse just wants you to cut it all out entirely, I would suggest seeing a couple therapist to reach some common ground. Sometimes it’s good to get advice from an unbiased party to help both people come to a compromise.
Chris made a groundbreaking point in the above metaphor. Marriage is not a competition it is a team. When teammates transition to competitors it burdens the relationship. Sometimes marriages have turned into a competition without them knowing.
It starts out as a team and maybe when kids come the spouses are proving to be the better parent. Or maybe the spouse with the lower income tries to trump their partner that earns more. Sometimes the competition can be a territory thing and the spouse performs crazy antics so you can just pay them attention and no one else. Some relationships battle for the upper hand to feel in control. Whatever the reason, it’s nonsensical and it is not what you signed up for. A marriage is one unit, in translation, both parties are to be on each other’s side and not stabbing each other in the back.
There is no equality in a relationship. It’s like, “We equals.” No, you’re not. You’re both there to serve. You’re in the service industry, ok?”
We all play a part in our marriage. For instance, I handle the finances and the fun stuff while my husband’s more logical approach assures we have a roof over our head and the things we need. We utilize our opposite personalities to our advantage. His strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa. This type of understanding came years later in the marriage as at first I believe we were competing to see who can do whatever the best. I don’t know if it came from getting older and losing energy but we came to some agreements what the other person was good at.
Since this has happened, the relationship has worked because we are no longer bucking up against each other but working together. As said earlier communication and compromise is key. We reached the compromise that it was OK if the other person was better at certain things. We had to realize we were in this together and not each other’s enemy.
Sex and Adventure is the Glue
Whether people want to admit it or not, sex is an important part of a relationship. It strengthens connection and vulnerability. Before the kids and added commitments, there were just the two of you lying in each others arms all the time. Maybe even spending days together without leaving the house. It was like that Lauryn Hill “Nothing Even Matters” type of love.
As time pass, you grow on and so does your responsibilities and you find that you and your mate barely hold hands. Between work and the kids you don’t have time for sex and the other party should understand that. Without sex, your vulnerability plants insecurity and with insecurity grows arguments and with arguments grows resentment. It is important that relationships don’t lose themselves in their responsibilities. It is important both partners feel like they are wanted and attractive.
If only the reason for relieving yourselves from stress, sex should become a part of your routine. I know some people will laugh, but maybe it’s a good idea to pencil sex in. Make one day of the week Date Night and see how your relationship transforms.
If sex have been far and between start back to square one and flirt. Go back to flirting as hard as you did when you first met. Get re-acquainted with another. Send texts throughout the day to let your mate know you are thinking of them. Cut the T.V. off and just have a random conversation. Get creative to re-build intimacy. As time go by the intimacy will rebuild, you two will be on each other’s mind and sex will transform from being penciled in to spontaneous like it was before.
I love that Chris brought up traveling because I feel its important for couples to remove themselves from their day to day. This time together allows the couple to regroup and catch up with each other. Because we are constantly evolving the day to day sometimes take over keeping up with our mate’s evolution.
My husband and I often find that something as small as our favorite color has changed. We start to discuss the things on our minds or just random topics and I find that to be so intimate. Sharing your thoughts with someone that’s actually into you is my definition of intimacy. I love mental stimulation and thought provoking conversation and I find we do that more often when we are traveling from one destination to the next. It is something metaphysical about temporarily removing yourself from your routine.