On June 30, 2017, I will celebrate 31 years of marriage to The Love of My Life! I often tell others that I was a “child bride”. You see, I married at the age of 19 and immediately started a family. Tony and I have two adult children. Antasha is 30 and Jay is 26.
I have been asked, “What is your secret to longevity?” Even more often, I am asked, “Why are you two always so happy?” Many people pleasantly comment on the fact that Tony and I are always together, holding hands, smiling at one another and laughing at each other’s jokes.” My brother Henry says, “I love to come to your house. You are dinner and a movie.” What he means is that while he eats, he watches us make jokes the entire time!
I am a member of an AWESOME love and career group for women called Boss Bride Tribe. Charreah K. Jackson, international speaker, coach and Lifestyle & Relationships Editor for ESSENCE magazine, is our “Fearless Founder”. When I mentioned I will be celebrating 31 years of marriage, she asked that I share “7 Fave Lessons Learned in Marriage” with the group. I did so. I would also like to share it with you. For individuals wanting to know our secret to happiness and longevity in marriage, I have expounded on favorite lessons in this blog post.
- Place God First. Both Tony and I are grounded in our faith. As Christians, we seek guidance from the Lord in our marriage and in all that we do. This philosophy in our lives has not failed us. A great man once told me, when I interviewed him for an article, that we have problems that we cannot deal with ourselves. We must seek divine power.
- LIKE The One You Love. When I share this with others, they seem puzzled. Their thought process is that if you are married, you should love your spouse. Period. I am as deeply in love with my husband as I was 31 years ago. But we really LIKE each other. We LIKE traveling together. We LIKE just sitting and watching MSNBC together. We LIKE going out to eat often. And when we’re not together physically, we LIKE calling each other on the phone just to talk about one thing.
- In Times of Adversity, Encourage and Lift One Another Up. In the words of the millennials, TURN UP! I mean, turn down for what????? In great times, it’s easy to ignore the faults of your spouse. Hey! That’s because everything is going well! Inevitably, in your marriage, there will be difficult times. In those times, couples tend to become aggravated by the most minute, negative characteristics of their loved one. Conversely, you should inspire and motivate your spouse! Be his or her biggest cheerleader!
- When in Disagreement, Have a 24-Hour Cooling Off Period. Tempers can escalate when you’re having a quarrel. When it’s apparent the conversation is going nowhere fast, just move to de-escalation. Agree to disagree and come back the next day to talk rationally.
- Always Take Some Me Time! Although Tony and I spend lots of time together, we carve out a little time to be alone in our own personal space. We both need time alone to have clarity of thought. He likes his own space for meditation and to watch his favorite sports shows and such. I like my own space for meditation and other me things.
- Keep the Passion Going! Now this goes without saying. And, additionally, it’s important to me to pay as much attention to the way that I look today as I did when I meticulously prepared to go out on our first date! Ladies, always look foxy and FINE!
- Ask Your Spouse, “What Can I Do to Serve You Today?” You really don’t know what your husband or wife would like from you if you don’t ask. After 31 years, I know my husband better than his own family. We can both read each other’s minds. I know his likes and dislikes and he knows mine. But still, I ask him if I can do anything for him before I get back to work on my computer. He’ll call me and ask if he can bring me something home. We ask each other, “Well, what would you like to do……?”
Leslie E. Royal is an international journalist, entrepreneur, creator of the Leslie’s Lane blog and author of Leslie’s Lane The Book! (Amazon $14.95) She and Tony, founder and executive director of Forty Days to Deliverance nonprofit organization, reside in metro Atlanta, Georgia.