The following marriage survival guide assumes three things. First, there is no verbal, emotional, or physical abuse in the relationship. Second, there is fidelity within the relationship. The third assumption is that the relationship is based on love. If the reader cannot check yes to all three of the above, please stop reading this article. It will be a waste of time. In the interest of full disclosure, the writer of this article just celebrated his tenth wedding anniversary. Also, this is my second marriage. My first marriage ended in divorce after nine years. Although I just celebrated my tenth anniversary, my wife and I are already making plans for our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.
My belief is that this survival guide can benefit first year couples or fiftieth year couples. Many marriage manuals tend to begin with the bedroom. In my assessment the most important room in which to begin is the bathroom. It is in the bathroom where couples store some of their most prized individualized possessions. It is important to remember that couples are individuals and, therefore, must respect one another as individuals. Bathroom etiquette addresses many pet peeves. Yet it is because of the minutest infractions that divide some couples. For example, in which direction should the toilet paper roll flow? Should the paper go over? Should the paper go under? If you and your spouse differ on this question there is a simple compromise. The person who changes the roll gets to decide whether the roll goes over or under. Such a compromise erased an absolutist stance on how things must be. Also, do not share a toothbrush. Do not share drying towels. Keep ample amounts of floss available so as not to run out at a most critical time. It is in the midst of critical time crunches that the most accusations or assigning of blame are made.
As we proceed, I am reminded of an incident that has stayed with me since my first year in college. The professor in the sociology class said something that put my senses on alert ever since I heard his statement. He said, in this class, I am going to teach you what you already know. In assessing marriage survival in this format, I will be sharing and suggesting things that the reader already knows. Another important room to consider is the kitchen. If you have a late night snack on a saucer or bowl, wash it immediately after you have finished your snack. Do not leave it for the next person. If you have ice trays, keep them full and ready to go. In the kitchen, it is in everyone’s interest not to leave pots or pan unattended on the stove. From the kitchen, we move to the laundry room. American culture has tended to make what goes on in these two rooms gender specific. By this I mean that women are expected to play prominent roles in both the kitchen and the laundry room. My suggestion is that everyone can make it happen in either of these rooms. Everyone needs to know how to separate colors. My mother grew up during Jim Crow in the United States. She told me a story of how she offered resistance at a Whites Only Laundromat. She said she brought her whites only just like the sign said. Everyone needs to know the difference between bleach and fabric softener. Know when to use the dryer. Know when to use the clothesline. Know how to fold. Know how to iron. Know when it is acceptable to go wrinkle chic.
The family room usually is one of the larger rooms in a household. Everything goes down in family room. Kid’s toys are in the family room. The main television is in the family room. Two remotes should be in the family room. Be willing to DVR your favorite program and watch it later. However, one should never have to always watch ones show later. Do not be quick to delete shows you did not record. As a matter of fact, do not delete any shows you did not record unless given authorization to delete such shows. Allow everyone to be able to sleep on the couch from time to time.
When it comes to the bedroom. Do not indict your spouse over snoring. Snoring is an involuntary reflex. Conceptualize the sound as if you are listening to a symphony. Use the rhythm to ride off to sleep. In the final analysis be thankful that your significant other is breathing. Wear earphones when surfing the web at night. The same television rules that apply in the family room also apply in the bedroom. Everyone likes a neat room. Everyone should go for it. Also, respect ones right to privacy. This is a part of respecting ones individuality. Even soul mates are individuals.
Use impeccable manners in the dining room. Help each other with the table settings. Alternate place mats. Every once in a while use the good China for pizza and wings. There is no permanent head of the table. Water should be the drink of choice. Eat together at the table. Talk about future plans. Reminisce about good times. By all means, take turns saying grace.
Anthony Neal earned his Ph.D. in political science at Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). Dr. Neal is an associate professor at State University College, Buffalo. The author of numerous book reviews and journal articles, he has had his work published in the Western Journal of Black Studies, the Journal of Black Studies, and Black Issues in Higher Education. In 2014 Dr. Neal received the university’s Faculty Appreciation Award, was named Instructor of the Year by the university’s United Student Government, and Professor of the Year by the Student Political Society in the Department of Political Science. In 2015, he published The American Political Narrative which is a succinct yet poignant narrative about the development of the American political system and what is needed to maintain it. In 2016, he published a book of poetry entitled “Love Agnostic | from 9/11 to Charleston”