Marriage, long-term relationships, and other complicated ish!

MarriageShaun & Denise Nixon: Together for 8 years

This month, Kris and I are featured in Real Simple magazine as one of four couples who survived the brink of divorce.

I’m thinking most of us in long term relationships understand that it takes work, trust, patience, and a level of selflessness that is not exactly nurtured in our society.  We’re raised to look out for self, to fight for good grades in high school, compete for our place in our company, and basically do our best to finish first.  Then comes Soul Mate X with his/her undeniable sexiliciousness: mental stimulating, emotionally magnetic, and physically yummy—aaawww sookie-sookie, naaw…it’s wedding planning time up in heyuuure!

The qualities the couple once prized in each other—Akilah’s verve and attitude, Kris’s easygoing manner—were now sources of irritation. When faced with a problem, Akilah preferred to lay everything out on the table, while Kris, who hates conflict, would try to drop the subject. –As told to Stephanie Boothe by Kris and Akilah Richards

So that’s when a steaming pile of the shit we call baggage rises up from wherever it resides and fills our nostrils with the scent of defeat.

Is it time to let go?
Am I being that stupid chick that takes foolishness from dudes?
If my best friend told me about this, would I tell her to haul ass?
Am I doing the stay-together-for-the-kids bit?

How does one know when it’s time to let go? How do you know when you’re being committed to your relationship versus outright stupid and cowardly about letting go for fear of being along?

“A lot of people have a misconception that marriage is the culmination of a relationship,” says Kris. “Far from it. Marriage is a constant process of finding the best possible way to connect with another person—and that’s what Akilah and I want from each other.”  Kris Richards

I couldn’t agree more! What I’ve learned in our eight years together is this:

It’s OKAY for me to expect to be treated with respect, even when he’s upset, and asserting that expectation doesn’t always mean flipping out and assuming that we must argue in order to find resolve.

When I focus on proving my point, I’m already setting myself up to be guarded and closed off from his perspective.  Instead of coming up to the conversation in Let Me Prove You’re Being an Ass mode, I enter with the goal of resolving the issue; a seemingly subtle difference that changed everything for our marriage.

Kris and I are complete, different, and entitled as separate beings. This means his lack of willingness to acquiesce to whatever I’m asking doesn’t make him spiteful, stubborn, or wrong.  What it makes him is KRIS, and when I stopped blaming him for me being unhappy about something, then I was able to articulate how something made me feel from a HUMAN perspective, and he got it, every single time.

What have you learned in your relationship thus far?  What do you fear about your life together, and what makes you feel like you might be acting that “That Chick”?

My friend and business partner Tawana Necole (of Corporate Chics)and I are talking about relationships this Friday at 10:30AM at BlogLive5.  Kris and I are going to open up (again!) and talk about what we’ve learned.  Visit our BlogLive5 Site to see what we’ll be talking about, and let us know what YOU want to discuss.  Tweet with us live on Friday from 10:30 to 10:45 by mentioning @webloglive and/or using the #bloglive hashtag! Can’t wait!