By NICOLE BRADSHAW
Twelve years ago, I grinned all the way down that aisle so hard you’d think I’d won the lottery, and in a way I did. I was finally getting married.
There were headaches with dress rehearsals, international laws and catering, but overall, my day was perfect. I was marrying the man I loved and he loved me. I couldn’t have asked for more. As soon as the pastor pronounced us husband and wife, I turned to the crowd and in the words of Shug Avery, I held up my ring finger and proudly announced, “I’s married now!”
I’ll never forget that day.
After the honeymoon, we flew back to our residence in the states—not mine, not his, but OUR home. When we arrived at the front door, we stood there for 10 minutes. Finally, he looked at me and asked, “What now?”
According to whichever online site you visit, statistically, the marriage rate for African Americans has dropped since the 1960s and 1970s. As of today, we have the lowest marriage rate of any racial group in the United States.
But that wasn’t my issue. I found…and married…the man of my dreams, so I was set, right? Wrong! Out of the small number of black women that actually married in the late 60s and 70s, sixty percent have already divorced. Translation: I may have married the man, but could I keep him? More importantly, could he keep me?
7 Things You Wish You Would Have Known About Married Life
1. The Honeymoon is Over! And I mean over with a capital “O”. You’ve spent so much time planning the perfect wedding and it went off without a hitch. Now you’re back from the honeymoon and no one told you that you had to cook dinner every night after a hard day’s work. (Settle down, ladies, this includes him too.)
2. Where’s the Sexy Back? While on your honeymoon, you had mind-blowing sex under the stars, on the beach or any other exotic locale. Now in comparison, your bed just looks boring. Don’t fret. Spice it up with some props and role-playing. Kick it up a notch by re-enacting a particularly steamy session behind closed doors.
3. Get Out! Remember the good ol’ days when you both were dating and when he picked a fight, you packed up your stuff and left? Well, those days are long gone. He’s not going home because he is home. Now when he gets on your nerves (and he will) the best you can do is lock yourself up in a room for an hour and cool down.
4. Monotony is a comin’. There is only so many freaky deeky sex nights you can have. Eventually, life gets in the way and the chandelier swinging dies down. It’s not just about sex, though. If you have to eat his meatless casserole one more time, you’re going to scream. Monotony within marriage happens. When you realize you’re getting bored, take the necessary steps to liven up your marriage. On date night, skip the movie and dinner and do something different. I’m not talking about deep-sea fishing in the Bermuda Triangle or skydiving over a volcano, just try something out of your ordinary. Take a ballroom dancing class or enroll in a gourmet cooking session.
5. Dollar, Dollar Bill, Ya’ll. Within a marriage, you may have doubled your income with two salaries, however, your expenses have increased as well. Unless you’re bumping Beyonce out of the picture and shacking up with Jay-Z, chances are money will be a concern to you. The trick is to make sure you are both on the same page when it comes to finances. Do you have a savings plan? How much discretionary income do you have reserved for entertainment? Not only should you know this, you should be in agreement with the allotted amounts.
6. Goals Anyone? When you married him, he was a waiter at a fast food restaurant, but you didn’t care because you were crazy in love. (Okay, so I’m a Beyonce fan!) Years ago, it may have been cute how he got his hustle on while waiting to become the next Denzel Washington. Fast forward ten years later—I bet swiping tables and mopping floors ain’t so cute now, huh? Make sure your mate has goals. He doesn’t have to push to be the youngest president of the United States, but he should (at the bare minimum) have a future career plan.
7. Dem Babies. As a mother of 3, I can tell you from experience that kids are no joke. I save this point for last because kids affect the other six points. The first step is to recognize that you do need to put in the work—times two—in order to keep the marriage fresh. Each union is different, so figure out what keeps you both happy. That may be a mini-vacation for two or go less expensive with a designated lunch date with your spouse at least once a week.
Nicole Bradshaw’s first young adult fiction novel, Unsinkable (Simon & Schuster), which gives a day-by-day account of the only black family on the doomed Titanic, will be published Spring 2013. Her second novel, Champagne Life (Simon & Schuster) hits stores in the Fall of 2013. She lives in the Bahamas with her loving husband and three wonderful children in the Bahamas, where she works had at keeping her family from making her feel like pulling out her hair, strand by strand.