By Nijiama Smalls,
The Black Girl’s Guide to Healing Emotional Wounds

Relationships are complicated and marriage is even more complicated y’all. That is the best way I can describe them. The challenges arise mainly because most of us were not well prepared to be a partner. 

Premarital counseling (which is still necessary) tends to only scratch the surface. Often it doesn’t touch on the real issues we face in marriage: unhealed emotional wounds, infidelity, toxic behavior, loss of interest, addictions, lack of respect, lack of support, emotional abuse and so on.

Lately, many people have reached out to me regarding marital advice and support. I totally get it. If you’ve heard me speak, you know that the first year of my marriage was hell. After things improved for a while, seven years later we re-entered that same hell which happened to be the year my daughter was born. I’m here to tell you that year was even worse—y’all don’t even know the half! We were broke, exhausted, overwhelmed, dissatisfied with our careers and angry with each other. We thought that would be the end of us. Low and behold almost 17 years later we are still together and more satisfied than ever. Thank God!

If any of this sounds familiar to you here is what I want you to know:

It isn’t easy being married. It requires work—hard work. What does that work look like you ask? It’s being considerate of your partner and their needs, extending to them grace and after you extend them grace extend them more grace and then more. It’s forgiving them from your soul and not using their faults or mistakes as a weapon. It is still choosing to love them even when they are dead wrong.

When most people think of marriage, they think about the good stuff: a partnership, a double income home, having a travel companion, buying a big house together etc. But the power is truly in the contrary of that. It is surviving the pain, the hurts and the indifference that makes for a successful marriage. Humans are flawed and because of that, we are destined to disappoint each other. That is life! The ability to overcome disappointments fills us with gratitude, creates the legacy that the next generation will aspire to and shows how much unconditional love each partner has for the other.

Here are some questions I want you to ask yourself. Feel free to jot the answers in your journal:

  1. Everybody wants to be seen and heard. Are you seeing and hearing your partner- not simply with your ears and eyes but with your entire heart using empathy and compassion?
  2. What is the thing that initially made you fall in love with this person?
  3. Are you showing up as your best self in this relationship?
  4. What do I need from my partner right now, in this season? How can I share this with them?
  5. What does my partner need from me in this season? (Feel free to ask them about their needs)

For those that are considering marriage, please ask yourself the following questions:

  1. If this person doesn’t change and remains the same as they are today, can I live with them forever?
  2. Ask yourself, if the toxic traits (jot down your partner’s most toxic character traits i.e. addiction, financial mismanagement, abuse, cheating, gambling, yelling, mood swings, anger) that you listed get worse (because if they don’t seek help now it will) can you deal with that?
  3. Do you have toxic behavior that needs to be addressed prior to marriage?
  4. Do you have unhealed emotional wounds that you need to work on prior to getting married?

Let me leave y’all with this, marriage is beautiful. I firmly believe that we are designed to share our lives with a partner. Trust me when I tell you that everything in our lives increases when we are in loving, committed relationships. However, we need to be prepared with all of the tools necessary to succeed.
This article was originally published by The Black Girl’s Guide to Healing Emotional Wounds.