by Eric Payne
I recently had the pleasure of meeting the male mind behind Black And Married With Kids dot com, Mr. Lamar Tyler. During our lunchtime summit on all things Black, Married and Kids, he casually dropped a term that hit me like a bag of bricks: A Friend of Your Marriage. I didn’t need any explanation from him to know exactly what he meant.
There are times when I believe my wife has lost her mind. Friends of My Marriage may laugh at but typically don’t cosign on my opinions or emotions in moments like these. They are less concerned with what she is or isn’t doing and more concerned that I am doing all I can to live up to my end of the marriage contract/covenant. They’ve even gone so far as to suggest that I’ve played a role in my wife’s alleged insanity. At there have been times when they’ve extended themselves to hear us out to help us sort things out when we’ve hit our rough patches. Recently, a friend dropped his bible and concordance in my lap and told me, “Everything you need to succeed is in here.” I was horrified.
With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?
On the flipside, I once had a friend pull me aside to show me a picture of his lady on the side. She was as naked as jaybird. As my eyes widened, my friend announced, “Life is too short. I’m not gonna sit around here and be miserable without having somewhere to go to have fun.” Right then and there I determined I would NEVER EVER discuss my marriage with this man because he wasn’t a friend of his own marriage. There was no way he could be one to mine.
But this isn’t only about men.
Ladies, when things go off track in your marriage as they sometimes do, are the people who have your ear and your back strong in their relationships with their husbands, in their faith, and/or in their message (MESS + AGE = Wisdom)? Or do they even know what a healthy relationship is? Do they hop around like bunny rabbits from one chaotic situation to the next, looking for love in all the wrong places with men who were never right for them in the first place? Are they selfish beyond repair and so myopic that the men of their lives have become all men in existence, and “all men” is the reason why they are single? Life is lived in stages and on levels. If the people advising you aren’t married, they either haven’t reached your level or they’ve failed trying to exist there. For them to speak on your marriage is no different than a man telling you how he gave birth to his first child. So the question you have to ask yourself is whether or not you are you truly seeking advice and counsel, or do you simply want someone to agree with you, “support and back you up” in the current place where you are — even if you happen to be wrong?
Other People Who Aren’t Friends of Your Marriage
The coworker who seems to do all the things your spouse won’t do. This person comes off genuinely concerned about your well-being and the well-being of your relationship, even though they don’t know your spouse and don’t know you except for what you show and tell them. No different than what you did when you and your spouse first met. Does he or she make themselves available to you to lend an ear, just to talk, or to have a cup of coffee? Has it moved from the controlled environment of the public and infiltrated the privacy of your home in the form of willy-nilly texting and the occasional phone call in the bathroom? No matter the hour, do they just seem to be that voice of reason you can depend on, especially as things get worse at home? [Note: And why wouldn't they? Your marriage now has three or more people in it.] Doesn’t it feel exciting and wonderful to have your very own personal 24-hour crisis line? Yeah, run! If you don’t, sooner or later you’ll be in the arms of another in a field no greener than the one you’re presently in, wondering how in the world you got there.
The woman who works out at your gym who has a body to die for, grown kids, is successfully and confidently divorced, owns her own house and car, isn’t helpless, has the wind at her back and life on her side, laughs at everything you say and doesn’t shy away from giving you advice about what you could and should do with your wife — once you bring up the subject. What a coincidence that she “popped up” out of nowhere though she was always there. What happened is that you never considered speaking to her until you and your wife stopped talking to one another. Eventually you both advance the conversation from talking about what you should be doing and discussing more and more what your wife should be doing for you. Your wonderful, electric, heartfelt talks move from the gym, to the parking lot, to the Starbucks around the corner, to that nice, quiet little restaurant at the waterfront on Thursday for lunch, then drinks on Friday after work before you go home to your family, then dinner whenever and however you can sneak it in. Yeah, run! There is a rendezvous and a double life with your name written all over it.
Best Friends Of Marriage
This isn’t to say that people outside of your marriage can’t have genuine concern for you. But barring worst case scenarios such as physical abuse and perpetual infidelity, it’s up to you to seek out wise counsel. People who are going to agree with you because you’re you don’t qualify as wise counsel. Neither are people who don’t know you or your spouse and aren’t professionals in the field of marriage counseling or therapy, even if they seem really nice and grounded. All they know is what you allow them to know by only telling your side of the story. And there’s always more than one side. Successfully married folks typically make the best Friends of Marriage because they’ve weathered storms, won and now have the tools to win. They’ve been where you’ve been, sometimes repeatedly. They have no problem telling you when you’re wrong. They typically are able to find the wrong in both parties so both of you can get to right, together. Wise counsel doesn’t merely support. It corrects.
If you value your marriage you’ll do your best to ignore the trick that would lead you to believe that everything that is wrong with your spouse is everything that is right with your coworker, girlfriend’s best friend from college, homie’s cousin’s sister’s friend, community center director, milkman or anyone for that matter. Please, be careful. Guard your hearts. The body only follows once the heart creates a path.
No different than opting for surgery, seek advice from those who have a track record of success. Hang out here at Black And Married With Kids and get involved in the conversations. Be open to the idea of taking instruction from people who might not agree with you. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to seek help. Too much is on the line to allow pride to get in the way.
Have all the friends you want, but know who to talk to about your marriage. More importantly, know who not to talk to.
BMWK do you have friends of your marriage? Have you ever been in any of the situations above?
Author of the now infamous, My Wife Is NOT My Friend (on Facebook), Eric talks about being a father and a husband on his blog, Makes Me Wanna Holler – Man, Dad, Husband. You can follow him on Twitter, or find him on his Facebook Page. He is the author of I See Through Eyes, a book of poetry and short stories and in his spare time writes NYC tourism articles for NYMetropolista.com is a contributing writer for Atlanta-based J’Adore Magazine.