Well, it’s labor day weekend and we are all ready to have a good time! The grills are out, the ribs are cooking, the bbq sauce competitions are on, and time with our families is irreplaceable. I’m always excited to see strong black families doing their thing. But I’m also keenly aware of the stigma that has dogged our communities for generations. Often, we are seen as people who come from broken homes and broken lives. And while our families have struggled after being torn apart, we have somehow managed to pick ourselves back up and are building legacies that will last for generations.
Labor of Love: Old School Relationship Tips That Will Keep Your Marriage Strong
My pastor preached a message that really resonated with me. Don’t worry, I have no intention of getting all religious on you. But, he referred to this passage in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 – “We remember before our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” While there are many faith-building implications associated with this verse, he made a point that stuck. He said there is a difference between the term “work” and “labor.” It’s easy to use the two interchangeably. But in Biblical days, they had uniquely intended meanings.
Work typically implies a nine to five gig for which you are paid a salary or a wage. When you work for someone, you do so trusting that a check is forthcoming. Labor, on the other hand, involves giving birth to something…a child, an idea, a business. Usually, when you labor at something, you do so without knowing whether what you produce will benefit you in any way. All you know is that your heart is fully in it.
So, where am I going with all this? Well, I couldn’t help but think about the relationships our grandparents and their parents had during some of the most difficult times in our country. If you’ve ever read any of my articles, you know I like to reference the divorce rate – you know, just so we know what we’re up against. But, when I gave it some thought, I wondered why the divorce rate was so much lower in the first half of the 20th century despite so many seemingly insurmountable odds. How did our grandparents keep things together?
Here’s where I landed. We often say how important it is to “work” on your marriage. But, I believe that for them, marriage was more than work. It was a “labor” of love. Divorce was a non-starter. They were privy to an era where they witnessed the ease at which families were torn apart. So, regardless of the circumstance, they would not allow themselves to be a vehicle for separation. That meant giving birth to vulnerability when pride wanted to take hold. It meant giving birth to honesty when trust was broken. It meant the kind of labor that involved faith, sacrifice, and love.
With that said, here are some old school relationship tips that will keep your marriage strong and set an example for generations to come. (Please note these tips do not apply to relationships subject to any kind of abuse.)
Keep it Simple
Our grandparents kept relationship stuff simple. The traditional marriage vows say “to have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” It doesn’t need to get any more complicated than that. Those vows mean whether times are good or bad, labor in love.
Loyalty was important to our families back in the day. I’m not saying there was never any disloyalty. But in marriages that lasted, loyalty was a key priority. It’s sad this tip is considered “old school” but it doesn’t have to be. If we take a cue from those who came before us, when given a chance at staying true to their tribe, most of our ancestors took it.
Anyone can walk away from a struggling relationship. It’s easy. In fact, it’s the coward’s way out. But our grandparents and parents found the courage necessary to stay when times got tough. Rather than walk, they chose to talk.
I won’t say that all old school relationships were perfect. But the above three tips were typical and ensured the kind of love that is basically 50/50 these days. If you want the kind of longevity in your relationship they once had in the old days, take these tips to heart. Let this Labor Day weekend remind you that building a generational lineage needs only three things: simplicity, loyalty, and courage. Enjoy!
BMWK, what old school relationship tip do you have?