Customarily, marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman and usually marked by a ceremony that pronounces the couple husband and wife in the presence of their families and friends. What makes it a contract, in my opinion, is the legal binding nature of the union. Typically, a court or legal authority in a state issues a marriage license to a couple that intends to get married upon their application to do so, and the couple thereafter receives their marriage certificate after fulfilling the requirements as set forth by the authority.

Marriage is a contract between two persons to stay committed to each other in good times and bad times. It is a serious commitment and sadly can be cancelled by a divorce when one party doesn’t, or perhaps both parties don’t, fulfill its side of the obligation. It is a contract that should be respected not only because
It could last a lifetime but because it affects the physical, psychological, and emotional health of the parties involved. It starts with two parties, under normal circumstances, and will include more parties, once the couple intends to have children. As one who has had an active marriage contract for almost two decades, I offers suggestions of how to preserve your marriage contract for as long as possible.

  1. Don’t take your partner for granted: the two parties in a marriage and their opinions/contributions are equally valid and matter. If you are in a marriage, where you don’t consult your partner on issues that affect your home/family, this is a red flag. Each party should be expressive and can talk about or over anything. My mantra is ‘no holds barred;’ talk freely. For religious folks, who read the holy book out of context, “The husband is the head of the wife,’ but this doesn’t invalidate the wife. The wife is equally important and not inferior. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. If you love someone, you don’t look down at them, intimidate or relegate them.
  2. Show interest in learning what is going on in each other’s lives. Your interests may not be similar but give your support when and where necessary, and sometimes when it is least expected. For example, show up at his polo games or accompany her on her shopping trips.
  3. Communicate: this is major!! If you have issues with a contract, do you say something or nothing? Something, right? Consistent communication is vital for the successful execution of a contract. If you don’t give feedback to the other party or get any feedback, why should you expect positive changes or how do you want to them to make amends. In fact, consistent and effective communication with the other party (your spouse) should be done during courtship or the dating period , prior to your marriage. My mantra is ‘talk about everything.’ Communication doesn’t always have to be about ‘constructive feedback.’ It can also be ‘positive reinforcement’ to let the other party know what he/she is doing well while rewarding them with gifts or favors.
  4. Focus on how to get better: don’t spend the bulk of your marriage/contract focusing on what the other party is not doing well; rather work on how you can be better. Ask yourself- how can I be a better spouse, what are some innovative things that I can do to make my marriage (contract) worthwhile. What are some things that I need to stop doing and some things I need to start doing and communicate these to your spouse so that you are accountable to him/her.
  5. Plan: Several contracts fail due to lack of proper planning. As cliche or mundane the word ‘plan’ sounds, planning in a marriage is vital. Plan, regroup, plan, regroup, and plan again. You never go wrong planning. Planning is usually task specific and extends beyond communicating. It is akin to coming up with a strategy or roadmap i.e. how you will tackle an area of your marriage? What are the steps you will take in solving a challenge? What are some resources that will be needed? Actualizing or carrying out the plan is another important part of planning and involves dividing up the tasks- who will do what or who will oversee the implementation of the plan?Planning shouldn’t be rigid or taken too seriously. After all, the marriage contract involves a couple in love and that should not be hard on each other. If you can’t fulfill your part of the contract for a good reason, talk it over with the other party (your spouse). Planning can cover any tasks/topic such as how many children you want to have, where you will live, etc. Whatever works for the parties (you and your spouse) is great. However, plan in a constructive manner and make sure you and your spouse (both parties) are in agreement and in consistent communication

I will state here that there are legitimate reasons why some marriage contracts are annulled but if you are in a marriage contract where both parties(you and your spouse) are genuine and willing to preserve or rejuvenate your contract, remember the importance of not taking each other for granted, communicating effectively and consistently, personal improvement and proper planning. I wish you the best!!!

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