Wedding season is winding down, and everyone -- and I do mean everyone  -- is happy about it. Frankly, it’s a lot of work for everyone involved. How many times have you been a bridesmaid or groomsman this year? And the wedding gifts, or in many cases lack thereof? Don’t get me started. I’ll admit, we definitely own up to our rookie mistake there -- don’t worry I’ll explain later. The point is, it’s a joyous time, love is in the air, and your about to take one of your biggest decisions and forge paths with your loved one for the rest of your life. Statistically, moreover sadly, almost half of them will end. Worse, if you’re a person of color that probability increases slightly no matter what socioeconomic background.

To me, a married Black man, this is pretty freaking alarming. One, because I simply do not see myself living without my wife, and two, I look at my family and friends who get married and I worry. Divorce can be nasty, even if you haven’t experienced it -- you know it. It can also be mutual and best, healthiest option for the two individuals. I remember walking through the marriage bureau in downtown Manhattan with my wife, hand-in-hand looking at everyone (well, not everyone) smiling and really taking in the day. You can sense the euphoria in the air. In the back of mind as we approached the desk, I silently and sadly wept for half of them.

Despite the high probability, the divorce rate has actually slowly declined since 1980. Maybe because people stopped doing so much blow with the end of disco. Or maybe people started to ask the quintessential questions. Why do I want to get married? What does marriage mean to me?

U.S. Census Data

Marriage is an agreement, and one of the more critical ones you will make in life. Like any fair agreement, both parties should weigh in on these questions and other considerations, but we typically don’t. Many people assume marriage is one thing. Monogamy, build a family, support each other, and eventually get the lake house. Marriage can’t be one thing because people change, and because we are all different.

So, this is me and my wife Ty. We are approaching our 1 year anniversary this month. This is some helpful advice for you men out there who simply don’t have a clue about what you’re doing in your marriage. 

Ty & Brian, The Ace Hotel, Sept 2017

How to Succeed In Your Marriage:

Be Honest: If monogamy is central in your relationship, and you still have the feeling or need to seek sexual/physical pleasure outside of your relationship -- you’re not ready to commit, and that’s OK. Just be honest, value your trust and integrity beyond anything else

Learn to communicate, and practice often: My wife and I have a special language we learned through Landmark, a center for personal and professional development. We are able to have tough conversations by leading with a positive intention, and structure to identify the breakdowns and barriers.

Make everyday special: Do not become stagnant in your relationship and don’t get complacent. Make sure you tell your partner how beautiful they are, learn their love language(s). Go above and beyond for your love, and challenge the ceiling for how you express that love.

Learn and acknowledge your strengths & weaknesses: My wife hates doing dishes, and frankly, she does a poor job. Am I going to sleep on the couch for this comment? Maybe, but regardless, I’ve assumed the duty of cleaner. I’m OCD and simply don’t settle for half-ass cleaning jobs.

Plan, you’re a team: If the both of you are not on the same page about how you’re going to grow and nurture your family -- or if you even want one, your foundation is cracked from jump. My wife and I have an Asana dashboard, a joint-calendar, and other tools that help us keep track of our business, and even things like health and wellness goals.

Things & People Change: Be Prepared. My wife and I knew we wanted kids upfront, but things changed when we started to see what we’d actually be getting ourselves into. Consideration with intent to act is completely different when you're taking a big life step.

Pull Your Weight, Always Add Value: TBH, marriage is like a rowboat. If one person is rowing, and the other is napping all the time -- you’re not going anywhere. We can’t control all aspects of our professional career, but add value in anyway you can. I resigned from my corporate job back in February, and now I handle shit at at house. It’s spotless, our dog is walked, and I’m still building our business. If you can make your partner’s life easy, do it.

How do you survive and thrive in your marriage? Share in the comments below!

[Bonus] Wedding Hacks:

Enroll your network: Our friends hooked us up where we had 2 renowned DJs, a MC and officiant at reduced and no cost.

Wedding Gifts: If you’re throwing your wedding toward the end of wedding season, prepare for an empty gift basket/money envelope. By the end of season, people are tapped out, straight up.

Split the events: We dramatically reduced the cost of our wedding by hosting two events. The ceremony and grand party for family, close friends, and colleague. And another after party for people we weren’t able to accommodate.

Plan Accordingly: If you’re doing the planning yourselves, be strict on roles and deadlines. Times flies, and before you know it, the day is here! Even if you are hiring a planner, don't wait until the last minute. Gets get "'spensive"

Eat: On the day of your wedding, eat some porridge or Mangu, something hearty. You likely won’t eat until the very end of the night.