This past summer, a Jewish couple moved in next door. The first few weeks, my husband and I would see them in passing as we carried groceries or our napping three-year-old into the house. They'd be sitting on their front porch watching their three young boys rough house on the lawn, each with a yarmulke securely fastened to his head.
By late autumn, the arguments began. Through the paper-thin walls of our old West Philadelphia row homes, I could hear the wife screaming on several occasions, "You're a nobody and that's why nobody respects you." His reply, "Respect isn't paying bills or allowing you to be a stay at home mom."
It was typical arguing that any couple faces, particularly when two parents reach their breaking point every few months when it all becomes too much. As entertaining as the arguing could be at times, it reminded me of a gem actor Will Smith dropped on wife Jada's Facebook live show Red Table Talk while appearing as a guest on the season premiere. There he made a decent point about the ground rules he had made for the marriage after witnessing domestic violence in his own childhood. Already having one divorce in the works upon meeting Jada, his rules included the banning of profanity and violence in the household, a rule he jokes that wife Jada responded to by cussing him out. It made me think of the concept of "struggle love" as it refers to going through dark times with someone and helping them grow from unhealthy ideas vs. recognizing someone just isn't on your level and when you need to leave for your own self-care.
Marriage doesn't mean you completely know someone or accept all their flaws, but it does mean you're committed to working through difficult times with them.
Arguing changes when you're in a long-term relationship and building a life with someone, especially one that involves children. Before I got married, I didn't understand that living with someone day in and out, you'll routinely have periods when your partner just irks your soul. I recently spent a whole weekend trip slightly annoyed because my husband forgot the Spicy Funyuns I set aside. It wasn't a big deal, but he did manage to remember his Twizzlers, which I hate. And every time I saw him gnawing on red licorice, it was a reminder of how he rushes through things and sometimes forgets small details. Yes, all that over some onion-flavored corn snacks.
Arguments are unavoidable in a relationship, but every disagreement doesn't have to end in a battle royale, destroying one another's character and self-esteem. The next time you find your inner petty rising to the surface over your partner bringing the wrong road trip snacks, take into consideration the following:
1. Find a Partner Whose Arguing Style Complements Your Own
If you're "Shared Netflix Passwords" deep into a relationship, it may be too late for this, but it's important to find someone you can resolve conflict with, even after trading insults and expletives. When I am angry, my tongue needs deliverance. In the past, I've dated men who would trade F-bombs with me until what started as a minor disagreement ended in thrown toiletries and tears. (I almost blinded my ex-boyfriend with a stick of Suave antiperspirant). Those arguments were clearly unhealthy and got nowhere. When I met my husband, the one thing that stood out is that he wouldn't go blow for blow with me. He'd walk away until we both calmed down. It left me with some prime insults that will never see the light of day, but it also led to a healthier way to resolve conflict and kept me free of a criminal record.
2. Choose Your Battles
The dishwasher they forgot to unload. The dirty socks laying right next to the laundry basket. The fact that he left you on "Read" for twenty minutes. If I chose to tap into my inner petty every time I became slightly annoyed with my husband, I'd be the Savion Glover of arguing. In all seriousness, a stroke is third leading cause of death for Black women. Not every minor inconvenience is worthy of raising your blood pressure.
3. Address Issues When They Arise.
Like I said before, if you're packing your bags because your spouse left his beard hair in the sink for the fifteenth time, more than likely, your leaving has less to do with his shaving routine and more to do with much larger issues. In addition, what may be a problem to you may not be on your partner's radar and something they may not even be doing purposely. Sometimes taking time apart to cool down makes it that much easier to work through problems, but it can also be a form of procrastination if you're not careful. If you can discuss it calmly in the moment, don't wait to bring issues to your partner's attention.
4. Understand Tears Don't Solve Problems
They do however have a way of shelving the larger issue. When people are overwhelmed by emotion, it can often come out as tears or profanity, but if you're getting all misty-eyed as a means of manipulation, it's no longer about problem-solving. It's about winning or playing the victim. You're allowed to get emotional, but keep in mind that pulling out the Kleenex alone can't solve problems. Just like time, all they do is put the problem on hold.
5. Avoid Belittling and Name-calling
As tempting as it may be to tell my spouse, "He isn't s**t," or "F**k him and his entrepreneurial dreams," the fact is the low blows are unnecessary and furthermore, I don't believe them myself. During more challenging moments of conflict, it can be all too easy to get distracted by wanting to hurt your partner as they may have hurt you and totally forget about communicating and processing feelings. Focus on finding resolutions, not being crowned "The Queen Of Condescension."
6. Take Into Consideration the Example You’re Setting For Your Children
Parents often take consideration not to argue in front of their children, but honestly when it comes to learning conflict resolution, in many ways you're modeling the behavior you want them to one day display. We're all different people with diverse backgrounds and opinions, so conflict is inevitable. Think about the lessons you're teaching your children, particularly when it comes to communicating with the people they love. How can we tell them to not disrespect others in the world if we're setting the example to demean the very people they call family?
I Discovered My Husband's Love Language And It Changed Everything – Read More
How To Fight Fair In Your Relationship – Read More
I Didn't Become A Wife Until A Year After I Said "I Do" – Read More
Featured image by Getty Images.
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Actress Kerry Washington and her relationship with her husband, actor Nnamdi Asomugha, is the perfect example of a winning team.
The pair became an item following a chance encounter in 2009, and many years later, on June 24, 2013, Washington and Asomugha would secretly tie the knot. Since then, the high-profile couple has expanded their blended family by welcoming two children, a daughter Isabelle Asomugha, 8, and a 6-year-old son Caleb Asomugha. Asomugha also has a daughter from a previous relationship.
Despite Washington and Asomugha choosing to live a relatively private life for the most part by not sharing images of their family on social media and occasionally attending events together. The rare glimpses they provide to the public showcase that Washington and Asomugha have much in common regarding essential topics.
For example, Washington is highly involved in politics and encourages others to participate by spreading information about various issues and how everyone would be affected.
As for Asomugha, the 41-year-old officially founded the Asomugha Foundation in 2010, years after doing other charity work in Nigeria. According to its site, the organization was created to help "disadvantaged youth and women by providing educational opportunities and mentorship."
Washington's public remarks regarding her relationship with Asomugha and their family may be rare, but when she does speak about their family, it's all positive.
Kerry On Why She Keeps Her Relationship Private
Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Bronx Children's Museum
In March 2016, the UnPrisioned actress revealed during a discussion panel at SXSW Festival that one of the reasons why she is adamant about remaining private about her union with Asomugha is because she doesn't want the public to make any narratives regarding her marriage.
At the time, it was reported that Washington and the former NFL player were experiencing marital troubles and were allegedly planning on getting a divorce. Washington would shut down those allegations by saying she hasn't and will not share any information about her private life.
"Social media has actually been great for [other celebrities'] relationships with the weeklies or the gossip sites because people say things and they say, 'That's not true!' So I'm thinking in some ways, it's been great because people are able to maintain their voice," she explained.
"It's a little different for me because I don't talk about my personal life. That means not only did I not tell you when I was getting married, it also means if somebody has rumors about what's going on in my marriage, I don't refute them, because I don't talk about my personal life."
Kerry On How She Met Nnamdi And What A Normal Day Looks Like for Their Family
Fast forward to October 2018, the Scandal star gave insight into how she met Asomugha and their family life. During an interview with Marie Claire, Washington shared that she and Asomugha met in 2009 while she was working on the Broadway play Race.
The mother of two told the publication that her life has "completely transformed" since their encounter. "The last time I did theater, it completely transformed my life. That's where I met my husband. I love being with my family. My days off look like homework, reading, and watching stuff. Just hanging out, doing things we love to do," she stated.
Kerry On Nnamdi's Accomplishment
Photo by Jeffrey Camarati/Getty Images
But as time progressed, Washington began speaking a little more openly about her man. In October 2022, Washington gushed over Asomugha and his Netflix project, The Good Nurse, which came out around the same time her film, The School for Good and Evil, was released. While talking to Entertainment Tonight, the star expressed how "proud" she was of her husband.
"I'm really proud of him, I think he's doing amazing work. I'm really excited for his film, The Good Nurse," she said. "It's really exciting to both have really important films at Netflix right now, we feel really blessed.”
Kerry On Why Nnamdi Is Her Soulmate
Washington shared how her love with Asomugha goes beyond the surface after spending over a decade together.
In a March 2023 interview with Marie Claire, Washington explained that she and Asomugha are perfectly aligned because she's allowed to be her authentic self with him.
"I'm in my immediate truth with [him]," Washington said. "Those mirrors are important because they help me get back to myself."
Kerry On The Couple's Upcoming 10-Year Wedding Anniversary
Photo by Bruce Glikas/Getty Images
That same month, Washington expressed that in addition to the many years the couple has been together, and their personal and professional accomplishments, she still finds Asomugha "incredible."
Washington shared this revelation while promoting her latest project, UnPrisioned, in an Entertainment Tonight interview.
"I do have an incredible husband," the actress told ET host Kevin Frazier as she disclosed little to no details about their upcoming plans for their tenth wedding anniversary. "Do you remember how secret my wedding was? How private and secretive it was? That's how the anniversary is gonna be too!"
Kerry On Why She Thinks Nnamdi And Their Children Are A Gift From God
Washington's love and admiration for Asomugha and their family grow increasingly each day, so much so that she uses it as inspiration to share positive messages with her fans.
The 46-year-old revealed during a panel with Al Sharpton at National Action Network Convention on April 12 that she sees her husband and their children as "proof" that God exists and loves her because of the great joy they bring to her life.
"Well, you've met my husband, my husband's amazing. I got a good one. We have three beautiful children. And I think, you know, when I look at my marriage, and I look at my kids, fundamentally, they are proof of God to me,” she said. "Because I know that God loves me to have put those people in my life. And that sense of like, knowing that God loves me. That, to me, is so much of how I make the decisions about the activism that I do and the content that I make."
Regardless of what the public may think about Washington and Asomugha's private union, they are proving with each moment that love can conquer all.
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Feature image by Arturo Holmes/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue