What is a successful couple?
It’s hard to say. Many “successful” couples, like any others, are often only successful for a time. To consider oneself a part of a successful union can come off a bit arrogant, no? However, in an emotional climate where commitment becomes increasingly fickle, those who have sustained lasting unions are clearly a step ahead of the rest. For the purposes of this post, a successful couple is considered a unit that appears to be happy. To have claimed, that after at least 10 years, there has been no infidelity; to have mastered financial synchrony; and to express a more than partial understanding and acceptance of their partners nuances. I spoke with four island couples from Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad and the Bahamas; all of whom were married for 12, 16, 14 and 10 years respectively. The Jamaican pair are both of Jamaican descent. The Haitian couple upholds a mixed-heritage union(husband-Jamaican, wife-Haitian). The Trinidadian couple are both from Trinidad, and the Bahamian couple are also of mixed heritage, ie a Jamaican (wife) and Bahamian (husband). The first three couples reside in the states and the last in the Bahamas.
A sample of 4 can easily be considered marginal. However, after speaking with these individuals, I found that they all mirrored the same practices and/or beliefs. Here’s what they had to say.
1. No division of assets
We’ve all heard the expression that cheating is often the symptom of systematic issues in a relationship. One of the gravest of these is finances. All four couples do not subscribe to prenuptial agreements. They pool all their assets and only have joint accounts. They are each others beneficiaries and make very few significant (less than major) purchases without their partner’s consent.
2. Travel stipulations
Forget stipulations, they do not travel without their partner. If it can’t be helped, it is a very rare occurrence and for no more than 2 days, ie, one night. Girls trips and boys trips are absolute NOs. “Dat a fi single people.” Few exceptions were/are made earlier in some relationships to participate in a wedding or be there for ailing family members.The Bahamian husband shared that, “my wife goes everywhere (with me). She’s at the office Christmas parties, in the hotel room if I’m presenting at a conference and brunching it at the club while me and the boys are playing golf.” “It’s not even deliberate,” he added, “it’s just how we’ve done things for years.” ” I’m not on a leash. I want my wife with me. I’ve wanted her with me for 10/9 years now.”
3. Social Media Management
Three of the four couples admitted to having social media accounts. Most of which were limited to Facebook. No one had a Snapchat and only one couple had individual Instagram accounts. “Once we got married I got rid of my Facebook,” offered the Jamaican husband. The wife interjected and shared, “Yeah we have a family account now, simply called Joe, Jane, Sue (him, her, their daughter).” “There will be no sliding in any DMs here,” she laughingly concluded.
4. No hidden pass codes
“My husband knows my atm pin, my email and phone pass codes, and has access to my Instagram account.” The Jamaican wife told me.”It’s not some purposeful endeavor where we sat down and said hey you, gimme u password!” “It’s just us being open over time. I may have needed something from the grocers and given him my pin, or needed him to send an email on my behalf.” Her husband is equally as open as well. Both claim that despite having the passwords, they do not invade the others privacy.
5. Being in the know
The Haitian couple offered that “preemptive strikes are quite essential to keeping trust intact.” This is something with which I wholly agree. “The longer you’re in a relationship the more you settle into routines, both good and bad.” What that means, is that “if I know I usually get home from work at 4 and it’s getting to be pass 5, I’ma call my wife and let her know what’s keeping me….” “No sense in leaving room for suspicion.” “I also never let a woman, who is not my wife,drive in the front seat of my car, and best believe I call to let her know what’s going on.” “You’d be surprised how much damage other people can do, just because they’re eager to run-tell-dat when summin looks shady.” The other couples didn’t take it as far as being particular about car-seat placement, but they were naturally vigilant about keeping their partners in the know. The Trinidadian wife said she often recites to her husband, “Just always let me be the first to know.”
As a single person, I immediately perceived most of these practices as a complete lack of individuality. In addition, I would often combat their offerings with a resounding, “if you have to go through all of this fail-safing what does that say to the integrity of your relationship in the first place?” “Furthermore if anyone really wants to, all it takes is that one night he/she travelled. He could still be screwing the girl in the backseat. And I know a guy who has a second job he’s hidden from his wife for years and uses said cash to pay for his exploits. Is your relationship really so strong if you have to safe guard it. To this, they would more or less reply, “why would you allow something you care so much about to be vulnerable.” Relationships aren’t these floating things that you grab and they just grow into flowers and rainbows. They need to be protected and safe guarded with the same deliberation you would apply to anything you care about. Would you leave your most valuable jewels on the dresser, day by day passing them by without ever putting them in a safe place. It doesn’t mean you can prevent them from being stolen but you shouldn’t just leave them careless.
I must also add the disclaimer that the aforementioned couples all got together between the ages of 17 and 24. It’s easy to shun prenuptial agreements when you’ve both met having nothing. In addition, at such a young age our minds are still being molded. There is still much to learn and we are not as set in our ways. What of the 30+ somethings who have established individual wealth prior to meeting their partners? How does one give up so much of themselves when they have spent so many years living alone. Are there really any fail-safes for relationships?