Mrs. Ruby Dee passed away at the age of 91 on June 11, 2014. Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis seemed to enjoy the kind of love that lasts forever. They were married in 1948 and enjoyed a romance that lasted until his death in 2005. Ruby Dee's life was one of vast experience as a gifted award-winning actress, writer, producer, activist, mother of three children and grandmother of seven. Ms. Dee and Mr. Davis had careers in the movie and entertainment industry, yet put their marriage first and endured 56 years. I'm sure all the days were not blissful like any marriage. But the public views and private views by accounts of many witnesses reveal that this was a marriage of two people who genuinely loved and cared for each other.
In an interview with Essence in 2006, Ruby Dee was asked if Mr. Davis and she had any marital problems during their 56 years together. Ms. Dee answered, "I threatened to leave him once, and the next day he said to me, "Well, if you ever decide to go and marry somebody else, just tell him to make a space for me, because I'm coming with you. Ossie always had something funny to say about everything." Ms. Dee continued to say that at one time they experimented with an open marriage. They gave themselves permission to sleep with people they were attracted to, as long as they were open and honest with each other. Mr. Davis believed it was the lies and deceit that ruined a marriage, not extramarital sex. However, they quickly realized this was a mistake and ended the other relationships. Ms. Dee said of this time period, "We saw that what you treasure most could be lost. And Ossie and I had matured. We began to understand that it is possible to be married to one person and be faithful to that person all your life, and that in a marriage loyalty and fidelity and trust cannot be compromised." There is so much more about their love, their open affection for each other, the respect that each commanded and the loving glances they gave each other, than there is about the troubled times. In 1998 they documented their marriage story in an autobiography called, "With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Forever."
The couple not only loved each other, they loved humanity. They acted together many times, travelled around the world and were fully engaged in the Civil Rights movement. They were friends with both Malcom X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
During another interview with Ebony Magazine in 1968 she was questioned about her civil rights involvement. Ms. Dee stated, "We shared a great deal in common; we didn't have any distractions as to where we stood in society. We were black activists. We had a common understanding."
The secret to a long marriage, according to Ms. Dee is "you have to learn how to be married, you have to learn to love somebody."
This made me wonder about my own marriage (will we make it 56 years or longer?) and about other couples I know, especially those in my clinical practice. So I gleaned a few tips from Ms. Dee on "How To Have A Successful Romantic Marriage." Here are 5 pointers:
Marry someone you are attracted to physically, mentally and spiritually. This commonality makes the marriage smoother during the tough times. It also helps to realize that you and your partner are "in this life together."
Remain faithful in acts, words and deeds to the person you married. Cultivate the respect, affection and admiration you desire at home instead of roaming around looking for it in what you think are "greener pastures." Remember, as Ms. Dee said "sex is good, but love is better."
Spend time talking to your partner and really listen to what they say. Discuss your likes, dislikes, world events, injustices, ministries and dreams. Share your ideas and begin to work together on something you can both be passionate about. Your goal is not to change your partner, but to be encouraging and supportive.
Allow your partner freedom and space to be the best person he or she can be. Don't try to force fit your expectations on them, but allow them to develop, grow and attain their own individualism and self-actualization.
Be thankful that you found someone that you can give love to and receive love from. Tell your partner that you are grateful to have them in your life. Say "I love you" daily and show it in a variety of ways.
Marriage can be stressful and even if you think you are doing everything right, things sometimes still go wrong. If your marriage is in need of repair, call or email my office, Ascent Consultants, for a FREE marriage assessment and consultation. We offer Christian-based pre-marital and marriage counseling. Our goal is to give you tools to begin repair your marriage and to build a solid relationship.