I’ve recently been getting into looking after my natural afro hair. But I’m trying to find a quick, easy, inexpensive way of doing this. I think to myself that our African ancestors must surely have had a few easy inexpensive techniques that they consistently applied for beautiful hair – surely! Honestly, as a Black woman trying to maintain natural hair there are so many resources available and it can be so easy to spend your entire waking day obsessing about your hair that it can seem a little overwhelming. One topic that keeps coming up though is the idea of deep conditioning your hair. Very briefly, afro hair like mine is actually very fragile, because it is so curly, so it is hard for natural oils to reach right down to the end of the hair shaft. This would be a lot easier with straighter hair. This is why people wanting to maintain afro hair have to put a lot more oil into their hair. Sometimes you have to intensively nourish your hair with oils and moisture, sometimes proteins like eggs, avocado, or even mayonnaise! This is called deep conditioning. It helps to protect the hair from breakage. I was going to say that “I never bother” because predictably I can’t be getting myself into all that faff. As much as I would love to have beautiful hair it is after all only hair; I would like my life to count for more significant things! However, I then remembered that I often put eggs into my hair – most recently was yesterday – or day before. Oh my goodness this is so messy it can hardly be stated, and it drips all down my face, and along my neck and it is so uncomfortable. But it truly does work in terms of strengthening my hair! That said, I really would not mind something that was a little bit less effective, if it was also a lot less messy!
I was thinking of this topic of deep conditioning, and I thought that this idea could be so relevant to the topic of marriage! Hopefully this might be much more fun than “egg-treating” your hair!
So what might it look like if you decided to deep condition your marriage? As with hair, it might mean intensively nourishing marriage with all the nutrients that make it thrive, but doing it in a concentrated way. As with hair, this deep conditioning will then help the marriage to survive the everyday stresses and strains it encounters.
This is what I think it means in practice:
You have to regularly take time off to spoil yourself, your spouse and your marriage; to indulge in exciting things to make you grow closer; yes, even spending money!
If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, then you probably know that I am essentially allergic to the idea of spending money for romance, or the idea that the feeling that we have for one another can be measured in the amount of money that we spend. And yet, for the sake of deep conditioning your marriage, I would say – get ready to spend good money! But then you don’t need to let it take you by surprise so that you potentially bankrupt your marriage financially in the hope of saving it emotionally; rather you can save up for it.
Injecting positivity…This might mean taking time to serve one another; eg each day going to one person’s choice of restaurant, alternating; things that you have both always wanted to try. Or deliberately taking a day to give one another compliments. Perhaps reading out from the compliment diary that you have been keeping for one another. This might sound cheesy. However I am sure that it would work tremendously, especially if the underlying marriage is already healthy. And then you can let those compliments gush all over one another as messily as an egg treatment, except that you won’t have to wipe them off! Ongoing issues might still be there BUT there will also be a huge injection of goodwill and positivity towards one another; a bit like forcing yourself to smile, it can actually make you feel better. A really funny thought just occurred to me, that aside from these defined “deep conditions”, you could give your husband a spontaneous “compliment day” where all you do is just offer him compliments, but without telling him that this is what you are doing, and watching for his reaction. Trying to keep as straight a face as possible, looking to see when he guesses what you are doing. I bet that many husbands would feel confused, even uncomfortable, wondering whether you have some kind of crazy agenda, or “where you might be going”. Obviously the aim would not be to make him feel uncomfortable . Perhaps to counteract this you have to make sure that you are as sincere as possible. You want to make him feel cherished and appreciated and valued in this marriage. So that is one example of how behaviour you cultivate during your deep conditions could naturally spill over into your everyday life together!
Does a healthy marriage require constructive criticism as well as praise? Perhaps it does. However for the sake of deep conditioning I would focus exclusively on praise and positivity.
So these are a few further ideas of things that you could do during your deep conditions: I’m sure there are a few things that I don’t need to spell out. And yet I will! If your marriage has been suffering sexually, as many, many marriages apparently are, that might be the time to focus on it with a deliberate emphasis on serving one another. Knowing that this might still cause one another hurt and pain, but all the same persevering through it all to get to the bottom of issues – pun not intended! I am definitely not an expert on this but there are many experts available online – perhaps you could watch or read through some material together, have a few difficult conversations. Here is one such expert to watch :
I must admit that as a single woman and having waited for so long I’m thinking that this is one area in which my own marriage is unlikely to struggle. And yet no-one ever does think that their marriage will be one of the ones that do struggle this way. And yet so many marriages apparently enjoy a few years of passion then fizzle out into passionless room-sharing…
So anyway, apart from that, I know that everyone out there is blessed with their own imagination, and they do not need me to spell out a list of exciting activities to do with their spouse. Especially because each person knows their own spouse and their own marriage, and what will work for them. However this is the list that I can think of possibly regarding my own marriage (bearing in mind that I don’t yet know who my husband will be!):
Share happy stories with one another; when I first realised that I love you! Best things that have happened this year…
Going out together to exciting new restaurants
Going on holiday together to beautiful new places or just going to a quiet country village in your own country
Going to the theatre
Literally having another honeymoon – just scheduling lots of exciting things to do together
Places we’ve always wanted to visit (for me, Versailles!)
My mind is obviously in an excitable mood because I’m trying to think of a mix of quieter activities or options alongside high-octane things but I’m struggling at the moment! Perhaps the usual country walks, sunsets….I can never get enough of sunsets!
I think that to deep condition your marriage the most important ingredient is a good, lavish, generous unstinting helping of time. Time to be with one another, to forget everyday frustrations, to giggle together, to rediscover one another, and one another’s sense of humour, to reminisce, to dream about the future, to walk around holding hands.
I think it would be a good idea to regularly save money towards this; also time if holiday needs to be booked off at work etc.
If possible, I would buy beautiful new clothes, invest in a new hairdo; wear them first for one another; lingerie, perfume – the works!
Scheduling: if you are going to regularly buy these things anyway, then you could schedule them for your “annualmoon” and then dazzle him as you bring out each new delight. Yes baby! You thought you already knew everything about me, didn’t you?!
2 ways to do the deep conditioning:
1. do it regularly, like a health check.
2. Wait for issues to come to a head/ things to get difficult
3. Both! Have regular “annualmoon”, but also keep the readiness to just jet off together and relax, and play, and laugh, and eat, and dance and look as deliciously glamorous as possible, at all times! Wear your most beautiful clothes, Deliberately seduce one another. Now would be a good time to make an effort with those high heels, Tosin!
Sometimes difficult/troublesome issues will bubble to the surface – this is not a bad thing: ask yourselves: do we want to deal with this now, or do we want to keep enjoying ourselves and deal with it later?!
Sometimes supposedly “huge” issues lose their urgency when seen from a different perspective – and there is an equally huge possibility that you both simply forget about an issue that was niggling away before.
Take it in turns to serve one another: first what you want, then what I want; as with deep conditioning of hair this is a concentrated investment in your marriage.
Sometimes the “big issue” is not the real issue – rather it is an expression of needing time together; needing to feel heard, feeling underappreciated and like magic when those things are applied “the big issue” simply disappears.
Your treat… my treat
sometimes it will not be our mutual treat. Sometimes I will take him away to simply spoil him and spend time doing his favourite activities for a week, and sometimes he will do the same for me (I hope!) Sometimes it will be a surprise, not using our collective funds but rather money that I have saved up from my personal allowance and sometimes it will be our collective funds that we have saved up for this specific purpose. Sometimes we will mutually spoil one another. Sometimes it will be about being lavish with one another in a financial sense, other times it will be more about quietly spending time with one another, far from the madding crowd – and the kids!
I think that this following point is extremely important: that you could anticipate before you get married that as with afro hair, things definitely will get “dry” between you and your spouse at some points. No matter how desperately in love you are with one another before your marriage, or how much you want to be together. Even if you cannot possibly imagine it at the time. Simply look around at other couples, read a few accounts online, people will tell you how desperately in love they were before marriage…and how that actually worked itself out into everyday life. It is a fact of life, caused by everyday issues, the everyday wear and tear, the grind, work, the commute, living with another autonomous human being – it’s just life. So if you anticipate it beforehand, then you do not need to be taken by surprise when it does happen, you do not need to question your love. Rather you can deliberately build in and plan for some serious “deep conditioning” into your marriage beforehand, to keep things flowing smoothly, to remain excited about one another, to keep the buzz alive.