It’s been more than thirty years now since Willie and I walked on those cemented floors of Ikea. The aisles seemed at least twenty feet wide with boxes stacked more than fifty feet in the air, filled with furniture waiting to be assembled. “Welcome to Ikea,” the smiling customer experience folks said, to the “assemble it yourself” furniture store. We left with our prize – a four-foot grey laminated desk in a box – ready to be assembled!
After dinner, Willie and I retired to our private quarters – which was the attic! It had been converted into a small bedroom. You see, we lived with “Ma Jolley,” Willie’s mother. We paid no rent, for we were saving to buy our first home.
I was excited about our new desk. This was only our third piece of furniture after our bed and folding chair. Upon opening the box and pulling out the directions, I discovered it! I discovered that my husband was not like my Daddy. My Daddy could look at a diagram and put an item together, or take it apart. I discovered my husband did not have that gift.
Willie looked at the instructions and said, “What is this thing talking about?” He had a hammer, a screwdriver and instructions, but he had no clue what the instructions were talking about! I discovered my talented husband, who was a true entrepreneur and musician, was not even remotely like Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor (from the show, Home Improvement)!
Then the spirit of my mother (Lillie Mae) came over me. “No problem,” I heard myself say, as I eased my eight months pregnant frame down to the floor, “We’ll figure this out together.” And together we did figure it out!
I had made assumptions, which is never a good thing for any relationship! I assumed my husband was like my Daddy. Daddy had built our family home, was the general contractor for his church renovation project, where he served as pastor, repaired our autos and was even a licensed barber!
I made a couple of mental notes that night: (a) never purchase an item that has to be assembled, (b) keep the number of a qualified handyman on speed dial and (c) never compare my husband to my mother’s husband (my Daddy)!
But after more than 32 years of marriage to Willie, I realize he has other talents. He is a talented speaker, singer and writer. And together we have built a success business and marriage. We’ve worked hard to develop skills that have nothing to do with assembling furniture – but everything to do with “assembling” a great relationship!
Here are 3 relationship-building tips taken our new book, Make Love, Make Money, Make It Last!:
- Communicate! Talk to each other about everything! That’s how we’ve learned to understand and appreciate each other.
- Leave the drama with your mama! Because my father was a great handyman and handled all those functions for my mom, I assumed my husband should do the same! Making assumptions about your mate always leads to misunderstandings. Never do that!
- Date your mate. Remember what brought you together and keep those flames burning bright! We are spouses, parents and business partners. Our lives get crazy. Date night allows us to focus just on each other.
We are grateful that we learned principles that have allowed us to have a great marriage and not have an argument in over 30 years. These principles work and can help you have a great relationship as well.
If you are married we recommend you get two copies of our book, so you and your spouse can both read the book at the same time and discuss the ideas and principles at the end of each chapter. We believe this will help you to build a great marriage together!
Dee Taylor-Jolley is the C.O.O. of Willie Jolley Worldwide. She is also the Chief Learning Officer for Jolley University, which is the training and development division of Willie Jolley Worldwide.
Before working with her husband, Dr. Willie Jolley, Dee was a high school teacher, a corporate trainer and a congressional aide. As an educator, she was honored as a Teacher of the Year with the DC Public Schools. She was a trainer for American Management Association and the training director for the National Association of Home Builders. She went on to serve as a staff member to several Members of Congress.
She holds a BA in Political Science from Howard University and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum Design from The Catholic University of America.