One night I found myself deep in an Instagram blackhole: The Explorer Page. While I casually stalked friends’ cousins’ baby mamas and browsed through makeup tutorial pages, I came across a post, praising Omar Epps for having a long-lasting marriage in Hollywood.
Growing up, I loved Epps’ rough-around-the-edges-good-guy demeanor and the fact that I never saw his name in headlines for any trifling behavior, so I read said post to see if I could find a gem or two I could implement into my own relationship. To my surprise, the post explained that Epps and his wife Keisha, from hit 1990s group Total, have a no breakup rule and that has been the secret success to their marriage.
“For us, we just took breaking up off the table. That changed the whole dynamic of how we argue, solve problems, everything. It changes everything during the tough times,” Epps said in an interview with BlackDoctor.org. To be honest, after reading Epps’ explanation, I was like:
My parents divorced when I was a teenager and since then, I am committed to the idea that if I am not happy in a relationship, I must leave. However, after reading Epps’ no-break up rule, it made me think about argument styles and what deal breakers warrant breakups.
When I asked my boyfriend what he thought about the rule, he immediately said it would be useful to couples who are serious about monogamy. People who are in open-relationships will always need the option of breaking up since other people are routinely apart of their relationship, he explained. I challenged him on other issues such as partners who have poor financial management or make decisions that undermine their partners’ values, all of which boiled down to the question of whether one person should be stuck with another just to say “We’ve made it!” after the 30- or 40-year mark?
As we created a variety of worst-case scenarios on why the rule wouldn’t work, we learned more about what we wouldn’t tolerate in our own relationship and explored Epps’ claim on how arguments change once this rule is implemented.
According to Psychology Today, arguments are healthy until they are not. “Arguing is an indication of wanting to communicate something, usually something close to one’s heart. While many issues can be resolved through peaceful discussion, other conflicts can provoke anger, defensiveness, resentment and other strong emotions. Thankfully, everyone can learn how to communicate and solve conflicts efficiently in order to achieve mutual understanding, fulfillment and deep intimacy.”
Author Catherine Newman wrote for Oprah.com that the best way to clean up your argument style is to ask yourself how you would argue with your partner if a neighbor, parent or even Barack Obama was present. She believes you speak more carefully if others outside the situation were to listen in and it would help not ripping your partner apart over issues that are most likely trivial and petty.
Despite how helpful this information is, I still find the no-breakup rule limiting and not inclusive to all couples, their personalities and relationships. Its inflexibility can also be used as a manipulative tactic by the wrong person who could guilt their partner into staying with them.
Nevertheless, I understand why Epps lives by it. It pushes couples to look at the bigger picture, use wise judgment and not succumb to emotion-based solutions.