5 Lessons From Vanessa Williams On Marriage: “I’ve Been Married 3 Times, And All My Husbands Are Good Men”

August 16, 2019  |  

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Experience is the best teacher and Vanessa Williams has had her share in the marriage department. For this reason, the Johnson Family Vacation star decided to share her wisdom by way of a personal essay for Glamour. Here is some of what we gleaned from her experiences:

Accept the fact that kids will change your relationship

In her first marriage, the actress learned that there is no way to get around the changes that having children will put your marriage through.

“There’s no such thing as balance. When you’re working hard, you’re feeling guilty. You hope your partner understands the kids have to come first a lot of times,” Williams wrote. “When there’s a baby crying, you’ve got to attend to it. You’re just not going to be 100% available, and the marriage—the relationship—does change.”

Understand that you’re not marrying your dad

In her second marriage to former NBA star Rick Fox, the 56-year-old said she came to recognize that she can’t compare her mate to her father.

“My expectations of a relationship had a really high benchmark because of my father. He was so good at everything: He could fix a car, he could do electrical work, he could build anything, he was a problem solver. He was also faithful, had incredible integrity, and was respected in his community,” Williams explained.  “My father was my example of what I expected to find in a partner. And that’s impossible for anyone to live up to.

One person can’t meet all of your needs

In her marriage to her third husband, Jim, the former pageant queen came to understand that it’s unhealthy to expect one person to meet every last one of your needs.

“I’ve realized it’s key to not expect one person to be able to fulfill every need in your life. I’ve got my friend who I go to the theater with, the friend I want to play tennis with. It puts a tremendous pressure on your mate to have to fulfill every desire you’ve ever had,” Williams reflected.

Listen to your partner

In addition, the mother of four said be eager to listen.

“You have to hear people, and I’m not talking about the “this is what I did today” kind of listening. When you consciously or subconsciously shut someone down, constantly correct or always try to be right, those are relationship killers. The other person feels like they’re not being heard. That leads to resentment and then feeling cut off from each other. Once emotional distance is established, it can be hard to bridge. It takes more than apologies to rebuild that connection, to get back to what brought you together in the first place.”

Enjoy the moment

Finally, Williams said live in the present.

“It’s also important to surrender to your relationship and see what it gives you. I’m always learning. I’m always trying. I’m always failing. I’m always coping. Nothing is permanent. You’ve got to go with the flow and do the best that you can. I believe people come into your life when they’re called—if you’re looking for something, it’ll eventually show itself. But also, we’re living way longer.”

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