I love the relationship between Bo and Dre on ABC’s socially conscious comedy, “Blackish.” Like Marge and Homer, Ralph and Alice and countless other mismatched couples before them, they represent the notion that opposites attract, and that love conquers all.
The last few episodes of Season 4 put the comedic mishaps on the sideline and took a very real and honest look at the valley of the relationship when Dre and Bo contemplate divorce, after five children and over 20 years of partnership.
Here are some of my takeaways:
Relationships are Work: I know this sounds like common sense to some but in a huge way, our society still idealizes marriage and paints a picture that we find our true love and live happily ever after. That so-called “happily ever after” does not exist without both people working consistently and simultaneously to build and maintain a strong, loving, supportive partnership.
Part of that work is clear, consistent communication, especially about expectations. Not assumptions, not passive-aggressiveness, not sarcasm but good old-fashioned communication. For Bo and Dre some of their squabbles had to do with either not communication or making assumptions.
Consistent date nights might not sound like work, but you’d be amazed at the number of couples who do not make time for this. Date nights are another great way to not take your relationship for granted. It’s a time for couples to put the careers, the house, and even the kids on the back burner for the night and focus on them. Make that time a priority and it can help you reconnect and refresh your relationship.
Growing Apart: Have you ever heard couples say something like, “one day we just realized that we didn’t really know each other?” When couples have been together for a long time (especially if they met in their teens or twenties), at some point, they are likely to grow apart, just as Bo and Dre did. They realized that they had opposing perspectives about several aspects of life. The notion that opposites attract had backfired.
The two individuals in the relationship each have their separate journey of personal growth and evolution. Sometimes those journeys are no longer in alignment with the flow of the relationship. People change their minds. Maybe they want different things. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution. The only way to really come to resolve is to find ways to nurture yourself personally AND to nurture the needs marriage. The other possible outcome is that you nurture one of those areas, personal or relationship, and risk the other area becoming deficient because it is not getting the nourishment it needs.
Find a Trusted and Credible Outside Resource: One of the things I admire about their union is that Bo and Dre invested in couples counseling. I personally believe that it’s beneficial to have a periodic visit to meet with someone (preferably a licensed therapist who specializes in marriage and family). We get tune-ups for our car and annual physicals for our bodies. Why not meet with someone every 6 months just to get an outside perspective on the real and potential challenges, even if those challenges don’t seem detrimental.
Almost every couple that I know didn’t just suddenly wake up one morning and have issues with each other. It was a slow build over weeks….months…sometimes years. Talk therapy can be a great way to get ahead of some of those challenges and nip them in the bud before they become overwhelming.
If counseling is not an option, find another trusted couple who have a strong and long union and ask if they can mentor, guide and advise you through the highs and lows of your union.
The Kids Are Not Alright: One of the things that made me cringe was the fact that Bo and Dre were so caught up in their spats and arguments that they underestimated the impact that the friction had on the children. Each of them acted out in their own way as a result of their parent’s marital woes. Although I understand the need to protect children, pretending that everything is fine leaves them to form their own story about what’s happening and how their lives might be turned upside down. Separation and divorce have a huge impact on children, but the damage could be minimized with clear communication and reinforcing the love and reassurance. Of course, counseling can also be a great resource in helping children heal from the trauma.
Much later in the show, grandparents Ruby and Pops, talked to the kids to explain that the situation is not their fault, their parents love them and that they will still be a family, no matter what. Bo and Dre should have had that conversation way earlier.
In the end, Dre and Bo reconciled. A sudden death in the family was the catalyst that put things in perspective and initiated their return to love. Although their challenges didn’t automatically fade away, they decided to recommit themselves to doing the work to make their marriage strong.