There is a movie out now where a husband breaks his wife out of prison for a crime she didn’t commit. For me, that is the meaning of marriage. When you are willing to risk life and limb to do what your beloved needs you to do, then you are happily married. I don’t mean this in jest, and I offer these types of relationship advisements to my single and un-happily married friends. Your spouse is more than a paramour you seek in the midnight hour, because that fades; what is left is the friendship, the unbreakable bond that you have that requires that you risk the aforementioned life and limb, make calculated risks and do what it takes to honor your wedding vows.

It is not an easy task. Marriage is taking the good with the bad and the ups with the downs; the trick is to let the positive outweigh the negative, of which there will be enough. My advice: Marry your best friend. Romance fails. Love changes. Friendship endures all. Some of us do not know how to be a true friend, so we go through relationship after relationship blaming others for failure and infidelity. Many of us become fast friends, giving up the keys to the kingdom very early in the relationship and faulting others for taking advantage. What I am talking about takes time, and also an understanding of no matter how many years and decades you have been with a person, you still do not know everything about them.

I met my best friend some 17-18 years ago. I wasn’t looking for no love affair, as Erykah Badu sings so perfectly in “Certainly,” but because I was forced to slow down, go at her pace and create something from nothing, we successfully have created a family, a home, and memories no one can ever take from us. Sure, there have been periods – long, anxiety-ridden periods – where we did not seem to click. There have been tough times, bad mistakes, mistrust, infidelity, poverty and miscommunication – all of which are necessary to have a successful partnership. How can you know you have been successful without the taste of failure in your throat?

From this partnership sprang three children for whom we live and die for. Their names reflect our hopes and dreams for them and we have been with them and there for them throughout their lives. They enrich our lives by being our living legacies, carrying on our traditions and trials and triumphs. This is the meaning of life.

I always think about the 6,999,999,999 other people traversing the world as I search for meaning for my seemingly insignificant life. When looked at on the world scale, we can see that those around us, our personal circles and cyphers, give us meaning. I develop meaning looking into my children’s eyes as they bug me when I am researching my dissertation, or when they interrupt my nap to beg me for money, or food, or both. I am being facetious, but the mundane, the regular, the familiar are what makes each of us distinct and divergent.

Everything I do, from the degrees and credentials to the occupations and second and third jobs, is because of my family. It makes all the pain plausible and the down times irrelevant. Take today to appreciate your spouse, your children, family and close friends. Tomorrow is not promised and no person is immune from life happening. I am great because I have a great family that grounds me and keeps me steady during rocky times. So, when faced with the idea of breaking my wife and best friend out of prison so we can be together…I submit a resounding, “Yep, that’s what I would do!” How else do you think I can live without my best friend? Over 50% of people didn’t marry theirs; I’m rolling with mine until the wheels fall off!