Make It Last Forever: 3 Couples on Black Love
We asked different married folks to share how they keep their love bonds going strong.
We asked different married folks to share how they keep their love bonds going strong.
(The Root) -- Black love and marriage come in many different forms; the desire for a healthy, successful union is universal. This Valentine's Day, three married couples from all walks of life talk to The Root and put love into perspective, share the special quirks of their relationships and reveal how they keep pressing on the path to forever. While what works for some couples may not work for all, the importance of nurturing and maintaining the bonding agent in a marriage remains the same.
Tory and Michelle McAlisterCourtesy of Stacy-Ann Ellis
Began dating: Feb. 16, 2009; married: July 28, 2012
Tory and Michelle McAlister began dating their freshman year at Howard University. Despite some objections from others, Tory, a mechanical engineer, and Michelle, a marketing brand manager, wed three years later with no doubts and currently live in New Jersey.
On keeping God first:
Tory McAlister: You couldn't start your relationship without first knowing God and deciding to put Him first above all things. It's His love that binds you two together. You can't love someone the way that you need to in a marriage unless you have His love flowing through you.
Michelle McAlister: God's relationship with Christ and Jesus in relation to us is the example for marriage. That's the example we're supposed to follow. I don't know why I would follow anything else, or listen to anybody else when it comes to my marriage other than the person who created it in the first place.
On keeping things romantic now and 40 years from now:
MM: It's the little things that keep stuff romantic. I don't need a big romantic gesture. When I come home, Tory does a sink full of dishes for me so I don't have to do it. He only did it because he knows I hate doing it. Also, part of the fun is going to be able to grow up together. We'll have a lot of firsts together.
On combating doubters:
MM: I can't take it to heart. People automatically think we're too young to get married, we're too immature, we don't know enough about life. Seeing something like me and Tory is such a shocker, and actually, we like being that shocker. We like being the devil's advocate for people getting married young to prove that you can do it. There are people 20 years older than us who are married who shouldn't be. Age has nothing to do with it.
TM: You just don't let it affect you. Just rebuke all that. If you know what you want to do and you're committed to doing it, especially when it comes to loving someone, you're going to do it regardless of what anyone says.
MM: As soon as you start listening to what other people have to say about your marriage, you're already setting yourself up for failure. A marriage is between two people and God, not two people and your mom, your sister and your best friend.
On love lasting forever:
TM: When you really love someone, you don't love them because they did something or because they're a certain way. You just love them because you love them. You can't say that you love someone one day, and then you don't love them the next day. It just doesn't work that way.
MM: There are days I tell Tory, "I don't like you right now, leave me alone." But we still get off the phone and say, "I love you," because that's never going to change.
Danielle and Aisha Moodie-MillsDerrick Davis/The Root
Began dating: Feb. 22, 2004; married: August 7, 2010
Washington, D.C.- based pair Danielle and Aisha Moodie-Mills triple as each other's best friend, cheerleader and soulmate. Danielle, an environmental lobbyist, and Aisha, an LGBT policy advisor, have both been honorees on The Root 100 list.
On conflict resolution:
Danielle Moodie-Mills: I wouldn't phrase it as conflict resolution; I would phrase it as communication. Communication and respect is what leads us to be able to have successful resolution of any issues that arise.
Aisha Moodie-Mills: Eighty percent of what makes the relationship work is a real strong commitment to always being on each other's side. When you can do that and can realize that even when you're disagreeing about something, the intention behind it is not to personally attack, then you can get on the same page, and see each other's point of view.
On supporting each other:
AMM: For the work that we do, even if it's at our separate jobs -- because we have a lot of jobs that we work on together -- we are each other's biggest cheerleaders and biggest advisers. We're equally invested in each other's lives, work and, quite frankly, each other's success.
DMM: The best advice that we often give to other couples whether they're married or not, straight or gay, is a mutual respect and investment in each other's separate lives. Oftentimes we would be out and ask somebody, "What does your partner do for a living?" They joke it off, and shrug their shoulders and say, "I have no idea. You'll have to ask them." Even though it's said in jest, what you're saying is that you really only care about them when they're in front of you, and what they do on their time is their time. Aisha would be able to eloquently say from top to bottom what it is that I do. And it's the same with her.
On the importance of friendship and similar personal goals:
AMM: I think there's something very interesting about a relationship where your partner is not your best friend and your confidant. Those relationships, we've learned, have been the weakest. Danielle is my best friend, and she will always be the first go-to person. I can't imagine having compartmentalized our dynamic away from other things I'm doing. We spend lots of time really sharing our hopes and dreams and talk a lot about who we aspire to be and who we want to be as a couple. We feel like we individually, but more so collectively, have a purpose and an impact in this world.
On poor examples of love:
DMM: Reality TV is the perfect example, although it's to the extreme measure, of what couples do wrong. They sit around with their friends and go into the most innermost intimate details of their relationship and allow their friends the ability to cast ballots on whether or not they're doing something right or wrong. They allow their friends to become emotionally engaged and invested in their one-on-one relationship with somebody else. Our relationship and how we present ourselves in the world are not really up for anyone's debate or commentary.
Rev. Patrick and Pansy PerrinCourtesy of Ayodeji Perrin
Began dating: in 1965; married: July 29, 1972
The pastor and the social worker, both born and raised on the island of Jamaica, boast 40 years of marriage anchored by the strength of their faith. Even after many years, watching their four children grow up and transition into families of their own, their love for each other increases with each passing day.
On dealing with small conflicts:
Rev. Patrick Perrin: We do what the Bible says: Never let the sun set on your anger. Before we go to bed, if there's anything that's bothering, or if there's any conflict, we talk about it. Anger is what they call the flipside of love. Some people think hate is, but anger is. Also, some people don't forget hurts, but you have to not keep a record of wrongs. Whatever happens, you let it pass, and you go on. If you love each other, you can solve problems because you know that you're not afraid to say what you have to say because you're not afraid to lose the other person.
On love getting stronger, not weaker, with time:
RPP: We went to the same school, same church, same university and so on. We were friends before we were lovers. That friendship turned into erotic love. Of course, marriage came along. The longer you're together, the love is not dependent on the physical. It becomes deeper even more spiritually. You have this sense of two souls that are just bonded together.
On seeking counseling if necessary:
RPP: Sometimes they need a third party, a neutral person to actually allow them to see themselves. Sometimes when they're face to face, they are unable to hear because the emotions are so high, and they can't see. When they can talk to a third person, that person begins to hear things that they didn't hear before, because they weren't listening. When they hear it being said to somebody, then they start to listen. That makes it easier to work things out. Because they begin to be objective as well.
On the eternal nature of love:
RPP: The way I define love means that there's no beginning or end in that. We just fall into it. It never ends, but relationships can end. Love itself is eternal.