How long have you been married?
Chuck and Denise: We will be married twenty-three years in November.
Where did you meet?
Chuck and Denise: We met at a bar in Wilmington Delaware.
What were your first impressions of each other?
Chuck: It was love at first sight. What impressed me was her smile. I could sense she had a ton of energy.
What made you want to get married?
Chuck: I was completely settled and dedicated to the relationship. I had a level of respect for myself that I never had before. Also, I was in the right frame of mind. I had a very good idea of what a healthy marriage should look like.
How did you propose?
Chuck: There was a sequence of events; signs and signals which led to the proposal. Call it destiny or fate. I spoke to my father. Then I spoke to her brother, because her father was deceased. I realized that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. After talking with them I spoke to her and asked her to marry me.
How does your faith play into your marriage?
Chuck & Denise: If you have enough faith to believe in something, then you are willing to take a chance. Without faith, I would be hesitant to be vulnerable and expose myself to her at that level. If you ever get to a point where you can’t believe, then you lose trust. You have to have blind faith and take risks to expose yourself and vulnerabilities to someone else- faith that they won’t take advantage and will see the positive.
Do you have any marriage survival tips?
Chuck and Denise: Keep it Simple. Love is great, but friendship is better. You have to capture the friendship. Friendship keeps it together.
How do you keep the fire burning in your relationship?
Chuck: Be extremely creative. Constantly give little things to let each other know you love and care about each other. Be spontaneous. Try different things. Be open minded. I also love to spend time with my sons and their spouses. It gives me the opportunity to see ourselves in them; reflect and get a fresh perspective.
Is there anything you would do differently looking back on your marriage?
Chuck: No. This is my third marriage. I knew what I had to do and was supposed to do. I had to have Ultimate respect for myself, her, and the relationship. These were the standards by which I had to operate.
Why do you think African Americans have the lowest marriage rate, but the largest divorce rate?
Chuck: Some [Black men] have no respect for themselves. No respect for their partner. No respect for the relationship.
If you were giving advice to a couple who wanted to get married, what would you say?
Chuck and Denise: We would ask them to consider: What type of friendship do you have? Do you enjoy spending time together; being silly? Are you intimate? What are your similarities and differences? Is your relationship designed to fit your needs, her needs and the relationship’s needs?
What does marriage mean to you?
Chuck and Denise: Partnership. Joint venture. Alliance. Friendship. Major investment with significant positive returns.