How long have you been married?
Will and Shyretta: One year.
How did you guys meet?
Will: In undergraduate school at Ole Miss through a mutual friend. He was dating her roommate so it was a blind date for us.
Shyretta: We met at a college step show. Will always stayed in touch and found me about 10 years later.
What were your first impressions of each other?
Will: Very intelligent, attractive, and classy
Shyretta: I thought Will was funny, sincere, genuine and a gentleman.
What made you want to get married?
Will: I know that she will be a good mother to our children one day. Also, honestly as a man she is like my trophy. Having her by my side really makes me look good. Very good! Lol
Shyretta: I always felt like my dad was the best man I ever knew. Every time I thought about Will, I felt like he was the best man I ever met. He loved God more than anyone and put his family first. Those were the values that I witnessed in my parents’ marriage so marriage was a natural desire for me.
How did he propose?
Shyretta: Will tells the story better but it was one of the most amazing days of my life. I still get speechless and tear up thinking about it. We were on the rooftop at Peabody hotel in Memphis, TN. We had strawberries and wine with a live violinist.
How does your faith play into your marriage?
Will: Very big. It was one of the main reasons why I was attracted to her. Having a similar religious background makes it easier to worship together regardless of what religion; but we are Christians.
Shyretta: Our relationship with God and overall faith is extremely important. In fact, it’s the most important factor in our marriage. Learning to love God teaches me how to love my husband. We believe that marriage was created and designed by God.
Do you have any marriage survival tips?
Will: Pray. Learn your wife. Communicate effectively so that you both understand. Always show your wife that she is important to you. Always always always as a man find things that make your wife attractive to you (hands, smile, feet, how she cooks, smells etc). It has to be something intimate and special because naturally any man can be attracted to the opposite sex.
Shyretta: Pick and choose your battles. Maintain balance. Create boundaries. You have to approach marriage with as much passion as you approach any other life desires and remember it’s not about the amount but just consistency.
How do you keep the fire burning in your relationship?
Will: Give gifts once a month (flowers, candy, cards etc). Do date days or nights. Talk sexy to each other!
Shyretta: Think about the beginning of your dating days. I try to think about how I looked and what I thought, what would I have done or how attracted I was to him. I think about how special I tried to make things or how I would take extra time to get ready. Obviously you can’t do this every minute of the day. The beauty of marriage is learning to love someone during times of stress, life issues, hair rollers and house coats etc.
Is there anything you would do differently looking back on your marriage?
Will: I would change the date we got married! I had to leave two days after I got married to come to a new duty station so for almost a whole year being newlyweds we were apart. We still haven’t had our honeymoon. 🙁
Shyretta: I guess we are so new there aren’t many things I can look back on yet but I would say more communication. Sometimes it’s easy to think your spouse knows who you are or what you are thinking.
Why do you think African Americans have the lowest marriage rate, but the largest divorce rate?
Will: There are a few reasons. No one has taught us about marriage. Some black women have a hard time being submissive because they have been independent so long that they give up on a man too fast. Black men don’t know responsibility or really just don’t want to grow up. We tend to repeat the same cycles as our families and it leads to divorce.
Shyretta: We learn by what we observe. Unfortunately, many of us don’t get to observe strong marriages or how to be husbands and wives. Sadly divorce rates are rising across the board and within our communities there are even fewer positive views of marriage. We don’t address the unique challenges that plague African American marriages. I don’t believe in excuses but we don’t really take time the address these lingering issues which are the result of struggles and historical past of slavery and racism in this country.
If you were giving advice to a couple who wanted to get married, what would you say?
Will: Know what you want! Be honest with yourself as well as your future wife. To the man be prepared to be a leader and provider and to the woman be a good partner for him. Team work is important! COMMUNICATE!!!
Shyretta: You can never be too prepared. Once you are engaged I would recommend pre-marital counseling and continue counseling or participate in other retreats throughout the marriage. Don’t wait for issues to come up. Wives have to learn to respect their husbands and husbands have to learn how to love their wives.
What does marriage mean to you?
Will: Partnership and commitment. God’s favor on a man’s life. Responsibility, maturity, love, friendship!
Shyretta: Marriage is the foundation of family. Marriage is learning: learning to love to grow to sacrifice. It’s the hardest thing you can ever do but the most rewarding. We just started our journey so I’m guessing we will spend a life time defining marriage.