Black love is alive and well and Lamar and Ronnie Tyler are spreading the message one blog post at a time. The happily married couple launched BlackAndMarriedWithKids.com in 2007 to celebrate the Black family, and the site quickly took off. ESSENCE.com caught up with the tech-savy duo and parents of four to get details on how they make their relationship work, the joy of a blended family and why the Obamas aren’t as rare as people think.
ESSENCE.com: Your site shines a positive light on the Black family. What was the motivation to start it?
LAMAR TYLER: It was a culmination of being bombarded with images in the media and conversations with our friends. I remember being at Ronnie’s parents’ house and one of her cousins announced that she was getting married and the people in the room were like, “Don’t do it.” It was such a negative outlook. One of Ronnie’s other cousins got married and people would say, “The first two years are going to be so hard, but I’m going to pray that you make it through.” Why do the first years have to be hard? We’re not perfect but I loved me and Ronnie’s first two years of marriage. We were also inspired by our President and First Lady and so many other couples. We wanted set up a platform that challenged the stereotype that successful Black families don’t exist.
ESSENCE.com: Yes, they definitely do. So what’s your story to wedded bliss?
LAMAR: We met through a mutual friend. At the time I was traveling and working on the road. Ronnie was living in Newport News, VA and I had to go there for work so we set up a date. We were in a long distance relationship for awhile, which I said I would never do but I met Ronnie and I guess that changed things.
RONNIE TYLER: We clicked immediately and had the same values and goals. We started seeing each other and I eventually introduced him to my kids and my family. Once everybody loved him, it was like, ‘This is it.’ We got married in 2005.
LAMAR: The first time I went down to meet the kids, Ronnie cooked for me and to try and win me over- this is the level she went to-she cooked but she had her mother try to sneak over some home-baked rolls. I guess she tried to act like she made them but her mother got over too late with them.
ESSENCE.com: Mother knows best. And it’s great to see your blended family thrive. How was it dating as a single mom, Ronnie, and Lamar do you think more men should be open to dating a woman with children?
LAMAR: Definitely. You don’t want to exclude anyone. She’s the love of my life, a great wife and she’s a great mother. I would’ve hated to have missed out and prejudged someone’s situation. Men, and women, have to look at the bigger picture.
RONNIE: Thanks Lamar. I knew that I was a good person, so if someone wanted to exclude me because I had kids, then they were going to miss out. I knew that I had a lot to offer to a relationship. You don’t want anyone who’s not 100% for you and your total package, which is your family.
ESSENCE.com: What advice would you give that has helped keep your family strong?
Lamar: Communication is the biggest thing—not only when you’re married but also before. Talk about your goals, religion, finances, children—because we were in a situation where Ronnie already had two children so we talked beforehand because I knew I wanted additional children. Together, we have four now. (laughs) They are 15, 7, 2 and our youngest is 1. Also, make sure you feel comfortable with yourself before you try to add somebody else to the equation.
Visit blackandmarriedwithkids.com for more discussions on the Black family.