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Making It Work: How to Love Like Kids but Act Like Adults

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Jamillah and David Lamb Making It Work
Photo Credit: Kimberly Mufferi

Husband and wife team David and Jamillah Lamb wear a lot of hats. The self-described "best friends" juggle being mom and dad to their 4-year-old daughter with being co-creators of popular off-Broadway play Platanos y Collard Greens and co-authors of their first book, Perfect Combination: Seven Key Ingredients to Happily Living & Loving Together. The book weaves the Lambs' personal relationship tales with no-nonsense lessons on how to make a marriage work. They call it their recipe for love. Find out David and Jamilah's secret to keeping love fun and why you and your boo need to “lighten up!” Trust us, you’ll want to follow these steps.

ESSENCE: In your book you discuss how married couples should “love like kids but act like adults.” Tell us more!
DAVID LAMB: For us, “love like kids” means that as we get older, and we go through relationships from teenage to college years and then break up, we say, “Well, I’ll never be in love again.” And what you’re doing is building emotional fortresses around your heart to protect you from being hurt, but the reality is, what you think is protecting you is actually imprisoning your love and not making you able to give and receive love. So, for us, the solution is to get back in touch with the inner child who loved freely without fear of embarrassment or rejection and was completely open to loving.

JAMILLAH LAMB: For example, one of the ways that has really hit home for us is that our daughter, who just turned four, greets us with the most amazing happy and expressive show of love when we first come home. It’s incredible. She says, “I love you,” like a billion times a day.

DAVID: Adults come home from work and are watching TV and the person who they’re supposed to be in love with comes in the door and they’re like, “Eh.” You give them the “eh”-greeting. So, one of our tips is what we call “The Screaming Greeting.”

JAMILLAH: When the person comes through the door, instead of just saying “oh hey,” you run up to them and give them a big hug, really squeeze them, and give them a really big greeting. Every time you’re first seeing them for the day, you do this.

DAVID: What happens is it shakes off the blues and it makes you really want to see them. Before we had a kid, we thought our job was to teach them — and it still is! — but we’ve learned that it’s also to learn from them.

ESSENCE: How else can a couple love like they’re kids?
JAMILLAH: Keep yourselves young and do it together. Even before we had our daughter, we went to Disney World — we’d been married six years. Our friends were like, “Why aren’t you going to South Beach?” But, it can be fun to do more youthful things together.

DAVID: You don’t have to have kids to go to Disney. You can let the inner kid come out. A lot of times, as adults, we start fronting. We pretend we don’t like things that we really do. When Jamillah and I first met, she had no idea I liked comic books. But that’s part of the inner child in me — it keeps me young. She knows that now.

ESSENCE: What other methods have kept you feeling young?
DAVID: Spontaneous dating! We’ll go on dates on a whim or in an instant. If we have a meeting together, we might decide to go on a date before we go home. Or, we’ll plan surprise dates for each other. I surprised my wife once by taking her on a date to an ice skating rink. Neither of us had ever been ice-skating before and we were out there in the middle of the ice holding on to each other for dear life. It was such a nice, fun thing to discover and do together. One of the things we love about kids is that everything is new and they’re always discovering something. Your marriage should be like that.

Learn more about the Lamb’s new book here.

Photo: Kimberly Mufferi

Filed Under: Making It Work
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