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Making It Work: Urban Housecall Creators Karla & Robert Robinson On How to Keep Your Marriage Healthy

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Drs Robert and Karla Robinson
Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Robinsons

Husband and wife team, Dr. Robert C. Robinson III, MD and Dr. Karla L. Robinson, MD are trying to change the world – and they’re starting right in their own communities.

Recognizing the need to empower the community to become more active participants in their healthcare, the Robinsons established Urban Housecall Magazine, an online health and wellness magazine with health information most pressing for men, women and children in urban communities. The launch of their nationally syndicated Urban Housecall Radio Show soon followed. The couple broadcasts live weekly from Charlotte, their hometown. We caught up with the happily-married power couple, who met in undergrad at Xavier University and have three beautiful children together, to find out what advice they would prescribe for newlyweds looking to build a lasting marriage.

ESSENCE.COM: How did your love story begin?
ROBERT ROBINSON: We met in our philosophy class at Xavier, and interestingly enough, I think we both had very opposing philosophical views, and in some respect, that’s what attracted us to one another. I think we recognized the strengths the other had. We had a chance meeting. I say chance, but it wasn’t really chance. It was God. We had a chance meeting at church, and the rest is history.

ESSENCE.COM: What ate your biggest strengths as a couple?
KARLA ROBINSON: Our foundation in the church and in the word of God…that’s always been the foundation of our entire friendship, in our relationship and ultimately in our marriage. Even now, we’re very involved and active in ministry in addition to all of the other things we do, and that’s the common thread that keeps us going.
ROBERT: In the areas that I’m weak, my wife is strong, and in the areas she’s weak, I’m strong. It’s the perfect marriage on so many levels—not just as it relates to our union as husband and wife, but how it lends itself to us working together as parents, as business partners and as clinicians.

ESSENCE.com: Has working as business partners made your marriage stronger?
ROBERT: I definitely think it’s helped to strengthen our relationship. Thirteen years later, I could never imagine not being with another physician because having similar experiences helps us to understand what we each go through on a day to day basis. When my wife comes home and says, ‘I’ve had a really challenging day because…’, I can completely understand.
KARLA: At the very least, we have very interesting dinnertime conversations.

ESSENCE: Do you feel like the dinnertime conversations are one of your secrets to happiness?
KARLA: Absolutely. I don’t know if this just happened over time because we’ve been married for so long or not but we really think the same things. We respond the same way to a lot of different things. The secret to our relationship is that we have an unspoken set of communication because we’re always thinking the same thing. We don’t have to say what we’re thinking, and I think that helps.

ESSENCE.com: Sort of like a synergy, right?
KARLA: Absolutely. I think our daughter put it the best. She secretly believes that we are the same person. She’ll tell me a story when she gets home from school and I’ll have a certain response, and then my husband will come in a little while later and she’ll tell him the story and he’ll have the same response. We find it funny.
ROBERT: The same line of questions and everything!

ESSENCE.com: What advice what you offer to newlyweds on how to have a healthy, happy marriage?
KARLA: The best thing you can do is really get to know your partner. This is something I think is very underestimated. Oftentimes, people assume they know one another because they’ve dated, but really get to know their intimate goals and desires. What does your future together really look like? Really having those tough conversations before you get married is key because you want to make sure that the goals, dreams and aspirations line up. We are both very entrepreneurship minded and very service minded. We both love giving back to the community and I think it would be very challenging to have a partner who didn’t have that same drive and passion. I don’t think they would be able to handle the type of demands that we have as we give back so much of ourselves. Really getting to know your partner is the best prescription for success.

ROBERT: I would just add, especially for the guys, be open to and be open in communication. I think so often as men we are not the greatest communicators. We put on our blank faces and pretend we’re listening but we’re really not. You really have to listen to and effectively communicate with your partner to have a good appreciation of who they are, what drives them and what their ambitions and goals really are. When getting to know your spouse, be open to and respectful to the idea that what you know about them prior to the marriage will change overtime, so be willing to accept that and know that you’re in it for the long hall, no matter what changes.

KARLA: I like that. Growth definitely does happen and that’s something you have to know in the beginning. It’s a good thing. You have to grow together to be careful that you don’t grow apart.

ESSENCE.com: What are some of the bigger obstacles you’ve had to face together as husband and wife?
KARLA: For us, it’s really been finding balance. We do give so much of ourselves to the community and our service as healthcare providers. Finding a balance has been a challenge. We have three kids, so it’s something that we have struggled with at times, and it’s something that we have to be intentional about. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself stretched way too thin and your partner can end up being the last thing on the totem pole and feeling neglected. We struggle with this mainly because of our lifestyle and our hearts—we want to give so much, so we, in turn, are pulled upon quite a bit.

ROBERT: It’s a constant work in progress and we are continually working on it.

ESSENCE: What does a date night look like between two successful doctors?
KARLA: A date night would probably be a movie and dinner if we can get away from the kids for a bit. Our dinnertime conversation involves things that most people probably wouldn’t want to hear over their meals.

ROBERT: Date night has not really changed a great deal from when we first started dating. We were on a different kind of budget, but it was still surrounded by dinner and a movie. The movie might have been a bootleg DVD that we had acquired somewhere and it may not have been the highest-class dinner, but it’s still something we enjoy together. Again, I think that really just speaks to our union, our bond and how in harmony we are.

Learn more about the amazing work The Robinsons do over at UrbanHousecallMagazine.com.

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