Award-winning singer-songwriter and producer Anthony Hamilton and his wife Tarsha are the kind of couple you love to root for. They’re cut from the same cloth — both soul singers who belt out each note from the heart and cherish family first — and they’ve succeeded at life’s biggest balancing act: a happy, harmonious marriage.
The two met when she auditioned to sing background for him. She eventually got the gig — and his heart. Two years later, he proposed at her home church in Cleveland after getting permission from her siblings and pastor. (Swoon!) They’ll celebrate eight years of marriage this August, and today they are parents to two-year-old twin boys and an 11-month-old baby boy — making Hamilton the proud papa of six sons in total. With such passion for fatherhood and marriage, the Hamiltons were the perfect choice for inclusion in best-selling author Gil Robertson’s new anthology Where Did Our Love Go: Love and Relationships in the African American Community. In the book, they contribute their thoughts on the beauty of commitment and marriage — in her essay she shares her experiences as a new wife and mother, and in his he discusses the confidence and willingness it takes to truly make marriage work.
After reading them, we just had to check in with the happy couple for more inspiring words of wisdom. We caught the Mrs. at home in North Carolina while Hamilton phoned in from Alabama, where he has been recording a Christmas album.
ESSENCE.COM: You both talk alot about spirituality being the foundation in your marriage. How does it work for you?
ANTHONY HAMILTON: It’s a foundation for both of us to go to when we need that extra help or extra influence. There are always challenges and work to be done, even with that foundation but spirituality is a centerpiece for us. It’s a good centerpiece for our identity as husband and wife.
TARSHA MCMILLAN: When you stay connected to the spiritual side of things, it definitely helps to keep the relationship grounded. Our schedules conflict a lot so we don’t get to attend church together. That’s why it’s so important to us to have that relationship and that connection even outside of the church.
ESSENCE.COM: How do you find that time to be together? What’s your “quality time” like these days?
MCMILLAN: Kids! (Laughs.) They really make our lives together so comical and happy. We can be in a funk, just because we’re tired or sleep-deprived, and then the kids always break the ice. The twins are talking like crazy now. That’s when we giggle and laugh together. Even though it’s a lot of stress raising small kids, they really bring us so much joy.
HAMILTON: It’s been extremely hard to do that lately but when the kids giggle, we just have to giggle too. It’s when we bond.
ESSENCE.COM: Anthony, in your essay you describe confidence as the glue that can hold a marriage together. What other qualities do you feel make up a good husband or wife?
HAMILTON: Loyalty and honesty. If you can do that, I think it will be the best thing for the marriage. Being considerate, giving and understanding as well. All of those things really make the perfect husband or wife. If you don’t have the loyalty, it tears a marriage down and destroys a person’s character, too.
MCMILLAN: Sometimes when you expect too much from each other and then the other person fails, you feel like your whole world is crumbling. You can’t expect a person to be perfect or to be the moon and the stars. Marriage is just not going to be that. You have to be a whole person yourself first when you come into a marriage. When you’re married, the person can pull out the worst in you and the best in you. Expecting too much can really be a downfall. It’s really about working with what you’ve got.
HAMILTON: Yes! I think that sometimes we expect to get from our partner what we lack within ourselves. Don’t expect for me to be organized if you’re not or whatever else it is. Sometimes we put pressure on our partners to be what we’re not, and I think sometimes that’s a real disadvantage to the other person.
ESSENCE.COM: Tarsha, how do you feel about reading your essay now that it has been published?
MCMILLAN: I read the essay again today for the first time since I wrote it and it was like reading somebody else’s essay. It just amazes me how when you write these types of personal things, you feel like you get inspiration from God as well. The essay helped me all over again, even though I wrote it.
ESSENCE.COM: What do you feel newlyweds should focus on most at the start of their marriage?
HAMILTON: Being honest about who you are and where you are going. Be open about your struggles. It’s so important. If we fool one another, we fool ourselves. If you do that, you have a fair chance.
To read the Hamiltons’ essays and more amazing pieces from those who are single, married or divorced, pick up a copy of Gil Robertson’s new anthology Where Did Our Love Go: Love and Relationships in the African American Community.