The happily married couples on successfully blending families and working through the hard stuff.
When two journalists tie the knot, you know one thing’s for sure: communication will not be a problem.
When entertainment and feature writer Leslie M. Gordon met her husband, popular broadcast journalist Ed Gordon, she wasn’t convinced she’d ever give marriage another try. Ed, who was also divorced at the time, was far more optimistic. He was covering the Disney Dreamer’s Academy with Steve Harvey and she was also working the event. “He saw me and followed me around Walt Disney World,” Leslie jokes. Ed says it was “kismet” for sure. “I definitely felt an attraction,” he adds. They hit it off famously and their children did too.
In best-selling author Gil Robertson’s new anthology Where Did Our Love Go: Love and Relationships in the African American Community, Leslie shares her thoughts on getting remarried, saying farewell to the single life (again!) and successfully blending families. We sat down with the happy couple, who are parents to Leslie's sons, Steven, 21, and Landon, 14, and Ed’s daughter, Taylor, 19 – all of whom were 100-percent onboard with their parents' decision to be together.
The Gordons are a glowing example of how a blended family can work for all involved and their success in love the second time around is truly an inspirational tale.
ESSENCE.COM: What made each other the perfect catch?
LESLIE GORDON: I think there was just an ease with which we worked with one another and communicated. We were very comfortable together and I personally felt a sense of closeness with Ed right away. Once our relationship developed, it just blossomed into love. He’s such a good partner to have and I fell very blessed.
ED GORDON: I’m not as deep as Leslie. (Laughs.) I wasn’t soured on marriage after my divorce. I think she maybe looked at that a little differently than I did. I never assumed that I wouldn’t be married again. I wasn’t out searching, but I didn’t think I wouldn’t be.
ESSENCE.COM: Leslie, in your essay, you touch on Ed’s traditional marriage values and your “duties” as a wife. What is finding that balance like for you two?
LESLIE: I really did respect and love that sort of sense of tradition that Ed stands for, his gravitas and the way he’s a very manly man. That was very attractive to me. I felt like I wanted to do everything I could to respect and honor that but to also respect and honor myself as a strong Black woman.
ED: That’s what confuses men sometimes and that’s the balance that we have to find. I know it may sound a little chauvinistic, but on one hand I do think men want to be the “head of the household,” and not dominant in that sense, but they do want the traditional sense of what men are “supposed to do.” I think women do like that to some degree, and we don’t ever know where the line starts and stops. But, you have to find that happy medium. Women are certainly assertive and dynamic and all of those things, so you have to find [a way that] makes everybody comfortable.
ESSENCE.COM: What is your secret for happiness within your marriage?
ED: I honestly think there is no "secret" roadmap to happiness in a marriage. I think it takes a constant kind of tweaking. It really has to do with believing that you want to make it work and then figuring out the things that will work for [you.] You need to find some commonalities that you both like, so that when the infatuation and the small talk are done, you [still] have something to gravitate towards. Whether it’s music, books, traveling, movies or whatever the case is, you just need to find those things.
LESLIE: For me, I think I had to kind of surrender to love. I already felt that I loved him, but I felt that with the sense of power and independence and all the things I developed as a professional woman over the years, I had to sort of take a step back and assess how to pull some of that into my marriage but also surrender and really embrace our relationship in a different way. I’m still very independent, but I also have developed a softness that came from trying to work through any of the issues in our marriage and really loving him.
ESSENCE.COM: You also mention communication being one of your strengths. What do you feel are your best communication tactics?
LESLIE: I would say, that Ed is much more of a, “let’s talk this issue out” or “let’s really work through this” and revisit it and make sure everybody’s comfortable person. But I’m more like, “Okay, babe, let’s talk about it, and then let’s move on.” Again, it’s about striking that balance. A lot of times, we’ll work through issues, but also try not to take things too seriously. When we’re revving up and getting upset about something, one of us might make a joke or smile or do something that diffuses what might have blown up to be something that’s more than it should have been.
ED: We had to learn to do that. If you’re in a second marriage, you hope you’ve learned from the first one. Some of the things are universal and some of them are unique to the individuals. If you’re arguing about certain things you have to deal with it because the next time it happens, if you don’t deal with it, you really can't move on. Always try to figure out how to get to what it really is. If you’re yelling about socks on the floor, or not putting the toilet seat down, it’s really something else, and you have to get to that. For us, and most couples, it’s a work in progress. Having done interviews and talking to people for as long as I have, I think the key is finding what works for that person. Some people you can ask directly, and some people you have to cajole and go around the corner and ask five questions before you get them comfortable enough to ask the hard ones. You have to know your mate.
LESLIE: You want to revisit when you both feel comfortable. Not when you’re stressed out or upset with each other.
ESSENCE.COM: You say your blended family “moves so well together.” What has worked best for you?
ED: If we had to look at our situation as the example, I couldn’t say it wasn’t easy. I think that is a real pat on the back for our kids. We really concerned ourselves with it, we thought about it and we talked to them about it. Then they looked at us like, you guys are sweating this far more than we are. I will say, from day one, once they knew we were getting married, they started acting as if they had been blood brother and sisters forever. I don’t want to minimize what it can be for other people, because it can be tricky, but I can only wish that people who blend families will deal with it the way our family has. Everybody just jumped onboard.
LESLIE: We have been so fortunate because our kids are very close and they’re just easy together. From day one, we said, “We’re not referring to each other as ‘step’ anything. We are brothers and sisters and dad and mom.” We really embraced the concept of a whole family. We take family time very seriously. Ed has been insistent upon having dinner together and having lots of family time, and that has worked very well for us.
To read Leslie’s essay and more amazing pieces from those who are single, married and divorced, pick up a copy of Gil Robertson’s new anthology Where Did Our Love Go: Love and Relationships in the African American Community.