Shanté and Chris went from middle school best friends to a married power couple raising an autistic son – read how they found a love that lasts.
The last place any woman expects to meet her husband is in middle school, but that’s exactly where nursing student Shanté Harris-Superville found hers.
His name was Chris Superville and they became best friends back in 1992 at Buck Lodge Middle School in Adelphi, Maryland. “We talked on the phone every single day that summer, and we practically had every class together,” she recalls. “We’d always call each other while watching cartoons after school and then talk all evening.” When she went off to college, he would always come to campus parties with her and then crash in her dorm room. Throughout her childhood, Chris was always the person Shanté could confide, but she never knew he had a crush on her.
They remained close even when they both went Shanté got married and had a son, Dylan, who was diagnosed with autism when he was 2-years-old.
At age 22, Shanté was diagnosed with stage three Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and despite her best efforts, her marriage still began to fall apart. After she got divorced, she learned that Chris had recently broken off his engagement. He provided a shoulder for her to lean on and he had to confess – he told her that he’d always been in love with her. “God is amazing,” she insists. “He knew exactly what our plans were from the day we met.”
Shanté's cancer has been in remission for eleven years now. The happy couple recently celebrated their two-year anniversary and and started a non-profit organization called F.A.C.E (Facing Autism with Children Everywhere) to help raise awareness about how many children are diagnosed with autism each year.
We asked them how being the best of friends made them better lovers, what kind of love healed their pain and more.
ESSENCE.com: What’s it like being married to the girl of your dreams?
CHRIS SUPERVILLE: That's exactly how I would describe it. When I did get my chance, I took full advantage. I had some emotional baggage from my past, but I tried to use it as a learning tools and motivation. I thank God that my next girl was Shante and I got to put everything I learned into this relationship. I'm the happiest man in the world. For some reason, there's a negative perception of marriage. There's a lot of negativity out there, but everything for the last two years has been wonderful. I don't wish I had it any other way.
ESSENCE.com: With all you’ve been through, what was it like starting over with Chris?
SHANTÉ HARRIS-SUPERVILLE: I guess, to me, it wasn't really a start over because he had always been there. It wasn't like he was a new guy that I had to introduce my life to; he was always a part of it all. He was always that anchor, the one who relieved some of the baggage throughout the years. Going into the relationship, I did sort of have a trust issues, and I don't know why, because he never gave me any reason not to trust him. It was because of my ex. Chris had to make me see that this isn't just a random dude that you're dating, it’s Chris, and once he took those blinders off, I realized this is the same best friend I've always ha. He's going to hold me in the same regard and not hurt me.
ESSENCE.com: How did Chris handle Dylan’s diagnosis and your journey with him?
SHANTÉ: As far as Dylan being diagnosed with Autism, it was tough for Chris because he doesn't have kids. He was not only jumping into a relationship where he would play a father role, but it was also with a child who has special needs. That was the part I was most concerned about.
ESSENCE.com: It sounds like he’s a natural.
CHRIS: I try more and more every day.
ESSENCE.com: You two are adorable. What do you love most about marriage?
SHANTÉ: I like that we're still friends – the way we joke with each other when we're chilling, watching movies, or whatever. Sometimes when I'm with my friends, and I'm talking to him, I'll hang up and they'll be like. “Who was that?” Then, I'll be like “Chris!”' They'll say that he sounded like one of my buddies and I always says, “He is still my buddy.” We're so transparent with each other. We both have an open book policy and I love that about him. I love that my mom already knew him from when we were little, so we bypassed that whole meet-the-parents stage. Plus, the fact that he just took my son in like he's his. He doesn't even refer to him as his stepson. He'll talk to people and say 'my son' and that just melts my heart.
CHRIS: Our communication and our honesty. Getting to know her in a relationship was completely different from a friendship. We had to start all over, but it was so easy. I think being upfront and honest are some of the most important keys to happiness—that’s what I have in her and that's what she has in me.
ESSENCE.COM: Does Chris’ love inspire you?
SHANTÉ: I love that he didn't have any kids and jumped into a marriage that included raising a child with autism, because now he can be that voice for mom's or dad's who may be in that same situation and they don't know how to handle it.
ESSENCE.COM: What’s next for you?
SHANTÉ: Of course, he wants to have a little one. At first I was like, no way, I'm done. I already have one child with autism, who is seven already. I’m good. But, now I'm looking forward to completing our circle. I'm actually excited about it now and I never thought I would get there. Because of Dylan, I did started a non-profit organization for kids and families with autism. Chris is my number one supporter, of course. It’s nice to just have him by my side as we continue to spread awareness and reach our goals together.