TV producer, writer and showrunner Mara Brock Akil definitely knows a thing or two about love and marriage.
She's been one of the masterminds behind some of our favorite Black girl magic-themed shows over the last 20 years, including Girlfriends, The Game and Being Mary Jane. Plus she's been mastering marriage with her husband of 19 years, director Salim Akil.
The couple has taken the gems they've learned building a successful marriage and partnership and made art out of their life together with the new OWN series, LOVE Is_, which is a scripted drama based on their love story.
On this week's episode of ESSENCE's Yes, Girl! podcast, Brock Akil, 48, opened up to ESSENCE editors and podcast hosts, Yolanda Sangweni and Charli Penn about how she and her husband make it work and keep things firey between them.
"The glue is we make--two answers--one, we make space for each other's individual selves," seh said. "Salim often says, 'we can't take ownership of each other.' When you realize you don't own someone, you show up every day to try to make sure they stay in your life. We realize that if you don't take ownership then what are you doing to keep that person engaged."
The Akils met in 1997 when they caught eyes at a coffee shop. A year later, they were walking down a street in California when they locked eyes once again and Salim successfully asked Mara on a date. From that night, the two never looked back. The couple tied the knot in 1999 and during their marriage welcomed two sons, Yasin and Nasir.
"We are deliberate in our love, even in our fights. Say he sleeps on the couch and I sleep in the bed...you walk down the stairs and you decide, am I going to be the first one to say, 'do you want some coffee? do you want some water?' You don't have to say 'I'm sorry' just yet, but you have to make some action, some deliberate action to please the other person. From sex to how to make up to how to hear and be present for one another."
In learning how to love and be loved, Brock Akil admits that it's taken some time, meditation and dedication to learn the language of forgiveness and it's been one of the pillars of strength in her and Salim's marriage.
"I have issue with saying sorry all the time but then there was a point in which I accepted--again, through prayer--when I was like 'God, come on. I'm saying sorry more than he is.' In my meditation, I [realized] it's powerful. You're the more powerful one to say sorry first. But we're conditioned in society as weak but no, it's powerful to be that vulnerable and that willing to save your relationship by saying, 'I'm sorry'."
Did you catch that word?