Black love is absolutely beautiful in every shade, at every age and stage and in every form. It’s just that simple. How we love is about who we are, what we value and why we love our partners so fiercely and so deeply. It’s why we cherish our bonds, make vows to each other and proudly build upon these legacies of love. Falling in love ain’t easy and staying in love is even harder, but when we do (and oh do we!), the results are powerful and magnificently beautiful in every way.
On Valentine’s Day, with help from one of our favorite photographers, DC-based visual storyteller Dayo AKA Mr. Hype, of theARThype, we introduced you to eight beautiful couples who shared their moving love stories with us and even offered their own secrets to making love work.
This week, for the second part of this powerful series, we get to know seven more dynamic couples who beautifully embody the magic of Black love. These couples share how they met and fell in love and what makes their relationships work.
Get ready to be inspired once again.
Keith & Devin
Devin, 33, and Keith, 35 Status: Committed Relationship
Their Best Advice: Ladies, Keith suggests you let the man who loves you pursue you. “The woman's role is to make herself available but it is the man's job to pursue,” he says. “If this is done in this manner, the dynamic where the man honors, respects, and pursues the woman throughout the course of the relationship, naturally falls into place.” But don’t forget to open up, adds Devin. “Dive right in to those difficult but necessary conversations early and often,” she tells us. “It's never too soon to communicate what you want out of the relationship—your needs, wants, and expectations.”
Their Story: “We met on a night out in Baltimore. I was celebrating my friend's completion of her Masters degree, and he was in town (from Canada) visiting his cousin. Our groups bumped into each other outside of a club and we all decided to go to another club. He and I spent all night talking to each other and we agreed to go on a date before he left to go back to Canada. After our date, we would face time each other multiple times a day until I went to visit him in Canada 3 months later - that's when we officially got together. After a year of long distance, he came to the US full-time, we moved in together, and a year after that we were engaged! We have grown so much together and I love that there is always something new and exciting for us to look forward to!”
Zaria & Tamon
Their Best Advice: Remember To Date Each Other
After the honeymoon period wore off, and we were both busy with work, we had to step back and remember to prioritize each other. We try go on (intentional) dates at least once a week. Even if we stay at home, we put the phones away and just enjoy each other's company. Talk To Each Other
One thing that I have had to learn is to address problems as soon as they happen. Instead of letting things slide and allowing them to become bigger issues, keep it small, and address problems while they are small. Plan Your Future Together
Everything from your dream house to places you want to visit together. We found that we talk about the future more than we talk about the past and that keeps us excited about what's next in our lives and not what we've done in the past.
Their Story: Haythem and Danielle met in 2006 during the Miss Black and Gold Pageant at the University of Minnesota...it was not love at first sight. Danielle was attending college at Arizona State University and in town visiting family. They remained friends of friends for years, occasionally running into each other in Minneapolis when Danielle was home for the holidays. Then in 2013 her cousin Michael got engaged and as a wedding present she offered to pay for a wedding photographer. After a few calls to local friends Danielle was told WeAreGoodCompany offered the best wedding photography in the area and after a bit of research she realized, much to her surprise Haythem was the lead photographer there. They spent almost three hours on the phone catching up. Then as part of the negotiation process she asked if he would agree to shoot graduation photos for her cousin while she was in town, and he agreed. Danielle went to the shoot with her cousin and Haythem and Danielle ended up chatting the entire time. They continued to keep in touch more and more frequently and finally he asked if he could take her on a date when she was back in town for Thanksgiving. They have been inseparable ever since.
Their Best Advice: Arguing is Healthy
“Arguments can actually be an important way of communicating and can keep problems from festering. The key is to always fight fairly. Stay on the conflict at hand—don’t throw every argument you’ve ever had into this disagreement. And avoid saying things you don’t mean.” Be Kind:
“We tend to take advantage of those we love the most probably because we know they love us and we can get away with it. A happy spouse really means a happy life, but it needs to work both ways. Ask yourself ‘What can I do today to make my partner smile?’ and it will pay off tremendously.” Go To Bed Angry:
“Ditch the advice to never go to bed angry. It is ok to go to sleep in the middle of the disagreement. Honestly at a certain point no matter how well intentioned you are nothing is going to get accomplished when you’re tired, depleted, and frustrated. Get some rest and in the morning, you’ll have a fresh perspective to solve the problem and likely be a lot less grumpy. “
Their Story: “We met through a mutual friend during a summer night outing in 2012. By a twist of fate, we were both reluctant to go out that night, but ended up going anyway and crossing paths on our way back home,” says Tracy. “Jared was interning in DC that summer and I was working as a consultant for the federal government.”
“When we went on our first date, we decided to keep it fun and light by going for a run on the national mall. We instantly felt that there was a connection between us that couldn't be explained. From our very first touch, the energy between us was undeniable, [there was] a familiarity, as if our spirits said, ‘Where have you been?’ rather than a ‘nice to meet you’. Our chemistry has always been so natural and easy. Since the day we met, there's never been a question of our respect and love for one another.”
Their Best Advice: Adult With Love
“News flash: marriage is not an ongoing fairy tale. It takes work. Purposeful attention and intention work. As a blended family, we had to learn quickly that all of our plans and goals for our family would take a little extra effort because our son has two families. Learning how to adult in a blended family is not easy for many people. We definitely had our fair share of hiccups along the way, but we've learned to put our love for each other and our son first. Keeping the mindset of "adulting with love" has made this challenge non-existent after less than two years of marriage. It's become more of a blessing than an issue.
It’s What You Make It
“Life and relationships are all about what you make it. Set the tone early in your marriage and realize that you have something that no one else has. True love is about caring for the other person unconditionally regardless of the tough times. Keep the love and admiration you have for each other near and make it a priority to grow together.”
Their Story: “We met at an intersection while crossing the street,” says Krystal. “He was crossing from one side of the street and I was crossing from the opposite side. We locked eyes and once we got close enough, I said ‘I love it,’ referring to his royal African print attire. This was around midnight at a popular art event in DC called Art All Night."
Their Story: “Shawn and I met at his best friend Lindsay’s house during her father’s birthday cookout on July 4th. His best friend is a friend of my best friend, Jaimie. We exchanged a few words as I was leaving, but he tracked me down on Facebook and we quickly learned he worked across the street from where I lived at the time. We shared a summer together and then our new relationship turned long distance while he finished up his last year at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. He graduated and returned home. I finished my final year at the University of Maryland, College Park and quietly crossed the stage pregnant with our daughter in 2010. With so many transitions at once, our relationship suffered and we decided to co-parent. A few years later in 2012, Shawn nearly lost his life in a terrible accident where he was hit by a truck while riding his skateboard. After nearly two months in the hospital, he was released and further rehabilitated at home. We later married in 2014 and had our son in 2016.”
Their Best Advice: Don’t Have Expectations
“Don’t put unnecessary pressure on your marriage and your partner by expecting things you’ve heard a ‘wife’ or a ‘husband’ should or shouldn't do. Your marriage is your marriage and it has its own flow. Do what works for you and yours!”
“Pay attention to your mate. Learn and re-learn what they do and don’t like. Listen to their concerns and their cries despite how little or small it may seem to you.”
Be Honest + Transparent
“Just as you should be attentive to your mate, you want to allow your mate the chance to be that for you. Be honest + open with your feelings, even when what your saying isn’t sweet.”
“Life is happening outside of marriage. Life is happening beyond your union. Be patient with your partner and respect their space. Learn and respect each other’s boundaries and find balance in love and peace.”
Their Story: “Almost six years of being in a committed relationship, seven years of friendship and 18 months of wedding planning can all be traced to a single moment on Twitter. It started by pressing ‘follow’ and sending a ‘direct message’. Then came a romance that neither of us ever expected. The initial conversation was all about the uniqueness of two young men from the same city in Louisiana both moving to Washington D.C. (in the same month and year), but for different reasons. One of us moved to attend Howard University and the other to work on Capitol Hill for a senator. Although we didn’t know each other back home, knowing each other from that moment changed our lives. Starting with a friendship was very important because we learned about each other and spent quality time without forcing a relationship until we were ready. Our compatibility was noticeable and our connection was organic.”
“We have seen each other grow in so many ways over the years: as students pursuing degrees; as young professionals starting our careers (Darius as a Speech-Language Pathologist and Phillip as a Lobbyist) and as young men “coming out” to our families. We’ve seen friends come and go, opportunities seized, and the pains of being young Black gay men from the South. As seasons have come and gone, we’ve held onto each other to make every moment count. We continue to reside in Washington DC and have a lovely home and a wonderful dog named Jaxon.”
Their Love Story: They met on a blind date. Back in 2006, Daissan needed to find a date to her annual sorority’s holiday ball. She asked her friend to set her up. When the date bailed, Elvis showed up at the last minute. “We dated for six years before getting married in 2012 in D.C. We have since had two children, now ages 4 and 2. We are loving this season of our life. Before we were married, we pursued higher degrees, traveled, and partied. Now, our focus is on nurturing relationships with close friends and family and really enjoying one another.”
Their Best Advice: Be Committed to Your Marriage:
“Marriage, like any meaningful relationship, has its good days and bad days. During bad times, the covenant that we made with God and each other will be the reason we keep going. This covenant will sustain us while we are working through our interpersonal challenges.”
Pray For and With Each Other
“Over the years, we have learned that when we do this regularly, our lives improve. Praying out loud creates intimacy. We are building a deeper connection with each other and with God.”
“Always talk it out and respect each other’s perspective. Even if we do not agree, communicating with each other demonstrates our respect for our different thoughts and feelings.”
Date each other regularly
“Your relationship can quickly take a backseat to kids and careers if you are not intentional about prioritizing the foundation of it all. Keep the fire burning by setting aside mandatory date nights. We force ourselves to get way from kids, family and friends so we can reconnect.”
Their Love Story: “Our 16-year love affair started with a random group of mutual acquaintances deciding to play matchmakers. They were out having after work libations they called me to tell me that they had just met the perfect woman for me. After doing my best to blow them off, they finally convinced me to come out to see who they were talking about. At the same time, they were describing me to her. I don’t think either of us really believed them, but once I got out to their location, the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen came bouncing around the corner towards me. They introduced us and we both were love struck. To make things even crazier, we had the same name and similar life circumstances, both previously married with two children each. We dated for five years (one long distance) working on blending our families and we’ve been married now for 11 lovely years.”
The Art Hype
Shawn & Shawn
Their Best Advice:Understand You Are Different
You both come from different backgrounds, experiences and views on life. It’s important to realize and understand that the way you see things is just that.. one way. Just because your partner sees it differently doesn’t make either of you wrong. Learn to appreciate that even though you may see things differently, finding common ground is most important!
Be Open To Change
As your relationship moves on thru the years, the people that you were when you met changes over time. It’s important for both to be flexible enough to allow your partner their own personal growth and development within the relationship. Fostering and nurturing that growth can allow the bonds of love to deepen and the relationship to reach new heights!
Seek to Constantly Improve Conflict Management
Conflict happens in EVERY relationship.. that’s as sure as death and taxes! Learning to be able to have conflict without allowing it to devolve into a situation where damaging things are said or done is so important. The more you are able to manage this, the more you’ll find that you don’t fear having disagreements!
The Art Hype
Brendan & Chantal
Chantal, 24, and Brenden, 28 Status: Committed Relationship
The Art Hype
Brendan & Chantal
Their Story:“Chantal and I met as we crossed paths chasing our dreams of becoming models. We both were walking for the same designer. Waiting to go on stage the music couldn’t keep us still. I noticed her enjoying the music in light spirit as much as I was and before we knew it our energies filled the room. As Afro beat rhythms played in the background I made my move and asked her, her name and we shared laughs ever since. Later on that evening, we went on our first unofficial date, which happened to be by luck because we were both looking for the “after party” to the fashion show. Little did we know we were walking into a circular rotating dining area overlooking the city giving us the perfect romantic set up. It was not far after that I asked her to be my valentine and not far after that did I ask her to be my girlfriend. Till this day we are still happily pursuing our professional modeling careers. We have the blessing of being best friends, a support system for each other and lovers.”
The Art Hype
Brendan & Chantal
Their Best Advice:
“Never stop dating/pursuing each other. Often when the infatuation phase is over, we get comfortable and stop doing the things that we once did. For men it could be good morning texts, setting up secret surprise dates or for woman it could be dressing up for their man or surprising them at work with their favorite meal. Do things that make you all learn more about each other. Love is an everyday choice. Learn what makes them happy and have fun. Sometimes the simplest things like painting together, yoga or salsa dancing could honestly be the best way to create new memories to keel you talking for years.”
“Cherish! There are 7 billion people on this Earth and that person decided to wake up next to you. Love like it’s your last day everyday because Nothing is given. Answer this question, If they were to perish today, did you cherish them to your full potential? If it’s a yes, then great! If it’s a no, then what could you do different?”