Love was in the air today at the virtual 2020 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture, where celebrity couples joined ESSENCE Relationships Director Charli Penn for intimate discussions on the power and strength of Black love.
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One of those happy couples was gospel star Kirk Franklin and his wife of 24 years, mentor and motivational speaker Tammy Franklin, who opened up about how their love has sustained and grown over the last two decades. When asked how they make it work, they were clear that it takes just that for couples to succeed—hard work and dedication.
“Marriage takes work and we’re getting to 25 years because we’ve put in the work and we’ve continued to put in the work,” explains Tammy. “And I think that we need to let people know that it’s work. It’s amazing, but it does take work. I mean we are advocates of counseling, and good communication and talking things out. It hasn’t always been easy. And even now, there are times where it’s not easy.”
For her husband, it’s about faith and how he views the foundations of love.
“For me, everything flows through my faith,” Kirk explains. “My faith for me is more than just the music that I do; it’s how I subscribe my entire life to. So, as a believer, as a person who defines themselves as a follower of Jesus, I understand that love is more than a feeling. That love is a commandment. When the Bible says love ye one another, that’s not like an option. It’s not a buffet. Like, when we don’t love one another, whether its in relationships or human beings, then we’re not in alignment with God’s blessing over our life. And I think a lot of people always look for love to be an emotion, but love has to surpass the level of emotion and it has to be a commandment so that it’s something that you do even when you don’t feel like doing it.”
The award winning singer, 50, goes on to explain why he believes some couples’ relationships end.
“I think a lot of people don’t make it because when they fall out of love, they are having an emotional response to a decision that was made,” he explains. “A lot of people get divorced because they may have had a disagreement, they may have had an argument, or they may feel bored with one another. And, so that’s when the commandment to love has to kick in.”
It’s being loyal to that commitment to one another that has sustained their love, Franklin shares.
“When I’m obedient to the commitment, then the feeling catches up,” he adds. “I think people make feeling the engine, when the feeling [part] is supposed to be the caboose. It’s not supposed to be what drives the train. It’s supposed to be what’s at the end of the train. Commitment. Vows. A deeper spiritual authority over our lives. Those are the things that drive the train.”
Watch the full video above.