A 37-year-old attorney talks about how she supported her mate throughout his father’s illness and death. There’s so much talk about what it takes to get to marriage in the Black community that we’ve forgotten the most important discussion: what’s needed to sustain one.   I grew up in a household with married parents, but it wasn’t a perfect experience. Luckily, I was able to use past to help direct my future. I knew what type of man I wanted–someone who respected family, who I wouldn’t have to drag to church, but could also rock out at a salsa club or enjoy a Broadway play as much as a backyard BBQ–whew, yep, that’s it. I also believed that marriage was a partnership, and both had to be evenly yoked to work on building a comfortable future together. I found all of that in my husband. I feel lucky because he is truly an amazing man and I’m crazy about him. I can’t pinpoint the moment I fell in love with him, there are countless little things, like his laugh or passion for helping others. I do know that a trip we shared to Bermuda–I promise, it wasn’t the scenery–sealed my unyielding devotion to cultivating our relationship. God showed me what true love looked like and I made a promise to myself to cherish it.   Marriage is wonderful; especially when you’ve selected a mate for the right reasons. However, there are hardships. Watching my husband lose his father has been a travesty on many levels. I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from this experience is learning when and how to put your partner first. As the wife of a man trying to support his mother and siblings through such a tragedy, my role was simply to love, respect and support my mate. During my father-in-law’s illness I visited the hospital daily with my husband. For me it was paramount that he knew his wife would be willing to sacrifice her time and change her priorities for the family during a crisis. I needed to be there.   That said, I also gave their nuclear family space. I would leave the hospital room on occasion and often volunteered to do things, like food runs or help address the other needs of guests, to give them private time to bond and grieve. I did my best to be understanding of my husband’s changes as well, for example, the house isn’t coming first with so much on his plate. Or he may not even be able to address his own needs, such as eating properly or something as small as picking up his own dry cleaning. I tried to fill in the gaps because we are a team, and I know he wouldn’t hesitate to do the same for me. My father-in-law passed away on February 15th. My goal as a wife was do whatever I could to make that phenomenal loss a bit easier. I wanted my husband to know that I was willing to be there and be present, however he needed it. I know my feelings of loss are nothing in comparison to what he’s going through, so while we mourn together I understand that he needs space to be with his siblings and mom. It’s a lot to balance and consider, but it’s worth it. Almost seven years ago I fell head over heels for man who won me over with his personality, presence and kind spirit. He’s always there for me, so when things get tough for him I’ll do whatever it takes to ensure he knows “I’ve got this.” I will be there, for him and for us. Read More: