For the last decade, communities around the country have celebrated the beauty of Black love on Black Marriage Day. As the holiday prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary, on Sunday, March 17th, founder Nisa Muhammad opens up about shining the spotlight on healthy relationships while keeping her own marriage strong.

ESSENCE.COM: Congrats on a decade of Black Marriage Day. What have you witnessed since starting the holiday?
NISA MUHAMMAD: Since I started Black Marriage Day in 2003, I’ve met thousands of wonderful couples around the country that defy the stereotype of marriage being weak or unstable in the Black community. I see marriage evolving to be stronger, healthier and having more support for couples that want a lasting marriage. Today there are many resources available and more marriages are being saved as well as being strengthened because couples see the hope and promise of wedded bliss.

ESSENCE.COM: So what has been most surprising to discover about relationships during your travels?
MUHAMMAD: As I’ve spoken around the world, what surprised me is the number of Black men who were seeking help for their marriages. We typically think of women as the ones seeking help to save their marriage but I’ve met so many men who want the same thing. I’ve talked with men from Los Angeles to Wichita to St. Thomas to Manila who want nothing more than to be great husbands and dads. That was a welcome surprise.

ESSENCE.COM: From seeing so many couples, what is the secret sauce that keeps a relationship solid?
MUHAMMAD: The secret is making the commitment to love, honor and cherish your spouse. Not just when things are good but to do the same when things are not good. If your car breaks down we take it to the mechanic. What do we do with our marriage or relationship when it breaks down? Usually nothing. We take driver’s education so we drive safe and can avoid wrecks. What do we do to have safe relationships and avoid wrecking someone’s life or even wrecking our own life?  Usually nothing. Couples have to seek out resources to strengthen their most important relationship.

ESSENCE.COM: How has coaching couples through your organization Wedded Bliss impacted your own relationship?
MUHAMMAD: Working with couples has significantly impacted our marriage. It has helped tremendously. The same things I teach the couples, I implement with Abdul Jalil. I definitely practice what I preach. Sometimes I try things with him to see if they work just to make sure I’m teaching effective strategies to my couples and he gives great feedback.

ESSENCE.COM: What habits have been most effective in keeping your marriage strong?
MUHAMMAD: Abdul Jalil and I have an incredible marriage and are blessed to be best friends. Patience is an overarching theme of our marriage. We give each other the best we have to offer and always give one another the benefit of the doubt. It has been most effective for us to know that divorce is not an option. We work everyday to make our marriage amazing. There is a great big world around us with all kinds of challenges like finances, but we don’t let exterior forces interfere with our happiness. Every marriage requires time and attention. My husband says that we have a great love life, which is crucial for a marriage. Physical intimacy re-energizes a marriage. Men are also affirmed by their ability to make their wives happy. We’re not perfect but we’re perfect for each other.

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