Making It Work: Marriage and Kids Made Us Better

These days, it’s hard to discuss healthy Black marriages without thinking of the popular advice blog It’s the brainchild of happy couple and proud parents Lamar and Ronnie Tyler, who started the site with the hope of inspiring others to live their best married life. Their little blog quickly became a big deal for those who seek out other couple’s who have been there, done that, and are willing to share.

Today, the well-known parents of four, bloggers and documentary film producers are still devoted to bettering their marriage and helping others do the same. They’re an inspiration, and the perfect choice for a special holiday edition of Making It Work. Read on and get inspired – we sure did!

ESSENCE.COM: This Thanksgiving, what are you most thankful for about your marriage and your bond with one another?
LAMAR TYLER: I’m thankful for having a best friend in my wife and the massive amounts of support and encouragement that she has shown as we’ve built our family and our business together.

RONNIE TYLER: I am thankful for my perfectly imperfect husband and marriage. Sure, we have our moments when we are not so happy with each other, and we both make mistakes. But it feels good to know that no matter what happens, Lamar has my back and will love me through it.

ESSENCE.COM: What type of family holiday traditions do you share?
RONNIE: We’re trying to instill new traditions in our children so they’ll be able to reflect back during their adulthood. One thing we take part in is Operation Christmas Child where our kids are able to pack a shoebox full of low cost items for another child their age, who hasn’t been blessed with as much, in a different country. It makes them think of others and reflect on giving and not just receiving.

ESSENCE.COM: You’ve blogged about your marriage and taught others so much about making marriage work, but are you still learning yourselves?
LAMAR: I learned a lot from the process of making our latest film Still Standing. It showed me that no matter, couples can overcome the obstacles they face before them if they both are fully committed to making it work. Through communication breakdowns, blended families, financial troubles, and even infidelity, you can still make it work.

RONNIE: We’ve been talking a lot on the site about couple’s having compassion for each other and extending each other grace. We need to be able to love and forgive our spouses – even in the times that they don’t exactly deserve it. It has helped me to see how Lamar extends me grace on a regular basis because he loves me through the days that I am grouchy, frustrated and unreasonable.  And, I have also been reminded to be more loving, kind and considerate of him.

ESSENCE.COM: How would you define a healthy, happy marriage?
RONNIE: A healthy marriage involves two people that are putting in the work to keep each other happy and to keep the relationship happy.  To me, this requires sacrifice by putting your spouse’s needs before your own, and it involves investing in your marriage (think: date nights, marriage education and seminars, etc.), and it involves keeping God at the center.

ESSENCE.COM: When it comes to making your marriage work, what is your secret weapon?
LAMAR: Working as hard as I can to be there for my family and my wife. Working to let her know and feel that she is loved and taken care of, and also realizing that we still have a long way to go in our relationship so I strive to be a better husband year-by-year while understanding that neither of us are perfect.

RONNIE: My secret weapon is working on me. As long as I continue to work on myself, my marriage reaps the benefits. So I am constantly looking inward to see areas that need growth and improvement.

ESSENCE.COM: What do you look forward to conquering in your marriage in 2013?
LAMAR: Just continuing to grow together and to further the vision that we have for our family.

RONNIE: Each day is a new adventure with Lamar. I am looking forward to working together to achieve the goals that we have set for our family and business. Sometimes I think that I love this man so much and we are having so much fun together, it can’t get any better than this. But, each year surpasses the last as we experience growth in our relationship.