Egypt Sherrod, LeToya Luckett, Erica Campbell, Jessica Burns, and Ashley Chea sit down with Codie Elaine Oliver to have a straight up conversation about wife life.
“Shoutout to trying to figure it out!” Jessica Burns declared.
And let the Black Love Summit Wives Panel begin. Packed with wives from the Black Love series, and to the soundtrack of season 3 wife LeToya Luckett’s newest single, the ladies prepared to speak candidly on the pressures of being a wife and mother. Ashley Chea, Egypt Sherrod, Jessica Burns, Erica Campbell, and LeToya Luckett sat down with Black Love series co-creator Codie Elaine Oliver to have a straight up talk, and the truth it is not always as pretty as it appears.
“It’s a beautiful struggle so far, and I’m trying not to go crazy.”
Jessica Burns shared that being a wife, mother, and career woman is no small feat, and she is no expert on how to tackle it all. The rest of the wives agreed.
“When you’re a woman, you just automatically take over,” says season one’s Ashley Chea of the feeling that the responsibility lies solely on women to “make sure we’re the perfect mother, make sure we’re the perfect wife.”
“If you have a career on top of that, forget about it!” LeToya Luckett says of her new life as a wife and mom. “It’s a beautiful struggle so far, and I’m trying not to go crazy.” LeToya, who is featured in season three of the BLACK LOVE series along with her husband Tommi, has been married for a year and a half, and has a 6-month-old daughter and a 7-year-old bonus daughter (from Tommi’s previous marriage). But adding a new baby to the equation added a new dimension that LeToya is still getting used to. “We didn’t have time to simply enjoy each other,” she explained, adding that all of a sudden, ”I have a newborn, I’m breastfeeding, I’m leaking through my shirt.”
She praised the friend who came to her aid with a simple question: “How can I serve your family?”
It really does take a village — not only to raise a child, but to keep a mom sane.
According to the wives, it really does take a village — not only to raise a child, but to keep a mom sane. Each of the ladies shared a personal story of the help they received just so they could be present on the Black Love Summit stage. Egypt, who is featured in season three of the BLACK LOVE series, says that the moment things wrap up, she will “have to high tail it out of here” to relieve her nanny who she dare not take for granted.
Ashley said her mom was the only one she would trust with her children, and LeToya boasted that her mom was in Dallas watching her kids right at the moment. And, after the Summit, she’s taking advantage of the opportunity and going on her first vacation since the birth of her daughter. It was clear that outside care in the form of grandparents, sisters, friends, and hired professionals was an essential part of maintaining their flow, but what about the husbands?
“My husband wanted to help,” says Erica. At first she wouldn’t let him even just take their newborn to feed her. Erica’s mother had to intercede saying, “If you do every single thing, he’s going to get used to not doing anything.” In addition, Erica realized, “I needed to allow him bonding time as well!”
“Our husbands are not mind readers,” Jessica stressed, highlighting a wife’s need to communicate her needs in the same way that wives expect their husbands to do for them. Like when Erica talks of her husband Warryn’s statement: “Just for the record, I want sex everyday!” Though that may seem a laughable statement, Erica says him speaking up comes in handy when she is thinking, “It’s just a sleep night tonight!”
As the subject moved to sex, Ashley, who appeared in season one of the Black Love series, led with a reveal that since last year’s summit declaration that she and her husband “have sex everyday,” this year “it’s not true anymore.” She spoke about having her first child at 24 and the difference now having had her 3rd at 32. But, of the sex life she and her husband does have, she says, for her a really good sex life includes a lot of communication.
Erica agreed, adding that communication can be sexy.
“Sex doesn’t start when I walk in the bedroom,” Erica said stressing the point of foreplay in the form of text messages, pictures, etc.
Egypt’s advice: “You have to date your husband. Flirt with your Husband!”
She “lived in sin deliciously” for six years with her now husband DJ Fadelf. “We were literally rabbits,” she said boasting of a closet decked with wigs and outfits for a variety of personalities in the boudoir. “I could swing from the chandelier!”
But, sometime after giving birth, things took a turn, and her husband admitted to being unhappy saying, “We don’t have sex anymore. What happened?”
Egypt’s response to him was, “I don’t feel sexy!”
“I had to fix myself.”
Not being comfortable with her sexuality became a thing in Egypt’s marriage. She was “trying to figure out who I am sexually.” With all the changesshe “was depressed for two whole years.” She confessed that they aren’t completely out of that place, but then looked into the crowd and asked her husband, who was in the audience, “We are doing good, right?” before saying, “We had to find ourselves again.”
She admits that when they first started dating she “was carrying so much baggage!” She says of being married at age 35, “I had kissed a lot of frogs.”Blessings were on the horizon but she was blocking them. She realized, “I had to fix myself.”
Egypt acknowledged it was her husband that saw her beyond the baggage and was willing to wait. “He was a lot further emotionally than I was and realized that I just had to catch up.” He was married previously and had matured from the experience. He knew what he wanted and had done the work.
“You were depressed. You weren’t happy,” Erica, who appeared in season one of the Black Love series, said. Erica shared it was her husband, Warryn, who first recognized her postpartum depression. She said of her daughter, “I don’t remember looking in her face and seeing her until she was three months…I was so nervous about being a good mom, I didn’t relax into just loving her.”
And along with the nerves over being a new mom, Erica spoke of her weight gain over the years — from a size 4 to 16 — and the beauty of her husband’s support. “The patience he had for me was just amazing because there are always four women’s clothes in my closet!” But while she may have been feeling unsexy, her husband loved it all. “He liked me whether I was juicy or skinny,” she added, laughing, “He actually says he loved the diversity I gave him.”
“I seriously don’t think the men understand what our bodies take on when we are giving birth.”
“I seriously don’t think the men understand what our bodies take on when we are giving birth.” LeToya said of the changes in her body before and after pregnancy. “You just don’t look the same. You’re just swollen!” She spoke of feeling that there were new situations going on that seemed invisible to her husband. There were times she would want to scream at him after one of his requests, “Are you crazy? Do you not see this baby attached to my nipple right now? Did you just say that?” But the women realized that sometimes they could lay off and be realistic. LeToya urges others to “understand that he is not going to get it all the time.”
She admits to having moments of doubt and unhealthy thoughts about her body. In those moments she advises, “Sit in the mirror and pump yourself back up again.” If you can’t breastfeed it’s okay.“Take that moment and be still and have some appreciation.”
“Get yourself off the sale rack. Put yourself in a glass case with all the valuables! You are not for clearance!”
The ladies concluded with advice for their daughters and things they learned as single women who aspired to be married. Egypt’s encouragement: “Get yourself off the sale rack. Put yourself in a glass case with all the valuables! You are not for clearance!” Then, continuing on with the real talk, she stressed to “recognize your work if you want someone in the glass case too!”
“Off the rack,” LeToya agreed. “That’s not for me. I want something custom!”
She talked of her days as a single woman and being prayerful. After years of picking the wrong partner, LeToya reasoned, “Alright, Lord, I can’t pick for me. I do a terrible job.” In her conversations with God she promised,“I’m gonna get out the way, I’m gonna get out the driver’s seat, I’m gonna get in the trunk!“
“How can we can manifest the man you need when you’re not even the woman you need to be?” Egypt asks. She expanded, testifying, “I wish I had someone to tell me, we can manifest the lives that we want by the actions that we take!”
“We have power within ourselves,” Jessica encourages. “Love yourself!… [Value] you first.“ Jessica shared how can we start to achieve this on a deeper level: “Tell your self affirmations on how beautiful you are…do that for yourself!” She says it’s not about doing it for your husband. It’s all about you!
“We can manifest the lives that we want by the actions that we take!”
Because, all the women agreed, wifehood and motherhood, they all impact womanhood — their personal evolution. This personal growth, through being a wife, through being a mother, was a learning experience, and they needed to give themselves space to learn, space to grow. And, they needed to give their husbands the same.
With that the panel was complete, but the opportunity to learn more about these women and their journey as a wife is not. Catch Egypt Sherrod and her husband DJ Fadelf, and LeToya Luckett and her husband Tommicus “Tommi” Walker on season three of the BLACK LOVE series, premiering this Saturday, August 10th on OWN. And catch Erica & Warryn Campbell and Ashley & Bryan Chea on season one of the Black Love series, airing on OWN and the Urban Network.