How I Learned to be an All-Star Husband at the Black Love Summit
by Aaron White



May 29, 2019


8 Minute Read


How I Learned to be an All-Star Husband at the Black Love Summit

It’s Black Love Summit time again! BlackLove.com highlights the best moments from the “Husband Panel” at the 2018 Black Love Summit.

Tommy Oliver, Devale Ellis, Robbie Jones, Lance Gross & Chris Spencer

“The goal of this panel is for it to be as real as possible.”  This was the mandate set by panel moderator and BLACK LOVE series co-creator Tommy Oliver prior to introducing the tribe of husbands guiding us on this marriage journey from a man’s perspective: comedian Chris Spencer, and actors Lance Gross, Devale Ellis, and Robbie Jones. It was easy to spot the comradery amongst the men as their introduction resembled that of a starting five professional basketball squad.

The point guard on this panel was Devale Ellis whose quick responses and willingness to address all questions candidly, embodied realness.  When asked, “What is it that will keep a man monogamous? ” He said: “A woman that’s willing to hear what his needs are and stand by that.

Too many times men and women struggle because they refuse to hear or accept what [the other] said their needs are, then [they] wonder why there’s a problem.”

Devale, who, along with his wife actress Khadeen Ellis, is featured in season two of the OWN’S BLACK LOVE, also controlled the tempo of the panel when asked, “What’s the hardest part about evolving in a marriage?”  

“You are dealing with a living organism. Be with someone who doesn’t just love you, but loves change as well. It’s imperative you continue to date, continue to listen and be open.”


Actor Lance Gross maneuvered like a forward in the conversation. His delivery was strategic, making sure the information he was delivering was going to leave a powerful impact. When asked “what do you do if you sense another woman pressing up on you and deliberately attempting to disrespect your wife?” He answered emphatically: “I check it right away. It should not be my wife’s job to police those things.”

There was a thunderous uproar of women who responded to his reply with joy proclaiming, “Now that’s a real man!”

“He then backed his statements by mentioning how important it is that a man sets boundaries [with other women] because nothing is worth jeopardizing your commitment to your queen.”

Taking hold of the center position was Tommy who did a great job participating in the panel, while moderating at the same time. There was an incident where someone in the audience made a comment to one of the panelist that aired on the judgmental side.  Tommy quickly set the boundaries that judging wasn’t allowed in this setting. He said, “it’s important to honor people’s perspectives and views. What works for one couple may not work for another.”  Those statements set the tone for the discussion and created a safe place for transparency to exist.

Tommy Oliver & Devale Ellis

At one point in the panel, the subject of how the husbands dealt with temptation was broached, and, like a true center, Tommy dominated with, “The biggest reason I’ll never stray is that I love what we have between us. I don’t want to have to claw myself back to something that was already great.”  That statement was celebrated between the men on the panel with fist bumps of support.  Tommy continued, “My wife is the most incredible woman I ever met, and all I desire to do is make my marriage work.” Those words became infectious as the other husbands chimed in on the importance of making the marriage work. Lance really stressed communication being key and Devale stated:

“Communication isn’t just about talking, but receiving.”

When the guys were asked, “How do you deal with conflict?” Tommy went on to say “I can be right or I can be happy. I choose to work towards happiness.”

The theme “it takes work and sacrifice to have a healthy marriage” was echoed continually throughout their conversation. The husbands illustrated how beneficial a marriage can be when committed to the intentionality of making it work.

Chris, who was featured in season one of BLACK LOVE with his wife Vanessa, was the shooting guard of the squad tackling heavy topics while allowing the listener to download it through humor.  

Chris painted the picture of how he wasn’t thinking about marriage at all, then randomly at a party, he saw Vanessa and knew she was going to be his wife. “I just knew she was the one,” he said as he smiled from ear to ear reminiscing on the day he first laid eyes on her.

Lance Gross & Chris Spencer

He broke down what it’s been like to frequently be on the road and the adjustments he has to be willing to make when coming back home. Similar to a shooting guard who has to adjust his shot based on the defender, he adapts to the routine of his household in order for the family to get the win. He also stressed the importance of developing a great form of communication and how honoring one another’s love language can help to breed a healthy environment. As the veteran husband with 12 years married, every time Chris Spencer spoke, the audience received a powerful dose of truth and an insert of much needed laughter.

Lastly, the power forward on the team was Robbie Jones, who really laid the foundation of faith being the backbone of his marriage. When asked “How does your wife build you up?” Robbie said, “by speaking life over me, words of affirmation and prayer.”  He drove home the point of having a solid foundation of knowing one another’s love language in order for great communication to be able to exist. Robbie really brought home the importance of prayer and how much interceding for one another allowed them to push through conflict.

These brothas covered ground quick and withheld nothing. They dismantled the misconception that good men don’t exist and instilled hope within all who were in attendance. This line up left everyone with tools to use in their own life to get a W when it comes to love.

The male camaraderie, the encouragement from all the guys in there made me feel proud to be a husband and it felt good in the presence of guys who want to see their marriage successful.