What does a long, healthy marriage look like? Jared Williams didn’t know, until he saw the Black Love series.
“So, what are you here to work on?”
It was the question posed by my new therapist at our first session. I knew from past experience that therapy — at least how I prefer to use it — is about intentionality. It’s about helping you work toward something with someone you trust to help you see the patterns in your life that have been slowly writing your history. So, when my therapist asked me what I wanted to focus on, I knew it was the thing that I wanted for my future but had no idea how to get it — marriage.
I knew it was the thing that I wanted for my future but had no idea how to get it — marriage.
At the time, things at work and home were going pretty well, and there weren’t any “mental health fires” that I needed to put out. The thing that was weighing on my spirit was that, in order to reach the level of relationship I wanted, it meant, I was going to have to undo some things that came along with being an only child, a selective introvert, and someone who takes his time (and everyone else’s) when it comes to making big decisions.
Growing up an only child, I worried about sharing space with someone…permanently. I spent time trying to imagine what it would mean for someone to be in my space drooling on my pillows, using my shampoo, and likely getting on my nerves. As a person who likes to spend time recharging my energy alone, I tried to think if I would be able to steal away and find time to myself to do the things I enjoy. And what if I don’t enjoy you? What if I get tired of the monotony that is waking up to the same person every day, getting a reprieve maybe a few times a year when you aren’t home?! When would I be able to take time to be alone with just my thoughts and some Megan Thee Stallion?
All my other worries, however, paled in comparison to what I knew would be my ultimate downfall – my need to rationalize and understand every decision, to always do my best to calculate every risk and construct a perfect situation. In my effort to find a soul mate I would observe your actions and analyze your word choice, waiting to find a candidate that had the skills, values, and goals to compliment my own. If I couldn’t see an example of a strong marriage to model, I would construct it.
Thank God I found my way to a therapist before going any further down that road…
My sessions are a special place for me. It’s a time when I can unapologetically work on me without fear of monopolizing a conversation or supporting the other person in the same way that they’re supporting me. Therapy is my time to sit and talk to someone more rational than I am about all of the things that are and aren’t standing in the way of my goals. The more time I spent in these sessions, uncovering what was behind my fears, the more confident I was with risk and not knowing every answer to every question. Each session left me understanding a little more about how my past has brought me to where I am today, making me a legit subject matter expert when it came to Jared. Working on my emotional intelligence meant I knew which situations triggered reactions in me and why. Working on conflict resolution meant I was willing to brave the fear of losing someone and surface tough conversations when necessary. I was getting a handle on things, but what showed me that marriage was something I aspired to was by intentionally finding content that expanded my view on long-term commitment. Enter, the Black Love series.
I can honestly say, before the Black Love series, I had never seen such a strong and expansive representation of what marriage looked like in the Black community.
I can honestly say, before the Black Love series, I had never seen such a strong and expansive representation of what marriage looked like in the Black community. I would get one side of the story or the other. I’d see the couples who managed to make it 30 or 40 years celebrate their marriage, but without the backstory of how they got through tough times and held on to love for one another. On the flip side, I would see the couple that couldn’t figure out their flow. One or both partners decided that their marriage had run its course, and they would part ways. Rarely was I getting a fuller picture, so my mind made do with the little information it had. Then the Black Love series arrived and began to fill in the gaps. Here’s what I saw:
Authentic love is like fertile soil.
I saw something exciting come through in people who were experiencing an authentic love in their marriage. It was almost like courage was a natural byproduct. In our lives, much of what we do is based on a human need for love and belonging. We do things that we think will bring us more love and belonging, instead, we listen to shame and do our best to avoid losing connections (that’s all Brene Brown right there). This is a huge force influencing the way we live our lives – what are the things that we think if people knew about me, would make them want to pull away from me? For a long time that was my sexuality.
I had a belief that deciding to be open about who I was would alienate me, pushing my friends and family away from me, even risking my ability to have a successful career in a religious and conservative state. Then authentic love showed up for me in two big ways. First, I had an authentic love for myself that told me I deserved to live beyond the weight of pretending. Second, I realized that there were people in my life who loved me unconditionally. So, in a situation where I realized there was no risk of losing the people who mattered, I dared greatly, and I dared hard. I came out, I stayed out, and in the words of The Puerto Rican Princess, “I’m not going back.”
There is a voice of fear that plays in your head. It says, “What if you fail and people see that you aren’t good enough? Who do you think you are? When you fail, and they see how unworthy you are, you’ll be alone.” The strongest argument that this voice makes, the most lethal of blows that it deals, comes in four words – you will be alone. More and more I started to see what happens when people find an unconditional kind of love in another person. It takes all the power from those four words when you realize there is someone prepared to love you because of your flaws and failures, not in spite of them. Couple after couple in the Black Love series displayed this love — in sickness and in health, through heartache and mistakes, through monotony and mayhem.
Marriage changes you.
For as much as I appreciate routines, I hate boredom and get tired of predictability. One of my biggest hang-ups when it came to dating seriously was whether or not I could be married to someone forever. I imagined I’d love them in that moment, but what about five years from now? What about ten? How could I be married to the same person year after year…after year. Watching the Black Love series showed me that my narrative wasn’t altogether accurate.
Each episode, I watched multiple couples talk about their best and worst moments. They took us back to when they were dating. They told us how they made it to the altar, and how they overcame obstacles together. Essentially, directly and indirectly, these couples demonstrated that they aren’t the individuals, or even the partnership, that they used to be. What they were demonstrating was something that I hadn’t factored into my understanding of marriage — the concept of evolution.
What they were demonstrating was something that I hadn’t factored into my understanding of marriage – the concept of evolution.
In the midst of building a marriage, sometimes a family, and careers, their partnerships grew and changed as their lives did. They openly recalled times when their partnership forced them to mature and let go of what certainty they had. They reflected on moments of true growth that got them where they are today.
This was the kind of partnership I was aspiring to, it was telling me that who I am today is not going to get me to year ten. Maybe not even year 5. In order for me to look ahead and commit to something long-term, I was going to commit to allowing myself to grow in this relationship. In the end, I realized I wouldn’t be waking up next to the same person forever. Instead,I’d be waking up next to someone I one day realize is wiser, more patient, more loving, and more trill than he was when we met, all because of the love that we created together.That’s lit.
Marry you a PNC (Partner in Crime).
There was a time when I thought there was a decision to be made between being successful and finding love, but, per usual, there is a middle ground I never considered in my binary thinking – the ‘ride or die’. With unconditional love making you a little more fearless, and with the adventure that is marriage preparing you to take leaps together, it hadn’t occurred to me that my partner may actually help me achieve my goals. What I found when I looked closer was that the right partnership will actually take your goals and create new shared goals that put what you had to shame. The authentic connection in that spiritual partnership is like some “Wonder Twin powers, activate” type ish.
In 2017, Instagram personality Wuzzam Supa launched her Louisiana-based makeup line, The Crayon Case, out of her home in New Orleans. Since then she and her husband-to-be, Lou, have chronicled the empire they’re building together. The business growing into a full facility, their journey building a family, and even the little (sometimes big) things they do for each other. Through an impressive level of transparency, Supa regularly notes how her fiancée encouraged her to start the company and supports her through the process. Examples like Supa and her fiancée Lou, the creators of the Black Love series, Codie and Tommy Oliver, and so many more couples like them, seem to pop up the more I look around. Partnerships where two people have committed to building something either for themselves, for their community, or for the world. What would I even want to do if I had a partner like that? Hell, what wouldn’t I want to do?
What we see informs what we believe for ourselves.
What we see informs what we believe for ourselves. A number of experiences, and things that I’ve witnessed on the Black Love series, showed me that the marriage I aspire to is one that works for me, works for my partner, and works for us. I want to build. I want to create. I want a partnership that simultaneously honors the sacrifices of my ancestors and paves the future for my descendants. Through some introspection, good therapy, and great examples, I’ve gotten so much clearer on the type of partnership I’m open to. Have you?
The Black Love Series Season 3 premieres Saturday, August 10th.
Watch the Black Love Series season 3 trailer here.