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There’s No Such Thing as the Perfect Love Story
by Briana Barner
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August 18, 2019

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7 Minute Read

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There’s No Such Thing as the Perfect Love Story

Love takes time and hard work. BlackLove.com contributor Briana Barner reflects on her marriage, and how the couples on the latest episode of Black Love prove there’s no way around it.  

If you were to think about a perfect love story, what would it look like? Would it include a cute story of how the couple met? Maybe they dated for two to three years, had a few arguments but made up within minutes. After three years tops, he knew she was “the one” and didn’t make her wait to put a ring on it. This would be followed up by a beautiful ceremony – maybe in a church if you’re religious or in a castle fit for a princess if you’re obsessed with romantic movies. The wedding is the penultimate sign of a perfect love story, and then they go on to live happily ever after. Right?

According to this week’s episode of Black Love, the answer is a big, fat, hell no. 

Related: The Return of ‘Black Love’ and the Power of Allowing a Man to Lead

Sorry to break it to you, but no one’s love story is perfect. But we might forget that sometimes when looking in from the outside. Take one of the couples featured – Tamela and David Mann, who I still refer to as Cora and Mr. Brown, the characters they played in many of Tyler Perry’s plays and movies. They have been married for over 30 years and have garnered success as both actors and recording artists within the Christian spectrum of media. So I was very surprised and intrigued to know that their love story was not the straight line I assumed it would be but, in fact, contained lots of zig-zags, bumps, and dead ends before they got married. They started out as friends and quickly moved to being friends with benefits. We hear so often that our generation participates in “hook up culture,” but clearly – this ain’t start with us. Before they became The Manns, they were hooking up while also being involved with other people. In fact, Tamela was engaged to another man, and David had a child and a not-so-nice co-parenting relationship with the child’s mother. 

“Sorry to break it to you, but no one’s love story is perfect.”

On paper, these would all be signs that their relationship was doomed from the start and would not last. This seemed to be a theme that threaded throughout the stories of the other couples featured. Many of the couples discussed breaks that happened on the way to their engagements. I was particularly connected with the story of Justin and Joy. Like my husband and I, they met when they were in college. Joy was immediately smitten with Justin, but it wasn’t clear that Justin saw her as a potential partner long term because they were both so young. When my husband Reese and I met, I was ending a very complicated and toxic relationship and had no desire to jump into another relationship. As a college freshman, Reese also had no interest in beginning a relationship and was happily seeing other people. Again–on paper, these signs do not sound like the beginnings of a now 10-year relationship.

As we are introduced to the couples, we see how long they have been married: a range of 4-31 years. But what are the stories within those years? Most importantly, what did the work look like to get to the point of engagement and then marriage? For Egypt and Mike, that work looked like unpacking baggage from previous relationships. That baggage – which included healing for Egypt and developing a healthier co-parenting relationship for Mike – almost destroyed their relationship. A mere few weeks before they were supposed to get married, the couple called off their first wedding. They took time to prepare for their marriage, and not just the wedding, and were better off for it. But they both made sure to emphasize the work involved in crafting a healthy relationship and preparing for a solid marriage. 

“The beginning of your happy ending might look completely different than what you expected, and it’s important to remember that that is more than okay.”

Courtesy of @everythingisbreezy

Mike said the work was worth it because he knew his partner was worth it. Love is an important part of a relationship, but I would say that the work to sustain it matters more. Being in a relationship requires much work, effort and is a choice that we have to make and commit to every day. These couples have been together for many years, and each of those years is a testament to the investment they made into their relationships. But with this episode, we got to see the not-so-pretty parts of that work. This episode is a must-see for anyone in a relationship, but especially those who are seeking to be partnered.

Related: ‘Black Love’ Series Cast Member LeToya Luckett Talks Marriage, Prayer and Therapy

We often celebrate marriage as an ultimate goal, but these real love stories reveal the ugly, sometimes hurtful process of preparing for that goal. The beginning of your happy ending might look completely different than what you expected, and it’s important to remember that that is more than okay. 

For more REAL love and relationship talk, be sure to tune in to “Black Love” on Saturdays at 9/8c on OWN! Also, binge watch seasons 1 and 2 on Amazon and Urban Movie Channel.

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