In addition to being a mom, woman, friend, etc. I am also a happily married woman. Shout out to the wives reading this. My husband and I recently celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. 10 years ya’ll…like, a decade [picture my big smile right here]! I am excited and proud to say Harold, aka the Professor, and I have maintained a healthy and happy marriage that we both enjoy and want to continue for years to come. When I think back, these have been 10 good years. No, it has not
been one long honeymoon and, yes, we have weathered life’s twists and turns…together. We are both holding on to the commitment we made to each other that day in 2008.
I have wanted to write about my marriage for a few months, but couldn’t come up with a catchy way to capture my sentiments. Enter [and thank you] Chris Rock. If you have not seen his latest comedy special entitled “Tamborine*” on Netflix, watch it. It is really good. I have a new love for him and appreciate his honesty. He talked about his life and relationships, specifically marriages, being similar to a band. It’s pretty ironic for us because we are in a ‘band’ together- at church! The Professor plays drums and I sing. Yes, I can carry a tune! It’s not quite a Sonny and Cher situation, but you get the gist…it’s all for da Lord! According to Rock, there are “roles and responsibilities” in marriages and times when “…you sing lead and sometimes you’re on tambourine,” and it is our duty to “play it right [and] play it with a smile.” He is right. Especially in a marriage, there are times when the focus is on me and I am figuratively singing my best Ledisi solo and other times when I am happily keeping the tempo playing the tambourine while the Professor gets his drum solo on. Can anyone relate? Well in our Henry, Jr. band we have some reflections about our 10 years. Indulge us for a few.
You can become best friends– The Professor and I don’t have that friends turned lovers story other couples share. I think it’s cool to hear how some spouses were childhood friends or college homies before they realized he or she was ‘the one.’ I can’t relate. We got together for the purpose of dating! He was teaching at the time and needed a summer job, so one of his students (who was also a participant in my after-school program) recommended him for the camp counselor job and the rest is history. Yes- he was dating the boss! We managed to keep it under wraps that summer as we started our journey to fall in love. The day we stood before our family, friends and God and recited our personal vows, neither one us said we were marrying our best friend. As a matter of fact, I honestly didn’t consider him my friend for a while; he was my husband first and foremost. Now, 10 years later when I think about my friend circle, the hubs is in there and has a top spot. We have developed a strong friendship as Krystal and Harold outside of Mrs. Henry, Jr. and Mr. Henry, Jr. and that took time and trust on both of our parts to be vulnerable as friends do.
Young, shut up!– One of my favorite phrases is shut up and I’m from PG County, hence the young reference! Remember the Living Single episode when Sinclair had an assignment from her acting class to use one word to describe all of her emotions? It was eggplant! Well the same way she conveyed shock, anger, surprise and even excitement using such a rarely used word is the same way I use the phrase shut up! As much as I love that phrase I often say it to myself when I need a reminder to let some thoughts remain in my head. Like all women, I have the power to change the color of the conversation/room/mood with just my words and tone. I have learned that everything does not require my commentary. In my vows I promised to listen…really listen! So there is an implication that I will reserve some air time for him and keep some things to myself.
The Professor’s Reflections
Vulnerability is challenging sometimes– The hubs is generally a pretty reserved and introspective person by nature; those that know him can nod in agreement. While he is not the most talkative person in the room, you do take pause when he speaks because it’s going to be something good. When I asked him about his biggest takeaway from these 10 years, he thought about it and talked about the process of being vulnerable. I was initially surprised, but his explanation made sense. He told me that while he occasionally struggles with being totally vulnerable with his thoughts/feelings it has nothing to do with me. It is more related to him not wanting to possibly dismantle the image I have of him. I’ve read many times how hard it is to be a Black Man in America and the weight that is on their shoulders; I guess that weight can continue at home with the expectation(s), both real and perceived, that his family has. The solution- time, trust and love.
Home is important– As more of an introvert, the Professor would prefer to trade a night hanging out for being at home with his feet up (as he says). We have a saying up in our house that reads, “He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.” It is so true. No one wants to fight with the world all day only to come home to more strife. Whenever we return from a trip or extended time away from home, I would always notice how Harold smiled and said he was happy to be home when he pulled into the driveway. Even now, he said he still gets excited to come home every day and I love that. Now that I think about it, he walks in the door smiling…even after a long day! Home is where he can be himself, unwind and get refueled for the next day. My hope is that he keeps coming back as they say!
Our Joint Reflection
A healthy marriage is not effortless; you have to work– We both disagree with the fantasy that a ‘good’ marriage just happens. Not! We laughed about that and admitted it is a daily decision you make to stay married. You have to put in the work every day to make it last, and the work often shifts; remember that tambourine?! The work is listening when you don’t feel like it. The work is also engaging in conversation when you want to be quiet. The work is being at events when you would rather be at home. The work is also being at home when you’d rather go out. The work is participating in the decision making process when you would prefer your spouse make it. The work is also including your spouse in the decision when you’d rather just make the decision yourself. The work is being present in mind and body when you could easily check out. The work is also checking yourself before saying something that may be hurtful. The work is apologizing when you know you’re wrong. The work is also accepting an apology and really moving on when you want to be petty. The work is remembering and doing your damndest to live out the vows you took no matter what. The work is also making new vows as life and the relationship evolves.
While we salute the 10 years of marriage and 13+ we have been a couple, we know each year brings with it new levels, challenges, blessings and testimonies. We are committed to going through life together and playing the tambourine when it’s our turn. –krystal and harold, jr.
10 Years and Counting Playlist– Each one of these 10 songs has meaning for us, whether it was the song I walked down the aisle to (“On this Day”) or the song we not only enjoy, but also sing/play at our church (“Lord You’re Mighty). If you have Spotify, click the play button and enjoy!
*(Chris Rock’s comedy special “Tamborine” is spelled without the “u” as it is named after the Prince song that shares the same title. https://www.thewrap.com/why-chris-rock-tamborine-is-called-tamborine-and-not-tambourine/)