Every year, Essence helps five African-American gentlemen create unforgettable surprise marriage proposals in the pages of its magazine, and then invites readers to vote for their favorite couple on Essence.com. The big prize? The winning couple $10,000 in cash for their dream wedding, a consultation with and invitations by renowned wedding producer and designer Diann Valentine, a wedding dress from the David Tutera by Faviana Collection, created by WE tv’s David Tutera, and an amazing cake courtesy of one of the bakers from the WE tv show, Amazing Wedding Cakes.

But Essence.com is trying to give a little more than just a dream wedding to the lucky couple. For sure, the website is running an online series on ways the soon-to-be newlyweds and other couples about to or who have recently taken the big plunge can strengthen their relationships. Recently, an Essence.com editor asked Nick and I to weigh in what it takes to make a marriage work. Here’s what we said:

SHE SAID…By Denene Millner
The falling in love part–that’s easy. The staying there? Well, there’s the challenge. Because after the honeymoon and the newlywed bliss and the tenderness and all that good, new loving comes the quirks you didn’t see before and the bills you didn’t anticipate and the arguments you swore you’d never have. Throw some kids in the mix and then things really heat up. The mental, emotional, and physical gymnastics of it all… simply, utterly exhausting. But that’s love. Fluid. Ever changing. Hanging in–holding on. For better, for worse, for richer and for poorer, through sickness and in health–when he leaves his wet towel on the bathroom floor and walks past that sink full of dirty dishes 20 times without washing them; when she cuddles the baby more than you and slings the attitude like a sword–’til death do us part…

HE SAID…By Nick Chiles
Humility. That’s been the most important quality I have learned over the years, whether applied to my marriage or all the other close relationships in my world. In every encounter with my significant other, I now know I must be able to accept the fact that I frequently will be wrong. That’s something I had a hard time accepting when I was younger. For most men, embracing humility means tackling that large, ferocious tiger that is the male ego. When I was younger, my ego would drag me into some nasty encounters–ones in which I couldn’t admit I was wrong, even when I knew that I was. It was like my ego had a stranglehold on my tongue. But the benefit of age has allowed me to accept that there inevitably will be times when I don’t know what I’m talking about, when my advice will be misguided, my opinion off base, my thoughts wrongheaded. What it comes down to is this: I’m not perfect…

To read the rest of Nick and my thoughts on what it takes to make a marriage last, CLICK HERE to check out the full posts on Essence.com. If you feel so moved, leave a comment.

Have a fantastic weekend!

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  1. I think too much emphasis is placed on the wedding day and not the sustainability of the "relationship" after the wedding day. Once you share a house, kids, bills, etc….. the real test is on!

  2. massaquoi313@comcast.net

    I appreciate both posts…keep God first in your marriage. .

  3. T.Allen-Mercado

    True words. Many of us don't look beyond the "pretty" part, but the beauty of it is getting through those ugly times, together.

  4. Teresha@Marlie and Me

    I agree with what cocoamommy said. Marriage is not a sprint to the altar, it's a marathon. I'm off to go check out your interview!

  5. I have been married 12 years and for me and mine it has been the ability to forgive, to steal away time and adding God to our relationship. I agree that adding children(10, 8, and 6) to the spice of a marriage can tangle you in a web of ups and downs. Yet I wouldn't trade that in for anything…I realize what I have is special!
    How about a special on couples renewing their vows..telling what works…what didn't….Makes for good inspiration we focus to much on the sprint to the wedding… Tenesha you are correct!

  6. Marriage takes work and commitment. Each partner must learn to ignore their selfish desires and serve the other person. Although wedding are great occasions, the real work begins after "I do."

  7. Life with Kaishon

    What a great contest for Essence to have. I think that what comes after the marriage ceremony is SO much more important than the actual ceremony.

  8. MelADramatic Mommy

    I think the wedding industry has gotten so big that the event is overshadowing the reason. I've been married 11 years and it is not always easy. Anything worth doing well takes effort.

    Sometimes I wonder why companies don't offer similar contests for people who have been married a long time to renew their vows. I think celebrating people who have made marriage a priority deserve to celebrate a little too, plus I think it's inspirational to see lasting love IMHO.

  9. I love this line "the mental, emotional and physical gymnastics of it all"… go one and share your wisdom!

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