The Story Of Us: Celebrating 15 Years Of Black Love and Marriage

I was 25 years old, young, fresh, breath still smelling like Similac, when I first saw him. It was my first day as a political reporter at the New York Daily News. He was in the parking lot at City Hall—shoulders squared, handsome, with that wide, beautiful smile.

At first, we were colleagues.

Then friends.

Years later, more than that.

Loving him was easy. So was the “yes” that tumbled from my lips after he held up that diamond—sparkling, shiny, new.

Fifteen years ago today, Nick Chiles put a ring on it. We stood up in front of our mamas and daddies and siblings and families and friends in a beautiful, simple space in the Museum of African Art, then situated on the cobble stoned-streets of SoHo in Manhattan and, after my Auntie Sarah sang and my friend Beth read and my brother-in-law poured libations to the ancestors and the dancers danced and the Kora played, we said… I do.

And then we did.

And we still are.

Our marriage is not perfect. We are, after all, human and nothing can be more imperfect, more complicated, more complex than this. We’ve grown. And morphed. And dug in. Been happy. Loving. Pissed. Committed. Disappointed. Settled. Happy again.

In other words… normal.

We still have work to do, you know. Even after 15 years, even after two babies, even after two houses, even after six books together and successes with each other and apart, even when outsiders looking in see what they want to see and characterize the way they want to characterize, there is work to do. But that is the beauty of the journey.

The beauty of this life together.

Statistically, Nick and I are not really supposed to be. But we are. African American and married. Two-parent home. Raising children together. Paying bills together. Making decisions together. Moving forward… together. I say this not to brag or rub it in or to make others feel inadequate. I say this, simply, because it is our truth.

We made it, despite the stereotypes. Despite the statistics. Despite of our faults. Despite our humanness.

Fifteen years later, we are in this life together.

We are.

Happy anniversary, Nick. Thank you for loving me and our family and this home that we’ve built. Each day when the sun rises, I’m grateful that we have God’s favor—and that I’m in your arms.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. Saida M Latigue

    Inspiring to us all, thank you for sharing. <3

  2. Happy Anniversary to you both! We just celebrated 6 years last Saturday (on a romantic getaway in Miami, sans our toddler *wink*). Marriage is a beautiful thing!

  3. Wow. That brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for all those wonderful, poignant, moving words, baby. Each day that I wake, I thank God for delivering you in my arms. I thank you for all the joy and wisdom and laughter—and for all the pain and heartache because that, too, is a part of us and makes what we have now so much stronger and more remarkable. You are a fantastic mother, beautiful wife, gifted individual. And you also happen to be sexy as hell. You. Us. Magic.

  4. I am so glad you are not a statistic! Wishing you many years of life together- maybe you will start your own trend.

  5. Congrats!! Black Love, True Love, Love that’s been worked a beautiful thing.

  6. This is so awesome. I love your story. So beautiful & inspiring.

  7. Today is my 15th Wedding anniversary also, so rather than create a post, I’m just forwarding your dynamic post to my hubby, Dinene.

  8. Man I miss you guys. The few times we hung out with all the couples, at the time as a single young woman, getting to know herself and the world, you all inspired me and gave me hope. Hope that black love does exist and the statistics are just that statistics (math), not God. Congrats to you both and many blessings!!! Praying for all the married couples everyday. I cannot wait to walk down the aisle in just a few weeks. This is so inspiring and real!!!

  9. LOVE. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  10. Happy anniversary to the both of you!
    Nick, that was so sweet.
    Denene, he put it out there for all to see…. now you gonna have to give him some 😉

  11. Cheers to 15 years of marriage! Cheers to defying statistics! Amen.

  12. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY D&N!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thank you for being who you are and 3 beautiful children!



  13. Absolutely inspiring. I smiled the entire time reading your words. But then I get to smile alot after reading your stories.

    God bless you, your husband and children to continue the legacy you have spun.

  14. You both are a beautiful testament to all that marriage can be. My husband and I celebrated our 16th year of marriage/21st year together in June. I know the joy and love that you speak of. Congratulations to you both.

  15. I love it! Happy Anniversary!

  16. Happy Anniversary!!!!!! I just love Black Love and defying those statistics. May God bless you with 15 plus 15 more years!!!

  17. Congrats to you and Nick!!! Love is beautiful BUT BLACK LOVE is even better!!! Wishing you all the best!!!

  18. Love goes where it is sent. Fifteen years ago, it found the both of you.
    Congratulations. Your friend always, BC

  19. What a blessing!! We just celebrated our 7th, it’s amazing to be in love and with the one you’re meant to be with.

    God bless and keep you two always!!!

  20. This was beautiful! And inspiring! 🙂

  21. Congrats! I love how you wrote that you’re marriage is normal. Here’s to many more years.

  22. Congratulations! What a sweet inspiration you are!

  23. Happy Anniversary to a wonderful couple! You guys seem to be of the same mind and that really matters. Enjoy this milestone and keep keeping on!.

  24. Congratulations! and heres to many more. Amen

  25. Happy Anniversary y’all!

  26. I love this post, hope you don’t mind if I feature it on my site, I had a hell of a time finding it again.

  27. sohappytoseethis

    I’m just finding this site and I am so grateful for it. This is so beautiful and I am so happy for you. I truly do believe that there are many black couples that love each other and have beautiful families and marriages. This has given me such hope; not just for me, but for our children. I noticed this beautiful posts happened on my birthday, so maybe that’s some sort of sign:-) I wish you every happiness in this world. And to all the couples out there, I wish you the best too. And to all of my fellow singles, I wish you hope. Let’s make a beautiful future for our children; they need it, they deserve it.

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