As soon as I asked Mrs. Lincoln (names have been changed or are withheld to set the couples at ease to really “tell it like it is”–this is the first couple I had to think of a name for; see if you can guess why I chose Lincoln, LOL) to participate in my marriage kits, she was ready. She called her husband (who was working), and asked if he would be off the day of our proposed interview. “OK” she said, and hung up. I asked her if he knew they were participating in the interview. “He ain’t gotta know, honey. We’ll be there.” (Sidenote: All of the couples I’ve interviewed together, I’ve arranged things with the wife, either because I asked her first or was told I had to set it up with her. Interesting)
Sure enough, Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln sat down with me before a play rehearsal at the church. As some of the singers practise in the background, I whip out my recorder (for accuracy purposes, I assure them), and begin to conduct the interview. During the next 35 minutes, we cover everything from keeping your relationship private, dealing with in-laws, shacking, problems in the bedroom, high school dating, divorce, selfishness, submission, and forgiveness. I know you’ll enjoy the Lincoln’s as much as I did!
How long have you been married? May 15, 2010 is 24 years.
- How long did you know each other before you got married? Sis. Lincoln: About 7 years. Bro. Lincoln: No. Sis. Lincoln: How many years? We dated three years in high school…Bro. Lincoln: no three. Sis. Lincoln: Three? We didn’t get married in high school.
- Bro Lincoln, What made you decide to ask her to marry you? Bro. Lincoln: I didn’t ask her, she asked me. Oh, OK. I did come around after at first she had asked me, because I told her I wasn’t going to marry her period, because I wasn’t marriage material. Sis. Lincoln: We learned something new today. So you told her you weren’t marriage material? Sis Lincoln: Oh, OK. So, how did you eventually come around? Bro. Lincoln: Having children. Sis. Lincoln: Children, plural huh? Bro. Lincoln:…and I just felt it was time for me to settle down and do the right thing.
- How old were you when you got engaged? Bro. Lincoln: I don’t know. Sis Lincoln: Baby, you might want to give us these questions and let us come back! Bro. Lincoln: Just answer the question. You remember? Sis. Lincoln: I would say I was 25 when I had [their daughter]…um…23, I’ll say 23. So that would make him twenty four.
- How long were you engaged? Sis Lincoln: I would say a year.
- Did you guys have any premarital counseling before you got married? No
- When you got married, what was the biggest adjustment you have to make early in the marriage? Bro. Lincoln: My biggest adjustment was holding down a job. Sis. Lincoln: I think mine was being submissive. It still is. That’s not one of my strong suits.
- Were you guys in the church when you guys got married? Bro. Lincoln: No. Sis. Lincoln: He wasn’t. I had been baptized but no I was not…active.
- What did you learn about marriage growing up? Sis Lincoln: Neither one of us come from a sound marital family, but I learned more about marriage from my sister and brother-in-law, which is marriage is more about compromising. Bro. Lincoln; I would say my mom. Even though her and my dad went through changes, back and forth, having issues. My mom raised 4 boys. She explained to me and my older brother, if we ever wanted to get married. This is what we should have towards a wife. Respect, honesty, and trust.
- What’s something that you learned after you got married that you wished you had known before you got married? Bro. Lincoln: How to communicate with your wife when you’re mad at them, and move on from there. And learn from it each time you have an issue with each other, just sit down and discuss it. At first in our marriage, I wouldn’t do that. I would just let her stay mad. But I learned from it and have grown to be a better man towards her, sitting down and discussing the issues. Sis. Lincoln: I would think that when you marry somebody, it’s not just you and them. It’s also the family you know? It’s not what you see on TV. It’s something you have to work at on a daily basis. Bro. Lincoln: Especially if you have kids. Because you have to be able to communicate on who’s going to do this or that. Sis. Lincoln: It’s something that you have to work at. And it’s always something that’s going to come up. Bro. Lincoln: Talkin’ bout on a daily basis. Just about hourly too!
- How has your faith impacted your marriage? Sis. Lincoln: Without my faith I would not be married today. I would be divorced without my faith. Why do you say that? Sis. Lincoln: We were in the process of getting a divorce, what, five years ago? So, without my faith, you know where it teaches you [that] you have to forgive. Bro. Lincoln: I’d say pretty much the time. She would try to make me come, or ask me to come. I’d tell her no. Then I told her you can’t do that. That’s not your decision. I started thinking back to the past, when my mother would take us to church. I thought about giving it a try again. It can’t hurt you. Your family is already doing it; why you shouldn’t do it. You just half of the apple. You’ll make it a whole if the whole family goes. So that’s what I did. And it’s benefiting me. Cause you only go for you, you can’t go for the family.
- How do you get to know somebody? Sis Lincoln: By studying not only their words but their actions. You have to study a person’s actions because I can tell you anything, but it’s my actions that tell you the real me. Bro. Lincoln: Talking, studying them, and spending time with them. Spending time with them going places and doing things. You’ll see what things they like to do, what they like to drink, the conversation they like to talk.
- What types of things did you do to get to know each other? Sis. Lincoln: Went to the movies, we were in high school so go to the movies, school activities, family outings. Bro. Lincoln: Take her to work, pick her up to work. Have ice cream.
- What are some red flags to look for? Sis. Lincoln: A man that has issues with his mother. The way a man treats his mom plays a big part in how he’s going to treat his wife or the woman in his life. If he’s undependable, unreliable. An unreliable person and a person with a lot of secrets. We all have things that don’t nobody know but me and God. Bro. Lincoln: How they treat their mother. I would say both parents if they are alive. How they treat their brothers and sisters. If he is a male, how he treats his sisters. How they get along, communicate, and do for one another. Because it’s a family atmosphere, and if there’s not a good atmosphere in the family, that can be a big flag.
- Bro. Lincoln, what should a man look for in a wife? The way a woman carries herself, day in and day out. The way she treats others, and how she dresses, and how she respects her mother, her father, brothers, sisters, and others that she meets in the streets or in the store. And how they control themselves, their temper. How they take care of themselves…hygiene, and appearance.
- Sis. Lincoln, what should a woman look for in a husband? I think a woman should look for a godly man, cause if he loves God & he keeps serving God then he’s definitely going to do all that he needs to do as a man to do right by his wife. I think you should look for someone who is family oriented, especially if you intend on having kids. A man that works, that’s a provider. Bro Lincoln: Especially that works. That goes on both sides, there.
- What do you feel about marriages today? What do you think is the main issue that people have with marriage? Sis. Lincoln: Me, personally, I just think people are selfish. We have become a selfish nation, and it’s all about me first and foremost. We aren’t willing to try; we just give up so easily. The world will say if that one don’t work, the next one will. We’re selfish first and foremost, and we’re not willing to work at it. Anything to add? Bro. Lincoln: I try not to judge, but I have. I don’t care to speak on that one. All humans are different.
- How should a couple deal with an in-law relationship? Sis. Lincoln: Me, personally, I think it should be worked between the couple. The couple should sit down and work it out because the Bible says that me and him are one. Me and him have been dealing with this recently. The problem is not with the in-law, the problem is with your spouse and how they’re dealing with their brother sister, mama, daddy, whatever in-law it is. So it really should be worked out at the house, and then you become one. You all become from and then you can deal with whatever outside interference there is in the relationship. So, what your saying is you all have to get on the same page, so that when you deal with them, you already know how y’all are going to deal with it. Bro. Lincoln: When you’re not on the same page, somebody will leaked the word. And it’s going to get out and that ain’t good. You have some family members that can’t hold water. They love to gossip.
- How do you guys deal with keeping your relationship private and not having too many people in the relationship? How important is that? Bro. Lincoln: Communication, and learning to trust one another and communicate, and blessings from God keeping us strong minded, healthy and continue to love each other and communicating. Regardless of what you’re going through that day or that week. Sis. Lincoln: Certain things should only be between a man and a wife. Certain things we discuss should only be between me and him, not me and him and my best friend, you know, there are certain things that he may go to mama with or I might go to mama with, but there are just certain things that should just be off limits to anybody. So what are some examples of some of the things that are just between a husband and a wife? Sis Lincoln: Problems in the bedroom. Issues in the bedroom I think should just be between you and that person. Infidelity, because everybody is different. Bro. Lincoln: I would say the whole house, not just the bedroom. Sis. Lincoln: If there’s something like abuse, somebody needs to know about it. You know for the safety of whoever’s being abused mentally, physically or emotionally, then somebody, preferably a professional—definitely things in the bedroom that should be between you and your spouse. Infidelity, because I have a tolerance level; you have a tolerance level. What things I might tolerate, you may not tolerate. So I don’t need to run to my best friend and say “Oh, my husband cheated on me” because I don’t need her in my ear going “well, you should just leave him,” when her husband might be beating on her. So to me, those are the two things that I don’t think you should share. If you need to share it, then you find a professional and you share it with that professional. But not my friend, my mama, my cousin. Bro.Lincoln: The whole household. I wouldn’t want anyone to know what goes on in my house. And even if you come over to visit or see one of us, whatever problems we have, we ain’t gone let you know. Bottom line, we still gon’ act the same way we do every time you’ve seen us. Even if it’s a problem in the bedroom, problems outside the home, we gone still sit down and communicate and keep it to ourselves, it’s not a media tragedy, it’s among family, and the family gone have to mourn and work on it together as a family.
- What’s good about being married? What are some of the positives? Both: Sex! Bro. Lincoln: Sex, being together, and knowing you have a beautiful, fine, young lady on your shoulder, to go places with and doing things with, and other men look you don’t get mad; you just enjoy it. I got me something—cause if I see a lot of men looking, I’m not going to say nothin’; I’mma just smile. The only time I’m going to get mad is if they step to her and say something. If it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be in the church. Sis. Lincoln: Sex, being able to have it without being ashamed. Companionship.