This piece is part of a 28-day series celebrating modern black love among millennials. It was created by Chuck Marcus and Michelle Nance, exclusively distributed by Blavity.
Him: Jerrel | 29 | Data Support Analyst
Her: Katrina | 30 | Entrepreneur & Work-From-Home Mom
Relationship Status: Married, 5 Years
Florida natives, Katrina and Jerrel, have been together for a total of nine years and have settled in Atlanta, Georgia. Raising their sons has inspired the couple to build a secure future and legacy. While they both acknowledge the distraction of social media is there, they've committed to staying focused on their own goals to avoid playing the social media comparison game.
Q: What does black love mean to the black community?
Katrina: It is a solid foundation for the black community. It is essential; two heads are better than one.
Jerrel: I believe that black love embodies pride, which also correlates with pride in ownership — of your house, not your spouse! Not trying to get too far off track, but a neighborhood where ownership is high and pride in ownership is on full display — opposed to messy houses with trashy, overgrown yards — crime and chances of gentrification are usually low.
We have to love ourselves, love our spouse, love our neighbors and love our communities. It’s not the end-all-be-all solution, but I think we’d have a much lower rate of us being displaced.
Q: Do you think there’s sufficient/significant representation of black love in media? Are you encouraged or discouraged by those you see in real life or in media?
Katrina: No, there is definitely not a sufficient or significant amount of true representation of black love in media. I guess we’re encouraged to show that it is real and does exist.
Jerrel: I never paid much attention to the representation of black love in the media, but my short answer to this question would have to be no. When I think of black relationships depicted in the media they’re mostly dysfunctional or surrounded by constant drama.
Q: What’s the hardest part about being a millennial in a relationship?
Katrina: Cutting off all of the outside influences. So many of our peers are waiting to get married and waiting to have kids. They are traveling the world and living it up. Living it up for us looks quite different since we have a family. I wouldn’t change it for the world because now I can’t get my mind off of leaving a legacy for my boys.
Jerrel: I believe that two things are surefire ways to ruin a healthy relationship: One, taking advice on how to stay in a healthy relationship or marriage from someone who can’t stay in a healthy relationship or marriage. However, I do believe you can learn what not to do in your relationship from these people.
Two, allow outside influences such as society, social media and friends to influence your relationship. Don’t play the comparison game. What works for society may not work for you and your relationship. Comparison is the thief of joy. If you look at your relationship, the good and the bad, and compare it to what others are posting, the good in your relationship will be overlooked and the bad will stand out. How many people do you know in a healthy relationship who post their bad experiences with their significant other? How many post about things they hate about their significant other? Your answer is likely to be none.
When you’re scrolling down your timeline looking at what other people want you to see, it’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game. You may be thinking, “Man, I should be married with kids by now,” or “I should have a house or be driving a really nice new car.” Don’t get caught up in that, keep doing you and when you and your significant other are ready, God will bring you two together.
Lastly, your friends love you and will always have your back. That’s what friends are for. If you confide in your friends every time you and your significant other have a disagreement or argument, your friends can sometimes grow to dislike your significant other. Especially if you talk to them more about that bad; they are going to want that bad thing out of your life.
Q: Previous generations had clear and specific gender roles. How do you two define each other’s roles in your relationship, if at all?
Katrina: It’s a 50/50 relationship. We don’t really pay attention to gender roles or what they should be. For instance, I know more about cars; my father’s a mechanic. Jerrel usually does the laundry. We just go based off of our strengths and don’t let pride get in the way. We also learn from one another.
Jerrel: Katrina pretty much nailed it. We don’t have gender roles in our household. I feel like those old school principles are kind of difficult to keep up with today. It’s not as easy for me to work one regular nine to five while Katrina stays at home to take care of the kids and keep the house clean. Student loan debt, the inflation of home prices and wages not keeping up with inflation makes it hard to do that.
Q: Do you feel pressured by your family to be with someone who looks like you?
Katrina: No, we are both from melting pots, culturally diverse cities.
Jerrel: No, my mother never pressured me to be with someone who looks like me. She always taught me that love is love and that you cannot help who you fall in love with.
Q: Are there any individual relationship struggles that you had to overcome?
Katrina: Stepping back and allowing Jerrel to take care of me. I was raised by my dad, uncles and big brother so I was taught to be very independent. I’m a little rough around the edges and always try to do things on my own. I had to learn how to relax sometimes and allow Jerrel to “be the man,” so to speak.
Jerrel: My bluntness. I used to be very short and, often times, unintentionally rude. So I’ve been working on my communication since being with Katrina. It has definitely improved.
Q: What is it about having a black significant other that impacts you the most?
Katrina: Understanding. Everyday experiences are just understood, and we've both been through our share of those together and apart. Sometimes we can have a full conversation without many words.
Jerrel: I’d say the same thing. Just a deep and natural understanding of one another. We both have had a few ridiculous experiences through our lives that I believe people from other cultures would not believe or understand. They’d think we’re exaggerating or overreacting.