"Marriage isn’t hard work, we make it hard”

Todd Taylor said this phrase during the Atlanta Clips & Conversations event for Black Love, the docuseries created by Codie and Tommy Oliver that captures love stories of black married couples. Season 2 of the docuseries airs on May 12th and Atlanta was the last stop on the tour.

I sat in the back of the theatre listening as Codie and Tommy interviewed Grant & Tamia Hill about how they met and the intricacies of balancing marriage and family. Towards the end of the conversation, we saw a clip of Todd and Alicia, a couple who had dealt with infidelity and brokenness in their marriage. Admittedly, I could relate to their story because they had been through some of the things my husband and I had been through - Infidelity, heartbreak, brokenness - all the things strong marriages are made of. They told their story of getting through it all and where they are now; sharing, repeatedly,  that they now teach a marriage class at Legacy Church Atlanta.

When a question came from the crowd, Todd gave this response, “Marriage isn’t hard work, we make it hard.” I instantly disagreed with him and found myself down a rabbit hole as I thought about how hard it has been to make it through these last five years.

He’s allowed to say marriage isn’t hard work obviously, that’s his opinion. But then he shared details of what it took for him and his wife to overcome their trials. From counseling to growing closer to God to “fixing” themselves so that they could love each other better. It sounded like hard fucking work to me.

I sat there wondering why I was judging him and why I couldn’t just let this man make his declaration and plug his church program. I sat with it for a minute, making smart comments under my breath and side eyeing my cousin as she made her own. I took it home to X and we talked about it while we watched three episodes of Black Love, season one (which were amazing and I’m super excited for season 2). We concluded that marriage is hard work and we don’t know what ole dude was talking about.

However, because I’m a thinker and a writer, I decided to process my thoughts through writing and this is where I arrived. Honestly, marriage is hard work - but that’s ok. Life is hard work. We had to put in hours to get good grades in school or clean our room to avoid being yelled at or put on punishment, or beaten, (depending on how you were raised). We work hard to become successful or to raise children or to love ourselves well.

Since the moment we enter into the world, we encounter situations that require discipline or decision making or commitment when we don’t feel like it - and marriage is no different. Marriage is hard work because we are two people coming together from different walks of life, different expectations, different needs and wants and characteristics. We love each other, but if love is “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another”, it’s going to take some laboring and dying to self and listening and learning, which doesn’t come easy to everyone. Maybe we should embrace the reality that marriage is hard work, because what really matters, is that being willing to do the hard work is love.

Black Love Season 2 airs on OWN this Saturday at 10pm.