Black Marriage Monday: Phillip & Robin Green
Phil: Pastor (New Horizons Christian Fellowship) & Professional Counselor
Robin: Non-Profit Manager - Resident Services
Wedding Date & Years Married
September 4, 1982 (35 Years)
Use One Word to Describe Your Spouse
How did you meet?
Phil: We met during a youth conference for our denomination during the summer of 1974 or 75. I remember seeing her while I was seated a few pews back, while she was sitting with her mom. I was sitting with my mom, and I caught a glimpse of her when she turned around. I remember pointing her out to my mom, and saying "I'm going to marry that girl right there" (or something like that). A few days later she and her best friend walked up to me after church and struck up a conversation. I remember how pretty she was. She was about 13 years old.
Robin: We met at a church conference just like Phil said. I remember thinking he was handsome, but I was 13 and not fast!! My friend was the one interested, so I let her lead the conversation, thinking that they would connect, but they didn't. The next year, he called me out the blue, and invited me to his choir picnic. I remember thinking, "how did he get my number". I never found out, but I'm glad that he did. The rest is history.
What is your favorite activity to do with each other?
Phil: I am writing this after having returned from our oldest daughter's place on Mother's Day. Whenever we spend time with our children, our extended family, and family members it is a joy. We have invested a good deal of our lives into our children, and we enjoy seeing our growing family enjoying each other. I also appreciate being able to have an intellectually stimulating conversation with Robin. We don't always line up on how we see an issue, but I'm always fascinated to learn more about how and what she thinks.
Robin: The times that we read to each other, and have those "intellectually stimulating conversations" often lead to many apologies, before all was said and done. But hey, it gets the adrenaline flowing. And, making up is FUN.
What does "Black Love" mean to you?
Phil: Black love means prioritizing one another and the relationship, recognizing the forces at work that would suggest that those two words have nothing to do with each other. Black love means exclusivity and devotion.
Robin: Black love to me is like a miracle of God. Two people come together from 400-500 years of oppression and separation. There are so many wrongs and hurts in our pasts. To be able find each other and somehow learn to rise above it is amazing. And at the end of the day to find intimacy is amazing. I am speaking of Blacks in America with the background of formerly enslaved peoples.
What are some of the things it takes to sustain a lasting and healthy relationship?
Phil: I have had to learn not to take myself so seriously ALL the time. It is good to be able to recognize when and where YOU are wrong, yourself. One of the bits of wisdom that I have learned from Robin is to "choose the hill that you're willing to die on". This means that not every disagreement or misalignment is a matter of life-and-death
Robin: A lot of humor, at yourself and not the other person. Continuing to grow individually, but also together. One does not leave the other behind; development has to be in both. It is amazing how great a problem-solver we can be if divorce is NOT an option. At any given time, one of us is giving more than the other, but no one is keeping score. It is NEVER equal!
How do you keep the relationship aflame?
Phil: At its core, our relationship is a solid friendship, and a faith in God. We are both people who value growth and development. We are not the same people that we were when we were 23 and 21. I think that we do a pretty good job of keeping pace with one another. I think that if you continue to feed the friendship, you fuel the devotion to each other, to God, and to the relationship.
Robin: It is only aflame when we work at keeping it aflame, but the fire is NEVER out! Over the years, it is difficult, if not impossible to keep things blazing ALL the time, every day. It is worthwhile work to stir embers!
What advice would you give your younger self about love and relationships, knowing what you know now?
Phil: I think that I'd tell myself to stop waiting for "someday" for things like taking family vacations, and focusing on my wife and children. I used a lot of vacation time going to church conventions, at times taking my entire little family out of state for one convention or another. I enjoyed those experiences, but I question the value of them to my family, our marriage, and especially to our children.
Robin: I would say to my younger self, make sure that you are your own best friend. In order to love and be in a relationship, you cannot offer others what you yourself do not cherish. Sometimes after years, you lose sight of this. If you're not careful, you can end up being a stranger to yourself. Take time to nurture yourself through all the seasons of your life.
What advice would you give to newly married couples or couples considering marriage?
Phil: GET Pre-Marital Counseling!!! As a counselor, I see individuals distressed by their marital relationships. You can save yourself some heartache if you start the marriage with a realistic view of WHO you are and to WHOM you are getting married. Get a check-up after a year or so. We did not get pre-marital counseling. There were many hills and valleys that we did not have to experience.
Robin: I would want to share the Relationship Attachment Model (RAM) with couples. At times, you may say or do something that is unintentionally damaging to others. When you share feedback with each other, the relationship may not yet be strong enough for unfiltered, ill-timed statements of perspective. It is not that you're being dishonest, but you must be wise and seek God for timing. And, if you are going to get counseling, get it from impartial individuals, not family members. There's a world of difference between counseling and advice.