Ali & Dionne Carter Revisit Their Vows

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To Have and To Hold
The characteristic that makes Dionne’s husband Ali uniquely hers is the fact that he is not afraid to unapologetically be himself. “Ali is so put together and clean cut in appearance, but he can get real Southside Chicago if he has to, and still be totally earthy and laid back. I love that balance.”

When prompted to use 3 words to describe what takes place when she is in her husband’s arms she confidently responds, “I feel protected.

For Better or for Worse

One of the areas that the Carters admit they could do better is by being more attentive to one another’s unique needs. They would like to develop a deep understanding and ability to nurture those things for one another.

2016, was the worst year of the Carters marriage. “Last year we seriously considered divorce. It was horrible for me and the children.” Dionne explained. “It’s still hard sometimes to talk about. There are still triggers. It sometimes still feels like a fresh wound. She admits that taking the time to pause and ponder the interview questions was tough. “In 2016, we stop being on the same team.”
For Richer or for Poorer

The Carters consider their marriage to be rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, and support. When there is poor communication between them, Dionne says, “Everything falls apart, and we lose sight of being on the same team.”

Through Sickness and in Health

In response to the question of how sickness has impacted their marriage Dionne shares, “I have horrible pregnancies. Like straight- shut down, hermit, out-of-commission, ill. I have to say, my husband has always stepped up and took care of me and our family when I physically and mentally was just completely unavailable.”

The Carters have grown in the area of maintaining their marriage. “We’re learning to actively listen. And to be more attentive, yielding to one another.”

To Love & to Cherish

Dionne’s current perception of love is different now than it was before she married. “I once thought that love was the only required ingredient for a lasting marriage. Love is not just about the fairy tale and the warm fuzzy stuff. Love is patience, support, physical touch, perseverance, uncomfortable conversations, growing pains, and brokenness. The willingness to continue to love in spite of all that.” Ali builds his wife up by being her biggest cheerleader. “He challenges me to be my best self. Reminds me that I’m dope, all the time…”
Til Death Do Us Part

When Mrs. Carter was asked how the thought of death makes her appreciate her spouse she shares, “The thought of physically losing my husband makes me sad and ill. His presence is so big and robust. There would truly be a great void in my life. There are days when I wouldn’t even eat if it weren’t for my husband. I am so grateful for everything he brings to my life and our family. Most of the time, I can think out loud with him, and that’s a blessing.”

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    Something Old Something New

    Mr. Carter’s old school advice is, “If you want to be the man, then be the man.” (The marriage begins and ends with you.) His new school advice is, “Communication before marriage is key (Know her do’s and don’ts and her will and won’ts.)


    She never wants to own a big dog. She never wants to live in a high rise.
    She is allergic to cats.
    She doesn’t like cold weather.
    She hates washing dishes.
    She wants to be a stay at home mom, etc…”

Something Borrowed Something Blue

Mr. Carter believes that the popular phrase “Happy wife, Happy Life” is some “BS” he feels that the complexities of marriage can’t be reduced to such a trite expression. “The key to a successful marriage is not that simple.”
Ali goes on to say, “The marriage started with the two of you and it will end with the two of you.”

In response to the question “If you had the chance to do it all over again, what would you do differently?” Dionne shares, “I would take more time to put us first before the children came. To just nurture and further explore the man, the individual. Take the opportunity to have him all to myself a little longer. We began our relationship with children. That’s the only thing I would have wanted more of because everything else we’ve been through has gotten us here today. I have a greater respect, and appreciation for my husband and myself as a woman and wife because of what we’ve overcome.  Ali shares, “I would honestly have waited a little longer to try and get more established career wise so that we were more stable financially.”

For the reader:
If you have a question, comment, or compliment for this couple, please share in the comment section below.

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Emanuel & Karol Waddell Revisit Their Vows

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To Have and To Hold

The characteristic that makes Karol’s husband Emanuel uniquely hers is,”His unwavering devotion to us and his quirky sense of humor.” When Karol is in her husband’s arms, she feels calm and lovingly reassured. 

For Better or For Worse

The Waddells share that if there is an area they could benefit from doing better in their marriage, it would be communication.  “While our ability to effectively communicate our needs and wants to each other has improved considerably over the years, there is always room for improvement.  When asked about the worst year of their marriage, Karol responds, “I can’t honestly pinpoint a worst year. We’ve had challenging seasons in our marriage that eroded our trust in one another and caused us to question our commitment to the relationship. When faced with the decision of what our next step would be as a couple, we both chose to get real with ourselves and each other about how we got to that place and rededicated ourselves to the relationship. It took a lot of time, patience, determination and honest dialogue to rebuild the lost trust and repair the marriage slowly.”

For Richer or For Poorer

Karol and Emanuel have a marriage that is rich in long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, and intention. When there is poor communication between the two of them, they become disconnected and distant. We stop being friends and lovers and become inconvenient roommates.”

Through Sickness and in Health

When asked to share about sickness Karol shares, “Three years ago, I had surgery and was in bed for two months. I appreciate the way my husband always steps up to take care of me and the house when I am out of commission. However, another sickness fueled by poor communication was threatening our marriage during this time, and we ended up having several soul-searching conversations to start healing our marriage as my body healed.”

The Waddells maintain the health of their marriage through remembering that marriage is 100/100, not 50/50. “Maintaining a healthy marriage requires a 100% commitment by both parties. That doesn’t mean that both parties give an A+ effort everyday. It does mean that each person makes an effort; recognizes and appreciates the spouse’s efforts; picks up each other’s slack; apologizes when they come up short, and does better next time. It’s also important that each person practices good self-care. This makes it easier to be at your best for each other.” 

To Love and to Cherish

Before marriage, Karol thought love had defined rules and boundaries. “I now understand that true LOVE is dynamic and infinite. Our LOVE grows and deepens as we grow in our understanding, trust, and appreciation of each other.

Emanuel cherishes his wife by doing little things like making sure she eats breakfast; bringing home her favorite candy bar, or turning on the heater in the bedroom so it will be warm when she goes to bed. “It’s the simple acts of kindness that remind me that he is invested in our love and that my health, well-being, and comfort are important to him.”

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Til Death Do Us Part

When asked how does the thought of death make her appreciate her spouse Karol responds, “I am very fortunate to have a loving husband who gives me his best everyday. When I think about EVERYTHING he does for me and our family and the fact that death will separate us one day, I’m reminded to be more attentive and intentional about making sure he knows how grateful I am for him. And I thank God, that he chose, and continues to choose, me “to have and to hold until death do us part”!”

Something Old Something New

Some old school advice that has greatly impacted Emanuel is, “There is always an opportunity for growth. Growth occurs individually and as a couple.” When asked to share some new school advice Emanuel responded, There is nothing new under the sun. Simply because something is shiny and glittery does not mean it is new. In many instances only the packaging is different. Marriage is about patience, persistence, more patience, and more persistence. “

Something Borrowed Something Blue

Emanuel’s borrowed advice is a quote by Alexander Pope, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” His bonus advice for husbands is, “Always start with the man in the mirror” When asked to offer a question to ask his wife Emanuel responded, “Hopefully, there are no questions unasked.” Karol’s question for her husband that she feels all spouses should ask periodically is, ” “Are you happy?” It’s very important to KNOW –not assume– that both are spouses are comfortable and happy in the marriage regardless of what anyone else says or thinks.” When asked if they had the chance to do it all over again would they the Waddells shared that they would, “Be deliberate and intentional about engaging in meaningful conversation and keeping the romance alive on a more consistent basis.”

For the reader: If you have a question, comment, or compliment for The Waddells please feel free to share in the comment section below.

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Scott & Shelton Oakley Hersey Revisit Their Vows

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To Have and to Hold

The quality that Scott has that makes him exclusively hers is his attentiveness. She describes him as having a unique blend of serious and silly.  “Scott is consistently attentive to me and to others, always looking for small ways to serve that most people might never notice.”When Shelton is in Scott’s arms, she feels beloved, home, and seen.

For Better or for Worse

One of the areas that Scott and Shelton feel they can do better in their marriage is through not reacting emotionally to the other’s state of being. “When one of us is sad, frustrated, tired, or insecure, the other can tend to mirror the same emotion. It has been something we honestly weren’t aware of at the start of our marriage and sometimes occasionally only saw it as a strength.” They’ve discovered that there are times in which this tendency is a good thing–when it promotes empathy and sensitivity. “Often times, however, this lack of emotional detachment has kept us from many healthy paths including seeking and speaking truth about who we are in Christ and the promises of God we can rely on.”

When asked about the worst year of their marriage Shelton and Scott respond with “Can we say the worst (or hardest) year and a half?”

As missionaries living in a South African township, The Hersey’s went through a period in which they had to balance full-time ministry, full work schedules, a growing social enterprise business, friends experiencing deep trauma, and their own mental lows. During this same period, they transitioned from South Africa to Boston, all the while facing consistent illness and infertility.

“There was so much to do, so much loss in the massive transitions and struggle with infertility and illness, and each of us had our own journeys of grief and healing to walk through. We had been married for three years at this point, we were exhausted and well past our breaking points and did not understand very well how deep our emotional lows were and how much we were trying to sustain ourselves on our own strength.”

Through consistent tears, moments of irritation and anger, little to no energy, and loneliness they came to understand long-suffering in marriage. They saw the beauty that can come from sticking by one another and trusting God’s promises. They had to mourn the end of one season while embracing the beginning of another. “We needed rest, perseverance, counseling, acceptance of one another, healthy detachment from each others’ emotional ups and downs and the type of healing that only comes over time cloaked in grace.”

For Richer or for Poorer

Shelton & Scott see their marriage as being rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, and growth. They enjoy learning from one another and growing personally and together.

When there is poor communication between these two they share, “Our tendency when we poorly communicate or don’t communicate is to make assumptions… Assumptions about what the other is thinking, doing and not thinking or doing that we feel they should be considering… and assumptions about each other’s motivations.”

Through Sickness and in Health

The Hersey’s are far too familiar with sickness. “This past year, we journeyed through the illness and passing of Scott’s father. Watching Scott’s dad struggle and pass from this life to the next was so painful, especially for Scott. Meanwhile, we continued to struggle with infertility and grieve through the process of unsuccessful fertility treatments. Again, the two of us were faced with another wilderness period of grief, each of us expressing it so different than the other. We longed for a lighter season of healing and regeneration. This time, we clung to God, sought joy and gratitude of each other, held a new perspective of the preciousness of life, and gave each other the acceptance, space, support, and grace we both needed to freely grieve and heal. We discovered amidst this wilderness season that regeneration was happening all along.

The way the Herseys maintain the health of their marriage is through communication. “We try to be aware of our own pain points when they’re triggered so we can speak God’s truth to ourselves and to each other. We create fun moments, romance, memories and conversations through which to connect in new and diverse ways. We rely on community and share openly about our marriage: the struggles, the different seasons, the help we have gratefully received, the love, fondness, respect and admiration we have for one another. We speak well of each other to others, conscious of building each other up and not tearing one another down.

To Love and to Cherish

Shelton’s perception of love has not changed much since before she married, but her understanding of what it means has deepened. “One perspective that has changed is what love in action means. I have had to learn a LOT about what this means for Scott and also for myself. Love for us means:

  • Prioritizing time together. 
  • Extending an extra measure grace to each other. 
  • Acknowledging what Scott says he needs.
  • Supporting each other in every season. 
  • Celebrating small and big “piles of stones” (or markers of God’s faithfulness.) 
  • Laying down our individual life visions for a God’s vision for “us.”
  • Embracing a unified vision that is about our journey toward wholeness. 

Scott cherishes his wife through encouraging her. Through his words, small notes, texts, emails and choosing to be present. He supports her in various areas of work and community commitments. He contributes to her gifts and passion. “My favorite is when he out of the blue says to me, “I’m so proud of you, Shelt,” or sends me a text that says, “I love you, and I see you.””

Til Death Do Us Part

When asked how the thought of death makes Shelton appreciate her husband she responds, “It is strange. Even though I only met Scott at age 25, I now cannot imagine living this life journey without him. In fact, looking back, it feels as if he was a small part of me all along. Perhaps this is because God has intricately used Scott to shape me more into my whole and true self. I always tell people that in being married to Scott, I have grown into the person that God created at my very inception; through him, my brokenness has given way to a more centered soul rooted in Christ.”

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Something Old Something New

Scott’s old school advice can be found in John 15:13, he quotes,

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay one’s life down for another.”

He goes on to share, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

  • Seek the interest of your wife before your own interest
  • If your wife wants to connect with you in a way that doesn’t interest you, lay down your interest and choose to connect.
  • Enter into conversations and conflict that you don’t think is a big deal or worth a conversation but it’s important to your spouse to engage and grow.
  • Listen to understand.
  • Buy a less expensive car (or something else) because your together-values are to be frugal and generous with others.
  • Put down your work (or turn off the t.v.) and go to bed with your spouse as much as you can (ending the day together is a great rhythm!)
  • Conserve energy throughout your day to have the peace and presence to go on a date night or to help serve alongside your wife in daily family routines.

His new school advice is to, “ Be aware when to HALT(!) a conversation. In other words, don’t enter into a serious conversation if either of you are feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (HALT). Take some space–even if it means going to bed, taking a walk or going about your day while you’re still feeling a few of these things–so you can come back to each other and the conversation in a better, more whole place.”

Something Borrowed Something Blue

Some borrowed advice that has greatly impacted Scott over the years is, “Intentionally discover and seek out the unique ways your wife receives love and keep exploring new ways to speak her love language. Keep in mind that your wife’s love language might (and will) change from season to season in life. Your wife is in the process of constantly changing… So take the time and give energy to continually get to know her, always holding her with sacred curiosity.”

Scott’s bonus advice is to “Have fun together! Seek out fun, adventure, and new experiences, and pursue enjoyment of one another in little and big ways!” He suggests that couples celebrate as often as they can.

The question Scott would like his wife Shelton to answer is, “In what way do you feel you most need to be consistently pointed to God?”

Shelton’s question for her husband Scott is, “What do you dream over and for us?”

When asked if they had the chance to do it all over again would they, Scott replies, “I would have been more consistent about walking with other men through the marriage journey. We have had some very important and intentional voices speaking into our marriage, and some of the most important pieces of vision and health in marriage have been heavily influenced by our mentors and those with an intentional presence in our lives. I would have tried harder to be more consistent about these connections in difficult seasons as well as find new mentors from whom to receive encouragement.”

Shelton’s response to doing it over was, “Earlier on, I would have lowered my super-high and unrealistic expectations of Scott and our marriage (an expectation of perfection that I didn’t realize I had until a few years into marriage). I like the hopes I hold for us and that we hold together. I am enjoying the plans we make that are cloaked in God’s grace and vision for our wellness, not in my own expectation. I know I have a long way to go in this area, but I hope we can continue to see our marriage even more through the eyes of God’s delight in us so that all we do and say to one another might derive from a place of inspiration, not expectation.” 

For the reader: If you would like to ask this couple a question or offer a word of encouragement, please do so in the comment section below?

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Steve & Rita Smith Revisit Their Vows


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To Have

The characteristic that Rita says her husband Steve has that makes him uniquely hers is his God-given purpose.


To Hold

When she is in his arms, she feels intimacy, security, and possibilities.


For Better or Worse

Something that the Smiths both admit they could benefit from doing better in their marriage is listening. The worst year of their marriage was the first year. When asked “Why?” Their collective answer was “growing pains.” 


For Richer or Poorer

Mr. & Mrs. Smith consider their marriage rich in intimacy, understanding, laughter, friendship, long-suffering, but most of all faith. When there is poor communication between the Smiths, “We take a time-out… Stop talking, take a break, then resume.”

 Through Sickness and in Health

“In 2013, my husband was diagnosed with cancer, had a staph infection, heart surgery, and diagnosed with ITP.  4 years later, we’re still standing. It has made our marriage stronger.” In February of 2017, Steve had splenectomy surgery and just finished up chemotherapy at the Mayo Clinic. During every hospital stay his wife slept in the bed with him. No matter how uncomfortable or small the hospital bed was Rita’s only place of comfort was found next to her husband. When he had staph, the doctors had to explain to her the dangers of sleeping so close. It was the only time she actually complied with their requests to not sleep in the same bed with her husband. The way they maintain the health of their marriage is to, “Run home every day, and keep dating each other.”

To Love and To Cherish

Rita values her vows now more than ever before. Her husband Steve is her greatest cheerleader. “He models godly character, teaches me, and pushes me.”


Til Death Do Us Part

When asked about how death makes her appreciate her spouse Rita responds, “If you’ve seen the movie the “Notebook,” that’s our desire. That we go together and never experience separation.”

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Something Old Something New

When asked to share some old school advice Steve replies, “Start out like you can hold up.” His new school advice is, “Invest in your marriage.” 

Something Borrowed Something Blue (something extra for fun)

Steve’s borrowed advice for husbands is, “Success is nothing unless you have someone to share it with.” When asked to share some bonus advice, Steve, who is a Pastor practically preaches a sermon, a pretty powerful one that all husbands should adhere to.

“I would like to encourage all husbands to make a decision to have the type of marriage that typifies the love that Christ has for the Church. Marriage is the ONLY earthly example we have to show others, how much Christ loves the church.
Always remember that she is the weaker vessel, (things that affect her may not bother you, she is more emotional) therefore dwell with her “according to knowledge” –that your prayers be not hindered. Remember husbands, you are the “Pitcher,” and she is the “Catcher.” Be mindful of what you’re throwing at her. If you don’t like what she’s offering you, investigate what you’re giving to her, she is usually just returning what you gave to her.
Honor your vows and be true to God, be true to your spouse, be true to yourself, “Drink water from your own cistern,” have no need for “spoil” outside of your marital union. I’m honored, thankful, and grateful, to know that in 29 years of marriage to my wife, that she is the only woman I’ve known intimately since I walked down the aisle, and said, “I do.” I settled in my mind, a long time ago, that I never ever want to cause her pain! 


Steve’s question for his wife is “What makes you stay in love and remain committed to me?” Rita’s question for Steve is, “Is it still good to you?”  Steve and Rita are very much in love and not lacking at all in the romance department. Their shared advice for couples is to never stop dating, and plan at least one night out of the week for just the two of you, and make that your date night. If they had the chance to do it all over again the one thing they would do differently is, “Start it all one day earlier.”

For the reader: If you have something you would like to share, or a question you would like to ask the Smiths please do so in the comment section below.


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Eugene & Naima Russell Revisit Their Vows

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To Have and to Hold

Naima describes what traits make her husband uniquely hers, “He’s very old school. He’s part play Mario Brothers on our Nintendo in our PJs Saturday morning, and part hold my hand, so I don’t stumble in my heels while he carries the groceries.” When Naima is in her husband’s Eugene’s arms, she feels affirmed, released, and like she’s melting.


For Better or For Worse

Something the Russells feel like they can do better in their marriage is, “Not thinking the worst of the other person’s actions. Asking for clarity and actually listening to UNDERSTAND and not just waiting for the other person to pause so you can  respond.”


The worst year of their marriage was the year after their first child was born. “Priorities shifted, recovery from childbirth, sleep deprivation, just all around new parenthood took its toll. We stopped working on the marriage, and things were said that caused a rift that we are still working hard to heal from.

For Richer or For Poorer

The Russells state that their marriage is rich in resilience. When there is poor communication between the two of them Naima shares, “We both end up frustrated and confused. The devil thrives in confusion, and it is an opening for strife in our marriage. We end up seeing the other person as our enemy, as someone to compete against, we assume the worst of them.”

Through Sickness and in Health

Mrs. Russell shares about their experience with sickness, “My mother-in-law was diagnosed with sarcoidosis years before I ever met my husband and through faith, prayer and the care of my father-in-law she defied her life expectancy several times over. A short 10 months after we were married she went into the ICU. My husband and I, along with an army of family, and friends stayed by her side around the clock for the next month. We traded shifts, we brought meals to the hospital, we never gave up on her. She made her transition a few days before his birthday.  That is a really hard thing to go through in your first year of marriage.

Everyone thinks that the first year of marriage is a never-ending date night, all roses and candlelight dinners, and for some it is, but most will tell you the rose-colored glasses quickly fall off before the thank you notes are in the mail. You have to figure each other out (who are we as a MARRIED couple now), You have to figure yourself out (who am I as a wife/husband), and then you throw the loss of a parent in there? Our marriage had to grow up quickly, and I had to embrace this new person my husband had become. He had this fresh wound –this hole that, as much as I wanted to, I could not fill. Nor was that my job.”

Maintaining the health of their marriage has been their biggest challenge. “We try date nights, but our kids are so young it’s hard to get away, and when we finally do we are tired, with a capital T.  Pre-kids, we did a vision for the year, read books, went to conferences. I want to get back to this. It is so important to keep working on us.

To Love and to Cherish

Naima’s admits that her perception of love before marriage was influenced by one too many romantic comedies. “This is probably pretty cliche, but I expected him to “get me” to just know what I needed to feel loved. Now I try and tell him exactly what I need and hope he remembers,” she laughs before continuing to say, “I am also focusing on the 5 Love Languages. I am learning his love language and realizing that to really touch him I need to speak his language too. He speaks Swahili, and I speak French so emotionally we have a continent between us, so we have to keep working on that bridge daily.”

Eugene cherishes his wife by being tough on her… It’s his way of affirming her. If she doesn’t go after hard opportunities, or he gets frustrated when she gets down on herself. He sees value in what she brings to the table and doesn’t want to see her discouraged. She shares, “Of course being a romantic I initially wanted a softer approach but realizing that’s is his way of showing love is kind of sweet.

Til Death Do Us Part

When asked about how the thought of death makes her appreciate her husband Naima poses the question, “Who would kill the spiders or clean the kid’s runny noses?

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Something Old Something New

When asked to share some old school advice Eugene encourages husbands to:

  • Open doors for your wife.
  • Pump her gas.
  • If you see her carrying heavy bags, take them from her.
  • If she’s coming home after dark, watch (or walk) her out of the car and into the house.

It’s not that she’s incapable of doing these things alone, it’s just important for her to know that you are covering her.

Mr. Russell’s new school advice is If you’ve got kids, hold it down at home so she (if she desires) can get away at least once a week for what I’ll call a “mental health” break. If you don’t have kids, encourage her to do something fun or relaxing on her own (or with her friends) regularly.

Something Borrowed Something Blue

A quote that has strongly impacted their relationship is “Marriage is more than a loving feeling. It’s a daily commitment.” Eugene’s bonus advice is, “If she teases you, learn to laugh at yourself. Sometimes, laughter can be the best pillow talk.”

The question that Eugene would like to ask his wife is, “In what everyday, practical way/ways does your husband make you feel loved?”

Naima would like for her husband to answer the question, “What are some ways I show you respect?”

If the Russels had the chance to do it all over again the thing they would do differently is,

We would have been more mindful of what we said to one another in the heat of the moment during arguments. Once spoken, hurtful things can’t be taken back.”

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Jonathan & Harriet Williams Revisit Their Vows

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To Have

The trait that Harriet’s husband Jonathan has that makes him uniquely hers is his ability to make her feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations.

To Hold

When Mrs. Williams is in her husband’s arms, she feels safe, peaceful, and at home.

For Better or for Worse

The Williams feel as though they could do a better job of managing their time away from one another. With a laugh Harriet shares, “We’re together a lot, and at times we feel lost without the other. Personal time is needed, but we tend to forget that.” When asked about their worst year in their marriage Harriet shares, “I can’t say we had “a worst” year, but more so a shift.

When all our children had grown up and moved on, I started working out, losing weight and doing more things I had an interest in. Everything seemed different to me because I had no one else to focus on but myself, I thought.” She started to feel like she would enjoy what she was doing more if her husband were there. She later learned, and admits is still learning how to enjoy the things she does but still make time for her husband. “I had to teach myself that it was OK for us to have different interests but, ultimately at the end of the day, he is my main interest.” 

For Richer or For Poorer

The Williams marriage is rich in laughter, long-suffering, friendship, understanding, faith, intimacy, but most of all LOVE. When there is poor communication between Jonathan and Harriet, “The house normally gets quiet for a while. I’m not one to hold stuff. We talk when we’ve given each other a minute. We don’t stay upset with each other for long.”

In Sickness and in Health

When asked about sickness Harriet shares, “My husband I both faced surgeries this year. I can honestly say we pulled even closer during those times. He goes far and beyond when taking care of me and I try to do the same.” The Williams maintain the health of their marriage through communication. They talk about everything.  

To Love and to Cherish

When asked to share what she thought about love before she was married Harriet explains, “I can honestly say I didn’t know what LOVE was when I got married. It’s so much more than looks and sex. It’s about long-suffering, becoming selfless, committed, caring for another more than yourself, building, giving past your reserve and the list goes on.”

Jonathan cherishes his wife by praying for her. “That right there, means everything, EVERYTHING!  I’ve been blessed with a man that truly cares about my spiritual growth and me as a woman.  Everything else is extra, and there is a lot of extras. From cooking for me and being the first one to tell me I’m beautiful.” Jonathan builds his wife up by showing her she’s special. 

Til Death Do Us Part

When asked about how death makes her appreciate her husband Harriet expresses, He’s the one who showed me what love is. I know that I’ve been given a love that will be a blessing to me throughout my lifetime. From the early morning talks to being held in his arms while watching TV. I send my secret prayers of thanks at those times. They will never be able to be replaced nor forgotten. He has given me so much that my harvest overflows through my children and prayerfully their children’s children.” 

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Something Old Something New

Jonathan’s old school advice begins at the beginning, Genesis 2:24 to be exact. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Jonathan who is a fountain of wisdom flows on to say,

  • Don’t let the Sun go down on your wrath;
  • A soft answer turns away wrath;
  • The Early Bird gets the Worm;
  • Early to bed early to rise-helps to keep one healthy and wise.
  • Keep others out of YOUR MARRIAGE
  • Don’t be afraid to share, but what goes on between you and your spouse stays between you and YOUR SPOUSE (Keep out in-laws, friends, children, etc. Unless there is something detrimental or life-threatening)

His new school advice is, “Love life and be true to yourself and be yourself. In other words, No one can be you Except YOU!!!”

Something Borrowed Something Blue

A marriage quote that impacted Mr. Williams strongly is, “Communication is the key to a great marriage journey- really listening effectively, talking, and understanding your partner makes for a great start in marriage and being 100% committed to your partner will keep it going and exciting.” He emphatically expresses, “Keep other people out of your family business!” He reflects on the saying, “This is grown folks business.” And shares that as a couple all couples should adopt the phrase, “This is between ME and MY spouse.” Jonathan’s extra word of advice is to, Date your Partner even if you have been married a while.” He goes on to add an inside joke, “Do your ONE JOB.”

The question he would like for his wife to answer is, “When can we retire?” Harriet’s question for her husband is “Why do you think you can hide candy from me?” This couple is as sweet as the treats Jonathan hides. When presented with the question of what would they do differently if they had a chance to do it all over, Harriet answers, “Nothing, if I change anything it may not lead me to where I am and with whom I’m with today.” Jonathan says, “I would be crazy to try and change something, If I did, I would not have all the blessings and love that I get daily from my wife and family, and of course, our God who made it all possible. LIFE IS GOOD!”

For the reader: If you would like to compliment, question, or encourage this couple please feel free in the comments below.

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Jenny & Buster Frith Revisit Their Vows

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To Have

Jenny Frith knows her husband, Buster. She knows his looks, when he needs to talk when he needs downtime, what drives him, his strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly she knows that he lives his life to serve God and their family.

To Hold

When Buster holds Jenny she feels secure, safe, and connected.

For Better or Worse

Something the Friths feel they can do better in their marriage is to take date nights and spend more time alone time together without the kids or any distractions. The worst year of their marriage was when their older kids were ages 1 and 2. “I was working full-time at night so I could keep them during the day.  I was missing seeing my husband, and I was exhausted because I would come in from work as he was leaving, and the kids were just getting up. Not seeing each other was the worst thing ever. I was emotionally and physically exhausted.”

For Richer or Poorer

As they talk about their relationship, it’s clear that the Friths are best friends and their marriage is rich in laughter and levity. They dance in the kitchen and laugh a lot. Jenny confesses, ” I love watching him read and study the Word- that is so hot to me! I love that he knows me. He knows when I need chocolate, he knows when I’m upset he’ll say, “come here,” and he gives me a big ole bear hug. I love spending time with him, I love my man.” Whenever there is poor communication between these two frustrations arise because they are big communicators. If something doesn’t seem right, they discuss it and get it solved. If there is a miscommunication, they believe in owning their fault so they can apologize and move forward. 

Through Sickness and in Health

The Friths are not strangers to sickness and health struggles. Jenny shares “There have been so many. We both helped take care of my grandmother as she aged.” She recalls a time in which her grandmother fell and broke her hip which led to her being wheelchair bound. Being picked up in her wheelchair and carried up the stairs to enter their home would frighten her grandmother so Buster singlehandedly built a large wooden portable ramp so Jenny’s grandmother would no longer have to worry. “It meant the world to me how he cared for her in that way.”

5 years ago, Jenny had breast cancer, and Buster never left her side. When she came home, she had to sleep propped up on a couch in their den because of her drains and Buster slept right there on the other couch just to be close to her. He cleaned the drains, cooked, took care of the kids, helped brush her hair, and helped her in the shower daily.

Last year, The Friths found out about a tumor on Buster’s pancreas. Jenny says, “He showed he had the strength and faith of a warrior. When he came out of surgery, he was so pale… He spoke quietly, “come here.” When I leaned in gently to give him a hug, he said, “I love you so much.”

The way the Friths maintain the health of their marriage is through communication and spending time together. “We work together to get things done and truly enjoy each other. We pray together each day and make God first in our marriage, family, and lives.”

To Love and to Cherish

Jenny, who was 15 years old when she first met Buster says, “we’ve always been friends, but marriage brought new experiences like finances, children, work, ministry, sickness, etc. I thought I knew what love was back when we were young, but I have grown to love him more deeply than I ever knew possible. “

The way Buster cherishes his wife is through supporting her in every way. Before he leaves for work, he kisses her on the head and tells her to have a great day and reminds her that he loves her. He also calls her during the day to check on her and the kids. From housework to homework he helps out daily, even after a long day at work. “I love that when he comes home, he will find me before he does anything else. He will come to wherever I am to find out about my day and hug me and kiss me as soon as he gets home. He always puts others first and has such a servant’s heart.”

 Til Death Do Us Part

When asked about to talk about how death makes Jenny appreciate her spouse she responds, “This last year was eye-opening for me (referring to sickness). We can talk about death and try to imagine it, but until it comes or we are faced with an attack, we

simply cannot imagine how overwhelming and gripping it is to experience even the thought of truly losing your spouse.”

Though the spot on her husband’s pancreas was discovered a year ago and has since been removed. She vividly recalls what it was like to receive the news. “I had to literally sit down as I received the call. I knew he had not looked well and was having abdominal pain and of course, being a nurse immediately thought of pancreatic cancer.  That phone call literally took my breath away. I had to go and sit down at my kitchen table and ask the nurse to repeat what she just said. I heard it, but I needed to process it. I had to leave immediately and go get orders for another scan to be done at the hospital. As I got into my car, I started saying, “this is not happening” out loud.” The thought of losing her husband was too much to bear.

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Something Old Something New

When asked to share some old school advice Buster refers to scripture, In 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul tells us to pray continuously and give thanks in all circumstances, for that is Gods will for our lives.” Buster adds “in marriage, we should pray continuously together, as a display of unity in our appreciation for His many blessings, regardless of what we might be going through.” 

 He continues with some new school advice for husbands, “Youll commonly hear the old saying happy wife, happy lifebut don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the words or trapped into believing that her happiness is fueled by material things. Your wife has a fundamental need to know shes loved, cherished, and appreciated. A light touch as you walk by or an unsolicited compliment on her looks or what she’s wearing lets her know that she is noticed. Listening to her and holding her when she’s upset (even if shes upset with you) shows you care.” Buster believes that if a man really wishes to show commitment to investing in a marriage that arranging a surprise date night or weekend away sends a strong message. “When the pace of our world (especially if you have children) makes you feel too busy unselfishly spending time together and small displays of affection strengthen the bonds of marriage in ways a new house, car, or diamond ring cannot.

 Something Borrowed

 Once while preparing to teach a couples’ class about expectations, Jenny and Buster realized that even though they had been married for more than 10 years, they were guilty of letting misplaced expectations cause division within their own family. As they taught they learned strategies for communicating expectations. As they set out to pour into the couples in the class, God used the information they were sharing on expectations to not only strengthen their marriage, but also their relationships with family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. 

Something Blue (something extra just for fun)

Buster has a brilliant strategy of finding out what’s going on with his wife. He has learned to listen to their children who are homeschooled because they are his wife most of the day. By listening to their kids, he can tell if she is stressed or simply needs encouragement. Buster says, “my daughters occasionally greet me when I come home and quietly inform me about something she is struggling with. Those are the days she especially needs to know she’s loved, cherished, and appreciated.

A question that Buster would like for his wife to answer is, “What is one aspect of our lives we could change to make our marriage and family stronger?” and a question that Jenny would like for her husband to answer is “What is something I can do to make your life easier?” When asked if they would do it all over again Jenny and Buster referred to a sign they have hanging in their bathroom, “If I had my life to do over again… I’d find you sooner so I could love you longer.” They said they would do it all over again in a heartbeat.


For the reader: What question would you like to ask this couple?


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Anniversary Q&A


1. What is something quirky about me that you love?

Toya- I like that you talk to yourself.

Melvin- I love that you are a black girl who can’t dance.

2. How did you know I was the one?

Toya- I knew you were the one because you loved all the things I didn’t like about myself.

Melvin-I knew you were the one because you weren’t naive and you survived meeting my mom.

3. What song would you say is “our” song?  (Old School & New School)

Toya- Old School, It’s Our Anniversary by Tony, Toni, Tone. New School, What Do You Say by Proverbalist.

Melvin- Don’t You Know by Heavy D. New School, My Whole Life Has Changed by Genuine

To hear a song my husband wrote for me click photo.

4. What is your favorite book and why?

Toya-The Bible. It’s the perfect blend of drama and hope.

Melvin- The Bible. It’s always applicable.

5. What is one of the first things I did that made an impression on you?

Toya-You heard me.

Melvin-You gave me your number.

6. What is a goal you have for our marriage?

Toya-I’d like for us to leave a legacy of love in the earth. One that impacts our children’s children. I would love for us to write a book on marriage.

Melvin-I would like to experience more firsts together.


7. What is your absolute favorite memory with me?

Toya- Traveling to Honduras.

Melvin-It’s not a memory, it’s a feeling.

8. What advice would you give to a couple about to get married?

Toya-Pray for, praise, protect and pursue one another.

Melvin-Put your spouse before yourself.

9. Would you rather time travel with me into our past or into our future?

Toya-I would choose to travel to the past, I would like for you to meet my father.

Melvin- I would like to travel to the future to meet our children’s children. To see space travel or find out if we all become zombies.


10. When was the last time we laughed uncontrollably?

Toya-Yesterday. You did an impersonation of Jeff Bridges in The Giver.

Melvin-In Mississippi when our son asked the preacher why he said “Ha!” between every word.

11. Would you rather have more money to spend on me or more time to spend with me?

Toya-I would rather have more time to spend with you.

Melvin-I want more time to spend with you and more money to spend on you because you were with me when I had no money.

12. What has been our greatest trial?


Melvin-Raising children.


13. What has been our greatest triumph?


Melvin- Being “happily” married.

14. Tell me one thing that I do for you that no one else does? (Outside of the obvious.)

Toya-You listen when I’m hurting until pain leaves and love returns.

Melvin- Give me purpose. Make me feel special.


15. What is the very first thing you thought of me when we first met?

Toya-I thought you were a flirt, I didn’t like your cologne, you were light-skinned…

Melvin-I thought you were a cute girl that I wanted to flirt with.

16. What is my greatest weakness?

Toya- Your rigid paradigms.

Melvin- That you love people so deeply.

17. What is my greatest strength?

Toya- Your ability to compartmentalize.

Melvin- That you love people so deeply.



If you have any questions you would like to add to our list we welcome you to do so in the comment section. To listen to What Do You Say, written by Melvin Poplar Jr. (vocals by Adam Sullivan) click image under question number three. Thanks for taking the time out to help us celebrate our anniversary! We hope you enjoyed this glimpse into our marriage.

Toya & Melvin Poplar

P.S. Don’t be shy, we would love to hear from you. If you are married how many years have you been married, what advice would you offer a couple about to get married?