Kelly and I met Cedric & Brenda at the Refreshing Your Marriage Conference in LA a few months back. They welcomed us into their home and we left with so many nuggets of wisdom from their marriage journey thus far!
Married: 24 years
Cedric: I am very simple. I like to hang out. Our best date was when we were engaged and had no money. I had enough money to get a plane ticket and stay with Brenda’s brother in the Bay Area. We would just be tourists, take the BART To San Francisco, crash weddings, ask hotel maids to show us one of the rooms, sneak into a gorgeous Catholic Church and lay out at the Regional Park in Berkeley. We would just explore and be tourists!
Brenda: Yeah, we just love to talk and take long drives. One time, in Fresno, we just sat in the car for four hours and talked the whole time.
Brenda: 2013 was especially difficult because our minister died of a heart attack and Cedric stepped up to become the minister. Also, we were getting ready to leave for our anniversary trip when I got a call from my brother that my mother (who has Alzheimers) was lost so we cancelled our trip and went to be with family up north. And in the meantime, life is going on -- kids need to be fed, laundry needs to get done, etc.
Turning points imply that your life is turning but it is important to pivot around your marriage and remember the simple joys of marriage because otherwise you allow the turning points to turn away from one another. You gotta find the time. Cedric doesn’t have a day off. He works all week and is a minister on the weekends. It’s taken years to find our rhythm and we’re still figuring out how to balance.
LOVE + RESPECT
Cedric: Brenda takes care of everything. She is the the CEO of the Payne Corporation. We could not to life without her because she takes care of us. One thing I appreciate is that every once in a while she’ll text me at work: “You’re loved & I appreciate you." It’s so nice to be encouraged when you’re in the grind. Also, I love that she is never inconvenienced by me. She is quick to offer help and always says, "I am available."
Brenda: Cedric always prioritizes me and our family. When he was going into ministry, I was nervous because some of the most dysfunctional families are minister’s families. Many pastor's kids are bitter because their father is meeting the needs of everyone in the congregation except that of the family; or he is living a double life--one way in church and the opposite at home. Cedric has always prioritized me and the kids. He has never not been there when I said I need him. And he always makes sure that we go on vacation every year. Especially now that our son is 18 he won’t wanna go on vacation soon. We went to Albuquerque one year just because!
Cedric: I love vacations for two reasons: One - I just have a need to get a way and Two - it’s a whole week of us spending quality time together. It doesn’t matter where we go. It’s that we are all together.
Cedric: We have boxing gloves somewhere! We've known each other for the majority of our lives so we have learned to hash it out.
Brenda: I think what helps is trying to realize who the real enemy is. My husband is not the enemy. In a conflict, Cedric’s intention is not bad towards me. It’s tempting to want to protect yourself but if you look at the matter, he does not mean me harm. Knowing that bit of truth helps you diffuse the conflict from going further. Learn to address conflict because when your’e in the heat of things, things can go awry. Make sure to deal with what is really the conflict not the conflict from 6 months ago. We've realized that we are both trying to solve this for OUR Best.
Cedric: Also, we are rarely in conflict at the same time. Sometimes it’s my issue or her issue.
Brenda: And you gotta be like, "Fight with your self and deal with what you’re going through because that has nothing to be with me. You’re having a moment. Go deal with that and come back when you’re done."
Things will work out. you don’t have to blow up over every little thing.
He/She is not my enemy
Cedric: Going to marriage conferences is a big deal too. We go once a year. Life can become a grind where you feel burdened by life and it can be so easy to enjoy marriage. It’s easy to get in conflict when you forget the gift of marriage.
Brenda: Our society does not appreciate the gift of marriage. It’s really easy to forget that this is special and precious and needs to be cherished.
ADVICE FOR NEWLYWEDS
- Invest in the marriage, not your wedding. Everyone is so wedding crazy and doing so much for that day. Life will happen soon after the party is over.
- Premarital counseling is vital.
- Don’t let divorce be an option. It’s not a word that should ever come out of your mouth. It’s not a card that you will eventually pull. If you realize that your marriage is bigger than just you, you will work on it no matter what it takes. It’s a testimony to your community. Everything still revolves around family and marriage. It always comes up. You’re taking this step that is so much larger than you two. Our desires and selfishness can be tabled a bit easier when you realize how big of deal your marriage is.
- You’re not an individual in this marriage. Sometimes we can be self-centered about what you’re getting out of your marriage. There must be something wrong with our marriage. This is a covenant. It’s not two single people in a business arrangement. I cannot just view our relationship and wonder what I can get out of it. What are we contributing together so that it is mutually beneficial. It’s not just about me and my needs being fulfilled. What am I doing to nurture Brenda as well?
- Our youngest son (15) asked the other day: “How do I find my queen?” and I was like, “Son, you need to talk to your dad about that one!” Their expectation is built on our example. What we live in front of them is what they will portray. We spend our whole adolescence to say “I never wanna be like my parents” and then we turn into our parents. My dad used to always say to my brothers, “If you wanna see what she will be like, look at her mother.” We are influenced by the people we come from. How we live in front our children will be how they live in front of their children. And they will have a few photos of us and have a few adjectives to say about us so we hope that they will say some good adjectives!