Marriage Be Hard: Interview with @Kevonstage and @Mrskevonstage

Marriage Be Hard: Interview with @Kevonstage and @Mrskevonstage

Marriage is one of the most important institutions in the lives of believers. Unfortunately it is rarely spoken about beyond the headlines of culture wars in the news or as the excuse some believers hide real conversations about sex behind. A lot of believers have a hard time keeping it real about how hard it is to be married. Kevin and Melissa Fredericks, aka KevOnStage and MrsKevOnStage, rarely hold back on keeping it real in conversations.

With over a million followers on social media (which don’t happen for church folks), they are some of the most busy and influential believers on the internet. Their authenticity and creativity have helped them connect with the “churchy” and unchurched alike. But like all married folks they have had challenges in life and in marriage. Their new book Marriage Be Hard is a candid look at their marriage and the lessons they have learned along the way through reflection, therapy, The Love Hour podcast and real work. They hope to help couples everywhere to get past “just making it” in marriage to thriving through their insights.

UrbanFaith sat down with Kevin and Melissa to talk about their journey and their book. The full interview is above, more information on the book is below.

 

ABOUT MARRIAGE BE HARD

Discover the keys to upholding your vows while staying sane in this hilariously candid guide to relationships, from the husband-and-wife team of comedian Kevin Fredericks and influencer Melissa Fredericks

Growing up, Kevin and Melissa Fredericks were taught endless rules around dating, sex, and marriage, but not a lot about what actually makes a relationship work. When they first got married, they felt alone—like every other couple had perfect chemistry while the two of them struggled. There were conversations that they didn’t know they needed to have, fears that affected how they related to each other, and seasons of change that put their marriage to the test.

Part of their story reads like a Christian fairytale: high school sweethearts, married in college, never sowed any wild oats, with two sons and a thriving marriage. But there’s another side of their story: the night Melissa kicked Kevin out of her car after years of communication problems, the time early in their marriage when Kevin bordered on an emotional affair, the way they’ve used social media and podcasts to conduct a no-holds-barred conversation about forbidden topics like jealousy, divorce, and how to be Christian and sex positive. (Because, as Kevin writes, “Your hormones don’t care about your religious beliefs. Your hormones want you to subscribe to OnlyFans.”)

Can you love authentically if you were raised to be toxic?

Can you love authentically if you were raised to be toxic?

It’s not easy to be hated by the person who is supposed to love you most, and unfortunately, being toxic has become normalized in our culture.

Many see misdirected aggravation, gaslighting, physical abuse, and more as “love tactics.” When a child only knows pain as a source of love, then they too love in that way and any other form of healthy love seems abnormal.

However, the question is, can a person ever love authentically if they were raised to be toxic?

The assumption is no. When someone is exposed to consistent, toxic stress, they are vulnerable to mental and physical illness that can sometimes develop into a genetic trait, according to Hey Sigmund; therefore this behavior is biologically passed on through generations.

However, despite the science behind the effects of toxic love, there is always hope for a better life.

Fighting for Love

“I just felt like I wasn’t loved by my mom, says Monique, a woman in her 40s who was often told she wasn’t good enough. “I felt growing up in my mom’s house I wasn’t allowed to be me, an individual.”

To suit her mother’s perfect image of a family, Monique, was to participate in certain activities without any consideration of her talents or desires. While at the same time, her brother was given free reign to participate in activities of his choice throughout their childhood.

And to make matters worse, Monique’s father suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and would often abuse her. She recalls him touching her to satisfy his physical desires and severely beating her when she reported it to her incredulous mother.

Fortunately, Monique found refuge in her grandmother’s home, where she found the kind of love her mother envied. Monique remembers her mother punishing and verbally abusing her as a result of the love she received from her grandmother.

Like many girls, Monique found herself looking for love in empty relationships during her teen years that lead to a forced, terminated pregnancy and physical and emotional abuse similar to the treatment she received from her own father.

Eventually, Monique met a gentle and caring man named Laz. However, Laz’s compassion and gentleness were unfamiliar to her, which ultimately lead to Monique returning to one of her previous, toxic relationships.

She went on to marry a former flame named Xavier and stayed in her abusive marriage for eight years.

Towards the end of my [3rd] pregnancy, I found out he was cheating and when I confronted him, he hit me,” says Monique who recalls her toxic relationship that mirrored her childhood. “He asked, ‘Who are you to question me?’…It felt like because of the way I grew up, if I wasn’t getting hit, then it wasn’t love,”

After her divorce, Monique fought against her toxic past. She made the decision to rise above her father’s mental illness, her mother’s jealousy and apathy, and their collective effort to make her their emotional punching bag for their marriage troubles.

Although the struggle did not end after her marriage when it came to love, her children, and health, she remains hopeful enough to fight for the love she deserves. She charges her will to carry on to God, because without Him, she would have taken the final blow to end her suffering.

Turning Off the Gaslight

Bella was born to a Catholic family that rejected her mother for having a baby with a man that she later learned was married. The rejection caused her mother to make multiple attempts to prove her worth to the family by making Bella seem exceptional, but in private her mother was spiteful and unloving as the list of accomplishments grew.

“[My mother] did everything for me to prove herself, but not for the love of me,” Bella explains. “She worked hard to put me through private school and extracurricular activities, but at home I was repeatedly told I was nothing; sometimes she even called me a waste of a human being. To this day, she has never told me she loves me.”

Whenever something would go wrong in Bella’s life, she would automatically blame herself as a result of her relationship with her mother. Even when her husband and father of their two children committed adultery, she took the blame.

As time went on, Bella lost the love of her life, her job, and believed that she would never be loved which drove her into a suicidal state .

Until one day, Bella decided that she had enough and began to fight for her life, beauty, and self-love through therapy. “Once I figured out that I wasn’t this awful, unlovable monster that I was made to believe as a reality by someone who was unloved, it turned my world upside down in a great way,” Bella says. “It never would have happened without me doing the work in therapy.”

As a result of her treatment, Bella was led to a love that she has been enveloped in for the last four years. Even though the pain of rejection transcended through two generations, love won in the end.

“In the middle of all of this, I met a man who just rained love on me,” Bella joyfully exclaims.

Is there hope after a toxic upbringing?

“But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of [your abuser], which I also hate” (Revelations 2:6, NIV).

In the beginning of this article, the question was, can a person love authentically if they were raised to be toxic? The answer is yes, but you must fight for it.

It is easy to nurse the scars of someone that you love, because love is to be unconditional, right? But what good is unconditional love when a person’s pain has replaced the spirit that you desperately want to love?

That is spiritual warfare and it is best to back away and allow God to handle it if they are unwilling to get help. It is important to recognize the signs of someone who has been abused and trying to regain power, which can include verbally sharing memories of their toxic loved ones.

Fortunately, Bella and Monique worked past those painful memories found a way to defeat them so that the tradition of toxicity ended with them and a reign of love could begin.

Marriage and Relationships 101: Pray it, Don’t say it

Marriage and Relationships 101: Pray it, Don’t say it

You never do anything nice for me!

 When is the last time you bought me a gift?!

You never spend time with me anymore!

Do any of these phrases sound familiar to you? Perhaps they bring back a memory of an argument you and your significant other recently had?

The argument begins with something small, escalates into a blame game, and before you know it, you don’t remember what you were originally arguing about. I will be the first to say that I have been down this road many times. And, as a seasoned traveler of this road, I am here to tell you that no one feels good after these arguments.

Everyone sometimes feels hurt, confused, and worthless, like they are not good enough for their partner, like they deserve better, or whatever other unhappy feeling you want to “insert here.” Nobody wins.

As humans, we are selfish by nature. We are born selfish. In fact, selflessness is a trait that we have to learn over time. Naturally, we think “me, me, me.”

“What do I need? What do I want?”

This way of thinking transfers over into our relationships if we aren’t careful. We begin to think about whether or not our spouse has met our needs, instead of thinking about how we can meet their needs. And, if we think our needs haven’t been met, we feel it is our duty to tell our spouse about how they aren’t meeting our needs and that they should “do better.”

This may result in myriad reactions: your spouse becomes defensive, your spouse spits back what needs of theirs you aren’t meeting as well, your spouse feels worthless, your spouse shuts down, or your spouse apologizes and actually “does better.”

Unfortunately, the latter is less likely to happen. What is likely to happen is an argument that escalates quickly – leading to both parties feeling hurt, angry, or even resentful.

The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words ( Proverbs 15:28).

I imagine that if you and I were sitting down to a cup of coffee and I were sharing this with you, you would respond with, “But, you don’t understand my wife/husband! They don’t do (insert complaint here)! I need to tell them how they aren’t treating me the way I deserve to be treated!”

I would respond by asking the following: “Is telling your partner about themselves helping anything? No? Well, have you prayed about it, instead?”

Pause.

Pray about it? Yes, pray about it. God calls us to be bringers of peace to our relationships and to avoid conflict. Remember that the power of life and death are in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

Every time we are complaining about our partners, we are speaking death to our relationships. We have the power to bring life to our relationships with our tongues instead. We can do this through prayer and by speaking direct words of affirmation over our significant others.

Next time you are tempted to tell your spouse what they “need to do” for you, try affirming them in that very area you feel as though they are lacking.

For example, instead of saying, “You never take it upon yourself to do the laundry. Why can’t you do more to help out around here?” Say, “Thank you so much for all that you do to keep our house in order. I appreciate you!”

Those powerful words just spoke the actions into your spouse that you wish to see more often. Then, in your private prayer time, ask The Lord to show your partner how important it is to you that he or she pitch in around the house.

God cares about the small details. And, He will honor you for coming to Him instead of igniting a quarrel in the relationship.

After praying, serve. Serve your spouse. Remember, that is what God calls us to do in our marriage. Marriage is just two people who are servants in love.

If you are wondering how you are supposed to serve your spouse, it is written right here in Colossians 3:18-19:

 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting with the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

When you serve your spouse, you fill them up with the love of the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the love of the Holy Spirit, we are filled with the fruits of the Spirit, and when we are filled with the fruits of the Spirit, our relationships will result in less conflict.

Friends, marriage and relationships are hard work. It takes hard work to decide to be selfless every day. It takes hard work to serve your spouse when it is very possible that your own needs haven’t been met.

It takes work to pray for your spouse when you’re in the heat of an argument. It takes work to choose NOT to say something the next time you feel frustrated or conflicted. But, that work is so worth it. Take it from someone who’s been there.

I used to choose the selfish route. Now, I choose the selfless route. And, as a result, I am more in love with my husband today than I was when I married him.

 

What do Black Men Really Want in their Love Lives and Marriages?

What do Black Men Really Want in their Love Lives and Marriages?

Video Courtesy of Breanna Aponte & Its Dre Smith – Worth Thee Wait


Finding and keeping a good Black man in a relationship has become a cottage industry. From celebrities and reality TV stars to social media influencers, for better or worse, there is no shortage of relationship advice to people seeking to figure out Black men.

And while much of this content is understood to be for entertainment purposes only, some of it is presented and received as legitimate and data-driven.

This is a problem because too many people cannot distinguish what they see onscreen from reality. Media portrayals are often hyperbolic and sensationalized to attract public attention. Equally troubling is that the majority of academic research in this area also perpetuates many of the same, negative patterns that are common in popular culture.

As a graduate student and university professor, I have spent nearly two decades reviewing these studies on Black men and families. The general consensus from them falls into one of two categories: first, that many Black men are not viable marriage mates because their financial struggles will not allow them to provide for a wife and children.

Other studies conclude that many poor Black men reject monogamous romantic relationships in favor of a hypersexual masculinity to overcompensate for their inability to fulfill the traditional breadwinner role. These men, the studies conclude, treat women as conquests rather than partners.

In both historical and more recent research, studies on Black men have disproportionately examined the lives of low-income men and the struggles they faced in maintaining stable relationships in the face of economic disadvantage.

I have found that the near-exclusive focus on low-income Black men in research related to the family skews perceptions of these men. It also limits the public’s knowledge of them and the meanings they attach to their romantic relationships. And this perception can be used to perpetuate negative stereotypes that frame them as dangerous and predatory.

Resetting the image

In response to that limited view, I spent the last four years conducting a study on a more diverse group of Black men to learn more about their perspectives on marriage.

The men’s stories reveal important findings that are typically not explored in research on Black men. They opened up about their desire for intimacy and companionship in their relationships.

My findings, many of which are counter to the popular image that our society holds of Black men, have just been published in a book, “Black Love Matters: Authentic Men’s Voices on Marriage and Romantic Relationships.”

My study followed 33 Black men from Louisville, Kentucky, chronicling their personal circumstances, as well as their attitudes, experiences and behaviors within their marriages and romantic relationships. The data for the study were collected from over 150 hours of interviews with the men.

The men I interviewed ranged in age from 18 to 72. They represented a variety of relationship statuses, with men reporting being single, romantically involved, married, divorced and remarried. The men were also diverse in their educational attainment. Some had graduate and professional degrees, while others had high school diplomas and GEDs. The men also varied in their economic situations, with annual incomes ranging from $0 to US$175,000.

In sharing their experiences, the men provided an in-depth look into their love lives. Their discussions touched on many important factors that have shaped their past and current relationships.

They reflected on how they met their partners and the characteristics that made them stand out from previous partners. The men described their ideal marriage mate and shared what marriage means to them.

In discussing what attracted him to his wife, one man stated, “She wasn’t phony. She was comfortable being herself, she wasn’t trying to impress anybody. So it made me learn to be comfortable being myself.”

‘The most important decision’

In the interviews, many of the men credit their partners with making them better husbands, fathers and men. According to one of the participants, “I always tell her that I couldn’t have become who I am without her. Meeting the right person, to stand with the right person is probably the most important decision I’ve made in my life.”

The men even recognize the ways their relationships serve to combat the negative perception that often surrounds Black men.

“The media portrays us as shiftless and violent and not to be trusted. I think when you see a man with a woman treating her well, a man with his children treating them the way they should be treated, it dispels a lot of what folks see in the media. Just seeing positive men doing what men should do is a good thing,” said one man.

Most often, the men talked about how the unique characteristics that set their mate apart from others they had dated.

In explaining what attracted him to his wife, one man stated, “I think just how she was able to articulate to me who she was and how she shared some of my values when it comes to children and relationships. It’s just how she carries herself. Her presence made me want to be with her and I never had another woman make me feel like that.”

However, many of these men said they struggle with previous traumas that challenge their relationships. A detective alluded to the psychological stress he faced in being a Black man having to police his community at a time of distrust and unrest, only to come home and have to be emotionally available for his wife.

In one of his interviews, he stated, “I try not to let the stress bother me, but it’s still one of those things. It just does. Sometimes I’m really withdrawn because I’m thinking about things at work or I’m always working. When it happens, I’ve got to put myself in check.”

Another man wrestled with the realization that many of his former girlfriends had a striking resemblance to a babysitter who abused him as a child.

A crowd of Black students graduating from Howard University in 2016.

The near-total focus on low-income Black men by academia and popular culture creates an unrealistic picture of them. Here, at commencement at Howard University in 2016, students heard from then-President Barack Obama.
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Haunted by failures

In discussing their fears and insecurities, many of the men acknowledge being guarded with their emotions as a result of some of their early experiences.

Even when they were able to move beyond early negative experiences, many of the men discussed feeling haunted by their friends and family members’ failed relationships.

In these cases, the men expressed concern that their relationships would not last. As one participant said, “I don’t know that many people of color have seen marriage modeled very well.”

Yet over and over again, in the interviews, men told how they would strive to maintain their relationships in the face of myriad internal and external challenges including racism and early negative relationship experiences.

Given the lack of research on Black men featuring firsthand accounts from them, “Black Love Matters” represents a departure from previous work that seems to be preoccupied with implicating Black men in discussions of what ails their families and communities.

In lifting up the men’s voices, “Black Love Matters” shifts the focus away from talking about Black men and instead talks to them about how they love and want to be loved.The Conversation

Armon Perry, Professor of Social Work, University of Louisville

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

What do Black Men Really Want in their Love Lives and Marriages?

What do Black Men Really Want in their Love Lives and Marriages?

Video Courtesy of Breanna Aponte & Its Dre Smith – Worth Thee Wait


Finding and keeping a good Black man in a relationship has become a cottage industry. From celebrities and reality TV stars to social media influencers, for better or worse, there is no shortage of relationship advice to people seeking to figure out Black men.

And while much of this content is understood to be for entertainment purposes only, some of it is presented and received as legitimate and data-driven.

This is a problem because too many people cannot distinguish what they see onscreen from reality. Media portrayals are often hyperbolic and sensationalized to attract public attention. Equally troubling is that the majority of academic research in this area also perpetuates many of the same, negative patterns that are common in popular culture.

As a graduate student and university professor, I have spent nearly two decades reviewing these studies on Black men and families. The general consensus from them falls into one of two categories: first, that many Black men are not viable marriage mates because their financial struggles will not allow them to provide for a wife and children.

Other studies conclude that many poor Black men reject monogamous romantic relationships in favor of a hypersexual masculinity to overcompensate for their inability to fulfill the traditional breadwinner role. These men, the studies conclude, treat women as conquests rather than partners.

In both historical and more recent research, studies on Black men have disproportionately examined the lives of low-income men and the struggles they faced in maintaining stable relationships in the face of economic disadvantage.

I have found that the near-exclusive focus on low-income Black men in research related to the family skews perceptions of these men. It also limits the public’s knowledge of them and the meanings they attach to their romantic relationships. And this perception can be used to perpetuate negative stereotypes that frame them as dangerous and predatory.

Resetting the image

In response to that limited view, I spent the last four years conducting a study on a more diverse group of Black men to learn more about their perspectives on marriage.

The men’s stories reveal important findings that are typically not explored in research on Black men. They opened up about their desire for intimacy and companionship in their relationships.

My findings, many of which are counter to the popular image that our society holds of Black men, have just been published in a book, “Black Love Matters: Authentic Men’s Voices on Marriage and Romantic Relationships.”

My study followed 33 Black men from Louisville, Kentucky, chronicling their personal circumstances, as well as their attitudes, experiences and behaviors within their marriages and romantic relationships. The data for the study were collected from over 150 hours of interviews with the men.

The men I interviewed ranged in age from 18 to 72. They represented a variety of relationship statuses, with men reporting being single, romantically involved, married, divorced and remarried. The men were also diverse in their educational attainment. Some had graduate and professional degrees, while others had high school diplomas and GEDs. The men also varied in their economic situations, with annual incomes ranging from $0 to US$175,000.

In sharing their experiences, the men provided an in-depth look into their love lives. Their discussions touched on many important factors that have shaped their past and current relationships.

They reflected on how they met their partners and the characteristics that made them stand out from previous partners. The men described their ideal marriage mate and shared what marriage means to them.

In discussing what attracted him to his wife, one man stated, “She wasn’t phony. She was comfortable being herself, she wasn’t trying to impress anybody. So it made me learn to be comfortable being myself.”

‘The most important decision’

In the interviews, many of the men credit their partners with making them better husbands, fathers and men. According to one of the participants, “I always tell her that I couldn’t have become who I am without her. Meeting the right person, to stand with the right person is probably the most important decision I’ve made in my life.”

The men even recognize the ways their relationships serve to combat the negative perception that often surrounds Black men.

“The media portrays us as shiftless and violent and not to be trusted. I think when you see a man with a woman treating her well, a man with his children treating them the way they should be treated, it dispels a lot of what folks see in the media. Just seeing positive men doing what men should do is a good thing,” said one man.

Most often, the men talked about how the unique characteristics that set their mate apart from others they had dated.

In explaining what attracted him to his wife, one man stated, “I think just how she was able to articulate to me who she was and how she shared some of my values when it comes to children and relationships. It’s just how she carries herself. Her presence made me want to be with her and I never had another woman make me feel like that.”

However, many of these men said they struggle with previous traumas that challenge their relationships. A detective alluded to the psychological stress he faced in being a Black man having to police his community at a time of distrust and unrest, only to come home and have to be emotionally available for his wife.

In one of his interviews, he stated, “I try not to let the stress bother me, but it’s still one of those things. It just does. Sometimes I’m really withdrawn because I’m thinking about things at work or I’m always working. When it happens, I’ve got to put myself in check.”

Another man wrestled with the realization that many of his former girlfriends had a striking resemblance to a babysitter who abused him as a child.

A crowd of Black students graduating from Howard University in 2016.

The near-total focus on low-income Black men by academia and popular culture creates an unrealistic picture of them. Here, at commencement at Howard University in 2016, students heard from then-President Barack Obama.
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Haunted by failures

In discussing their fears and insecurities, many of the men acknowledge being guarded with their emotions as a result of some of their early experiences.

Even when they were able to move beyond early negative experiences, many of the men discussed feeling haunted by their friends and family members’ failed relationships.

In these cases, the men expressed concern that their relationships would not last. As one participant said, “I don’t know that many people of color have seen marriage modeled very well.”

Yet over and over again, in the interviews, men told how they would strive to maintain their relationships in the face of myriad internal and external challenges including racism and early negative relationship experiences.

Given the lack of research on Black men featuring firsthand accounts from them, “Black Love Matters” represents a departure from previous work that seems to be preoccupied with implicating Black men in discussions of what ails their families and communities.

In lifting up the men’s voices, “Black Love Matters” shifts the focus away from talking about Black men and instead talks to them about how they love and want to be loved.The Conversation

Armon Perry, Professor of Social Work, University of Louisville

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.