I’ve always felt the following went without saying but here goes: The only people who truly know what’s going on in a marriage are the two in it. Period. Still, I get sheer joy from featuring those (seemingly) happy marriages of Black women who are rarely portrayed on the big and small screen, on the radio, in magazines and on the Web. As you’ve noticed with previous Marriage Matters couples, I purposely highlight folks that are “young” yet have been married a decade or longer because they’ve passed the honeymoon stage of wedded bliss but can still relate to you nearlyweds and newlyweds.
The Hodges are yet another one of my fave couples though I must admit I’m biased because they’re also family. (Actually, I would like them even if we weren’t related.) Read on as they candidly share their journey of managing careers, school and marriage, being a blended family and the importance of date night.
Names Desiree Hodges, 36; Craig Hodges, 32
Professions (Desiree) research nurse; (Craig) finance professional
Wedding Date June 9, 2001
Ages of children Paige – 13, Camryn-8
Her advice for newlyweds
Continue to date each other. I love date night. Our kids ask us when we are going on a date so that they can help me pick out something to wear. Remember to have lives outside of each other. Marriage is not prison. I hear people say that marriage is hard work… In my opinion it shouldn’t be. If you find it becoming difficult, remember what led you down the aisle.
On moving multiple times because of Craig’s career
Moving to Delaware was a big adjustment because I have always been close to my family and I am from the country. Delaware, although small, seemed huge. It was a struggle with this last move because getting a job in healthcare administration was more difficult than expected. You adjust as a family to make things work. It is important to support one another and I think we do that well.
On balancing school, careers and home life
Craig and I have both completed graduate degree programs since we’ve been married. It was a struggle. Work life balance was the key — whoever wasn’t in school took care of the laundry, cooking, kid pick ups, etc. Again, you have to support one another and help each other reach your goals. We knew school was short term and it would only help advance us as a family.
On having parents in longterm marriages
I look at my mom and dad and they still genuinely love to be together. They have been married 41 years! Through sickness and health. They have a lot of responsibility taking care of my grandmothers but they remain solid. Craig and I are blessed to have parents that are still married.
On being a blended family
We’ve had our share of ups and downs. As a stepfather, I’ve tried not to overstep my bounds. However, all parties realize I’m the man of my house and will not tolerate certain behaviors or situations to disrupt life for my family. It is important to keep communication open, but you have to be careful in not being too open. It is a delicate balance that takes some maneuvering.
On being married to his best friend
We get along great. Of course there will always be discussions (arguments is too strong of a word) over particular situations but that’s natural. No two people are going to agree all the time and we’re no different. I think the key is to respect each others views (doesn’t mean you have to agree) and keep communication open.
On marriage versus dating
I get to wake up daily next to the same woman. Some dudes may think that’s boring, however, I’m sure there are many nights when they’re at home alone. Not me! Additionally, when we do go out, we know what we like (e.g. movies, food, etc.) so there isn’t a sort of awkwardness in “discovering” what your date enjoys.
His advice for newlyweds
Enjoy quality time with your spouse. Try to participate in activities together. Learn to like — or at least tolerate — things your spouse likes. For example, Desi loves The Young & the Restless. She DVRs it everyday. I can’t stand the show, but sometimes I remain in the same room just because I know it means something to her for us to be around each other.
What do you think of The Hodges Marriage Matters advice? Sound off.