Raf and I got married at the Asheville City Jail precisely four years ago today. You’d think that as much as I write about social injustice and champion for untraditional police reform I would have said “No”, but I just figured with us being citizens, paying our taxes and all that the magistrate works for us. While I know it is not always that cut and dry for all black people, that magistrate that day, whatever his name was, served us. Truthfully, I would have married Raf anywhere short of the sunken place, and let our wedding be proof that I love the guy.

Can you imagine how scared he must have been marrying a woman with a broken neck, wrist, and leg? When I write it like this, it sounds like a hot mess. It didn’t feel like it then though. I remember us riding in the car silently after we’d signed ourselves over to each other heading to our favorite Jamaican fusion spot. All of a sudden, he looked at me and in the sweetest tone said, “This feels right.”  I nodded as best I could in a neck brace in total agreement, because it did feel right. Maybe for our lucky number 7 or number 10, we will invite all of the people who have helped us keep our commitments to one another and grow into the family we are today together for a proper celebration. Who knows? More than likely not.

Four years later, here we all are. I can’t tell you how many people comment on how cute our little family is or how beautiful our black love is. Even in the moments when he is pushing all of my buttons and snatching my edges with all of his nonsense, I love my husband. I am confident he feels the same. I am always too ashamed to tell people it isn’t what it looks like on the outside. It is good, I mean really good, but loving someone every single day is not always easy. Every day I am learning how to be a better life partner to him, and he to me. It is a journey and not a destination. Plus, we are both continually evolving simultaneously. We don’t have it all figured out. These secrets eat at me when single women talk about getting married. When married people post those cute little statuses about their marriage, I often wonder: what if people knew about my secrets? I am ready to let go of them today. I just want to be who I am at home in my marriage everywhere. Before I put this out there, let me be clear; this is our marriage. I am just tired of living what I feel like is a lie. We are pretty happy with it, and I am opening up this dialogue because I want to know where you are on this, and I want to know if anyone has this kind of happy marriage. Other types of married folk are free to chime in as well.

My husband is not my best friend.

My husband is not my best friend. We aren’t classmates, playmates or coworkers. We don’t have all the same hobbies, or run in the same crowds. We are co-creators as we design a life together. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the times we play video games, stay up all night talking or when we just hang out at home or around the city. Raf and I are much more than friends though. He is the most significant earthly love and headache I have ever known. He has not only seen me at my worst, but has gone through my worst with me. Our relationship is sexual, familiar, and legally legit. Our best friends are the people who help us stay married, who cheer us on, who listen, and share with us as we walk our separate life paths together.

My husband does not complete me.

I was a whole damn woman when I met my him. I already had most of my formal education, and I had already even started writing and publishing. I knew what it was like to travel, to live alone, and to be me. My political ideas, my spiritual ideas, and morals were shaped long before he met me. My husband didn’t marry me to complete me. He married me so he could experience my awesomeness every day. He cannot replace my need to see my name in print magazines and on the cover of books. He has always just been the safest space for me to rest in my skin. He loves me despite the fact that I am loud and uptight. I don’t seek his validation, but he simply reflects the love I am capable of giving. This year, we hit a couple of milestones. We enrolled our 16-year old into community college so he could dually be enrolled there and in our homeschool. We will save a lot of money because we decided to do this. We are great life partners. Plus, we went to therapy; going to therapy is what Raf views as #RelationshipGoals. In therapy, we learned how to talk it all out, all the time, and find resolutions. After all, we are two whole people just trying to share in each other’s journey.

My husband doesn’t make me happy.

My husband can make me smile, add to my good day, and piss me the fuck off. However, he is not responsible for my happiness or my depression. If he came home with that new Porsche I’ve been eyeing, I’d be excited. However, just as one material item could not automatically change my entire state of being, he cannot single-handedly shift the climate of my experience here on earth. The switch to my happiness is internal, and I am solely responsible for it. For example, I asked for something very specific for our anniversary and chances are I am not going to get it. Not because we can’t afford it, or he couldn’t find it, but because I married a flaming hippy that doesn’t have the slightest clue about creating a moment. I will just be amazed that he tried, and he will just keep working at it. So what; we have forever.

There, now you know the whole truth about my marriage. It isn’t perfect, but it is ours.  Part of my hope is that we are not the only ones experiencing this kind of happy marriage, but I understand that black love is as diverse as our skin tones. When I listen to people talk about their marriage, or what they hope it will be, I keep quiet, and I don’t spoil the vision. I don’t tell my friends looking for 5 carat diamonds that Raf is not my provider, but my helpmate. We serve each other at our own pleasure. Our journeys are very separate, but we walk together and in support of one another. In this marriage, one does not go at it alone. We share some common goals, and we help each other make life decisions, but we are not bound by the “all good”. We are united by our commitment to love, honor and cherish one another til death literally do us part. So far, so good.