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Happy ever after

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD: Britain’s black Christian community is filled with couples who, despite society’s ambivalence towards marriage, have tied the knot and are enjoying their marriages

SAM AND Vernetta Lynch have been married for twelve years, and have three children. Sam is a musician and Vernetta a make-up artist. They are also members of the MOBO nominated gospel group V9 Collective and attend the People’s Christian Fellowship in Tottenham, north London.

Soul Stirrings (SS): What made you decide that you wanted to build a life together?
Vernetta Lynch (VL): We knew we wanted to spend our lives together quite quickly, once we had seen the attributes in each other that we'd been looking for in a potential spouse. We shared love and passion for God and built a beautiful, loving friendship.

SS: What do you enjoy most about being married?
Sam Lynch (SL): Marriage is about having security and an assurance of each other’s commitment to the relationship. We love the companionship and the intimacy marriage brings.

SS: What role does your faith play in your marriage?
VL: It was very important that we both had a personal relationship with God from the onset of our relationship. Our individual and joint faith in God is the driving force of our marriage and the glue that holds us together.

SS: What advice would you give young couples in a committed relationship thinking of giving marriage a miss?
VL & SL: I would encourage young people who are in committed relationships to consider marriage only once they have seriously considered what marriage means. Marriage isn't just about living with the one you love and enjoying all the romantic bonuses that come with it. Marriage is about being committed to building your lives together, supporting each other, having each other’s back, trusting the other, dreaming together, growing together, teaching each other, sharpening each other, learning how to truly be selfless, seeking to make your spouse happy and deciding to love an imperfect person regardless, because we are all imperfect.  Marriage must have a purpose otherwise it will be easy to give up on it along the way. I would recommend it as God said: ‘It's not good for man to be alone!’

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AARON AND Monique Thomas have been married for two and a half years. Aaron runs his own IT trading business, Monique is a singer/songwriter and also runs training courses for female inmates and ex-offenders. The couple attend Mount Zion Community Church in Aston, Birmingham.

SS: Where do you hope your marriage will be in the next 10 years?
SL & VL: We pray that we will be even more in love and happy in 10 years, fulfilling our dreams and aspirations, enjoying our children growing up and preparing them for adulthood. We pray our marriage will be an example and blessing to many others.

SS: What made you decide that you wanted to build a life together?
Monique Thomas (MT): Aaron and I had been friends for a few years before we started dating. After a couple years of being together we knew that building a life together was something we really wanted. We were not only in love and great friends, but had shared values about how we wanted to live our lives, which was also really important.

SS: What do you enjoy most about married life?
Aaron Thomas (AT): Coming home to someone I love every day because we didn’t live together before we got married.
MT: One of them for me is being part of a team with my best friend. I love the way we encourage each other to be best we can be and motivate each other forward.

SS: What role does your faith in God play in your marriage?
MT: Our faith in God has been crucial. Aaron and I didn’t grow up in church and neither of us have parents that are still together. We didn’t have examples in our families of successful godly marriages, so this was unknown territory. Our faith in God has taught us about love and given us a standard to reach to for how we should be in our marriage. Marriage is challenging at times. When it’s been tough, knowing that God has blessed our union and that He is with us has helped us to stay the course and refocus.

SS: What advice would you give to a young couple in a serious committed relationship who think they should give marriage a miss?
AT: As a guy, I didn’t think about getting married when I was growing up. Through my relationship with God, I now see that it is honourable to marry the woman that you’re with. It edifies her to know that she’s ‘the one’, that you’re in it for the long haul and that you’re committed to her. For those of you thinking about the expense, it doesn’t have to be all singing and dancing. You’re not getting married for other people so don’t get caught up thinking you have to have a big extravagant celebration.
MT: I certainly didn’t think about getting married when I was growing up, probably because of my experiences. However, the security and love I feel knowing that Aaron has committed his entire life to loving me and that he has made that declaration before God and all our family and friends means so much. If you’re committed to each other, why not go all the way? Don’t let your thoughts on marriage be tarnished by the negative examples we see around us. You can shape your own future.

SS: Where do you hope your marriage will be in the next 10 years?
AT: Still happily married, more in love, children and further along the line towards our collective goals.
MT: Yes the same - greater understanding, and deeper in love.

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ADEBAYO AND Sotonye Deru have been married for eight months. Adebayo works as an international wedding photographer and Sotonye Deru is a wedding co-ordinator, public speaker and author. They both attend Christ Faith Tabernacle in New Cross, London.

SS: What made you decide to build a life together?
Sotonye Deru (SD): Shortly after meeting my husband, and feeling such a wonderful sense of connection and purpose with him, I knew that this would be the man that I would not only love to spend the rest of my life with but build a great future, home and empire with.

SS: What do you enjoy most about married life?
SD: What I enjoy most about married life is having my best friend there all the time. I remember while we were dating, there were so many times that we wanted to speak longer on the phone or spend more time with each other and couldn't, so when we got married we were so happy as no one had to go home or hang up the phone anymore.

SS: What role does your faith in God play in your marriage?
SD: My faith in God is the foundation of my marriage. Without my faith our marriage would be built on sand. The principles we read about in the Bible such as patience, forgiveness and gentleness really help to shape the way we communicate with each other and order our home. We are both Christians and while we were dating we made sure we prayed about our relationship and what God was saying concerning our purpose and ministry, as we wanted His will to be done in our home, in our ministry and in the lives of our children to come.

SS: What advice would you give to young people in a serious committed relationship who think they should give marriage a miss?
AD & SD: If you are in a serious committed relationship then the natural progression route for you is marriage. Dating for too long with no end goal in mind is a waste of time and investment. Marriage is such a beautiful thing and such a great partnership that can only be experienced when both of you have made that promise in front of God and man. Real commitment is when a man gets down on one knee and asks you to spend the rest of your life with him as his wife.

SS: Where do you hope your marriage will be in the next 10 years?
AD & SD: We hope that it will continue to be built on God and that it will be an example to our peers and the younger generation who will see that you can do it the right way in this day and age and be truly happy. We also hope to build a strong family and to continue working on our legacy together through our ministry, businesses and children.

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