This piece is part of a 28-day series celebrating modern black love among millennials. It was created by Chuck Marcus and Michelle Nance, exclusively distributed by Blavity.

Her: Maureen Saturne | 32 | Technical Designer & Jewelry Designer
Him: Laurent Chevailer | 32 | Attorney & Photographer
Relationship Status: Engaged

Maureen reconnected with Laurent when she decided to join her roommate at an NYC kickback. The two had met before, but weren’t able to pursue a relationship at the time. A few weeks later, Laurent invited Maureen to join him at a Chaka Khan concert in Prospect Park. To his surprise, she brought her crew along to what he had intended to be a date. Not to be deterred, the two did find a moment alone to themselves. Now, the Brooklyn based couple is counting down to their wedding day which happens to fall on the day after the anniversary of when they met.

What does black love mean to the black community?

Laurent: I think it’s a foundation of the community. When you break down how communities are built, it’s families. And families are built on love.

Maureen: It’s also considered unique, unfortunately. A lot of my girlfriends are finding that it’s hard to find that “ideal black man”. A lot of them are dating outside of their race. Even though there are a lot of people in the community who are able to find those partners, it’s almost like you’re lucky to find them.

How did you know you were ready to commit?

Laurent: I’ve always heard older folks say “when you know you know” and I was like, alright, whatever, but I do think there’s a lot of truth to that. You can’t distill it down to a moment or a specific trait, but when you know you know. Pusha told us that too, I guess.

Maureen: I think it started when I started to feel really secure and safe and felt like he was home. I felt like this was becoming really familiar to me and I don’t see myself finding that or starting over with someone else.

Laurent: There was an early point when we hadn’t kicked it for a week and we had been hanging out regularly. We were busy. And when we met back up I realized I missed her and I was like “oh shoot”. I don’t really miss people much. That was a realization that this was something important.

Who do you look to for advice on your relationship?

Maureen: I look to a lot of my peers who are married or in serious relationships. It’s easier to talk to them and ask them for advice about if I’m overreacting or how do they go through something with their partner and hash things out.

Laurent: I have a lot of friends who have been married for a while. Some are more recently, some have been married for a while, some have a couple of kids. I’m able to trust them to give their opinions. I’m also able to talk to some of the older brothers at my church that have been in it even longer and have a different perspective.

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Chuck Marcus

What are your expectations of marriage?

Maureen: I know it’s going to be a lot of work and it’s you deciding to choose to put in the work every single day. We've been dating for three years and you know how when you first start dating someone it’s the butterflies and you don’t know anything. Now we’re at a point where we’re making decisions about how we’re going to move forward in life: financial decisions, when we’ll have kids, family life. It’s groundwork to be done and you have to choose to do that.

Laurent: I think it’s an acceptance of the fact that it’s not a fairytale but recognizing the beauty of the result of that.

Maureen: And there will be romantic moments because you have to keep that flame to keep it going.

What is the hardest part about being a millennial in a relationship?

Maureen: Since there is such a presence of social media, it’s so hard to focus on one thing because there’s so many visual things happening. For my friends, they find that it’s hard to find something that’s real or someone who is serious and wants to focus on them because there’s 20 other things they can go and see real quick on a screen.

Laurent: There’s a human tendency to compare yourself to those around you. Keeping up with the Joneses has been around for decades, but now we have so many more Joneses that we can see and much less ability to see their real life. Back in the day when you had a neighbor you’d envy when they pull up with a new car, but you’d also see when their kid runs out into the street crying. Now you can literally see goals at every point on social media and it’s all very well curated and you can get lost in that.

Do you think that men looking at women on social media can be problematic?

Maureen: I think it can be. There’s so many different types of women who are on social media. There’s a plethora: make-up artists, swimsuit models, fashion models. For men, I feel like it’s hard for them to zone out of that and realize it’s a mirage of things. It’s not real. There’s so many presentations going on at once. How is someone supposed to zone out of that? I think that when it starts to affect the way that you deal with someone in real life, that’s when it becomes a problem.

How do you balance both of your professional careers and social life?

Laurent: We’re self-proclaimed washed. We make a point to always spend time together. Once we’re off of work we’re pretty much together. We have to be conscious of cultivating and maintaining our previous friendships and developing new couple friendships.

Maureen: We vent and have our little moments but for the most part we’re able to leave that at the door and chill and be us.

Laurent: One of the nice things about technology now is that we can talk throughout the day and it’s not like our busy days sequester us from each other.

If you could describe love in one word, what would it be and why?

Laurent: I guess I’ve always learned that love is sacrificial. It’s a constant act and not a feeling. It’s more of a foundation than things attributed as signs of lack of love. Like, being angry doesn’t mean you’re not loving. Having an argument doesn’t mean there’s not love. There’s a deeper level and some of that other stuff is superficial, you just have to work through that stuff with the foundation of the sacrifice.

Maureen: Love is honesty. Being honest in conversations that need to be had, that’s a big part of a relationship. You have to talk about things, good, bad and uncomfortable. Being honest about your goals in the relationship by understanding where you are now and where you can realistically get to. Not trying to get so wrapped up in what other couples are doing and understanding this is our truth and what we, as two people, have to bring to the table.

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