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: Jade | 33 | Personal Chef & Podcaster
Him: Tristan Verette | 35 | Educator
Relationship Status: Married
Jade walked into a bar in search of a job and that’s where she first met Tristan who was already working there. They exchanged greetings, and when “How are you?” turned into an opportunity for Tristan to take a shot, he did, responding with “Better now that you’re here”.
Jade got the job and the two went from strangers to co-workers, to after work buddies, to dating over time. Bonding over episodes of Boondocks sealed the deal and now the couple has been married for three years, dated for seven and are raising their daughter in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Q: What does Black love mean to the Black community?
Tristan: I think it means life, in the sense that it’s part of our survival. We need to love eachother even more. Loving each other is healing.
Jade: I think it means hope to the Black community, a lot of us didn’t have wonderful examples of black love. I think the reason we go so hard in this digital age with “Black love goals” is because a lot of people didn’t grow up with dads or they grew up in dysfunctional households. It represents that this is attainable for us as a people, we have the capability of being these families.
Q; How did you know you were ready to commit?
Tristan: For me it was in the beginning stages of us dating. A woman with a sense of humor I value that more than anything, she’s really funny to me. What sealed the deal was she’s the only woman I’ve ever know to rap Bone Thugs N’ Harmony lyrics. I was like you’re funny and you know Bone Thugs N’ Harmony?
Jade: He was the only man who I ever let sleep in my house and I felt the most comfortable with. After we’d spent some time together I was like I don’t think I really want to do this with anyone else. I was a little indecisive for a while and then I had that little feeling where I was like, I think this is it. I want him to sleep in my house for the rest of my life.
Q; What is the hardest part about being a millennial in a relationship in today’s climate?
Tristan: Everything is happening so fast. With social media. You can fall victim to things depending on how you use it. Some people use Instagram for business or for personal gain, if I’m being honest, you see all the women on Instagram it’s just ass everywhere and if you’re in a relationship that can be challenging for you, depending on who you are as a person. Other than that I don’t really see any challenges for us.
Jade: I don’t think people have an opportunity to miss each other. You’re just always there, in every form and fashion. It makes people lose how to engage each other as human beings. We’ll go out to eat and we’ll sit there and watch a couple and they will both be on their phones and we will talk about it. I think people sometimes lose that organic interaction of having a conversation and having a good time. For us, we like to go bowl, it’s engaging it’s competitive, it’s something to do. I think some people get so caught up in that digital that we forget how to let loose and how to have a good time. Everybody’s wild awkward these days.
Tristan: There’s so many distractions. I work with kids, and one of the things we talk about is all this access to music, access to pornography, so many things that can distract you and desensitize you and take away some of your social skills. Communication is so important in a relationship so if you’re not talking, what are you doing? You can’t really feel each other if you’re not talking. Right there is a disconnect between two people in a relationship.
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Q: Who do you look to as a representation of the marriage you want to have?
Jade: I had my parents and grandparents. My grandfather passed away 5 years ago and their anniversary would have fallen a couple of months after he passed and it would have been 64 years. My parents have been married for 33 years, so a lot of my peers didn’t have their fathers around or they had different situations in their households. I was lucky to have an example of both of them, it wasn’t easy but they were there with each other and that’s the example I had growing up.
Tristan: For me, when I first came here I met my best friend and his older cousin. I learned a lot of game from his cousin. He might have been the representation of being in a marriage. He was the person I looked up to.
Q: As a father, how are you presenting yourself to your daughter?
Tristan: They say as a father you’re the first man that she loves so you’ve got to set the tone for everybody else. The other day I took her on a little daddy daughter date. I said let’s go get food, we got some ice cream, I bought her some flowers. I’ve got to be the example for the men that come into her life.
Q: How do you balance your careers with being parents?
Tristan: You have to set boundaries as a parent. Within those boundaries, your kid has to come first. We try our best to make sure that she’s taken care of first. I think, working from inward going outward with making sure she’s good and working around her wellbeing that’s the balance for us.
Jade: My job is super demanding and because I have so many different things going on right now it’s a little harder for me to balance. So I’m really lucky that I have someone who can pick up the slack. I also know that I’m doing all of these things so that I don’t have to keep hustling like that years down the line. Trying to find that balance can be challenging, we try to work it out. If I have to travel to shows then I try to balance it out and set aside time for my family when I get back.
He’s really good about working out the schedule with me and picking up where I can’t. Then I’m able to do things because he works for a school and his schedule is not flexible at all and mine is a bit more flexible. So we’re able to balance each other out.
Q: If you could describe love in one word, what would it be and why?
Tristan: I’d say sacrifice. I’m not too big on religion but, they said Jesus Christ was the man he was because of sacrifice his biggest sacrifice was giving his life and he did it for the love of humanity. I feel like, as far as relationships, if you’re willing to go the extra mile for somebody to make sure that they’re taken care of I feel like that’s love. Even for my daughter, if there’s something she needs or wants I might not feel like doing it but, the love I have for her is going to drive me to do that. I’ll sacrifice my own comfort or want to make sure she has everything she needs.
Jade: I’d say understanding, people come from different walks of life. Some people have polar opposite backgrounds, some people have a different mindset, which can all be challenging in relationships. I could be thinking about something one way and he could be thinking about it another way. I think when you stop and try to take yourself out of your own experience and try to understand where a person is coming from it’s an act of selflessness and I think that’s what love embodies.