A Millennial Love Story: How This Couple Went From A Twitter DM To Forever
A conversation with Shana and Gerard.
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: Shana Burke | 30 | City Government
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Him: Gerard Burke | 36 | Operations Analyst
Relationship Status: Married | 3 years
Both Brooklyn raised, Shana and Gerard’s story began in an unlikely, ye, strangely familiar way to many millennials, on Twitter.
Gerard admits that he initially noticed Shana when a friend of his retweeted her and he thought she was cute. He also claims that she slid into his DMs, she pleads the fifth but did admit to inquiring about a spare ticket to an upcoming Jay-Z concert. With no ticket to spare, the two settled for getting to know one another via the once coveted messaging platform, BBM.
Nine years later, three spent married, while raising three children, the two reside in Bedstuy and find beauty in the pockets of stillness that come once the little ones are in bed.
How has marriage changed you?
Gerard: You feel a little more of a sense of responsibility so you want to uphold traditional standards of marriage. We were already living together, we had our first daughter before we got married. For the most part it was the same, we didn’t operate any differently. We were just rocking.
How do you balance personal life and being parents?
Gerard: My oldest is 11, my middle child is 6 and the youngest is 2. We manage with routine. With kids, the more you get them into a routine the better they are. Our kids are in bed by 8:30. So we have from 9 until whenever we fall asleep to reconnect.
Shana: Since the baby is 2 months old she’s been sleeping through the night. So she doesn’t give us many problems.
What does Black love mean to the Black community?
Gerard: I didn’t really have a good example of Black love growing up. My mother wasn’t married I didn’t have any friends who had mothers and fathers so I didn’t have Black love role models. I just knew how not to treat a woman based on how my mom was being treated.
Shana: Yeah, my parents are still married so they were the perfect example so I want that. They’ve been married since 1985.
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What role model did you look to as an example of the kind of relationship you wanted to have?
Gerard: I knew I wanted kids. I had a dad who for the most part, wasn’t my ideal father. I knew I wanted to be the opposite of that. I was raised by women so they talked about love, so I knew what love was. Old R&B songs talked about love. I knew I wanted to have a wife, I wanted her to be my queen, my rock. I wanted someone like my mother who is the strongest woman I know and my wife is right under her. I chose her because she reminds me a lot of my mother.
How did you know you were ready to commit to each other?
Shana: It just happened. I was talking to other people and one day he got mad because I went on a date with another person.
Gerard: I remember the tweet, she went on the date and tweeted “I can’t stop smiling”. That sh*t burned me up. But she called me right after the date was over so I knew I had something. In that moment that I got so upset that I was ready to fight that’s when I knew.
Shana: I think that’s when I realized it too. We got into a little argument right after that.
What is the hardest part about being a millennial in a relationship today?
Gerard: The phone. It’s become so much a part of our everyday routine that we don’t even notice it.
Shana: You have to try really hard to put it down.
Gerard: Like yesterday my daughter had a recital and everybody had their phones out and I was like, I’m just going to watch. The extra noise- there’s so much going on, it’s hard to hone in on this.
Shana: We have the kids so we have to try hard not to ignore them. And there are times I’ll get zoned out into my phone and my daughter’s like “mommy you’re not paying attention to me”. You have to play with them. When they’re sleeping we try to spend time and if we’re on our phones that’s not going to happen.
Who do you look to for advice on your marriage?
Shana: I don’t really talk to anyone, I just figure it out as I go.
Gerard: I talk to my mom. I have a few friends who are married so we kick it and we talk fatherhood and marriage. I have a mentor who’s married. I have a few resources I like to reach out to.
If you could describe love in one word what would it be and why?
Gerard: Work. It’s ups and downs, laughs and cries. The harder you work at it the better your love is.
Shana: Happiness. Without happiness you can’t truly be in love.