A Millennial Love Story: Redefining #RelationshipGoals With A More Realistic Image Of Marriage

A conversation with Nicole and Tommie.

Photo credit:Chuck Marcus

| March 04 2019,

06:34 am

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: Nicole Battle | 36 | Teacher

Him: Tommie Battle | 36 | Digital Media

Relationship Status: Married | 12 Years

Nicole and Tommie knew of one another from a shared friend circle in undergrad but they didn’t really know much of one another until an evening of dominoes brought them together. Nicole, a complete amateur, beat him in a game of dominoes and it was then that they caught one another’s attention.

Following that night, Nicole was on her way to rehearsal when she got a text from Tommie and realized that he’d put his number in her phone. Sixteen years later, twelves spent married, the couple, both raised in DC, has recently relocated to Brooklyn where they’re raising their family of three children while balancing the work of a loving, committed relationship.

How did you know you were ready to commit?

Tommie: We really didn’t know. I found her to be really funny and had a great personality. We went out on a couple dates and it started from there. I don’t think that we were trying to be boyfriend and girlfriend right off.

Nicole: We liked hanging out. I was a dancer so I was always at rehearsal or class so it was during those free times we had during the day when we would hang out.

Now you have three kids, how do you balance family life and personal life?

Nicole: We run on a schedule. I’ve always been very disciplined as far as time goes from a young age. I hate being late and I hate when things take longer than they should so that spilled over into parenting. If we have to be somewhere by nine, we’re up by seven and bags are packed.

Tommie: With three kids you definitely have to learn how to manage your time, and before the third child came that was hard for me to understand. You also have to work together, if you don’t work together or you’re not on the same page with everything like knowing where to meet, do we have enough snacks, who’s picking up the tab for this, it can be crazy. You definitely learn through trial by fire how to get things done.

Do you think having kids changed the dynamic of your relationship?

Tommie: Definitely, you’re not only living for yourself or your partner but you’re doing everything for them. Literally everything that you do has something to do with them whether it’s taking time out for yourself or planning something for them. I used to have issues all the time where I wanted to go play ball or I wanted to hang out and I had to sacrifice that time because it was encroaching on something I needed to do for the kids.

Nicole: I always tell people before they decide to have kids to make sure they have a strong sense of self. That is something that, as a woman, it’s very easy to lose yourself. If you’re a natural giver it is very easy to lose yourself when it comes to kids and a spouse because it’s an obligation. I have to be reminded sometimes that I also have an obligation to myself. That’s probably been one of the biggest things as far as balance goes, finding the balance within yourself.

Tommie: Before you know it you’ll end up spending months and months in the house. Someone will ask you to go out and the first thing you’ll think is I have to put the kids to bed, you really forget that you’re an individual. You have to communicate with your partner to say “I know we have this going on but can I go hang out with the guys”. It’s not even an ego thing, you have to check in with your wife because that’s who you live with and who you manage a home with.

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Chuck Marcus

Do you move off your spirit or your ego?

Nicole: As a gemini I move off my emotions and I had to check that even before being in a relationship, I’m very quick tempered.

Tommie: I think she moves off of her spirit more and there are times I feel I run off of my ego. For me there are a lot of times the decisions I make are not necessarily because I’m a man but because I’m grown and I don’t have to answer to anybody. For her it’s like I have to do this because I’m supposed to, in her heart she knows that if shit doesn’t get done at home then she can’t do stuff outside.

Nicole: I’ve left jobs for that reason and in interviews I will tell them it’s family first all the time and if that’s not something that you can be okay with then I’m not the person who’s going to be right for this. I can’t in good conscience as a teacher go and pour into other children knowing that my own children are being neglected. In that aspect I do lead with my spirit because I do try to make sure that everybody is good. It bothers me when other people don’t see the importance of what has to be done because it benefits the children or the family.

As a father how are you representing yourself to your daughter in comparison to your sons?

Tommie: One of the things I’ve always gone off of as a dad is that while I want my daughter to feel like a princess, I don’t want her to go around in life thinking that every man is going to treat her like a princess. I don’t want her thinking that her looks are going to open doors for her. I always talk to my daughter about her intellect and stress being a good person and getting an education so I always try to emphasize that the person you are on the inside reflects who you are on the outside. I want her to be of a sound mind, not only as a young woman but a black woman. There are obstacles she’ll face that I’ll never be able to understand or fix for her.

What’s the hardest part of being a millennial in a relationship with children?

Tommie: Not many other millennials have a family like we do. Even though we’re the same age as most of our friends we find ourselves in this weird position where they look to us as older. Maybe we’re more mature at an earlier age. We get a lot of the parenting questions.

Nicole: We find that a lot of millennials have kids who are much younger than our kids. It becomes a little much to unleash all three of my kids on someone with a seven month old. Their poor baby is laying there and mine are being kids.

Do you think your relationship inspires others?

Nicole: I hope so. It actually bothers me when people say that we’re goals. I think that term is used so freely and there’s that saying “every beautiful flower has had to have a little shit thrown on it”.There are things we’ve gone through in our relationship that a lot of people don’t make it out of. That’s fine if that’s goals but you need to know all of it. I try not to use that term because you never know what others have gone through. I’m glad if I’m an inspiration to someone but shit isn’t all sweet.

Tommie: Any of my friends will tell you that I’m incredibly honest about our relationship history. Many people have been privy to know things that I’ve done and mistakes I’ve made and the victories we’ve had. I hear from people all the time “you all have a good thing” or “how do you maintain”. I’m also a proponent of toughing it out and working through things.

Nicole: I think that’s the biggest thing too, the longevity of everything, you have to go into it with the mindset that I’m fighting through this. One thing that's always said is that our generation is so quick to give up. Everything is a sign that something isn’t meant to be.

The biggest thing I learned is to stand firm in what I want and what I will and will not take. Him understanding his nonnegotiables and me understanding mine, and somehow meeting in the middle.

If you could sum up love in one word what would it be and why?

Nicole: Respect, love gets the notion of the puppy dog phase of it but respect is what you have to pull from when shit gets real.

Tommie: Patience, you have to have patience to get the things you want out of a partner and to give the things to a partner that they deserve.

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