David & Tamela, Barack & Michelle: Couples Together More Than 20 Years Share Secret To Making Love Last
David and Tamela Mann have been married for 30 (count ’em!) years. They’ve raised kids together. They’ve worked together. They’ve sung together. They’ve done it all, including making a marriage work for three decades, which is no small feat. That makes the famous couple the perfect team to write a book sharing advice on how to build a strong relationship and family. They are doing just that with the upcoming project, Us Against the World: Our Secrets to Love, Marriage, and Family, available this fall from HarperCollins publishing. We received an excerpt of the book, and in it, Tamela says having their own interests and hobbies, but also making sure to enjoy things together, helps them be better independently so they can be stronger as a unit.
“Commitment to one another doesn’t mean you have to do everything together. Nor does it mean you can’t have a life of your own,” Tamela writes. “David and I enjoy doing life together, but his hobbies are not my hobbies. What gives him joy is not always what gives me joy. I like to get my hair done. I like to go shopping. I like to hang out with my girlfriends from time to time and talk about girly things. David enjoys being outside. He enjoys working on things until he’s figured it out. David can stay up all night until he’s figured out how to work a gadget. I don’t have the patience for that, but that gives him joy. We both like to sing. We both like to go to church. But we have different passions for different things.”
“My personal commitment to enjoy what I enjoy never trumps my commitment to honor and love my spouse,” she added. “There is so much power in honoring your commitment, keeping your promises, and remaining true to your word. The more faithful you are to keeping your promises, the more secure your spouse will be.”
We can’t wait to check out all of the advice they have to offer when the book comes out this fall. Until then, check out nine other long-haul couples, together 20 years or more, talking about what it takes to make their relationships lasting ones.
Denzel and Pauletta Washington
“I do what I’m told. I keep my mouth shut!”
That’s what Denzel jokingly said when asked how he and Pauletta have made it work for 35 years. But really, he said it’s because of the sacrifices she’s made for their family that he’s forever grateful for.
“There’s too many things!” he said. “What pops into my head: security, food, a beautiful home. The difference between a house and a home, it’s a big difference. You can buy a house, but that doesn’t make it a home – and not to say a man can’t make a home a home, but my wife has made our house a home, and raised these beautiful kids and protected them and sacrificed for them, she did the heavy-lifting.”
Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance
Married for 20 years, Angela said she and Courtney are the ultimate team.
“It’s not like I expect this, I expect that from you; Dinner on the table every day, or this, that and the other,” she said.”I have to go sometimes. I can’t be there sometimes, and he steps in there. He’s right there.”
Samuel L. and LaTanya Richardson Jackson
“There are different keys to what we have,” said Samuel L. Jackson about his 38-year marriage to wife LaTanya. “One of them is sometimes saying you’re sorry when you don’t mean it and making it real. We’re both actors, so I’m sure she’s lied to me about being sorry and I’ve lied to her about being sorry. Being able to understand that all things pass. It’s easy to walk away from something and a lot more difficult to hang around and solve it. And location, me being on location a lot.”
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith
“We don’t even say we’re married anymore,” Will recently said of his more than 20-year relationship with Jada. “We refer to ourselves as ‘life partners,’ where you get into that space where you realize you are literally with somebody for the rest of your life. There’s no deal breakers. There’s nothing she could do—ever—nothing that would break our relationship. She has my support till death, and it feels so good to get to that space.”
Barack and Michelle Obama
Michelle said it best about her marriage of 26 years to Barack Obama.
“It has to be a true partnership, and you have to really, really like and respect the person you’re married to because it is a hard road,” she said. “I mean, that’s what I tell young couples. Don’t expect it to be easy, melding two lives and trying to raise others, and doing it forever. I mean that’s a recipe made for disaster, so there are highs and lows. But if in the end you can look him in the eye and say, “‘I like you.'”
Oprah and Stedman Graham
The secret to lasting love for Oprah and Stedman, together for more than 30 years, is for them to “Live life on your own terms,” which equates to their decision to forgo the constraints of marriage.
“The only time I brought it up was when I said to Stedman, ‘What would have happened if we had actually gotten married?’ And the answer is: ‘We wouldn’t be together,’” she said. “We would not have stayed together, because marriage requires a different way of being in this world. His interpretation of what it means to be a husband and what it would mean for me to be a wife would have been pretty traditional, and I would not have been able to fit into that.”
Rev Run and Justine Simmons
“Marriages break up for one reason, selfishness,” Rev Run, married to Justine for 24 years, said. “Me and her love each other so much that there’s no selfishness going on.”
Justine agreed, especially when it comes to their disagreements.
“You gotta think of that person as you. How am I gonna do an underhanded blow because then you’re really hurting you,” she said. “We just try not to hurt each other.”
Ice Cube and Kimberly Woodruff
Spending time together, and keeping himself together, is what Ice Cube says has helped he and wife Kimberly work after 25 years of marriage.
“It’s a true partnership,” he said. “I respect my wife and she respects me. I still get the butterflies when I see her. Romance and sex doesn’t have to fade. I still want her to look at me and say ‘this is the man I still want to be with.’ So have to keep yourself up, your P’s and Q’s and go for what you know.”
Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete
Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete have been a team for 23 years, and in that time, they’ve happily grown as people, separately, and as a couple.
“We learned together,” he said. “I’ve learned no one’s right. I’ve learned to be more sensitive, more emotional. I was a guarded guy. And very wary of relationships getting in the way. I didn’t always let people in. I had to grow up. She did, too. Marriage is an agreement. There’s a time when you’re single and a time to know you have a significant other.”