Make It Last Forever: James & Anuk Stewart
As we continue our celebration of black love and everyday couples who are determined to make their love last, we are happy to introduce Anuk and James Stewart. The New York natives have two children together and will celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary on June 2. Their lives are quite hectic, with Anuk working as a Pricing and Channel Manager for Dun & Bradstreet and James as a Senior Systems Engineer for Cambridge Associates, but the pair was able to find time to sit down with us and share how they’re making their love work.
MN: How did the two of you meet?
James: Well, we actually met through an online dating service. Back then, that was one of the “in” things to do in the late ‘90s.
MN: What was it about your wife that stood out?
James: Well, her profile didn’t have a picture so it was interesting a little bit. Back then if you didn’t have a picture, you normally wouldn’t get responses. But I didn’t let that prevent me from engaging her in conversations.
MN: Anuk, what was it about James that caught your attention?
Anuk: He actually had a lot of things that I found interesting. He had certain musical interests and I come from a family of musicians. So to see that he took the time and energy to display all of the different genres that he was interested in and gave a lot of information about himself showed me that he was very much an upfront kind of person who was just out there and not trying to hide anything. I found it really intriguing.
MN: How soon was it before you realized that you’d found the one?
Anuk: Well honestly, at first I didn’t think we made a love connection. I told him that we could be friends [laughs].
James: To which I replied, “I have enough friends.”
Anuk: Yeah that kind of took me aback. I was kind of used to getting my way so I was kind of like, “Oh, he has enough friends.” I kind of found that he wasn’t intimidated by me and I think that kind of piqued my interest even more to make me give him a second look like, “Wow, this guy isn’t intimidated by me. Most guys are. Hmm maybe there’s more to this than I thought.” He had kind of moved on so I said you know what, I’m going to go for it. I kind of pursued him I guess, at that point.
MN: What was the dating phase like for you guys?
Anuk: We went out a lot. James likes to wine and dine so that’s up my alley. I think that we had a great friendship. We could talk about anything. Sometimes when you go out with guys you feel like you have to put on a front like, “I don’t do this,” or “I don’t eat this.” I was all in like this is me, this is him and we were great friends. I think that’s really important.
MN: Describe the proposal.
James: To be honest, the way I proposed was that we were instant messaging back and forth throughout the day like we normally did. I just asked her during one of the messages, “Would you like to get married?”
Anuk: I didn’t respond.
MN: Why not?
Anuk: I was taken back. Like he said, we were online. We’re computer people. This was like the late ‘90s, early 2000s. We had always been in constant contact with each other so when he instant messaged me the proposal I was like, “Uhhhh, okay.” I didn’t answer. So he had to actually call me to make sure I got the message and even then I was like, “Oh, okay.” I wasn’t ready for that. I was kind of shocked at that point. It wasn’t traditional, but it was actually normal for us to do it that way.
MN: At what point were you guys like, “Okay, we’re definitely getting married,” and at what point was the proposal taken seriously?
Anuk: I guess I took it seriously because I was six months pregnant! Does that count? It was just one of those things like, “Well, okay. No one else is going to ask me at this point.” [Laughs] But honestly, I loved him and we were having our baby boy. It just seemed like the right thing to do and we haven’t had any regrets since then.
MN: Was married life anything like either of you expected it to be?
James: Well, we both had been married before so I think the difference with this particular marriage was the circumstances and the fact that we had a great relationship. We got along well and we both had a common goal. I think that all of those things put together made for a pretty good marriage. I don’t really have any regrets. A lot of people say what they would have done differently, I think our story is unique and I really can’t compare it to anything else.
Anuk: I think we’ve learned over the past 14+ years that communication and being great friends is important. We laughed so much over the years. If you don’t have that, if you can’t be friends and just laugh at each other and situations, you’re not going to make it.
MN: What do you think is the biggest misconception that singles have about married life?
James: That it’s all going to be roses.
Anuk: No, it’s not going to be that. I think they think it’s like their dating lives. Interaction with a person is totally different when you’re dating. Then, everything is rosy and pretty and getting dressed up to go out. No. When you have to take care of a person when they’re sick and you’re married, it’s a totally different situation. Marriage is the real deal, day in and day out. When you think about it, when they say, “Until death do us part,” it’s important.
James: A lot of people have this misconception that when you get married, it’s going to be a fairytale all of the time, the Prince Charming and Cinderella story. Once you get into the real world, you realize that it’s not like this all of the time. You have to have that love and that connection to be able to go through the hard times.