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In June, Rodney and Astin Jeannis told us why brutal honesty is a crucial component to any successful marriage. For this month’s edition of Make It Last Forever, we were able to catch up with Vernel and Shaneek Samuel of New York, who shared how it’s possible and why it’s necessary to prepare for marriage prior to even meeting that special someone.

MN: Let’s start with the story of how the two of you met

Shaneek: First, I would like to say thank you for the opportunity to share our story. We really want our generation and generations that follow to know and understand that marriage works.

MN: My pleasure!

Shaneek: Vernel and I met teaching at a school in Brooklyn. After our first conversation, I knew something was very special about him. I knew he wasn’t just an ordinary guy.

MN: What was dating like for the two of you and for how long did you date before the engagement?

Vernel: We dated for less than a year before the engagement. Ten months to be exact. At that point in our lives, we were both clear on marrying the next person we dated. So dating was a time for us to build our friendship.

MN: Tell us the engagement story.

Shaneek: Vernel and I had been talking about marriage even before we got married. I knew he was going to ask me to be his wife. However, I wasn’t sure when he would ask. It was so amazing that although we didn’t date long, I just knew that he was the one and the only man that I felt would be perfect for spending the rest of my life with.

MN: If you had to name one silent killer of marriages today, what would it be?

Vernel: Losing the friendship. Friends trust each other enough to listen and respect each other, even after mistakes are made. I’ve noticed that women feel that when they become married, a man is no longer their friend but their husband. They expect husbandly duties to be accomplished but then lose the very thing that brought the two together: a genuine friendship, a listening ear and encouraging words. In marriage, people change over time. But the one thing that cannot change is the desire to simply be your spouse’s closest friend, supporting and caring for them. Not because they are perfect, but just because you love them.

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