Gospel Artist Todd Dulaney And Wife Kenya: Making Marriage Work

May 17, 2016  |  

Todd Dulaney, Images by Marc Anthony

Todd Dulaney and Kenya and kids, Image by Marc Anthony

Major league baseball star turned gospel singer Todd Dulaney and his wife Kenya recently sat down with MommyNoire to discuss how to make marriage and “for better or for worse” work better. Todd just released his sophomore album, A Worshipper’s Heart this spring. The hit single, “The Anthem,” has spread like wildfire across the country and the Dulaneys are using their platform to share not only great music, but also good news about the benefits of marriage and partnership over everything.

Mommynoire: The divorce rate is at 50 percent, there is a sentiment of distrust in regards to fidelity and faithfulness, and single women have taken on the head of household role at an unprecedented number. Why have you two chosen to still believe in marriage during this abysmal climate?

Todd: We honestly stop and say quite often, “How could I do life without you helping me with this?” I believe the easy way out is always to get divorced. This is the easy way out, because it takes the weight off of having to compromise and come together with another person. It is the easy way out, but it is not as gratifying. My wife and I, we are not perfect. It’s not that we do not have problems or arguments. It’s just that life is more gratifying, and we share the burden of everything together. This makes life easy and fun to do it with someone else. Baby, do you have something to say to this?

Kenya: Babe, you are doing good keep going. I agree with what you are saying.

Todd: To answer that, I will say that when we face trials, divorce is an easy way out. If you are not strong enough to say I am going to make this work regardless then the easy way will always be the way that you take. With us, we made our mind up rather it be for the sake of the fact that we are Christians and we believe the word and for the fact that we know there is nothing outside of our marriage worth going after.

You two have been very public about the rocky start you experienced in your marriage. May you speak to those issues and how you worked through them?

Kenya: One of the things that we bumped heads with was communication. We were talking, but sometimes what I would say to him would go in one ear and out the other. I was talking, but he was not listening. He was talking, but I was not listening. The one day that we sat down and talked and air everything out, we just decided to listen. From then we learned how to communicate better with each other.

Todd: To go even further back then that. Our start, we did not start biblically accurate. We had to make an adjustment midstream. We were definitely sexually active (before marriage) which clouded judgment. We have made it a crazy point, regardless of the fact that we stand before the church, we wanted to let people know that we did not do it right on the front end. With our start, we were sexually active before marriage, we got pregnant before marriage, and we did not really take our time with entering into the whole thing of marriage. We were really learning as we go, but we both made a decision not to abort this. We are not going to take the easy way out, and we are going to learn each other. And it took two people who were willing to do it. Like now, I really believe that my marriage is the best marriage. I have the bomb marriage. Whereas before we were both like, “No, we cannot make it.” Man, I thank God we stayed together, because now I see this is really the best woman for me.

Kenya: Aww, babe. {sighs and laughs}

Todd: See this is why I like to do my interviews in private, because she hears me boasting about her. {laughs}

Can you give us more detail about the change in your relationship? Was it really the communication issue and trying to understand each other that made the difference? 

Todd: With the first question, for me the communication thing was that I was not ready to fully compromise. I did not feel like I had to listen. I was not use to some one asking me to do stuff and meaning for me to do it right away. I had to learn that if we are going to be two people she needs to have a voice. I will be honest. I just really was not into sharing my life yet. I did not really understand that I needed to include her in every thought and every thing. This was what caused me not to really listen to her. I figured I am I and you are you. Yes, we are learning to love each other and grow together, but I just was not really ready. I also did not understand how much it bothered her.

Kenya: For me with the communication, it was really like a tit for tat. I thought, well if you are not listening to me, I am not going to listen to you. To piggyback on him, I am use to doing my own thing as well. So now I had to answer to him, and see if he was okay with it. A lot of things I would just do instead of checking in with him. Neither one of us were doing that. Now we just include each other in everything.

Some of our readers may or may not be Christian, so can you speak to how having sex before marriage complicated your relationship aside from the fact that sex before marriage is a sin?

Todd: As far as the sex before marriage piece, whether you are Christian, atheist, or anything, sex before marriage can cloud your judgment. We got into each other physically before anything. We were dating and crushing on each other real hard, but we got into each other physically and it started a roller coaster. I was into my wife like super physically before anything, and I was very vocal to her about it. I was like “Man, I think you are so sexy.” And I was not thinking about my relationship with God or anything else. This took us on a rollercoaster out of control, and it took us a long time before we were both really making love vs. just crushing on each other and craving each other in a passionate way before we got an understanding of each other mentally.

This makes a lot sense. It sounds like your communication issues in the beginning stemmed from your sexual intimacy overshadowing your lack of intimacy verbally and mentally. Your sexual relationship created a false sense of connection before you two really got to know each other mentally and emotionally.

Todd: That’s right!

That’s huge! Kenya, from your standpoint as a woman, do you feel as though you were more prepared or more willing to share? Women are raised with the mentality that we have to share our everything with a man or whomever. Did you come into the relationship with this line of thinking, and Todd’s unwillingness shifted your willingness? Do you think that there is a difference between how men and women approach sharing everything from the beginning?

Kenya: That’s exactly what happened. I did not mind it at first, but like I said when he started not to do it, I’m like, “I’m not doing it.” That is exactly it, us, women, we are so different from them. But when he started to turn, I turned the switch back on. Like he is doing his part, I can do it too.

Todd: Now I take all of the blame for our first couple of years of marriage. I really do. I realize now how willing women are to really share everything if you make them feel…

Kenya: Included.

Todd: Yes, included and like they are important! I was not doing any of that. I believe for the first couple of years this is why we had so many struggles in addition to how we started.

What are three things that you believe made your marriage successful?

Kenya: I would say one is laughter. We laugh all the time.

Todd: Yeah yeah, we laugh. It’s fun. Sex!

Kenya: I know that should have been on top.

Todd: Yeah, that should have been on top for me. (laughing)

Kenya: Laughter, intimacy and communication.

Todd: I will say that. I can go with those, because the communication turned our relationship around. But sex for me is probably at the top.

Kenya: I say intimacy, because for me it is more than sex.

Todd: That’s cool. I am just saying from a man’s perspective that it’s important we consistently have the fire burning. Amen!

Do you both feel as though it is important to have a mission, goal or purpose for your marriage? What would you say your mission is as a married couple?

Todd: Whoa

Kenya: Mine would be to just keep on keep on striving.

Todd: Yes, just keep going. This is the one thing. I was sharing this with a friend. I would say this could be our mission. The whole statement “for better or for worse,” I think people do not really mean it. The “for better” they are in, but the “for worse,” has stipulations. Is it really for worse, and what does the worse include? For me, I realize, my wife and I, if it gets really bad this is the “for worse,” and we have to navigate our way through it and find a way to our happiness again. I think our mission is for better or for worse really is for better or worse.” Yeaaaaah (Claps)

Yes, that is it. I believe we can leave it right there. That at the end of the day, this partnership that you have is really standing on “for better or for worse.” When it’s better that is great. And when it’s worse, how can we make it better?

Todd: Yes, and not abort it!

Kenya: Amen!

Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband, their two girls, and a yorkie named Ace. Clarissa is also an expert in impact investing.

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