married, Eugene Gatewood, Original Mentor, LaTanya Gatewood, Victory Cathedral Young Adults, Couples, Love, Marriage,

Last night my wife and I were honored to be asked to be apart of a panel for the young adults, at Victory Cathedral Worship Center, who shared their thoughts about marriage.  We have been together for 20 years (in December 2015), married for 13 years (September 2015), and it has been a joy.  Joy…not perfect.  We have had our ups and downs, but we have worked very hard to make it this long.

The facilitator asked the panel several questions.  We could have talked forever, but we did not want to be selfish and monopolize the discussion. 🙂 After all, there was another panelist couple who have been married for 39 years!  We needed some of their wisdom too!

Below we have included the questions and our answers from last night (not verbatim, but generally).  We are turning 40 this year, so our memory doesn’t always go back that far.  Ha!  We both did not respond to every question, but we have added some comments to, hopefully, give a little more guidance.  Lastly, we even got the remaining Twitter questions and answered those as well.

We are not experts, just sharing what has worked for us.  We pray that it helps someone.


1. Based on your spouse personality, what nickname would you give them?

LaTanya: The Principal: He is always giving people “a talk”. No one wants the Principle to know, but always ends up in “his office” when they need to “get right.” 

Eugene: If I am the Principle, then she is “The Counselor” they go to her office first and she refers them over here to me.  We just thank God that He has blessed us to share what we can and that people trust the God in us to come.

  • Tip: Lighten up!  Pet names are fun.  They make a relationship personal to the two of you.

2. What role did faith play before you got married? 

LaTanya: I always knew the Lord, he was a heathen! (well…maybe she did not say it quite like that). LOL   I would invite him to church, but…?

Eugene: Last Night I did not respond, but I will give my perspective.  I have always believed in God but did not have a relationship with Him.  However, I was never averse to church and did not oppose her going.  I just did not go.  I went a few times in college, but it was not until after college that I began to go to the same church she attended.  I was baptized as a little boy, but this is when I say I was Saved “for real”.  I understood what it meant to be saved and my relationship began to grow

  • Tip:  Wait and see!  Do not force them to go to church.  They must want a relationship with God, which is different from simply attending church.  That is not something you can make people do.  God does not even force us to have a relationship with Him, so why would you think you could force it?  LaTanya and I were friends for more than a year before we got into a relationship, then together for 7 years before we got married.  She took the time to watch my personal growth and development but stayed true to her faith.  Her relationship with God encouraged me to want to have one as well.  She never forced the issue, simply encouraged it.  I had to want it for myself and not just do it because she wanted me too.

3. How did you know that they were the ONE?

Eugene: On one of our first dates we spent the entire day together.  We did breakfast, then a movie, lunch, then Go Cart Racing, Dinner, then Arcade.  It was a good day.  The next morning, I called and asked her what she was doing and if she wanted to hang out again.  That was “different” for me.  If I had just spent the entire day with you before, I typically did not want to talk to you for a couple days (stop judging me, I been Delivert!).

LaTanya: “Just Look at him!”  LOL (Just Kidding…she did not respond to this question, because her answer was the same).

  • Tip: Wait and see. Stopping telling them what you are looking for in a mate on the first couple dates.  Simply wait to see who they are.  When you tell them too soon, sometimes, they try to become a representation of what you want instead of being who they are.  You will typically know that someone is worth keeping around when they genuinely care about your well being and best interest, above their own.  It takes time to determine that.
  • Quick Story…The summer before my 3rd year of college, I had a tuition bill from the previous semester that I had to pay before I could register.  I worked and saved thousands, but was short a couple hundred dollars.  I asked everyone, but resolved I was going to have to sit out a semester and come back a semester late.  When she came to my house later that day she handed me the balance I needed to pay my bill.  I never asked her, but she cared enough to make sure I was going to stay in school.  #SheHadMeAtGoPayYoTuition (Jerry Maguire Reference)

4. How has marriage impacted your relationship with your family?  Did they have a role in picking?

LaTanya: My family LOVES him and always has.  There was a period of time where we broke up and my mother called me and said: “What did you do?” #WTW I think that if we would have broken up they would have disowned me.

Eugene: Our family dynamic is amazing.  My family and her family, my friends and her friends, all come together for the holidays.  It is great because we do not have to really choose where to go.  My mom and her mom talk independent of us.  It is really great.

  • Tips: Wait and See…Family dynamics matter, but should not be the determining factor.  You chose your spouse, not them.  However, you do need to consider the influence that your spouses family has on their decisions.  LaTanya and I are both only children from families where our moms raised us.  However, both of our mothers respect our marriage and have never imposed their views on our marriage or parenting styles.

5. How do you make time for each other to keep the passion in the relationship?

Eugene: Funny thing…when I worked in Corp America, I was home for dinner every night. Now, not so much.  We are intentional about setting aside time and doing things together as a family.  One summer we decided to only do NEW things.  We made a list and tried all new experiences for us and our son.  We also made a bucket list this summer, posted it on the refrigerator and checked things off as we do them.

  • Tip:  Marriage is what you make it.  Be Intentional!  You can succumb to the routine of the rat race, or you can step outside of the daily routine and try different things.  Trying new things exposes you to new people and sparks new conversation.  It does not cost money to make memories!  One summer, when money was tough, we challenged ourselves to find FREE things for the family.  Our summer was FULL!  So much so, that our son still asks to this day, “What are we doing fun this weekend!”

6. How do you handle money?

LaTanya: We have always talked about money. We just had two different views.  I was taught to save, he was taught to spend. But we have never allowed money to become a hindrance in our relationship.  Money has not always been good, but we talk about it.  We have a budget.  I HATE THE SPREADSHEET! But it works!  He provides me with a version that I can read without all of the formulas and color coding.

Eugene: My money is her money.  Her money is my money.  We are one.  A house divided against itself can not stand.  We have multiple accounts, but we have access to all accounts.  The various accounts are simply to help us budget.  All bills come out of one account, Gas and Groceries come from another, then spending from another.

  • Tip:  You are not roommates.  Roommates split bills not married couples.  Genesis 2:24 says that they shall become ONE flesh.  You cannot get married and still keep principles and practices of single people. Once LaTanya and I became engaged, we began to operate as ONE.  We shared one another’s credit reports, bank accounts, investment accounts, etc. We had nothing to hide.  If you go into the marriage avoiding the subject of money and not setting the proper expectations, you will continue to operate independently of one another, thus not being as effective as you could be as a unit.

7. How do you feel about living together before marriage?

LaTanya:  “We are not perfect. We meet in college and I will just leave it at that. Even after college, he had his own place.  I spent the night at his place.  He said it was ok for me to leave items there, but I did not want him to get too comfortable, “playing house.”  I always felt so convicted when I stayed because I knew it was not right.  I did not want him to think that I did not like him, but my spirit was so unsettled.  Recently, he even apologized for having me compromise my faith.

Eugene: The Bible says, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” It also says, “shun the appearance of evil.”  I know this now but was not mature in my faith back then.  I now realize the pressure I put on her and I regret it.  We did not live together before we got married, but we still were not perfect.

  • Tip: I have witnessed the effects of sex before marriage and living together before marriage.  I believe that the break down of the family structure begins when people make the wrong decision about who they are with.  Then, before they realize it or correct decision, they begin to do things that the Bible reserves for married people; which further complicates matters.  Having a child with someone who you were not supposed to be with and can not even get along with, causes the cycle of dysfunction to repeat itself (Wrote a blog about it…wanna read it, here it goes) CLICK HERE “You Picked Em!”

Additional Twitter Questions

1. For saved and single, what is some advice you have on entertaining the right person?

  • Avoid the Representative | The “representative” is the person who people become, to get you to like them.  To prevent a person from bringing their “representative” on every date, delay telling them what you like in a mate.  Instead, ask them who they are?  If you tell them what you like, up front, then ask them who they are, it is easier for them to adjust based on what you said; thus the representative is born.
  • Be Yourself | On the other hand, it is so much easier to be who God created you to be.  It is easy to answer questions, it is easy to meet family and friends because there is no pressure.  You are not “trying” to make people like you.  Either they will or they won’t.  Worst case, if you all figure out that you are not compatible after the first date, it saves you time, money, and heartache.

2. Is it wise for people in relationships to hang out with single friends?

  • Well… Generally speaking, the answer is no.  Single people and married people have different motives and hang out spots.  It does not mean that a married person would succumb to the temptations presented while with single friends, but the probability increases each time the married person is exposed to “temptations.”
  • …It Depends | Depends on what?  The type of friends that you have.  If you have friends that respect the sanctity of marriage and your best interest, they are more likely to change what they do and say around you.  They are more likely to ensure that you are not being placed in or around the things that enticed you in the past.  But there is always that ONE friend…LOL  JK!  Prayerfully you have friends who are all traveling on the same path, but some reach their destination sooner than others.  If they are your true friend, they would not try to run you off the road, simply because you got in the car with someone else.

3. What is the best part about being married?

  • Companionship | Life is hard.  It is great to have someone on your side who will be there with you no matter what! A Companion is defined as “one of a pair of things that intended to complement or match each other (A.K.A. Friendship).  When you take the time to match up with the right person, you have two healthy, whole individuals coming together who fills the void for one another.  Not complete one another, but where I am weak, she is strong and visa versa.  His or Her strength does not compromise who you are or what you mean to the relationship.  When rough times come, you have a person you can lock arms with and know that for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or in health…WE got this.

Throughout this blog, we have stressed “wait and see” so much, because if you link up with a person who only wants you because of your Better, Richer, and Healthy; where will they be when the other happens? Allow them to stay around long enough to see both sides.  In those low moments, If they care more about you than themselves and are willing to compromise to fill that void, you have the right one.

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Comments
  1. Karen says:

    They speak the truth!!!!! Marriage is definitely one of their ministries.

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