Love is a many-splendored thing, but Jamillah and David Lamb, the duo behind the off-Broadway play "Platanos Y Collard Greens," say you only need seven to keep it thriving.
In honor of National Black Marriage Day, and in the face of recent research that says marriage rates are on the decline in the black community, the Lambs sat down with the Huffington Post to share their perfect combination for relationship success, a menu of sage advice that they've picked up over the course of their 10-year marriage and that they're sharing with the world in a new book titled Perfect Combination: 7 Key Ingredients to Happily Living and Loving Together.
What are the top 3 key ingredients to happily living and loving together?
The first one is let your past be your past, which is something that we learned before we were married.
OUR KEY INGREDIENT:
Let Your Past Be Your Past
2 Cups of Being in the Moment
1 Cup of Forgiveness
1 Tablespoon of Humor
Each day with love is new. So any chance that you get to love, take full advantage of it.
All of us have made some bad choices and thought they were good choices at the time. We have all been hurt and some of us have hurt others, but that is the past. When you get a new chance at love, you have to treat it like it's new.
Along the way, if you get to meet some of the people you knew when you were working through your struggles with love and learning yourself, apologize to them so that they know it wasn't them; it was just you working out your own stuff.
We now know that before we met each other and fell in love neither of us really knew what it felt like to be in love. If some of you are reading this book with your first love or your greatest love, it may help you to remember the key ingredient to being in a relationship is to be in this relationship.
Whatever you did, whatever you endured, whatever you suffered or caused somebody else to suffer before you got into the space where you could say that you are clearly ready for love, be willing to forgive that. Dr. Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better." Now, move forward and do love...better.
Our other ingredient is paying attention pays off. If we pay attention to each other on a daily basis, when it comes time for Valentines Day or their birthday, you're not at a loss because you've been paying attention to what they want.
Lastly, be grateful. W.E.B. Du Bois said it this way: "Focus on life's possibilities, rather than its disappointments."
Do you celebrate Black Marriage Day?
Yes. We think it's such a beautiful thing that the Wedded Bliss Foundation created, really to celebrate universal love all around and positive things that matter to bring to the family and the family structure.
Celebrity drives our society, and we are very interested in their marriages -- what do you say to those who idealize those marriages?
One of the things we feel is important for people to realize is that you really shouldn't covet what other people have, because you really don't know what their relationship is really like or if they're really happy. It's about focusing on yourself, as an individual, and making sure that you're happy and confident, which goes back to our first ingredient.
We are strong advocates [of the idea] that it's about you working on yourself, being in a place where you can provide happiness for someone. If you want to find someone who is a role model, whether it's a celebrity or not, look for someone who is espousing happiness or espousing inner peace.
"Love like kids act like adults" is your motto. What do you mean by that?
The "love like kids" part comes from our experience with our daughter, who's almost four. It's so amazing how freely she not just loves you, but shows her love. It's crazy, like ten times a day she says "I love you" and she's not afraid to express it. She doesn't harbor any past hurts or pains.
A lot of time, as we become adults, we build fortresses around our hearts so that we won't be hurt, and we're more concerned with defending ourselves from being hurt than giving love...That's what we mean by "love like kids" -- removing that fortress and just letting the love flow.
Being an adult means taking responsibility. [It] means not expecting the other person to read your mind because you're afraid to communicate and express your thoughts.
You all work together day in and day out. What advice would you give to couples who don't work together?
All couples work together. Whether you own a business together, work together in the same office or not, [you have to] respect each other. When you do that it leads into you having balance in your relationship and you appreciating each other and appreciation is huge.
Since we work together everyday was make a thousand decisions a day and the only way we're able to do that and not get into arguments, or if we disagree, how we're able to still come out whole is because we respect each other. We always feel like the other person's opinion is valid and we're not dismissive. And if someone makes a mistake, we know that it wasn't because they had ill intentions.
Having an underlying sense of respect helps in all aspects of the business and our relationship.