On December 7th, 2018 I made a monumental life decision that I had 100% confidence in: I married my husband.

Before the day I was nervous about the logistics; who would be there, how I would wear my hair and makeup and what the reception would be like. But I had no doubt, whatsoever, that I was making the second best decision of my entire life (the first was transferring to FAMU, where I met my husband).

And the fact that everything was absolutely perfect that day confirmed it for me.

My husband, Shakimo, and I had been together since August 2016. 2 years later we decided to move in together. When I think back on it, I realize our relationship progressed very quickly from dating to living together, to engaged and married. But I think that speaks to our mindset about each other and our dedication to the relationship.

Just 2 months after getting our first apartment together, he popped the question, which was a complete surprise to me at the time! I think he was feeling a bit of pressure because I shared with him that I’d was having dreams about him proposing. I had no intention of pressuring him to propose, but everything happens for a reason right? It turns out he’d bought my engagement ring months before I’d had my first proposal dream.

When we got engaged, he was a full time health educator as he prepared to apply to medical school. I was a part time environmental specialist with the local health department and a full time grad school student. Money was tight and our families either lived out of town or out of the country, so a large wedding was out of the question.

A small, intimate ceremony just felt right. We opted for a courthouse wedding with 15 of our closest friends and my parents.

I bought my wedding dress off the rack for $300 and made my own bouquet a couple weeks before the date. We reserved a room at our favorite restaurant for a small reception dinner. He rented his tux. And on the day of, I did my own hair and makeup.

It was truly the best day I have ever had in my life. Everything went perfectly!

On the day of, I went to my best friend’s house to get dressed. Just as I was finishing my makeup, my mom, stepdad and grandmother arrived from my hometown, 2 hours away. I begged my stepdad to go to my apartment and be with my future husband as he got dressed so he wouldn't be alone, and he happily obliged.

It was such a pleasure to prepare for my wedding day with my mom and grandmother. A pleasure I didn't think I’d be able to have just because of how quickly we decided to get married.

My mom being there to help me put on my dress and my grandmother being there to share wise (and funny) words and giving me a handmade pair of earrings made the day even sweeter. When I got to the courthouse, our friends and my dad were already there. We just needed the groom. When he arrived about 10 minutes later, he immediately started to cry when he saw me (awwww!).

We looked great, we felt great, we just had to make it official.

We signed our paperwork, the courthouse clerk put a black graduation robe over his polo and jeans (LOL) and we went to a small room for ceremonies. We said the vows, exchanged rings, took pictures and we were officially married!

Being able to share a meal at the reception dinner with the people who supported us from the beginning and a few who were responsible for getting us together, was the cherry on top.

We’ve done some great things together in the last 2 years:

Shakimo transitioned to a more ideal job to support his application for medical school

He retook the MCAT

Applied to and got accepted to medical school on a full ride

We moved to a bigger apartment

I graduated with my masters degree

I started several businesses

We packed up our lives in the US and moved to his home country where he began medical school

We survived a whole pandemic

We got better, individually and as a couple.

I wanted to get his take on what he’s learned in year 2 of marriage and what he’s looking forward to in year 3. Here’s a bit of our conversation.

Chelsea M: What have you learned in year 2 of marriage?

Shakimo M: What I've learned this year is to listen, not react first. To take the time to listen, digest, formulate an answer instead of just jumping to a conclusion. taking time to tell it's a listen to what's being proposed or what's being said. To take time to properly think about what was being said to responde. Not just to be a “ Hear it now, answer now” type of person not answering our type person. Because a lot of times you say things that you wouldn't say if you actually sat down and thought about it.

CM: I never really took you as a reactive type person. To me you’ve always been thoughtful about your responses but this year like you put do you think that like you put more intention? I think that your Baseline is to be thoughtful, but do you think now you put more effort into it?

SM: I would say that, yes.

CM: What are you looking forward to in our marriage going into year three?

SM: Where we go from here, how we grow.

CM: So in year 3, we’ll definitely much more settled here [in St. Maarten], but we'll be looking to transition back to the States. So I'm looking forward to that. Not just moving back, but I'm looking forward to learning about the process that you'll be following for medical school and I'm looking forward to the planning process. You know I'm a planner. Its how I manage my anxiety. So I'm looking forward to the six months of planning its going to take to get us back to the States.

CM: What's something you feel like we should work on?

SM: I think what I can work on is communication. I can try to communicate better.

CM: I feel I like this year was a really big year for communication. We've been together for 4 years now, but I feel like we've communicated the most this year. We’ve also had the most effective communication this year. There were some distinct situations where we had to communicate and that was the only way that we're going to get through it. I learned a lot about communication with you. I’ve gotten better communication as a whole as a result of communicating better with you.

CM: I think we can be more intentional about spending time together. I feel like we spend a lot of time in our own worlds together. That doesn't necessarily mean that we’re spending time together. I’d like to get out of the house more often, not to spend money but maybe just a chance to change the scenery.

SM: (nodding silently in agreement)

2020 has been a doozy, but it's definitely helped us improve our marriage. In the last year, Shakimo and I have encountered situations that would have taken some veteran couples out of the game. So I'm happy that we’ve been able to turn those situations into growing points as individuals and as a couple. And I’m excited to see what year three has in store!

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