In a group chat with some of my best girlfriends, someone said: “Have you all watched Black Love?” My response was, “what’s that?”. The next thing I knew, I was binging season one on my couch in tears. These were not sad tears, more like finally tears. Finally, there is a show on TV that tells the story of black love. During this time, I had also just discovered This is US, and I fell head over heels in love with Randall’s character and family in the early seasons. Between those two shows, I had to start using hand towels to wipe my tears because I was running through tissue boxes quickly!
At the time, I was a single woman living in a newish city. I had just relocated from Atlanta back home to the DMV area. And I had just turned 30. I felt like I was starting life over, and I had a chance to re-create choices. In the past, my dating habits were not the best, nor were they healthy. I stayed in situations longer than I needed, went after the wrong people, and lost myself in the process. I began to find myself again by merely watching the four episodes that were in season one. I knew I was going to learn from this show. “Creating this series has given my husband and I countless examples to challenge our checklists and expectations and tools to work toward the best versions of ourselves and the best marriage we can possibly have. Does that mean we have it all figured out?? Hellllllll no. But we have no shortage of examples, and as a bonus, we’ve created a marriage village from our couples, many of which are very invested in our relationship success since.”, says Codie Elaine Oliver, co-creator of Black Love Doc airing on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
I heard stories of families overcoming the death of a child, marriages that have been solid for 50+ years, stories of courtship, and even marriages that overcame infidelity. Stories that are often not showcased in the media. TV and movies focus on the negative side of marriages and relationships, not the positive side. Not the work that needs to be put in or the emphasis on being whole before entering a relationship. It’s like I found my relationship voice watching some of the familiar married couples and newly introduced ones. “My couples are like babies to me. I love them equally. I fall in love with them first because of the courage required to open up to us and second because I have the benefit of hearing so many details – and asking follow up questions. There’s so much you don’t see.”, adds Oliver.
Two years later, I met my husband. A year later, we got engaged. Ten months after that, we got married. When we first met, I asked him if he ever watched the docu-series. His answer was similar to my initial response, “what is that?”. Season two was getting ready to air, but we started from season one. Re-watching the season now in a committed relationship felt 1000% different than anything I’ve ever experienced before. I felt the love, dedication, and commitment that the couples shared on the show. Watching Black Love together provided us with discussion topics and late-night talks about how we want to live out our relationship, and now marriage. It gave us examples of what to do and what to avoid.
Now in season three, I am even more connected to this series. This show, and it’s co-creator Codie, inspired me to create a healthy social community of Black Love. One night in my dreams, the phrase “Black Wife Life” came to me. The next morning I told my then fiancé about it. I said I am going to start a community on Instagram dedicated to the lives of Black Wives. I stayed anonymous for a while because I felt that I was not quite a wife yet, so I couldn’t “reveal” myself until after I was married. I did get over that fear btw.
Codie was and is an inspiration to me. She had a passion project that turned into a beautiful black movement across the world. So when my passion project, @BlackWifeLife, caught the attention of Codie, I was elated. I was asked to partner and help promote season three of Black Love on my Instagram account. I will never forget the message I got from Codie. My first thought was, “Wait, me? Is she really asking me to help?” I couldn’t believe it. But it made me work harder. And it let me know that I’ve got something special that is impacting the lives of strangers who I’ll never meet, but I love and cherish dearly.
Season three of Black Love has already exceeded my expectations. The Oliver’s keep surprising us with more dynamic couples, with relatable stories. This year has been a year of transformation for me and also Codie. I got married, and she is now a mom of 3. “I started working on season three episodes weeks after the twins were born. Doing that while juggling what it means to be postpartum, actual parenting, running a business, and wifing was more than a notion. I’m excited about these upcoming episodes because they’re deeper than ever. We talk about respect in marriage, the effect of our backgrounds when married, the stress of parenting while married, and more. I’m just really proud of all of it.”, says Oliver.
I was fortunate enough to ask Codie a couple of interview questions about the current season of the show airing on Fridays in November. I have always been curious about her WHY behind this show. “It stemmed from us not having examples of happy marriages in our own lives, and we wanted to learn from those making it work. We also wanted to highlight those examples for the masses. As Black people, we deserve to see ourselves in happy, loving relationships on screen and that visual was mostly missing from entertainment and the media.”, says Oliver.
The Oliver’s have created a resource for Black Love. And it doesn’t stop at the TV show, they have built an online presence that touches on topics like sex, single life, divorce, family, and pregnancy. The platform did a feature on the same friend who introduced me to this life-changing community. “Oh, yes! That was so fun! The photo was sent to us, and I decided we should tell the story of sisterhood behind the image, especially as such a vulnerable time in a woman’s life.”, Codie states.
The Texas native adds, “We created our social platform and BlackLove.com to have greater conversations in the Black community about healthy, loving relationships, period. Celebrating your village or even recognization that you don’t have one is a part of that. Relationships with our parents and guardians are another – what pain or toxic messages are you holding onto from your childhood that you haven’t worked through? Or what moments or people are you idolizing that may keep you from seeing value in a relationship that looks a little different?”.
Let’s take a moment to soak in what Codie just said. “What moments or people are you idolizing that may keep you from seeing value in a relationship that looks a little different?”. This was huge for me. It’s the title of the article. She then talks about how situations like that stand in the way of you loving and celebrating yourself. And these topics aren’t openly shared in black communities. There is now a place for it. “We also talk about sex, dating, and marriage, of course! We want to continue to challenge the boxes we often put ourselves in and share more truths than just what it takes to make a marriage work, a la Black Love the series.”, adds Oliver.
Being the creator of a social movement, #BlackWifeLife, I needed to know what Codie’s favorite part of being a wife, specifically a Black wife. She shared that she always wanted a partner in life. And how it was important to have someone who is always on her team. “That’s my favorite thing about being a wife. My favorite thing about being a Black wife is being an honest, example to any young women, like me, who isn’t sure it’s possible. The media says if you’re a Black woman, you’re less likely to get married. If you’re a Black woman with multiple degrees, you’re less likely to get married. Well, I got two.”, adds the Howard University & USC Alum.
The world feels like it’s against healthy images of love. I’m forever grateful that I found a place that uplifts the image of Black Love — a place that talks about the hurdles and celebrates the triumphs.
If you haven’t already, watch Black Love on OWN, airing on Fridays in November. And catch up on previous seasons via the OWN App. Don’t forget to follow @BlackLoveDoc and @BlackWifeLife on Instagram for all your #BlackLove inspiration.