While other little girls were busying themselves with Barbies and Disney fairytale movies I was riding skateboards down hills with my three brothers and constructing sling shots out of wood and rubber bands. Even though my mom made me wear pretty dresses to Church and special events, my favorite outfit consisted of a comfy t-shirt and shorts. I eventually grew out of my tomboy stage once I hit junior high school, but I still never thought about marriage. It was something I had always looked upon as an unnecessary commitment, one that would jeopardize my free spirit, self-confidence and fierce independence.
When I think back on my childhood I realize that being raised in a broken home had a major impact on my views about marriage. My husband grew up in a broken home as well, we were both just another statistic. My parents married young and had a very tumultuous and sometimes volatile marriage before finally divorcing when I was still a toddler. My brothers and I spent nearly every year after their divorce in and out of court because of their custody battles. Although there were many dysfunctions within our childhood, we have some good memories as well because our parents did what they could to show us love. We also had the support of our paternal grandmother whose big house in Vallejo, CA gave us a sense of normalcy every summer.
I had my first child at 19 years old so I know firsthand how hard it is to raise a child before you’ve had time to discover yourself. Parenthood is a huge responsibility and there was no handbook to teach me how to be a good parent, I learned through trial and error. I come from a long line of strong single black mothers who raised multiple kids on their own. The lack of a positive example of a healthy marriage made my choice to be a single mother even easier. Of course I had no idea at the time how hard it would be as a young single mother of an autistic child, I just knew that I wanted to live and raise my child my way. I’m very grateful for the help and guidance I had from my mom during those years, she was my main support system throughout all the daunting IEP meetings, speech therapy, occupational therapy and other special services I fought for my son to get.
I met my husband Ricky Horne Jr. in December, 2004 at the Northridge mall while I was shopping with my mom, my nine year old son and my teenage sister. He had just graduated from Occidental College and was seven years my junior. Long story short, he said when he first saw me from a distance in the mall he knew that I was the one. When I finally spotted him and after we talked I had concluded that he was too young but he was cute and funny…so I put him in the ‘friend’ zone. His confidence and persistence eventually broke down the walls I had built up over the years and I ended up falling in love like never before. On April 20th, 2007 we took the next step and after eleven years together I am living my most fulfilled life.
Last year I had an epiphany as I watched our daughter play with princess Barbies, fascinated by marriage and happily ever afters. I realized that my husband and I have played a part in establishing a positive example of a healthy relationship, ending a longtime family history of broken marriages. Lexi will ask me from time to time if one day she will meet a wonderful prince like her daddy and I tell her absolutely, but hopefully not for many years because she has a lot to learn and accomplish on her own first. Our kids see the affection and love between us and we get to see the positive effects that it has on their social interactions. Honestly, I’m happy our daughter is beginning to grow out of the “fairytale” phase and develop a passion for reading, writing… and ninja turtles:) I’m even happier that both of our kids are able to experience a healthy, functional family unit which is something that will only add to their emotional stability.
In an era where reality shows and social media tend to glamorize the wedding and not the marriage, many people are mislead into believing that a marriage doesn’t take work. I have often given marital advice to friends and family who have asked and my first bit of advice is that a healthy marriage requires a commitment to cultivating a strong bond, mutual respect, patience, sacrifice, trust, and loyalty. Marriage counseling beforehand is a wise choice too, so is taking the time to get to know the person you will be vowing to spend the rest of your life with. If you’ve never taken time to get to know who you are, you’re not giving your marriage a fighting chance either.
My early twenties were spent raising my son, exploring and developing my passions in life versus longtime relationships and I have no regrets. By twenty-eight I was not only more secure with myself but I was also more mature and open to the man God had brought into my life. My rationalization used to be if I never get married then I never have to relinquish my power, or feel the kind of pain and disappointment my mother had felt. As a single mother of an autistic child, I was also very overprotective.
There were only a few guys I had dated throughout my single years that got to meet my son because I knew it wasn’t healthy for him. I also respected his father even though we weren’t together anymore. My husband not only became my friend first, but he befriended my son as well. I’m happy that he got to experience life with a positive step-parent around, something my husband and I had never experienced in our own childhoods. With my husband’s help I found a diet that helped my son focus more, an amazing gluten and casein free diet that also helped him become more social and outgoing. Armond is now a very independent and responsible young adult who is driving, working and going to college to pursue a career in radiologic science.
I can only speak for myself and my own personal experiences, so I will never claim to be an expert on marriage or relationships. My husband and I have seen a good number of marriages begin and end throughout our years together yet we continue to feel that forever can be achieved when two people respect each other as equals. We didn’t go into this with superficial expectations, I didn’t want to be with him because of money or fame and vice versa. There’s no hierarchy in our relationship where one person has more power over the other because of the income they bring in. We began a marriage as equally yoked individuals both answering to a higher power. Our faith in God is what has kept us strong through the tough times and when many couples might have thrown in the towel we chose to trust in Him, stay together and continue chasing our dreams.
Our open communication and honesty allows me to trust the decisions that my husband makes as head of the household. We have always given each other the space and freedom to pursue our own individual business endeavors. This support system opened our eyes to the fact that not only do we share the same goal of elevating our family but we also share many of the same creative passions. Now we are building businesses…together.
Nine years ago we were married on the beautiful island of Saint Lucia in front of four of our close friends. None of our family could make the trip but that didn’t deter us from having the Weddingmoon of our dreams. We had agreed to invest more into our marriage than the wedding so my good friend Sophia put together a destination wedding package within the budget we had set.
We plan on renewing our vows in the near future. We definitely want to have a big, beautiful celebration with both our family and our friends for our next trip down the aisle.
Now that we have taken the time to build upon our relationship and strengthen it, we are happy to share our wedding video and our story in hopes of inspiring others looking for a forever kind of love. People aren’t perfect so it’s unrealistic to expect a perfect relationship, we’ve had our share of arguments and hard times over the years like anyone else. We’ve learned that our forever ultimately lies within our happiness together and we will continue to do all that we can to see each other happy.
Our wedding videos: