This week we continue our Happy Marriage Summer Series with the McLeods. Gorgeous couple Monique and Calvert McLeod have been married for 13 years and have been blessed with two remarkable children, Matthias, six, and Niara, 10. Calvert is an urban planner and Monique is the founder and creative director for Everything Creative Advertising Agency and a professional make-up artist. The two share their journey with Family and Faith Magazine's Editorial Director Shelly-Ann Harris.
How did you know that your partner was the one?
Monique: I knew this soon after we met. The realisation took my breath away and I was somewhat scared because this was so new and different from anything I had ever experienced. I knew Jerry [“Calvert”] was the one because of a combination of incredible things. By the way, we could talk for hours and lose our sense of time and space. He was charming and humorous. He challenged me but always supported me. His ambition was vast, and I believed he could achieve anything with his drive. He was brutally honest and trust me, sometimes it was not received well, but I loved that he would tell it like it is. He was gentle, but firm. His love for God was marvellous to watch. When he looked at me I felt like he was peering into my soul lovingly and fearlessly. I knew I wanted to experience all life had to offer with him, forever.
Jerry: The first time I saw Monique my physical, emotional, and spiritual being were all in agreement that she was the one. At that moment I asked God if she could be mine, and we all know how the story unfolded.
You have been together for a while and have two beautiful children. What do you value most about your life together?
Monique: I value our experiences the most — the good, the bad, and the in-between. I value his commitment, friendship, and his connection with God. No matter what life throws at us, he is always by my side and we are a team. I love that he strives to put me and our family first. I love his business sense and his drive to succeed at whatever he touches.
Jerry: The thing I value the most about my wife is her unwavering faith and deep-rooted connection for God, which are then translated into her love, devotion, and dedication to me and the children. I also value her spontaneity, creativity, love for life, and positive nature.
What's one of the most challenging issues you have faced as a married couple and how did you overcome it?
Monique & Jerry: Accepting each other as we are, and practising selflessness were the most challenging areas within our marriage. We have very strong personalities and are set in our ways. So earlier in the marriage it was difficult to become one in our thoughts, goals, and desires. After all, we are both individuals with lifelong dreams, expectations of marriage, and baggage from previous relationships. However, we give God all the credit for all these years and the years to come. The lessons are hard due to our own selfishness and focusing on our own feelings. But, with prayer, spiritual and emotional maturity, dependence on God, as well as time, the pieces came together.
Has parenting challenged or strengthened your marriage?
Monique & Jerry: Parenting most definitely challenged our marriage. We grew up differently and had our ideas of how a parent should look, act, and simply be. I grew up without a father and had a mother who was plagued with mental issues, so I wanted to immerse my children in love and affection. My husband, on the other hand, grew up with his mom and a father who left when he was very young, which forced him to grow up quickly and live a disciplined life to survive. So you can imagine an artist and a planner coming together and creating a family. It was an interesting ride, indeed. However, we both wanted a loving home that was safe, secure, and God-centred at the root of it all — a home with both parents, something we didn't experience. So, to answer the question, it did both challenge and strengthen us. I believe every challenge gave us a new perspective, and either made us stronger or wiser in how to deal with other issues.
What are some of the biggest lessons you have learnt about marriage and family over the years?
Monique: A marriage requires God to be at the very centre, hands down. It requires dedication and effort. You won't like your spouse sometimes because of unrealistic expectations, unforgiveness, unresolved issues, stubbornness, or if there is a focus on each other's faults/weaknesses. Instead, our focus must be set on being the best version of ourselves, using kindness and open communication to build the marriage. Surround yourself with like-minded, faith-based friends and couples. They will hold you accountable and give you a safe space to grow and learn more about this tumultuous marriage journey. Be your spouse's biggest and loudest cheerleader and always fight your battles on your knees in prayer.
Additionally, my family has taught me how to love unconditionally and not to take them for granted, instead create experiences together to forge deeper bonds. Everyone makes mistakes; it's a part of life, so practise forgiveness daily.
Create a safe space for your children, communicate honestly and listen to understand their point of view, and teach them conflict resolution. Most importantly demonstrate God's love through your words and actions.
Jerry: I've learnt that each marriage is unique because it is a union between two unique individuals. Opposites don't attract; it's a union that works better when the individuals are like-minded. It is a daily decision to love your spouse in spite of. Additionally, no other earthly relationship is more important than the one you have with your family.
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