Experiencing Joy Together
Every day should be a holiday to celebrate love. — Unknown
February 12, 2017. That date will forever be etched in my memory. Los Angeles, California. We woke up and realized we were getting ready to attend the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. We had a long day ahead, but an exciting one. Hair. Makeup. Interviews. Red carpet. Sound check. Wardrobe changes. Everything was happening so fast.
Everyone kept asking me, “What are you going to say if you win?” I didn’t really know. I had something in mind to say, but I didn’t think I would win. Of course I wanted to win, but I just didn’t know if it would happen. As a gospel artist in the industry for more than twenty years, I learned a long time ago how unpredictable awards can be. I also learned how to celebrate others. But maybe, just maybe, tonight would be the night to celebrate me.
Finally, the category for gospel performance song was up. The announcer began, “The nominees are: Shirley Caesar and Anthony Hamilton for ‘It’s Alright, It’s Ok.’ Jekalyn Carr for ‘You’re Bigger.’ Travis Greene for ‘Made a Way.’ Tamela Mann and Kirk Franklin for ‘God Provides.’ Hezekiah Walker for ‘Better.’ ”
The moment was here. I closed my eyes to pray. It didn’t matter who won. We all were winners. Travis had been sweeping all of the awards this year. I was so proud of him. He’s such a wonderful young man with a beautiful spirit. Jekalyn Carr is something special. Everybody loves Hezekiah Walker. And where would we be without Shirley Caesar blazing the trail for us all?
That’s where my mind was when I heard the words, “And the Grammy goes to ‘God Provides’ by Tamela Mann!”
I was so busy thanking God for everyone else, I barely heard my name. I was seated all the way in the back of the auditorium, so I had to jog to the front to accept my award. I was shocked, overwhelmed, happy, and out of breath! David was supposed to be capturing the moment with his phone, but he was crying so hard you would’ve thought he had just delivered a baby.
I began my speech at the bottom of the steps. I kept saying, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus. Hallelujah.”
Everyone was smiling and clapping. I was trying to hold back tears and trying not to fall in my high heels. Eventually I let them go — the tears and the high heels.
I want to give honor to God — Whoo! Thank You, Jesus — it’s been a long time coming. OH MY GOD! This is amazing. My mom would be so happy right now. OH MY GOD! I want to thank Tillymann, my team, my glam team — OH MY GOD! My husband — he’s the best producer, husband, baby daddy. He’s my everything. Thank you so much, Bae. I want to thank my kids. TKO. Everybody that believed in me — Sony Records. Kirk Franklin, my little brother, wrote this for me. I wanted him to come with me. Come on, Kirk! Quit playing… we wasting time. Y’all take our picture. My family is going to take our picture. Praise the Lord. Thank y’all so much. God bless you, everybody!
And just like that, I was a Grammy Award–winning gospel artist.
When She Shines
I can’t describe how proud I was of my wife in that moment. Seeing her on that stage filled me with joy. I thought about her journey. I thought about the long tours on buses that sometimes broke down. I thought about concerts where the promoters promised to pay and didn’t. I thought about sold-out auditoriums where we sang for others and helped them to become great. I thought about movie sets, late-night dinners, swollen knees, swollen ankles, lots of tears, lots of practice, overdubs, background vocals, mixes, mastering, lots of happy moments, and lots of funny moments. When I saw Momma on that stage, I thought about everything and nothing, all at the same time. She had celebrated me in public, and I wanted to celebrate her in private (well, not that way exactly… but eventually… hey, get your mind out of the gutter!).
After she performed that night and we took what seemed like a million pictures, I thought to myself, how will we celebrate? As her husband, I wanted to roll out the red carpet, take her to the most expensive restaurant, shine her name in lights atop a brightly lit bridge, or fly a helicopter over the Pacific Ocean. I wanted to celebrate in the best way I could. But after reading The Five Love Languages, I knew the importance of celebrating my wife the way she wanted to be celebrated, and not the way I wanted to celebrate her. So, do you know what we did?
We went to IHOP! Yup. We went to the International House of Pancakes. After the excitement wore off I was hungry, and I didn’t feel like all of that fancy stuff. So when David asked me what I wanted, I told him. Pancakes! That’s all I wanted, and that’s what David gave me. I was happier than a kid on Christmas morning.
Pancakes coming up, my dear! We loaded everybody in the SUV, and when the car-service driver asked, “Where to, sir?” I said, “IHOP.” He looked at me with that weird “are you serious?” kind of face. He knew we were celebrating a Grammy win, so he replied, “IHOP, as in International House of Pancakes?” I said, “Yes… IHOP, please.” And he commenced to drive us. It was a special night, so I let Momma get whatever she wanted.
During that time we shared a lot of laughs and joy. Porcia made fun of me for crying the whole night. I couldn’t help myself; I was a super-proud husband. I think Tam changed her clothes before we went, but I don’t even remember. It was all a blur. Our adrenaline was so high that all we wanted to do was thank God for the win and spend time with each other.
Our celebration that night mirrored our lives. Tam and I have always been simple lovers who were crazy about each other. We’ve never been too busy to celebrate one another and celebrate our milestones. It is our firm belief that the couple who celebrates together stays together.
The More Celebrations, the Better
Personally, I’ve never met a person who didn’t want to be celebrated. I’ve never met a person who didn’t like when someone paid attention to their contribution (no matter how big or small). I have heard people say things like, “I don’t need acknowledgment or congratulations,” but most times, it’s because they have been let down or overlooked. So they lower their expectations to avoid being hurt. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be — especially in your marriage. Marriage is an adventure. Marriage is a never-ending PhD program. You owe it to yourself, every once in a while, to take a break from the hard stuff and celebrate each other.
Every year, I check my calendar to figure out how many ways I can celebrate and honor my wife. I don’t need a special day to celebrate her, but I always make sure to do something special for her on her birthday, on Christmas, on Valentine’s Day, and on our wedding anniversary. Celebrations are great reminders in marriage. They help Tam and me to center ourselves. Celebrations remind us that the rain won’t last forever, and the sun is going to come out tomorrow (thanks, Annie). The gift of celebration is that it forces us to stop from life’s routine to smile at one another, commemorate a milestone, or just hang out and laugh.
When It’s Good to One-Up Each Other
In our marriage Tam and I celebrate each other by engaging in healthy competitions. We love to do random acts of kindness for one another so we can one-up each other. If she buys a dozen roses for me, then I will buy twenty dozen roses for her. If she surprises me by having my car washed, I will surprise her and buy her a new car. Okay, that’s not true — maybe just get hers detailed and waxed. If she writes me a letter and puts it on my coffee table, I will buy one hundred Post-it Notes and plaster them all around the house with reasons that explain why I love her. The way I see it, it is my responsibility to meet her earthly needs. God supplies her spiritual needs, but God uses me to help meet her earthly needs. At the end of our lives my greatest desire is to hear Tam say, “My husband and I had a good time.”
I am just as adamant about doing the same for David. Together, we work hard to celebrate each other as often as possible. I try to make sure that everything David needs and wants is taken care of, and David works to make sure that everything I need and want is taken care of. To me, this is what it means to honor your spouse. Most times couples give what they want to receive. But the key to celebrating your spouse is to give what they want and need, not what you want them to have.
David could’ve taken me to a fancy restaurant after winning that award, but I’m so glad he listened. He celebrated with me the way I wanted to celebrate. We didn’t always know how to do that in the beginning. A lot of times we got it wrong. But now that we’ve studied one another, I know what David needs before he even asks for it. Sometimes he tells me, but most times I pick up what he wants because I’m paying attention.
If you’ve been thinking about adding some joy into your marriage by celebrating each other, David and I compiled a list of fifteen things you can do to celebrate your spouse. I encourage you to try them out and see how it changes things.
Fifteen Ways to Celebrate Your Spouse
- Serve your spouse by preparing their favorite meal.
- Become their personal assistant for a day.
- Ask them to hire you as their personal massage therapist.
- Compliment your spouse often.
- Figure out one way to make them feel special every week.
- Write a letter and tell your spouse what you love about them. Then allow your spouse to tell you what they love about you.
- Make their special day a big deal (birthday, Valentine’s Day, anniversary). Do it big!
- Write a personalized letter thanking them for things they do on a regular basis that you may have never acknowledged.
- Shower them with acts of affection. Give them a real kiss, a strong hug, or a pat on the bottom (a gentle caress).
- Create a fun scavenger hunt that leads them to you.
- Appreciate them in public.
- Cherish them in private.
- Honor them in front of your children. Respect them in life. Always remember why you married them, and remind them frequently.
- Send flowers to their job, or hide their favorite candy somewhere on their desk.
- Send them a “sext” message that lets them know you’re thinking of them. Send it during a time when they will most likely blush and least expect it.
Excerpted with permission from Us Against the World by David and Tamela Mann, copyright David Mann and Tamela Mann.
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If you’re married, how are you celebrating your spouse today? We want to know! Come share with us on our blog! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full