After 53 years of marriage, Helen Graham has come to the conclusion that “love is blind, but marriage is eye-opening.”
She and her husband, Bishop Reuben Graham, say it hasn’t always been easy, but the key to their lasting marriage is keeping Christ at the center. It is also thanks to “hard work, sacrificing and looking out for each other,” Reuben Graham said.
The Grahams were the featured speakers at this year’s Black Marriage Day on Sunday. The event also allowed couples attending to renew their vows and inducted five couples into the Black Marriage Hall of Fame.
This year’s inductees were Kendall and Wanda Storey, who have been married for 34 years; Tommy and Marian Pinson, 33 years; Larry and Patricia Gross, 26 years and Mike and Brenda Hauser, 20 years. James and Cynthia Copeland, who have been married 16 years, were inducted for a couple who shows promise. William and Dorothy Willis and Oliver and Anita Cobb were honorary inductees this year. The honorary inductees, a new category this year, did not have to be nominated, but were chosen by the Black Marriage Day committee because of their contributions to the community.
Love is what holds a marriage together, Reuben Graham said.
“You have to talk it, sing it, practice it,” he said. “We did everything together. To couples thinking about getting married, hang out together.”
Making a marriage work takes a change in attitude, the Grahams said.
“It wasn’t mine, mine, mine. It was ours,” Reuben Graham said. “Get rid of that mine. Do it all together.”
The Grahams have done so much together in their marriage, he said they’d still be riding next to each other in the front seat of the car if cars were still made with bench seats.
Helen Graham said staying married is “honorable,” and she advised couples in attendance not to “let the enemy in.”
She said there have been times in their marriage that has been tough and hard to work through.
“Sometimes all we could do was stand there and hold onto each other and cry, but we made it,” she said.
The annual event, sponsored by Family Frameworks, Wedded Bliss Foundation and the Concerned Clergy, was held at the Mack Gaston Community Center. The Black Marriage Hall of Fame is housed at the Emery Center.