Starting a relationship can be hard, but maintaining a relationship requires real effort and work.
Venice Williams and Demetrius Brown understand this better than most.
This past year has brought them closer, while also forcing them to re-examine the strengths and weaknesses in their relationship.
“The pandemic has allowed us to take a closer look at ourselves,” Demetrius said. “We’re really getting to know how strong our relationship is and how strong it isn’t.”
The couple, who got together over 30 years ago when Venice first came to Milwaukee, embarked on some new adventures this past year. Demetrius made the decision to retire and Venice opened a store in the Sherman Phoenix, 3536 W. Fond du Lac Ave., called Kujichagulia Producer’s Cooperative.
These two developments have allowed the couple to spend more time together, Demetrius said, both at the store and in Alice’s Garden, 2136 N. 21st St.
“During this past growing season, the garden became a place of safety and healing and hope,” Venice said.
The programs and attendees quadrupled, she said. It became a place to be where people could process the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. The garden became an essential place for Demetrius, in particular.
“I think going through my personal transitioning, I really saw how effective it was to bring more community in,” he said.
He also learned how patient Venice is.
“Through some of my trials and retiring and changing my situation around, she’s been very patient with me,” he said. “I didn’t realize her patience was as strong as it is.”
One of the keys to their relationship is facing the challenges and the obstacles together.
“We hang in there,” Venice said. “We go through it and not around it. We pray together and we listen to music together. We back up a little bit. We can’t take everything as seriously as it seems in the moment.”
Venice explained knowing when it is time to take something head on and when it is time to let it rest is essential to any relationship.
“You’re not dismissing it, but now is not the moment,” she said. “We will address it, but right now, we’re going to back off and do something else.”
When there’s a challenge, the two discuss it and come up with a mutual agreement on how to move forward, Demetrius said.
Recently, the couple spent three days in Lake Geneva. It’s important to claim relationship time, Venice said, adding that it’s something they plan to be more intentional about in the future. This time next year, they hope to be in South Africa for a long-awaited trip.
Individuals should know what it means to be an anchor for their partner and what a healthy foundation looks like, Venice said. Having a healthy foundation and making one’s home a sanctuary filled with nourishment and support and a sense of belonging is critical.
“Understand what the foundation of your relationship is,” Venice said. “Be honest why it is that you are together and why you remain together. Keep coming back to that.”
“Make sure you want to stay together and what that means,” Demetrius added. “You need to know all the elements of what brought you together and how to maintain that to maintain the relationship.”