Monique Smith and Shannon Gresham
from Aberdeen MD.
How long have you been together? We have been together for 6 ½ years. We meet on December 10th in 2006.
How did you get together/meet? Shannon: We met at work. During the everyday interaction, we became best friends and eventually confessed our attraction to each other.
What was the initial attraction? Shannon: My initial attraction to Monique was her beautiful smile and her sense of humor. I thought that she was one of the funniest people I knew and I love a woman that can make me laugh. Monique was very strong-willed and sexy. I found myself smiling when she would flirt with me. Monique: I had never been with a woman before nor found one attractive other than movie stars that I never met. But when I saw Shannon, I immediately thought that I must be gay. She was beautiful, and had the most beautiful eyes. She just had this confidence that you could feel as soon as she entered a room. She was just so fine.
Shannon, since Monique had never been with a woman before, what made you feel confident enough to start a relationship with her? That was a work in process. I didn’t’ start off trusting her at first. She had only dated men and I felt that I was just a challenge on her list. As I got to know her, I knew it was more than that. I realized that she loved me and that she didn’t have to be with a man. I realized that also when we made love. I thought that she wanted me to use a dildo, but she wanted me to take it off. She said, "No, I want you”.
Trust is one of the main ingredients in a relationship. How did you handle the trust issue? Monique: She had a lot of trust issues too. At first, I had to do tricks and stunts. I had to take pictures of receipts and take pictures of traffic at first. But I was willing to do those things because she was worth it. I called, emailed and did whatever I needed to do in the beginning. But it has all been worth it in the end. I made her feel safe and I let her know that she was enough. I made her feel that she was better than any man that I had ever been with. Shannon: She’s was really big on me letting people know that I was hers. Sometimes I would be overly affectionate. I wanted to touch her but I also wanted to let men know that I loved and wanted her. I wanted everybody to know that she was mine.
What made you feel accepted/supported as a couple? Monique: My family doesn’t accept us and they don’t respect us. I have even had to get physical with my brother. At first, I really tried to integrate Shannon into my family because I wanted everybody to be one big happy family. But that didn’t happen. With my family, love was conditional, but I realized that this woman loved me and my children. I couldn’t get my family’s love and respect, but with Shannon, I could. She was there for me and she loved me.
Shannon: I spent time thinking. I am a Virgo and I analyze everything. When I realized that we had something special, I know that I had to change; I had to be vulnerable. That wasn’t an easy thing for me to do but being vulnerable is what kept us together. We were able to be spiritually and emotionally naked. We were able to expose ourselves and we were able to keep working on our issues.
What would you say is the key to the success of your relationship? Shannon: The key is devotion. Monique and I are extremely devoted to the relationship. It doesn’t matter what comes our way, we believe we were meant to be together and we stick it out. Relationships are not easy; many people give up. But when that person is your best friend first, you can’t imagine living your life without her. It is devotion, just plain unconditional devotion. Monique: The key to success in our relationship is the fact that we always go back to our “friendship first “rule. In this rule, we agreed that there are certain things that you just can’t do or say to a friend. This rule has gotten us through 6 ½ long years.
What other rules do have you have that support your relationship? Monique: We don’t talk to friends on the phone after a certain time. That’s our time to get in touch with each other. Shannon: We have respect about each other’s spiritual boundaries. As a pastor, I sometimes have to pray and counsel other women and that requires a whole different level of trust. We respect each other’s call and we don’t stand in the way of God. Monique: With our children, we discuss and decide everything together. We have meetings and we arrive at common decisions. We have to be careful about that too because we are both very head-strong.
Discuss how you deal with and face challenges that may come up in your relationship? Shannon: Our relationship has seen more challenges in the last 6 ½ than most people experience in a decade. Monique and I have learned to talk about everything, even the uncomfortable stuff. We believe our transparency helped us get through the tough times.
What has been one of your biggest challenges: Monique: Bringing kids into a lesbian relationship was hard. When Shannon and I got together, there was rivalry and my kids gave Shannon hell. We both felt discouraged because they did not like her. But we came together as a couple. We had meetings, talked and we worked together as a family. It took about two years but they eventually came around. We punished and rewarded them together as a couple; we got on one accord. We made sure that they understood that we were a couple. We had hope.
Shannon: We also don’t go more than a few hours being upset with each other. Some people go days and days. Most arguments between us are reconciled before we fall asleep. Monique and I hold each other accountable for our actions too. We have guidelines/boundaries that must be respected. We forgive each other and we realize we both make mistakes and that neither one of us is exempt from falling short of the glory of God.
What role does spirituality play in your relationship? Shannon: Being that I am a Pastor of a new and growing congregation in B-More called Spirit of Unity Worship Center, spirituality is the most important thing that has kept us together. God sent us to each other and God maintains what He ordains. Monique and I pray together and we discuss spiritual principles. She is usually the first person I discuss major spiritual decisions with involving the church and my own walk with God. I am her Pastor, her lover, her best friend, and future spouse
I always admire women who are relationships with leaders because power is an aphrodisiac and attracts interesting people. Some who don’t respect the leader’s relationship and/or marriage. How do you deal with that? Monique: It is difficult because she is so cuteJ. And she is even cuter when the power of God is on her. But I trust her and I trust her love for our family because I know that we are important to her. I know that she is s God-fearing woman. But honestly, sometimes it is hard.
What role does sensuality play in your relationship? Shannon: Monique and I are both very sensual beings. We enjoy being intimate with each other more than we enjoy having sex. The connection of our spirits is the most important aspect of our sex life. As people grow in their relationship, it is easy to neglect having a sex life due to balancing work, marriage, and family. We have learned that our sex life must be cultivated so the enemy doesn’t have any open doors to come into our relationship through infidelity. We lay and look into each other’s eyes, kiss, talk at night before bed while holding hands. We are good communicators with the senses and we mature more each day in that area. Sex is a must for healthy relationships. Without a healthy sex life, the connection in a relationship will suffer.
Since sex is so important, how do you keep the spice in your marriage? Monique: I talk dirty to her and send her sexy texts. Sometimes when she comes in from work I will be in bed with just her tie on or in one of her dress shirts. I try to do things that entice her.
You mentioned that you have been through a lot as a couple. What do you now most admire about her? Monique: I most admire that she is able to see the good people even when she is mad. I hold grudges but she has so much faith and trust in people. She has the ability to love pass some things. She really has a heart of gold. I also admire that she’s very driven and creative. Shannon: I admire that she loves unconditionally. I have done more hurt to this woman than I have done to any other woman. But she had endured and won the battle. I had a lot of hurts and disappointments in my life. I also had a lot of attachments issues so I kept trying to make her prove her love to me. I kept making her feel as if she was being tested. She has gone through tests and tribulation, but she is still her. If she was willing to go through all of that, I know that our love meant something. I know that it doesn’t matter what changes in my life, she is there.
Based on your experience, what advice would you give to other couples? Shannon: Based on our own successes and failures, we compiled a list of 8 things that couples must do to have a healthy relationship. Monique: Be friends first. Shannon: Don’t keep secrets from each other. Hold each other accountable. Resolve issues quickly and don’t let them fester. Both: Have plenty of sex. Shannon: Realize no one is perfect so forgive easily. Monique: Stay devoted no matter how hard even it becomes. And, always say “I love you”.
What has your relationship taught you most about yourself? Shannon: The relationship has taught me that I had very strong trust issues from childhood that needed to be resolved. The relationship taught me that a woman can love me for me without any strings attached. I have learned how lovable I am by the way this woman has loved me. She has shown me that she loves me beyond all of my faults.
Monique: My relationship has taught me that love really can be unconditional and that communicating without being defensive is more productive. Everything doesn’t have to be and won’t be my way but compromise keeps us both happy.
What one word characterizes/describes your love and relationship? Monique: Durable. We have bounced back from every single situation. We don’t lose interest in each other. We are just life partners and I love her. We are “in it to win it”. Shannon: Surpassing. Our love is beyond any and everything. Our love surpasses it all.
If you could thank her for one thing, what would it be? Monique: I would thank her for helping me get my relationship with God back on track. I used to be mad because I didn’t understand why God had to take my mom. My mom died from cancer and I felt that God took her for no reason. Shannon got me back into my spirituality. Shannon: I would take her for giving me a family. I always wanted to conceive. I would thank her for kids.
Complete this sentence. I love you because …… Shannon: I just do. I don’t have a reason, I just do. Monique: You are strong, you love me beyond myself. You give me your heart.
You can also find Monique and Shannon:
Spirit of Unity Worship Center—Baltimore
241 West Chase St, Baltimore MD
1st & 3rd Sundays
(Interviewed by SharRon Jamison)
We thank you for sharing your love with us at Create Love! Your story will encourage, inspire and uplift other couples. We wish you continued success and happiness. www.createloveforwomen.com
Create Love Founders
Imani Evans and SharRon Jamison