Success Stories of Marriages 20+ years Strong - Behind the Book

My Review: You remember how the other day we were discussing whether divorce was trending and Atilola pointed out that a lot of marriages were still going strong despite the stats. This book is a perfect example of this, and it is quite encouraging to know that these are real people like me, living everyday lives. The books is a coffeetable book, with wonderful full page pictures of the couples, and by the other side, their stories and the marriage lessons are well perfectly distilled. While the photography is amazing, what has me often opening the book to one couple or the other are the nuggets they share. The oldest couple, married 73 years are so cute!

You have read the first part of this interview with Otis Sanders, the author of Always and Forever, Love. In this part, he shares what motivated him to embark on a love and marriage project.

Q: When did you start to work on Always and Forever, Love?

A: The idea started in 200l in February when I interviewed 4 couples about "Love & Marriage" for a post for Valentines day.
After I wrote that post for my website, I was satisfied so I didn't do anything else until 2008 when I decided to do a full-on a book.

Q: What motivated you to plan a book on the longevity of marriage?

A: One of the main reasons was the fact that I was married for 4 years and it ended in a divorce. It was after my divorce that I wrote the post for Valentines Day on my website. I was really interested in finding out what successful couples were doing to have long standing, successful, happy marriages. Before this book I had planned to publish two other books, the first was going to be a photography book from my travels through 6 countries in 6 months in Africa by bicycle living in my tent, cooking my food on a camp stove and interacting the the people I met. That book crashed a burned. I was successful in making two trips to West Africa, but was not able to complete the whole trip. The second book was to be on African Americans in Network Marketing. That didn't happen either, but I was determined to write and publish a book. I talked to a friend of mine about the idea for the book on successful marriages and he and his wife liked it. The following evening I interviewed them as my first couple and that was the official launch of the book.

Q: The subtitle of the book is: Success Stories of Marriages 20+ years strong. How did you decide on the minimum number of years?

A: 20 years of marriage seemed like a great mile stone to me. Although 10 and 15 years are a long time, it just seemed to me that once you made it to 20 years you've gone through all or most all the things that could come between the two of you, but the bond is so strong nothing could break it.

Q: And Why did you section into intervals of 15 years?

A: I use the different sections partly for layout and design of the book. I didn't want to just have all the couples lined up from shortest to longest marriage so by separating the couples by years of marriage such as 20-35, 36-49, and 50-73 that allowed me to have a page announcing the years (with big numbers) that was coming next and since there were only numbers on the page I could use the other blank space for a poem that relates to journey of marriage.

Q: Your book is very inspirational for newlyweds and those struggling with marriage. Did you plan it like that?

A: No, I didn't plan it like that. The book was really done for selfish reasons. I wanted to find out what it took to stay married for 20+ years, show off my photography and finally, to publish a book. As I got deeper into the process of interviewing these couples and seeing how they interact with each other and experience the love that they expressed for each other, which was not always verbal I began to think that there was a possibility that others outside of myself would get something meaningful from it.

Q: Who are your favorite couple in the book?

A: I'd have to say my favorite couple in the book would be Floyd & Carla Williams of Atlanta, Ga., they've been married 26 years. I say that because I attended The Atlanta College of Art with Floyd, and we've been friends since college; it was he and his wife that liked the idea for the book and they were the first to be interviewed for the book thereby helping to launch the project.
I was with Floyd the night he met his wife Carla and I was the photographer for their wedding 26 years ago, although I let him know that I didn't photograph weddings. Floyd's reply to that was, "I know you don't photograph weddings, but you're going to photograph mine." I left Long Beach, California (where I had just moved back to from Atlanta) went back to Atlanta planning to stay only for a week to photograph the wedding and ended up staying there 1-1/2 years.

Q: Tell us more about the oldest married couple in the book.

A: Willie and Eliza James, of Tensaw, Alabama, he was 102 years old at the time of the interview and she was 95. They were a great couple, he did most of the talking because it seems that he and my father were "Road Buddies" so he could remember every detail of their times together in their younger days. When asked about details of their marriage they both were a little fuzzy about the particulars, but he was very clear about what was needed to have a long standing marriage though, instead of a long drawn out formula for success he simply says, "Treat each other right."

Q: I'm sure you interviewed lots of people. Was it hard choosing the particular couples to include?

A: I'm only one person away from knowing each of the couples in the book. There are couples from my childhood from my hometown of Atmore, Alabama; there are couples I've attended college with, a few are relatives, and some are friends of friends, and family of friends. I actually included all the couples I interviewed for the book; there were none left out or excluded because their story was more or less exciting than others. Just the fact that they were able to make it to and past 20 years is a feat in itself and worthy of being included in the book. I didn't want to do a mass call for couples because I wanted to know their story or someone I knew that had witnessed their story.

But there's more, click back for the next post to enter the giveaway to win this book!