Being married or in any type of long-term relationship takes intention and diligence. No one could tell you that better than comedian and social media personality KevOnStage (Kevin Fredericks) and his wife and partner Melissa.
You may have come across Kevin from one of his many hilarious videos where he’s breaking down the latest in pop culture and the social media zeitgeist. But now he and his wife have expanded on the topics they covered on their podcast The Love Hour in their recent New York Times best-selling book Marriage Be Hard: 12 Conversations to Keep You Laughing, Loving, and Learning with Your Partner.
In the book, the couple, who met and fell in love while they were in high school, put their favorite anecdotes and advice all in one place. xoNecole caught up with Kevin and Melissa to talk about writing the book, their relationship, and what it takes to make a long-term relationship work.
xoNecole: What inspired you all to write the book?
Kevin: I think, for me, I love social media and all of that, but I think a lot of times relationships get “relationship goalsy,” and people tend to not highlight what a practical, real relationship means. People were always calling us “relationship goals,” and I was like, ”Y'all need to understand…” For example, we did The Love Hour: Real Comedians Tour, and there were some times that, before we went on stage, we would have just gotten into an argument and we would have to go out and perform. And I think we just wanted to kind of pull the curtain back, I guess, and give people, or let people know, like, don't, don't idolize us in that sense because we are going through it just like anybody else is going through it, and here's how we're getting through it. As opposed to, “our marriage is so perfect all the time, this is so great, we're on vacation, never get in arguments. We never argue. We've been together since we were high school sweethearts and haven't had a problem the whole time.” We want to give people a real life look through how you stay together for 20 years and what tips and tricks and being required to get here.
xoNecole: When Kevin first decided to leave his nine-to-five to pursue comedy, how did that impact your marriage and how did y'all get through that?
Melissa: I think that when Kev left his nine- to- five – and I would even go back to even when we decided to move to California – all of that had an impact I don't think we realize until a few years later. So, I would say that is something that we’re still kind of working through and I would say that the biggest way to overcome that has been therapy. We’ve done what’s called the emotional focus therapy.
Emotionally focused therapy is really, really great because…since we’ve been in the love and relationship space and I’ve read a lot of books and listened to a lot of podcasts, you can intellectualize things a lot [rather than letting your response] sit in your feelings. So, one of the things our therapist specifically [says] is “don’t focus on ‘I think,’ like those kinds of phrases, because you’re all up here in your mind. Instead go down in your heart and what is this making you feel? What are the impact of your words in terms of your feelings? And I just find that super, super beneficial for us. So, I would say that’s one of the ways we’re overcoming the unintended consequences from years ago.
Kevin: I think Melissa answered that one tremendously. This success has required sacrifice, I think is the easiest way to put it. I think too, we're, you know, doing well financially and able to help a lot of people, but it didn't come without some wounds and scars that kind of were really put on display by the pandemic. Like, we really had to confront them starting in 2020. I think we've been doing that kind of therapy work since then, off and on, but more consistently over the last six months to a year.
There were well-intentioned things that each of us did that the other person didn't necessarily take as well-intentioned as they were meant to be. And I think not understanding each other's motivation led to some resentment that we are now figuring out how that got there and how to not go down that path again and how to kind of heal some of those wounds.
xoNecole: And what were some of the sacrifices you made Kevin?
Courtesy of Kevin and Melissa Fredericks
Kevin: I honestly feel like I made many sacrifices. I feel like Melissa made a lot of sacrifices that allowed me to succeed. I always think about the gymnast that’s learning, that’s practicing. They have this safety net or they have like the foam pit and they can go as high as they want and they know that they won’t get hurt in the process and then the world actually sees them at the performance. And I think that’s how Melissa has been to me. She’s been that safety net. Her holding down a full-time job when I got fired [from my bank job] allowed us to cover the bills, and allowed me to even do stand-up comedy and content. And for the longest, she was the safety net of consistent income, healthcare, all that type of stuff and that allowed me to chase those dreams.
xoNecole: What did you learn while writing that was a surprise to you about your relationship?
Kevin: I don’t do a good job at reflecting. I never do that. With anything – good or bad. And I think the book requires you to go back to the very genesis of our relationship even prior to marriage, years one through three, year five, prior to LA. People only know us from the last seven, eight years with the eruption of [my social media content] KevOnStage, since we moved to LA. But we were in Washington, DC 13 years prior to that, from 16 to 29. So that’s a bigger part of our relationship and we are always in the present looking forward as opposed to looking backward and when you write that book, you go back and relieve those things that at the time they were happening that’s all you can think of. But the combination of the book and therapy was like a one-two punch because our therapist was requiring the same thing of us.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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