How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
Everyone loves a Cinderella love story. In fact, when most of us daydream about love, there's usually a Prince, a Princess, and a happy ending. As lovely as it might sound, what these fantastical stories have failed to highlight is what happens in the "in-between". The days when romanization meets the sobering realities of when love looks less like a fairy tale and more like sacrifice. Truth be told, that might actually make a better story. Still, this alt-fairy tale may not be too far off script as one could imagine, just ask Kyle and Kobe Campbell.
When Kobe and Kyle first met, most people would think that the environment where their initial attraction sparked wasn't exactly conducive for what would later come out of it. The two met in college and lived in the town where Kyle's father leads the largest Black church in the community. "Think Greenleaf," shared Kobe, 27, to describe the church they both attended. When the two met in college, Kyle, 26, was the guy that all the church girls in town were convinced would be their husband. And as their courtship progressed, Kyle's social status and Kobe's introduction to it, began to take a strain on the early days of their courtship. Still, in the midst of their rocky beginnings, they knew that what they were experiencing was all a part of the greater plan and love story that God was writing for them.
Courtesy of Kyle and Kobe Campbell
Now the couple works to bring light to mental health, faith, and relationships through their podcast, The Healing Circle, and have founded a non-profit, The Healing Circle Therapy Fund. Through their work, the two are showing the world what love looks like when two people are committed to each other's healing. "God dispelled so many myths for us, the idea that the things God called you to [were] meant to be and come easy and that just isn't true. Don't give up on love just because it's hard."
In this installment of How We Met, we learn about the power of healing, growing (up) together in love, and how God can write the ultimate love story.
How They Met
Kobe: There are two sides to the story. I met Kyle coherently at bible study, through some mutual friends, my sophomore year of college. Kyle, would you like to tell your side of the story?
Kyle: OK, there's what she said and then there's the truth (laughs). The truth is, a year before that bible study, "B.C." (or before Christ), I met her at the club. She was throwing it and I was catching it. We danced all night and I went home and told my brother, "I met the woman I'm going to marry." And I didn't see her again for a year until that bible study.
Kobe: I didn't remember dancing with him at the club because I was very drunk, and when we got married, he kept telling people that we met at the club. I thought it was a joke at first until I realized he was serious and I was like, "Stop telling people that." Especially at church because it's embarrassing. Then he was like, we're going to hash this out right now and started telling me how my hair was, the dress I was wearing. I had a That's So Raven moment and was like, 'Oh my gosh, I remember the night I wore that dress because I had only worn it once.' And all my friends were like, "Get off of him, you've been dancing with him all night," and I was like, "I'm grown!" Turns out, he was my husband. God works in mysterious ways.
Kyle: So, I don't know if you've ever seen Kobe, but I'm sure you're well aware that she's ridiculously good-looking. Gotta be the top 2-3% most beautiful people in the universe. I always thought she was beautiful, even when we first met. I don't know what she thought about me. When we met a year later at the bible study, it was very much so platonic because I was dating someone else. I thought she was beautiful, but I wasn't interested in her in that way. I remembered her from the club!
Kobe: Well, I knew whoever I was dancing with at the club was fine! When I met him at bible study, I thought he was really handsome and just who he was and how much he loved the Lord, was something that was really attractive. But similarly, he was dating someone, and I was like, 'I'm just going to go about my business.' I thought he was a little bit arrogant. He's a PK (Preacher's Kid), so he was the guy that all the girls thought were going to be their husband. I wanted no parts of such foolery, so I very clearly drew the friend line and we just moved forward from there.
Kobe: It was really difficult. Where [he] lived and went to college, Kyle's dad is the pastor of the biggest Black church, so think of it like Greenleaf. It was a very close-knit family and in the minds of the people in the church, Kyle was already married off to the daughter of the assistant pastor. And here I was, this 21-year old girl, like, "Hi, I like this boy and I want to date him," and it brought out my insecurities. I'm a darker skinned woman and I have a twin sister who's fairer skinned than I am, so I was always aware of colorism and comparison. In my childhood, I was taught that men don't marry women darker than them. So when this guy who's a couple of shades lighter than me wants to be with me instead of all these light skin girls who are intelligent and beautiful, it made me suspicious that there must be ulterior motives. But it highlighted the uniqueness that I have because being with Kyle was one of the first times I realized that I have something that no one else has. I didn't have to be the prettiest person in the room, I didn't have to be the skinniest, with the biggest butt or the longest hair, I just needed to be myself.
Kyle: Truth be told, a lot of those "well-meaning" women were actually really vindictive and mean. They would spread rumors about her, that she must have done something to be with me. Everyone thought she was a hoe and called her that to her face. Then I'd have to show up with the DMs from the same girls who were talking about how they would give it up if I gave them the chance. It was tough.
Courtesy of Kyle and Kobe Campbell
"In my childhood, I was taught that men don't marry women darker than them... being with Kyle was one of the first times I realized that I have something that no one else has. I didn't have to be the prettiest person in the room, I didn't have to be the skinniest, with the biggest butt or the longest hair, I just needed to be myself."
Kyle: I always say that we didn't fall in love, we walked into love and it was slow. We were committed to each other long before we ever liked each other. We didn't really "like" each other until we were engaged. We respected each other and saw value in each other but we didn't really have the honeymoon phrase. We were just out here holding hands and having hard conversations.
Kobe: That needs to be put on a t-shirt! Kyle has given me a physical reference for what it means for God to never leave me or forsake me. No matter what I do, Kyle always has the most kind and gracious response. If I say something to hurt him, his response is, "I know you're hurting right now and I want to walk with you in that." Just like the Lord, he disarms the shell that I'm so used to operating in and sees right through it. I can go off, and he's not going to speak to how I'm manifesting my anger, he's going to speak to the anger. And he makes me feel like I deserve love. And for a long time, I didn't think I deserved that. It's never an act, it's just who he is.
Making It Official
Kyle: The courtship was pretty interesting, we had an honest conversation and I told her that I felt like I really wanted to pursue a deeper relationship with her. She told me that she might be attracted to me all of a sudden, out of nowhere, but didn't want to talk about it again. Then she high-fived me and said, "Let's give it 30 days and it will go away." I took her advice and 30 days later I came back and my feelings hadn't changed, so I asked if I could pursue her and she said no. The next few months were just me asking her If I could take her out and going through more extreme lengths. I asked her dad before we were dating if I could marry her and he told me if I could get her to like me, he was all good with me marrying her. After that, it was really just me knocking at the proverbial door trying to get her to like me until I kind of just annoyed her into answering it.
Kobe: I think we went into things sober-minded, knowing that there wouldn't be a honeymoon phase. If I'm just being candid, the beginning of our relationship was the first time I had experienced depression that strongly before. It was a lot of what led me to become a therapist myself because that time was just so formative for me. The amount of social kick-back from Kyle saying that he wanted to be with me was just something that I wasn't used to. It felt like my life was not my own, but I knew God had called me to this person, but with his person came all these things I didn't like. There were a lot of women at our church who had known Kyle since they were like 12 years old, and they had an eye on him and were very upset [about him dating me] and were very vocal about it. That was the first time in my life I found myself being quiet; I was just the new girl who was really disliked because I was with Kyle which was really confusing because I knew I was called to be with him.
Courtesy of Kyle and Kobe Campbell
"I always say that we didn't fall in love, we walked into love and it was slow. We were committed to each other long before we ever liked each other... We respected each other and saw value in each other but we didn't really have the honeymoon phrase. We were just out here holding hands and having hard conversations."
Kyle: Love and marriage is not about happiness, it's about healing. Having one can bring you the other, but it doesn't work in reverse. Being happy won't make you healed, but after enough healing has been applied, you will definitely be happy. Our relationship was not filled with all the happiness in the beginning because it was really just focused on a lot of healing. We were in the type of relationship that most people would tell us to get out of. The world would say, "You don't owe this person this type of commitment, clearly something that hurts this much cannot be good." But we were encouraged in our relationship that this wasn't something we experienced before, but there had to be something at the end: and it was healing.
Kobe: It's OK to sacrifice for other people if you feel like it's worth it. People would say, "Stop sacrificing so much," but in my heart I knew [our love] could save his life. And looking back I lost nothing that mattered and gained everything that did.
Keeping The Faith
Kobe: Kyle and I made an agreement that we would do our best to love God more than we loved each other and anytime we felt like we loved each other more than we loved God, we had to check each other. The reference of me saying that it's OK to suffer for someone if you feel like you can save their life wasn't just something that I came up with, that's what I've experienced from Jesus. And I think sometimes our ideas of love look more like mutual convenience than it looks like sacrifice. Kyle says that the hard times feel like, "Day 2," and Day 2 looks like God's a liar and that every miracle Jesus did was in vain. But then Day 3 comes and now Day 2 looks like the liar. So for us, if we did not have the Lord, we would not be together.
Kyle: Our faith anchors us, it puts context into what it meant to be together. It wasn't about how happy we could make each other, God was like, "I have something really good for you if you trust me and move forward in faith." Since our commitment was to the Lord and not to each other, we got to a point where we were really freed up to love each other really well.
Courtesy of Kyle and Kobe Campbell
"Love and marriage is not about happiness, it's about healing. Having one can bring you the other, but it doesn't work in reverse. Being happy won't make you healed, but after enough healing has been applied, you will definitely be happy."
Kyle: Very easy for [me]. My favorite thing about Kobe is her generosity. People say they know generous people, but Kobe is different. If she sees a homeless person asking for money, not only does she give every single time, she'll go out of the way to go to the bank to give them money. There are folks that have a commitment to doing the right thing but there are some people who wouldn't have it any other way, it's just who she intrinsically is.
Kobe: I love how gracious he is. Kyle has never let something I've said or done define who I or anyone else is. He will always be the person who sees beyond the moment. He also has this child-like joy that I love. He's just so free, loving, and hilarious and that's not something I was able to see in Black men growing up. Now, I get to live with that every day.
Kyle: The biggest piece of evidence of, "Two different purposes combining to be more than they are separately," gets into our non-profit, The Healing Circle Therapy Fund, which addresses the economic side of the mental health care gap of POC, and the emotional aspect of people who need healing and the disparity in the number of African American therapists who can help them. I'm highly analytical and Kobe is the Einstein of emotional intelligence. She can't do math very well, she counts on her fingers sometimes, but emotionally, she is a genius. In this non-profit that we started it came out of her having a dream and seeing the need for people and her moving recklessly in that direction. She saw that she had clients that needed therapy, but just couldn't afford it, so she started her own practice. Six months in, we started losing money because she was paying for more therapy than she was being paid for. So I said, tell me what the problems are in your industry and he taught me about it and we put a plan together to help fix it.
Kobe: I think the more we became healed individually, the more we realized that our passions didn't match but they complement each other. For me, my passion is healing. I do consultations with Corporate American businesses but I primarily provide therapy for women of color who have experienced trauma. For me, healing is my thing. So for Kyle, his analytical mind marries my passion where he can make it logistically possible [to achieve] the dreams we have.
Featured image courtesy of Kobe and Kyle Campbell