Kelli and Jim’s relationship has withstood the test of time. In this article, they share some of their secrets on how to have a have a long and happy marriage.
What challenges have you faced?
The only challenge we had was when one of us faced a health scare.
How do you deal with difficult times?
K: I deal with difficult times by expecting the worst and hoping for the best.
J: Prayer and consoling each other really help too.
How have you adjusted to life together?
We adjusted very easily together.
What kind of boundaries protect your relationship?
It’s all about trust and faith: you have to have a lot of it.
How has your family reacted?
K: My family does not have a problem with him. My mother was a little worried about the age difference, as my mother and Jim are seven years apart, (and he and my father are 12 years apart,) but she got past that. Our relationship was no big deal on my maternal side, because I have mixed race cousins. My dad’s side of the family did not have an issue either, except for my father’s youngest brother. He questioned my dad, saying, “How could you let this happen (meaning us getting together)? My father told him not to ask that ever again. So the same uncle decided to ask my mother, who said, “So?”
K: My brothers and sisters love him. They were teens and little kids when we were married. We are both the oldest children. I have two brothers and two sisters.
J: I have two brothers as well. My family was glad I found someone.
K: His mother was a little worried about our child, but she grew past that and loves her granddaughter. She told me how her mother-in-law treated her – she did not want to do the same to her daughters-in-law. I love my mother-in-law very much, and she drags me everywhere when we go out.
K: His youngest brother does not have a problem with me. His other brother did and still does have a problem with me being there. He treats me like I am not there. We have been together for almost 28 years. I am not going anywhere. Jim says he is in denial. I say, “… in denial of what?” I always believed that his brother was jealous for some reason. Jim’s parents are divorced. I met his dad once. They are estranged, so I am friends with his dad on facebook. He always asking if his son is treating me right. He says he is glad his son met a beautiful woman. Shhhh, I think he was hitting on me. My mother-in-law also says he is a ladies man.
How have your friends reacted?
We do not have many friends. The ones we have do not care and accept us.
Is this a new dynamic for you?
Dating interracially was not new for us. Jim was my first serious relationship.
What are some of the expectations you had before your relationship?
K: I was looking for a nice, but rugged looking guy. I just wanted to be treated right and loved for me, even though I am not perfect. I was nice, but rough around the edges. He is pretty much the same, but not so rough. My expectation was that he had to have a job and a car, his own place and no baggage. Jim at the time had all of this, except for his own place. He and his brother (the one that pretends I’m not there) lived together. Jim did eventually move out when he got his promotion at work.
J: I was looking for a nice girl. My expectations in a woman were a kind, nice woman who is a pleasure to be with. Someone I can talk to. I didn’t care if she had a job, or whether she was educated or not.
Looking back on some of those expectations, how have they changed now?
Neither one of our expectations have really changed.
What are some of the things you do to keep your relationship growing?
Since our daughter is moving out, we have started each other dating again. Since we are both off on the weekends, we use this time to spend together. Once a year, we will have a romantic getaway weekend.
Do you have a blog or YouTube channel?
K: I do have two youtube channels, Kelli Drahtluoc and Kelli Karnage, but I haven’t uploaded in almost two years. I have not had the time to upload lately. I would love to vlog, but our lives are kind of boring.
J: I don’t have a channel at this time. Maybe in the near future.
What do you share on your channel?
K: One channel was about my hair journey. I also have two vlogs there as well. The other was a scam baiting channel. I was pulling a couple of scammers’ legs saying that I was sending them money, but I did not. I am unladylike in those videos.
What advice would you give to others?
J: My advice to others is simple: if you are in a relationship like ours or similar, just listen to your heart – no one else. Family and friends are important, but if they don’t support you, ignore them until they come around.
K: I agree with him. Follow your heart. It may not be the easiest path, but it is the truest past. If you do not follow your heart, you will regret it.
J: You’ll always wonder what could have been.
Is there anything else that you would like to share?
K: I am very happy we found this group. I’ve been following Christelyn since 2013.
Kelli also shared a clip of her and Jim at a past Loving Day event celebration.
Thank you so much for reading this interview! That is the end of this couple’s feature. If any of you are interested in participating in this series, please leave a comment below or connect with me or Christelyn Karazin. You can e-mail me for an interview at [email protected], or connect with Christelyn Karazin.