As one of the sexiest couples in Hollywood, Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe know a thing or two about keeping the marital fire burning. After all, individually they are two of the hottest actors on screen and they know that the pressure is on to not only maintain their looks for the business but also for their marriage.
The duo recently sat down at the the BET Experience to pull back the veil on how they juggle family, Hollywood and keep each other first.
Question: What are the most important things to keep a marriage strong?
BORIS KODJOE: Sex, food, friendship. (Laughing)
NICOLE ARI PARKER: I think that might be the truth actually, sex, food and friendship because it’s very easy, especially when you’re not just married but you’re married with kids, you do fall into a pattern. There’s just too much practical things in your life that you become roommates really quickly and you need that extra, you know, reminder to not take your partner for granted. And even though he’s so gorgeous and the whole world tells him he’s gorgeous I still have to tell him that he’s gorgeous and tell him that he’s gorgeous and show him how I feel about him and sometimes after soccer and ballet and traffic and roasted chicken you have to say “Oh God, right. Baby, I love you. And I appreciate you.” So it’s friendship and communication and all those things.
BORIS KODJOE: Otherwise you become roommates.
NICOLE ARI PARKER: I mean, it’s so easy when you’re a mom to let it go. And you gotta remember that part of the marriage contract is that I took you off the market, and I almost said that I am going to make it worth your while in a way. And even though we don’t want to say those things to ourselves, you kind of have to remember that I asked him to be in this as much as he asked me to be in this so I have to remember to take care of myself and not go over the top. I mean, I don’t open the door in a negligee and pumps.
BORIS KODJOE: (Smiles devilishly) (Laughs)
NICOLE ARI PARKER: No, but I’m saying I try to change out of my gym clothes. You know little silly things that we don’t want to talk about. To your original question of what makes a relationship strong, is that it’s a series of little moments: the moment in the kitchen, the moment when he asks for her embrace and she gives it to him. This is not about having sex on the kitchen table, well…(Laughter) This is about little moments that make ones like that. Nobody’s coming to my house for dinner now. (Laughing) No, but these little moments are the intimacy that strengthens the long term and when something major happens and there’s so much built up between you.
Question: Is the physical really that important?
BORIS KODJOE: Oh no, it’s very important. It’s not just the physical. I think the physical, mental and spiritual go together. And so, I deliver or I give her what I demand from her.
NICOLE ARI PARKER: Demand is a strong word. You better… you have to clarify.
BORIS KODJOE: I’m African/German so we demand stuff. I do not ask, I demand! Woman! But I deliver too. I stay healthy. I keep myself in shape for her. Well, of course you want to feel good about yourself as well, sure. That’s where it starts. And mentally and spiritually as well, I want to be healthy for her. Mentally and spiritually I want to be in the best place possible and I promised her that. So I’m asking her, I expect the same from her. It’s very important because yes, she said she took me off the market, I took her off the market. So, I have to deliver to her what the market could have possibly given her in the next 20, 30 years. That’s a tough job. It’s a huge responsibility that I stepped up for.
NICOLE ARI PARKER: I also have a special needs child. It’s already something to have a child, and then to have two and then to have one with special needs, but, emotionally we take … our husband becomes our best friend in a way that can sometimes drain the relationship. When my daughter was first born, I went through a lot of emotional down times and I pulled on him even though he was still trying to still be the father and the provider all these other things, I made him take care of me in a way that I think we have to manage that as well. Because your husband cares so much about you, you might not understand anything and it can make another divide if you’re not careful about not just taking care of your physical self, but being okay to take care of your spiritual self too and your emotional self.
Question: What was one of the hardest lessons to learn or challenges to two strong individuals becoming one?
NICOLE ARI PARKER: That’s really interesting because inside of the household and inside of the relationship there are still kind of boundaries that you have to start to talk about for your own respect and how you’re going to communicate. I didn’t have a perfect upbringing and my mother and father argued all the time so I know how to talk like this when I’m trying to make a point! And for a long time I thought that was okay. He set up his own boundary and was like “You’re not gonna talk like that and then walk out of the house, grab your keys, your purse, your car, your rod, boom. You’re not gonna do all that.” That immediately changed the dynamic in our relationship. I heard myself. I heard my past. I had an opportunity to grow. He had an opportunity to grow as well and hear me and realize that underneath all of that was pain. So, I think it’s important to speak up about who’s going to do what and how you’re going to be treated because that’s the beginning of the rest of the relationship.
BORIS KODJOE: Also, we’ve got to remove our past out of our future because we are starting at our zero. That’s where we start. And oftentimes we take the experiences that we witnessed with our parents, their struggles, their fights, their dialogue, and then sort of transplant them onto our own. And then all of a sudden we know what the outcome’s going to be and we don’t because we’re not our parents. Part of our parents is in us, is represented in us, absolutely. But the relationship my parents had, my father left when I was six years old and I knew when I was seven, eight years old, that I was going to be a great father. I knew that I was going to do everything completely different from how he had handled everything. I think it’s very important that we see each other and see our relationship as an opportunity to do it our way, to learn from the mistakes that other people make, but not project whatever they went through so we end up being our father and our mother.
Amazing discussion and insight with these two. No wonder they’ve been happily married for 8 years. Thanks to BET Experience for giving them a platform to share.
TELL US: What did you learn from Nicole & Boris’ comments? Are they on to something?