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‘Choose your battles . . . everything is not worth fighting over’

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By Je’Don Holloway-Talley
Special to the Birmingham Times

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Erica Wright ewright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

ADRIENNE AND JOHNNY SIMPKINS

Live: Pleasant Grove

Married: August 4, 2007

Met: Adrienne and Johnny met at a college party at the Music Hall on Birmingham’s Southside in the Spring of 2004. They were introduced by a mutual friend and hit it off on the dance floor. “We danced and interacted and talked. He was a really cool person, so I decided we should talk more,” Adrienne said.

Johnny was intrigued by their common interests and the fact that they were introduced by a mutual friend. “I was interested in knowing more about her,” he said.

Adrienne was a student at Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University [A&M], and Johnny was a student at Auburn University. They would use weekends and holiday trips home as opportunities to hang out.

First date: The two went for dinner and a movie. They saw ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’ at the Wildwood Movie Theater on Lakeshore, and had dinner at the Purple Onion on the Southside. Johnny recalled being happy that Adrienne didn’t make fun of his car.

“I didn’t have the best car…,” he said, “someone had just broke in my car and stole the radio and everything in it.” Adrienne said she remembered the defrost didn’t work in that car, “so every few minutes we had to stop and wipe down the windows. But it didn’t change the way he looked in my eyes one bit,” she said. Johnny said, “When she didn’t make fun of my car, she was alright with me.”

The proposal: Johnny proposed on April 1, 2006– April Fools Day. After having used his savings to buy Adrienne’s ring, Johnny embarked on a two hour Greyhound bus ride to Huntsville and a two mile walk to Adrienne’s.

“I had plans to do a simple proposal,” Johnny said, “and just as I’m walking up the driveway to enter her apartment, she came driving up, and tried to make me get in the car,” he said, “but I said ‘no, I done came this far by myself, I’m gonna finish it,” Johnny said.

“That made me smile,” Adrienne said, “he was always doing something [macho] like that.”

Adrienne waited for him at the front door.

“When he walked up to me he wouldn’t let me go in the apartment,” she said, “he dropped down on one knee and asked me to marry him right there.”

Adrienne said she was “in awe. I was amazed that someone loved me enough to walk to where I was and get on one knee and propose to me,” she said.

No one took their engagement seriously.  “No one at school believed us, they all thought we were playing an April Fools joke on them,” Adrienne said.

The wedding: Bethel Baptist Church in Pratt City. The colors were “mocha and cream, with a dash of pink,” Adrienne said.

Most memorable for the couple was the reception. “We had between 250-300 guest, so it was a big party,” Adrienne said. “People stayed till the very end because we were having so much fun.”

“The wedding party was all of our friends and my fraternity brothers (Kappa),” Johnny said.

“Our wedding party really clicked, everybody got a long,” Adrienne said.

The couple postponed their honeymoon until their first anniversary. “We went to, Kisseemee, Florida and stayed at a resort,” Adrienne said.

“We hung out at the beach, went shopping, enjoyed the food…,” Johnny said.

Words of wisdom: The key to longevity in a marriage is understanding and compromise, the couple said.

“You have to choose your battles,” Adrienne said, “sometimes you have to agree to disagree, everything is not worth fighting over.”

Johnny agreed. He said marriage takes a lot of compromise. “The reality of being the leader of two children and in partnership with my wife, is that sometimes you just have to get it done, and it’s not a lot of time to plan and delegate so you have to just team up and get it done,” he said.

Differing opinions are inevitable, Adrienne said. “You’ll have different opinions about certain situations and things regarding the house from being raised in different backgrounds,” she said. “He may have one way of rearing the children versus my way, and gender roles and figuring those out. We did that in our early years,” Adrienne said.

Happily ever after: Adrienne, 34, a Fairfield native, is a benefits analyst for Blue Cross Blue Shield. Johnny, 34, a Birmingham native, is maintenance technician for a Birmingham non-profit. The Simpkins’ have two children, Aaron, 9, and Ava, 3, and say they enjoy looking back over their 16-year relationship and celebrating their growth and the life they’ve built together.

As for the future, Adrienne said, “No more children, and more traveling. We do a lot of family reunion traveling, traveling to different states to visit family, we’ve been to Jamaica and plan to do more international traveling.”

Johnny said he enjoys spending time with the family “experiencing different events around the city together,” he said, “it’s so much more significant when you can look back over the years, especially with the children, and see all the memories you’ve made in a 16-year time period.