Home Love Stories Black Love ‘You have to be willing to grow with your spouse’

‘You have to be willing to grow with your spouse’

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.


Live: Hoover

Married: Nov. 6, 1993

Met: At Ensley High School in 1989.  “We actually met in study hall our freshman year,” Anitra said. “A friend of his convinced him to ask me for my phone number…we talked a little bit, but when he asked me for my number I actually told him no. I couldn’t give out my number because my mom was really particular about giving out our phone number so I took his, but I never called.” At the time Chris said he was dating someone else, but that he did find [Anitra] attractive. “I saw her in class and she was petite with long hair, and she dressed differently than the other girls…I did ask her for her number and she turned me down. But she did ask me for my number, and I never expected her to call, so I went on about my life,” Christopher said.

“I thought he was arrogant,” Anitra said.

“But four or five months later she calls me out the clear blue, I had no idea who she was…that conversation went nowhere, it went very, very bad, we did not hit it off,” Christopher laughed. “We talked for four or five minutes and she never called me back.”

“I thought he was rude and I was like ‘no, it’s not going to work, he’s a cute guy, but no,” Anitra said.

The following school year Christopher and Anitra caught each other’s attention again and this time the results were different. Christopher had been “working out because I was on the football team, so I started flexing my muscles trying to make my chest look bigger…it worked because she came up to me and said how come you never call me,” he said.

First date: In October 1990, at a flag football game the band members put together in Ensley Park. Christopher had invited Anitra to come out and watch him play.

“He picked me up in his dad’s van with his younger brother and his friend. It was a triple date, and I was the first girl that they picked up. And my mama was not happy. She did not like that I was the first pick up in that van with three guys,” Anitra laughed. “It [the football date] was the first time that we really got to sit down and talk and he wasn’t as arrogant as I thought. He was actually funny and a great guy. After that, we went and got something to eat at McDonald’s, and then he dropped me back off, my mama gave me a curfew, I had to be home by 9:00.

Christopher remembers trying to show off for her on the field.

“I tried to do as much as I could to keep her attention on me on the field… I had to keep her smiling and laughing, I was trying to distract her from realizing I was taking her to McDonald’s for our first date and that I only had $20…I had to feed us and my brother and his date with that [money],” Christopher said.

The turn: From junior to senior year “it got to the point where we weren’t just dating, we became best friends,” Anitra said. “He was coming over to the house, we were studying together, going out on the weekends, he was visiting church with me, I knew his family, he knew mine… at 17 years old, and a junior, I was in love and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.”

“She made me want to be better,” Christopher said. “I wasn’t the best student or the best person before meeting her…we had our little ups and downs, but no matter what, I knew I didn’t want to be without her.”

The proposal: In 1992, at Ensley High School in the choir room.

“I went down to Gold Bro’s Jewelers in the Western Hills Mall and bought her the little $69 dollar gold ring with diamond dust that everybody was getting their girlfriends at the time, and I proposed at school in front of the entire choir, the choir teacher, and I invited a bunch of her friends down to watch it…,” said Christopher.

“I was already in the choir room because I had some friends in the choir, so I was sitting in. Then he came in with his friends and came over to me and started professing his love for me, and asked me would I marry him. He put my little $69 dollar ring on my finger and I was smiling from ear to ear. Everyone was happy for us, even the choir teacher was smiling and happy. It was totally unexpected,” Anitra said.

The wedding: North Birmingham Recreation Center. Their colors were cream and peach, and it was officiated by Christopher’s cousin, Reverend Marcus Johnson.

Most memorable for the bride was her nervous breakdown while getting dressed in the rec center bathroom. “Me and my two best friends were in there getting ready… I was seven months pregnant and my emotions were all over the place. I remember being so nervous and upset because Chris was late, and my friends were trying to calm me down because I started having pains…I was freaking out and couldn’t believe I was getting married,” Anitra said.

Most memorable for the groom was watching his bride come down the aisle.

“It was like ‘ok, this is happening’. Seeing her walk down the aisle carrying my child, I was staring down at my future. This is the woman that I’m going to build everything with; It was finally ‘that day’,” Christopher said.

Words of wisdom: Communicating and growing as a couple are important, the Andersons said.

“I think with us getting married so young, I had to learn that the man that I married in ‘93 is not the same man I’m married to today, we had to grow up together…you have to be willing to grow with your spouse,” Anitra said. “You can’t put expectations on your spouse, you have to allow them to grow and support them in that and love them unconditionally. We talk things out, he allows me to get how I’m feeling out, and he listens. He’s willing to really hear and listen so that he can understand.”

Christopher said there were years when he would talk, “but I wasn’t really communicating…you have to learn your partner and really learn who you’re married to. You can’t speak out of emotion, don’t say words that you can’t take back. We had to learn and grow to a point in life where we figured out how to communicate with each other. Constantly learning, growing and communicating with one another is the key,” said Christopher.

Happily ever after: The Andersons have three adult children: Kiera Furr, 27 (from Christopher’s previous relationship), Kayla Anderson, 25, Christopher Anderson Jr., 23.

Anitra, 44, is an Ensley native who attended Jefferson State Community College where she earned an associate’s degree in business management. She works for Biohorizons Dental Implants in Hoover, as a Complaint Investigator, and does Real Estate part-time with Keller Williams in Hoover.

Christopher, 46, is an Ensley native and a retired City of Birmingham Police Officer and is currently pursuing a degree in criminal justice at Talladega College.

Christopher was also on TV’s “First 48” before he retired from the police department and he has a show on Investigation Discovery called “Reasonable Doubt.”