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‘Keep the connection and spend quality time together’

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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.

SHONDA AND DARRELL WALTER 

Live: Pleasant Grove

Married: August 12, 2000

Met: June 1990, at Shonda and her sister’s apartment on Birmingham’s Southside. “I had already seen a picture of [Shonda], so I already thought she was cute, but that day I was kind of laid back,” Darrell said, “I didn’t want to try talking to her right off because my other friend was making a fool of himself.”

Darrell said he asked … The next day I had my friend check with her friend to see if it was ok for me to call her, and they set it up like that.”

Shonda said she was glad she gave Darrell permission to call “because the next day when he came over we hit it off and I really did think that he was very attractive.”

First date: June, 1990 at an Alpha Phi Alpha Greek step show and after party at The Fair Park Arena. They were invited by Shonda’s sister and her boyfriend who is an Alpha.

Shonda said she was nervous for their first date “and had butterflies in my stomach, but I always had butterflies whenever he was around and that’s how I realized I really liked him.”

Darrell recalled the details.
“I had a cool little Escort GT, and we went for a nice little ride around town…I was showing her the city since she’s not from Birmingham (Shonda’s from Florence, Ala.) “We [got to] the party and went in and danced and watched the Greek show,  and we ended up really hitting it off,” Darrell said. “When we got back in the car, I asked her if she wanted to be my girlfriend. I liked her and I wanted her to be mine.”

Shonda said yes.

The turn: For Shonda it was January 1991. She said they were always together, and inseparable, and the turn was not long after she got pregnant with their son Britton.  Darrell said it was after he met her parents and introduced her to his. “…she was the first and only girl I ever brought home to meet my parents. Then when she got pregnant and had our son, that hit into overdrive.”

The proposal: June 1998, while having dinner at Steak and Ale in Roebuck

“We had a nice little candle lit dinner and I reached across the table and grabbed her hand and told her that we’ve been together for a long time (seven years) and she had my son, and it was time that we go on and start a life together,” Darrell said. “I asked her if she would marry me and she said ‘yes’, and I put the ring on her finger.”

“I couldn’t believe it, I knew that he would eventually [ask], but I couldn’t believe that he was actually doing it because he was taking his sweet time,” Shonda laughed. “For a long time it felt like he was comfortable with where the relationship was … he said he wanted his finances together first… I was very ecstatic. I loved the ring, and I couldn’t believe it was finally time. That night, I kept waking up making sure the ring was still there on my finger, making sure it wasn’t a dream.”

The wedding: In First Missionary Baptist Church Florence, officiated by Rev. Joseph Marshall. Their colors were periwinkle and platinum.

Most memorable for the bride was the walk down the aisle with her father. “To see Darrell standing there nervous was really cute, and when we laid eyes on one another, and our son was standing up there with him, I felt like this is it, I finally get my husband,” Shonda said.

Most memorable for the groom was their first dance at the reception. “It [the reception], was at an old historical house called Colby Hall on the University of North Alabama’s campus, and our first dance was on a balcony. We had a live band and we did our dance on the balcony with everyone looking up at us and watching  . . .  it was special,” Darrell said.

The couple honeymooned in Aruba, a wedding gift from Shonda’s parents. “The resort had a private island that we got to go over to and enjoy some intimate time. We laid out on a hammock, it was really nice,” Shonda said.

Words of wisdom: The Walter’s learned what it meant to compromise and respect one another’s feelings after a brief divorce in May 2010. During their time apart the couple continued seeing one another and remarried just two years later on their original wedding anniversary, August 12, 2012 and brought lessons from their first marriage into their second.

“I wasn’t going to just stay in a marriage that he felt like he could continue staying out with the fellas. I had waited a long time to get married, and I was fed up with [his behavior], so I filed for divorce,” Shonda said.

But they learned to compromise. “Compromise is important. Being able to talk out our differences is key, and taking into account the other person’s feelings over yours. Darrell is really quiet and he doesn’t like to talk a lot, but he learned to open up to me and we learned to sort our differences,” she said.

Darrell said it’s important to put your mates’ feelings before your own. “Take their feelings into account before you make decisions. Try to keep the connection and spend quality time together. Do small things, bring flowers home to let her know you were thinking about her. And, instead of her having to cook all the time, you can cook too. It’s sharing in the life load…,” he said.

Happily ever after: The Walter’s have one son, Britton, 28.

Shonda, 49, is a Florence, Ala. native and graduated from Coffee High School. She attended Faulkner University in Montgomery, where she earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration. Shonda is a training coordinator for Protective Life Insurance in Mountain Brook, and has been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Darrell, 50, is a Dolomite native, and Pleasant Grove High School grad. He attended Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University [A&M], where he studied business administration. He is an independent distributor for Flowers Baking Company in Thomasville, GA.