Special to The Birmingham Times
Photos by Frank Couch
“You Had Me at Hello” highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future profile, please send nominations to Ariel Worthy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the couple’s name, contact number and what makes their love story unique.
Anjell Harris Edwards, 46, and Marcus Edwards, 47
Living In: Alabaster
Married: Aug. 22, 1998
Met: A childhood friend set up Anjell and Marcus on a blind date in May 1997. The two met at Shogun on U.S. Highway 280 in Birmingham. However, Marcus was 20 minutes late because he was trying to figure out what to wear.
Marcus attempted to make a good first impression by showing up with a bouquet of roses. Anjell thought the roses were a sweet gesture, but that was about it.
Marcus was taken in by Anjell’s beauty. “I was told how pretty she was, but she was even prettier in person,’’ said Marcus.
After dinner, Marcus escorted Anjell to her car and asked her for a second date. She said, “Yes!’’
They talked a lot after that first date and started hanging out more. Their conversations had started to win over Anjell. They had a lot in common. He was a coach and a teacher. Anjell worked in education.
After several dates, Marcus knew Anjell was for him because she accepted him for him. He drove a 1988 Dodge Dynasty with fabric hanging down from the interior roof. The muffler was loud and smoke appeared every time he drove the car. Anjell didn’t mind that some of their dates were at Subway and barbecue joints.
Said Anjell: “I recognized right off that he was a good guy. I could tell he was not a womanizer. I saw that he was not always going to be a struggling teacher.’’
“I’m not materialistic.’’
That September, Marcus took Anjell to meet his family in Holly Springs, Miss.
Even today, friends are in awe of their early dating life.
Said Anjell: “Don’t set your eyes on what you see. You just have to see the possibilities of that person. And don’t get hung up on what other people think.’’
The proposal: In June 1998, the two learned Anjell was pregnant. Marcus proposed, and Anjell accepted. But Anjell was saddened that she had gotten pregnant before getting married. It wasn’t how she had planned things. She was 27 and she saw the fairytale she had imagined as a child, change. She was bitter.
Before they got married in August 1998, Anjell lost the baby. But Marcus assured her that he was marrying her because he loved her. However, Anjell wasn’t hearing it. She made the wedding planning and life after the wedding difficult for everyone.
“I was mad because I blew up my fantasy of what I thought the wedding was supposed to be,’’ Anjell said. “I was angry with myself because the marriage didn’t happen the way I thought it was supposed to happen.’’
“Because of me, the first few years of our marriage were rough,’’ Anjell said. “Marcus would come home, and I would be mad. He would leave the house, and I would be mad. One day, Marcus said, ‘You choose to be unhappy.’ He was telling the truth. I chose to be unhappy.’’
After that, Anjell prayed – a lot. She asked God to change her heart.
“I was messing us up just by being angry and bitter. I prayed,’’ said Anjell. “In that third year, things changed for me. Prayer really does work.”
Those first three years were challenging for Marcus, but he stayed in the marriage. Why? His father encouraged him to stay, saying it would get better. And it did.
Said Anjell: “People who knew us, expected us not to last at all because I was pregnant.’’
“Today, we are still together, not just because we grew to love one another but by the grace of God,’’ Anjell said. “God being in the midst of our relationship kept us together. I don’t think it was us. Had it been us, we would have broken up.’’
Words of wisdom: “Have patience. Be understanding. And be supportive,’’ Marcus said. “You have to give, take and compromise.’’
Happily ever after: Anjell has a doctorate and works in education for an area school system. Marcus is working on his doctorate and is a student services supervisor at an area school system. They have two children, ages 14 and 10.
“Our children see us sometime when we are not smiling and they see us recover from that,’’ said Anjell. “I hope how we handle things shows them that marriage is not always a cakewalk.
“A marriage is about how you support your partner and come back from any obstacle. I hope what we do teaches them to honor the institution of marriage and to love their spouse through thick and thin.’’