Married June 23, 1984, Alvin & CeCe Winans-Love, have built a life together marked by unshakable joy—a deep determination to live in a condition of happiness and contentment that is not dictated by external conditions.
In the May/June issue of Gospel Today they paused to share some of the things they’ve learned about life, love and marriage. The result was a veritable marriage conference! Here’s a few snippets from our conversation:
GT: How did you two meet?
Alvin: We met about a year and a half before we got married. I met her brother at a church that I started attending, which was CeCe’s home church in Detroit. The first time I actually saw her was in Detroit when she came home. A group of us went bowling and so we always tell people we met in the bowling alley!
GT: How did you get to know one another and start dating?
CeCe: He came to Charlotte, North Carolina with my brothers and we all went to the amusement park. It was a weekend celebration that the Winans were singing at so he came down. Before he left that weekend he got my number through my brother and called me. He asked me if he could come over and talk to me and that’s when he expressed his interest. Actually, he told me that day—that first weekend that we spent together—that he was going to marry me and I was like “Okay.” (laughs)
GT: What came next?
CeCe: There were definitely lots of phone calls! We gave a lot of our money to the phone company and also traveling from Charlotte, North Carolina to Detroit and he would down to Charlotte.
During that time we really strengthened our friendship—I think that’s probably one of our strongest points. We became friends but it wasn’t hard—it was kind of natural. I was able to be myself with him and I believe he was able to be himself with me and a lot of couples I think miss that, you know.
They don’t really feel at home and that’s a problem, because if you can’t be who you really are with your spouse then that’s going to be rough.. If you can’t have peace when you’re at home, where can you?
We were just instantly friends; it’s not something that we really had to work at because I really don’t believe in that—not before you get married. Now, when you get married you just have to work it out but I think if you’re working hard before you even get married, then maybe that’s a sign that you too should not get married. I’m sure there are different stories but I say, if it’s rocky when dating that means run. (laughs)
GT: Did you do premarital counseling? Are you in favor of it today?
Alvin: During that time, I don’t think we know a lot about premarital counseling in our church. I did ask her dad for her hand in marriage. And we did go to our pastor of course. CeCe spoke to him and I spoke to him separately. He advised us at that time to just separate and give it a month. He said to pray, seek the Lord and see if this was God’s will but at the same time, he gave her his approval of me because, he had pastored me from the time when I got saved. He told CeCe that he was in favor of me which meant a lot because he was the type of person who had been CeCe’s pastor since she was a baby.
Today, I am in favor of premarital because counseling brings up things that initially we may not—even things you don’t even know to talk about.
GT: Obviously, CeCe is famous and talented and has been traveling the world for years. Alvin, some would say that you’ve been in her shadow all these years. How has that dynamic played out in your marriage? We feel this is especially relevant given that a lot of guys in today’s economy may not make as much money as their wife makes but still take their responsibility as a provider and covering seriously. Can you speak to that?
Alvin: Absolutely! I think it goes back to just being who you are. When CeCe and I got married she wasn’t the CeCe Winans that everybody sees now. I had a job. I supported her until about two years later when she and her brother (BeBe) got it going on the road and really started selling records.
The financial transition didn’t affect me. It wasn’t like one day I looked at the payroll and said, “Oh, she’s making more money than me now so I’ve got to go through this psychological change.” It was a blessing! I said, “Well, great CeCe!” She was doing what she was called to do and loved to do.
I was successful doing what I was doing in the corporate world. When CeCe suggested that I come off of my job to travel with her, I hesitated because it would have stopped me from the track that I was on—I was like, “I do this and you do that.” But, the Lord placed on my heart, on both of us, that it was time for me to leave my job in sales even though I was doing very well.
I’ve always been the type of person who had a job. My father didn’t believe in just giving us money. I had to go out there and earn it. I was always doing a paper route, washing cars or cutting grass—anything I could do to make a dollar. So, to me, work was not something that was hard for me to do. It was something that I had to do. And so, when I didn’t have a job anymore I felt more uncomfortable than anything.
I guess to answer your question, I think that a lot of the men who struggle with their wives making more money than they should be sure that their own self-esteem or self-confidence is where it should be. Because if you’re not confident in who you are, it is going to come out in the marriage in one way or another. That’s a common question that I get because there’s so many women now who are making equal to or more than her husband.
I didn’t realize that it was such a big deal until people started telling me how many men have a problem with it. They ask me, “Are you seriously okay with it?” I said, “Yeah, I mean it’s all the same money, isn’t it?” In marriage, if she wins, I win. When I used to win trips at work, Cece went on the trips too. She was happy for me and I’m happy. That’s what marriage is supposed to be—one for all, all for one.
|This article is a “GT Connext” exclusive. To read the printed companion article, please purchase the May-June 2012 issue of Gospel Today.||
CeCe: Alvin was very secure in who he was. When men are intimidated by their wives, I think it is because they don’t know who they are. Men have to understand who they are and that the size of his paycheck does not define who they are as a man or change God’s order.
That’s what I want to tell women a lot of times—that just because they might be making more that does not affect God’s order. God has an order for marriage and man is the head. It doesn’t depend on who makes the most money. We’re all supposed to be in our places and in our positions and when you understand your position causes God to bless you in your position because you honor God’s order.
I encourage women to be women and to be the help-meet, they’re supposed to be. When everybody is in their place everything functions properly and then it’s just the process of us becoming that God calls to be, you know. It didn’t happen overnight but it is a process when we all stand in our position—when the man is loving the wife as Christ loves the church then the women respond to that in a great way.
When men don’t understand who they are then it causes problems. When women are trying to be the head of the household as opposed to submitting to the husband it causes problems.
It’s a daily process to be who God created me to be, to understand my role in marriage, to pray for my husband, to encourage my husband, to have patience with my husband, to build him up. The Bible tells us that a wise woman builds her home and a foolish woman plucks it down. So for me, to speak against my husband or to tear him down, you’re tearing yourself down!
I have to learn how to say certain things because one thing you learn is that I grew with my family and Alvin grew up with his family and so you come from different places and you have to learn how to communicate with one another. A lot of times I talked to him like I was talking to my brother but I Alvin would be offended by it. It was like, “Really? I didn’t mean it like that at all.” I had to learn another way and to humble myself and be willing to say, “You know what? I don’t mean it like that. I’m so sorry you took it that way. Okay God, help me to speak differently because you know Alvin better than I know him so help me to position myself and my words and my tone and my attitude in a way where he understands that I’m not trying to tear him down or offend him.”
That’s my part of allowing God to mold me and to change me into what I need to be. It’s just so important that as a couple, that as a wife, that you hear your husband and that you allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you and to mak, mold and shape you into what God wants you to be for your husband.
A lot of times we have the attitudes of, “This is who I am—you just got to take it like this.” No, no, no. That might be the way we are but that doesn’t mean God wants us to stay the same. We should be continually changing as we yield to the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to minister to you because then and only then will you be able to minister to your husband.