Couples get inspiring speech on marriage

From the coach

FAMU Football Coach Willie Simmons delivered an inspiring message on marriage this past Friday night at Bethel Family Life Center.
Photo special to the Outlook

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

Marriage could be a challenging experience that requires many of the elements of success that he teaches his football team, Willie Simmons told a room full of couples gathered for a Valentine gala.
Simmons, head football coach at FAMU, spoke this past Friday of his personal experience, using a passage from the Bible to amplify his points. Specifically, he spoke from 1 Corinthians 13, verses 4-8 that explained the virtues of love.
He elaborated on some of the key elements of the Bible verses: Patience, kindness, faith and hope.
“In order for us to truly love the way God intended for us to love, we have to do them all,” he said. “We have to try hard every single day.”
He admitted not knowing what to speak about when he was invited to be keynote speaker, turning to the Bible verse that he spoke on.
“It tells you what love is, it tells you what love is not and it tells you what love always does,” Simmons said. There is no coincidence that it is broken down like that.”
Simmons spoke just before Capital Outlook publisher Rev. R.B. Holmes presented awards to six people it recognized for their upstanding work, family and businesses.
At least four times, Simmons used football and his relationship with his players to clarify his points.
He compared some of the challenges that couples face to his days as a player at Clemson University. He said couples have to persevere like he did when he played against then-No. 1 ranked FSU and LSU. Perseverance could also be as tough as having to turn losing programs around, as he’s had to do a few times in his coaching career.
Simmons candidly spoke of his personal experiences, especially during the early stage of his four-year marriage to Shaia Rene Beckwith. It wasn’t until they sought counsel that he understood what makes a successful marriage, he said.
In part, he said, growing up in Quincy with relatives who did almost everything gave him an attitude that he had to adjust.
“I didn’t know how to wash clothes, fold clothes, iron clothes (or) heat up ramen noodles until I got to college,” he said. “I grew up having people do things for me.”
Ronald Joe, a retired Army colonel, and his wife, Lenita, responded to part of Simmons’ speech with an ‘uh-huh’ more than once. The couple, married for 50 years, said it took continued effort for their marriage  to work.
“If people tell you they don’t have rough moments, they are not being honest with you,” Joe said. “You just have to persevere; stay in there.”
One of the more challenging periods of their marriage was during Joe’s 30 years in the military, the couple said.
“The thing that kept us together was being able to talk,” said Joe, adding that it took driving several hours to get to a telephone to call home.
But no matter the stage of their marriage, they’ve always viewed  it as a sharing experience. “It’s an interchange of roles,” said Lenita, a retired school teacher.
Simmons’ speech was inspiring and right on point, they said.
“Marriage is a journey,” Simmons said. “It’s a process and every single day you learn more and more about your spouse; their life; all the things that make you laugh; all the things that make you cry.”

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