Saturday, 1 August 2009

FROM THE VAULT: Ryan Mark and Chrissy D on love and keeping their marriage rock-solid

HAPPY SOULS: Gospel stars Ryan Mark and Chrissy D

February 2009.

ECCLESIASTES 4:12 offers that a three-fold cord is not easily broken, admonishing wedded couples that their healthy unions are strengthened when God is invited to be part of the nucleus. For gospel performer Ryan Mark Reynolds and his bride, Dawnette (affectionately called Chrissy D), there is no truth they acknowledge more. It's one of the reasons why their marriage has blossomed beautifully from a brief courtship into a stellar two-year love affair.

Many will remember the spark that ignited a tabloid-fuelled media blitz in 2006, albeit short-lived and surprisingly innocuous, when Ryan Mark decided to marry a woman 14 years his senior. But looking back at that point on his 'walk' from teenage gospel sensation to full-fledged man of God, Ryan Mark is happy he didn't let the naysayers win.
"All things are ordered by God and that's how I see it. I try not to question things, even losing my first child, because it is all a part of my journey. I don't understand God, but God is God," Ryan says. "I just continue to put my trust in him because I've been blessed with a lot of good things in life and I just want it to continue that way."

While not all contemporary gospel couples have been able to stay immune to the brouhaha they are often subjected to, Ryan and Chrissy's uncanny ability to tune out the world partially explains why they have been able to withstand the whirlpool of negativity. They have every intention of living their lives.

Ryan Mark will tell you he was determined to find the right woman; he just didn't know she was standing in front of him the whole time. And if you ask him about falling in love with Chrissy, he'll tell you it was all just meant to be.
"It was just a case where I felt that God wanted to take me to the next level. But I couldn't go there alone. At that time, Chrissy and I were just spiritual friends. It was that type of friendship. But one day I told her how I felt and God eventually told her to take care of Ryan, and from then, we have never been apart."

Before long, the fearless twosome fell in love with the realisation that they could have each other and being themselves would still be enough. For Ryan Mark, Chrissy brings a sense of normalcy that keeps him on the right track. Together, they attribute the success of their relationship to having a firm foundation in God, and rather than allow their struggles to define them, the pair have used it to make them stronger and transform themselves into fearless spirits.

At 23 and 37 years respectively, Ryan and Chrissy know who they are, but they also admit that like many other pairs, they are a work in progress. And though they are now celebrating their second anniversary, they'll tell you it's just the beginning of something bigger and better.

TALLAWAH: There are so many misconceptions floating around these days about matrimony. What do you want people to know? What has marriage taught you about life?
Ryan Mark: Marriage definitely teaches you about responsibility, how not to be selfish and to think of others. Since being married, my thoughts have mostly been family-motivated. It's not about me anymore. I think I am definitely a better person. Having a family pushes you to be a better person and focus on the positive things in life.

TALLAWAH: Absolutely. That should definitely make it special. Chrissy, what would you say is the role of a wife in any marriage?
Chrissy D: My role as a wife is to submit to, honour and respect my husband. When he's feeling pressured by circumstances, I should be there to lift him up and not tear him down.

TALLAWAH: That's such a nice thing to say. Ryan, how do you define the role of the husband?
Ryan Mark: The husband is supposed to be the priest of the household. It is up to him to make sure everything is in tact as the provider. At the end of the day, I think it is the man who should step up to the plate.

TALLAWAH: Many wedded couples reveal that once you become married, you can no longer hide from your true yourself or what comes next. That's the reality. What have the sacrifices been like for you both over the past two years?
Chrissy D: You have to understand your spouse and honour the covenant of till death do us part, that we made to God. You have to try and pursue peace in your relationship.

TALLAWAH: Love aside, you guys seem to have created power and unity in your life together. How did you cope with all the criticisms that surfaced when you first chose to tie the knot?
Ryan Mark: In the early days we wanted to address everything, but after a while you realise that no matter what, people are going to talk. So it doesn't bother us anymore.
Chrissy D: What people have to say don't bother us, God is the one we consult with.
Ryan Mark: The age difference between us was always a big issue for people from the get-go. But frankly, though my wife is older than me, she is like a child at heart and we have nothing but love and respect for each other.

TALLAWAH: I completely understand. What role has sincerity and honesty played in the growth of your marriage and the establishment of your priorities?
Chrissy D: Well, I believe honesty and happiness are two important ingredients for any marriage to work. The measure of what you give is the measure you will receive. So it is important to sow good goodness and happiness because what you sow you will reap.
Ryan Mark: I agree. Being honest is a huge factor, especially when you're married to someone you consider to be your soulmate. Keeping secrets is a door for the enemy to come in. So we try to keep our relationship as open and honest as possible in all we do. When you keep the lines of communication open, it helps to keep insecurities at bay. The enemy might try to plant seeds of discontent, and if you don't know yourself, you will stray.

TALLAWAH: As humans, we are constantly changing, expanding and transforming. So with such busy recording and ministry schedules, is it at all difficult to set aside adequate time to spend with each other? How do you keep it all balanced?
Ryan Mark: The mere fact that we work in the same field makes it easier for us to be together. When we're in the studio, we're together. So it's an everyday thing. From time to time, we'll drive out to the beach for some quiet time. Those little things help to keep us in tune with each other.

TALLAWAH: That definitely sounds like an ideal date with someone you really love. I know it was heartbreaking when your first child, Ruth, passed away in 2008. As a mother, Chrissy how did you find the strength to get over the devastating tragedy? How did you leave that painful place?
Chrissy D: Getting over her death was very hard. But I think it was God's way of asking me: 'Will you still love me?' Even though I miss her, I'm reminded that she is up there with the angels.

TALLAWAH: That's really refreshing to hear. You project such confidence and you haven't been apologising for it. Tell us, have you discussed plans to start a family again?
Chrissy D: (Laughs)
Ryan Mark: Without a doubt, the Bible says you are to be fruitful and multiply. (Laughs)

TALLAWAH: Joy seems to play such a major role in your union, and that joy doesn't seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon.
Ryan Mark: It's just the grace of God. I love my wife and she loves me, and right now that is all that matters.

* STORY UPDATE: Ryan and Chrissy finally expanded their family with the birth of a daughter in April.

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