By Erica Blackburn
Are you looking for practical video advice for your relationship or marriage? Don’t waste your time visiting YouTube or searching Google because not much is there. Aiyana and Ayize Ma’at, founders of Blackloveandmarriage.com, know that firsthand.
After meeting at Tots and Teens—a family-based organization—18 years ago and marrying eight years later, one day the couple decided to do a bit of research on Google and YouTube for advice on love and marriage for African Americans without much luck.
“There was a huge void and we felt that there was a way for us to step in and give our authentic voice and provide insight we felt could benefit the African American community,” said Ayize.
On their highly-successful website, Blackloveandmarriage.com, they provide articles, video commentary, marriage statistics, and video therapy to individuals who are in dire need of solutions for their relationship problems.
“We were already doing work in the community, teaching classes, and coaching couples and individuals in terms of personal development and relationship education,” said Aiyana. “So we said, ‘let’s just do a video advice column’ . . . Let’s have people be able to ask questions and then we would answer those questions because we see there’s a need for real talk about some of the things that we go through.”
Ayize grew up in a two-parent household in Prince Georges County, MD. Overall he believes his upbringing was well-rounded. “Because my parents were together, pretty much what I saw on a regular basis was consistency and compassion,” Ayize said. “I would say I got consistency from my father and compassionate from my mom. . . Those two attributes came from my parents and shaped me and I’m able to give those to my wife and children.”
Aiyana grew up a bit differently. After her parents divorced when she was about two and a half years old, she remembered her biological father not having consistency in her life and rarely maintained contact. At the age of six, her mother remarried her stepfather, who Aiyana has no problem addressing as her ‘daddy’. “As time went on,” Aiyana said, “the relationship between my biological father and I began to repair—slowly but surely, over time.”
Aiyana also credits the black church for molding her childhood. “It…shape(d) me in ways that I’m still discovering today in terms of having a sense of community around me and having stability in my life.
Stars Are Born
When Blackloveandmarriage.com was born on March 28, 2010, the couple admits that there was no real expectation. “We were just in the moment,” said Aiyana. “We did something that we were so invested in and it became so natural to us. . . every single day for the first year of its existence, we recorded a video.”
For Ayize, the expectation was to allow himself and others, who watch the web videos, to grow. “I personally found a space where I was expecting to experience the process in a unique and profound way that I was anticipating my own growth,” said Ayize. “The expectation was to learn to do something new, to learn how to grow. . . In the process of me growing, I was hoping other people would grow as well.”
Since launching their video therapy just two years ago, the couple has been featured on The Michael Baisden Show, Dr. Drew’s Life Changers, Final Call, Black Voices, The Afro Newspaper and others. They’ve also had the opportunity to work with the Oprah Winfrey Network on a show called,Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal. This show features couples that have suffered infidelity in their marriages. In each episode, two couples share their deeply personal stories of heartbreak, while a therapist provides inside perspective on how each couple can begin the healing process. In five years, Ayize hopes to have impacted one million relationships through media.
“I see our community as being in desperate need of a radical change in how we view relationships and how relationships work,” Aiyana said. She went on to explain that in this culture and society, the media is very influential—good and bad. According to Aiyana, those messages, symbols, images that we consume everyday impact us whether we realize it or not. “If I’m going to have an impact, if I’m going to have a focus, I want it to be the biggest and best impact,” said Aiyana. “Our community at large could use some empowering messages and images. The best way to do that is to partner with television, online media and folks who are really interested in putting out meaningful things.”
In late summer, they are also planning on reintroducing their online relationship education classes.
CLICK HERE to read more.