A while back, I got the awesome opportunity to have an interview with fitness trainer, Sherrell Duncan and Grammy and Emmy-nominated musician, Alfred Duncan. Just one year ago, the Duncans literally broke the internet with their famous hashtag #ForeverDuncan. To refresh your memory, I left a video below of the tear jerking same day engagement and marriage. Just a fair warning, you may want to have some tissue on hand for this one. Alfred literally had every woman giving their significant other the side eye while crying tears of joy. In my interview with this power couple, I was able to get the scoop on where they are now and a few lasting tips on setting the foundation for an unbreakable marriage. This couple is so much more than a hashtag. They’re making some major moves and changing lives along the way.
Alfred, why did you decide to have a surprise wedding for Sherrell rather than go the traditional route?
“I knew for a good period of time that my girlfriend at the time would be my wife and so we were going through premarital classes and we were also practicing celibacy. We were already preparing to be married and I didn’t want to take the whole process of being engaged and waiting three to four months up to year to get married when I already knew that she was going to be my wife. So, I just chose to do it all in the same day. She wanted to go to the justice of peace, but I wanted more for her.”
A lot of women like to plan every part of their weddings themselves. How did you know exactly how to go about planning the perfect wedding?
“Through our courting, I really paid attention to what she likes and what she doesn’t like. She wasn’t really for a big grand wedding. That wasn’t something that she wanted to do. She really wasn’t for all the planning and all of that. I knew that already so I just took care of the job for her.”
“Is he just proposing to keep me or is he proposing because he really loves me? “
How did you know for certain that Sherrell was going to yes to your proposal?
“We get that question a lot. “How did you know she was going to say yes?” And it’s funny to me because I think that in relationships you’re supposed to have effective communication so you know where the other person stands on certain important things like marriage, kids, careers, and things like that. So, when I hear that question, its always so mind boggling and I’m like what are people talking about in their relationship.?
Why would he not know that I would say yes and where are we in our relationship to say no? Why would he propose? Is he just proposing to keep me or is he proposing because he really loves me? That question is always funny to me because I always think where are people in their relationships if they don’t know if the person will say yes or not?”
It’s so great to hear that you both took the necessary steps prior to marriage like pre-marital classes and practicing celibacy. What was that experience like? Did you live with one another prior to marriage as well?
“Yes, we did and it was extremely hard okay! Lol! I wouldn’t do that all over again. I just wouldn’t. I mean, for the emotional and mental lesson, it was more emotionally and mentally awakening and eye opening for us. We learned a lot about ourselves during celibacy. It wasn’t just about abstaining from sex and honoring God’s word. That was one thing, but we really learned a lot about each other and the communication level heightened and evolved.
It was crazy. I would have dreams about different men dying and I couldn’t see their faces. It basically translated to the different soul ties with men that I had relationships with in the past. I was a really live thing that happened. It was definitely needed. I just wouldn’t do that again.”
Alfred, how long did it take to plan the wedding without Sherrell knowing?
“It took about three months to have everything in place.”
Did you have a lot of help as far as planning and having to sneak around?
“As far as the actual concept like thinking of it, no, but executing it, yes. There were a lot of people helping me execute it from her family to my family and our mutual friends. There were a lot of people that helped to pull it off.”
“I just want women to understand how real this feeling is when you know your life is about to change.”
How did it fair off in the house with you having to go off in secret to communicate with those helping you orchestrate the big day?
“I didn’t recognize it at first. We’re very open about our phones. Even when we were dating, we took our locks off our phones. One time, we had the same phone in the same case and we would accidently take each other’s phones and we never had an issue. I’ve never had that in a relationship. It was just like, OMG he has my phone and people are sending me Facebook messages. That’s how it use to be and I felt like it was the same for him.
I didn’t’ realize it until before the wedding. I just want women to understand how real this feeling is when you know your life is about to change. I knew something was happening because the week of, he kept sneaking off going outside on the balcony to use the phone and he never does that. He was going to get coffee at 11 o’clock at night and I’m thinking he really wants to die. Why is he sneaking out? He’s tripping. At the same time, I knew that he wasn’t cheating on me, but I had to be realistic and ask myself why is he sneaking out? What could he be sneaking out to do. I just kept thinking I know he doesn’t want to die today so he needs to get it together. That’s all I was thinking. If he would answer the phone in front of me, he would ask them if he could call them right back.
I didn’t know what was going on, but I was having anxiety. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t do anything. I never felt like that in my entire life. I wasn’t depressed. I felt like I was about to die. Like what is going on? Everyone was acting funny.”
How long did it take you to get off the high of the hype social media created after the wedding?
“It’s still crazy. My husband was an outreach manager. He didn’t like his job too much. My husband has not been back to that job since we got married. It wasn’t his plan to leave his job, but God just worked this thing out girl. He just laid it all out for us.
No, we still haven’t been acclimated with the fact that one, we’re married. Like finally! It hasn’t been long, but practicing celibacy and living with someone makes it seem long. Also, we’re travelling a lot. We’re going from state to state to speak. We haven’t been acclimated to our new lifestyle yet. Not fully.”
So, what all do you both have going on right now? I see you both have books out among other things.
“We do a lot of public speaking and relationship conferences. My wife is a personal trainer. She does women empowerment conferences and things of that nature. I have a company called “Duncan Man Planning” and it’s an event planning firm specifically for men to help them pull off something special for their significant other.
Me and my wife wrote books after the wedding. My wife has a book called “God Made Me Wait” and I have a book called “Man Uplifting.” We also do things with our books as far as book signings, book readings, and symposiums. We actually do a lot and we have some things that are cooking up but, we don’t want to talk about them until the ink dries and everything is solidified.”
Can you each tell me a little bit of what your books are about?
“So, my book is called “Man Uplifting” and it’s about the misconception of manhood. As I got older I realized that I had to relearn what manhood was because I was taught about manhood by popular culture; by some people I looked up to as role models who probably shouldn’t have been my role models. It’s a lot of things that I was doing that I don’t necessarily identify with manhood. I had to relearn what manhood was for me. During that process me and my best man from the wedding, who is also my best friend, decided to put the book together and help people to help themselves to relearn what manhood is. There’s a lot of men out here who don’t know what manhood is. I’m not saying my book is saying this is what manhood is. It’s more so saying that this is what manhood isn’t. They can try to figure out what manhood is in their life. So that’s what my book is about.”
“My book is a compilation of topical prayers that shows from a timeframe from I believe 2007-2016 when I got married. I wrote it with a good friend, Natasha T. Brown. It basically shows what I went through and how I’ve allowed God to pour into me through things like abortions, sex addictions, and through drug addiction. Through domestic violence relationships, not for me, but for my friend. Selling drugs and partying in the clubs and all different types of stuff. Dealing with men that kept lying to me and me going back to them and believing them and praying and asking God to please send me someone that was just honest to me and me not following through with my prayer request.
I talk about the backlash of me back in a mess again so, I’m praying to get out of a deeper mess that I put myself in back out of that mess again and blocking my blessings. It shows how I’m keeping God near and dear to my heart but, I’m not honoring our relationship. This monogamous relationship with God is more so me having an affair with Him and calling Him whenever I need Him like a “booty call.” Not really honoring who he is.
So, it shows you my growth and my evolution and my walk with God and how I started trusting him more and how my relationship with Him started out as an affair, but began to become a monogamous relationship and me always putting him first. Instead of me asking him for things, it turned into me thanking him for everything that I had and things that are coming in the future.
It just shows you how my relationship with God created miracles for me in my relationships and in my career. It’s a freeing book. It’s going to help and has helped a lot of women with the issues they had making decisions society looks at as a poor, but they have to live with it. How do you live with it by keeping it a secret to yourself?
It’s a very freeing book and it also has 14 devotionals in the back and a workbook to help you with different things like purity, drama, happiness, peace, and temptations. It helps you with different things when the enemy tries to trick you. It gives you a prayer to say every morning to keep you from falling into that trap. There’s a section where you can write about how these characteristics affected your life and changed your life by giving it to God.
I have a webinar that I came out with my spiritual mentor, Dr. Dawn M Harvey, and it’s called “Dear Self. You’re Forever Starts Now.” It’s basically about everything that’s in the book. It’s about selfcare, fitness, being spiritually fit, emotionally fit, and mentally fit. How to work on you. It goes deep into the why are you feeling this way and what are the proper steps you can take. It is a two-day online webinar.
I speak at different events and speak about love, relationships, being bold, being free, self- destruction. That’s a part of me going around and embracing women. Pushing them to be great and helping them to reach that process of being that woman that God has created them to be.”
“No one else can own your truth once you set yourself free; once you get past the people pleasing part and being a holier than thou Christian like you love God so much that you’ve never sinned.”
I really do love the concept of your book and your full transparency for what you’ve gone through in your life. A lot of women are not transparent with their past. They want to have this clean façade and show others that their past is without blemish. Thank you for being open and honest about your story.
“I’m so glad that God let me be free to talk about it. It’s okay. So, what if people judge you. You own your truth. If you own your truth, nobody else can own it. No one can take the copy rights from you. You trade- marked it. You put your stamp on it. No one else can own your truth once you set yourself free; once you get past the people pleasing part and being a holier than thou Christian like you love God so much that you’ve never sinned. That’s a myth. No one is that person. If not all of us, but most of us can agree and understand that. You don’t know where that person was in that season in their life.”
Can you tell me a little more about why you became a personal trainer?
I never desired or spoke into existence that I wanted to be a personal trainer. I’m not a lazy person, but honestly, I like the results of exercise, but I’m not cool with that girl that wants to get up a five o’clock in the morning and workout twice a day and keep going to the gym and the gym selfies. That’s not the girl I was. My mess created this. God gave it to me. I know it’s well beyond the physical aspect of it. I share a deep relationship with my clients that goes beyond physical appearance. We talk about relationships, love, careers, their desires, dreams, goals, and their aspirations. I know that once I talk to somebody they’re gonna want to level up. You’re going to walk away from the conversation yeaning to do better and yearning to be great. I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but just know that’s the gift that God gave me and I’m very humble in that. I have to be disciplined enough so that can do God’s work. I have to own it.
I’m heavier than I was when I first lost the weight from being 300 pounds, but I’m happy. There is definitely growth in what god is doing in my life.”
What is it like to have a blended family?
“We both came into the relationship with children. He has a thirteen year old son. I have a six-year-old daughter. It’s rough. It’s more rough for me and his son. When my daughter first met him, she had never met another man outside of her Dad. So, when she met him, she was scared of him. She didn’t understand why he was so close to us, like why was he coming to the house or why were we going to church with him and going to eat with him. She just really wasn’t excepting of him for like the first year. Now their relationship is awesome. They have a really great relationship.
We all work really hard. He has formed his own relationship with her and I’m forming my own relationship with his son. It’s more so just trying to get to know each other’s personalities and things of that nature.”
With all that you have going on between traveling for book signings and conferences, is there still time to train with your clients?
“I only do virtual training. My same clients have stayed with me because they believe that they know that I can get them where they need to be and they enjoy the fellowship.”
How do you both manage making each other happy and communicating in your marriage while still maintaining your business ventures?
“Our business involves us together. We do have our own separate ventures. Me being a musician and her personal training. For the base of what we are known for in business, it’s mostly together. They want us to speak as a couple. I can support her and go to her training sessions and work out with her. She’ll assist me with what I’m planning. Our job is to maintain our love and constantly support each other.”
“Outside of work, we find time to just laugh. People think that spending time together means going on vacations and going on a billion dates. We make time to laugh and joke with one another and play. That is very intimate and keeps the relationship going. It keeps it fresh. It keeps it fun and we laugh a lot.
We’re not the perfect couple. My husband and I never had a serious argument until we were married. It’s crazy because we were together three years prior to us getting married, so we didn’t have our first argument until we got married. It just showed us that we have to work harder now that we are married than when we were just a couple.
We make time to spend with one another. Our dates become us laying in the bed talking or running around the house chasing each other or doing weird childish stuff. It makes us feel good. My husband and I can sit in the living room on our laptops working with no T. V. or anything. We can do that for two hours and not say a word and we won’t get bored. We’re at the point where we’re not even bored with one another. We’re at peace. We’re working. We’re good. We don’t require too much from one another. We’re going to continue to work. We continue to make each other happy.
I told him, now that I’ve gained all this weight, I’ve got to get back to where I feel like how he met me. I want to get back to that because I don’t want to get married and then I’m fat because I’m comfortable and were having fun and eating desserts and stuff like that. We continue to work and we continue to make each other happy. We laugh a lot to keep things going.”
“They’re there for that moment to hear your side, but do we really tell the other person’s side in depth like we’re telling our side?”
How do you feel about people who are close to you being involved in your marriage?
“No, we don’t keep anybody in our business. Nobody is in our business. We talk to each other about who we can go to outside of our pastor, who we can confide in. We agree that’s the person we can talk to because we both trust that person to go to when we have something going on. Other than that, I don’t talk to my mother in depth about what’s going on and he doesn’t talk to his family about what’s going on. It’s none of their business. They’re there for that moment to hear your side, but do we really tell the other person’s side in depth like we’re telling our side? So, now they’ve formed their opinion about this person. At family functions, they’re treating this person funny or now they’re going to go tell somebody else and everybody in the family is looking at you funny and looking at you weird. We don’t have time for that. That’s not what we’re gonna deal with. It’s basically period, none of their business what’s going on in our household, how we run our household, or the decisions we make. They have absolutely no say so in it.”
What advice would you give a couple who are preparing to get married?
“I think celibacy is a great choice because you learn so much about your partner. You’re forced to learn about your partner because of course, sex can lead to so many things. Sex can just cover up so many things. You can sex your way out of an argument or disagreement, but if you take sex out of the equation, then you’re forced to deal with it. You see how your partner deals with certain situations. It just gives you a better outlook to see if that person is the right fit for you.
I would also suggest that you do a lot of talking. Do a lot of just figuring each other out. That’s the time when basically before you give that person that job, you’re going through a process of trying to figure out if they’re the one for that job. That is a very serious time because once you give them that job, it’s supposed to be their job for the rest of their life. You have to make sure that you are getting the most qualified person to go on this journey with you because if you don’t, then it’s going to be harder than it would be if you were a perfect fit for someone.
This marriage thing is hard, period. No matter if we share the same interests or we’re two level headed people that don’t argue much, it’s still going to bring it’s of fair situations in which you’re going to have to compromise or they’re going to have to compromise. So, it’s best that you find somebody who is more qualified to deal with that than not or someone who is willing to grow. That’s important because there’s a lot of growing in marriage or in a relationship in general.”
I really enjoyed chatting with both Sherrell and Alfred Duncan. They were both so down to earth and transparent. They really shinned light on a lot of common issues in marriages today. Alfred and Sherrell both gave some really great advice to assist in creating and keeping a solid foundation in marriage. I pray that God continues to bless them through their years together as husband and wife and through their businesses as well.
If you would like to purchase one or both of their books, you can do so by going to www.foreverduncan.com. To sign up for virtual personal fitness training with Sherrell, you can go to www.thegoodthick.com. Sherrell’s “Dear Self” webinar is available at www.creatingdynamiclifestyles.com. Guys, if you need a little help putting together an even for that special someone, you can head over to www.duncanmanplanning.com and Alfred will get you all the way together. You can also follow them on both Facebook and Instagram with the handle @Foreverduncans. The Duncan family is also on YouTube under Forever Duncan.