Kevin and Melissa Fredericks, popularly known as KevOnStage and MrsKevOnStage, get real about their relationship as a Christian couple in their book, Marriage Be Hard: 12 Conversations to Keep You Laughing, Loving, and Learning with Your Partner.
KevOnStage is a NAACP Image Award-nominated comedian, the founder of KevOnStage Studios, and a social media superstar known for posting hilarious content rooted in faith and family. MrsKevOnStage is an influencer dedicated to helping women become the best versions of themselves. She’s all about self-love, self-acceptance — and always manages to look fly on The Gram.
Together, they created uber-popular “The Love Hour” podcast which serves as inspiration for Marriage Be Hard. The Frederickses spoke with Faithfully Magazine about some of the themes explored in their book, including what they wish the church had taught them about sex.
Watch our exclusive Q&A with KevOnStage and MrsKevOnStage in the video below.
The following transcript is an excerpt of our video chat. It has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Faithfully Magazine: What was the first moment when you looked at your spouse and thought marriage be hard?
KevOnStage: I remember the first moment I was playing “Madden” with a friend of mine in our very small apartment, probably not much bigger than this room. And I had played Madden prior to marriage with no incident. Melissa never complained. This was probably our first month of marriage, and I’m on my day off playing the game. She comes home after a long day of work. And she opens the door and she sees me playing with my homeboy. And she stared for a second and then she just closed the door right back and stayed outside. And I was like ‘Hey, man, you gotta go.’ I unplugged it and said, ‘Take this PlayStation with you, take this PS3 with you, and I’m gonna call you in a couple months, because I don’t think she’s happy that I’m playing video games on my day off.’ That was the first time I was like ‘Oh, I can’t do the things I used to do as a single man exactly the same way I used to do them.’ And that was my first one, when I realized marriage be hard.
MrsKevOnStage: That is so funny. I actually want to say that marriage is beautiful. When I think about the 18 years we’ve been married, we have more good than we’ve had bad. I also recognize that anytime you do any project with someone else, whether you’re in third grade and your teacher assigns a group project… I remember when my youngest son was assigned a group project, and he was like, ‘First of all, the girls talk and the boys goof off, so no work is getting done.’ And I was literally like ‘I don’t know if you’re being sexist, or if this is just the reality of your situation. Right?’
Of course, any project that you do in life with someone else that has differing views than you is going to be hard. And marriage is just a project. It’s just a project of life. It is the coming together of two people merging their life, their values, their morals, the raising of the kids, all of these things together. And sometimes that is going to get difficult. And I think that’s the reality of a lot of situations. And marriage isn’t something that’s unique in that way. So for me, I don’t really think I realized marriage was hard really until quarantine. I realized ‘Oh, wait, we’re different. We think about a lot of things really, really differently.’ And the second part of that is recognizing ‘Well, that’s okay. We just have to work through those differences. But it’s okay that it’s hard. Sometimes it’s okay that we disagree. Sometimes it’s okay that we’re not always on the same page.’
FM: If you were to compare marriage to something, what would you compare it to? Complete this sentence: “Marriage is like…”
KevOnStage: Marriage we thought was like driving a Tesla on automatic, and it’s more like driving an old stick shift uphill in the rain, and you’re just learning how to drive. It’s gonna take a lot of concentration and preparation, and eventually you’re gonna get there, but it ain’t smooth sailing. It ain’t easy like it looks.
MrsKevOnStage: Sometimes it’s just like doing your group project in third grade, okay? It’s the times when you want to be mad and tell your teacher, ‘I need a new group. I want a new group. This isn’t working. I don’t know why I want to color up purple, and for some reason he wants white, and we just can’t agree. So I think I need a new partner.’ It’s just like that, working on your third grade science fair project with the group. And everyone doesn’t agree, everyone doesn’t have the same work ethic as you because everyone’s not as committed as you and you’re trying to figure that out. Because at the end of the day, you’re graded on this together. So figure it out. And I think that that is what marriage is. It’s hard sometimes, but at the end, when you turn in that paper, and your teacher is like, ‘Good job, here’s your gold star, you did a good job,’ you’re gonna feel real good about it.
FM: What made you decide to write this book?
KevOnStage: I think we wrote this book, because it’s the book we wish we had when we first got married. A lot of people around us were in great marriages that seemed like ‘It’s easy, it’s fun, it’s fantastic. We never have any issues.’ And we were like, ‘Oh, cool. But wait, why do we feel like we have some issues? What’s going on with us? Are we different?’ And then we found them same people saying, ‘We’re getting divorced.’ So we’re like, ‘Wait, where’s the disconnect?’ And we found out it was common to just say things were okay because you didn’t want to talk bad about your marriage. And there was no one wanting to admit the tough stuff. So we all thought everybody was doing well.
Melissa and I felt alienated because we were going through some struggles. I’m thinking, ‘No one else is having trouble playing video games when you used to, and now your wife is trippin.’ And we found that during the [“Love Hour”] podcast — we’ve had our podcast for three years. We found that a lot of times just realizing you’re not alone in a situation goes a long way. Even if you’re unable to change your circumstances, just to know ‘I’m not crazy. I’m not the only one dealing with this, and there’s a way out.’ So that’s why we wrote this book: We wanted people to see themselves in our marriage. So we opened up our flaws to the world. And also, we are still happily married. Even with that stuff, we also want people to know that you can go through that stuff and you can come through on the other side and you can have a lot of fun. And here’s how you work through that stuff.
FM: Kevin, in the book you talk about the first time you and Melissa had sex on your wedding night. You write: “I thought this is what guilt-free, no condemnation, I-don’t-care-if-she-gets-pregnant, I-would-be-ecstatic-to-have-kids-with-her sex feels like. It was cage free, organic, non-GMO, no MSG, Whole Foods sex.” What is the number one thing you wish the church or your parents had taught you about sex that you had to find out on your own?
KevOnStage: I think Melissa has a good answer for this. But for me, you think that being celibate, or waiting — because we waited to have sex until marriage. Somehow you think that as soon as you’re married, you’ll automatically know what to do. And it’s not that. You’re still going to have to learn each other and all that stuff. Somehow getting married always seemed like, not only the prize… You unlock this fantasy and I’m expecting automatic hanging from the chandeliers, and some candle wax, and chains — Break every chain! I’m expecting all that, first day. And there’s a lot more that goes into it than just actually saying ‘I do.’ I wish that were communicated a little more clearly. I’d been better prepared for what learning another person’s body likes and dislikes would have been like.
MrsKevOnStage: I’m just going to quickly piggyback. I wish that the church presented a better balance of sex, meaning it wasn’t so heavily an over-index on the negative part of sex, meaning you need to wait to get it. I think there needs to be a healthy balance, where we also celebrate and talk about the beauty that is sex, because if God designed it, and he said it was good, guess what? It is good. So when we don’t talk about that, and then you get married, and now you’re supposed to be jumping from or flying from the chandeliers, and throwing wax on each other, and chains and singing Tasha Cobb, all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Well, wait a minute, now I wasn’t prepared for that. Nobody told me that I had to do this. I don’t know about this part.’ So I just wish that there was a better, a healthy balance of having a healthy relationship with sex that you can sustain and also preach abstinence and all of those things. But you can still celebrate the beauty that is sex.
[…] Listen, we need to get comfortable with our bodies. Okay? Like you can’t go into a marriage and expect you know, to reach the promised land, and you don’t exactly understand the inner workings of your own body. So I’m just saying, we need to do a better job about that: celebrating our own body and embracing our own body that God said was good and understanding the inner workings of it in a way that we can clearly communicate.
FM: How do you decide what to keep private versus what to make public about your relationship?
MrsKevOnStage: I think that this is something that we are learning. And I mean that in the ‘ing’ form, meaning that it is active. We recognize that part of our platform and it’s something that I think is actually really important. What I want to do is help people and be very transparent and honest about some of the struggles that we’ve gone through. I also realize that you can help people and not tell everybody your business. And there are some things that you do have to keep sacred, and there are some things you do have to keep private. And finding that balance is something that we are learning.
So I don’t want to come on here and be like, ‘I have the answer. These are the things, do these three things’ when it’s something I’m actively learning. But the thing about social media… I think a lot of times we use it as an open diary. And we can get on and all of a sudden you are vomiting at the mouth, or it’s something that you probably should have said in therapy. And because this is your first time having the outlet, you’re just kind of saying it all. So just finding, again, the balance and making sure you do have a healthy outlet to get some of that stuff out so when you’re talking on social media, it’s not the first time where you feel like now you’re getting it all out. That would probably be one of the things I would suggest.
KevOnStage: We never share anything on social media that we haven’t privately discussed and come to a consensus about. The other thing about “The Love Hour” podcast… I would blurt out stuff, and then it’d be like, ‘We didn’t really talk about that.’ So we had to learn ‘Ain’t nothing the audience should be hearing that our spouse has not heard already.’ Funny joke video we saw? That’s fine. But a way you feel about me or how this made you feel? We got to take that in the house first.
FM: Melissa, how do you work through mom guilt as you’ve become an influencer? How have you managed that?
MrsKevOnStage: It is one of the hardest things I find, is not only mom guilt, I know we often talk about it, but also wanting to also show up as a good wife as well. And wanting to show up as the influencer, as Melissa. I recognize that I am in a season where those three things are competing with one another. At the end of the day, I’m only one person. And I only have one set of 24 hours. I’m trying to get into the club where Beyonce has like — I think she’s given like 30 hours in a day. I’m not quite sure what the fee is. I’m not sure if there’s an annual fee. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I’m looking forward to the moment where I have 30 hours like Beyonce. But right now with my 24, it is a constant struggle. And so what I try to do is whatever I’m doing, whatever’s in front of me, put my best foot forward in that.
FM: What is the biggest blessing of being married?
KevOnStage: For me, having a person who I enjoy their company, whom I trust, and this is a very specific thing…Melissa and I have 20-plus years of inside jokes, that we can look at each other and know something that dates back to August of 1999, September 2002. That’s the thing that I love the most. I be like, ‘Remember?’ And she be like, ‘Yes!’ And I’ll be thinking that and she will be thinking the same thing. That, to me, is the most beautiful thing, especially as we as a society have moved more into social media as the first primary part of our relationship.
Having like physical connection — I don’t mean sex — I mean physically, I can touch you, I remember this thing about you, and being able to disconnect from that part of the world and enjoy somebody’s personality and presence is one of the best parts of marriage, you know. We just have a good time together. We’ve been having a good time together for a lot of years….
MrsKevOnStage: Yeah, I would say that for me. It is being 15, 16 years old, having a vision for your life. And again, the project is life when you’re married, and realizing when he was 15 or 16, he had a different vision, and coming together and we’ve created this new life that at 15 or 16, I never could have imagined. I think it is beautiful. Because you can typecast yourself, so to speak, like ‘This is what I’m going to do, this is what I want to do,’ and there’s no flexibility. And I think marriage allows you to think different and bigger than probably you would have even imagined for yourself. And I wouldn’t be here sitting with you, had it not been me being married to him.