‘Love is active’: How Raymar and Alicia Hampshire are building a ‘balanced’ marriage

The grad school sweethearts join theGrio’s ‘Mighty Love’ series on Black love, romance, and relationship resilience.

This is the fifth installment in theGrio’s “Mighty Love” series, running through February. Read our first couple’s story here.

“She took my breath away!” says Raymar Hampshire of the first time he saw his now-wife, Alicia. The two met in a quantitative skills prep program (aka “Math Camp”) in graduate school; that breathless moment occurred the moment Alicia Criado walked into the classroom.

“I eventually asked her to join me and some friends for a friendly game of co-ed basketball,” says Raymar, adding, “and the rest is history.”

That history is now 12 years and two kids (twins!) deep, including a marriage that grantmaker Alicia characterizes as “balanced.” What one word would Raymar, now a product developer, use to describe it?

“Everything,” he says.

(Courtesy of Raymar & Alicia Hampshire)

Based in Washington, D.C., the couple, who playfully refer to themselves as “Raylicia,” are equally simpatico when it comes to discussing their favorite qualities in each other. For Raymar, it’s Alicia’s “loving nature.” For her, his empathy is exceptional; a trait that’s evident as he explains what the two have learned thus far in their years of commitment.

“It’s taught us that there is a great deal of patience and grace that is required as each partner evolves,” he says, “and that the definitions and bounds of commitment must also be adapted and negotiated as your relationship also evolves.”

“Love is active and has many dimensions,” Raymar later adds. “It’s more than just two people who fell in love—it’s that and it’s two people who chose to stay in love. It takes work, patience, and grace.”

That’s not to say things are always as graceful as they’d hope; that aforementioned work and patience come into play when challenged with “handling conflict in a healthy and productive manner—consistently,” says Alicia with a laugh. “We have definitely improved our ability to effectively handle conflict and disagreements but it’s all about being consistent!”

However, she’s also quick to note how recognizing and respecting each other’s differences has been a vital lesson learned through their relationship.

“Love can be demonstrated and manifested in different ways,” she says. “We truly all have different love languages.”

(Courtesy of Raymar and Alicia Hampshire)

Having already spent over a decade together, Raymar and Alicia have inevitably also experienced some trauma, including a miscarriage of their first pregnancy. “Even though I wasn’t far along in the pregnancy, the loss and grief was still heavy on our hearts,” Alicia shares.

As a couple, they navigated the loss with “lots of tears, therapy and matching tattoos to honor the memory of our child,” she adds. Through grieving together, their bond was strengthened.

“It took us to a place where we were able to lean on each other and our faith,” says Raymar, who credits communication in continuing to grow their relationship. “Personally, I learned that miscarriages are more common than I thought and that the path to healing began once we began to share the news with our family and close friends.”

The two are now the parents of “two beautiful Black boys,” a milestone they consider their greatest accomplishment together.

“Being new parents of twins has given us an even greater appreciation for each other,” says Raymar, adding: “I catch myself occasionally just thinking to myself, ‘Wow, we’re really parents!’ The twins have made us better and proud of who we’ve become in this new chapter.”

Future chapters include plans to build on their ongoing adventure, specifically, “continuing to travel the world together,” says Alicia, adding, “Be gone, Omarion!”

For now, the Hampshires’ journey may remain close to home, but sharing what she’s learned about building resilient love, Alicia advises: “Never lose sight of your needs and wants. It’s important to remain vulnerable with each other and trust the journey you are on together.”

This is the fifth installment in theGrio’s “Mighty Love” series; part 4 is available to read here.

Maiysha Kai is Lifestyle Editor of theGrio, covering all things Black and beautiful. Her work is informed by two decades’ experience in the fashion and entertainment industries, a love of great books and aesthetics, and the indomitable brilliance of Black culture. She is also the editor of the YA anthology Body (Words of Change series).

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