Author: Dr. Monica Y. Jackson, Ph.D. | April 2015

For Better or Worse is not just the title of Tyler Perry’s sitcom, where Marcus and Angela feud like the Hatfields and McCoys. For Paula Perry, no relation to Tyler Perry, God stretched and kept her like never before! Two years after reciting her wedding vows, she found herself asking “Do newlyweds seriously consider those five little words, ‘in sickness and in health?’” She then responded, “I don’t think so.” Two years after Paula’s wedding day, better became worse. Unbeknownst to her, her worse actually became her better and serves as an example for all. Let’s look at Paula’s story.

“Two years after Paula’s wedding day, better became worse.”

Tell our audience about Paula Perry.

I was raised in Compton CA. by my mother, who was divorced when I was 12-years-old. When I was 13, I accepted Christ. I have been married for 31 years and have one son, Jarell (R & B artist). I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavior Science. I struggled academically and really didn’t think that I could go any further. I felt like I was not good or smart enough. I had to overcome my low self-esteem. It is the reason I hesitated to continue my education. However, I am currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Management. Professionally, I am a Data Analyst at a university. I love to read, participate in book clubs and indulge in social media.

Most girls dream about their wedding day. What did your wedding dreams look like?

David and Paula Perry's Wedding Day
David and Paula Perry’s Wedding Day (Photos: courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Perry)

I wanted a big wedding, with a large wedding party and in a church. However, that didn’t happen. Our wedding day almost never happened, because my husband, David, got cold feet. We had a very small, intimate wedding ceremony and recited our vows following a church service.

What is the greatest misconception about marriage?

People think that marriage is a fantasy, all rosy and always romantic. This is just not the case. It is hard work. It requires commitment. Although you are your own person, you have to come together, but you cannot be so consumed in your marriage that you lose your identity. You must have a life outside of your marriage – your own interests and purpose.

What is the reality of your wedding-day bliss?

David became ill two years after we were married and was hospitalized. When he was in his late 20s, he developed arthritis in his back. He has been unable to work and was totally disabled at this time. I became the sole breadwinner. David has had several grandfather or “mini strokes.” He required a pacemaker in his mid-30s. It became infected. Doctors cleaned it, but it became infected for a second time. Eventually, his pacemaker was removed, but the nine-year-old pacemaker complicated this surgery, because it became entangled in his heart. Many specialists were called in to assist.

Well, David had a severe reaction to antibiotics, particularly sulfa.I thought David’s allergic reaction could be treated by over-the-counter Benadryl. I was wrong.

Readers please pay close attention; I have shared my experience with antibiotics and allergic reactions as well as their harm and to this very antibiotic. As a reminder, in all thy getting, get understanding. If you read these articles and my posts, you should clearly see a theme. These are not isolated incidents as the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies would have us to believe. Seek knowledge, wisdom and discernment. They can literally save your life.

“You will go through the valley; you don’t stay in the valley.”

David became very ill and was eventually diagnosed with Steven-Johnson’s Syndrome, where he literally burns from the inside out. The skin on his back began to break apart and separate, literally. He couldn’t eat because of the lesions in his mouth. Rashes, bleeding wounds, bleeding from his nose, bleeding from his ears, thick milky mucus oozing from his eyes, swollen hands and feet and being unresponsive for weeks has been David’s life. I administered intravenous antibiotics at home. This was difficult, because I am not a caregiver type and quite squeamish. Life was a living hell! It has not been easy.

I became resentful, angry, impatient and downright mean at times. It was and is an out of body experience. I often asked myself, “Who is this woman?” I didn’t recognize myself.’ There were many times when I was in rare form and down right “bitchy.” David would often say, I wonder what the people at church would say if they could see you now.

I needed a way out and turned to journaling, but it was filled with my negative thoughts and feelings. Eventually, I was humbled and realized that I had to get it together because no one else was going to care for David. As of today, David’s depression has set in like never before. The number one priority is to just deal with his depression. That in itself can take on an entire life of its own.

How do you survive and how does your marriage continue to thrive? 

David and Paula Perry 31 years later
David and Paula Perry 31 years later

One word. God. I would have lost my mind a long time ago, if it had not been for God. That is the only reason why I can say, 31 years later, I am still married. David knew that our marriage must continue to thrive. Once I stop laughing, I’m out. To this day, David still makes me laugh. I pray, read the Bible, remember and recall scripture. I have to encourage myself. My relationship with the Lord is a daily one that I cannot deviate from.

What’s your message for married couples who want to “jump ship,” “throw in the towel,” “step out”?

First, let me say that I can’t say that I haven’t thought about it, but in these 31 years, I have not wavered. Husbands and wives must remain committed. God is the higher power in marriages. The sun will come out tomorrow and you will make it through, if you remain committed. You must remember that you will go through the valley; you don’t stay in the valley.

Our motto is learn, build, inspire, model, promote, love … LIFE! How are you aligned with this motto?

This motto means to be a life learner. I am a life learner. I constantly study God’s word. Be an inspiration. Keep negativity in the moment and move on. That’s how you learn, build, inspire, model, promote and love life.

How many of us would survive, stand and stick around under the circumstances? Would you be able to be like Paula? Would you be able to make your wife laugh, under the circumstances? David and Paula, thoughts and prayers are with you both. Thank you for sharing. David and Paula’s son, Jarell, will share his perspective of life in the Perry household in an upcoming article. Be on the lookout. 


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