Married for the last five years, Ace (31) and Roza (30) Patterson attend a relationship summit quarterly as part of their efforts to continually work on improving their marriage.
Also known as Billboard-charting independent hip-hop artist, Call Me Ace, Ace hails from Bridgeport, CT by way of Kingston, Jamaica, and also works as the Global Program Manager of Music Label Development at YouTube.
Roza is a lawyer who was born in Ethiopia and raised in Dallas and California’s Bay Area, where the couple currently resides. Ace and Roza met at Ace’s birthday party in New York City one year.
“I had just recently graduated,” Ace told Travel Noire. “She was studying in DC for the summer and decided to visit a friend of hers in New York. Serendipitously, she crashed my birthday party and the rest is history.”
Ace and Roza began a long-distance relationship, which they remained in until they got married. Despite the challenges the distance brought, there were positive aspects of it, as well.
“Roza was studying abroad in London, and chose to do a two-year program there instead of going to a program in NYC, where I was living at the time. I remember praying to God and thinking, ‘She obviously doesn’t care about this relationship.’ I think we had been together for two years at that point. I wanted the best for her career, but I also wanted us to be together.”
However, everything happens for a reason. The distance turned out to be beneficial to their relationship in many ways. Ace learned to appreciate Roza more, and their connection and communication grew. He also had the opportunity to travel to see her. Together Ace and Roza toured London, the Greek Islands, and other destinations that allowed them to grow and bond as a couple.
“Through our long distance relationship, I saw constant progress and growth,” said Roza. “Every year, despite being miles apart, our communication improved significantly, and we were able to build trust. Our relationship was not just built on the physical aspects. It was built on strong communication and prayer. I saw Ace continuing to grow to be this amazing man. The progress and growth that I saw through that process made me fall in love with him more and more.”
Of course marriage brings its own challenges and obstacles. For Ace and Roza, one of the most challenging aspects of marriage has been finding their way through the cultural differences that are inevitable when two people from completely different backgrounds merge their worlds.
“I’m Ethiopian-American and Ace is Jamaican-American. So, culturally, there are a lot of differences. Ace and I have created a family and culture of our own together, but we can’t disregard that we have friends and family members and other cultural influences that want to play a part in it. We’ve had to learn how to navigate our differences and create understanding.”
Ace and Roza have several ways in which they continuously work to strengthen their marriage. Having regular date nights is one important thing they do. The couple also makes sure to pray for one another and support each other’s dreams.
“We also enjoy learning new things and doing them together, which has been really cool,” Ace said. “We recently learned how to play tennis, and now we play regularly. We’re pretty good! Anybody can get it. We’ll play doubles and squash them.”
Attending a regular relationship summit is another way in which Ace and Roza are proactive about growing as a married couple. They attend them quarterly and say the summits are an important part of their life.
“As high-powered employees who are super busy with corporate jobs, it can be so easy to just fall into the routine of your calendar, your schedules, the meetings, etc.,” Ace explained. “To really appreciate life, appreciate each other, and make sure that we’re not just moving through life idly, but intentionally–both individually, as well as a unit– Roza and I stay committed to being rooted as well as focused on each other and our love goals.”
Ace booked the couple a trip to Hawaii, where they attended their most recent relationship summit on the beautiful island of Maui. Amidst the fresh air, breathtaking views, and tropical beach vibes, Ace and Roza were able to reconnect, spend priceless quality time, reflect on their goals, hopes, and improvements, and learn some valuable lessons. The biggest lesson, however, came after the summit.
“The Bible talks about this pretty often. Men create their plans, but the Lord orders their steps. During the summit, it was really dope to come up with all these different goals for once we got back to the mainland. And then when we did return, things were not the way that we expected. Life and situations happened that were just frankly out of our control. We had to adjust drastically and found ourselves asking, ‘How are we going to navigate this new world that we couldn’t expect?'”
Ultimately, Ace and Rosa grew stronger as a result of the relationship summit. They learned not to treat their plans as gospel, because life is unpredictable and no one truly knows what tomorrow holds.
“Be thankful for what you do have. It’s okay to have ambition. It’s okay to have desires and dreams, but don’t idolize them. This summit, in particular, really showed us the value of being able to pivot and adjust. Our desires are still the same, yet the way we navigate is different.”
Because they were able to attend the relationship summit and spend their time in Hawaii building an understanding of where they want to go together, Ace and Roza have been able to intentionally figure out how to navigate the arising situations together. Having the opportunity to connect with one another left them feeling more unified and refreshed to face issues head on.
“We had time for reflection and prayer,” Roza stated, “which allowed us to navigate adversities with the wisdom and strength that comes from the Lord. I’d encourage couples to have moments of intimacy, strategize and plan. But as Ace said, life is unpredictable, so be ready to navigate challenges if things don’t go the way you want.”