Kirk and Tammy Franklin Talk Healing, Marital Woes, and Pushing Past Trauma

Kirk Franklin has been an industry staple with a career spanning over 30 years, countless accolades, and record-breaking moments. Known as a pioneering phenom for bridging gospel, R&B, hip-hop, and pop music, the 19-time GRAMMY® winning artist, songwriter, and music producer credits his family, particularly his wife, Tammy Franklin, as “The One” who keeps his creative spark alive and motivation to continue pushing the needle forward. 

Now, the couple is embarking on a joint venture as co-hosts of the dating competition series The One, providing insight into finding love, identifying dating red flags and green flags, and maintaining a healthy relationship with the right partner. 

BLACK ENTERPRISE spoke with the Franklins about the growing pains in their 27-year marriage, current struggles stemming from past trauma, nurturing blended family dynamics, and creating a lasting legacy. 

BLACK ENTERPRISE: What is one message you’d like to share with people currently on the dating scene and aspire to be married or partnered?

Kirk Franklin: You have to ensure that marriage is not the total of what you think your existence is for. In Western culture, we almost make marriage synonymous with breathing and as important as oxygen. We make that the pinnacle of existence for people and put that pressure on young women, which is unnecessary. We have to debunk that within our society to stop making marriage the total of why people are born and why they’re here to live in existence. I think it’s very important to normalize things we try to idolize.

Tammy Franklin: And being honest about what you want, especially women. We tend to downplay and downgrade the desires of our hearts. You may start dating someone, and they say, “Oh, I’m not wanting marriage,” but you think you can change their mind or believe that by dating me, he’ll change. Don’t wait. You would’ve wasted so much time because he’s telling you exactly what the truth is for him. 

Since we’re talking about finding the one, can you speak to how you knew the other person was the one?

TF: There was something about Kirk that felt like home, and I could not shake it even when I wanted to. I felt an instant commitment within my heart that was unquestionable, undeniable.

KF: Tammy’s an incredible woman, an incredible friend. She believed in me, and I’m extremely blessed to have someone that saw past all my flaws and failures, as I didn’t come to the planet with all the right tools. I was adopted, so I didn’t have a mother and father and didn’t see what those pictures were supposed to be. There was a lot of trauma that I still have to walk through. Tammy will tell you, I’m dealing with some stuff even right now. I keep living in these family spaces where something is coming up that reinforces these spaces of tension that I’ve had to walk through life with being a Black man, trying to figure it out on my own. 

Being married for 27 years, what were some of the other growing pains you’ve experienced, and what did you learn from it, or how did it strengthen your partnership?

KF: Having a blended family because we got married with kids. We had to face some challenges early on with one of our kids that took a lot of time, attention, and energy. So those were some early bumps, and then I had a career with no blueprint. We hear all these things about Kirk being the first to do this. Kirk’s the first to do that. Well, whoever’s in the door first gets the bullets. First ain’t all glory. It’s a lot of bullets. It’s a lot of failures. There are a lot of growing pains. Trying to figure all that out has sometimes been very daunting.

TF:  From a societal standpoint, we are a celebrity couple or celebrity family. We may not have that mindset of ourselves, although we know that to be true in others’ eyes. But that did not infiltrate our family, our home, in trying, as best you can, to raise normal, healthy children. Much of that had to do with the intentionality of not bringing that mindset home that we were somehow more special than others. The community we decided to raise our kids in was intentional, and even staying in Texas was intentional. 

Tammy, part of the caption on one of your more recent Instagram posts reads, “I anticipate the blessing of another grandchild. Legacy is what comes to mind.” So what is the lasting legacy you hope to leave behind?

TF: That is such a great question! I was a woman of faith, substance, and integrity, and I left the world and the people I encountered better in some way. Not necessarily the doing aspect of who I am, but the internal person of who I am. That’s a legacy for me. If I can do other things from a platform standpoint nationally, that’s OK, and that would be amazing. But the people I encounter within the sphere of the circle that God gave me are important to me.

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