They always say to marry your best friend, and that’s exactly what Jermaine and Shanel Deacon did.
The couple – who met as teens while attending Holy Childhood High School and Jamaica College – recalls hitting it off during the summer of 2005 and spending hours on every free-night call plan available. “Shanel ran up the house phone [bill] and get in trouble, so we had to work with those,” said a laughing Shanel.
But what sealed the deal for young Jermaine was when he first met Shanel at Sovereign Centre in St Andrew.
In a time when there were no smartphones, Jermaine would finally see the face of the girl he spent hours on the phone with for over six months.
It didn’t help that her cousin, who introduced the couple, kept him in the dark as to his belle’s physical traits. He was surprised, but not enough not to let her know that he would one day marry her.
“Listen, Jermaine told me at age 13 that I would be his wife! I thought he was weird because we are both kids. I just want to go to the movies and walk Half-Way Tree,” joked Shanel.
However, once she got over the shock, she too knew that this was her life partner.
Soon, the duo would take excursions to Half-Way Tree and its environs, where they faced their first real relationship hurdle.
Of a darker skintone than Shanel, who has a lighter complexion and is of Indian descent, Jermaine remembers people of all ages eyeing them as they shopped on the plazas.
“Every time we meet up, guys would say, ‘How this guy get this girl?’ Or ‘Leggo off yuh cousin hand’,” recalled Jermaine.
It would be the first of many hurdles for Jermaine who found it difficult to deal with the critiques, both from people they knew and on the streets.
“I had to be the strong one because even though he played it off, I could see that it affected him,” shared Shanel.
Then tragedy struck in 2015 for Jermaine, who lost both his sister and sister-in-law within the same year, and it was Shanel who supported him during this transitional period in their lives.
“To be honest, we don’t have a lot of close friends or people around us. For years, it’s always been just us,” said Shanel.
As they continued to build a foundation for their future, Jermaine would fulfil his teenage promise when he proposed to Shanel at Jamaica Inn in November 2019. At a romantic dinner on the beach, Shanel remembers the waiter telling her not to bite too hard into her desert.
“The guy was like, don’t bite, don’t bite! That’s when I took the ring out of my mouth, cupcake and all, and of course, I start bawling.”
“Cow bawling!” shouted Jermaine.
The lovers went on to tie the knot in November 2020, while the country got lashed with the outer bands of Tropical Storm Eta, which later became a category-four hurricane.
“We got married in a storm, during a pandemic!” Shanel joked.
Even though their garden wedding had to be cancelled, the couple still opted for an intimate setting on a terrace at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
Like the soundtrack to their relationship, Genuine by Bescenta, the practising Rastafarian remembers seeing a then-pregnant Shanel making her way down the aisle.
“I don’t believe in make-up and accessories for women. I like the natural beauty. On that day, though, when I saw her come down the aisle, my mind was blown!”
What stood out for Shanel on the day they took their vows was how much Jermaine was sweating.
“The pastor came to me around the corner before I came down the aisle and said, ‘Listen, you have a good man around there. He can’t get away with anything because of those hands.’ Because Jermaine around their flooding out the place with him sweating!”
But the fun-loving couple also has their share of challenges. For Shanel, it’s his indecisiveness. “Jermaine doesn’t plan anything. The only thing he planned was our engagement.”
For 31-year-old Jermaine Deacon, “what annoys me with Shanel is she being very strict. Like a grandma.” To which Shanel agrees.
The 28-year-old mom to one-month-old Ryan Deacon shared that the thing she loves most about her husband is his hustle. “He is a go-getter.”
In this, Jermaine is grateful for her support. “There was a time when I was struggling because I didn’t want to work for anyone anymore. I wanted to do my own thing, and I tried so many things, and my wife never told me to give up. That pushed me 120 per cent.”
Some might ask, what’s the secret to their 16-year undisturbed union?
“Pray together and don’t keep secrets,” said Shanel.
“My password, my wife knows it, and we even share an Instagram account. We can switch phone for weeks. She has mine; I have hers.”
The thing that has anchored them, though, is the time they spend together. Date nights, even during COVID-19, is a must.
They also suggest that couples follow their own timeline.
“There is no rush. I have been with Shanel for over 15 years, and we have just gotten married and have a child. Don’t let social media dictate what you have to do and when,” said Jermaine.