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Inspiring Conversations with Ryan & Patrice Dunston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan & Patrice Dunston.

Hi Ryan & Patrice, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
We have been together for 16 years and married for 5 years. Like every other couple, we’ve had our ups and downs for sure. We met in East Point Mall; at a male clothing store by the name of Changes. I (Ryan) worked as a store manager at the time and my wife, Patrice, was visiting with her friend who was shopping for a gift for her boyfriend.

We hit it off immediately and exchanged numbers. Patrice would tell you that she fell for me first but I didn’t know how to communicate how I felt; of course, I didn’t realize that at the time, I just tried to hide behind cultural tough guy walls.

Prior to us meeting, Patrice had a son by the name of Jahlil Barmer, who was two years old. Within the first year together, we had our first child and named him Ryan Dunston II. We were young parents. Patrice had Jahlil at 17 years old and when Ryan II was born, I was 21 and Patrice was 20 years old.

We moved in together shortly after Ryan II was born. Needless to say, we struggled mentally, emotionally, and financially. We also struggled to communicate, which as you imagine, was a huge issue for our union. We struggled with these things both together and personally. Honestly speaking, it was pain that attracted us.

We didn’t realize it at the time, but we found out that we had parallel journeys which also meant we had similar childhood traumas. Before the drama and pains of life began, we could relate to one another because of our pain. Without truly solving any of our issues, our third and final child, Cameron, was born.

Cameron’s birth was a bit traumatic. He was born 6 weeks early due to a condition called preeclampsia. Cam being born, we both feel, brought us closer. We had a mutual emergency taking our minds off our unresolved problems and placed all of our focus on making sure Cameron made it. This gave our relational issues a break. Once Cameron’s health was stabilized, as you can imagine, our relational issue resumed.

As children, Patrice and I both had father issues, family addiction issues, abusive circumstances, and just overall generational chains that needed to be broken for any level of peace in our relationship.

We both struggled with, self-worth, self-esteem, and abandonment issues due to the neglect of our fathers, communication due to the fact that we have never lived in a stable household, and anxiety. Therapy was most certainly needed, but I can honestly say, we also both loved each other and figured out a way to grow together.

I think the hardest thing about raising children is that we had to do so without a blueprint while simultaneously healing from our childhood trauma. We grew up with drug addicts and alcoholics, we knew we wanted our life to be different, but we did not realize how unrealistic our version of the “perfect life” was. That unrealistic version of life resulted in unrealistic expectations and no time to fail.

This harsh realization caused more anxiety, anger, and a fear of a loss of time for us. We began to bleed on each other and our kids as a result. The one positive thing we had going for us was that we loved each other, and love endures but never fails. We healed together, grew together, forgave each other, learned how to communicate, got therapy, and made it this far.

Now, we have a business together “Dunston & Associates.” My wife became an artist and brand creator of 18Ninety6 which was birthed from the memories of her childhood home. She also became a certified cosmetologist and graduated from Purdue University. She is one of the strongest and most resilient mothers and women that I know.

I became a Loan Officer and Director of Community outreach at HomeTown Lenders, which is a mortgage firm in the DMV area. I am also a best-selling author on a project with 14 other authors in a book titled “Black Men Love.” I have a podcast titled “The Ryan Dunston Podcast… Words from a Humble King” where I speak to real-life issues from a male’s perspective.

Issues men refuse to acknowledge like anxiety, failure, change, and feelings. Best of all, with our boys now 10, 14, and 18, we are a black family that has overcome all sorts of obstacles to establishing a living legacy.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road. Breaking free from generational chains is a bloody business, as TD Jakes would say. Growth, process, and recovery are very painful.

Over the years, Patrice and I have had to grow into new situations, out of old situations, and live through painful situations. We had to become. Patrice had to become the type of person to create a brand birthed out of her pain, go on to start a business, and graduate from Purdue University.

I had to become the type of person to be a Loan Officer, podcaster, director, and Author. The change was needed for both of us, but obstacles and challenges show you what you’re made of; and once you see that you are the type of person to overcome those obstacles or challenges, you pass that on to your kids.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Personal Business is “Dunston & Associates” I also work for HomeTown Lenders.?
I (Ryan Dunston) am Director of Community Outreach at a mortgage firm named “HomeTown Lenders.” and a best-selling 2Co-author in the book titled “Black Men Love” My wife Patrice, is an artist and a Hair Stylist.

We both run our business “Dunston & Associates.”

What matters most to you?
God and Family matter most to us. God is the only Father we both know and family is why we both get up every day to establish our living legacy.

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