Knowing what brings you pleasure is vital for a happy life. Oftentimes we get consumed by obligations, responsibilities, work, and life itself that we forget to take the time to enjoy ourselves; and knowing what pleases you is truly life-changing. Now more than ever, women are putting themselves first and this energy is healing generations. To tap into what pleasure means to you, look into your 5th house in your birth chart. The 5th house in Astrology is the house of pleasure, self-expression, creativity, flirtation, sex, fun, and the heart.
The 5th house is where we tap into what makes us happy, and where that happiness is found. It is the area of your chart that tells you how you show up, how you take center stage in your life, and where your pleasure zones are. Being that Leo is the ruler of the 5th house, we learn a lot about pleasure from this fire sign, as Leo is a bold one who is not afraid to explore what brings them joy and to make sure they are good first and foremost. When it comes to tapping into the pleasure in your life, you can look at your zodiac sign or the sign that is on your 5th House in your birth chart to get a better idea of what works for you and what doesn’t.
Happiness is key when it comes to 5th house energy. The 5th House will show you not only what brings you joy, but what experiences are sustainable for you in the long run so that you truly know yourself, your body, and your needs.
Everyone has a 5th house, and some people have planets residing within that house as well, which usually makes for an even more exciting and pleasurable life (especially if you have the Sun, Mercury, Mars, or Jupiter here), or at least more attention in this area of your life altogether. The 5th House, the 8th house, and the 12th house are all areas of your birth chart you want to look at when it comes to sex and pleasure, but there is something exciting and light about the 5th house that shows you what experiences are truly fun for you and that bring you joy.
Read below as to how to align with the pleasure in your life. Read for your sun sign and rising sign.
For Aries, pleasure is confidence.AriesKyra Jay for xoNecole
“I am overflowing with love and gratitude,
and I embrace pleasure in my life.”
Aries, you are a feisty one. Pleasure for you is about taking the lead, and feeling like you are needed and valued; it is about being confident in what it is you are looking for. You are self-expressive when it comes to pleasure, and you will always let others know where you stand. You keep life exciting and with your free spirit, are often getting yourself into new and exciting experiences. Get creative when it comes to pleasure, and explore different outlets of fulfillment. When you can trust your instincts and intuition on what you need, you are aligned with what is going to bring you the most pleasurable experiences in life.
For Taurus, pleasure is satisfaction.TaurusKyra Jay for xoNecole
“I am sexually and emotionally secure with myself.”
Taurus is one of the top signs to understand the importance of pleasure. Your priorities in life are to feel good from the inside out, and you spend a lot of time making sure you are in the right space and feel the right way. You love candles, sweets, baths, and anything the movies show of a self-love day or a romantic getaway vibe. You are the definition of satisfaction, and you tap into this energy more easily than most. Pleasurable experiences for you are when your belly is full, the mood is right, and your surroundings are comfortable. With Virgo ruling your 5th house, fellow earth signs tend to align with the satisfaction you are looking for and enhance the sensuality in your life.
For Gemini, pleasure is connection.GeminiKyra Jay for xoNecole
“I listen to my body and what it needs.
I deserve to feel good.”
Pleasure is about connection for you, Gemini. You prefer one-on-one experiences, or experiences that make you closer to yourself overall. You love to love, and love to share it, and having love in your life and around you brings you great joy. Being a Gemini, you are a curious soul, and exploring where your pleasure zones are is key. Not being afraid to switch things up and try out different experiences is your gift in life, and brings you to experience more than most have in their lifetime. With Libra ruling your 5th house and Libra being the ruler of the buttocks, this is most likely a pleasure area for you, Gemini.
For Cancer, pleasure is intimacy and shared connection.CancerKyra Jay for xoNecole
“I am sexy.
I am seen.
I am well-received.”
Intimacy, a shared connection, and a transcendent experience are where you align with pleasure, Cancer. With Scorpio in your 5th house of pleasure and the fact that Scorpio is the ruler of the reproductive organs and the hips, you know all of the right spots and all of the right moves. You are very connected to what you need to feel satisfied, and also what others need as well. Physical touch is important to you, and this is one of your love languages. To connect more with the pleasure in your life, set the mood with candles, dimmed lights, crystals, and all of your spiritual tools. Do meditation before engaging in pleasure-seeking activities, and get your mind right. Setting the vibe for you does wonders.
For Leo, pleasure is exploration.LeoKyra Jay for xoNecole
“Life is exciting for me,
and my heart is open to enjoying the gifts of pleasure.”
Leo is the ruler of the 5th house of pleasure, so you know all about this area of your life well. You know how to fulfill and satisfy yourself, regardless of who else can or knows how to. For you, pleasure is all about knowing what you want, and giving yourself that. When it comes to allowing pleasure and satisfaction into your life from others, it’s all about being confident with what it is you are looking for and listening to your heart. The 5th house is also the ruler of the heart, and your heart is an adventurous one. Pleasure is all about having fun and exploring your world for you, Leo. Find what works for you, and get rid of what doesn’t.
For Virgo, pleasure is giving and receiving.VirgoKyra Jay for xoNecole
“I am grateful for my body, and the pleasure it gives me.”
Virgos are all about pleasure, both giving and receiving. You have a good balance when it comes to understanding what you need as well as exploring new possibilities for you when it comes to pleasure and the body. You are open-minded, yet grounded in the way that you are willing to take the practical steps needed to fulfill your needs or those of a partner. Virgos are very giving, but you are also a perfectionist and you want the best for yourself in all areas of your life. There is a saying about Virgos, and that is, “Classy in the streets, freak in the streets.” To tap into the pleasure in your life, dress up, role-play, and take the lead.
For Libra, pleasure is community.LibraKyra Jay for xoNecole
“I communicate from the heart,
and connect with others.”
Remaining open-minded is key for you when it comes to pleasure, Libra. Talking to a friend, communicating with others about what you are feeling, and finding a community that resonates with you and what satisfies you is key. With Aquarius residing in your 5th house of pleasure, you often find a lot of joy and pleasing experiences around friends and within these types of situations. Friends often turn into lovers for you, and you overall are open-minded when it comes to this area of your life. Words to wonders for Libras and Libra risings as well, and an exotic novel, movie, or song can take you places.
For Scorpio, pleasure is the freedom to be.ScorpioKyra Jay for xoNecole
“I express myself and what I need freely and confidently.”
Aligning with the pleasure in your life means tapping into your creativity, confidence, and self-expression. With the water sign Pisces residing in your 5th house, it’s important to feel your emotions and to be able to express how you are feeling and what you need. The more you can open up, get creative in the bed, and look at pleasure as something exciting, the more fulfilled you will be. Keep things light when it comes to satisfaction and don’t bring any serious or stagnant energy into this area of your life. For you, pleasure is all about having fun, letting loose, and giving yourself and your emotions freedom to be. Be confident when it comes to your wants and needs in life.
For Sagittarius, pleasure is excitement.SagittariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
“I intend to enjoy my life, myself, and what brings me pleasure.”
Sagittarius, pleasure for you is all about the excitement of it all. You are very intentional when it comes to what you want and need, and the beginning stages of every connection and experience are where it is at for you. Tapping into your pleasure zone is all about not only a mental connection, but physical excitement as well. With Aries residing in your 5th house, and the fact that Aries is the ruler of the head, kisses, whispers in the ear, and anything touching the top of your body/head is where your pleasure zones are. Being a fire sign, you are sure to keep things exciting and adventurous in life, and pleasure to you is all about having fun and taking the lead.
For Capricorn, pleasure is luxury.CapricornKyra Jay for xoNecole
“I exude confidence, sensuality, and love.
I deserve pleasure.”
Capricorns often surprise people with how much they know about pleasure. After all, you are known to be all work and less play, but the more you get to know a Capricorn, the more you see that their earthy ways are quite sensual and intentional. Touch for you is everything when it comes to pleasure, and this is an area of your life where you are more vulnerable and where others, including yourself, see a different side to you. Pleasure for you is about feeling luxurious, feeling needed, and reminding yourself that you are royalty. With Taurus in your 5th house and Taurus being the ruler of the neck and the shoulders, these are pleasure zones for you and should be attended to.
For Aquarius, pleasure is openness and novelty.AquariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
“I am open to new experiences,
and learning more about myself and my body."
When it comes to pleasure, you have wildcard energy, Aquarius. One day something might bring you great joy and satisfaction, and the next day something else will. Keeping up with you is not an easy task, but your life is never dull because of this. Pleasure to you is all about keeping things light, open, never the same, and exciting. You love to express yourself and communicate your needs, and you are confident doing so. You often surprise yourself with what satisfies you as you are constantly exploring yourself and learning more about your likes, dislikes, and your body. Tap into the pleasure in your life by trying something new every month (or week) and make a list of what worked, and what didn’t.
For Pisces, pleasure is feeling.PiscesKyra Jay for xoNecole
“I am safe and secure in my body and my heart.”
For Pisces and Pisces risings, pleasure is all about feeling things through. With Cancer in your 5th house of pleasure and happiness, being fulfilled means being in intimate, safe, and secure settings. You need the right environment around you to open up and feel comfortable exploring your inner world. You are very giving when it comes to pleasure and you are someone who wants to give just as much as you receive. Pleasure to you is a deep experience and when it comes to partnership, someone who you trust and feel 100% comfortable with is what’s going to make your experience the most satisfying. Connecting with fellow water signs can also be beneficial for you in this area of your life.
Read all of the stories in the Issa Rae: She Comes First editorial series here.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by
Tayler Barakat is a Mystic who has studied Astrology for over a decade. She does intuitive astrology and tarot readings for people all over the world, and her work focuses on healing and empowering individuals. Follow her on Instagram @taylerbarakat_ and check out her website www.listentothevirgo.com.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
Director of Content: Jasmine Grant
Campaign Manager: Chantal Gainous
Managing Editor: Sheriden Garrett
Creative Director/Executive Producer: Tracey Woods
Cover Designer: Tierra Taylor
Photographer: Ally Green
Photo Assistant: Avery Mulally
Digital Tech: Kim Tran
Video by Third and Sunset
DP & Editor: Sam Akinyele
2nd Camera: Skylar Smith
Camera Assistant: Charles Belcher
Stylist: Casey Billingsley
Hairstylist: DaVonte Blanton
Makeup Artist: Drini Marie
Production Assistants: Gade De Santana, Apu Gomes
Powered by: European Wax Center
What Is A 'Monogamy Agreement' And Should You Have One?
As a writer, I've gotta admit that it can get more and more challenging to tackle certain topics. Why? It's because I'm a pretty word-literal person. Yet, like a lot of people who I witness on a daily basis, who constantly move the goalposts in order to suit whatever whim they're on at any given moment, even the dictionary has a way of doing something similar when it comes to various words' definitions.
Take monogamy, for example. When I was growing up, it meant "married to one person for a lifetime." This meant that you couldn't be remarried and technically consider yourself monogamous (because you're not with the first person you said vows to). And you definitely couldn't be living with someone or in a long-term relationship and use the word. No, for you, something like "exclusive" would be more accurate (and that's actually the word that I lean into in those instances even now).
These days, though, the goalpost says that monogamy is "marriage with only one person at a time." So, while people who've had more than one spouse can now use the word, when it comes to what we're about to dive into today (a monogamy agreement), folks who are interested in those would still be far better off going with something like "exclusive" to drive their point home. That's because this topic doesn't really have anything to do with marriage…although it does approach commitment in an interesting kind of way.
Yeah, in a world that is ever finding ways to change marriage, redefine marriage or figure out how close they can get to marriage without actually getting married, monogamy agreements have entered the chat. And because we try to cover as many bases as possible, basically on the "FYI tip," I wanted to take a moment to break down what exactly they are.
Let’s Tackle Traditional Marriage First. For Clarity’s Sake.
I won't lie — even as someone who's been working with married couples for many years now, whenever I happen upon a healthy (first) and happy (second) married couple of more than a decade, I'm halfway in shock. That's because, these days, people seem to treat the sacredness of marriage like they would a dating relationship — they have a big party in the form of a wedding, pledge to God and everyone present that they're not going anywhere (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7) and that their love is patient (I Corinthians 13:4) and then, somewhere down the line, when things get rough, they end it…only to rinse and repeat.
Now when it comes to things like infidelity and abuse, that's not what I'm speaking of here. I'm talking about there are so many people acting like they are married before they actually are (a boyfriend or girlfriend is not a husband or wife) that by the time they do say "I do," they are numbed out to the fact that a marriage is supposed to be several steps up in seriousness and sacredness than a dating dynamic is.
I definitely could go on and on about how there is supposed to be a boatload of integrity behind the vows that are exchanged between two people. However, this article isn't about marriage — it's about monogamy agreements. What I will say about marriage, for now, is it's not just about if you love someone a lot. Ask any pastor, marriage counselor, or even lawyer worth their merit, and they will confirm the fact that marriage is a legal contract — that you are not just vowing sentiments and emotional promises. No, under the law of marriage, there are also certain rights and responsibilities that you are agreeing to as well. That's why people should go into marriage with a very sober and level-headed mind because they're a lot easier to get into than they are to get out of. No doubt about it.
Speaking of legalities, let's touch on marriage licenses for a moment, shall we? Because there is something about them that you actually may not know (that I absolutely think that you should).
So, What’s the Deal with Marriage Licenses and Marriage Certificates?
Although this really could get its own article, let me just say that marriage licenses definitely deserve some level of side-eye in this country. Even though history says that it started out as being a business contract in England, in America, the long short of it is racist politicians used marriage licenses as a way to keep track of interracial couples (you can read more about it here, here, and here). Yep. So, that's part of the reason why even some traditionally married couples are not super fond of marriage licenses — because, basically, the government is "regulating" the relationship on some level.
With that cleared up, just what is the difference between a marriage license and a marriage certificate? Good question. A marriage license is what allows you to get married in your state prior to saying "I do," while a marriage certificate is a document that proves you are married once your wedding ceremony is actually over.
Can you get a marriage certificate without a marriage license? The short answer would be "no," although couples who fall into the category of "common law marriage" sometimes are able to work around this based on what state they live in. For everyone else, getting married without a marriage license is basically a commitment ceremony. That's because, in order to get a marriage license or marriage certificate, your state's county clerk would have to issue you one.
Now, I ain't got no lies to tell you — go to YouTube, and you will see a good amount of videos (like this one here) stating that not only can you work around not getting a marriage license, you absolutely should. To that, I'll just say that one of the biggest problems with social media is everyone is a so-called expert now, even if they have no credentials to back it up. So with that in mind, if this section of the article has you tempted to go down a long rabbit hole (and I totally get it if it does), speak with some people who have actual and literal experience in the field in your state. Don't just go rogue with your own resolve (please don't let YouTube and TikTok hem you up).
Okay, So What Is This Whole Monogamy Agreement Thing About?
So, what does all of that have to do with a monogamy agreement? Well, in order to explain why some people are opting for it as an alternative to a marriage license (or marriage altogether), it was important to explain marriage licenses and certificates just so that you could clearly get what the differences are.
Now that you know, a monogamy agreement is pretty much just how it sounds: it's an agreement that is established between two people who want to have some form of a commitment to one another, yet they don't want all of the legalities that come with traditional marriage.
If you're trying to wrap your head around that, I'll explain it to you this way. You've probably heard someone say that they wish that the marriage contract could be renegotiated every few years. For instance, rather than being "locked into" until death parts us, every five years or so, they wish that they could revisit their marriage to see if they want to opt-out, change certain initial agreements, or restructure the marriage altogether. Well, for folks who are wired this way, a monogamy agreement is probably the best route for them to take because, again, although it's not a legally binding contract, it is a formal agreement between them and their partner about what each of their expectations is.
See it like an integrity agreement — no one is making assumptions about where things stand or where things are headed (hopefully); the monogamy agreement puts things in black and white so that it's all crystal clear.
And when I say "black and white," I literally mean just that. Again, although it's not a legal contract, it is a document that lays everything out so that there is no confusion. And what do I mean by "everything"? It's totally up to you and your partner, yet some of the things that people usually include are goals and values, sexual expectations, financial responsibilities, boundaries (both in and outside of the relationship), how infidelity is defined, ultimate goals for the relationship — and yes, when the agreement is up for renegotiation whether that's in a year, five years or 10.
Who Should Consider a Monogamy Agreement?
Now that you know more about what a monogamy agreement is, let's begin to land this plane with the people a monogamy agreement may be best suited for. While at the end of the day, the short answer is anyone who wants one, there's a specific reason why I decided to even broach this topic.
It's because, while it's not (yet) earth-shattering in either direction, marriage is somewhat on the decline as cohabitation is on the rise in this country. And while research continues to reveal that married couples are more satisfied with their relationship than folks who live together and many who do cohabitate, they see it as a stepping stone towards becoming spouses at some point, let's not act like millennials (and under) aren't a bit gun shy when it comes to saying "I do."
Reportedly, 56 percent of them are not married. For many women, it's because they are prioritizing their education and careers over marriage and a family. Also, some suffer from what is known as gamophobia (the technical term for having a fear of getting married), in part due to a pattern of failed relationships, being the child of divorce (divorce affects children more than a lot of people want to accept) and what getting divorced themselves could possibly cost them. Then there are those who just never wanted to get married…yet that doesn't mean that they don't believe in some form of commitment on some level.
For individuals who don't want to casually date or even just sit at the "boyfriend/girlfriend level" for years on end, monogamy agreements may be a solid fit. You can have your own version of a commitment ceremony (or not), knowing that you're not on one page regarding what your relationship is about while your partner is somewhere totally different. There's no confusion because you literally have documentation about where the two of you are.
Now, I will say this: no agreement works if two people's words are trash (LOL). Yet honestly, that can apply to traditional marriage or a monogamy agreement. I'm just putting you on to what a monogamy agreement is all about if you've been trying to figure out how to have a serious commitment without a legal contract.
No doubt about it, monogamy agreements are gaining some real traction out in these streets.
Something for the committed-yet-not-marriage-minded.
Interesting, right? Relationships always are, chile.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Mint Images/Tim Robbins/Getty Images