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5 Things Being A Never-Been-Married Before Marriage Life Coach Has Taught Me

Insight and wisdom doesn't require a certain relational status.

Marriage

Before you're tempted to roll your eyes and not read this all the way through, trust me—I've heard it all. Pretty much, not one week goes by when someone hears that I'm a marriage life coach who's never been married before and they say, "How can you offer insights on marriage if you've never been married before?"


My response to that is too long for this article. For now, I'll say two things. One, I'm not a wife but I am a child of more than one divorce. Don't sleep on what kids observe and the takeaways that they glean from their own parents' experiences. Second, being that pretty much half of all marriages end in divorce, what are folks saying? That married people know how to be married? The stats seem to say otherwise. (Just sayin')

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I've learned, sometimes the hard way, that it's not so much someone's "status" that makes them worthy of speaking on certain topics. Wisdom and revelation come in many forms.

A homeless person can offer a great deal of insight on finances. A substance abuser has quite the perspective on self-control. And yes, a single individual can be quite useful in the area of marriage (I've even reconciled a couple of divorced couples along the way!).

In my roughly 10 years of being a life coach, there are a few things that I've learned about marriage. Things that have made me more resolved than ever that it's better to wait until "it"—the person and timing—is right than to get married, just so I can say that I'm not single anymore. Here's what they are:

Vows Are S-E-R-I-O-U-S

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Personal vows are nice. They really are. But a lot of the wedding ceremonies where I've heard them? The couples weren't really vowing anything. Sure, they talked about how they felt and the memories that they shared, but if you're signing up to give someone a front row seat into every aspect of your life, there needs to be some "better or worse" and "until death parts us" stuff said too.

And that's the thing. A vow is serious. It's literally "a solemn promise, pledge, or personal commitment". Marriage is not casual. Marriage isn't even supposed to be temporary. In fact, something I oftentimes say is, "I bet if divorce were illegal, most couples would find a way to make it work." Because I agree with what Lawrence's daddy (from Insecure) said in the season three finale—a lot of relationships don't last because a lot of people don't want to put in the work to make it so.

Vowing until death is a LONG time. It's not until you are mad or tired or "not feeling it anymore". It's supposed to be until death parts you. The people who've been brave enough to have the integrity to honor what they promised on their wedding day will tell you that marriage ain't easy but it will teach you things about yourself—and about love—that you wouldn't learn any other way. That alone makes marriage well worth it.

It's More Important to Be "In Like" Than "In Love"

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If you're an engaged person reading this, PLEASE do yourself a favor and COMMIT to seeing a marriage counselor or therapist at least a couple of times a year. Don't wait until one (or both) of you wants to sign divorce papers to give therapy a shot. I say that because marriage counseling is not some magical solution. It's just a way to offer up another perspective, along with some (hopefully) helpful tips.

One piece of advice that I have to offer is this—care about being in like far more than being in love; especially during the tough times.

I say that because "in love" is oftentimes feelings-oriented, and since human beings are emotional creatures, feelings are always subject to change. "In like" on the other hand is about friendship—trust, humor, mutual respect, support…liking the other person.

Whenever I have a couple who are at their wit's end, I find that so long as they still like each other, I can help get them back to being in love. When it's the other way around? Not so much. Because feelings without a foundation of friendship leaves…not much at all to stand on.

Your Sex Life (or Lack Thereof Speaks VOLUMES) About Your Relationship

I once heard someone say that good sex is 10 percent of a marriage while bad sex is 90 percent of it. Why? Because the bedroom tends to set the tone for the rest of the rooms in the house. Sex isn't just about gettin' off (although that is one of the best parts of it, no doubt!). It's also about communication, intimacy, and establishing/maintaining a real connection.

Another way to look at this is, sex doesn't "make love", sex celebrates it.

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That said, listen, I don't care how much a couple claims they're in a healthy marriage. If the sex is lacking (if it's something they do once every couple of months even though they are physically capable of having it more), they're not doing as well as they should be. Not by a country mile.

All of this reminds me of what I once heard a woman who'd been married to her husband for over 60 years say. When she was asked what made her relationship with her husband so different from her other relationships, she matter-of-factly said, "We have sex. I don't screw any of my other friends."

Let the church say "Amen."

If You're a Bad Forgiver, You'll SUCK at Marriage

Reverend Billy Graham's wife Ruth Graham Bell once said, "Marriage is the union of two good forgivers." Hmph. Let me tell it, one of the main reasons why so many marriages don't succeed is because one or both people missed the entire memo on this.

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No matter how awesome a person is, they are still a human being and human beings make mistakes. Not every once in a while, either. So, if you're someone who holds grudges, doesn't let go of the past, or only forgives on your terms and you're married—you probably should've stayed single.

How do you know if you are a good forgiver? You don't do the silent treatment thing. You're intentional about talking things out to come to a mutual resolve. You don't withhold affection or attention as a form of punishment. You don't bring the same stuff up over and over again. (This one is sooooo important) You forgive your spouse the same way you'd want them to forgive you.

If you're rolling your eyes at any of this and you are married? Good luck in staying married. If you're single and rolling your eyes—stay single.

Marriage Is Still Beautiful (And Relevant And Necessary)

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I keep hearing that millennials are finding marriage to be obsolete. That's a shame because there is something about having a person who promised before your family, friends—and don't forget about God—that they would have your back, no matter what, until you take your last breath.

From where I sit, marriage isn't the problem. Choosing the wrong partner, having an immature concept of love, being selfish, not wanting to put in the work, being delusional about marriage—these are the real issues. (Or, as one man who'd been married 40 years once told me, "The problem with you young girls is you pick irresponsible men. I would never leave my wife, period." WHEW-WHEE.)

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I don't know about you, but whenever I see a senior couple walk hand-in-hand, my heart melts. No matter what they've been through, they chose to stay. That's marriage. And to me, that is absolutely beautiful.

Sitting in countless marriage life coaching sessions has shown me that. It's taught me to honor marriage and to remain single until I can mean everything I just said. And for that, I am truly grateful.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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