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Here's How To Know You're At Total Peace With Yourself

Inner peace changes everything.

Wellness

Something that my mother used to say fairly often to me is, "You are violent about getting healthy and maintaining your peace of mind." It's a bit of a play on words, but honestly, she ain't neva lied. In a world that is filled with drama (both online and off), people who change with the weather and challenges that can totally take you out (if you let them), I have learned that the best way to remain stable and centered is to make sure that I am in a state of peace. That I know how to calm my spirit down. That I can be still instead of busy, just for the sake of doing something. That no matter how hectic, erratic or nerve-wracking things may be around me, I can choose to remain composed, steady and completely undisturbed. Yeah, inner peace ain't nothin' to be slept on. It's one of the truest art forms that there is.

Yet and still, with all of the poppin' off that folks do, the stress-related illnesses that so many of us have and the obsessive worrying and overthinking that a lot of us subject ourselves to, sometimes we forget that inner peace is a surefire remedy to all of this. So, how can you know that you are more at peace with yourself than most?

1. You Feel As If You’ve Got Nothing to Prove

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As life would have it, I found myself watching artist T-Pain on The Breakfast Club recently. Before he got into, let's just say a lot (he's pretty open about he and his wife engaging in threesomes from time to time and his interview basically went viral due to him running through $40 million bucks), I must say that I felt him when he said something in particular.

"I've wasted enough time trying to get people to see my truth. The relief of stress that I've had, not trying to prove anything to people…it's so great. My truth is I'm happy…the people who take their time to go on my page and go to a post where I'm doing something great just to tell me I fell off…you took time out of your day for this?...That used to determine how my day went. I gave that so much power, and now I can look back at myself and be like, 'Who are these people?'…they weren't there with me when with me shootin' in the gym, they weren't there when I came up crazy. They weren't there when I was doin' all of my biggest stuff, so now that things aren't 2008 anymore, I'm not gonna let them determine what happens to me during my day. My kids do that. My wife does that."

BET has a series called Blew A Bag that also showcases how well-known people "lost" their money. I've checked out of a few of their stories. My two takeaways is they are cautionary tales on money management, and if there is one thing most of those people have in common with where T-Pain appears to be now is real peace is when you feel like there is no need to prove anything to anyone other than yourself and your loved ones.

2. Your Looks Don’t Consume You

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OK, so when I say that your looks shouldn't consume you, I don't mean that you shouldn't take pride in your appearance. What comes to mind here is a Scripture and an article. Let's go with the Scripture first. A portion of I Peter 3:3(NKJV) says, "Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart…" The emphasis here is on the word "merely". "Merely" means that how we look on the outside should not consume us to the point that our character isn't more important. This ties in really well with the article I was referring to. In spring of 2018, Harper's Bazaar published "The Challenges of Raising a Black Girl to Feel Beautiful". In it, the author said that a psychologist by the name of Dr. Shefali Tsabary once said, "the best thing a mother can do is be her most empowered, authentic self." Amen.

A woman who is truly at peace with herself enjoys a nice pair of shoes and has no problem pampering her appearance. But what she's going to spend even more time on is thriving in her purpose, taking care of her responsibilities and becoming the kind of individual who is known for her inward beauty far more than how she looks on the outside. She doesn't have time to constantly stand in the mirror; her "life plate" is way too full for that.

3. You Prefer Peace Over Always Being Right

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I try my best to always give credit where credit is due and, one of the best things that Dr. Phil has ever said (at least to me) is, "Would you rather be happy or right?" If I could tweak that, my question would be "Do you have to know everything, or would you rather have peace in your relationships?"

Last year, I penned a piece on here entitled "I'm Not A Fan Of My BFF's Man - This Is How I Make Our Friendship Work". It was in reference to a girlfriend whose husband, while he isn't this way all of the time, if he wants to be right about something, he turns into the most condescending, patronizing and disrespectful person I have ever met. I'm talking, you're gonna get a barrage of emails with links proving his point, he's going to over-talk you, and even hurl insults if necessary (one time, he said to me, "Go back to your irrelevant blogging that no one reads" after I "won" a debate). He typically apologizes within a 24-hour period, but yeah, when he gets in that zone, he does the absolute most.

Here's the thing about him, though. One time, he got me so mad that we were in a screaming match on the patio of a restaurant. After that, I realized "This man is getting me out of myself. And for what?" Ever since then, while he can still show his tail sometimes, what I've come to accept is, wow, it must be mad draining for him to live with himself; to be so obsessed with always being right—to be that afraid of being wrong—that folks find themselves not even wanting to be around him.

In that headspace, these days, whenever he says something that either I don't agree with or I know is pretty close to asinine, I think about the fact that I'm not gonna win a million dollars for expressing my opinion or for proving him wrong, so why not just let him rant and keep my inner peace? It's a woosah like no other to want peace over the need to be right—when you are confident enough in yourself that you don't need someone else to co-sign on your thoughts or for them to validate the knowledge that you already know that you have.

4. You Repel Drama at All Costs

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Something that used to get me in a lot of trouble is gravitating to people who are funny and dramatic. On one hand, their humor and impeccable timing would keep me in stitches. On the other, they had such an impulsive and immature way of handling issues and conflict that everything was a soap opera. Yes, they were bona fide drama queens (or kings). What are some signs of this type of person? They always need to be the center of attention; they tend to always put emotion even over common sense; they can't take what they dish out; they are uber-passive aggressive; they overreact about…shoot, what don't they overreact about?; they're very picky, hypercritical and they typically act before they think (and that's just the tip of the iceberg).

If you read all of that and felt exhausted just thinking about those traits, you're someone who probably does everything that you possibly can to avoid this type of individual. I get it too because one thing that peace means is tranquility and a tranquil state comes with no commotion, quiet and calm. When you're at peace with yourself, you'll let a "fun person" go, if it means not having to deal with the drama that follows them.

5. You Are Gracious and Grateful

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I was born with a natural bass in my voice. God made me that way and I'm fine with it. However, I will say that I find it interesting that, the more peaceful I am with myself, the "less loud" I tend to be (funny how that works, huh?). At the same time, I've got a girlfriend who is so soft-spoken that, even a decade into our friendship, not one phone call happens when I don't have to ask her to speak up. I'll admit that I find there to be something really sexy about that because, it's not that she can't amplify her voice (or tone); she simply chooses not to. When I've asked her why, she says it's because she doesn't feel the need to "turn up" to be seen or heard.

When it comes to her resolve, the first word that comes to mind is "feminine". The second is "gracious". When you are standing in your power to the point that you don't have to yell and scream for people to acknowledge it, there is something very elegant and easy about mindset.

Something else that I like about my friend is she's very polite. She's always going to say "please" and "thank you". Also, she's a joy to do things for because she always has such a beautiful sense of gratitude. She does her best to take nothing and no one for granted, and that kind of person is always someone you want to look out for. Yep, when you can be gracious and grateful, you have a true peace within you.

6. You Do Not Feel the Need to Control Others

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As a control freak in recovery, I'm a firm believer that about 98.9 percent of controlling people know that they are this way. I also believe that peace is one of the furthest things that they have going for them. Just think about it. If you're a perfectionist; if you micro-manage; if everything has to go your way all of the time; if you're always criticizing someone—how are you ever able to calm down and relax?

Again, as someone who has recovered, in many ways, when it comes to this, what I have learned is the main person a control freak tends to not have under control is themselves (because another trait of control freaks is moodiness). But the more they focus on finding balance, which creates peace, within their own lives, the less they need to be control of what's going on outside of them.

Why? Because they know that all they can control is themselves. Not only that, but they put boundaries in place so that there is no need to control other individuals. And you know what? There really isn't.

7. You Prefer to Be Respected Instead of Liked

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Companies that I have written for, know that I only really have two requests—make sure to list my pen name as "Shellie R. Warren" and make sure that payments come on time (umm, since my content comes on time). On the name tip, there are some people who will leave out the "R" and even misspell Shellie (no "y" or "ey" in my case) or worse, I'll have editors who will address me as "Shirley". Then, when I correct them, they think I am "doing the most".

Apparently, I'm not the only one with name drama. I recently watched a video about how to pronounce certain celebrity names properly. Rihanna has told us that it is "Ree-anna (like anna not ah-na). Chrissy Teigen has told us that her last name is "Tie-gen" not "Tee-gen". Amandla Stenberg does indeed have an "L" in her first name (it's not Amanda). Addressing someone, even when it comes to their name, properly is a sign of respect. People who are at peace with themselves, they require respect. Even more so than being liked.

Why? Because inner peace is tied into self-esteem and self-awareness. The more you evolve in both of these areas, the more you come to accept that people liking you will change—time changes things, circumstances change things and plus, some people are fickle AF. But it doesn't matter what the dynamics are, there is no reason why you should be disrespected. Peaceful people tend to be on the, "Shoot, I like myself, so I don't need a ton of others to like me. I'm not gonna allow you to treat me any ole' kind of way, though." This includes how you address them. And good for them for being that way.

8. You Don’t Need Everyone to Understand, Like or Agree with You

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It's funny because, as I was sitting down to pen this, I took a break to see what was happening in YouTube world. The stories that came up in my suggestion feed are ones that I feel are totally worth your time. One was about a Black curvy girl who was shopping for a bridal gown at a shop that specializes in plus-size brides; one that was founded by a Black woman and has the dopest energy. Another story was about a super-inspiring Black woman who cooks and even puts on eyelashes with her feet (she was born without arms). Another featured Aevin Dugas. If you don't know her, she holds the record for having the largest Afro.

As I was listening to everyone share their own insights and perspectives, the thing that I felt they all had in common was how at peace they were. Kareen, the woman shopping for a dress, was looking for a dress that would, not hide, but would hug her every curve. Kashmiere, the woman with no arms has her own YouTube channel, alongside her man. And while some of us are struggle with even going (or staying) natural, Aevin's Afro is four feet tall and four feet wide.

I find these women to be super-inspiring, but I'm willing to bet that not everyone in their world—and especially not everyone they come into contact with—agrees with how they choose to approach life. While some days may be more challenging than others, it is very evident that, at least for the most part, all three of these ladies are at peace because obstacles nor opinions are standing in their way. If we "get" them cool. If not, kindly move out of their way. All of us should take this same approach, don't you think?

9. You Make Rest a Top Priority

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I'm gonna share with you some synonyms for peace. Tell me if they don't automatically put you in a relaxed state of mind—harmony, bliss, calm, quiet, stillness and serenity. People who are at peace with themselves tend to have a home that embodies these words, they use scents that embody these words, and they make it a point and practice to participate in the kind of things that embody these words too. They meditate. They unplug to enjoy quiet time. They take vacations. One day a week is reserved for pampering. In other words, they rest—without excuses, reservations or apologies.

Personally, I always think there is something up with people who always have to be doing something. I mean, no matter what, they can't just chill out and be still. It might be the marriage life coach in me, but I always wonder if they're afraid to be alone with their own thoughts. People who are peaceful aren't. In fact, they relish in having the time and space to ponder, reflect and then, after doing so, to rest. Sleep and all.

10. You Know How to Stay in the Moment. Each and Every Moment.

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Deepak Chopra once said, "Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment." Out of all of the stuff that I shared, one of the absolute best ways to know that you are at peace with yourself, is you're not constantly dwelling on your past and you're certainly not fretting about your future either. There's a Scripture in the Bible that says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:34—NKJV) There's another that says, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow…" (James 4:13-14—NKJV).

Are these verses encouraging irresponsibility or a lack of planning? No. What they are conveying is saying is if you stay in the moment, it keeps you calm, it encourages you to be grateful and it gives you an unbelievable amount of peace. And with inner peace, you can accomplish—and conquer—just about anything that comes your way. (Funny how that works, huh?)

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Protect Your Peace With This Sage Life Advice

Don't Kill My Vibe: 4 Ways To Keep Your Inner Peace In Any Environment

What It Means To Find True Self-Love

How Pursuing God Taught Me Self-Love

Feature image by Shutterstock

Originally published on August 25, 2019

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
Sign up

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In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take an in-depth look at love and relationships between couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like.

It was a cold winter night in Chicago, more than a year ago. Your girl was scrolling through the fifty-eleven million options on Netflix to find something interesting to watch. I spotted this new show, The Circle, and have not looked away since. Produced by Studio Lambert and Motion Content Group, it premiered in January 2020 and has become my new favorite type of game show. Hosted by Michelle Buteau, The Circle is about contestants who are isolated in their own apartments and can only communicate with others via an online social media platform.

On season 2 of The Circle, the world fell in love with DeLeesa, the contestant who would eventually be crowned winner of the cash prize. She won the game by playing as a single dad named Trevor, who is actually her husband. As a true fan of the series, I figured it was only right to sit down with DeLeesa and Trevor to get the deets on how marriage has been for them IRL. So, let me take y'all back into time real quick, to the beginning of their love story.

It was 2007, and DeLeesa was starting her first day of school as a college freshman. She was getting adjusted to her new dorm and was introduced to her new resident assistant, *drum roll please* Trevor St. Agathe. They quickly became friends and Trevor helped DeLeesa find different activities around campus. After a year, they decided to take things to the next level.

Now, 14 years and two beautiful children later, the married couple have been focusing on doing whatever it takes to create the best life for their children. Since college, the power of commitment and open communication is what has kept DeLeesa and Trevor by each other's side.

One thing that we can all learn from The Circle and social media in general is that everything is not what it seems. When I connected with the couple, DeLeesa wanted to get the story straight about her and Trevor's love story. "I feel like people look at couples on social media and they think that things are perfect when that's not true. We went through stuff, too. We just figured out how to overcome it and move together as a unit."

In this installment of xoNecole's Our First Year, Deleesa and Trevor share how marriage is about work, navigating through the ups and downs, and prioritizing family. Here's their story:

How We Met

DeLeesa: I got to school early because I was starting [college] a semester late. I met him, we became friends, and I developed a little crush on him. One day, we were hanging out in his room and he just didn't want me to leave (laughs). So we were messing around for about a year. Exactly one year later, I told Trevor that I am not going to keep doing this unless he becomes my man. If he didn't make me his girl, then we were done. (Laughs)

Trevor: I tried to ride it out as long as I could (laughs). At the time, I was thinking, since I'm still in college, I shouldn't be tied down. But I knew that if I didn't make it official, she was going to leave. So, she was right, and we took it to the next level.

First Impressions

Trevor: I thought she was absolutely beautiful. She was pretty and the new girl on campus. So I knew she was going to get lots of attention. But I didn't want to be on that with her, so I continued to just be a stand-up guy. At first, it was the normal student-and-RA relationship. She would ask me what activities she could do on campus and I gave her a few suggestions. For a few days, we continued to hang out and I started to realize the chemistry we had between us.

DeLeesa: When I first met Trevor, I wasn't even thinking about going that [relationship] route with him. I was new to the school and I just wanted to be his friend. But because we shared bathrooms in the dorm, this man would just walk around in his towel sometimes. I couldn't help but notice him more after that. I just thought 'He is fine!' (Laughs) He was so nice and he never pressured me into anything, but, he knew what he was doing.

Favorite Things

DeLeesa: I love that he has unconditional love for me. I feel like that no matter what I do or no matter how mad he gets, he is still always going to be by my side for anything that I need. We have been together for a long time. Even though we had breaks in between, he has always been there for me.

Trevor: It's not just one thing for me, but I can sum it up: DeLeesa is everything that I wish I was. She is very much not afraid of what other people think and she is very determined to go after what she wants. She has that go-getter mentality and it is so attractive to me.

"DeLeesa is everything that I wish I was. She is very much not afraid of what other people think and she is very determined to go after what she wants. She has that go-getter mentality and it is so attractive to me."

Wedding Day

Trevor: On our wedding day, I was crying like a baby when I finally saw her. That is my fondest memory of that day: seeing my wife-to-be from a distance and instant water works. (Laughs)

DeLeesa: I really enjoyed our first dance. Our wedding was pretty big, and I planned the whole thing. I was very hands-on and it was hard for me to just have a moment and be present. But when we had our first dance, that was our time to just be with each other and not worry about anything else. It really hit me that we were married at that point.

The One

DeLeesa: Well, the thing with Trevor and I is that we broke up a lot. We reached nine years of being on and off. By that time, we said to each other that this would be the last time we were going to break up. We were going to try our best to do everything that we could to stay together. And if we didn't work out, we were going to go our separate ways. For me, I really wanted us to work because I did see him as my future husband and my children's father. So it was the conversation we had to not break up that was my "you are the one for me" moment.

Trevor: It was something that I always knew. Young Trevor would say, "If I had to get married, this is who I want to marry." When I knew it was time to take things more seriously with her, it was after we had that conversation. Another confirmation that DeLeesa was the one was when we had to move to Canada from New York. I thought to myself that this woman must really love me to pack up and move to another country for me. This woman trusts me so much and she is my forever.

"The thing with Trevor and I is that we broke up a lot. We reached 9 years of being on and off. By that time, we said to each other that this would be the last time we were going to break up. We were going to try our best to do everything that we could to stay together."

Biggest Fears

Trevor: The questions that popped into my head were, "Can I do it?"; "Can I be a good husband to her?"; or "Was I truly husband material?" You can't take a test for that or study to get those answers. You have to just do it, apply your morals and values, and do the best you can. What has helped me with this is continuing to reaffirm how we feel about one another—affirmations that let me know that she is happy and I am doing a good job. Marriage isn't that much different from what we have already been doing this entire time. We just wear rings.

DeLeesa: My biggest fear [is related to the fact that] I am a very independent person, [so] if I do not like something, I can be out, quick! So with me, I questioned if I could stay put and fight through the bad times within a marriage. I would question if it is worth sticking it out since this is a lifelong commitment. What has helped me get through that is reminding myself that I can still be independent within my own marriage. I can still do things on my own and still share my life with someone I really care about.

Early Challenges

DeLeesa: I feel like I have been really good at keeping my relationship with my friends balanced with my partnership with Trevor. So when we first got married, my personal challenge was me trying to juggle between being a good wife and still making time for my girls. I really didn't want to lose sight of who I was in the process of marriage.

Trevor: My work at the time forced me to travel a lot. So when you are in that honeymoon phase, it's important to have quality time together. It was hard with my job to enjoy life together as a married couple in the beginning. Yes, we have been together for a long time. But this was different. Not being around my wife as much as I wanted to was really hard for me and the both of us. Our communication started slacking and we definitely struggled during that time.

Love Lessons

Trevor: There's two lessons that I have. One lesson is that I am a husband first. I have spent a lot of time not being a husband so it can be easy for me or anyone to continue to behave that way. But my wife always has to come first, no matter what is going on in life. When you're married, you have to reinforce that. My second lesson that has helped in our marriage is making sure I do things in order to make her life easier. It can be the simplest thing, but for me, it is a huge priority.

DeLeesa: My biggest lesson is being able to learn from each other. For example, if he is doing simple things to make life easier for me, I am learning from him how to show up for him to make him happy. It can be easy to just receive everything he is putting forth, but it has to be give and take for us.

"I am a husband first. I have spent a lot of time not being a husband so it can be easy for me or anyone to continue to behave that way. But my wife always has to come first, no matter what is going on in life. When you're married, you have to reinforce that."

Common Goal

Trevor: To do everything in our power to ensure that our girls have the best possible life. Everything that we do at this point is for them. Before children, I may have moved slower working toward certain things, but there is definitely an added fire on how we approach things because of them.

DeLeesa: I agree. The number one goal is to be the best parents we can be. We want to set up generational wealth and we want them to be culturally aware. We want them to grow up and be proud of everything we have done for them.

Best Advice

DeLeesa: My advice would be don't go looking for advice, honestly. A lot of people are going to have an opinion about your life and sometimes that may not be the best for you. People can have different intentions and may give you the wrong advice. So I feel that if you need to vent, then yes, have someone to confide in. But don't take their word as facts. Try to figure out your marriage for yourself. Stick to your intuition and what you want to do, no matter if you are being judged for it.

Trevor: The things that matter are to be patient, listen close, choose to be happy, and love hard. I also think when people come to terms with the fact that marriage is work, then it is more possible for people. There are honestly more things to be happy about with the person that you marry. You have to keep all the things that you love about that person at the forefront to get you through. Once you do that, you will be fine.

Follow Deleesa and Trevor on Instagram @leesaunique and @trev_saint and their family page @itsthesaints.

Featured image via Instagram/Leesaunique

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