I'm gonna be honest. When I first heard that singer Michelle Williams was going to do a reality show about her relationship with her fiancé and pastor Chad Johnson, the very first thing that came to my mind was, "Why do people do this to their relationships?" (Michelle and Chad actually touch on this very topic here).
Trying to make things work is hard enough without the relentlessness of social media trolls and blog commentators. Still, Michelle is a grown woman, so when she said that she wanted to tell her story herself, I took it for what it was.
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images
Fast forward to (literally) today and all you have to do is put "Michelle Williams" in Google and you're gonna see everyone and their grandma comment on her IG story announcement about breaking things off with her fiancé. Of course, we all have an opinion about it. Pardon the pun but, for better or for worse, we always do.
I watched the series, and as a marriage life coach, I must admit that I saw quite a few red flags. At the same time, when I read Michelle's break-up post, I couldn't help but say, "Good for y'all!" because, in my humble opinion, I believe it is far better to break-up with someone before jumping the broom than divorce them afterward.
A particular episode of A Different World, "Wedding Bells From Hell", breaks it down best. If you ever saw it, you probably recall that while Jalessa and Walter made it down the aisle, they didn't officially get married. During the ceremony, they realized that while they loved each other, the way they saw their future was not the same. In honor of that last-minute revelation, their wedding reception turned into an impromptu "Whew! Boy did we dodged a bullet or what?!" party.
And you know what? GOOD. FOR. THEM. Good for Michelle and Chad, too. I say that because I and my brother are products of unions where our parents wanted to call things off the night before (I know this for a fact, BTW) and didn't. All that did was lead to two miserable marriages, two divorces, and two children who are still healing from the fallout.
While some people may see Michelle ending her engagement as being an epic fail, I'm on the other side saying,
"How brave and beautiful it is to accept that what you initially thought was right for you, isn't. How much self-love you've got to have to not allow pressure, expectations, and even your feelings for another person cloud your discernment and better judgment."
That's why, in honor of Michelle's announcement – and also in remembrance of some premarital counseling sessions I've been in where I've said, "You two have NO BUSINESS getting married!" – here are five quick red flags that no engaged couple should ignore:
You Don't See Day-to-Day Life the Same Way.
While watching Chad Loves Michelle, things like race, how to handle Michelle's depression, as well as family issues, communication, and different views on gender roles definitely came up. Not because of the relationship per se, but due to the premarital counseling that was involved (if you're engaged, please make sure you get some!). What you got to see was, it's one thing to deeply care for someone. On the other hand, it's a whole 'nother ball game to try and build a life with them.
If you're engaged (or considering getting engaged in the near future) but your values, the way you see your future, and/or your lifestyle doesn't complement your significant other, you better believe it's a red flag.
There are a whole lot of good friends who would be straight-up enemies if they were roommates. The same thing applies for couples who are in love but don't see life the same way.
Your Motive Is Rooted in Fear.
For those who rock with the Bible, I John 4:18(NKJV) says, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." There's a lot of ways to take this.
Love keeps you from having the fear of loving another individual. Love also keeps you from experiencing the fear of caring what people think should your relationship with someone come to an end.
There are so many dysfunctional relationships that are rooted in nothing more than fear—fear of being alone, fear of having to start over, fear of what the future holds without the other person in their lives. They're automatically dysfunctional because you can't relax and totally be yourself if you're fearful all of the time.
If you're staying with someone because you're fearful of what will happen if you got out of it, what you're saying is, you're afraid or overly anxious in your relationship. What sounds even remotely healthy about that?
You Spend More Time Convincing than Celebrating.
There's someone I know who had drama-on-top-of-drama in the days leading up to her wedding. It actually seemed like she spent more time trying to convince everyone that her fiancé was the best man for her than actually enjoying her season as an engaged woman.
She married him. They've been together for several years now. But she spends so much time wondering where he is, crying over their disconnection, and doing whatever she can to keep him interested (including sexually-attracted) that I can't help but wonder if she wishes she had heeded the warnings she was given on the front end.
I know folks think taking the Tupac approach to marriage (you know, "you and me against the world") is all romantic and everything, but there are folks who loved you before you ever met your fiancé. If ALL of them are like, "Hold up, now"…that is probably exactly what you should be doing. At least until you figure out why they feel the way that they do.
You're Rushing Things.
Once upon a time, I was a teen mom director for a non-profit. While in my sessions, I would ask the teen girls, "How long do I need to know you before I can borrow $50?" I would hear everything from "a year" to "10 years". I would immediately retort with, "OK. When it comes to the guys you've had sex with, how long did it take for them to know you before they got some?" Talk about crickets.
It's always been odd to me that we'll pressure a couple who's only known each other a year or two to get married but we'll think it's crazy for two individuals who just met six months ago to call each other best friends. My point? Mariah Carey said it best – "love takes time".
If you feel like you're moving faster than your mind, heart, or even budget says that you should, this is another indicator that you should pump the brakes. Marriage is supposed to last a lifetime. There's no rule that says you have to make the call to do it in 365 days or less (there's no million-dollar prize that comes from doing it either!).
You Lack Inner Peace.
There's a couple I know who, after going through six months of premarital counselingand passing with flying colors, ended up breaking off their engagement anyway. They said that it was the counseling that showed them some things about each other and their relationship that made them want to call things off. They're both happily married now – to other people. Talk about making a boss move. #dope
They are a great reminder to not get so caught up in butterflies in your stomach that you overlook the need for inner peace. Peace is about clarity. Peace is about calmness. Peace is about harmony—within yourself and with another individual (in that order, by the way).
If you don't have this at the very core of your being, do yourself and your significant other a favor and at least postpone the wedding. If a few months down the road you still don't have that inner peace, love both of you enough to call the engagement off.
Again, ending an engagement/calling off a wedding is not a bad thing. It ultimately means that you love yourself and them enough to make room for something better.
You've gotta respect anyone who has the courage to make a decision based on that.
Feature image by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood