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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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Chief Mom Officer: 23 Quotes From Working Moms Finding Their Balance
The truth is, Black moms create magic every single day. Whether we're juggling motherhood with a busy 9-5, a thriving business, or staying at home to run a household, no day is short of amazing when you're managing life as a mommy. This Mother's Day, xoNecole is giving flowers to CMOs (Chief Mom Officers) in business who exemplify the strength it takes to balance work with motherhood.
We've commissioned these ladies, who are pillars in their respective industries, for tidbits of advice to get you through the best and worst days of mothering. Here, they share their "secret sauce" and advice for other moms trying to find their rhythm.
Emmelie De La Cruz, Chief Strategist at One Day CMO
"My mom friends and I all laugh and agree: Motherhood is the ghettoest thing you will ever do. It's beautiful and hard all at the same time, but one day you will wake up and feel like 'I got this' and you will get the hang of it. After 4 months, I finally felt like I found my footing to keep my kid and myself alive, but it took vulnerability to take off the cape and be honest about the areas that I didn't have it all together. The healing (physically and emotionally) truly does happen in community - whatever and whoever that looks like for you."
Alizè V. Garcia, Director Of Social & Community Impact at Nike
"I would tell a new mom or a prospective mother that they must give themselves grace, understand and remember there is no right way to do this thing and have fun! When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, I was petrified! I truly had no clue about what to do and how I was going to do it. But with time, my confidence grew and I realized quickly that I have all the tools I need to be the mother I want to be."
Nikki Osei-Barrett, Publicist + Co-Founder of The Momference
"There's no balance. I'm dropping sh*t everywhere! However, my secret sauce is pursuing interests and hobbies outside of what's required of me and finding time to workout. Stronger body equals = stronger mind."
Lauren Grove, Chief Experience Architect, The Grant Access, LLC
"I try to give myself grace. That’s my mantra for this phase of motherhood…grace. I won’t be able to get everything done. To have a spotless house. To not lose my cool after an exhausting day. Those things can’t happen all of the time. But I can take a deep breath and know tomorrow is another day and my blessings are more plentiful than my pitfalls."
Rachel Nicks, Founder & CEO of Birth Queen
"You have the answers within you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Curate your life to work for you. Ask for help."
Tanisha Colon-Bibb, Founder + CEO Rebelle Agency + Rebelle Management
"I know love doesn't pay bills but when I am overwhelmed with work or client demands I take a moment to play with my baby and be reminded of the love, energy, science, and Godliness that went into his birth. I am brightened by his smile and laugh. I remember I am someone's parent and not just a work horse. That at the end of the day everything will work out for the good of my sanity and the love within my life."
Christina Brown, Founder of LoveBrownSugar & BabyBrownSugar
"Learning your rhythm as a mom takes time and can be uncomfortable when you’re in a season of overwhelm. Constantly check in with yourself and assess what’s working and what’s not. Get the help you need without feeling guilty or ashamed of needing it."
Mecca Tartt, Executive Director of Startup Runway Foundation
"I want to be the best for myself, my husband, children and company. However, the reality is you can have it all but not at the same time. My secret sauce is outsourcing and realizing that it’s okay to have help in order for me to perform at the highest level."
Jen Hayes Lee, Head Of Marketing at The Bump (The Knot Worldwide)
"My secret sauce is being direct and honest with everyone around me about what I need to be successful in all of my various "jobs". Setting boundaries is one thing, but if you're the only one who knows they exist, your partners at home and on the job can't help you maintain them. I also talk to my kids like adults and let them know why mommy needs to go to this conference or get this massage...they need to build an appreciation for my needs too!"
Whitney Gayle-Benta, Chief Music Officer JKBX
"What helps me push through each day is the motivation to continue by thinking about my son. All my efforts, though exhausting, are to create a wonderful life for him."
Ezinne Okoro, Global Chief Inclusion, Equity, & Diversity Officer at Wunderman Thompson,
"The advice I received that I’ll pass on is, you will continue to figure it out and find your rhythm as your child grows into new stages. Trust your nurturing intuition, parent on your terms, and listen to your child."
Jovian Zayne, CEO of The OnPurpose Movement
"I live by the personal mantra: 'You can’t be your best self by yourself.' My life feels more balanced when I offer the help I can give and ask for the help I need. This might mean outsourcing housecleaning for my home, or hiring additional project management support for my business."
Simona Noce Wright, Co-Founder of District Motherhued and The Momference
"Each season of motherhood (depending on age, grade, workload) requires a different rhythm. With that said, be open to learning, to change, and understand that what worked for one season may not work the other...and that's okay."
Janaye Ingram, Director of Community Partner Programs and Engagement at Airbnb
"My daughter's smile and sweet spirit help me to feel gratitude when I'm overwhelmed. I want her to see a woman who doesn't quit when things get hard."
Codie Elaine Oliver, CEO & Founder of Black Love
"I try to listen to my body and simply take a break. With 3 kids and a business with 10+ team members, I often feel overwhelmed. I remind myself that I deserve grace for everything I'm juggling, I take a walk or have a snack or even head home to see my kids, and then I get back to whatever I need to get done."
Jewel Burks Solomon, Managing Partner at Collab Capital
"Get comfortable with the word ‘no’. Be very clear about your non-negotiables and communicate them to those around you."
Bridget Bogee, Marketing Lead At Meta
"Ask for help and always prioritize making time for you."
Julee Wilson, Executive Director at BeautyUnited and Beauty Editor-at-Large at Cosmopolitan
"Understand you can’t do it alone — and that’s ok. Relinquish the need to control everything. Create a village and lean on them."
Salwa Benyaich, Director Of Pricing and Planning at Premion
"Most days I really try to shut my computer off by 6 pm; there are always exceptions of course when it comes to big deals or larger projects but having this as a baseline allows me to be much more present with my kids. I love the fact that I can either help with homework or be the designated driver to at least one afterschool activity. Work can be draining but there is nothing more emotionally draining than when you feel as though you are missing out on moments with your kids."
Brooke Ellis, Head of Global Marketing & Product Launches at Amazon Music
My calendar, prayer, pilates class at Forma, a good playlist, and oatmilk lattes all help get me through any day.
Courtney Beauzile, Global Director of Client and Business Development at Shearman & Sterling
My husband is a partner who steps in when I just can’t. My mom and my MIL come through whenever and however I need. My kids have many uncles and aunts and they will lend an ear, go over homework, teach life lessons, be a presence or a prayer warrior depending on the day.
Robin Snipes, Chief of Staff at Meta
"Enjoy the time you have to yourself because once kids come those times will be few and far between."
Monique Bivens, CEO & Founder at Brazilian Babes LLC.
"For new moms, it is very important that you get back into a habit or routine of something you use to do before you were pregnant. Consider the actives and things that give you the most joy and make the time to do them."
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This Is Why Your Bright Under-Eye Technique Is Not Giving
If you are a fan of the bright under-eye, then you have the legendary makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin to thank. The bright under-eye is only one of the major techniques that Aucoin brought to the forefront of the makeup industry in the ‘90s. The purpose of concealing the under-eye area is to hide blemishes and discoloration, redness, dark circles, and under-eye bags. However, according to Aucoin’s techniques, its main purpose is to lift and sculpt the face adding a new level of dimension.
The bright under-eye can be difficult to achieve. These are some of the common mistakes that are holding you back from sculpted bright under eyes that are giving!
1. You are not using the correct concealer shade.
Using two concealers makes a huge difference. Start with a shade 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone. Followed by a shade that is 3-4 times lighter and placed closer to the inner eye to do the heavy lifting and give the bright effect.
Two shades diffuse well into each other and give a cohesive result.
2. You are not blending enough.
Don't underestimate the power behind a complete blend-out! Blending your concealer fully is a make-or-break step for the bright under-eye look. Fully blending allows for a seamless transition between the areas of the face meant to be highlighted, and the areas meant to create depth and shadows. So take your time and make sure there are no harsh lines.
3. You are not properly setting the under-eye area.
Set the under-eye using a loose setting powder or brightening powder. The key here is to choose a powder complementary to your skin's undertone and proper placement to prevent creasing. Focus the majority of the powder on the inner eye and defuse the remaining powder to the rest of the powder under the eye.
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