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
- Dwayne and Whitley Are Not Relationship Goals - xoNecole ... ›
- Things To Know Before Getting Engaged - xoNecole: Women's ... ›
- 8 Valid Reasons To Break Off An Engagement - xoNecole: Women's ... ›
- Dwayne and Whitley Are Not Relationship Goals - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 12 Women Share Why They Decided To Break Off Engagements - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
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.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports