I grew up in the Church. I went to Christian schools too (well, my elementary education was Christ-like; looking back, the EEOC should've come in and shut my high school all the way down). Looking back, if there's one topic that never really got discussed in either setting, it's sex. It really is sad that although the Bible has PLENTY to say about it (Song of Solomon is an entire book about it!), in my humble opinion, far too many folks do the very opposite of what Genesis 2:24-25 instructs us not to do—they attach shame to nakedness. Sad. Very sad.
That's why, whenever I do premarital counseling couples, I tend to spend at least 3-4 weeks on sexual intimacy—what you were taught about sex, your views on sex, your expectations of sex, etc. Because if you're gonna actually do what you vowed and remain with someone until death parts you, that's a REALLY LONG TIME to be sittin' somewhere sexually pissed off at least half of the time.
And yet. It happens. A LOT. Not just to couples who waited until marriage to partake, but people who felt they should "test the car before driving it too" (I'm with Meagan Good on this one—we need to drop that comparison; people are not cars). And since the importance of sex isn't explored as in-depth as it needs to be, lots of people find themselves faking it, making excuses not to do it or…yes, cheating. And you know what? All three of those approaches to sexual incompatibility are unhealthy and super counterproductive. They really are.
So, what do I recommend you should do if you and your spouse aren't as sexually harmonious as you'd like to be? For starters, consider that what's really going on may not be as much about sex as you might think. It could be a myriad of things that have created your not-so-perfect storm.
How To Deal With A Sexually Incompatible Partner
1.Ponder If It's Sexual or Emotional
There's a couple I worked with where the husband hated to give oral sex but was all about receiving it. On the surface, this is childish and selfish, I'll give you that. But counseling is about digging beneath the surface. That said, his wife misspends money, makes major decisions without his input, plays the victim when she's called out on her reckless behavior and rarely apologizes for any of this. As a result, he feels like she also is a very selfish individual (he's right), so he doesn't want to give her his all. Naturally, he's not big on cunnilingus; however, he doesn't even feel the desire to "make the sacrifice" because of how put off he is emotionally.
Do you see how, on the surface, it looks like they aren't on the same page when it comes to a particular sex act when the reality is there is a profound emotional disconnection? Whatever it is that you and your spouse are struggling with in the bedroom, don't just assume that it's sexual or physical. Sometimes, there's a deep emotional issue going on too.
2.Next, Figure Out If It's Actually About Sex or Selfishness
A lot of people frown on couples who wait until marriage to get it on, but here's something to keep in mind. When you're single and sexually active, whether you realize it or not, you tend to be pretty selfish. I'm not saying when it comes to your stamina, technique or tricks. I'm talking about your overall mentality. Single sex is about having sex solely on your terms. Married sex requires considering someone else and making compromises along the way.
Here's an example. Say that you love morning sex while your spouse prefers to have sex at night. Did you know that science is discovering that a part of what makes us morning people or night owls has to do with our genetic make-up? When you were single, you had sex when you felt like it; your partner(s) had to get in where they fit in.
Now that you're married, it's important to take your partner's needs into account.
If you like it in the morning, sometimes you might have to stay up late because they don't. If you're a night owl, sometimes you might need to sleep a couple of extra hours in order to get the job done before work. My point is this—whatever isn't happening the way that you would like, how much of it is about you wanting sex just the way you want it without figuring out if it pleases your partner or not? What some think is sexual incompatibility is really nothing short of 100 percent Grade-A selfishness. Real talk.
3.Openly Discuss How You Feel with Your Spouse
There are a lot of couples who end up throwing in the towel because they are sexually dissatisfied. That might sound shallow to some, but if there is only one person that you're supposed to have sex with for the rest of your life, GOOD SEX is important. Here's the thing, though. Something that tops the list of why spouses divorce isn't sexual incompatibility or frustration; no, it's poor communication.
I can't tell you how many couples I've worked with who are M-A-D at their spouse for not being able to read their mind as far as what their needs are in the bedroom. Their spouse should know they're bored. Their spouse should know that they are not satisfied. Their spouse should know they are faking orgasms (actually, if someone is really paying attention to their partner, they should know this one).
We all know what they say that assuming does to a person. Well, "should" is assumption's favorite girlfriend. It's not fair to be upset about something you're not talking about. Oh, and by the way, discussing it doesn't mean blaming, humiliating or berating your partner. The brain is the biggest sex organ we have. You're going to do NOTHING for your sex life by belittling your partner in the effort to get more of what you want and need from them. (This applies to what's happening in the bedroom and out of it.)
4.Also, Be VERY CAREFUL Who You Share Your Issues With
I can't remember who originated the quote, but one of my favorites is, "Complain to someone who can actually help you." To be at work or on the phone with someone who also has a less-than-stellar sex life isn't going to help you to take a more positive and proactive approach to what's happening in your own bedroom. All it's going to do is encourage you to be even more negative about your situation. Also, based on who you're talking to (and how often), it might set you up to be caught up in an emotional affair as well.
There's something else to consider when you're discussing your bedroom issues—just because you're dissatisfied doesn't mean the next gal would be. Make sure you're talking to someone who is genuinely being helpful…not just nosey. And ultimately, messy.
5.Make Sex a Higher Priority in Your Relationship
Another couple that I've worked with? They've been married for over a decade, the husband is headed towards his late 40s, and he still prefers to have sex 3-4 times a day (quickies included). His wife? She's good with having it a couple of times a month. Yep, sexually incompatible.
Some might wonder how they even jumped the broom with an issue like this not being addressed. Oh, but this is another example of how having sex before marriage can creep up on you. When they were dating, it was a long-distance relationship. So, of course, they could have sex for hours on end whenever they saw one another. But once they got married and saw each other every day, things changed. It reminds me of a hilarious comedy clip that I recently watched entitled, "Real Couples Don't Hold Each Other All Night".
Sometimes sex before marriage falsely advertises in ways we wouldn't predict.
What did I recommend that they do? Make sex a priority in their marriage; not just the physical aspect but the emotional and spiritual too. While she needed to be open to having sex more often, her husband needed to think about what he could do to make his wife desire him more from an emotional and spiritual standpoint.
Sometimes spouses aren't sexually compatible because they don't feel close enough to their partner to want to do certain things or have sex more often. Sometimes, when the other rooms of the house are handled (metaphorically speaking), the bedroom takes care of itself.
6.Put a "Sexual Needs Box" on Each Nightstand
A lot of us make relationships a lot more complicated than they have to be because we act like a want is an actual need.
Wants are what we desire; needs are what is required.
Am I saying that sex is not a need? I am saying the total opposite of that! Even the Bible says that if you withhold from your partner, you can open the doors to all sorts of mayhem and foolishness (I Corinthians 7:1-5). From a legal standpoint, some states will let you have what is called a "fault divorce". Things that fall under this category are constructive desertion, cruelty or abandonment based on a lack of marital relations (sex).
However, sex is a pretty general word. In order to have great sex with your partner, it's important to also discuss what both of your wants and needs are. What are y'all's desires vs. what is required for you to feel fully satisfied (essential)? Talk those things out, jot them down on sheets of paper, pick up a couple of boxes from Target or Pottery Barn and put those answers inside. Your answer box should go on your husband's nightstand; his should go on yours. Then make it a point to revisit what is on those sheets of paper and mutually commit to meeting one another's needs (more often).
Even if your spouse isn't the perfect sex partner, a part of what your love commitment is all about is meeting each other's needs—in the bedroom or out. If you're both determined to do that, you have a lifetime to learn how to make each other climb the walls; to make sexual incompatibility a temporary issue, not a lifelong sentence.
Featured image by 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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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Featured image by Westend61/Getty Images
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Tracee Ellis Ross On Why She Declined The Idea Of Someone Else Running Her Hair Company
Actress and entrepreneur Tracee Ellis Ross recently revealed the driving force behind her desire to become the owner of her haircare brand, Pattern.
According to its site, Pattern is a haircare company that provides a wide range of products, from shampoos, conditioners, oils, creams, and many more to individuals with curls, coils, and tight hair textures. Although Pattern would launch in 2019, the idea for the company first came to Ross a decade before --in 2008, when her hit show Girlfriends wrapped-- following a brief encounter at a beauty supply store and many wanting to recreate her past looks.
At the time, those individuals couldn't achieve the exact results because limited natural hair products were offered to the public. That instance became a pivotal moment in the star's life because she spent eleven years experimenting with professionals to create products that best suit those within the natural hair community.
In a May conference with Fortune's MPW Next Gen, Ross opened up about the struggles she faced early on as an entrepreneur trying to get Pattern off the ground and why she declined the offer to have the company be run by someone else.
Tracee On Past Struggles And Why She Chose To Run Her Company
During the discussion, the 50-year-old revealed that she is Pattern's "majority owner" because the company's overall mission to cater to those in the natural hair community was built from her "experiential knowledge."
"I'm a majority owner of my company. [Other celebrities with brands] aren't the founders of the company. Often, they join a company that exists," she said. "The mission [at Pattern] is born out of my experience. It's born out of my own experiential knowledge."
Further in the interview, Ross would add that she avoided partnering with an expert for Pattern because she felt she had gained enough knowledge experimenting with products in her bathroom.
"I didn't want to partner with an expert or a 'professional' because I felt—like so many—I had become my own best expert in my bathroom because the beauty industry was not catering to us," she stated.
Despite refusing to have a partner within her company, Ross found creative ways to build it. It includes paying a chemist with her own money to bring her visions of various products to life, and sending those samples to retail stores, ultimately leading to partnerships.
The final piece that helped Ross during her journey was receiving advice from business partners on ways to improve the brand, one of which came from Ulta Beauty CEO and Footlocker CEO Mary Dillon.
The black-ish star claimed that Dillon helped her realize how she could use her celebrity status and journey to promote Pattern, which she did. Because of that, Patten has now become a favorable haircare brand among many.
Tracee On How She Plans To Use Her Company To Create Opportunities For Others
Toward the end of the discussion, Ross disclosed how she plans to use the power of being Pattern's CEO to help others.
The High Note star explained that being an owner of a company has given her access to be around other CEOs interested in what appears to be becoming more profitable, and with that, she wants to expand that access to other people.
"I know that I have access to sit at a table with a CEO in a way that perhaps another founder doesn't. And when I do that, I make sure that those conversations are not only centered around Pattern," she said. "They're centered around creating and expanding the access for all of us."
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Feature image by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Webby Awards