Fantasia Barrino, boy. I remember watching her win American Idol. I remember seeingLife Is Not a Fairy Tale: The Fantasia Barrino Story on Lifetime. I remember all of the news coverage she got for a very toxic relationship she was in back in the day, the accidental overdose that happened around the same time, and the first interview she did with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America after it. I also remember when major news outlets told us that she had gotten married to her husband of five years now (she actually eloped a year before they had a ceremony on a yacht), Kendall Taylor.
Wow. In many ways, it seems like Fantasia has lived at least five lifetimes even though she officially stepped onto the scene back in 2004. As I was watching her on her first time on The Breakfast Club interview yesterday, I must admit that a big smile came over my face when she said, "Excuse my language but I am f—kin' proud of myself for bouncing back." Fantasia, for doing more than just survive, but to come out thriving, I am too. You look beautiful, peaceful and full of clarity, self-awareness and joy. That's dope. It really is.
So even though I check for Fantasia, I must admit that her latest interview might've missed me if it wasn't for all of the, I'm gonna go with "mixed bag responses", that came from a particular portion of it; the part when she spoke about the importance of submission in marriage. I must say that if there is one word that seems to trigger a lot of women, it's that one. But before I attempt to unpack why that may be the case, let me share some of what she said, verbatim. Ready?
Fantasia’s Views on the “Roles” in Marriage
First, let me say that Fantasia's interview is a great example of why we need to make sure that we hear things in context. The reason why submission even came up is because she asked DJ Envy if he prays with his wife and he said that yes, he wakes her up every morning so that they can pray together (bookmark that; I'll be circling back to in in a bit). When Fantasia heard that, this was her response:
"I salute that. Because we need more of that, you know, what I mean? We need more men to stand up and lead the way. Most women are trying to be the leader; that's why you can't find a man. You can't be the leader in the house. Fall back and be the queen and let your man lead the way."
When DJ Envy basically replied that it's a challenge for some women because they don't see relationships like that; that they want to be in the lead role, Fantasia expounded.
"That's not how it's supposed to be. That's why we bump heads. I feel like it's a generational thing…it's a generation curse in how society [has] placed our men. And women have to stand up and be the mother and the father and the provider. So then, now you are so bad that you can't be told nothin'; that when the right man [comes], you lose him because [you're] tryin' to be the man."
When Angela Yee then asked if two people can be equal in a relationship (true submission isn't about a lack of equality, by the way. We'll come back to that in a bit too), Fantasia said "yes". Then this:
"At the end of the day, I'm the neck and my man's the head, so he can't make any moves without his wife. It all works together. But you can't be the head of the house. You got to let the man be the head of the house. But it's a generational thing. It's what we've been taught—stand up, be strong and a dude comes and everything about you is like a man."
When Angela Yee then said that it sometimes happens because women have no choice, Fantasia was ready for that too.
"You have to learn how to submit. You can still be a queen. A queen plays her part. The king needs his queen. It's certain things that he can't see that we see. The queen has to sit back and allow the king to be the king."
When Angela Yee then replied with "The Queen is the most valuable piece on the board," (a chess reference), Fantasia agreed with that as well. As she went on to explain that her man is a former-felon-turned-business owner who she knew for three weeks before making things official (they didn't have sex until after they got married; that should go on record too) and how, because she had always had to take care of everything, she was a "pop-off at the mouth" (which usually means it's hard to trust your partner; bookmark that as well), Fantasia said one more thing that stood out to me:
"It took a man like him to sit me down, look me in my eyes and talk to me like I was supposed to be talked to, and say, 'I'm here now. You don't have to do all of that. Pass it over to me and let me take care of that.'"
(For the cynics, "take care of all of that" does not mean Fantasia's finances; there's a prenup and he's the one who recommended that they get one.)
As I closed out the interview, I appreciated everything that she said. But when I read some folks' social media comments, a lot of people were, how do I put it? Pissed. It was like they felt Fantasia set us all the way back before The Little House on the Prairie Days. And while I know that I can't change anyone's mind, because again, submission seems to be something that so many women—single and married alike—give push back to, I wanted to offer up five points to at least help keep submission from being looked at as an unofficial cuss word for so many.
5 Things to Consider When It Comes to Submission in Marriage:
1. Submission Is a Spiritual Principle
Ask a Christian. Ask a Jew. Ask a Muslim. Submission in a marriage is a principle that's applied in all of these faiths. As far as Christianity goes, it comes directly from Scripture: "And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God's word." (Ephesians 5:21-25—NLT)
Much like folks will say, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone" will leave out that Christ also said, "Go and sin no more" (John 8:1-12), folks will hear about how a wife should submit to her husband (a wife, not a girlfriend to her boyfriend; some of y'all will catch that later), they overlook that, as the leader of the home, the husband has a big job to do.
To love a wife in the way that Christ loves us all? Yeah, that's a lot. To give up their life for their wife? That too is a lot. If you read all of Ephesians 5, you'll see that a husband is also to nourish and cherish his wife; to love her as himself. Wives are not told to do all of this; husbands are. When a wife is submitting to her husband, it's not just to his leadership—it's the standard of love that is set for her husband. By the Word of God itself.
If you're not a Bible-adherer, I can totally get why submission may seem ridiculous. But if you profess to be, it's hard to stake that claim without taking verses like the one I just shared (along with Colossians 3:18-19) into account.
2. Submission Isn’t a Lack of Power; It’s Directed Power
Fantasia's right. Because a lot of us didn't see our father be a good provider and protector and/or because a lot of our mothers had to do everything and/or because we've never seen a healthy marriage up close and personal for ourselves, some of us are inclined to think that submission is synonymous with abuse—or, at the very least, being taken for granted. That's not submission's fault. That needs to be put on the person who didn't honor and respect just how precious and sacred submission truly is.
I say that because think about how awesome you are as a woman. Think about all of the gifts, talents, insight, support and supernatural love you bring to the table. To choose to impart that into a man's life? That alone is an extremely powerful thing! It's basically saying what Beyoncé did in her song "Upgrade U":
You need a real woman in your life (that's a good look)
Taking care of home and still fly (that's a good look)
And I'mma help you build up your account (that's a good look)
Better yet a hood look, ladies, that's a good look
When you're in them big meetings for the mills (that's a good look)
You take me just to complement the deal (that's a good look)
And anything you cop I'll split the bill (that's a good look)
Better yet a hood look
(Believe me) ladies, that's a good look
You don't stop being you simply because you're being submissive. Submission is not a lack of power; it's a way of focusing it, centering it—streamlining it. You are choosing to yield the authority that you do have into the partnership called your marriage so that, as your husband provides and protects you, your power can make him a better person, just as his leadership nourishes, cherishes and further develops you in the process.
Any of y'all remember the Wonder Twins from back in the day? Remember how when their fists touched, they said, "Wonder Twin powers activate"? That's how I see leadership and submission in action. Two people using their strengths to lean into one another to make big stuff happen; the kind of stuff that quite possibly wouldn't happen any other way.
3. For Leadership to Work, Someone Needs to Submit
I'll be honest. I think a lot of women want to "buffet" submission. What I mean by that is they want to pick and choose when submission should apply or not. I can't tell you how many times I've heard the very same ladies who think submission is antiquated and unnecessary turn right around and say that asking a man out on a date or to marry them is utterly ridiculous because "that's the man's job". So, he can—and should—lead when you're dating, but not after saying "I do"? What's that all about?
A writer by the name of J.D. Greeer once said, "Spiritual headship is not license for men to do what they want to do. It is empowerment to do what they ought to do. But, wives, that means you don't only follow him when you agree with him or feel like he is making the right decision. That's not submission; that's agreement."
Here's the thing. Is marriage a partnership? Of course. Are men and women equal in value in the relationship? Also, yes. But being equal doesn't make two people identical. There are certain things that men bring to the table and certain things that we as women do. A lot of women desire a protector and provider. Well, guess what? That's what a leader does. Once you get married, what's the struggle for? Let him.
4. A Man Who Understands Submission Submits to Someone Too
Sometimes, I hear women say, "I submit to my husband as he submits to me." Yeah…that's not really how submission works. The point of submission is that someone has to lead in order for it to truly be effective. What I dig about what Fantasia said is, once she found a man who she felt was worthy of her gift of submission, there were things that she used to have to worry about that she no longer does. Yeah, some women are so busy thinking about—if not flat-out obsessing over—what submission requires that they don't see the benefits that come right along with it as well. If a man is a good leader, life is easier, not harder.
Besides, remember how I said that submission is a spiritual principle? Bishop TD Jakes once said something about submission that both men and women alike need to always keep in mind—"No woman wants to be in submission to a man who isn't in submission to God." Indeed. A man can only lead well if he is being led well. And the humility, spiritual maturity and surrender that it takes for a man to listen to a Higher Source is what makes him someone that his wife should have no problem submitting to.
I think that's why Fantasia got so excited when DJ Envy not only said that he prays for his wife, but he wakes her up, every morning, to do it. He's taking initiative to not only lead his home, but to show his wife that he submits to someone in the process as well.
5. Submission Is Nothing to Be Scared Of
At the end of the day, submission is all about trust. Do you trust someone enough to allow them to lead? If you're single and you're not sure, don't get married yet. If you're married and you don't, marriage counseling is something that I recommend.
One more thing. Just because a wife submits, that doesn't mean she doesn't have a voice or relevance in her marriage. Something else a good leader does is delegate. If the wife is better with the finances, she handles them. If she makes more money, he's not insecure in the least. When she brings perspectives to the table, he listens. A true husband-leader knows that he's only as good as his partner-wife. He is totally aware of how much he needs and relies on her. So he does.
So, when Fantasia said that a lot of us don't have a man because we don't want to submit, that didn't bother me in the least. I find true submission to be a dope concept. But I think it triggered a lot of others because submission isn't something that's explored as much as it should be.
At the end of the day, it sounded to me like she said, "If y'all want a man in your life, how about you let a man be one?" Shoot, Fantasia is a submitter and I've never seen her stronger. She's an independent artist now. She said she has more money in the bank than ever. She looks great. She really does seem healthy and whole.
A great reminder that submission can actually empower you, that is, if you choose the right man to lead. It's all about staying open and choosing wisely. It really is. Submit to God. He'll lead you to who can lead you; who truly deserves your gift of submission. He really will.
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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 email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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The conversation about sex and intimacy often neglects the experiences of individuals with disabilities. Society's misguided notion that individuals with disabilities are devoid of desires for love, intimacy, and sexual fulfillment is not only preposterous but also damaging, but one disability activist is here to challenge that narrative.
"Society's perception of disability has greatly influenced my own understanding and expression of my sexuality," said author and disabled influencer Tylia L. Flores. "The stigma associated with my disability made it difficult for me to express myself freely, leading to self-esteem issues during my teenage years."
Born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy, Flores refuses to let her condition define her love life or limit her aspirations. As a passionate advocate for her community, she's on a mission to shatter misconceptions and pave the way for a more inclusive understanding of sexuality within the disabled community.
Misconceptions About Sexuality for the Disabled Community
Ableist misconceptions cast shadows over romantic pursuits for disabled individuals. These misunderstandings can lead to assumptions and judgments that hinder their ability to explore and experience love fully.
For instance, Flores revealed that most believe her caregiver, her mother, or another abled-bodied individual has total influence over her decisions with a partner. Contrary to popular belief, Flores wants the world to know she has complete control over her emotions and decisions regarding her dating and sex life.
"By educating others about sexuality and disability, I challenge these stereotypes and break down barriers. By being open about my experiences and advocating for inclusivity, I hope to inspire others to see beyond misconceptions and embrace diverse experiences within the disabled community," Flores stated.
Another misconception is disabled characters in movies, shows, or books cannot be the main character of affection or have sex. Media representations often portray disabled characters as either asexual or objects of pity, reinforcing harmful stereotypes and perpetuating that disabled individuals are not sexual beings.
"The only way we could create a more inclusive world for Black women with disabilities is to have more Black women come out and voice their truths in the mainstream media and literature, and that's my whole goal as an author," said Flores. "I want to see more disabled characters have sex on TV screens and express themselves sexually like abled-bodied characters."
Ignoring The Suggestion of ‘Limited Romance’ in Partners
The stigma surrounding disability and sexuality finds its roots in deeply ingrained societal biases and stereotypes. Throughout history, people with disabilities were systematically marginalized and desexualized, relegated to the fringes of society. This pervasive attitude stems from a misguided belief that disability diminishes one's humanity, erasing desires and needs deemed as "normal" for able-bodied individuals.
"As a Black woman with cerebral palsy, I have faced challenges in navigating intimate relationships. One challenge has been the lingering belief among many that individuals with disabilities should be limited in their romantic choices by only dating or being intimate with other disabled people," Flores explained. "This suggestion is based on assumptions that individuals with physical disabilities are not capable of having fulfilling relationships."
She overcame this by putting herself out there and actively sharing her life and experiences with others. The author also noted that she doesn't have a "type" limited to African Americans or disabled. She prioritized finding love based on shared values, compatibility, and sexual desires. Additionally, she recommended showing yourself without fear of judgment or prejudice when it comes to dating or having a sexual relationship. The right person will value and respect you, disability and all.
Feature image by Renata Angerami/ Getty Images