Anthony & Sopha Rush Reveal The Toughest Lessons They Learned During Their First Year Of Marriage

Our First Year

In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take an in-depth look at love and relationships between couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like.

If you were to ask Sopha Rush, 26, and Anthony Rush, 26, how they met, they'd recall a story that gives you Love & Basketball vibes.

The newly married college sweethearts met each other back in 2011 when Anthony transferred to her school to play basketball. Mutual friends introduced them and Sopha's interest was piqued by his mysteriousness. Anthony was reeled into Sopha by her aura and her vibe. From there, they became friends themselves, then best friends, and in 2013, made things official.

In her, Anthony saw her love for other people and God, connecting to her on a spiritual level in a way that he had never done in any other relationship before her. In him, she saw a man pursuing God wholeheartedly and God radiate through him. A quick peek at Sopha's Instagram filled with photos of her and her husband Anthony will have just about anyone labeling the couple as #relationshipgoals, but one conversation with them shows how deep their love goes and just how much being deeply rooted in Christ serves their union. The couple celebrated their first year wedding anniversary this past June.

This is their journey.

The One

Anthony Rush: I knew Sopha was the one the night she shared her testimony with me. It was that night, I wanted to just hold her as she broke down, and wrap my arms around her. It was then. For the first time, I saw her as more than just a friend, as someone that I can see myself spending my life with. I knew that I wanted my next relationship to be intentional leading eventually to marriage. I was at an age where I wasn't just going to be dating just to date. I just knew that I was ready to make this commitment.

For me, it wasn't a hard decision because I knew I wanted to grow old with her.

Sopha Rush: I knew my husband was the one after a few encounters. I don't think there was specifically one time where a lightbulb went off, but just watching my husband over the years in college. The way he loved God, his teammates, his family. It was his character that attracted me to him. The way God just radiated through him. The way he was wholeheartedly chasing after God. I always knew I wanted to get married and when we started dating, I knew we were going to get married. Just wasn't sure when. I was madly in love with this man and I just wanted to serve in ministry with him and have all his babies. So, I knew from the beginning of our relationship.

True Love Waits

Anthony: [Abstinence] wasn't challenging for me because I wanted to respect my wife's decision to wait until our wedding day.

I wasn't celibate, but practiced abstinence while waiting until we got married.

We had to set boundaries and follow through because it was temptations left and right but we had to make sure we didn't hang out past a certain time by ourselves and constantly remind ourselves of the end goal, because some days were harder than others.

Sopha: Well, I knew since 7th grade, I wanted to make a vow to God that I was going to save myself for marriage. I wanted the first time to be special and with the person I wanted to spend forever with. To me, being celibate was a gift and I wanted to honor God in waiting. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy, but it sure was worth it. Anthony was beyond respectful when it came to me wanting to wait. He understood what that meant to me and honored my decision.

I knew it was hard for him because he was practicing abstinence, but for me he waited 3 ½ years for me, and that to me spoke volumes. I've been celibate until I was 24 and married. I think being long distance for two years, helped us stay obedient because if y'all ever seen my husband, he's fine and so it was so tempting, but my husband did a great job with reminding me of the end goal when I wanted to give in and use the excuse well, we are going to get married anyways, why do we need to wait. Yeah, it wasn't easy, but because my husband was strong, we made it.

Deepest Fears

Anthony: [My biggest fear was] not being fully prepared or not really knowing what to expect when it came to living together and no longer having to do long distance. I understood it wasn't going to be easy, but I went in it thinking positively knowing we would have to go through it together as a team.

Sopha: My biggest fear walking into marriage. Not sure I had any until after we got married. I had so many expectations that were unrealistic that I began to doubt we were even going to make it past the first year. I guess when I learned that my husband isn't perfect and I can't ever change him, was when I was able to allow him to grow and become the husband I desired him to be.

Building Together

Anthony: [Our biggest challenge living together was] learning to communicate effectively. We both grew up communicating differently so it was challenging at first. We both had to learn how to respect one another and give each other space when needed. We are still learning all of these things. It doesn't just disappear overnight.

We had to learn what's hers is mine and what's mine is hers. That together we are a team.

Sopha: For us, I think the most challenging things for us was communication, and boundaries. I wasn't the best communicator because I was the type to shut down, but with time, and patience, comes growth in learning how to communicate effectively. Also respecting each other boundaries and space. I needed to learn how to let my husband have his time with his video games as much as I hated them, and learn to be let him do what helped him unwind after work. Just like I would get lost in a book, he needs the same respect when it came to his time on the game.

Anthony: I've learned the thing I like the most about us is getting to plan a future with someone. It's exciting. The thing I noticed I liked the least was how she would always shut down during conversations in the beginning of our marriage. I just had to be patient and learn how to better understand her feelings.

Sopha: We both grew up communicating differently so it was challenging at first. We both had to learn how to respect one another and give each other space when needed.

Love Lessons

Anthony: In loving her, I've learned never give up. There will be hard times, unexpected things that happen, but it's no time for us to give up on each other. We lean on God for our strength and we keep fighting together, not against one another. Not always easy but it's worth it.

Sopha: I learned how selfish I really am and how I sometimes don't put my husband first. Some days I didn't want to love him like I should because I'm in a bad mood, so I might take it out on him. So many things I've learned early in marriage that I'm so thankful I've learned. Not saying I don't ever have those days now, just not as much. Growth is a beautiful thing.

Marriage Mentors

Anthony: I go to my dad for marriage advice. We are best friends and I can talk to him about everything. He's my go-to and I look up to him because seeing my parents have a God-centered marriage has shown me the man I am striving to be for my family.

Sopha: My mother-in-law is who I go to. She has been such an amazing help. She is full of so much wisdom, plus she's been in the game for almost 20 years, so she understands the struggles and the joys in marriage. She doesn't just tell me things I want to hear, but what I need to hear. And she isn't biased when it comes to her son. She listens well.

The Best Part

Anthony: I love my wife's beautiful smile. Her selflessness and how she always looks for the best interest of others, and her love for God. She has such a gentle spirit and is always trying to help others heal and become the best person they can be. I love that she doesn't know a stranger. She loves everyone she meets.

Sopha: I love how my husband is constantly serving and mentoring young men through the sport of Basketball. Anthony has an enormous heart, making him love hard and do anything for anyone because that's just the kind of man he is. Supportive, caring and ready to help when ever needed. Super passionate about God, basketball, and family.

Follow along with the Rushs on their journey. They seek to inspire, empower, and point others closer to Jesus. Feel free to follow them on Instagram @rushanthony and @livedeeplyrooted and on Twitter @sopharush and @rushanthony.

In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take a more in-depth look at love and relationships between couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like. If you and your partner would like to be featured in the series, email us your story at submissions@xonecole.com with the subject “Our First Year"!

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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