I'm pretty sure most of us grew up hearing that the way we start off our day ends up setting the tone for how the rest of it goes. And because of this, that's why it's a good idea to do things like pray/meditate, exercise and eat a good breakfast. But as someone who's been a marriage life coach for close to 15 years at this point, when it comes to couples doing what is needed to keep their relationship healthy, while I am a big-time advocate of morning sex (morning sex is king!), I actually believe that how a husband and wife choose to end their day is super critical to their union thriving—and lasting. It's partly because the evening is typically when the most concentrated time together is spent. Plus, even the Bible advises us not to let our sun set on our wrath (Ephesians 4:26-27). Sounds to me like even the Good Lord himself believes that how we end our day can speak volumes to how we start off the next one.
That's why I wanted to take out a few moments, just to share some tips on things that married couples can do to bring peace and emotional connection to the end of each day in their own homes. While this isn't the kind of topic that is discussed a ton, if you make a point to follow through with all seven of these suggestions, they could be what helps to turn the days that you share with your spouse into many, many years of wedded bliss.
1. Give Each Other Some “Recalibrate Space”
If you work in an outside (of your home) office space, it's a good idea to get to work early. If you work from home, it's a good idea to not work in your bedroom. Why? Well, getting to work, at least 20 minutes earlier than your scheduled time, gives you time to get into the headspace that you need to be as productive as possible. When it comes to having a home office, that can keep you from knowing when to get off of the clock. Along these same lines, I usually say to the married clients that I work with that it's a good idea to agree to leave each other alone for a good 30 minutes at the end of each day.
Work requires that you have a totally different mindset than your home life and, as one husband once said (quite well, I might add), when you walk right into the door and immediately hear all of your spouse's expectations, abruptly switching gears can actually cause you to strip them (indeed).
This doesn't mean that you have to be rude to your partner (the Good Book also says "love is not rude" in I Corinthians 13). But what it does mean is, if there are things that you would like your spouse to do and/or there is a deep conversation that needs to be had, it can be beneficial, for you both, to simply greet one another and then offer up some downtime, in different spaces, so that you can later interact from a space of calm and a sense of readiness to handle what needs to be done inside of the home; especially after a long day of typically focusing on anything and everything but your house and/or what your relationship requires.
2. Share a “High” and a “Low” with One Another
Something that I "took" from the movieThe Story of Us (Michelle Pfeiffer, Bruce Willis) is a tradition that would happen, with the family, at dinner time. Basically, every family member would take a moment out to discuss the best part of their day (the high) and the worst part of it too (the low). The reason why it stayed with me is, not only is this a cool way to spark up a conversation, but it can also help those who weren't with you all day long to get a perspective of how your time away from them went. Plus, sharing a high and a low can also cultivate a perspective of balance—to not only focus on the negative. Back when I was mentoring girls, I incorporated this, and I also do it before I start sessions with married couples.
If you've never thought about taking this approach before, I highly recommend it. After giving each other some chill out time, ask each other, "So, what was your 'high' and your 'low' today?" Make sure to listen without interrupting. Also, don't feel pressured to always have to give advice about what your partner's high or low is. Sometimes, it feels good just to feel heard and acknowledged. Bringing that type of energy into your home, at the end of the day, can also make the rest of the evening go a lot smoother.
3. Eat or Drink Something Together
Did you know that only around 40 percent of families eat dinner together 3-4 times a week and that 10 percent don't do it at all? The reason why that's so unfortunate to hear is because having a meal with the people you share a home with gives everyone the opportunity to decompress and reconnect. Just think about it—since everyone has their own lives and schedules, if you don't make a point and purpose to have dinner, you could go days (weeks even) without having some real heartfelt conversations. This is true whether you live in a household that has children or you don't.
When it comes to your spouse specifically, while you might work different shifts or there are other things on your to-do list that could prevent you from always being able to sit together at the dinner table, strive to at least make a point and practice to eat or drink something as a unit. Maybe pour a couple of glasses of wine and toast each other or commit to having a late night snack before turning in. Something as small as this is a great way to let your partner know that reconnecting time is really important to you; that prioritizing something like this is your way of investing into your relationship.
4. Try to Lighten Each Other’s Load
Proactive. I am a huge fan of proactiveness. Matter of fact, let me tell it, one of the biggest reasons why a lot of married couples struggle in their relationship is because one or both spouses spend more time being reactive (doing things to fix the damage after it's already been done) than being proactive (taking steps to prevent issues from occurring in the first place).
Whether you and your partner have been together for a year or for 10 of 'em, you probably have a "flow" to how things go when it comes to who does what in the house, who runs which errands, etc. Something that can send the message to your spouse of "I see you. I appreciate you. I want to make life easier for you" is to intentionally select something that they typically do and then do it "for them".
Remember, when you signed up to be a spouse, a part of what came with what was being a good support system for your spouse. Whether it's cooking a meal on a day when you don't typically do it, lending one of your talents to help your partner with a project of theirs or looking on their calendar to see what you can do to make their to-do list a little shorter, deciding each day to take some of the burden off of your spouse is one of the most beautifully proactive things that you could ever do.
5. Spend (at Least) 30 Minutes of Quality Time Together
How crazy is it that (when we're not in a pandemic), couples, on average, only spend 2-2 ½ hours a day (including on the weekends) together? Hmph. No wonder so many office affairs happen, considering you're spending quadruple that amount of time with your co-workers (geeze). Anyway, the only way that a relationship can truly thrive is if you are intentional about nurturing it. One of the best ways to do that is by spending quality time with your spouse. Cook together. Watch a movie together. Take a walk after dinner together. Read to each other. Play a board game. Crank up a favorite playlist and dance. Find a way to carve out, no less than thirty minutes, that is nothing but you and your partner's time alone. It's a great way to (re)connect while also conveying to your spouse that they are a top priority—no matter what else may also be on your plate.
6. Do Something Physically Affectionate
Whew. Marriage. Whenever I'm working with a couple, I ask them how long it's been since they've had sex, and they look up in the air like they honestly can't remember, I typically tend to say something along the lines of, "Man, if there's something I would definitely not want to deprive myself of, as a married person, is sex. With all that marriage demands, you guys deserve every orgasm you can find!" So yeah, I am a huge advocate of husbands and wives gettin' it in as much as possible (check out "Married Couples, What You May Need Is Sex. Every Day. For A Month. Straight.", "10 Simple Ways Married Couples Can Make More Time For Sex", "10 Married Couples Share The Keys To Their Totally Off-The-Chain Sex Life" and "10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important"). But even when sex can't go down, there's always time to be physically affectionate. Hold hands while you're sitting next to one another. Cuddle while you're sitting on the couch. Kiss each other while passing in the kitchen or hallway. Not only will doing things like this help you to feel closer to your spouse, the purposeful acts of affection can convey calmness and sincerity too.
7. Go to Bed at the Same Time (at Least Three Times a Week)
Back when I wrote the article, "7 Things Married Couples Do To Damage Their Sex Lives & Don't Even Know It", one of the things that I shared was there are studies which indicate that as much as 75 percent of couples do not go to bed together at the same time. This not only wreaks havoc on their sex life, but it can trigger overall marital conflict as well. I get that sometimes one spouse being a morning person while the other is a night owl, having extra projects to do or even wanting a little bit of time to yourself (especially if you've got children) can make going to bed together at the same time, seven days a week, a close-to-impossible task. But for the sake of pillow talk, more sex and honestly, a sounder night's sleep, try and commit to doing it no less than three days a week. Cuddling up in your spouse's arms (and maybe getting a little bit of midnight nookie sometimes too) can be one of the best ways to close out your night—and yes, start off fresh with a whole new day.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Dating a water sign is full of love and intensity. Water signs are often known to be more emotional than the rest of the zodiac, but what does this mean for their love life and for dating a water sign yourself? Well, it means experiencing a love that is refreshing at its best, consuming at its worst, but more importantly, a love that is deeply felt. See, water signs often find power in expressing their emotions, and being so vulnerable with their inner world creates partners who don’t just tell you how much they love and feel for you, but they want to show you so that you can feel it as well.
Water signs that are evolved and aligned with their highest selves are some of the most loving, romantic, and compassionate partners to have. You don’t have to guess with a water sign. If they like you, they will tell you, and if they don’t, they will tell you that as well. Even though water signs can be a little mysterious sometimes, they aren’t ones to hold back when it comes to expressing how they are feeling, which leads to a sense of transparency when dating them. Water signs at their worst, however, can be controlling and moody, and it depends on the person at hand. Water signs feel everything so deeply, and they can often attract negative energy into their life and let it consume them.
When it comes down to it, water signs put their relationships and loved ones first in life. So much of their time and day-to-day life is wrapped up in whom they love and care for, so they make a dedicated partner, to say the least. Sexually, water signs tend to be some of the most sensual as they need to feel the connection of the relationship on every level, and they crave this type of intimacy with their partners. They are sincere lovers who can intuitively feel how you feel and often read your mind because of it. They want to be known as a good partner, and although there are some water signs notoriously known for their toxic behavior, when you get a good one, you are loved by them for life.
Dating a Cancer
Cancers are known for their nurturing energy, though those close to them know there is a lot more to it than that. Cancers have a deep yearning for stability and safety and create their relationships around this part of themselves. Family and close loved ones are everything to a Cancer, and this is a partner that is perfect to bring home to the parents, and one whom you can build a strong family foundation with yourself as well. Cancers are the type of partners to treat you to something special that you mentioned once in passing and to make you feel like you are the center of their world.
At their best, Cancers are nurturing and protective, at their worst they are moody and restrictive.
The perfect types of date nights for a Cancer are ones where there aren't too many people around, and preferably a romantic date at home or somewhere they have already been and love. Many Cancers are known for their homemaking skills as well so don’t be shocked if they try to take rein here and surprise you with a homemade meal of your favorite dish. Cancers are homebodies, so if they invite you into their home, then that is a good sign they feel safe and comfortable with you which they need as a basis for the relationship. Dating a Cancer is a nostalgic type of love.
Learn how a Cancer pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Dating a Scorpio
Scorpios are passionate lovers and will go to the ends of the earth for you. Dating a Scorpio is like entering the depths of love, as they only form bonds with those they feel they have a strong connection with. Every Scorpio is different, and this is a sign that if you dated a few of them, you would see some similarities, but the experience you have of them will be completely different. Scorpios are masters at mirroring energy, and if they feel the love they are looking to give to another, then you can be assured they will give their all to the relationship.
At their best, Scorpios are loyal and magnetic, and at their worst, they are jealous and resentful.
Scorpio is another private sign, as most water signs are, and a perfect date night for them is one with moody lighting, minimal people or interruptions, and an intimate sort of environment. Scorpio is an intrigued lover and will want to know absolutely everything about you right away, but will take some time divulging any information about themselves. Dating a Scorpio is sexy, and you can feel their love and attraction towards you strongly when they are interested.
Learn how a Scorpio pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Dating a Pisces
Pisces is the hopeless romantic of the zodiac, and dreams of a fairytale type of love. This is the type of lover who wants to immerse themselves in art, fun events, music, and movies. They cherish every moment they spend with their partners, and love is never a dull experience for them. Pisces has a habit of being all over the place so this is a relationship that will sure to be a whirlwind, but one where you feel like you are dancing together rather than alone. Pisces are givers that want to make their partners feel loved the way they wish to. They tend to attract people who are more organized or “put together” than them, as they love to grow and learn more through their partnerships. This is the type of partner who wants to be led more than lead.
At their best, they are creative and compassionate, at their worst they are confused and co-dependent.
The perfect date night for a Pisces is one where you take the lead and plan something. They love to be thought of sincerely, and they will be swooned if you take them to their special places or do something that brings out their more extroverted side. Organizing something for them, not being flaky, and also taking your time when developing the relationship are all favored by Pisces. Dating a Pisces is like entering a dream of their own making.
Learn how a Pisces pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
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