Every day I wake up and choose to be in a relationship; it's a conscious decision that includes committing to keeping the love alive. My decision to be engaged is a choice. It takes work, even flexibility, to cultivate and preserve happiness. Real love isn't just a euphoric, spontaneous feeling––it's a deliberate choice––a plan to love each other for better and worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health.
After five years, I am more in love than ever and confident that I chose the right mate for me. How do I know this? I enjoy his companionship, our healthy debates, and our commitment to our family. We are perfectly imperfect, but happy nonetheless. Above all things, we understand our love is bigger than us. Not only does it affect us as individuals, but it also affects our future children, our family, our friends, and our community. For those reasons, we must have a shared vision of success.
Here are seven habits of happy couples that I deem necessary for the vitality of relationships.
Be Honest About Your Feelings, Be Honest With Your Mate
Vulnerability is the pinnacle of any relationship. Emotional vulnerability is the willingness to acknowledge your emotions, especially the painful ones. It can help you resolve issues and get what you need from your relationship. Executive dating coach, Connell Barrett, says speaking honestly about your emotions is a crucial part of forging a healthy, long-lasting bond with your partner.
Become a Better Listener to Your Partner
I cannot stress enough the importance of listening to your partner. Being an active listener in a relationship means that you recognize that the conversation is more about your partner than about you. It allows you to focus entirely on the emotions and experiences of your partner. Rather than planning out how you should respond or what you want to say next, you can remain fully open and engaged. When your partner feels heard, they feel appreciated.
Establish Common Hobbies
Establish common hobbies and interests to fortify your relationship. Whether it's photography, sports, cooking, or just simply shopping, it can decrease conflict and strengthen the idea that you and your partner are a team. However, if husbands and wives have a firm grasp of their roles as partners, lovers, or parents, but fail to understand what it means to be friends, they are missing out on a key component of their relationship. This does not mean you have to do everything together; you should still have your interests to preserve and maintain your own identity.
Spoil Each Other
It shouldn't take a birthday or holiday to do something special for your partner. Spoiling each other keeps things interesting, as well as makes room for spontaneity. Spoiling someone isn't just about money or material things, it also includes giving attention and affection. Surprise them on a weekday with their favorite things; dinner and a movie is always a good idea.
Be Physically Affectionate Whenever Possible
I start each morning by waking my partner with a kiss. It's my way of staying connected and embracing intimacy. Even though he's asleep, the love is still real. Clinical sexologist Charley Ferrer says, "Couples should take five minutes each morning and each night to simply hold each other. This is a wonderful way to start and end your day. Though you may give a hug before leaving for work or hug your partner before falling asleep, this is a focused moment to consciously share with your partner." While sex is important, two lovers can engage in foreplay, knowing how each other prefers to be touched. Intimacy can help you feel more loved and less alone.
Extend Grace to Your Partner
Ahhh, let me say this louder for the people in the back: EXTEND GRACE TO YOUR PARTNER. I'm not talking about forgiving them for their indiscretions, but rather the things like being late - for the first or second time - not washing the dishes, or not calling when they got to their destination. Nobody's perfect, and people mess up, even with the most minuscule of things. When you refuse to forgive, it will poison your thoughts, your heart, and your relationship.
Express Gratitude, and Then Do It Again
Gratitude plays a big part in the happiness of a union. You can express sincere gratitude for everything from dinner, cleaning of the house, to them remembering to wash your clothes on 'delicate'. Gratitude can help relationships thrive by promoting a cycle of generosity. That is, one partner's gratitude can prompt both partners to think and act in ways that convey gratitude to each other and promote commitment to their relationship. When we express ourselves with passion, it is always magical and filled with love.
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Ayana Iman is a certified life coach, professional speaker, and mama of one based in New Jersey. She's also known for her love of big hair, travel, and cooking. Find her across social @AyanaIman.
This New Scalp Care Line Is Exactly What Your Wash Days Need
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
When it comes to healthy hair care, there are a few things that will help you achieve healthy strands: a healthy hair care regime, hydration, consistent treatments, and scalp care. While scalp care is one of the most neglected practices, it is also one of the most important. Why? Because it helps promote healthy hair growth, clear hair follicles, and remove build-up.
When it comes to creating a healthy scalp routine, it helps to know exactly what you’re up against so you know how to specifically treat it. Two of the most common concerns are dandruff and dry scalp. It can be tough to decipher which is which, but here’s a quick breakdown: dry scalp is caused by a lack of moisture in the skin, while dandruff is caused by an excess of oil and yeast buildup on the scalp. Knowing that both of these are big concerns, SheaMoisture released two separate product lines to address both issues: the Scalp Moisture collection and the Anti-Dandruff collection.
Needless to say, if you tend to experience dandruff then I’d recommend you try the Anti-Dandruff collection. However, my biggest concern has always been dry scalp. A lack of moisture on the scalp can be caused by several factors like weather, age, and hair products to name a few. I’ve noticed that when I use certain gels or skip out on a deep scalp cleanse, my roots feel itchy and dry nonstop, which is uncomfortable.
The only way to relieve the discomfort is to properly wash and moisturize my roots, so I tried the Scalp Moisture collection and this is what I thought.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
First, What’s In The Collection?
The Scalp Moisture collection is a four-product line that includes a pre-wash masque, a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and a moisturizing scalp cream. Each product uses moisturizing and strengthening ingredients like aloe butter and vitamin B3 as active ingredients to provide eight times the moisture. Together, aloe butter and vitamin B3 work to restore dry and brittle hair, as well as add relief to the scalp.
Now, let’s break down each product…
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque may actually be the all-star of the collection. Using this deep conditioning masque is one of the best ways to target your dry scalp, restore hydration, and nourish your strands before shampooing.
I started by completely saturating my hair and scalp with water, then making small sections to apply the masque directly to the root. For my girls who have experience with relaxers and perms, it helps to apply the masque to your roots just like you would do with a relaxer. This way you can make sure you’ve covered as much of your scalp as possible while minimizing any breakage.
Pro tip: you can also use a color application brush to make this step easier.
After I completely covered my scalp, I massaged the product into my roots, used any excess on my strands, then left the masque in for 30 minutes. I was shocked by how moisturizing and clarifying my scalp and hair felt. One of the things that I love about the masque is the slip and how much softer it made my hair. While this is marketed as a scalp care product, it can completely transform your hair from dry and parched to completely hydrated.
In my opinion, the downside of this masque is that the quantity is too small for my liking. Truth be told, naturals go through deep conditioners faster than any other product (especially when it’s this good.) So SheaMoisture, if you’re reading this, we’d love a bigger jar.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Shampoo
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Shampoo is a gentle cleanser packed with the same moisture as the masque. The pearl-colored shampoo is lightweight with a serum-like consistency and a light and clean scent. The smell is pleasant, subtle, and not overbearing. When I applied the shampoo, I noticed immediately that it foams and lathers up very quickly, so less is more.
After applying the shampoo, I parted my hair and started at the roots to target as much of my scalp as possible. I recommend really taking the time to work the product and massage your scalp as much as possible.
Pro tip: using a scalp massager makes it easier and it feels amazing.
Once you start to massage your hair you’ll feel the product start to work. There’s a tingling sensation that might catch you off guard if you’re not used to it, but it’s not nearly as strong as other scalp products I’ve tried. I know some may not appreciate the sensation, but I loved it! My scalp felt clean, light, and breathable.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Conditioner
Like the shampoo, the SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Conditioner shares that pearly color and serum-like feel. It applies very easily while softening and moisturizing your hair. When I applied it to my hand, it gave my hands a lotion-like feel, which speaks volumes about its hydration capabilities. I also loved that the conditioner comes with a pump, instead of having to squeeze the product out – to me, it makes application easier.
I typically apply my conditioner to the ends first but because this is a scalp care product I started at the root and worked my way down to my ends. I did leave the conditioner in for ten minutes, although the bottle recommends leaving it in for three. The conditioner also provides that same breathable feel to your scalp. I honestly loved the relief.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Cream
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream is more of a daily relief product for your roots rather than your overall hair. It’s great for providing moisture and immediate relief to a dry and itchy scalp. Just like most of the collection, it gives a light and breathable feel – without the tingle. The applicator bottle targets specific parts of your scalp and makes applying easier.
Pro tip: I typically just squeeze the bottle to wherever I need the relief and use the tip to massage it into my scalp so it doesn’t mess up the hairstyle.
Overall, SheaMoisture’s scalp care line lives up to its claims – it moisturizes, strengthens, and provides immediate scalp relief. I definitely recommend trying the Scalp Moisture collection for an affordable way to treat itchy and dry scalp.
Featured image by Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Chilli's Reason For Severing All Ties With Usher In 2019 Is A Lesson We All Can Learn
Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas, a member of the iconic girl group TLC, exemplifies the importance of cutting all ties with an ex in order to find true love as she shares valuable insights about her past relationship with R&B singer Usher.
For context, the pair dated for three years, from 2001 to 2004, despite meeting nearly a decade before when Usher joined LaFace Records, the same label Chilli and her group were signed to. During that period, Usher and Chilli's union was widely admired by fans because of the couple's attractiveness and chemistry, which was shown in various music videos.
In 2004, following their split, limited details about why Usher and Chilli broke up were released to the public. But as the years progressed, social media users developed their own assumptions because, coincidently, around the time Usher and Chilli went their separate ways, he had released his hit album Confessions, and the lead single with the same name talks about a man admitting to possibly fathering a child outside of his relationship.
Due to conflicting reports from past interviews and Usher's song, many believed that infidelity on the "Yeah" singer's part could have led to the demise of his union with Chilli. In a recent interview with People magazine, Chilli --who is currently dating actor Matthew Lawrence-- opened up about her ex, how their relationship didn't necessarily end in 2004 despite it being announced to the public, and why she officially severed ties with him in 2019.
Chilli (L) and Usher (R)
Photo by KMazur/WireImage
Chilli On Her Past Relationship With Usher
During the discussion that took place earlier this month, the 52-year-old revealed that she and Usher were initially attracted to each other because of their intense chemistry.
But over the years, as their union evolved, Chilli realized that the pair was "different" and that the initial chemistry they once shared only occurred when they were working.
"We definitely had some chemistry. But working chemistry does not mean it works in your personal life. If we were working, it was great. But outside of that, we're so different," she said.
Chilli would add that even though her relationship with Usher looked great to the public, it didn't work the first time around because the "Burn" vocalist failed to meet certain requirements.
"It looked great, but in real life ... he knew he had to be a certain way with me, and he couldn't," she continued.
Chilli also disclosed that Usher's album Confessions wasn't about her and that their split in 2004 was due to opposing values and trust issues.
Still, Usher and Chilli would rekindle their union privately on and off for years when they weren't exclusively seeing other people. The "Unpretty" songstress explained the reason behind it was because they couldn't "get over" each other.
"I love hard. I was like, 'God, why can't I get over this?' He couldn't either," she stated.
Chilli On Why She Cut Contact With Usher In 2019
But all that would change in 2019 when Chilli, guided by her faith, cut off all contact with Usher because she wanted to "focus on" herself.
In addition to no longer speaking to the "Glu" singer, the mother of one decided not to date temporarily because she didn't want her past relationship with Usher to ruin her chances with a potential suitor.
"I even stopped dating. Because before that I thought if I met the right guy during that time that I wasn't over [Usher] it wouldn't work. I would never want to straddle the fence, " she said.
Toward the end of the conversation, Chilli shares that she had "no hard feelings" against Usher, who is now with Jenn Goicoechea, a senior vice president of A&R and Epic Records.
Chilli's recent admission about Usher and having to cut ties with an ex to find her significant other could motivate others to follow the same steps or at least re-evaluate the situation.
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