Not too long ago, I penned a piece for the site entitled "What Should You Do If You Feel Like You Married The Wrong Person?" Ultimately, I did it for two reasons. One, I think it's a topic of conversation that isn't addressed nearly as much as it should be. Secondly, although it does indeed happen, my own work with couples has shown me that, when a lot of people feel that way, it's because they realize that while they may have loved their partner, they simply didn't know enough about them before saying "I do" (hence other pieces like "10 Things Married Couples Wished They Paid More Attention To While Dating" and "Ask These Sex-Related Questions BEFORE You Marry Him").
I say it often because it can't be said enough—going out on dates shouldn't only be about romance and spending quality time. Once you get past around the third one and you both decide that you see a potential future together (I can't tell you how many women I know who made this kind of decision all on their own; yes, you can think you are in a relationship all by yourself), the time spent really should be about getting to know each other way past the surface level.
Then, if after a few months or a couple of years, it looks like you guys are headed towards that stroll to forever, there are definitely some things that your man needs to have in place before you put on an engagement ring. For starters, things on this list that, if you take them seriously, can significantly decrease your chances of regretting marrying him later up the pike.
If I need to put all of this more plainly, I don't care how much you love a man, if he's lacking any of these things, do you, him and your potential future together a favor and wait until he gets these issues handled.
1. Clarity Concerning His Purpose
Please allow me the opportunity to use the Bible to illustrate the first two points because, whether you follow Scripture or not, I think you'll get where I'm coming from. If you read Genesis 1-2, you'll notice that before Adam was joined to his wife, there are two things that he already had—a relationship with God and a purpose/job. What this means to me is that a man is not in the position to provide, protect or lead any woman if he's not clear about why he was put on this planet. Plus, it's going to be really difficult for you to be a vessel of support and encouragement if he doesn't know what the heck he is doing with his life.
This is why I'm not big on people putting pressure on each other to get all serious in college. College is the time to figure out what your life path is going to be with as few distractions as possible. Then, once you know, it's easier to figure out who will be a great complement for you.
Your purpose, by definition, is "the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc." I know a few grown men who have no clue what their purpose in life is. Not only does this bother them, but they tend to get involved in counterproductive habits—lots of women, etc.— to cope with the frustration that they feel. I get it too because there's a bit of an identity crisis that comes with not knowing what you're put on this planet to do. Do you really want to marry a man who doesn't really know himself yet? Especially since, once he finds out what his purpose is, it could totally change him as a person? Don't answer right away. Give this one some real thought first.
2. Healthy Boundaries with His Parents
Even the Bible says that once a man and woman are joined in marriage, they should leave their parents and cleave to one another (Genesis 2:24). Unfortunately, there are a lot of folks who seem to miss the memo, big time, on this. Parents are still co-signing on loans and paying their bills. Women are going behind their husband's backs to get daddy to buy them things (SMDH). And, a lot of men are mama's boys.
How can you know if your man is one of them? Does it seem like his mother is constantly at his beck and call? Does she seem to know more about his current life than you do? Does she do things for him that he really should be doing for himself (cooking, cleaning, etc.)? Does she offer you unsolicited advice without him telling her if/when she's crossed the line? Does he always seem to take her side even when she's dead wrong?
I've got a friend who is married to a mama's boy. She has told me on more than one occasion that while she loves her husband, had she known how dependent he was on his mother (and how much he allows his mother to manipulate him), she would've never said "yes" to his proposal. That's a pretty heavy statement.
A man who loves his mom is endearing. But if he doesn't have established and consistent boundaries with both of his parents, don't assume that will miraculously change after the two of you jump the broom. That's something that needs to be discussed on the front end. As soon as possible too.
3. A Spiritual Foundation
The word "spirituality" comes from the Latin one spiritus which means "breath of life". If you think about the fact that the Scripture tells us that God "breathed life" into Adam's nostrils (Genesis 2:7), it makes total sense why most of us associate spirituality with having a relationship with a higher being.
When you think about the fact that there is plenty of data to support that having a sense of spirituality makes us more humble, compassionate and forgiving, that it makes it so much easier to deal with life's trials and challenges, and that it also makes us more optimistic and self-aware—why wouldn't you want a husband who comprises all of these attributes? Someone who relies on something bigger than himself?
There's another benefit of being with a spiritual person. Author Henry Ward Beecher, "Spirituality without morality is rootless." Although spirituality is not automatically synonymous with morality (it should be but that's another message for another time), someone who makes their spirit a priority tends to be more sensitive when it comes to their conscious and life choices. This is definitely important when it comes to honoring their marriage vows on day one—and fifty years later.
4. Good Credit
I already know. This is the discussion that people try and avoid like the plague, but if they want their marriage to go smoother, they really shouldn't. According to reports, nearly a third of Americans have a credit score that's lower than 601 (although the current average for 2019 is sitting at around 695). 30 percent have bad credit. We all know that credit is important, especially when it comes to making major purchases like a home or car. Yet, you'd be amazed by how many dating or engaged couples don't share their score with their significant other.
I once heard a financial consultant say that our credit score says a lot about our character. The reason why is because if we say that we're going to do something, including pay a bill, we should keep our word; that it speaks to our level of integrity. While there are extenuating circumstances that can sometimes make this challenging, for the most part, he's right. I know the times when my credit has been jacked up, it's because of late payments or tax issues; things that I could better control if I had been more financially proactive and responsible. Ask any wife in the world and they will scream from the rooftop that you definitely want a man who is financially on top of things.
So yeah, mostly definitely, credit scores should be a topic of discussion. If his is under 700, I'm not saying don't marry him. But I do think it's a good idea to give the relationship time for him to get those points up (you too, if need be).
5. A Financial Plan
Fail to plan. Plan to fail. Since one of the leading causes of divorce is financial stress and strain, it's also a good idea to see if you're dating the kind of man who makes financial plans for his future; that he's not the type of guy who is a financially irresponsible individual. And just what does a financially irresponsible man live like? He doesn't have any money in savings; he borrows money a lot; he has little, if any money after paying his monthly bills; he uses his credit cards more than cash; if you even remotely bring financially planning or retirement up, he changes the subject; he is always spending money on things that depreciate in value (like clothes, electronic "toys" and even cars), and he doesn't give you the impression that he pays his bills on time.
The reason why a lot of this stuff doesn't matter, nearly as much as it should, when people are dating is because, for the most part, their partner's money issues do not spill over into their own world. Oh, but once you are husband and wife, they most certainly will. Daily.
It can't be stressed enough that if your man is crazy with money, you should pump the brakes until he can get that under control. You know what they say—love is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't keep the heat on. So true, so very freakin' true.
6. The Ability to “Keep House”
A couple of days ago, I was talking to a wife who has been with her husband for many years. For whatever the reason, cleaning up came up. One of the things that she said has consistently been a point of contention in her marriage is her man sucks at making up the bed and picking things up off of their bedroom floor. His lack of cleanliness in that way made it hard for her to sleep; it has even affected their sex life because she "can't relax in mess".
When I give advice to people in new relationships, if there are two rooms of their partner's house that I recommend they check out, it's the bathroom and the bedroom. If the toilet and bathtub aren't clean and/or there's a stench in the bedroom, you're going to be in for a very uncomfortable ride in marriage; even more so if he's the one with the jacked up home and, when you bring it up, he's got an "that's what I've got you for, babe" attitude.
There are plenty of studies that support that couples who do chores together are happier in their relationship. You know what else? They have more sex too. That's why I don't care how fine he is, how well he dresses, even how great of a line-up he has—if there are always shavings in his sink, his appearance is gonna fade real fast if you make him your husband and you're always the one cleaning up after him.
7. Resolved “Baby Mama” Issues
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 13.7 million single parents in the United States. Studies also reveal that 59 percent of Black American women have children with more than one father and 24 percent of single-parent homes are led by men. All of this is enough data to make this point a relevant one.
There's one guy who I once considered "forever" with. In hindsight, I'm glad that I took a pass because he had four children by two different women. With one woman, I could never really tell if they are fully over one another. With the other, because their child came from a one-night stand, there was always profound tension between the two of them. Between hearing about the "bond" with the first one and the drama with the second, it started to get draining—to the point of being a deal-breaker.
Being a stepmother is a beautiful thing because it is an awesome responsibility that a woman chooses to do. But if your man isn't co-parenting in a healthy way with the mother of his children, ask any woman who minimized the importance of that before marrying her husband. I bet she has days' worth of stories that will make you rethink getting married until he has peace and resolve—or at the very least respect—with the mother of his kids.
8. Being Civic Service-Minded
I don't know about you, but there's nothing sexier to me than a man who sees a cause and puts his own time, effort and resources into them. Not only does it display a certain level of selflessness and sacrifice, it also shows that he cares about his community and humanity, at large.
Case in point. I recently read an article about 50 Black men who were honored several years ago for the contributions that they made to their community. Keith Young teaches youth how to design and develop their own video games. Chris Rabb teaches entrepreneurship to low-income individuals. Rashuan Williams teaches youth how to care for their environment. Norman Hurns has a youth camp for young men to develop necessary life skills. Wayne Jacobs assists ex-offenders.
I have no clue what any of these men look like. I don't need to in order to already recognize something that's very beautiful about them. There's something that is just so good about a man who gives back. It can only improve the quality of your marriage if you choose a husband who has this in his character.
Tip: If you suggest to your man that he should volunteer or contribute to his community and he gives a lot of push back, don't sleep on that either. You want a man who is giving. It helps him to be a good partner for you.
9. A Desire to Be Intimate Without Always Being Sexual
I remember a wife once telling me, "Shellie, getting married isn't about sex so much as it is about cuddling. You realize that so long as you get that, you won't need sex quite as much." First, speak for yourself, sis and two, I should've asked her husband if he echoes those sentiments. Because sex is one of the main things that makes a marital union different from any other type of relationship, I 100 percent believe that it's important, exponentially so, in a marriage (see "10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important"). I also believe that if two people are physically capable of having sex and they don't, something is very wrong in the relationship (also see "What You Should Do If You Find Yourself In A Sexless Marriage").
At the same time, I will say that it's a pretty significant red flag if you're in a relationship with someone who only comes close to you if he thinks or expects that sex—any type of sex—is about to go down. A man (especially a man who is preparing to be a husband) should be mature enough, romantic enough and self-controlled enough that he doesn't think that every kiss or even make-out session should result in nakedness.
Any married couple will tell you that there are ebbs and flows in sex. That's why it's critical that you get with someone who knows how to pull you close and be intimate without sex having to be on the menu each and every time he does so.
10. Wanting to Be Married Without You Prompting Him
Have mercy, y'all! Without a doubt, a HUGE mistake that far too many of us make is getting involved with and emotionally attached to a man who doesn't desire marriage when we most absolutely do. Unfortunately, a lot of us assume that just because someone is a great guy and has feelings for us that it will eventually blossom into a marital union. It's an epidemic, just how much that is absolutely not the case.
Yeah, never ever ever assume that. Personally, I am a huge supporter of someone saying three dates in that they are interested in a long-term relationship. Wait, let me be more specific; if what they mean by that is marriage, they should say marriage. Although some people say that bringing this topic up comes off as pressuring a person or desperation, what I think is it separates the men who want the same thing from the commitment-phobes.
I mean, don't you want a man who desires to marry you without any prompting on your part? If you can't say that's what you have right now, it's perfectly OK—encouraged even—to wait before hinting, throwing ultimatums or whatever other ideas you've got that you think will convince him to marry you. You deserve a man who wants to all on his own. Don't marry "him" until you know for a fact that he does.
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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. ;)
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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Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
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