The New Year has finally arrived after the wild ride that was 2020. This month we've got Mars finally shifting out of impulsive Aries after a six-month stint into down-to-earth Taurus for the next couple of months, gifting us with a more grounded, steady approach to our 2021 resolutions. When Venus and the Moon meet up in Capricorn, it's time to get serious, whether that's taking a relationship to the next level or committing to that new career goal. The middle of the month could shake things up once Uranus goes direct. Towards the end of the month, things are getting a little weird with our first Mercury Retrograde of the year. Read more to see how this month's cosmic blueprint affects your zodiac sign!
AriesLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The New Year starts off on a high note with Mars leaving your sign and transitioning into Taurus to help mellow you out. When Mars enters Taurus on the 6th, you're taking a slow and steady pace towards your financial goals. On the 8th, Mercury shifts into Aquarius reigniting the flame of passion towards your dreams. Rally the troops, Aries. There are people that can't wait to be a part of what you're creating! When Venus and the Moon meet up on the 13th, you're attracting positive feedback from an influential figure that could help boost your own social status through an opportunity extended to you.
On the 14th, Uranus goes direct which could require you to switch up your approach to making money. Don't limit your abundance by pigeon-holing yourself into one lane when you have the ability to expand in other directions. When Jupiter squares this part of your chart you're encouraged to embrace the changing tide guiding you toward a new tribe. Aquarius season officially begins on the 19th, assisting you in making new friends and growing your social media following. The Full Moon on the 28th invites you to nurture your inner child by going on an adventure or doing something creative. Some of you may even announce a pregnancy around this time. January winds down with Mercury going retrograde, giving you a chance to revisit some old connections that may have the potential to be integrated into your life again.
TaurusLaci Jordan for xoNecole
January begins with Mars transitioning into your sign after a six-month long stint in Aries. Over the next couple of months, you'll have a lot more energy to get things done with a slow and steady approach. When Mercury enters Aquarius, you're focused on strategizing your way up the career ladder. On the 13th, Venus meets up with the Moon which could have you attracting romance from overseas or from someone who is culturally different from you. When it comes to finances, imports and exports are on the brain as you come up with some ways to work around the current shipping delays.
Uranus goes direct on the 14th which could have you feeling a little agitated. Be mindful of your temper leading up to Jupiter squaring off with Uranus on the 17th. Either your supervisor, or someone in a position of authority, is getting on your last nerve. Don't let them take you there! On the 19th, the Sun enters Aquarius which could have you receiving recognition for handling a recent career challenge with such grace. The Full Moon on the 28th could stir up some tension within the home environment or family unit. Take a deep breath and count to ten before responding. The month closes with Mercury going retrograde, inviting you to reassess your strategy for success. Work smarter, not harder.
GeminiLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The New Year kicks off with Mars entering Taurus on the 6th which could have your energy levels lower than usual. Avoid doing the most during this transit and pace yourself when it comes to achieving your goals in the year ahead. When Venus and the New Moon meet up on the 13th, financial support lands in your lap from an unexpected source. On the 14th, Uranus stations direct after disrupting your subconscious for the past five months. The greatest revolution is our personal, inner transformation. When Jupiter squares this part of your chart, you may feel like someone is trying to enforce their way onto you as if they're some Higher Power. Avoid getting sucked into their drama of self-righteousness and continue along your own path.
The Sun enters Aquarius on the 19th, encouraging you to expand your horizons and making this a good time to go back to school or sign up for that workshop to refine your knowledge. On the 28th, the Full Moon motivates you to use your gift of gab to catapult you into the spotlight. It's your time to shine, superstar! January winds down with your ruling planet going retrograde, making it a good time to review any travel plans, study material, or written work to make sure everything is in order. If you're taking a trip, make sure to arrive at the airport earlier than usual to avoid delays!
CancerLaci Jordan for xoNecole
You can finally breathe a sigh of relief now that Mars has exited fellow cardinal sign Aries and transitioned into slow and steady Taurus. The troops are rallying around in support of you so make sure you're using your social network to your advantage. When Mercury shifts into Aquarius, you're focused on analyzing your emotional landscape which could have you feeling a bit disconnected from others. On the 8th, Venus enters Capricorn which has you considering a long-term commitment with your current partner. If you're single, the New Moon on the 13th could orchestrate a fated encounter with someone who will be significant to you in the year ahead.
On the 14th, Uranus goes direct which could be the lucky break you've been waiting for to catapult your brand or business to the next level. Unfortunately, with your success comes jealousy from those intimidated by your will power to make sh*t happen. The Sun enters Aquarius on the 19th, inviting you to take a more objective look at some of the painful experiences you typically cling to, but this energy helps you healthily detach that old sob story. The Full Moon on the 28th helps you resolve any financial issues by clearing out debt and those frivolous spending habits you've developed during the quarantine. January wraps up with Mercury going retrograde, guiding you to uncover another layer of your healing process.
LeoLaci Jordan for xoNecole
There's a lot of action taking place for your sign this mont,h starting off with Mars transitioning into Taurus which has you feeling the pressure to make an impression within your chosen career path. When Mercury enters Aquarius on the 8th, you're having some important conversations with a significant other, business partner, or employer. On the 13th, Venus links up with the New Moon in Capricorn inviting you to get more disciplined when it comes to your health. A new workout plan could be just what you need to jumpstart your fitness resolutions.
Lay low around the 14th as there will likely be a bit of a shake up when Uranus stations direct. Between your boss and your spouse, you may feel like you've had enough of everyone's demands when Jupiter squares Uranus on the 17th. The Sun enters Aquarius on the 19th, encouraging you to partner up with more like-minded people that can help you achieve your dreams. The Full Moon in your sign on the 28th is a great time to reveal your new hairstyle or ensemble you've been dying to show off. The month winds down with our first Mercury retrograde of the year giving you a chance to revise existing contracts and agreements so they serve all parties involved.
VirgoLaci Jordan for xoNecole
After a crazy 2020, you're still feeling pretty optimistic about the New Year, thanks to Mars finally letting up on the gas in Aries and transitioning into Taurus on the 6th. Over the next couple of months, your energy will be exerted towards higher learning, international affairs, and long-distance travel. When Venus and the New Moon meet up in Capricorn, you're feeling the romance in the air. Work can wait another day. Schedule some time to cuddle with bae or have a coffee date with a new suitor. On the 14th, Uranus goes direct, gifting you a much-needed "a-ha" moment about something that has been holding up your spiritual growth.
Be mindful of how much time you're spending on online—whether you're researching your latest topic of interest or casually scrolling through Twitter. When Jupiter squares Uranus on the 17th, you could be experiencing technology burnout. Close your laptop and put your phone on DND for a day. On the 19th, the Sun enters Aquarius encouraging you to find a community to hold you accountable for your health and fitness goals. The Full Moon on the 28th motivates you to wrap up a cycle in which you've been dimming your shine. January comes to a close with Mercury going retrograde, inviting you to revisit an old routine that contributed to a more balanced lifestyle.
LibraLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The New Year kicks off with Mars entering Taurus, directing your energy towards healing emotional wounds and traumas that affected your self-esteem. On the 8th, Mercury enters Aquarius encouraging you to indulge in some romance. If you're single, you could actually wind up getting lucky on a dating app over the next few weeks. When Venus and the New Moon meet up in Capricorn, you're setting new foundations with some long-term investments, making this the perfect time to buy a new home or rental property.
Uranus goes direct on the 14th which could cause some emotional disruptions, especially when Jupiter squares this part of your chart on the 17th. You'll be a little more sensitive around this time so be gentle with yourself and avoid harsh people that ruffle your feathers. On the 19th, the Sun enters Aquarius, reminding you to let your freak flag fly. Most people know you to be prim and proper but it's time to let your wild side out to give voice to your creative genius. The Full Moon on the 28th could be a time of sudden growth, especially if you're an aspiring influencer. January wraps up with Mercury going retrograde and some former romantic interests hitting you up in your DMs.
ScorpioLaci Jordan for xoNecole
January is packed with a lot of action for you this month, starting out with Mars entering Taurus which has you directing your energy towards relationships, business partnerships, and contractual agreements. Over the next couple of months, you could find yourself solidifying more solid connections, whether professionally or romantically. When Mercury enters Aquarius, home and family matters receive much of your attention. On the 13th, Venus nestles up with the New Moon in Capricorn which has you on the receiving end of some important communications about your career and finances.
A minor shake up in a significant partnership can occur when Uranus goes direct on the 14th. When Jupiter squares this part of your chart, be mindful of reacting strongly to other people's annoying behavior. The Sun enters Aquarius on the 19th, encouraging you to redefine what family means for you. Planning for renovations or a relocation is also supported. You could be celebrating a long-awaited career breakthrough around the Full Moon in Leo. See where hard work and consistent effort gets you? The month comes to a close with Mercury going retrograde. Avoid signing a lease or closing on a house until mid-March to avoid issues later down the line.
SagittariusLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The New Year kicks off with you setting some intentions to improve your health when Mars enters Taurus on the 6th. Although this is a time in which you'll likely want to lean into what makes you comfortable, you're encouraged to create some new habits and routines that truly support your well-being. When Mercury enters Aquarius, you're strategizing ways to expand your reach on within your local community, making this a good time to embrace your humanitarian side. On the 13th, Venus meets up with the Moon in Capricorn, helping you attract a new opportunity that will help you achieve more long-lasting financial security.
When Jupiter squares Uranus on the 17th, be mindful of erratic communication, particularly with people in the workplace. With these planets duking it out in fixed signs, there could be a clash of opinions. Do your best to handle it with grace. On the 20th, the Sun enters Aquarius, making this a great time to work on that novel, blog, or website you want to launch. Revamping your social media aesthetic is also favorable during this time. The Full Moon on the 28th illuminates your path through some sort of spiritual breakthrough. The month wraps up with Mercury going retrograde, giving you a chance to make some final touches for your big debut.
CapricornLaci Jordan for xoNecole
Creativity and romance are lighting up your world when Mars enters Taurus on the 6th. If you've been wanting to start a project, now is the time to get to work. Just make sure to carve out some time for your inner child to play as well. When Venus enters your sign on the 8th, your personal magnetism has you on the receiving end of some amazing opportunities that can help you establish long-term wealth. The New Moon on the 13th invites you to reinvent yourself in some way, making this the perfect time for a new hairstyle or an overhaul of your wardrobe.
Around the middle of the month, Uranus goes direct, resulting in a pleasant surprise from a romantic suitor or someone that admires your creative gifts. You never know who's watching you these days. When Jupiter squares Uranus on the 17th, be mindful of making erratic decisions about your money. Aquarius season officially begins on the 19th, encouraging you to explore innovative ways to get in your bag. The Full Moon on the 28th motivates you to overcome any fears of standing out from the crowd. January wraps up with Mercury going retrograde, making this a good time to reassess your budget, debt, and savings plan.
AquariusLaci Jordan for xoNecole
January is packed with action for you this month starting off with Mars directing your energy towards your home environment. The next couple of months invite you to indulge in your creature comforts. When Mercury enters your sign on the 8th, life is getting busy and everybody wants to be all up in your business. Don't be afraid to use the DND option on your phone when you need a break. On the 14th, Uranus goes direct which may require you to think on your toes if a sudden change arises on the home front. Emotions may be on edge when Jupiter squares Uranus so be mindful of family drama around this time.
Your birthday season officially begins when the Sun enters your sign on the 19th. It's time to reintroduce the world to the new you. The first quarter moon in Taurus helps you smooth out any tension that may have occurred with your family or roommates. A significant relationship or business partnership could be going through some changes as you choose to strike out on your own. The month comes to a close with Mercury retracing its steps through your sign, giving you the opportunity to double-back on an important conversation that was left open-ended.
PiscesLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The month begins with Mars directing your energy towards all of the amazing money-making ideas you've had lately but lacked the vitality to follow through on. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Your disciplined effort can have you seeing big results in a short amount of time. When Venus enters Capricorn, you could find yourself attracting a lot of attention online, making this an opportune time to gather supporters for your dream team. The New Moon on the 13th encourages you to shoot for the stars and surround yourself with people that truly want to see you succeed.
On the 14th, Uranus goes direct which could have you striking gold with a genius idea. When the Sun enters Aquarius take some time to disconnect from the daily grind to reconnect with your Higher Power. The Full Moon on the 28th could reveal some hidden motives from someone in the workplace but it's nothing you can't handle with some nice, assertive boundaries or a simple "No, thanks. I'm not interested." January wraps up with our first Mercury Retrograde of the year inviting you to tie up loose ends so you can start your new solar year baggage-free.
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Featured image by Laci Jordan for xoNecole.com
- Your March 2021 Horoscope Is Here - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
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Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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What Is A 'Monogamy Agreement' And Should You Have One?
As a writer, I've gotta admit that it can get more and more challenging to tackle certain topics. Why? It's because I'm a pretty word-literal person. Yet, like a lot of people who I witness on a daily basis, who constantly move the goalposts in order to suit whatever whim they're on at any given moment, even the dictionary has a way of doing something similar when it comes to various words' definitions.
Take monogamy, for example. When I was growing up, it meant "married to one person for a lifetime." This meant that you couldn't be remarried and technically consider yourself monogamous (because you're not with the first person you said vows to). And you definitely couldn't be living with someone or in a long-term relationship and use the word. No, for you, something like "exclusive" would be more accurate (and that's actually the word that I lean into in those instances even now).
These days, though, the goalpost says that monogamy is "marriage with only one person at a time." So, while people who've had more than one spouse can now use the word, when it comes to what we're about to dive into today (a monogamy agreement), folks who are interested in those would still be far better off going with something like "exclusive" to drive their point home. That's because this topic doesn't really have anything to do with marriage…although it does approach commitment in an interesting kind of way.
Yeah, in a world that is ever finding ways to change marriage, redefine marriage or figure out how close they can get to marriage without actually getting married, monogamy agreements have entered the chat. And because we try to cover as many bases as possible, basically on the "FYI tip," I wanted to take a moment to break down what exactly they are.
Let’s Tackle Traditional Marriage First. For Clarity’s Sake.
I won't lie — even as someone who's been working with married couples for many years now, whenever I happen upon a healthy (first) and happy (second) married couple of more than a decade, I'm halfway in shock. That's because, these days, people seem to treat the sacredness of marriage like they would a dating relationship — they have a big party in the form of a wedding, pledge to God and everyone present that they're not going anywhere (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7) and that their love is patient (I Corinthians 13:4) and then, somewhere down the line, when things get rough, they end it…only to rinse and repeat.
Now when it comes to things like infidelity and abuse, that's not what I'm speaking of here. I'm talking about there are so many people acting like they are married before they actually are (a boyfriend or girlfriend is not a husband or wife) that by the time they do say "I do," they are numbed out to the fact that a marriage is supposed to be several steps up in seriousness and sacredness than a dating dynamic is.
I definitely could go on and on about how there is supposed to be a boatload of integrity behind the vows that are exchanged between two people. However, this article isn't about marriage — it's about monogamy agreements. What I will say about marriage, for now, is it's not just about if you love someone a lot. Ask any pastor, marriage counselor, or even lawyer worth their merit, and they will confirm the fact that marriage is a legal contract — that you are not just vowing sentiments and emotional promises. No, under the law of marriage, there are also certain rights and responsibilities that you are agreeing to as well. That's why people should go into marriage with a very sober and level-headed mind because they're a lot easier to get into than they are to get out of. No doubt about it.
Speaking of legalities, let's touch on marriage licenses for a moment, shall we? Because there is something about them that you actually may not know (that I absolutely think that you should).
So, What’s the Deal with Marriage Licenses and Marriage Certificates?
Although this really could get its own article, let me just say that marriage licenses definitely deserve some level of side-eye in this country. Even though history says that it started out as being a business contract in England, in America, the long short of it is racist politicians used marriage licenses as a way to keep track of interracial couples (you can read more about it here, here, and here). Yep. So, that's part of the reason why even some traditionally married couples are not super fond of marriage licenses — because, basically, the government is "regulating" the relationship on some level.
With that cleared up, just what is the difference between a marriage license and a marriage certificate? Good question. A marriage license is what allows you to get married in your state prior to saying "I do," while a marriage certificate is a document that proves you are married once your wedding ceremony is actually over.
Can you get a marriage certificate without a marriage license? The short answer would be "no," although couples who fall into the category of "common law marriage" sometimes are able to work around this based on what state they live in. For everyone else, getting married without a marriage license is basically a commitment ceremony. That's because, in order to get a marriage license or marriage certificate, your state's county clerk would have to issue you one.
Now, I ain't got no lies to tell you — go to YouTube, and you will see a good amount of videos (like this one here) stating that not only can you work around not getting a marriage license, you absolutely should. To that, I'll just say that one of the biggest problems with social media is everyone is a so-called expert now, even if they have no credentials to back it up. So with that in mind, if this section of the article has you tempted to go down a long rabbit hole (and I totally get it if it does), speak with some people who have actual and literal experience in the field in your state. Don't just go rogue with your own resolve (please don't let YouTube and TikTok hem you up).
Okay, So What Is This Whole Monogamy Agreement Thing About?
So, what does all of that have to do with a monogamy agreement? Well, in order to explain why some people are opting for it as an alternative to a marriage license (or marriage altogether), it was important to explain marriage licenses and certificates just so that you could clearly get what the differences are.
Now that you know, a monogamy agreement is pretty much just how it sounds: it's an agreement that is established between two people who want to have some form of a commitment to one another, yet they don't want all of the legalities that come with traditional marriage.
If you're trying to wrap your head around that, I'll explain it to you this way. You've probably heard someone say that they wish that the marriage contract could be renegotiated every few years. For instance, rather than being "locked into" until death parts us, every five years or so, they wish that they could revisit their marriage to see if they want to opt-out, change certain initial agreements, or restructure the marriage altogether. Well, for folks who are wired this way, a monogamy agreement is probably the best route for them to take because, again, although it's not a legally binding contract, it is a formal agreement between them and their partner about what each of their expectations is.
See it like an integrity agreement — no one is making assumptions about where things stand or where things are headed (hopefully); the monogamy agreement puts things in black and white so that it's all crystal clear.
And when I say "black and white," I literally mean just that. Again, although it's not a legal contract, it is a document that lays everything out so that there is no confusion. And what do I mean by "everything"? It's totally up to you and your partner, yet some of the things that people usually include are goals and values, sexual expectations, financial responsibilities, boundaries (both in and outside of the relationship), how infidelity is defined, ultimate goals for the relationship — and yes, when the agreement is up for renegotiation whether that's in a year, five years or 10.
Who Should Consider a Monogamy Agreement?
Now that you know more about what a monogamy agreement is, let's begin to land this plane with the people a monogamy agreement may be best suited for. While at the end of the day, the short answer is anyone who wants one, there's a specific reason why I decided to even broach this topic.
It's because, while it's not (yet) earth-shattering in either direction, marriage is somewhat on the decline as cohabitation is on the rise in this country. And while research continues to reveal that married couples are more satisfied with their relationship than folks who live together and many who do cohabitate, they see it as a stepping stone towards becoming spouses at some point, let's not act like millennials (and under) aren't a bit gun shy when it comes to saying "I do."
Reportedly, 56 percent of them are not married. For many women, it's because they are prioritizing their education and careers over marriage and a family. Also, some suffer from what is known as gamophobia (the technical term for having a fear of getting married), in part due to a pattern of failed relationships, being the child of divorce (divorce affects children more than a lot of people want to accept) and what getting divorced themselves could possibly cost them. Then there are those who just never wanted to get married…yet that doesn't mean that they don't believe in some form of commitment on some level.
For individuals who don't want to casually date or even just sit at the "boyfriend/girlfriend level" for years on end, monogamy agreements may be a solid fit. You can have your own version of a commitment ceremony (or not), knowing that you're not on one page regarding what your relationship is about while your partner is somewhere totally different. There's no confusion because you literally have documentation about where the two of you are.
Now, I will say this: no agreement works if two people's words are trash (LOL). Yet honestly, that can apply to traditional marriage or a monogamy agreement. I'm just putting you on to what a monogamy agreement is all about if you've been trying to figure out how to have a serious commitment without a legal contract.
No doubt about it, monogamy agreements are gaining some real traction out in these streets.
Something for the committed-yet-not-marriage-minded.
Interesting, right? Relationships always are, chile.
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