"First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a baby carriage."
I'm sure we all can remember singing that idealistic love song as young ones, but for Tommicus Walker and LeToya Luckett-Walker, it's more than just a child's game--it's real life. With their beautiful new baby Gianna close-by during our conversation, the vibe you get from this married couple is one that's mixed with authenticity, love, soul, country, spirituality, and laughter. And it's a vibe that they say is only present because they decided to forge a new and better path individually before joining their lives together.
The two Texas natives originally didn't meet until a month after their first conversation, but it was during that time that they began to establish the foundation their relationship would be built upon: love of God and commitment to self-evolution. "After getting out of my previous marriage, where I was married for eight years, I began to really take a step back. I was fasting from dating, having sex, wanting to be around a lot of women, and just really clearing my soul and mind to hear from God," Tommicus tells xoNecole. "I was focusing on my daughter [Madison], running my business, waiting, and preparing myself for my wife to be presented to me."
As for LeToya, she explains that in life and especially in love, if you want something you never had, you had to be willing to do something you've never done. "I wanted to do things differently this time around. I didn't want him to know my name or what I did. In the past, I had put the physical sometimes before communication but for this I put communication before the physical," she says. "And there was laughter and great conversation, I felt like I knew him before. We read the Word together, we prayed, it just felt right."
With a year and three months under their belt, a new bundle of joy to add to their bliss, and new ventures on the horizon, it seems as if LeToya and Tommicus are quite literally a match made in heaven.
Read on as they share their insight on life and love in this latest segment of Our First Year.
LeToya: He just felt like home from our first conversation. I know I've been in Los Angeles for the last 13 years, but we're both from Texas. We had so much in common with the way we grew up and eating, and family time. We both wanted to raise our family in Texas so off jump, we had a lot in common. I think the first time I prayed with him, I felt different. And I was also one of those girls who had a list before, and I finally threw it away. Because, there were things that he had that were on my list, but there were other things that he had that I didn't know I needed that weren't on my list. Sometimes we can get in our own way as single women. But it's nice to know that somebody is there that can be supportive. Once I had certain conversations with him, met him, prayed with him--God put it on my heart and told me this was it. This was my husband. He felt like a teammate and there was a real partnership that came into play. And I hadn't felt that before.
"He just felt like home from our first conversation... And I hadn't felt that before."
Tommicus: I think she said it best, we had so much in common. She was country as hell and she felt like a homegirl from the jump. But when we started praying together and having that spiritual connection--it was over. Outside of my ex, she was the only other girl I actually prayed consistently on a daily basis with. We read the Bible together, we read the book of Proverbs before we even met. Knowing that she was a Christian woman and a woman of God, it just felt right. God presented her to me. I knew after the third date she was going to be my wife. And I never looked back or questioned him.
"God presented her to me. I knew after the third date she was going to be my wife. And I never looked back or questioned him."
Overcoming Fears in Marriage
Tommicus: Being that I was married previously, I always said I would never ever get married again. I didn't want to have any more kids. I didn't want to put myself in a situation where I was heartbroken and having to pull myself out of the hole again. But honestly I can say, with LeToya, I never had any fear. And that was because my mind, my body, and my spirit was so clear and God was talking to me on a daily basis. I believe Toya is my soulmate, she's my best friend, now the mother of my child, my wife. I had my heart open wide and I didn't try to have my guard up. The thing is when you know, you know.
"With LeToya, I never had any fear. And that was because my mind, my body, and my spirit was so clear and God was talking to me on a daily basis. I believe Toya is my soulmate."
LeToya: When you're in and out of relationships, you learn to practice divorce. It becomes easier and easier because you know you can survive that. When certain things would come up in our marriage, it would trigger certain thoughts where I'd think: 'is it over?' And I had to learn to work through that and let him know my triggers. And he would do the same for me. So it was just fearing having to go through a breakup, that was what my biggest fear was. Because I don't get into marriage for it not to work out.
Important Lessons in Marriage
Tommicus: The Bible tells us that life and death are in the power of our tongue. And so what I've learned to do and what I continue to do is to speak life over my wife, over my kids, and our situation. I always look at the positive, me and my wife have received so much favor in this first year. And to be able to have that covering is something I believe is so important.
LeToya: Marriage isn't a sprint, it's a marathon and it's a lifetime. You're getting to know this person, you're getting to know yourself in different lights. As a wife, you got to stay on your knees in prayer, because the enemy doesn't like marriage. And you can't take your prayer life lightly when it comes to praying for your husband, your family and for our covering. And also I came into the marriage trying to be superwoman, I had to do all the right "wife" things. I learned quickly I can't do that because I'm not a superhero. I am flawed and I had super high expectations of him and myself. You have to take this thing day by day.
"I came into the marriage trying to be superwoman, I had to do all the right wife things. I learned quickly I can't do that because I'm not a superhero. I am flawed."
Tommicus: We had to just communicate with each other about our different trigger points. That was definitely key. We both came from childhoods that's similar to a lot of others. I came from a single-parent household but I always had a stepfather. As a child, I was never able to get these things out that I somewhat feared. And this is something me and my wife talked about not too long ago, the importance of not holding stuff in. So one of the things we try to do is try to communicate with each other and listen and try to see where the person is coming from. From a relationship standpoint, I was married for eight years so of course being a new husband, Toya wanted to know what happened.
LeToya: We've had moments where Tommi can go into that mode and retreat, and he's such an incredible father. But a lot of times I have to tell him, "Babe you're not a single father anymore. You have a partner, you can come to me. You don't have to go through this alone." So that was probably one of the biggest things we had to deal with.
"We had to just communicate with each other about our different trigger points. That was definitely key."
Tommicus: I try to speak her love language through spending time, communicating, and she likes to be complimented a lot. She wants me to be the first one to say she looks beautiful or pretty. I'm always aware of that and she looks beautiful all the time. So I know that's a part of her love language and what she needs.
LeToya: We're still learning every single day! There are things that I didn't know he likes or appreciates that I do and it was something simple. For me, mine is quality time--I love having that time. Yes I love gifts as well! But I appreciate gratitude, when someone takes a beat to say, "I appreciate you for doing that." A lot of times I don't get recognized for doing certain things, I'm just expected to because I'm a woman. As women, men just expect us to do everything and to do it right and perfect. But I'm finally with someone who doesn't overlook certain things. And Tommi definitely shows gratitude a lot. For him, I think he develops new things every day.
Tommicus: I would say take care of yourself first, do not lose yourself. Make sure your mind is good, you're exercising properly and you're taking care of your body. And also know the order of marriage: putting God first, yourself second, then your wife or husband next, then your kids after that.
LeToya: The best advice I would give to someone else is marriage doesn't have to be what you saw growing up. You get to decide what your marriage is going to be. You and your spouse are in control of where your marriage takes you, outside of God. Take the time, take premarital counseling, and understand that when you get married, it's no longer about just you. Go into it with an open mind and know that there's going to be some stretching on your part. You can't have a selfish mindset going into that. So I would say: keep Christ first, make sure you're communicating with one another, go to counseling. Here it is: Christ, communication, counseling, and commitment. Those are my four C's.
"Christ, communication, counseling, and commitment. Those are my four C's."
Tommicus: The best part is traveling the world! Being able to reproduce, hitting the goals we set each year as a team and making money together with my wife.
LeToya: There's someone there to go through life with, you know they're there through the ups and downs. The partnership and the love, I'd say those are the best parts.
For more of Tommicus and LeToya, follow them on Instagram @letoyaluckett and @tommicuswalker.
Featured image via Denisha DeLane / Shutterstock.com
Originally published on April 24, 2019
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports