In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take an in-depth look at love and relationships between married couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like.
Whether it is with our friendships or our partners, God makes no mistake when placing the right people in our lives. For married couple Jamal and Lisa Ford, God was very instrumental in the way they found each other and later found love. Their love story began way, way back in the day when the two were only kids. At nine years old, a young Lisa was attending children's church like she did any other Sunday. To her surprise, there was an unfamiliar eight-year-old boy sitting in her usual seat. As kids, they would meet as strangers, unaware of the love story that would unfold between them years later as they grew into adulthood. It was the start of their forever, but neither of them knew it yet.
After meeting, Lisa and Jamal became friends and would eventually become a couple in 2014. They'd date for six years before officially tying the knot and saying "I do". For this married couple of nearly a year, it wasn't hard for them to see a future together. While Lisa and Jamal knew each other for most of their lives, they naturally had a bond with one another that grew into true love. According to Lisa, marriage is about making your own rules. So the couple makes it a priority to not only keep their marriage fun and exciting, but to also build a legacy together for their family and future generations.
In this installment of "Our First Year", xoNecole was able to sit down with Lisa and Jamal to talk more about patience with one another, facing marital fears, and trusting God as the foundation of love.
How They Met
Lisa: We actually met in children's church. We were both young, aged 8 and 9. One day I saw that he was sitting in my seat. I thought to myself, 'Who is this kid sitting in my seat?' He was visiting the church that day, so I was definitely curious to know who he was and why he chose my seat to sit in (laughs).
Jamal: She's right (laughs). It was my first day at the church and while I was sitting in her seat, I was meeting my cousin there too. My cousin just so happened to be Lisa's best friend at the time. So after church, I went to my cousin's house for dinner and they both still talked about "the boy that was in Lisa's seat" (laughs).
Lisa: We started talking to each other in the summer of 2014 and dated in the fall. I remember telling my best friend, "I wonder if he's going to give me a promise ring soon." My friend thought I was crazy and joked that we only have been dating for a short while. But the reason why I mentioned the promise ring is because I knew he was the one. We started off as friends and gradually became each other's best friend. I just knew he was my person.
Jamal: I knew Lisa was the one because when we were dating I would say to myself, 'I don't see myself being with anyone else.' Thinking about that really made me want to see this through and take that next step with her.
Courtesy of Lisa Ford
"I mentioned the promise ring is because I knew he was the one. We started off as friends and gradually became each other's best friend. I just knew he was my person."
Lisa: My biggest fear walking into marriage was that we would get so caught up in a routine and we would forget about the romance. Growing up, I saw a lot of married couples who didn't look happy. I knew I didn't want that to be my story. I didn't want to just settle in a marriage where things became predictable. I always wanted to have that romance aspect in marriage. What honestly helped me get over my fear before getting married was to just get married. Once we were married, we talked about how we wanted our marriage to be and defined certain things for us to do in order to keep our marriage fun.
Jamal: My biggest fear was finances.When I was trying to find a ring for her, I was in college at the time. So I thought about just being able to afford things and provide for her whenever she needed. But Lisa is very driven, so I knew that she would help if we ever had any finance troubles. I trust her and just the nature of our relationship helped me get over that fear.
Lisa: For me, one of the biggest challenges was trying to balance building a marriage and building a business. I am really driven and once I say I am going to do something, I stick it out. Even if that means me working till late at night. That was hard for Jamal because by the time I'm done working, I don't want to spend any quality time [together]. I just want to go to bed.
Jamal: I know for me, I have been navigating through my mental health. I have PTSD and it can be hard sometimes for Lisa. Before we even got married, she was helping me with it. I feel so blessed to have been supported by her all this time. She has been patient. She would talk me through my different emotions and just be there for me. It's very healing knowing you have someone in your corner when you have a mental health condition. I really appreciate her.
Jamal: There is no limit to how much you can love someone. Love is selfless and, in the name of love, you are capable of doing anything for someone without expecting anything in return.
Lisa: My biggest lesson has been loving someone the way they need to be loved. If I am loving you the way I receive love, then it doesn't benefit the other person. So it's important to know how to show up for my husband in a way that he will be able to receive my love for him.
Courtesy of Lisa Ford
"There is no limit to how much you can love someone. Love is selfless and, in the name of love, you are capable of doing anything for someone without expecting anything in return."
Lisa: This may sound materialistic, but we want to be the first millionaires of our family (laughs). We are trying to break generational curses and create that wealth. We have seen our parents work so hard and they are still working till this day. We want to be able to help our family to the point where they can enjoy life.
Jamal: We definitely want to help support our families financially, but we also want to help the less fortunate. Really make an impact in the community and bring positive change.
Featured image courtesy of Lisa and Jamal
When Megan Thee Stallion dropped “Hiss,” a shift happened. From the audacious lyrics to the striking visuals, there was no doubt that the song and video would go viral. The opening of the video shows the H-town hottie rocking a barely there Shibari red dress, showing off her voluptuous frame. It was a sexy moment created by Timeekah Murphy of Alani Taylor. The designer exclusively tells us how the opportunity came about and what it was like seeing her design on Megan for the first time.
xoNecole: How did the opportunity to create such an iconic look for Megan Thee Stallion's "Hiss" video come about?
Timeekah Murphy: The opportunity came from a DM from celebrity stylist Zerina Akers. She asked for a unique Shibari piece for Megan, and I needed to get it done in two days. So, of course, I did everything in my power to make it happen. I've always wanted to design for Megan, so this was an awesome opportunity for me.
xoN: What was that initial feeling of seeing the dress on her for the first time?
TM: I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
xoN: Did you meet her? If so, how was that moment?
TM: I didn't meet Megan during the shoot, but during my time in LA, I got the opportunity to meet her at LA Pride with Tiffany Haddish, Common, and EJ King (stylist). Megan is such an amazing person, so it made it even better to know that my designs were going to be worn by her. I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her.
"I was shocked because, at first, I thought it hadn't been used. I saw Megan's last video and thought, damn, maybe it didn't fit. So, to see it on such an amazing video was breathtaking. I was beyond excited to finally say I designed for her."
xoN: Walk us through the creation of the dress. How did you come up with the look, and how long did it take to make it?
TM: I was the co-designer for a brand called Deviant in 2018-2020, and we used to make custom Shibari pieces. That's how Zerina knew me. So I'm very familiar with making these types of pieces. We made plenty for Beyoncé, Cardi B, Tiffany Haddish, Tyra Banks, and so many others. So Zerina knew exactly what she wanted.
To get it done, it took me a day and a half. It's very intricate and time-consuming, so I spent about six hours making it then I sent an image of it to Zerina, and she didn't approve the first one, so I had to start from scratch again after getting my guidance and understanding of what was needed. The next day, I went to The Lab and created another version, and she approved it. I had to get it shipped overnight so that she would get it in time and fast forward to seeing it on the big screen.
xoN: What's next for you?
TM: Everything. The sky is not my limit, so the Alani Taylor brand is expanding into so many different avenues. We are getting involved in the community more, offering sewing classes to the youth. I've opened up a store for my brand in Atlanta and now preparing for fall/winter Fashion Week.
Megan Thee Stallion "Hiss" video/ YouTube
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Whoever coined the phrase, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” certainly was not referring to the state of our dating scene. Whether online or in real life, you don't have to go far to hear the grievances of singles calling for the immediate repair of all leaks, cracks, and fractures in the dating pool.
No matter the state you live in, your age, how much you earn for a living, or if you’re a chronic app dater, there’s a general consensus that something (anything) must be done to restore the hope of singles looking for long-term, fulfilling relationships. And as many of us hold on to the hope for an unexpected cross-encounter with our next love story, others are leaning on the side of giving up completely. But before throwing in the towel, it might be time to make a few adjustments.
Dating Apps Are In Their Flop Era, Making Connections IRL Is Where It's At
Alistair Berg/Getty Images
Many singles agree that spending their leisure time swiping through dating apps is out. What’s in is stepping out of one's comfort zone to make connections in the real world. Scary. We know. But unless you were one of the lucky few to find love on dating apps before its flop era or made a love connection from home during the pandemic, going about your dating life the same way is bound to render the same results: being single with a headache. And we want better for you.
It’s safe to say that constantly meeting strangers off the internet for a chance to find love has lost its charm, leaving singles open to the train, farmer’s market, the gym, or a friend’s house party to be prime real estate for matching up with potential partners.
This shift, as Marissa Nelson, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and BLK’s Relationship and Intimacy Expert tells xoNecole, is due in part to a growing concern about the authenticity of online profiles — in other words: is what you’re seeing, in fact, what you’re getting? “From their profile picture, what they say they do, the height they say they are; it’s this fear of, ‘Am I really talking to who I think I'm speaking to?'” she explains.
On our journey to finding “the one” out in the real world, a common question is, “Where do you find the available singles?” The short answer is, everywhere. The long answer is at the grocery store, on a plane, during happy hours, at work, at a conference, on a solo vacation, or, as Nelson puts it, anywhere you are showing up as your most open and vulnerable self.
“You never know where the connection is going to come from, which is why it's even more important to be receptive, to stay open, be curious, and lean into your vulnerability,” she says. In fact, Nelson encourages singles to release themselves of the rigidity around finding the perfect person at the “perfect” place, because, in essence, there isn’t one. “We have to let go of the constraints that we can only go to singles events to meet people,” she says. “We have to be open to however love shows up.”
"We have to let go of the constraints that we can only go to singles events to meet people. We have to be open to however love shows up."
We all can relate to the fact that the idea of shooting our shot in real life is a lot more exciting than the actual act. The relationship expert explains that one of the greatest hesitations to us putting ourselves out there and taking a chance on love is rooted in the fear of rejection. However, it’s important to keep in mind that “we’ve all been hurt” and most importantly, “we’re all afraid of rejection.”
That’s why Nelson suggests the following strategies to make the first move and find love in your everyday life.
1. Don't close yourself off.
“When you relax your expectations, you start to meet really cool people. Some of those cool people became friends and that makes your life richer because now, you have new friends and great people to hang out with. Even if it wasn't a love match, it can become a significant or meaningful friendship.”
2. Don't let your "type" hold you back.
“We all have a type. And a lot of women will say, ‘I like them tall. I like them like this or that.’ When we’re rigid about who we believe we ought to be with versus being open to people who might be more aligned with our values, we close ourselves off. Sure, you're not going to date somebody that you are absolutely not attracted to. But people have a lot of unwritten rules around who they will allow themselves to get to know, and I challenge people to challenge their rules because that can hold you back from expansive experiences.”
3. Make the first move.
“I think that if we can be bold, be brave, and if there's somebody that's good-looking, catches your eye, or just seems like they have a good vibe, we can approach them with curiosity. Ask them how they're doing. Introduce yourself. It doesn't have to lead to all these things; you can just have chemistry and flow from there.”
4. Ask better questions.
“When you meet someone for the first time, asking them ‘What do you do?’ is not the best first question because that only tells you what they do for money, not necessarily what they're passionate about. To get insight into who that person truly is, ask: What are you passionate about in your life right now? What lights you up? What excites you? What are you working towards?”
5. Shift your mindset.
“We've all been hurt. And we can be guarded because we don't want to get hurt again. The brain is a very complex and brilliant system designed to keep us safe, and emotional survival is a real thing. We become super protective, and in that, we come up with a lot of different rules, paradigms, [and] belief systems. The biggest mindset shift is: how can we do our own work to know and believe that we are worthy and deserving of love.”
Whether you’re on a dating app or roaming your local Trader Joe’s, love is everywhere — and the abundance of love is available to us once we remove limiting beliefs that make it feel scarce and out of reach. Vulnerability, shedding our walls, and openness just might be the tweaks we need to snitch up the dating streets and watch it heal for the better.
Featured image by LeoPatrizi/Getty Images