If you read the title of this article and already, you're ready to punch your computer screen, I feel you. Try and bear with me, though. I'm hoping that, by the end of this, you'll see Mondays a little differently than (maybe) you currently do.
I must admit that while I was reading an article about why so many of us loathe the first work day of the week, a lot of the reasons made sense. Many of us don't use Sunday to prepare for the week, so we stay up late; this prevents us from getting enough rest which makes us irritable on Monday morning. Another thing that's irritating about Mondays is social media isn't usually as popping. This means that we can't even look forward to what's on Instagram or Black Twitter as much (ugh). Plus, if you're not exactly thrilled with your job and/or the people you work with, you can feel like you live in a hamster wheel—just going round and round your desk until the next Friday—which is hopefully a payday—rolls around again. Some things that suck about Mondays, we can't change. At the same time, there are things that we can do that will totally alter our perspective, no matter what is happening—or not happening—around us.
If for as long as you can remember, Mondays have been your least favorite day of the week, here's hoping that the following 10 suggestions can at least move it up into your Top Three. Ready?
1. Dress Up
A girlfriend of mine recently switched jobs. When I asked her what the dress code was at her new gig, she was moderately annoyed. "Girl, it's casual up in here. They've got on jeans and everything!" While a lot of us would find that to be an absolute dream, my friend is the kind of gal who likes to dress up to go to the grocery store. She says that it makes her feel regal, feminine and, with the right pair of pumps, pretty powerful too.
She's not weird to think that way.
According to some scientific research, while dressing down can sometimes lead to more productivity, dressing up can result in "higher abstract thinking". Plus, it's hard to be in a bad mood or not to feel uber confident when you know you're killin' the game on the style tip.
So, if you're someone who hates Mondays with a passion, psych yourself up by putting a little more effort into what you put on at the top of the week. You'll feel better. You'll probably perform better as a direct result too.
2. Go into Work Early
You don't even have to say it. I already know that some of y'all read this point and was like, "Shellie, what are you smokin'?" As if it's not hard enough to peel yourself out of bed, now I'm up here trying to get you to go in at least an hour earlier? Yep. I am. Here's why. By going into work early, there's a good chance that you can bypass a lot of your morning commute traffic. You can also get a heads up on your morning routine when it comes to checking phone calls and emails. If you never seem to be able to enjoy your breakfast, going to work early can probably make that easier for you. Without as many people in the office, you can get a few things done quicker, without any distractions. Not to mention the fact that walking in with your boss or even before them can earn you some pretty major cool points.
Hey, I didn't say that you should do it all of the time. I just said that Mondays are a good day to consider doing so because it can give you quite the leg up on having a productive rest of the week.
3. Post a New Quote on Your Computer or Desk
There's an author by the name of Shauna Niequist who once said, "It's not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What's hard is figuring out what you're willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about." Tell me that doesn't help you to put things into perspective. Another author by the name of T.F. Hodge once said, "To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles." Doesn't that encourage you to concentrate on your objectives more? One of my favorite quotes by Zora Neale Hurston is, "Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me." How can that not remind you to love yourself?
Words have power. We all know this. What I adore about quotes is they are concise messages that can get into our brains and inspire us. I'd be shocked if you didn't already have a couple of quotes hanging around your work space. But in order to switch things up and motivate you in a different way, why not use Monday as the day to post one that is new? It's a great way to gas you up to do the next point that I'm about to mention.
4. Set a New Short-Term Goal for the Week
Personally, I like short-term goals because they help me from getting discouraged while I'm in the process of getting some long-term goals accomplished. But in the article "The Power of Setting Short-Term Goals", the author brings up some other benefits that are related to short-term goal-setting. It minimizes procrastination. It helps to keep you focused. And, it can give you quite the self-esteem boost; that's because, once your short-term goal is completed, you will end up with a profound sense of achievement.
What are some examples of short-term goals? Making lunch all week instead of eating out. Completing a project outside of work that will take your personal ambitions to the next level in the new year. Having that much-needed conversation with a family member or friend. Figuring out what you want your updated style to be over the next couple of months. Downloading some apps that will make you more productive. Getting to bed 30 minutes earlier. Finishing that book that has been taking you forever to read. Finally implementing a nighttime routine for your hair. Putting a budget together. Setting hours for social media engagement. I think you get my drift.
They say you've got to crawl before you walk and walk before you run. If you make it a point, once a week, to set at least one short-term goal on Monday with a deadline of Friday, you'll be amazed by how much you'll be able to get done within a few months. You really will.
5. Find a New Podcast
Is this about to be a shameless plug? Eh. Maybe a little, but it doesn't make the point any less relevant. I've got a friend who is an absolute podcast junkie. She digs them because of all of the new things that she's able to learn. There are some other reasons why you should get into podcasts too. They're free. You can listen to them while you're doing other things. They significantly improve your listening skills. They can also help you to connect with people because most podcasters have websites and many podcasters are open to networking.
Another way to make Monday your favorite day of the week is to seek out a new podcast to add to your personal library. One that immediately comes to mind is ours. It's calledxoNecole's Happy Hour Podcast and new episodes are uploaded on Wednesdays. If you're already ahead of the game and you're looking for a few more to add to your collection, a few articles that you might want to check out include "Top 25 Black Podcasts You Must Follow in 2019", "20 Must-Listen to Black Women Podcasts for 2019" and "Here Are 11 Black Female-Led Podcasts You Should Be Listening To".
Oh, and if you're someone who likes to watch podcasts that are filled with random insights on any and everything, check outDam Internet, You Scary , Aba & Preach , The Grapevine or Righteous and Ratchet. A cool relationship podcast from Black men's perspective isThe Roommates Podcast. A fave woman-related one is Shan Boody. A wonderful marriage and family-focused one is How Married Are You?!. Or, if you want a totally NSFW podcast (although you could put your headphones in and no one would know what you're up to), one that popped up in my YouTube feed a few months ago that had me like, "Wow. Y'all really said that?!" a few times—WHOREible Decisions. I could go on and on, but those are some that immediately come to mind. (If you've got some faves, feel free to leave them in the comments so we can check those out too.)
6. Treat Yourself to Lunch
Aight so, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average person spends around $3,000 a year, simply by going out to eat. While you might think that you aren't spending anywhere close to that amount, if you're going out for lunch every day and you're spending around ten bucks each time, that's already $50 a week and $200 a month. Just think about the kind of vacation you could take or the debts you could pay off (not to mention how much healthier it would be) if you stayed away from drive-thru windows and decided to bring your lunch to work instead?
If you do decide to take this route, treat your dedication and financial responsibility by letting Mondays be your "cheat day". Since you know that the rest of the week, you'll be in the break room or at your desk, set aside $20 to not only eat out but to eat at a restaurant that doesn't have a drive-thru window. Not only is this another way to turn Monday into a fave day, but since you'll be going in early on Mondays more often, it's a great way to get a change of scenery for an hour or so too.
7. Go to a Monday Happy Hour
After a productive day, you deserve to kick back and relax a bit. One way you can do that is by nixing the whole Wednesday or Friday happy hour plans; instead, hit up some of your friends and ask them to make at least one Monday a month y'all's happy hour tradition. If you need a little help figuring out which restaurants have a first day of the week happy hour, and also which ones offer the best deals, check out "22 Restaurants With Awesome Happy Hour Deals". (You're welcome.)
8. Do Something That Pampers You
A lot of us are wired to pamper ourselves towards the end of the week. I get why because it's basically like rewarding ourselves for getting to another Friday without losing our minds. But shouldn't you also reward yourself for heading into work after an absolutely fabulous—or even just rest-filled—weekend too? I totally agree. That's why I think you should consider scheduling your mani/pedi appointments on Mondays, that you plan out a totally luxurious bath on Mondays and/or that you stop by to pick up a wine that you've never tasted before on a Monday this month. Shoot, you and your significant other can even make Monday your nookie night.
Some of us find ourselves lagging all throughout the day because nothing is really motivating us to get our work done and get the heck up outta there. But if you know that a pamper—or great sex—date awaits, that will give you the extra "umph" that you need to finish everything in record time—so that you can get onto what makes Mondays super special in your world.
9. Watch a Favorite “Non-Monday” Show
A lot of us have a series that we've been meaning to catch-up on or a movie that we've been wanting to check out. If it seems like, no matter how hard you try, you are never able to carve out enough time, why not designate Monday as your binge day? Purposely set aside two hours in the evening to do nothing but sit on the couch with a favorite snack and to watch a film or a show that comes on a different day of the week. If you make this a standing appointment with yourself, you might be surprised how quickly Monday nights end up becoming your favorite night of the week too.
(By the way,Ambitions airs on Tuesday nights on OWN. If you keep missing it, make it your Monday show of the week.)
10. Toast Yourself
I'm a huge advocate of people toasting themselves as much as possible. Not to the point where they become a low-key functional alcoholic, but enough to remind themselves that they don't need a special occasion or monumental reason to take out a moment and remind themselves how absolutely bomb that they are.
The fact that you were able to get through yet another Monday and live to tell about it? That sounds like a good enough reason as any to toast yourself. Not just with any drink either. Why not come up with your own signature drink that you reserve for Mondays only? If you're worried that it could result in you having a hangover the next day, you best bet is to avoid drinks that contain congeners (that would basically be whiskey, cognac and tequila), that you drink lots of water following your one or two toasts, that you head to bed early and that you eat a healthy breakfast (in order to get your blood sugar levels back up) the following day.
If you do all of this, you should be able to have your cake and eat it too. Or, in the case, kick it on Monday and still be refreshed and ready for work on Tuesday. Happy Monday, y'all.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Life-Changing Habits To Start Your Week Off Right
No More Monday Blues: A Prayer For When You Need God's Strength To Carry You Through
12 Podcasts For Women Trying To Glow Up This Year
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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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