Although it tends to happen less and less (finally), sometimes I will still get skeptics who will ask me, "How are you qualified to work with married couples if you've never been married before?" While I have a few answers for that, as it specifically pertains to the topic at hand, how I'll oftentimes respond is, "I know what it's like to be a child of divorce. Twice, in fact. We've got more insight than you think."
This, along with the amount of divorced people who I speak with on a pretty regular basis — y'all, if there is one thing that I'm passionate about, it's doing all that I can to help individuals to 1) choose their prospective partner wisely and 2) proactively do all that they can to avoid becoming a divorce statistic. Because no matter how common it may be these days, ask any divorced person you know and I'm pretty sure they will say that 1) if they knew then what they know now, they would've done things very differently either before or doing their union and 2) there is no easy or uncomplicated way to handle the breakdown in a marriage; that divorce is not simply a "break-up".
As the saying goes, I can show you better than I can tell you. Here are 14 people (middle names provided) who have openly and honestly shared with me why their marriage didn't last, from their perspective. They are doing so in the hopes that you will take their insights as an ounce of prevention if you are contemplating marriage and a cautionary tale if you are considering getting out without looking from a few other angles…first.
Ransom. 43. Divorced 5 Years.
"What a lot of women don't realize is a lot of us can be OK with never getting married if it was just about us. Let me explain — men are sometimes more interested in a good mom for our kids than a wife for ourselves. We don't want our children to be in a broken home and so we get married to prevent that from happening. I already had one child before marriage, so I got married to have more. I loved my ex but I didn't love being married. So, I focused more on being a great dad than the best husband. It happens more than you'd probably think. Men just don't talk about it much."
Cheryl. 29. Divorced 2 Years.
"I don't know why people think they truly know someone after six months. You don't. It's not that my ex-husband is a bad guy. He really isn't. We just didn't know each other as well as we thought we did and it was actually me who started to resent him because of it. He wanted to make it work. I just started shutting down to the point where I made it impossible for him to want to stay. Get to know someone over a year, go to counseling on the front end and don't avoid therapy when you're in trouble after marriage. Forever is too long to marry a stranger."
Nicholas. 35. Divorced 6 Years.
"I'll own it but I've got to say that the Church is out here wrecking all kinds of lives. I say that because it teaches that if you want to have sex, get married to 'make it right'. Don't do that.
"If sex is your main motive for marriage, life is gonna hit you really hard if you don't end up having a consistent sex life after saying 'I do'. I didn't in my marriage and although my wife and I went to premarital counseling, sex was treated like an afterthought with our pastor. We didn't realize how sexually incompatible we were and because I can have sex every day and she was good with once a month, I just couldn't stay committed to that."
"To me, it was torture; especially since, when we did have it, it was just…alright."
Krishel. 40. Divorced 7 Years.
"It's gonna sound cliché AF, but I was the person who thought I could change my ex. In our case, I'm an extrovert and he's an introvert. It doesn't seem like a big deal when you're dating because so much of what you do is with only the two of you. But you start to get sick of people who never want to go out, who avoid family functions, who don't want to do the holidays with family — ugh. I still own my part because I knew all of this, going in, and I thought my influence would change him. If you think you can totally change someone's personality, you're going to be really disappointed. Marry someone 'as is' or don't do it at all."
Judah. 27. Divorced 1 Year.
"Don't get married because you've given an ultimatum. It wasn't my wife that gave me one. I gave her one. I had a job opportunity in another state, I hate long-distance relationships and so I told her that we need to either get married or break-up. We had been together for a year before we had this discussion, so she conceded. But she was miserable where we were and that took a toll on the relationship. When she got a great job elsewhere, she took it and I refused to leave mine. It might sound crazy but we still date and I get that she may meet someone else someday. I just know that I'm not a good enough compromiser for marriage. Not right now, anyway."
Rochelle. 38. Divorced (the First Time) 2 Years. (The Second Time) 6 Months.
"You and I have discussed before how there is a Scripture in the Bible that says if you get divorced, you should either remain unmarried or go back to your spouse and that it should be that way until they die. Crazy how many people ignore that, right? My problem is, when I divorced my husband, I was so afraid of being alone that I went right back. The second time didn't work either because we've both got some growing, separately, that we need to do."
"Don't let fear motivate you to get married. Or, in my case, married again. It doesn't do anyone any good."
(The Scripture is I Corinthians 7:10-11, by the way.)
Paul. 47. Divorced 10 Years.
"I loved my wife. I've never liked her very much. We share a lot of history. We have similar values. We have kids together. But as you get older, you realize how important it is to marry someone you really like spending time around. Someone who makes you laugh a lot. Someone who really is your closest friend. I never felt that way in my marriage and it felt like a slow death because of it. And the longer I stayed, the less I liked. We both deserved better. Now, we both have it. She's happily married to someone else. I'm in a serious relationship. Believe it or not, we're better friends now than we ever were. We don't hang out all of the time, but we're really cool. There's peace."
Nyah. 28. Divorced 2 Years.
"I cheated. I'm not gonna justify it either. I married a guy who was really good to me. He just wasn't my person. Even now, I'm still in love with the guy I cheated on my husband with. Problem is, he's in a relationship. It's a mess. Marriage can be messy sometimes. If your heart is elsewhere, you'd betta wait."
Xavier. 50. Divorced 7 Years.
"I don't know about that whole 'opposites attract' thing. Sometimes you can be too opposite. I'm a neat freak. She's absolutely not. I'm frugal. She likes to spend as much money as possible. She likes to go out a lot. I prefer staying at home."
"Sometimes, you connect with someone on a level that's like, 'If we could just stay in bed for the rest of our lives, we could be together forever'. Life doesn't work that way. If the way you do life, doesn't gel, you're in for a very rude awakening."
Elise. 34. Divorced 8 Years.
"Please don't get married assuming that something is going to go the way you want it to. My husband and I didn't know that we had fertility issues until after trying for three years to get pregnant. The money for IVF treatments, the constant scheduling of sex, the resenting each other for not being able to conceive — it all took its toll and started to consume us. Some things you don't know about until you're in them. If you are going into a marriage expecting guarantees about your expectations, stay single. Marriage is not for you."
Aaron. 29. Divorced 4 Months.
"My wife didn't like being married. Some people can date just fine. Marriage is a different kind of accountability and she's a free bird. Anything that requires her having to answer to someone else drives her crazy. I think she thought she loved me enough to look past it but one day, I woke up to a note that she wanted out. We dated for five years. She wanted a divorce after one year. It hurts and I don't think we can be friends, but you can't hold a free spirit down. Just let them go."
Hadassah. 26. Divorced 3 Years.
"You always hear that marriage ain't the movies. It ain't. In some ways, it's better but you've gotta be willing to show up every day and not be selfish."
"Too many people are too selfish to be married. They want to be loved. They want to be forgiven. They want someone to go above and beyond but they don't want to do it for someone else. Not really. I was that 'they'. I was more into what I thought my husband should do for me that I didn't really even consider giving back at the same level."
"I'm enjoying being single more because I get that I need to pour into me first. If I ever get married again, I'll be more ready because of this time that I've got now. Hell. I'm in no rush, though."
Daniel. 33. Divorced 4 Years.
"I'm a 'serial monogamist'. I used to be told that in college, but I didn't take it seriously until I started the divorce process. While I enjoy being in an exclusive relationship and other women aren't an issue for me, the demands and pressure that a lot of women put on men in marriage is suffocating. My former wife and I had a great time while we were dating. After marriage, it's like she became an entirely different person. You know what they say — pressure busts pipes. I'd just rather date knowing that I don't have to pay someone thousands of dollars if we don't work out. Marriage is a business. The stress of that reality is…a lot."
Jordan. 42. Divorced 6 Years.
"What a lot of people won't tell you is how much you can change while sharing a life with someone else who is also changing. The first five years with my ex were great. But his new job changed him, my spiritual transformations changed me and soon, we were strangers. Marriage is about two people figuring out how to love new versions of each other. If you're not flexible in this way, don't get married. This is a reality that is totally unavoidable."
There you have it. 7 men and 7 women giving us a glimpse into what brought their marriage to an end. Again, I hope all of this causes singles to take a sober-minded approach to this kind of relationship and married people to figure out things that they can do to hopefully divorce-proof their union or work through the tough times if divorce is currently on the table. Because while marriage is a serious decision, divorce is too. That's why, whatever can be done to lower the divorce rate, I'm totally committed to investing in. I hope you are too.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
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.
The face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
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