Even the most luxurious cars need a tune-up every now and then, and the same is true for your relationships, especially if you and your partner plan on pressing the gas anytime soon. Just like we take our vehicles to the shop to be evaluated, assessed, and tested for efficiency, we have to do the same with our partners, especially when making a commitment as major as marriage.
Michael Ealy, who has been married to his wife, Khatira Rafiqzada since 2012, says that the first step to their happily ever after was premarital counseling.
"It was some advice that was given to me and we definitely did it. I think it's important to make people understand that romance and love [are] blinding and that love is not unconditional. Counseling provided a certain foundation that was based in realism."
The couple, who are now parents to two children, dated for four years before marrying and are known for keeping the details of their family life on the lowest of keys, but Michael recently spoke to the hosts of The Real about why couples counseling was a priority to him and his wife before jumping the broom:
"It's grounded in reality and it helps you also understand the person's past. Oftentimes, you don't realize [because] you're so caught up in the present. You're not paying attention to that person's past and what they've been through. And what they've gone through and some of those things start to creep back up on us at times. You have to be aware of it. And [counseling] enables you to be a bit more compassionate when it does happen."
Michael and Khatira aren't the only celebs who believe in the power of healing through therapy, and according to these couples, scheduled maintenance is the only way to keep their relationship running on all four wheels.
Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith
Will Smith told Cosmopolitan UK:
"I've done a lot of marriage counseling. What happens in a marriage once you do counseling, the truth comes out. And you sit across from your wife and you've said all of your truth and she has said all of her truth. You look at each other and you can't imagine you could ever possibly love each other again now the truth is out. It creates a dark moment. But for me it's the dark before the dawn."
"When the truth comes out and people have to say who they are and what they think, you get to know who they are. I think that's the cleansing before you get to the other side that is understanding and moving forward in our relationship."
Gabrielle Union & Dwyane Wade
Gabrielle Union-Wade has been transparent about seeking professional help for her own personal traumas, but the actress has also been open about going to couple's therapy with her husband. In an interview with Complex in 2017, Gabrielle shared:
"There's a process to happy. People are like 'goals'; me and D are like, 'wtf?' We've kind of figured it out now, but I guess maybe we should tweet live from couples' therapy. And when you ask us we're gonna tell you, there's a process to happy."
Miguel & Nazanin Mandi
Miguel and Nazanin Mandi's love story began when the two were only teenagers and say that participating in couple's therapy allowed them to grow together rather than apart. In an interview on Nazanin's Ladies Like Us podcast, Miguel shared that counseling was a way for he and his wife to "level up" in their relationship.
"This is how we level up and how it becomes real because everyone comes from different kinds of realities, we see love in different ways. We appreciate and receive love in different ways. And I think it was when we saw a therapist that helped us understand, it was like an a-ha in a lot of ways. Sometimes you can hear someone but it doesn't mean you're listening."
Now, although Miguel and Nazanin have overcome many of the previously unresolved issues in their relationship, they still attend therapy as a form of relationship maintenance.
"Now it helps us communicate better at home. We go to therapy now, not because we need it because it's our emotional gym. Instead of trying to fix things, it's just more maintenance. And it's a beautiful thing to be at that place. But if we do have an issue, nothing's perfect over here, I do know that we can eventually talk it out and make it work."
Meagan Good & DeVon Franklin
Meagan told ESSENCE:
"Counseling was a tremendous blessing to our marriage. It made us think and see each other's baggage. What can you live with?"
Michelle & Barack Obama
If Michelle and Barack go to therapy, it's pretty obvious that all of us should go to therapy. In her memoir, Our Forever First Lady said that counseling helped her and her hubby lay a strong foundation for the lifelong connection they have today:
"I was one of those wives who thought, 'I'm taking you to marriage counseling so you can be fixed, Barack Obama. Because I was like, 'I'm perfect.' I was like, 'Dr. X, please fix him.' And then, our counselor looked over at me. I was like, 'What are you looking at? I'm perfect.' But marriage counseling was a turning point for me, understanding that it wasn't up to my husband to make me happy, that I had to learn how to fill myself up and how to put myself higher on my priority list."
Featured image courtesy of Instagram/@themichaelealy.