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Michael Ealy On Why Premarital Counseling Is Essential To Every Relationship: 'Love Is Not Unconditional'

The first step to happily ever after might be premarital counseling. Who knew?

Celebrity News

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 Smith On Marriage Counseling:

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 On Couples Therapy: 

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 On Couples Therapy & Therapy For Relationship Maintenance: 

Miguel and Nazanin Mandi's love story began when the two were only teenagers and say that participating in couples 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 On Counseling: 

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 Obama On Counseling: 

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 via The Real

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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