In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take an in-depth look at love and relationships between couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like.
Whoever said that you've probably met your soulmate by a certain age may have been onto something. Ask Jeff and Danae Amponsah, a couple who knew of each other in high school but wouldn't meet up and fall in love until seven years later. "I was a freshman, and he was a senior. We lived so close to each other, we even rode the same bus," said Danae. So, how do two people on two different paths of life end up meeting and falling in love? Well, my favorite answer: Through the love and connection with God.
As a ministry leader for an on-campus ministry at Rutgers University, Danae spotted Jeff, noticing that he was also in their weekly bible study, weekly church service, and Sunday service as well. After a few encounters at the mall, the two shared their first date at Chipotle, and the rest is history.
Read on to hear how the couple officially knew the other was the 'one', what obstacles come up in marriage, and how they're keeping God front and center:
Danae: As crazy as it sounds, I knew he was going to be my husband on our first date.
Jeff: God had spoken to me previously and told me to be patient and that I would know who she is when I see her. I went on a few dates with my wife, fasted, and I felt a spiritual connection between us leading to physical and mental attraction as well.
"God had spoken to me previously and told me to be patient and that I would know who she is when I see her."
How They Met:
Danae: The funny thing is, we both went to the same high school but never spoke to one another. Fast forward to seven years later: I was a ministry leader for an on-campus ministry at Rutgers called ALIFE, and I spotted him. I saw him every Tuesday at bible study, every Thursday at mid-week church service, and every Sunday at church. I admired the fact that he was a church-going man, and that was very important to me. We kept running into each other at the mall, and he walked into the store I worked at the time. We talked for a few minutes and he asked me to lunch. After an amazing lunch date, we started hanging out with other friends, and going on group dates.
One day, he called me and asked if I was free to go out for dinner. We had a great night out, and from that moment on, we knew we wanted to pursue a relationship. Knowing that he was such a gentleman, and a God-fearing man, made me want to put my whole heart into the relationship. I just knew he was the one. After seriously dating for two weeks, Jeff told me I was going to be his wife one day. Just six months later, he proposed.
Jeff: We met at a church function, but we had crossed paths in the past during high school. For me, it wasn't about taking a chance, but more of knowing who I was and what I wanted. I saw how beautiful she was, our personalities clicked, and we just bonded immediately. We dated for about two weeks and then we both made a decision to get serious.
"Knowing that he was such a gentleman, and a God-fearing man, made me want to put my whole heart into the relationship. I just knew he was the one. After seriously dating for two weeks, Jeff told me I was going to be his wife one day. Just six months later, he proposed."
Danae: I lived at home with my parents up until the day Jeff and I were married, while Jeff had lived on his own for years. I was spoiled and used to my parents cleaning up after me, and even making my dinner! Jeff is very neat and it was hard for me to adjust to my new way of living. My father's nickname for me was even "hurricane" because everywhere I went I made such a mess! Sometimes we would have arguments over the smallest things, like me not making the bed, or cooking. Over time, we learned to both accept who we were as individuals, and decided to work together on pleasing one another's needs. It's the small things that we do that make both of us happy.
Jeff: No fears. Obstacles, yes. Two personalities coming together, two different ways of living, a lot of compromising, sacrificing, and communication between what one likes and dislikes. I can say we have overcome our obstacles simply by praying and reading our word in the Bible and having strong faith. We have continued to grow and gained understanding to know that in a marriage, you give yourself up and put your spouse first.
Danae: Having God at the center of our marriage was always, and will always be, the most important thing to us. After that? Respect. We both vowed never to disrespect one another, no matter how angry we would get. Having Christ at the center of our marriage is so important because, on the tough days, it's His word that gets us through it. Reading together and praying together helps us build with each other. We wouldn't be married if we both didn't have our own personal relationships with the Lord, and that is our favorite thing about each other.
Jeff: The most important thing in our marriage is keeping God at the center because, without Him, things can get real crazy. God helps us to check each other's flesh and [to use] his Word for wisdom to gain better understanding of how to communicate with ourselves first then with your spouse.
"Having Christ at the center of our marriage is so important because, on the tough days, it's His word that gets us through it. Reading together and praying together helps us build with each other. We wouldn't be married if we both didn't have our own personal relationships with the Lord, and that is our favorite thing about each other."
Love In Their Language:
Danae: We build by motivating and pushing each other, even when one of us doesn't want to hear it. I believe in Jeff's dreams, and he believes in mine. For us, one another's support is what keeps our marriage strong. We took premarital classes before we got married, so there weren't many things I wasn't expecting or prepared for, but I learned that actually going through it was harder than what I anticipated.
One thing I didn't expect to struggle with was how different we expressed our love for one another. I express my love through affirmation and physical touch, and Jeff expresses his love through his actions. I knew that he wasn't nearly as affectionate as [I am], but once we were married, I hoped for more. I have learned that he is affectionate, he just shows it a different way than I do. He made efforts to change, and then I realized I didn't want him to. I wanted him to stay exactly the same. Everything he does for me, I know he does because he loves me, and it makes me feel like I mean the world to him. Things like this have been a growing experience for me and has helped me as an individual and a wife.
Jeff: We understand that love is not just a feeling, but it's everything. It's peace. When we both started to understand this, our bond became stronger. One big thing that popped up the most in our marriage were the petty arguments we would have because of our pride, lack of understanding ideas, motives, and feelings. The great thing about this was, it was expected, we just needed to grow through it.
Being in a marriage has shown me a lot about myself, helping me to identify what it takes to be a great husband. I show my love to her by actions, and she wants verbal affirmation. This was another challenge for me but I made the changes for her and she made the change to accept who I am.
"We understand that love is not just a feeling, but it's everything. It's peace. When we both started to understand this, our bond became stronger. One big thing that popped up the most in our marriage were the petty arguments we would have because of our pride, lack of understanding ideas, motives, and feelings. The great thing about this was, it was expected, we just needed to grow through it."
Danae: The biggest love lesson that I have learned is to humble myself, and to put aside my pride. Now that we are expecting our first child together, I am also learning how important it is for us to be in the same book, even if we aren't on the same page. I am still learning that I learn something new every day about my husband, and he learns something new about me, and knowing that we will get to know each other more and more each day for the rest of our lives makes me so happy!
Jeff: The best love lessons I feel we have learned together are learning what true commitment is, learning self development, fulfilling one another's needs, and learning who's good at what so we can share and give each other roles as we build our family. I feel like everyday there is something new to learn because we are doing life together. She's my right foot and I'm the left, and we just coordinate great together knowing that we move on the same rhythm to get through life.
"The best love lessons I feel we have learned together are learning what true commitment is, learning self-development, fulfilling one another's needs, and learning who's good at what so we can share and give each other roles as we build our family."
The Best Part:
Danae: The best part of our marriage is our communication. Jeff is my best friend in the world. We can tell each other anything. We always tell each other the truth.
Jeff: The best part of my marriage is knowing that I will never be alone again. It gives me something to look forward to everyday because of our partnership. Nothing is perfect but the world my wife and I live in is perfect for us. I've always told myself, the highest title a man can give a woman is "Wife", and since I've found someone to give that title to, she deserves everything through the grace of God. Yes it's not easy, but it's simply worth the journey and commitment. More importantly, we both agree that we want to inspire other individuals that marriage is worth it.
For more of Jeff and Danae, follow them on Instagram.
Featured photo courtesy of Instagram/ @danae_chandani
Originally published on September 25, 2019
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.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports