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.
A couple that travels together, stays together.
The sentiment couldn't ring truer for newlyweds LeVar Harris and Reanne Swafford-Harris. The couple are fresh off of commemorating their second-year wedding anniversary with a trip to Santorini, Greece. Among bleach white houses and bright blue roofs synonomous with Santorini, the two indulged in a private tour and access to some remote areas of the island and the village of Oia.
Photo Credit: @miltoskaraiskakis_photography
“It was a beautiful experience and we couldn't be happier with the photos we have to commemorate our time there," Reanne said. “In fact, Santorini is the first island we unanimously decided we would come back to with our future babies."
When LeVar, 28, met Reanne, 27, it was nearly a decade ago and deeply fated. The setting was a holiday social LeVar's fraternity was hosting for their annual Miss Black & Gold scholarship pageant. On that particular night, Reanne was a woman on a mission, having laid eyes on LeVar before then and letting his best friend know that of all the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha, she wished to be paired up with him. Little did they know, in that moment, they were walking into the rest of their lives together.
From afar, LeVar had known Reanne as the cute track girl, but as they grew closer, he quickly became captivated by her drive, her focus, and her discipline. For Reanne, she always felt secure in his presence. The couple quickly found love through each other, a shared love of Christ, and adventure. And after five beautiful years together, the two exchanged vows and solidified their union on September 5, 2015.
Photo Credit: @miltoskaraiskakis_photography
This is their journey.
LeVar Harris: I knew she was the one when I saw how she treated her friends and family, and how they interacted with her. Goals and ambitions are cool, but how your loved ones view you will eventually pour into your future family. After I saw how she cooked for, housed, and took care of her friends and track teammates in college, I knew she was the total package. I knew that my next girlfriend was going to be my future wife - which is why I was so selective - so marriage was definitely imminent.
I love my wife's tenacity, drive, and ambition.
I've always admired how Reanne is someone who is very goal-oriented and how she stops at nothing to make sure she achieves those goals. In the same breath, she pushes those around her to do better. You can't help but want to run right next to her. That's also what makes our relationship so much fun.
Not only will she ride shotgun with me, but also, she isn't afraid to drive right next to me. She's a true teammate and partner.
Reanne Swafford-Harris: I knew he was the one when I realized how closely his relationship with Christ mirrored my own. He was the first boyfriend I had to ever make me question if I was doing enough to seek out God. Was I in my word daily? Was I holding myself accountable for unforgiveness in my heart? Did people look at me and see Christ the same way I saw the Lord's favor over LeVar's life? I instantly realized he challenged me in the only way that mattered, and what truly sealed the deal for me was when he broached the topic of celibacy before I did. That gave me the upmost security in knowing I had been matched with someone equally yoked, someone who desired to live for God in word and deed for their own righteousness, and not in order to impress or win me over.
I instantly realized he challenged me in the only way that mattered.
I love his wisdom, how he seeks God first, and how even-tempered he is. LeVar is my peace. I can definitely be a storm (laughs), but when I enter our home, it's always a peaceful environment awaiting me and that's because my husband is consistent about thinking of ways to make life easy for me, and that's really something we try to do for each other.
The Best Part
LeVar: I think the concept of experiencing new things together is something we've shared from our first international trip together for my wife's 23rd birthday. I just remember how fun it was to embark on this new side of the world we had never seen before. The trip really opened our eyes to not only how amazing all-inclusive resorts are (laughs), but more importantly, it showed how far we can go with each other.
Reanne: My husband and I value uninterrupted time together in general, and traveling is an activity that really lends itself to that, be it a road trip to Vegas for my 21st, or our recent getaway to Greece to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. But I would say I am the more adventurous one, and I am definitely the creator of our travel itineraries. Luckily, my husband is really a go with the flow kind of guy, and always appreciates the effort I put into researching new countries and planning activities for us upon arrival. I see my time spent planning as an act of service to him, and because he enjoys indulging me, I typically don't get too much push back budget-wise (laughs).
Love Conquers All
Photo Credit: @miltoskaraiskakis_photography
LeVar: When Reanne graduated from law school, she got an offer from a law firm in San Francisco. We had been dating for a while, but I knew I wasn't interested in a long-distance relationship. I was very comfortable in Southern California with my own house and stable job, but knew if Reanne was going to be my future spouse, some sort of official commitment had to be made. I took it up with God, and prayed hard for a good two months, and then He gave me the confirmation I needed.
Reanne: Like my husband said, when I accepted a job offer in a city seven hours away, I knew this would either break us or make us. My husband had truly offered all the support I could have asked for in helping me make this decision. At the time, I, of course, wanted him to come with me, but I didn't feel I had the right to ask him to give up his home, career, and proximity to his family as his girlfriend. Although women are expected to uproot themselves in any stage of their relationship for a man, that same expectation is oftentimes unmet. I am still so grateful that I met and married a man who treats me as his equal.
LeVar: I personally didn't have any major baggage, maybe just a little carry on (laughs), but Reanne had some stemming from her past relationships we had to overcome. I personally never took it to heart because I understood the cause and she acknowledged it, but instead of complaining about it and making her feel bad, I just made the decision to stick my chest out and push through it. I literally made it a goal of mine to be the guy she didn't think existed. It worked.
I literally made it a goal of mine to be the guy she didn't think existed.
In terms of bad behaviors, I definitely had to unlearn being single and everything that came with it because I was single for so long prior. The going out without telling anyone, and being flirty unintentionally was something I didn't even realize I did until Reanne brought it to my attention.
Reanne: I had a lot of control issues, and I never realized how selfish I was until I was challenged with putting someone first. Prior to meeting my husband, I was a serial dater in the sense that as soon as I got out of one long-term relationship, I was quick to jump into another without every analyzing myself or the type of men I was allowing to date me. Although I never had a prolonged season of “singleness," I was still a newly 20-year-old with no concept of what a healthy relationship looked like, so for me checking your significant other's text messages before bed was as routine as me removing my makeup and brushing my teeth …so yeah, I had a lot to unlearn with respect to boundaries and trust.
The fortunate thing about meeting so young was that we had a little over 4 ½ years of dating to navigate these behaviors, and we attended premarital counseling through our church prior to getting married, so we did not bring any baggage into our marriage. A lot of me unlearning bad behavior simply came with aging and the maturity that followed, and of course my husband being consistent with how he demonstrated his love for me, even at such a young age, was pivotal.
LeVar: As with any relationship, there will be friction, but we always addressed it head on by communicating with one another. We always took the time to understand what each of our intentions was, and then figured out a happy medium.
Reanne: Overall, our first year was surprisingly smooth, and we definitely saw more highs than lows. But 2016 did present some difficult emotional challenges with a family death and my husband's career transition. I am not an outwardly emotional person when it comes to expressing sadness, so it was a challenge for me to comfort him in a way that communicated my empathy when my inner being wanted to shut down into a reclusive state. I am very fortunate though that my husband has always been adamant about us extending the benefit of the doubt to one another.
Know of any couples that epitomize black love goals to you? Whether married or unmarried, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured in an upcoming Our First Year or How We Met feature.
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 Fall Equinox begins on September 23, 2023, and it’s time to embrace abundance, gain clarity, and know that you are worthy of your desires. The Fall Equinox marks the beginning of fall and the end of summer and is a turning point of the year, where things settle in and come to fruition. The energy that fall brings is one of harvest, but it is also one of release, letting go, and finding your ground. Coming from a summer of intensity, drama in love, and overall moving through a space of deep spiritual growth- now that fall is here, we are ready to decompress, dream, and enjoy that which we have created for ourselves.
What Is the Energy of the Fall Equinox 2023?
The energy this fall is opening up new doors of abundance and is a time of reaping your rewards in life. Fall begins at the same time as Libra Season, and a lot of these blessings have to do with love and the relationship developments that will be taking place over the next few months. With a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Libra occurring a few weeks after fall begins on October 14th, something enchanting is happening in romance right now. The scales are coming into balance, new beginnings are occurring, and clarity prevails.
Relationships over the next few months are about focusing on the gifts and gratitude you find in them and accepting where things need to change as well.
By the time winter begins, most of the planets that are currently in retrograde will be direct, and this signifies the change of pace that fall is bringing. This fall highlights Eclipse Season overall, and the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Taurus on October 28th will be a time of creating boundaries, honoring your values and energy, and closing a chapter in your life that doesn’t align. Financial worlds are growing and finding new ground, but with Jupiter still in retrograde in Taurus until December 30th, patience is needed here.
Over the next few months, give yourself the space to gain some new perspectives, make room for love, and grow in abundance.
Your guidance this fall is to take those first steps toward the goals you have been pondering over this year. There is a Full Moon in your sign a week after fall begins, and you get the opportunity to enter this season with less baggage and more closure. You will possibly be starting a new position or working in a new field, and you need all the good energy to back you right now. Know that you can count on your skills and talents to move you further in life and that help will be there when you least expect it. This is a fall of abundance for you, Aries, claim it.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 29, Oct. 13, Nov. 13, Nov. 21
Patience, patience, patience, Taurus. You are creating something beautiful in the world right now, and the time it’s taken to get you here will all be worthwhile. Your guidance this fall is to nurture your world and your dreams and to bring more love and compassion to your life. You are preparing for a new reality but need some more time to dream it up and define that which you want for yourself and your future. The Full Lunar Eclipse happening this fall is occurring in your sign, and you are moving through some major closures in your life right now. This is a creative time for you, Taurus.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 28, Oct. 29, Nov. 6, Nov. 20
This fall is all about taking care of yourself and valuing your time and energy, Gemini. The way you see yourself and your life are coming up for review right now, and you are being urged to look at yourself in a better light. Your ruling planet, Mercury, goes retrograde for the last time this year on December 13th, just before fall ends, and this time is all about taking what you have learned and choosing better for yourself. You may be tested to be more confident or true to yourself right now and over the next few months, and it’s about owning your part in this life and standing up for what you want.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 25, Oct. 21, Nov. 20, Dec. 12
This is an abundant fall for you, Cancer. You have worked diligently on claiming the opportunities and new doors that have been opening for you, and you are feeling free to be your successful self. You are encouraged in your independence right now, and you have proven to yourself just how talented you are and how much you have grown. No major aspects are happening in your sign this fall, giving you the space to breathe, create, and receive your rewards. Happiness fills your world, and even though you still feel like you are just getting started in a sense, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the gifts that are presenting themselves today.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 13, Oct. 15, Nov. 12, Nov. 13
This fall is a turning point for you in love, Leo. New developments are taking place in your relationships, and you are being received especially favorably. This is the time to open your heart to growth and new possibilities and to get creative with what you are looking for right now. The Last Quarter Moon happening in your sign on November 5th will be a turning point for you this fall. Your unique charm and charisma are enough, and you attract many to you through your natural energy and love for life. Your ship is coming in this fall, and your heart is fulfilled.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 1, Oct. 31, Nov. 5, Nov. 14
Virgo, this fall is a blessing for the heart space. You are feeling in tune emotionally, and there is positive energy coming your way and into your love life. You have spent a lot of this year healing, forgiving, and finding your voice, and over the next few months, you will be creating the spaces you have been looking to enter in your life. Venus enters your sign for a month on October 8th, and there are some pleasant surprises in store for you during this time. Fresh starts are coming in for you, and spiritually, you are awakening to the gifts within you and in your heart. Your beauty is showing, and love is coming in for you this fall.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 25, Oct. 22, Nov. 5, Nov. 20
This fall is a new beginning for your financial world, Libra. Autumn begins the same day Libra Season does, and you have some extra motivation and energy within you right now. You are ready to put the action behind the intentions you have been setting for yourself financially, and this is a time of plans coming together and falling through to success. The more you stay focused and diligent, the more opportunities that can come for you right now. The first month of fall, the Sun is in your sign, and this is really the time to get things moving in your life, especially with a New Moon Eclipse in Libra on October 14th happening as well.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 27, Oct. 14, Oct. 30, Nov. 20
It’s all about the vision for you right now, Scorpio. You are focused on the future, your path ahead, and manifesting your dreams, and there is something passionate about the next few months for you. You may be taking some risks this fall as you test the boundaries on how far you want to go with something and what worlds are opening up to you now. Mars is in your sign from October 12th until November 24th, and life is exciting for you right now. You have your eyes on the prize and are ready to move forward toward the things that are lighting you up right now.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 12, Oct. 13, Nov. 6, Nov. 13,
This fall is about taking a leap of faith, Sagittarius. Your guidance over the next few months is to do the things that you would do if you knew you would be supported in doing them. Less self-doubt is needed now, as you are walking on new ground. You are moving towards personal healing you have been wary of from the beginning, and you are ready to let go of some energy that has been holding you back. Trust that once you decide on something, the universe instantly begins to make it happen for you. Your season begins on November 22nd, and it’s time to put yourself first more. Have courage in yourself this fall.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 8, Nov. 22, Nov. 24, Dec. 12
This fall is all about clarity for you, Capricorn. You are a wise soul, and you are owning this energy about yourself right now. Over the next few months, you will be developing spiritually, helping those who need your sound advice, and evolving in life. You have found a new sense of enlightenment and are enjoying the clear perspective that has been gained. Mercury goes retrograde in your sign on December 13th, right before fall ends, and this is when you will be feeling more tested to take the lead in your life and use your voice. Overall, fall 2023 is your time to surrender to the good within you and in your life, Capricorn.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 10, Oct. 23, Nov. 4, Dec. 1
Things are moving fast for you this fall, Aquarius. This is a successful, harmonious, and passionate time for you, as many opportunities come your way at once. It will be hard to settle down with all the energy flowing through your life over the next few months, as you have so much to do and so many people to see. Overall, however, this is positive energy that you have been looking forward to in your life, and everything is coming together and moving forward where it was once stagnant. Fall is giving you the closure and the opportunity to reinvent yourself and start on new, solid ground in your life.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 30, Oct. 31, Nov. 20, Nov. 28
Your guidance for fall is to have balance in your life. There is a lot of new coming in for you, but you are also working on letting go of what has fallen. You have grown in many ways this year, and financially, you have seen growth as well but may be feeling the weight of responsibilities this has come with now. To move through this season with the most grace, give yourself more time to rest, to be, and allow things to fall into place on their own. Saturn has been retrograde in your sign since June and goes direct this fall on November 4th, Pisces. This is your opportunity to see things more clearly, protect your energy, and feel more in tune with your internal guidance system.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 22, Nov. 4, Nov. 6, Dec. 12
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