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.
Imagine knowing your soulmate at the young age of 15 and 16 and then actually marrying them almost a decade later. Sounds like a fairytale, right? Well that is the reality for married couple Amir and Vava Celestin.
The co-creators of Nou Nou Home met, fell in love, and were living the perfect high school romance. He was an athlete, she was a dancer, and after an initial meeting in the halls of their high school, the two were inseparable. Valentine day teddy bears, dancing at his basketball games, and even ending their high school journey together at prom, Vava and Amir lived out the epitome of young love. But after a year and a half of dating, their high school romance sadly fizzled out and as senior year came to an end, so did their relationship.
As the two separately entered new phases of their lives, in completely different states, it was clear that the love they shared was real and they never did completely let each other go. "Although we were in different states, we always found a way to keep in touch, walk down memory lane or even attempt to rekindle our old flame from time to time," Vava revealed. "But things never stuck. The flame would always fizzle out. But, we always felt like our relationship was unfinished business. We repeated that cycle for seven years."
Seven years filled with never ending on and off dating cycles, Amir and Vava did eventually get it right, and chose to live the life they knew they were destined for. While those years apart were difficult, Amir now believes that they were necessary for the love and marriage they share today.
"The years we spent apart were good for us, individually," he said. "We got a chance to live life a little, make mistakes, have a few heartbreaks, and reckless nights ---but not at the expense of one another. Our time apart kept our love from being tainted with bad memories and heartache. By the time we reconnected we both were content and just wanted a genuine bond with a beautiful soul."
Nearly a decade after their initial meeting in that hallway, Amir and Vava wed in July of 2016, proving that there is truth to the old saying, "What is meant to be, will be." This is their story.
Vava: At ages 15 and 16, we always talked about getting married, having kids, and living in a big house. Typical. It was just puppy-love. We were just wishfully thinking. We didn't give much thought to it. It's surreal to see how our love has unfolded. We are so insync. It's like we never separated. For years, no matter where we were or what our relationship status might have been, there was always this unspoken mutual understanding that we were unfinished business. To us, that's what makes our love story so humbling --- Like how? How did we get to pick our soulmate at such a young age? I guess we were really meant to be.
Amir: Her compassionate heart drove me to marry her. She has always seen so much in me and tries her best to bring it out of me. My wife is the only woman, besides my family, to care about my well-being.
She is my life partner.
The Best Part
Vava: I love his calming spirit and integrity. I admire that in him so much and look to him to bring me back to earth. I needed someone with his discipline and patience to complement my weaknesses.
Amir: I love her fiery spirit! It's what attracted me to her. She's a go-getter and a great one at that. That same fiery spirit annoys me sometimes (laughs). But, that's what makes her unique in my eyes.
Meet Me At The Altar
Vava: For me, it was a little before we started dating again. As God would have it, Amir randomly reached out to me for prayer. His mother was going to have heart surgery and he just needed a friend to lean on. I was still very close with them after all those years, so I prayed for his mother and family. Post-op, while his mother was in recovery, Amir and I went to visit her at the hospital. The family was happy to see us visiting together. Sitting in her hospital room, we all reminisced about the years Amir and I dated back in high school. After I left, his Aunt Deana told Amir, "Nephew, you don't want to miss your blessing twice." A few weeks later, we decided to end the seven-year cat-and-mouse-game. Well, more specifically, I did. I recall texting him late one night these exact words:
"You need to finish whatever you have going on because we all know how this is going to end. And it's time we start building our lives together."
His was response was, "Okay."
A few months later, we were engaged. That was pretty bold of me at the time. But I knew, the series of events that happened weren't by mistake. It was divine positioning.
Amir: The summer we got back together, I had that strong feeling. We were creating so many wonderful memories and just enjoying each other. I guess it was bubbling inside of me. But, what really took the cake was when I got a deal to play basketball overseas. She was the one who gave me the motivation and confidence I didn't see in myself. She propelled to manifest a childhood dream of mine. Something we had always talked about as kids.
You need someone who won't only pray for you, but get in the paint for us. That just confirmed she was the one.
Vava: I can be a firecracker (laughs). I grew up in a house full of boys, so sometimes my approach is too strong. For me, my strength is my identity. I had to learn to let my husband see my weakness and not always be on the defense. There's beauty in vulnerability.
Amir: [A challenge has been] expressing myself. Not sure if it's a guy thing or a me thing, but I really don't like opening up. To be honest, I'm still having a little trouble with that. Despite that, I intentionally work at getting better in that area because communication is important. It helps you overcome a lot.
It's necessary for a healthy and stable marriage.
Vava: I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to live up to the expectations of a wife. I was fearful of running out of "good wife" stars for not being perfect. I eventually realized that no one has it all figured out.
No one is perfect or fully-prepared before saying "I do." I just decided to trust the things I knew, and have faith in God for the unknown.
Amir: [I would wonder to myself], am I going be a great husband to her? She could've had anyone else in the world and she chose me. I had to realize that I'm not perfect and she still chose me to be her husband. For that simple reason, I shouldn't have anything to fear.
Putting Each Other First
Vava: I always felt like I made a lot of sacrifices for our marriage, especially while my husband played basketball overseas. When he returned home, I felt like it was his turn to have my back while I chased my dreams in New York. But, Amir was not comfortable with moving to NYC and preferred to stay in Miami. I thrive off of experiences and living life with impulse. Not jetting to New York City to live my best version of Carrie Bradshaw was daunting.
I constantly felt like I had lost the piece of me that I valued so much. My freedom.
I felt caged and unsuccessful in Miami, and at this point, I faulted my husband for that. It took months of arguing, not understanding each other's point of view, and frustration to finally come to a resolve. Last September, I had gotten an offer to help out with press for a few shows at New York Fashion Week. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to show him my world. So I booked him a flight, too.
Amir coming to New York was so therapeutic for our marriage.
He was able to see me in my element and really understand why I was so adamant about moving to New York. Now moving to New York City is something we both want. He now understands how serious I am about my career, and how much I appreciate his support.
Mentors In Marriage
Vava: My mother is my confidant. She holds all my secrets. My mother-in-law is our go-to for unbiased and honest advice. She'll tell the both of us to get it together.
Amir: My mother. She keeps it very real. She doesn't take it easy on me because I'm her son (laughs).
First Year Love Lessons
Vava: Be humble, and listen to your partner. Never argue to be right. Focus on finding a resolution so you both can move past the disagreement. You don't always have to agree with them, but you must try to understand their point of view.
Amir: Communication and understanding will diffuse a lot of disagreements. You're going to have lots of disagreements but the key is to never go to bed angry.
*Featured image via Wilna M.