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How PCOS Strengthened This Couple's 4-Year Marriage

Our First Year

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.

As single women, the thought of getting married and trading in our spontaneity for compromise and routine can be bittersweet, but this Florida-based couple is proof that when you marry the right man, every day is a new adventure.


Brittany and Walter met for the first time at a FAMU frat party in 2013, where Walter immediately realized that the graceful AKA was everything he didn't know was missing. "When I first saw Brittany, I thought, 'Oh that's my type: tall, long legs, beautiful smile, big lips. And I said to myself, I need that in my life."

After months of unsuccessfully shooting his shot, Walter finally got the chance of a lifetime when his dream girl slid him her number after a football game. Little did he know, it was only a matter of time before she would become his wife and the mother of his unborn baby girl.

Five years into their relationship, Walter proposed during a romantic vacation in Jamaica, and one year later, the couple was married on a beach in Pensacola, FL surrounded by 300 of their closest family and friends. At the end of this month, the Smalls will celebrate their four-year wedding anniversary, and according to Brittany and Walter, the honeymoon still isn't over.

Rachelle Lynn Photography

Despite previously being diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), Brittany discovered that they would be expecting a new addition to their family that's dropping this July. The coupled shared that their miracle baby not only solidified their faith in God, but confirmed their faith in their marriage.

Like most women who battle with infertility, Brittany initially felt betrayed by her body and she carried this sense of shame into her relationship. "For the first month after I was diagnosed, I carried such guilt that I might not be able to give my husband a family," she revealed. Luckily, Walt was by her side every step of the way to give her the boost of hope she needed. "I think he recognized that in me and affirmed me that this wasn't anybody's fault, but our journey would be our testimony. I thank God for him during that time."

Although this news would have been devastating enough to make most relationships crumble, Brittany and Walt shared that the diagnosis made them want to fight even harder for the life they had always dreamed of. Brittany expressed, "If anything, I think the diagnosis made our marriage stronger. My husband is the one who told me that God was in control of our lives and he was there to support me with processing my diagnosis, doing my research, [and] coming to doctor's appointments."

Rachelle Lynn Photography

Despite the fact that Brittany is 33 weeks pregnant, she and Walter still make time for romance and recently went on a "babymoon" to celebrate their last vacation as a family of two.

In preparation for their baby girl, the couple is making big plans for the future, and recently, Brittany and Walter (who are celebrating four years of marriage on May 30) took a walk down memory lane and threw it all the way back to 2015. In this edition of Our First Year, Brittany and Walter sat down with xoNecole and gave us all the tea on what it took to make it through the first 365 days after their wedding. Here's what they had to say:

The One

Brittany: I knew that he was the one by the way that he always protects me. When we first got together, my self-esteem was very low. He recognized it and told me that a woman this beautiful should not feel this way about herself. Through his actions and his constant affection, he taught me how to love myself again. He appreciated all the things about myself that I disliked. For that, I am so grateful that he came into my life when he did.

Walter: I knew that Brittany was the one when she challenged me and made me better as a man. There is a feeling of unconditional love that has always existed between us. I think we were so young when we got together, we didn't necessarily know what would happen with us. What we did realize was that we had a special bond and through the years that bond grew because we essentially grew into adulthood together. All of our adult defining moments were accomplished together. For us, that really creates a different bond that can't be broken.

Rachelle Lynn Photography

"I knew that Brittany was the one when she challenged me and made me better as a man. There is a feeling of unconditional love that has always existed between us."

Meet Me At The Altar 

Brittany: I think the defining moment that confirmed for me that he would make an amazing husband and head of our household is when my sister was living in Washington D.C. and took ill due to her Crohn's disease. She ended up in ICU and almost passed away. When I told Walt what happened, he bought me a plane ticket to go and see her. He knew how important my family was to me and knew that I was so emotionally distraught, and I wasn't really taking it well. So, he took control of the situation and supported me.

Walter: I got a job in Orlando and moved. We weren't even long distance for three months before Brittany worked to get a promotion and moved to Orlando to be with me. It showed me that she was fully invested, and our love was her priority.

Overcoming Fears In Marriage 

Brittany: My biggest fear was becoming so involved in my marriage that I lost myself. I grew up being raised to work hard and always have my own, not just financially but also my own life. I didn't want to be one of those wives so caught up in their husband that they lose their own sense of self. I think I let go of those fears because I recognized that one of the things I appreciate most about Walt is that he has never tried to change me and embraces my individuality and eclectic personality. I calmed my fears by talking it over with Walt and he was able to show me how outlandish those fears are. I am an over-analyzer and 9 times out of 10, Walt is the one who has to talk me off the ledge.

Walter: My biggest fear for marriage was not being able to provide for my family. I decided to let my fear become my motivation. It's what wakes me up in the morning, my drive to fulfill my goals and dreams. I always want to make sure that I can give my family the best and that my wife and future children have everything they ever wanted.

Rachelle Lynn Photography

"I didn't want to be one of those wives so caught up in their husband that they lose their own sense of self. I think I let go of those fears because I recognized that one of the things I appreciate most about Walt is that he has never tried to change me and embraces my individuality and eclectic personality."

Important Lessons In Marriage 

Brittany: I think I learned forgiveness. I am a perfectionist and I like things to be perfect, but that's not a reality in a relationship and especially not marriage. We are not perfect, and I came to understand that I can't expect my husband to be perfect. I know that he loves me and wouldn't intentionally hurt me or make me mad, and that's all that matters.

Walter: I learned that you are not alone in this journey called life. You have a partner that you can depend on when you're weak and be the strength when your partner has shortcomings.

Baggage Claim

Brittany: I had to learn how to relinquish control. I can be a control freak and have always been what some call bossy, but what I like to say is strong leadership skills. I know that it was important for Walt to feel like the head of our household and I didn't want to emasculate him. I had to learn how to let my voice be heard without taking over everything.

Walter: For me, I had to learn the importance of communication, communicating consistently, and the different types of communication. For example, I am solution-based and sometimes Brittany just wants me to listen to her and let her vent, not go directly to solving the problem. Also, learning that communicating consistently is important. It's not just about me anymore but making sure that my family knows what's going on. For both of us, these are still works in progress, but that's what marriage is all about.

Rachelle Lynn Photography

"I had to learn the importance of communication, communicating consistently, and the different types of communication. For example, I am solution-based and sometimes Brittany just wants me to listen to her and let her vent, not go directly to solving the problem. For both of us, these are still works in progress, but that's what marriage is all about."

Overcoming Challenges

Brittany: Some of our early challenges were how we were going to do our finances and communication. Dating as broke college students, we had already shared a lot financially. We made sure each other had what we needed. But being young professionals and finally making good money, it was a challenge to learn how to merge and manage our finances together. We tackled this issue by creating a google doc budget with sheets for every month and everything is divided by weeks. It gives both of us access to see where the money is going and what bills are being paid weekly. We also decided to tackle finances as a team and build our wealth together.

Best Advice

Brittany: Our relationship mantra has always been to do what's best for us, even if it doesn't look like what others think it should. Our first year of marriage we had to continue to remind ourselves that we knew what worked for us and getting married shouldn't change that. Our first few months we struggled with trying to establish a new normal, but quickly realized that what we had already built worked best for us. We know each other best and live our lives according to our own rules.

Rachelle Lynn Photography

"Our relationship mantra has always been to do what's best for us, even if it doesn't look like what others think it should. Our first year of marriage we had to continue to remind ourselves that we knew what worked for us and getting married shouldn't change that."

The Best Part

Brittany: I love how compassionate and caring he is. I love that people are drawn to his personality and how he truly goes above and beyond for his loved ones. I love that he doesn't take himself too seriously and is a true gentleman. I love that he is like a cuddly teddy bear, so warm and touchy-feely.

Walter: I love that Brittany is the perfect combination of beauty and intelligence. I love that she is ambitious and has such a creative, beautiful mind. I love that she is so passionate about the ones that she cares about. I love that Brittany has always had traditional values as a wife, but also progressive.

Building Together 

Brittany: Our common goal is to build generational wealth. We want to continue to build on the legacy that our parents provided for us and do even more for our future generations. Our marriage purpose is living a life that is pleasing to God. We want to always be a representation of God's love and His promise to His people. Our individual goals serve that common goal daily because we work at our jobs and side hustles to make sure that we build our wealth.

You can keep up with Walter and Brittany on Instagram or on their YouTube page! Also make sure to watch their adorable pregnancy reveal video below, just make sure you grab a box of tissues, first!

Our Journey to Parenthood, Our Miracle | Conceiving Naturally with PCOS | A Small World youtu.be

Want more Our First Year love stories? Check them out here.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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