Ronnie and Shamari DeVoe's romance is more than 20 years in the making. The couple, who originally met at an award show in 2001, now share two children and have been married for 14 years but this R&B-inspired romance didn't come without a few bumps in the road. After navigating non-monogamy, infidelity, and domestic disagreements, both Ronnie and Shamari agree that their marriage is stronger than ever before and in a recent interview with Atlanta Black Star, the recently ordained wedding officiants spilled the tea on how they leveled up their communication skills and got their marriage all the way together.
Ronnie told Atlanta Black Star:
"If you stick and you stay committed in the relationship that you vow to, you know, be in for the rest of your life till death do us part ultimately then the blessings are right around the corner."
Scroll below to read Ronnie and Shamari DeVoe's keys to a successful marriage:
On Why Communication Is Key:
"Definitely going into your relationship with trust and communication. Being open, honest, my husband tells me that I am brutally honest. So that is one of the things that he really loves about me. The fact that he knows that I'm loyal, that I have his back regardless. Really just putting down the terms and conditions, laying that all down early in a relationship."
On Getting A Marriage Coach:
"A lot of times in our community, in the black community [especially for] males, they don't like to go to counseling. You can go and get a fitness coach and buff up and you can go and get an acting coach if you want to act, but it's like you don't want to go and get a marriage coach? A marriage coach actually helped, along with God, save our marriage and it's important that we stay committed and our family stays together because that really makes up our whole society."
On Removing Band-Aids From Past Hurt:
"Our whole community is affected by marriage, by divorce. It just boils down to that. So I think that the fact that he finally opened up to go into counseling because it's important that we don't just continue to put a band-aid over that wound. Instead of doing that, you need to go ahead and start the healing process. So it's, I think that's one of the things that I guess separates us from other couples that don't take advantage of marriage counseling."
On Scheduling Alone Time:
"Schedule things. Considering that we have two boys and they sleep in the middle of us, as far as at night, it's hard to get spicy in the middle of them. But, you have to schedule things and make sure you have those date nights, you know, once, maybe even twice a week. You can look into each other's eyes––whether that's a walk in the park, whether it's a night out on the town or dinner or a movie or what have you. It's about maintenance for each other. And knowing your love languages and speaking to those things as often as possible."
Featured image by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images
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Taylor "Pretty" Honore is a spiritually centered and equally provocative rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a love for people and storytelling. You can probably find me planting herbs in your local community garden, blasting "Back That Thang Up" from my mini speaker. Let's get to know each other: @prettyhonore.
Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
Learn Your Value, Find Peace: How To Heal From A Situationship
In today's society, pseudo relationships or what we like to call “situationships” are literally the driving force behind why we fear intimacy and genuine connection. Situationships are relationships that create a semblance of a connection, but it’s really a bond rooted in fear, anxiety, and insecurity.
The reason situationships usually rarely ever turn into healthy committed relationships is because the foundation of the connection is built on quicksand. Anything built on relationship insecurity and unresolved wounding leads to emotional unavailability–and emotional unavailability is actually the thing that drives situationships to run a muck in today's dating climate and go unchecked.
If you’ve ever found yourself in a situationship, it’s one of the most painful relationships to be in because it’s not a REAL relationship. These relationships are never clearly defined, and you do not have any clarity about where things are going. Communication is frequent, it feels like a relationship, but it’s not actually a relationship-it’s just a state of confusion with another person.
Situationships can be dangerous because you start to lose yourself in what feels like a connection, but really it’s just a reenactment of attachment wounding with another person. You find yourself disowning your standards and complying with what the other person wants to maintain, which feels like a connection.
These types of relationships are the hardest to walk away from because, deep down, they are not relationships, they are addictions that feed on our deepest wounds. They make us question our entire sense of self and reinforce the idea that we have to prove and alter ourselves for love.
Healing from these types of relationships requires you to turn within and explore what made you a match for this type of connection to begin with. The only way that we can heal from situationships is to heal our relationship with ourselves.
If you are contemplating walking away from a situationship or if you just recently walked away from one, here are some tips to get you started on your healing process so you can attract more meaningful relationships with people who are a reflection of your heart rather than your wounds.
Refrain From Abandoning Yourself for Connection
As social beings who long for a sense of connection and belonging, we tend to adopt OTHER people's standards to avoid the discomfort we feel in standing on our own. We fear the thought of ever having to stand alone in relationships, especially if the other person's values and standards do not align with our own.
But when you’re clear and confident about what you desire, you won’t wait months and years for someone to make up their mind about you.
Emotionally available people don’t stick around waiting for other people to become available. They accept people for who they are and move accordingly. Knowing that you want a relationship and sticking around waiting for someone to make up their mind about you is unloving to yourself. The first step in your healing is becoming more confident and honest about what you desire so you can attract individuals who want the same thing.
Explore Your Connection to One-Sided Relationships With a Licensed Professional
I don’t think anyone really desires to be in a one-sided relationship. Still, sometimes when we have unresolved childhood wounding around abandonment, rejection, and feelings of unworthiness, we tend to recreate those same relationship dynamics in our adult relationships.
In a recent tweet, I wrote:
When we don’t feel good about ourselves, we will seek constant reassurance from people who trigger our insecurities around not feeling “good enough”— Imani.intouch (@imaniintouch) April 22, 2023
We want these people to love us because deep down we think:
“If I can just get the unavailable person to feel good about me-it will finally make up for my own lack of self love and what I didn’t receive from my caregivers”— Imani.intouch (@imaniintouch) April 22, 2023
Our relationships are a reflection of what we believe is possible for us. Suppose all we ever experienced in our lives is one-sided relationships. In that case, we will tend to gravitate towards those types of relationships in adulthood because we subconsciously know our role in those relationships.
Deep down, it looks a little something like this:
“Growing up, I learned that relationships tend to be unloving, chaotic, and confusing. In order to maintain a connection with others and ensure my survival, I usually have to appease people and disown my standards/boundaries to keep the peace and gain their approval. Even though this person I’m in a situationship with reminds me of a familiar dynamic, I'll override the anxiety I’m feeling in the relationship and call it love because all I’ve known love to be is chaotic, one-sided and dysfunctional. Therefore, this anxiety that I’m feeling with this person must be love.”
Those words are my own experience with love and where I used to be when I navigated love from a hurt place versus a healed place as I see it now. It could be helpful to sort out your childhood and relational experiences with a licensed professional so they can help you get to the root of why you may be relating to an insecure place in your relationships.
Take the Medicine From the Experience and Hold Yourself Accountable
Low-quality experiences are meant to be transmuted into wisdom. Look at experiences like these as opportunities for growth by answering the following questions:
- What did you learn about yourself from this experience?
- What parts of yourself did you deny, hide or disown to be with this person?
- How can you ensure that you will not do that again when you’re building new connections with people moving forward?
- How can you alchemize this heartbreak into wisdom?
Acknowledge That You Actually Are Going Through Symptoms of a Breakup
Just because you may have convinced yourself that a label doesn’t “mean anything,” it does not mean your feelings were not real. Relationships are not light switches, and we pay the price when we treat them as such. Your feelings are not a toy, and you should not let anyone treat them as such, including yourself.
Allow yourself to grieve what you had with this person until you can get to a place of acceptance around what happened in the connection and why it ended the way it did.
Closure is not something we seek in another person, closure is something we give ourselves.
Get Your Life Together
Go outside, get in touch with friends you may have disconnected from, and get in touch with your support system. Right now, you need to be around high-quality relationships that pour into you and fill you up.
Never stop dating yourself, even if you get into a relationship with someone else in the future. You are always supposed to create a life for yourself outside of being in a relationship with someone else. That’s how you maintain a strong sense of self, so why not work on strengthening that muscle in the here and now?
Understand That Other People’s Choices Have Nothing To Do With Your Innate Value
Someone not choosing you or not wanting to be in a relationship with you does NOT mean you weren't "good enough" for them. "Enoughness" is a stronghold that has had many people in a chokehold for decades.
If you poured me a glass of water, I could say, "That's enough," and the glass could be half full.
If I poured you a glass of water, you could say, "That's enough," and the glass could be filled all the way to the top.
Enoughness is all about perception!
People only value what they perceive themselves to need. If someone does not perceive themselves to want a relationship with you for whatever reason, it is because they do not perceive themselves to need what you have to offer, and why even be with someone who does not want or cannot handle ALL of you?
Release yourself from the shackles of not being "good enough" in someone else's eyes. You are not them, and you have no idea what their values are.
Remember, sometimes the person NOT choosing you is the blessing.
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Featured image by David Espejo/Getty Images