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.
For Billboard-charting hip-hop artist Call Me Ace, he met his match when he met his now-wife, attorney Roza Patterson, at his college birthday party. On this particular night, in 2011, Ace and Roza shared with each other their ambitions and their dreams after college. With both of them living in two different states, they had no idea that the strength of their connection would withstand the physical distance between them.
According to Ace, what drew him to Roza was the fact that "she loves so much. She has taught me to be less self-centered." For Roza, "it's the way he celebrates other people. He is so supportive of others." This couple maintained their long-distance love until they finally walked down the aisle in 2016.
For Roza and Ace, this month marks their five-year anniversary and they have centered their marriage in being aligned spiritually and purposefully. With combining their Jamaican and Ethiopian cultures, Ace and Roza made it their mission to build together in love and serve each other to reach the ultimate #RelationshipGoals. With Ace being an artist, his recent song "Love Goals" talks about the core principles of his marriage, and how he and Roza continue to work hard and trust in God to take them to the top.
When you love someone, having faith as your foundation helps you get through the best of times and the worst of times. Ace mentions, "Instead of thinking of these instances as negative, we took these moments as opportunities to help build together in this project called marriage." Whether you are married, engaged, or in the beginning stages of dating, a partnership is about togetherness. It highlights the importance of focusing on the journey of love and trusting that your faith will guide you to the ultimate destination.
Courtesy of Ace and Roza
In this installment of xoNecole's "Our First Year", Ace and Roza share how they kept their love alive during long-distance, how they keep God as their foundation, and truly support each other's dreams in their marriage.
Here's their story:
How They Met
Ace: I recently graduated from Columbia University and was having a birthday party on campus. A mutual friend of ours attended the party and Roza came with [the mutual friend]. My first impression of Roza was I thought she was a literal angel. I never met anyone like her. I was fresh out of college and I didn't have much. So after talking to Roza for a while, I compared what she was doing with her life versus where I was in my life. I couldn't even be her friend because I figured I was going to mess up her life (laughs). My attitude was that she was doing so great for herself, so she should just leave me or she would regret it (laughs).
Roza: I really didn't know anyone at the party. So to make myself more comfortable, I figured I would talk to the birthday boy. We basically talked all night and we exchanged social media information. Ace was definitely the most interesting person I talked to that night. When I met Ace, I thought he was a good listener. At the time, I recently got out of a relationship, so I wasn't looking to hop into another one. Even though I liked talking with him, I really didn't think anything would happen between us.
Roza: When I met Ace, I had made a commitment with the Lord that I would not take action into anything unless hearing from the Lord first. A lot of people say "when you know you know" and for me I patiently waited for the Lord to tell me that Ace was my person. When the moment finally happened, it was all excitement from then on out.
Ace: Roza and I were long-distance the entire time before we got married. At a point in our relationship, Roza had a choice to choose between Columbia [my alma mater] or a school in the UK. She chose the school in London. I was mad at the situation because I took it as a sign that we weren't meant to be together.
But one day, while I was praying and writing in my journal, I heard this question, "Has Roza wronged you in any way? If so, leave. But if not, you should love her through this." I took that as a sign that if this is God's will, then so be it. So after Roza's Master's program was over, I was convinced that if we can make it through an international long-distance relationship, we can make it through anything.
"A lot of people say 'when you know you know' and for me I patiently waited for the Lord to tell me that Ace was my person. When the moment finally happened, it was all excitement from then on out."
Courtesy of Ace and Roza
The Big Day
Roza: One thing I do remember on our wedding day is that Ace actually surprised me with a song. I was completely shocked (laughs). Ace and I planned our wedding to a T. But after our first dance, I see the DJ walking over with the mic. I'm telling the DJ we don't need the mic, it's fine (laughs). But little did I know, Ace started performing his song and I was blown away. Ace told me when we were planning the wedding that he didn't want me to stress and that his job was to make me happy. He definitely did that.
Ace: One thing I remember is that when the wedding was all done, we ran into another married couple. They had this huge white old-school car and Roza and I asked if we could take a picture with them and their buggy. Then, we were slick and got them to take our picture by ourselves in front of their car (laughs). It was one of the dopest pictures ever.
Roza: When Ace graduated from Columbia, he started at an unpaid internship. In my head I thought, 'Who starts an unpaid internship after college, we need to be getting jobs.' (laughs). So basically, he didn't have any money. I started to wonder if he would be able to provide for me in the future. I struggled with this and even thought about giving up on our relationship. But I am glad the Lord worked with me on that. I value security and I believe everyone does. But finances is not what I wanted to base our relationship on. In the end, he is providing for me more than I can ever imagine now. So I am glad I let go of that.
Ace: So the challenges as far as culture, what we like to eat, or different sleeping patterns hit us after we got married. But for us, it wasn't really a challenge per se. It was actually pretty fun. We have never lived together before, so it was all new for us and we were able to experience everything for the first time together. Instead of thinking of these instances as negative, we took these moments as opportunities to see how we build together in this project called marriage.
Ace: My biggest fear, and I am still working through this, I just want to be a good husband. In the beginning, I feared that our relationship would crumble because of me. The way I grew up, I didn't have a lot of role models on what a healthy black relationship looked like. All of it was new for me and even my family. So there's this pressure to not mess things up. But I submit my fears to the Lord and it is an everyday choice to trust in God and lead in loving one another.
Roza: One of my biggest fears was that we had different upbringings. I am Ethopian-American and he's Jamaican. My other siblings married other Ethiopians, so I was scared about how our different cultural backgrounds would blend together. I struggled between if my family would accept him or if I should do what my siblings did, because that's easier.
But God is so gracious, because I learned that above anything, you and your partner comes first. If I would have listened to those fears, I would have lost out on this amazing man and our beautiful marriage. When you are with someone that you know you love, don't use money, looks, culture, etc. as an excuse to break that up.
"If I would have listened to those fears, I would have lost out on this amazing man and our beautiful marriage. When you are with someone that you know you love, don't use money, looks, culture, etc. as an excuse to break that up."
Courtesy of Ace and Roza
Ace: One of the scriptures in the Bible, it says love doesn't demand its own way. I think that is so powerful because in marriage, we are both individuals with our own perspectives. So it is not about living your life your own way anymore. It is about how we mend things together into one. One of the ways we keep our marriage intact is we have these relationship summits. We are working on a better name for them (laughs).
Every quarter, we travel somewhere and take a couple of days to sit and talk. Whatever are the hot topics in our marriage during that time, we have a chance to talk them through and our goals moving forward. This is really our safe space for one another to lay everything out on the table and the other person's job is to actively listen. I am really thankful for those times.
Roza: One of the lessons I have learned is that you can not treat love as a feeling. In marriage, love is action. Love translates through service. You can give without loving, but you can't love without giving. With that said, it's important to remind yourself that there are times you will show you love your partner whether you feel like it or not. I have to show up no matter what for my teammate.
"One of the lessons I have learned is that you can not treat love as a feeling. In marriage, love is action. Love translates through service."
Ace: A happy wife is a happy life. Period (smiles).
Roza: The only competition in your marriage is to see who can outserve each other. Marriage should not be for tit for tat. You should be serving your partner simply because that is what you are called to do.
For more of Ace and Roza, follow them on Instagram @rozapatterson and @callmeacelegit. You can also check out Ace's most recent album, Out of Office, here.
Featured image courtesy of Ace and Roza
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone and felt so deeply connected to them? Everything about the relationship was intense – good or bad? Then you might be in a part of a soul tie.
The concept of a soul tie binds individuals on a level beyond a relationship's physical and emotional aspects; it’s more than a mere connection. You can form a soul tie with anyone – lover, friend, colleague, etc.- but we are discussing romantic partners for this article. Think of you and your partner as an intensely burning flame. The flame can burn passionately to light the relationship’s way or chaotically burn everything in its path. Either way, it leaves an indelible mark on the souls involved.
A soul tie should not be confused with the term “soulmate.” The main difference is that a soul tie can be positive or negative, while a soulmate is a mutual, harmonious connection. Unlike a soul tie, a soulmate relationship is generally characterized by mutual understanding, support, and shared values.
However, the more we learn about soul ties, the more it becomes evident that they are not monolithic; they vary in nature and intensity. As someone who has experienced a negative soul tie, it is crucial to discern whether they contribute positively to personal growth or hinder you from flourishing.
If Your Soul Tie Is Positive
A positive soul tie creates a deep and affirming connection between individuals. One key indicator of a positive soul tie is effective communication. If you’re experiencing a positive soul tie, a shared understanding fosters open and honest dialogue, contributing to a sense of connection and support.
Mutual growth is another hallmark of a positive soul tie. When individuals in a relationship encourage each other's personal development and evolution, it signifies a positive and uplifting connection. This mutual support leads to an environment where both parties can thrive individually and together, contributing to the overall health of the soul tie.
Emotional security is a crucial element in identifying a positive soul tie. In such connections, individuals feel a deep sense of trust and comfort with each other. This emotional security forms a stable foundation for the relationship, allowing both parties to express vulnerability and foster a strong, positive bond. These three indicators—effective communication, mutual growth, and emotional security—underscore the positivity inherent in a healthy and affirming soul tie.
If Your Soul Tie Is Negative
A negative soul tie manifests as a detrimental and draining connection between individuals. One clear sign of a negative soul tie is the presence of emotional turmoilwithin the relationship. When the connection becomes a source of constant distress, causing emotional upheaval and hindering personal development, it indicates a negative soul tie.
Codependency is another red flag for a negative soul tie. In such connections, individuals may become overly reliant on each other, impeding their ability to thrive independently. Codependency often leads to unhealthy dependencies and can result in a toxic dynamic that hinders both individuals' growth and well-being.
A lack of effective communication is a third indicator of a negative soul tie. When there is a breakdown in communication, misunderstandings and unresolved issues can fester, contributing to a strained and unhealthy connection. In negative soul ties, the absence of open and honest dialogue can perpetuate a cycle of negativity and prevent the resolution of underlying issues. These three indicators—emotional turmoil, codependency, and poor communication—point to the negativity associated with an unhealthy soul tie.
Putting Out The Fires And Breaking Your Soul Tie
Unfortunately, my deep, intense connection only caused destruction. And despite the obvious red flags, it took a minute before I broke the connection. Why? Because I was addicted to the relationship, we both were. But it is possible to break a soul tie if and when you are ready because if you are not, pretending you are when you are not is a waste of your time.
Breaking a soul tie requires intentional and purposeful actions. Establishing clear and firm boundaries is a fundamental step in severing the connection. By limiting contact and emotional engagement with the person involved, individuals can gradually weaken the tie and create space for personal growth.
Seeking professional support is another effective strategy to break a soul tie. Guidance from therapists or counselors provides valuable insights and coping strategies. Professional assistance can help individuals navigate the emotional challenges associated with breaking a soul tie, offering a structured and supportive environment for healing.
Redirecting energy toward personal growth is important in breaking free from a soul tie. Engaging in activities that promote individual well-being and create a sense of independence allows individuals to refocus their attention on their own growth and development. This redirection of energy is essential for breaking the emotional bonds of a soul tie and moving towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.
The last step I advise everyone to go through is the mourning period. My partner and I did our song and dance for years before I walked away. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I mourned our relationship while I healed.
Recognizing the presence and nature of a soul tie in your relationship is crucial to understanding its impact on your well-being. Whether positive or negative, the intensity of a soul tie can shape the course of your personal growth and happiness. Breaking free from a negative soul tie demands intentional efforts, from setting clear boundaries to seeking professional support. Redirecting energy toward personal growth and allowing oneself a necessary mourning period are vital steps toward healing and liberation from the intricate ties that bind.
Feature image by JD Mason/ Unsplash