"People always ask Ciara what was her prayer, but no one has ever asked me what I prayed for." - Russell Willson
When our managing editor, Sheriden, sent me a video that featured football great Russell Wilson and his beautiful R&B rib Ciara (they're Christians, so I'm pretty sure they don't mind me using that reference; Genesis 2:18-25) chopping it up on IG live with their friend, actor La La Anthony about marriage, as a marriage life coach, I must admit that it did pique my interest a bit. The topic of marital unions and, more importantly, how to cultivate a healthy one while trying to make it stand the test of time, always does. Plus, it's no secret that, in many ways, Russell and Ciara's love story brings new meaning to "beauty for ashes"—and that definitely inspires a sense of hope. All you have to do is Google their relationship history to know that them getting to where they are now has been quite the journey for them both. Have mercy. To look at them together now? In many ways, it really does seem like everything that happened before they became husband and wife was a billion other lifetimes ago.
Anyway, on their five-year anniversary of the day they first met (which was Thursday, 3/26), as far as them taking their fans through their romance from the very beginning (you can watch that here), that was fun to watch. But what our xoTeam found to be especially fascinating was when Russell decided to share how his list of what he desired in a wife actually complemented Ciara's prayer regarding what she longed for in a husband.
When it comes to Ciara's prayer specifically, last spring we posted the deets in the article "Ciara Finally Lets Us In On The Prayer That Led Her To Russell Wilson". Ciara made it crystal clear that it wasn't so much "the prayer" or "one prayer" that brought Russell into her life. It was actually many prayers—or as the Good Book puts it, "prayers without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:16-17)—that caused the love of her life to ultimately manifest.
Yet personally, what I found to be so awesome about their love testimony, is the fact that while Ciara was in one place, praying for her life partner to come into her world, Russell was somewhere else basically doing the same. Ladies, did you catch that? Russell wanted to be in a serious and lasting relationship. All on his own. Ciara didn't have to convince him to be in that head and heart space. At around the 5:00 mark of the video, Russell confirms this.
"I wanted a long-lasting relationship. I wanted love. I wanted kids. I wanted family. I didn't want perfection; I wanted the perfect thing for me. Anyway, so I ended up writing down five non-negotiables because, really, marriage is a partnership. It's a business deal in a way but really, it's a partnership…like, if we're gonna do this forever, how are we gonna partner up and do this?...When you go into a partnership or a business-type deal, you want to think about, what are your non-negotiables? This is what I want, this is what I have to have, and this is what I'm looking for…I had to write down what those were."
Some of y'all might remember back in the day when I wrote the piece, "One Overlooked Yet Obvious Indicator That A Man Is Husband Material". And what is that thing? It's a man who wants to be married. Russell was most definitely that guy. So much in fact that he comprised his own what-I-want-in-a-wife list. A non-negotiable list. And just what was on it? Some grown man stuff, I'll tell you that.
Here Are the Five Things That Russell Absolutely Required in His Future Wife
1. “My first one was, I wanted a woman of faith.”
Because both Russell and Ciara are pretty open about their religious beliefs, I'm sure that her being like-minded about Christianity is a big part of what he was referring to here. But I do think it's important to mention that faith is also defined as being "confidence or trust in a person or thing". Christians, Muslims and Jews alike all believe that God is a part of a marital relationship. Yet also, in order for a faith-based union to thrive, two people must also have faith in their partner as well. In choosing a partner, you've got to be confident that they totally have your back, no matter what. You've got to be able to put your full trust in them—their character, their value system, their views on commitment and covenant. Faith is important in all relationships. In a marriage, it's absolutely foundational to its success.
2. “I wanted a woman who was faithful.”
What's the first thing you thought when you read that? That Russell wanted a woman who wouldn't cheat, right? Yeah, it's certainly helpful when you're with someone who only wants to be with you. But let's go deeper than that.
By definition, a faithful person is someone who is "true to one's word, promises, vows, etc.", who is "steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant" and, who is "strict or thorough in the performance of duty". Yeah, exactly. It's a pretty low bar if all that faithful means to you is that your partner won't have sex with someone else. Faithful is also about being reliable, about being consistent. It's also about being thorough.
And let's not forget that it's also about keeping those wedding day vows. "Forsaking all others" ain't the only thing that is mentioned in traditional marital vows. So is sticking with someone in good times and in bad…until death parts you (amazing how much that part is overlooked).
3. “I wanted an independent woman…they could be doing whatever, but they have their own identity, they have their own perspective on what they wanted to do in life and how they wanted to impact people.”
I can't tell you how many times I have sat across a married couple where one spouse's entire world is wrapped around their partner. It's not because of how "in love" they are; it's because they don't have a clue what their purpose is, outside of their relationship. That's not good. One of the blessings about having a season of singleness is you can figure out who the heck you are and what the heck you were created to do on this planet. Because I promise you, a person who knows their true purpose is going to have a much easier—and more accurate—time finding a complementary partner than someone who doesn't have the faintest idea.
Something else that was dope about what Russell said here is he wanted a woman who impacted people in a profound way. A selfish person isn't attractive to a mature one. That said, when it comes to marriage, two of my favorite Scriptures in the Bible are, "A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands" (Proverbs 14:1—NLT) and "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones." (Proverbs 12:4—NKJV) Russell was looking for a woman, not just of influence, but good influence. Most good men are.
4. “I wanted a woman who was gonna love me the way that my mom loved my dad when he was on his deathbed…my mom took care of my dad, no matter what the circumstances were and how far it got.”
My mother has been married three times. My late fiancé came from a home where his parents are still together and he's been gone 25 years this coming November. While we were dating, our approaches to things were very different and yes, some of it had to do with the marriages that we had seen and experienced. For instance, when we would argue, oftentimes, my go-to would be to break-up while he would be like, "Why are you so extreme? Everyone fights. We'll get through this."
Yeah, I totally dig that Russell was able to see "through thick and thin" as he was growing up. Unfortunately, a lot of our Black men haven't and so it's hard for them to conceptualize staying with someone when times get hard. Peep how Russell said that his parents honored their commitment, no matter how challenging the circumstances were. Marriages that are worth their weight in gold have this kind of reputation. I have been fortunate to encounter a few.
5. “I wanted a woman who was gonna tilt the room…if she walks in a room, the whole furniture just slides to her.”
I ain't gonna lie. This one is the one that made me be like, "Say that!" TILT. THE. ROOM. It also reminds me of a Scripture that I referenced in the article "These 8 Scriptures Are Spiritual Game-Changers For Single Women". The New Century Version of Song of Solomon 4:7 says, "My darling, everything about you is beautiful, and there is nothing at all wrong with you." One of my favorite husbands once told me that what he loved most about his wife is, "When God created her, He clearly had me in mind." DOPE.
Ciara is a physically appealing woman. No doubt about it.
But single ladies, wait for the man who believes that you also "tilt the room", even if no one else noticed but him. A man who feels like, just by you sharing his space, you alter the atmosphere.
Tilt the room. I'll be using that often, Mr. Wilson. Thank you.
Russell followed this list up with another very valid point. He wasn't going to waver on it.
"I wasn't gonna settle for three out of five or four out of five; we were gonna go five for five…we got five for five, plus some more."
A lot of us have lists. Know what else? A lot of us compromise when it comes to what's on them. It only works against us whenever we do because, as writer Maureen Dowd once said, "The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for." Listen, while I do think it's relevant to say that Russell's list wasn't a mile long—there are lists and then there are lists—to be clear and concise, and then to not budge on whatever you are clear about? That's important too. It's a way of showing that you are unapologetic about whatever your deal-breakers are. It's how you can keep all of the counterfeits out of your path as you wait for who is truly best and right for you.
Again, Russell’s List and Ciara’s Prayer COMPLEMENTED Each Other
A part of the reason why I write articles like on this platform like, "He Loves You. He's Just Never Gonna Marry You. Now What?", "If Your Man Is Missing These Things, Wait Before Marrying Him" and "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife" is because, some of us are so focused on the desire to be a wife that we don't pay attention to signs if a man wants to be a husband—and then our husband—or not. Indeed, one of the best things about Russell and Ciara's story is they both wanted the same thing; not only that but it's clear that their spirits were on one accord, even before their physical beings came together.
Per Ciara (via the same video):
"Our prayers were pretty much lined up. I think that's the thing I probably hear about it when we talk about it…I think that's what stands out the most to me—we were in sync. You know, we talked about being equally yoked…when you pray, for anything in life—I don't care if it's like, love, if it's business, if it's the vision you have for yourself, like even as a single person, right?...You've gotta be intentional. I really believe you can't get anywhere in life without a compass…you've gotta have a compass…because, otherwise, you're just shooting in the dark…I feel like you make life more complicated and you make the journey more complex."
Author Paulo Coelho once said, "And, when you want something, all the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." Ciara knew what she wanted. Russell knew what he wanted. Because what they wanted "fit each other"—here they are with an almost five-year marriage, two kids and another baby blessing on the way.
You know, I'm a firm believer that, where we are called by Light, dark forces will attack us; it's called spiritual warfare. I thought about Ciara's dating past as she shared what a part of her calling/being is all about.
"For me, I love being happy. Like, happiness is a big part of my identity. So, if I take that away, I'm not being who I am."
So much opposition was trying to keep her away from who she is at her core—HAPPINESS. Or, as her husband speaks of, joy. Yet because she went to the Source of joy via her prayers, she now has it. And as for Russell's list? Russell shares this final point.
"When we have a tough moment…we can always find that center place, right? And we always have joy in that. And I think that gives us the greatest peace…God is the center of it all…if we do that, we can do forever."
All because he didn't waver on his wife wish list. He wanted a woman of faith who was faithful. He didn't compromise. Now it's all good. Shoot, even better than that.
I don't know if Russell and Ciara woke up on the anniversary of when they met this past week and thought that they would be doing an impromptu marital (and marital preparation) seminar, but this was some really good stuff right here. Know what you want. Have a list of what it looks like. Don't settle. Discern once your desires have arrived. Then watch what comes your way when you do. Russell and Ciara can certainly attest to that. Happy Anniversary, you two. Here's to many, many, many more!
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Featured image by @ciara IG