"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
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masturdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masturdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masturdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masturdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masturdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masturdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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