Spencer & Brittany Collins’ Love Story Proves Good Things Come In Unexpected Packages
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.
In 2013, Brittany and Spencer Collins met after crossing paths at random. Six years, four anniversaries, and three children later, this couple is living proof that good things come in unexpected packages. Their love story began after Brittany's former employer was assigned to her future husband's route. "He was delivering packages to my old job and I thought he was so freaking cute!" the 27-year-old mother-of-three explained. "I used to hope for a package daily just to hear him say, 'Can you sign for me?' and 'How's your day going?' I enjoyed any little conversation we had. I had a legit crush on him! I felt like I was in middle school waiting to switch classes just to see him in the hall."
Over time, Brittany and Spencer's small talk led to big energy and the couple discovered that their attraction to one another was mutual. "She gave me butterflies!" Spencer gushed. "When I first saw her smile at me, I was instantly intrigued and wanted to get to know her more."
While Brittany and Spencer's life of melanin matrimony may appear effortless, this couple is here to let you know there is assembly required when it comes to making a marriage work. In this month's segment of Our First Year, we chatted with them about how they met, falling in love, and why communication is a must in their marriage.
Here's what we learned:
Brittany: This might sound a little cliche, but I knew [he was the one] right away. We went on our first official date and on the way home I wanted to go straight to the courthouse. Our vibes were so in sync from day one. I knew that marriage was the next step when he didn't run off after meeting my dad. Any man that is willing to respectfully stand up to a man who, at the time wouldn't shake his hand. But he knew it was important to me and was willing to go through the fire for me. He got to sit down with my dad one-on-one and then I knew he was my husband!
Spencer: We hit it off right away. It was like we had already been dating---how we finished each other's sentences and thoughts. She gave me that feeling that I've never felt with anyone else. I knew we would get married after our first date. We went to a concert in D.C. and on the ride home I opened about my feelings about her and how she made me feel. It was the moment I felt we both really connected and were on the same page. I knew right then that marriage was in our future. I just didn't know when.
"I knew we would get married after our first date. We went to a concert in D.C. and on the ride home I opened about my feelings about her and how she made me feel. It was the moment I felt we both really connected and were on the same page. I knew right then that marriage was in our future. I just didn't know when."
Overcoming Fears In Marriage
Brittany: [I had a] fear of divorce/failure. We took the option off the table. We promised to always communicate and never stop trying.
Spencer: [My fear was] not being the husband that God intended me to be. I prayed about my fears and communicated with her about them. We both had the same concerns/fears so talking about them made me feel at ease.
Brittany: I had some serious trust issues at the time. Feeling like I couldn't do things on my own. I really had to look at myself even before considering dating anyone. I had to trust myself with making the right decisions for my life and know that if I picked the right person, they won't make me worry so I have to be secure with myself first; acknowledging that was the first part. Then, taking time to step away from the outside world and noise to really enjoy time and get to know myself. I had to find that it's OK to let someone take care of you without feeling crippled and it's OK to put on the belt to help the pants stay on as well without belittling him. It is a slippery slope but that is where communication comes in.
Whenever we are going through a rough patch, we set aside one day of the week to talk and have completely open floor conversations about things the other is doing right, wrong, or things we want to change or work on. We really open the floor for anything. Just to have that uninterrupted time together has helped with overcoming though hills in our marriage.
Spencer: Individually, I had to learn to take myself out of the equation at times and see things from her perspective. A lot of times I would harbor feelings instead of expressing them. It's hard for another person to understand you if you don't express those issues. Once I talked to her about it, I would feel 10 times better about it. We would set a certain day out the week to just talk about anything we had on our minds with no judgment!
Courtesy of Brittany Collins
"Whenever we are going through a rough patch, we set aside one day of the week to talk and have completely open floor conversations about things the other is doing right, wrong, or things we want to change or work on. We really open the floor for anything. Just to have that uninterrupted time together has helped with overcoming though hills in our marriage."
Brittany: I read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lastsbook before meeting him so I was very aware of what my languages were, which definitely helped in our relationship. We took the test together once married and discussed expectations. We keep the results for if ever we need a reminder.
Spencer: I never knew about love languages before we met so it was a whole new different area for me to navigate. She had to remind me a few times, so it did take some time to become aware and translate it in our marriage.
Important Lessons In Marriage
Brittany: You have to make the choice to put your pride to the side, whether right or wrong, and listen to understand, compromise and concur. I had to shut my mouth and create a plan versus get upset and say, "You are on your own." Teamwork is the key factor.
Spencer: Learn to listen instead of going back and forth about concerns. It was tough in the beginning because we're still trying to understand the dos and don'ts. Just taking time to talk to one another and set up a plan for what will make things better for each other.
Courtesy of Brittany Collins
"You have to make the choice to put your pride to the side, whether right or wrong, and listen to understand, compromise and concur."
Brittany: Communicating and compromising are key when sharing spaces. We lived together prior to getting married with very little stuff so that helped the transition. As far as finances, we had to make the choice to give the responsibility to the person that was better with numbers. We sat down and did the overall budget together but generally, I am responsible for keeping that in line.
Spencer: It was challenging at times, me going from having my own space to becoming a father figure. I was used to certain spending habits that I had to compromise [on]. She has always been great with money so learning from her habits helped me work on mine. Communicating with each other about our concerns about one another was key.
The Best Part
Brittany: I love how he remains calm and is very supportive. He has a very chill spirit that complements my personality. Whenever I have an idea, he is on board immediately---he supports and trusts my decision. He has a lot of faith in me, and I love that about him.
Spencer: I love how she is very goal-oriented. When she sets her mind on something, she gives 110%. She is very creative and crafty, and she values family and God.
Brittany: Keep God first in your marriage and communication even in tough situations. I would not suggest telling anyone every little thing in your marriage. Choose wisely who you confide in and what you are telling. You never know who is rooting for your downfall, who is hanging up with you to phone a friend, or who is giving you the wrong advice. Also, what you tell people while you are upset or venting you will get over, but they may never forget. If you choose to confide in someone, keep that one person at max.
Spencer: It's all teamwork at the end of the day. One person can't do it all in a marriage or relationship. Put God first and have good communication with one another. I feel that when it comes to your marriage, some topics should be handled in-house. Not everyone is in it for your best interests.
"It's all teamwork at the end of the day. One person can't do it all in a marriage or relationship. Put God first and have good communication with one another. I feel that when it comes to your marriage, some topics should be handled in-house. Not everyone is in it for your best interests."
Brittany: Creating memories and a good financial foundation for our children to start on is our primary goal. Love and friendship are the roots of our foundation. My goals will create extra income and allow more free time to take trips and see the world with my family.
Spencer: Being financially stable would be our common goal. Being able to support our family while still enjoying life [is also important]. Establishing a friendship first has always been our foundation. Doing my part to communicate with her regarding the budget---those things are needed in the home.
For more Brittany & Spencer, follow them on Instagram @spenceandbritt!
Featured image courtesy of Brittany Collins.
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.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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Featured image by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images