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Spencer & Brittany Collins’ Love Story Proves Good Things Come In Unexpected Packages

This couple knows that when it comes to marriage, assembly is required.

Our First Year

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:

The One

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.

Baggage Claim 

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."

Love Languages

Brittany: I read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts book 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."

Overcoming Challenges

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.

Best Advice

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."

Building Together 

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.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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