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.
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.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images