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.
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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