The funny thing about marriage advice is that the main people giving it are not married.
They’re either divorced and judging YOUR relationship from disappointments of THEIR past or they have unrealistic #RelationshipGoals of what a healthy relationship should be. My first year few years of marriage have been spent making sense of sharing my life with another person and navigating situations by what’s best for my family and not just what works for myself. It’s one thing when you’re standing at the altar promising to love someone for “richer or for poorer” but it’s completely different when your spouse gets laid off and the bills don’t stop hitting your doorstep although that direct deposit stops hitting the account.
One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about being in a long-term relationship is discovering me and my husband's style as a couple instead of asking, “What would Boris and Nicole do?” Or trying to make our relationship look as good for the ‘Gram as Dwyane and Gabby.
And one of the things that comes with a relationship is making your own rules as couple.
Just like the same rules that apply to the workplace, don’t apply to your home, every couple has to decide what rules are necessary for their own relationship. A week ago I was having a conversation with a male friend that I have had for years and dated for literally a few days in the past. He mentioned that some of his friends were hitting him with the side-eye when he revealed he still talks to me from time to time. “Isn’t she married?” they’d question as if being married meant breaking ties with everything and everyone from my past out of respect for my husband. While marriage includes making traditional vows loyalty and support, it doesn’t mean you have to completely change your personality or abandon any trace of the life you had before. What matters most is that you and your spouse are on the same page and share the same goal of what works best for your family. If that means “Mama” needs a taste of something different from time to time to be happy, so be it. (Actually that doesn’t apply to my marriage, but I’m not knocking Monique for it either.)
Here are a few pieces of marriage advice that I’ve chosen to ignore:
1. No more #MCM.
Let’s be clear: Becoming a Mrs. doesn’t mean I’m suddenly legally blind or that my sexuality has closed up shop unless my Mr. is the one shopping. Posting Drake or one of The Have and Have Nots honeys as my #MCM doesn’t mean I’m one step closer to dividing up the dogs and cars with my husband. I can find another man attractive, funny, or intelligent without wanting to spend the rest of my life with him. You also won’t catch pictures of my husband flexing in your Instagram feed every Monday morning to confirm I still love him and am attracted to him. Being married doesn’t mean you won’t be attracted to other people and hash-tagging someone doesn’t mean they will be the one you’ll break in your AARP benefits with one day.
2. You can’t be friends with exes or members of the opposite sex.
Obviously, a major trait of any good relationship is trust, but I’d argue that an even bigger part is acceptance. You have to accept the person you fell in love with in the first place, and that includes their past. I don’t think it’s fair to ask my spouse to cut off all contact with people who are important to him, especially if they were in the picture before me. What’s most important is that boundaries are clear, as well as maintaining trust and respect.
3. You have to open up a joint account.
I have so many friends that have gotten married and rushed to start combining finances. Months later they are bewildered as to why there isn’t enough money in the account to pay daycare fees, the mortgage, and the electric bill. Another magical thing marriage doesn’t do is make everyone fiscally responsible. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean that everything else will work itself out. You still have to sit down with your spouse and decide what works best for your spending habits.
For my husband and I that meant keeping our accounts separate and deciding on a case-by-case basis what we would split the costs for. I remember an older colleague once asked me in amazement, “Your husband doesn’t handle the household finances?” I'm more comfortable with expenses I brought into the relationship being pulled from my own account, You have to create a clear plan about how money will work in your household and adjust it according to the different experiences that can occur whether you win the lottery or someone loses a job. For us right now that means keeping two separate accounts so we all can remain under one roof.
4. Domestic duties should be shared.
Every once in a while my parents will check in on me to ask if I am “happy in my marriage”. Well “happy” to my mother means that my husband and I should trade up dinner duty and household chores every once in a while since we both work full-time. When your husband’s idea of dinner is hot dogs and Rice-a-Roni with a side of cereal, you don’t mind having to change out of your work clothes into an apron every evening. I’m a big believer in taking advantage of others’ strengths instead of dividing up tasks equally just so things can be fair. Since I know my way around a kitchen a little better, I don't mind being the one to make the meals and my husband can focus on other things like taking out the trash and shoveling snow.
5. Don’t go to bed
I’ve witnessed up close and personally that an occasional night spent on the couch is the saving grace some marriages need. As a child, I saw my mom spend a night or two in our basement with only the Lifetime Movie Network and our pet Yorkie to keep her company just so she could escape my dad’s nervous midnight pacing that occurred regularly for some time after he lost his job. It was then I learned that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all. His footsteps back and forth to the kitchen to light a chain of cigarettes mixed with the sounds coming from the TV of a housewife weeping after learning her husband is cheating with the nanny were a lot more comforting than hearing my parents argue over pensions and misspent money. And the morning after those occasional nights they’d wake up early, go to the mall and come back happier than ever.
Apologies can be hard to come by in the heat of a moment after an argument. You may not always catch me saying, “I’m sorry,” just to get some shut-eye in my marriage but one thing that’s important to me is that my husband never goes hungry. Even if we’re going into the third hour of silent treatment, it’s almost always broken by, “I’m ordering a pizza. Do you want anything?” I believe marriage is about making sure you and your partner survive each day together, even if it means being angry as hell but not hungry.
I think the best marriages are filled with inside jokes and rules that make your household a better place to be when the outside world gets ugly. No matter how untraditional or questionable the rules of your relationship may be, as long as you make each other happy, that’s all that matters.
What are some traditional relationship rules you’ve broken for the better?
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!
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by FOTOGRAFIA, INC./Getty Images