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.
I think that a lot of us believe in the notion of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This notion allows us to be grateful for being late to appointments, having plans being canceled last minute, and even changing our minds on attending events we said we would go to. I know I am guilty of feeling so satisfied when things are changed at the last minute and it honestly makes my day better. For a then-25-year-old copywriter, Chelsea Coffey, it was actually the opposite. A last-minute change in her schedule would make her be at the right place at the right time.
Chelsea received a phone call from a coworker to cover a soccer event in Houston, Texas. She was not expecting this assignment, but she is so glad that she did. At the event, Chelsea had plans to connect with the soccer team, but had no idea that one of the soccer players would charm their way into her heart. Just in case you were wondering… yes, that MLS player was Warren Creavalle.
Warren and Chelsea dated a year and half before tying the knot. These days, the married couple has not only solidified their lives in love but also in business.
Courtesy of Chelsea and Warren
In addition to a successful Philly Urban Retreat the two are known for, Chelsea and Warren have founded a business brand called Coffey + Creavalle. Coffey + Creavalle is a one-stop-shop for all things ranging from home goods to apparel. For this couple, they want to become a resource for the community and create a legacy for their children.
Time was really on their side from the very beginning and if there is anything that I took from connecting with this couple is that: when it comes to true love, it comes right on time.
In this installment of xoNecole's "Our First Year," Chelsea and Warren share how they have kept their love alive by supporting one another, making love a daily choice, and knowing the importance of building a legacy.
How We Met
Warren: I was playing soccer for the Houston Dynamo. Chelsea was covering our team's End of Year Banquet for the magazine she worked for. So on that day, I saw her before we even spoke. I was already trying to see who this fine girl was. After the event and the after-party was going on, Chelsea saw me from across the room. With her being on the job and all, she walked over and approached my teammates and I. She starts giving her a spiel on how she could work with us to style us for a photoshoot. And we followed each other on Twitter--after she threatened me about not being a ghost follower.
Chelsea: So my coworker called me about covering the End of Years Awards Dinner for the Houston Dynamo. I thought this was perfect because I was coming from a photoshoot. So, I already had my makeup done. I wasn't very familiar with soccer-focused events, so I didn't know what to expect. But girl when I got there, I called my coworker saying we have been missing out! I continue to be professional, but after the event, I figured it would be a missed opportunity if I didn't make a connection. So I come up with my business introduction, walked up to Warren's team, and did my thing. But when I was talking to Warren, I felt like we were talking for the longest. So we ended up exchanging our social media information, and that's how we connected.
Chelsea: I was a little smitten out the gate, to be honest. I remember it was very dimmed lighting in the room and Warren's smile was just *ding ding* (laughs). It was really nice. Also, something to know about me. Since I am from Texas, my default is to pronounce certain names as if they were Spanish. I assumed Warren was Afro-Latino and when he was telling me his last name, I pronounced it differently. He got a little sassy with me, understandably, because I was saying his name wrong. But that was my first impression of him. As charming as he was, he was still a little sassy to me.
Warren: It was my rookie year and I was new to Houston. So when I saw her from across the room, I felt it was a turning point for me. I felt like I was glowing up and me being able to talk to women who look like her was a plus. I was convinced that Houston may be my kind of city. As Chelsea walked passed, I said out loud, "Look at my future beautiful Black queen!" Even after we were able to finally connect, I still thought Chelsea was beautiful and was looking forward to what was coming next.
Chelsea: Warren and I actually dated twice. We hung out a few times and we'd been dating for like five minutes. This thought came into my head, 'I don't care if he gets traded, we're going.' And immediately I told myself, 'Girl, what is wrong with you?!' 'First of all, where did this thought come from, and second of all, we don't even know him for real.' But, it's true when they say when you know, you know. I saw Warren as my best friend and we always had a good time together. Even though we broke up temporarily, I told myself that I wanted to feel like that, if I ever fell in love again.
Warren: So when we reconnected, Chelsea was still in Houston and I was in Philadelphia [two teams later]. But it felt like we didn't skip a beat. I still felt like I was talking to my best friend. It was a really refreshing vibe. To be honest, I did date other people when we were both single. But Chelsea was the only woman that would make me scramble if that makes sense (laughs). That was really significant for me because I felt like I didn't have to worry if she wasn't going to be in my life anymore. That was when I knew. It was natural to take that next step with her to me.
"Chelsea was the only woman that would make me scramble if that makes sense. That was really significant for me because I felt like I didn't have to worry if she wasn't going to be in my life anymore. That was when I knew. It was natural to take that next step with her to me."
Saying "I Do"
Chelsea: We had two weddings. We got married legally in the spring and then had our marriage reception/ceremony six months later. At the main marriage ceremony, Warren wrote his own vows, and what he said was so sweet. I would say that is one of the things I will never forget. But there was this moment after the vows and all the pictures were taken. I thought that we would come back to the bridal suite for a special one-on-one moment during the wedding. Ironically, it didn't happen like that.
We got to the room and slowly, but surely, all of our bridesmaids and groomsmen were in our room. They were eating snacks and playing music. But seeing all of our close friends together made me appreciate things that were just out of our control in the best way. It was a beautiful way to celebrate our love story by being surrounded by the people we really care about. So it's a mixture of both of those for me.
Warren: I would have to say when we were saying our vows to each other was the most memorable part for me.
Chelsea: I think that one of the benefits of me being older than Warren is that I was at a stage in my life where I knew I didn't want to date just to date anymore. I was ready to be in a serious relationship and get married. I wouldn't say that I didn't have any fears, because I think that's natural when you do have them. One thing that was a sensitivity of mine is hoping that we can navigate through each other's different seasons.
I wanted us to be able to get through things together rather than individually. What helped me to be less afraid about stepping into marriage was Warren's pace. When things move too fast, I get a little nervous. And since we were at different seasons, I admired that Warren knew what he needed as far as time, to be completely ready for this. Warren has a thorough and thoughtful pace. So by the time we got closer to the wedding, we were sure about it.
Warren: I agree with Chelsea. I think the pace we chose in our relationship helped us be more confident in our decision to get married. Marriage is forever. So it's important that you are sure this is exactly what you want. So being able to take that time allowed that assurance we needed.
"When things move too fast, I get a little nervous. And since we were at different seasons, I admired that Warren knew what he needed as far as time, to be completely ready for this. Warren has a thorough and thoughtful pace. So by the time we got closer to the wedding, we were sure about it."
Courtesy of Chelsea and Warren
Chelsea: I consider myself a proper particular kind of person. I have never lived with a guy before and so to my surprise, Warren is so particular too. He has his own ways of how he likes things done. In a way, we complemented each other, but there were times I felt we were tripping over each other and our own preferences. I will say that we are still working on this. It is all about picking your battles.
Warren: Yeah I do like things in my living space a certain way. I have had my roommates before, but I was living on my own when I was dating Chelsea. So stepping back into sharing my space with someone was an adjustment for me.
Chelsea: With Warren, I really appreciate how supportive he is. There is just something to be said about someone who knows how to be present with their partner. For example, when I was writing my book, Warren sat down with me for days and went through/edited the entire book. It is really a blessing to have someone like that in your life. Someone that is just down for you for whatever. So learning how to be that way for someone is what I've learned through how Warren shows up for me.
Warren: Prior to our relationship, I had this grip on life. I had this idea about what I wanted, where I wanted to be, and how I was going to get there. So allowing someone you consider your partner to add to that, is a shift. There's a trajectory in your life that is for the better because you are letting other people in. It was something I didn't anticipate, but it has definitely been my biggest lesson.
"Prior to our relationship, I had this grip on life. I had this idea about what I wanted, where I wanted to be, and how I was going to get there. Allowing someone you consider your partner to add to that, is a shift. There's a trajectory in your life that is for the better because you are letting other people in."
Chelsea: I remember I was trying to make this video right after our Houston house renovation. I was trying to be cute and asked Warren what his main takeaway from the experience was. Warren says, "Go get the money." As much as we joke about that, we are grinding out here. We want our kids to live a life that reflects all the hard work we put in. We want to be a significant staple in our community in a big way.
Warren: If there is anything to add, we want to be able to open doors not just for our kids, but for other kids in our community as well. I think that it's important to lift up the next generation and be that source of knowledge or resources for them to become successful.
Warren: One thing I've gotten from Chelsea's father and our marriage counselor is to make a choice to love your spouse every day. The butterflies and everything is not enough to sustain the day in and day out. So you make that choice every day and sometimes multiple times a day to love that person.
Chelsea: There is the overarching theme about grace. When you are in a relationship, you have to show the other person grace. I think that sometimes when we don't give the other person grace and we lash out on them when we are upset about something, we forget about our own shortcomings. If you are able to put yourself in the other person's shoes, it sets you up for getting out of a situation better than you anticipate.
For more about Chelsea and Warren, follow them on Instagram @thecoffeybreak and @malik_lebeau. Follow their brand @coffeywithcreavalle.
Featured image courtesy of Chelsea and Warren
Originally published on July 8, 2021
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
Keke Palmer and Casandra “Cassie” Ventura are two of the most recent prominent Black women who have spoken out about their current and past abuse by intimate partners. These conversations seem to be happening more frequently today, but the truth is domestic violence and sexual abuse of Black women within the Black community is not new.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 45.1 percent of Black women will experience physical violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, in contrast to 30.2 percent of their white counterparts who experience similar abuse. Additionally, the Black Women’s Health Project also found Black women are three times more likely to be killed by a partner than white women.
As a result of these findings, it determined that domestic violence is the number one health issue facing Black women today.
Despite these stark statistics the prevalent misogynoir Black women face within their community further reinforce the stigma, victim-blaming, and culture of silence that prevent Black women from seeking help when experiencing abuse. Both Palmer and Ventura are examples of how Black women suffer in silence for years at the hands of an abusive partner. In Palmer’s court filings, she alleged Darius Jackson, her son’s father, abused her in multiple instances over two years. Yet, not until recently did she seek help from the courts to obtain a restraining order and sole custody of her son.
Likewise, Ventura’s lawsuit highlighted over a decade’s worth of alleged domestic violence, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking. Though Ventura and Sean Combs’ relationship ended in 2018, she shared the importance of speaking out now instead of remaining silent. “After years in silence and darkness, I am finally ready to tell my story, and to speak up on behalf of myself and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships,” she shared in a statement.
Though many prominent Black women such as Rihanna, Tina Turner, Kelly Rowland, and Megan Thee Stallion have spoken out about their experiences with domestic violence, there is still a great stigma regarding the issue in the Black community.
This stigma and lack of protection for Black women manifests through people questioning the validity of Black women’s claims, which we saw on full display in the case against Tory Lanez on behalf of Megan.
We still see it in the way people make tasteless jokes about the late Tina Turner’s abuse from Ike Turner; and even in how people questioned “what Rihanna did” to Chris Brown for him to hurt her in such a way. Actions and behaviors such as these lead to the staggering reality that 91 percent of Black women are killed by someone they knew according to a study conducted by the University of Illinois Chicago.
This study also highlighted the fact that the leading cause of death for Black women between the ages of 15 and 45 is murder by an intimate partner.
As someone who has experienced physical violence in an intimate relationship, I can attest to the anxiety and doubt I felt in sharing my truth with others. Even though there was physical proof to corroborate my claims, all I could think of were the words my mother said when the news of Rihanna and Chris Brown came out, “She did something to that boy for him to do that to her.”
I share this story because even though the celebrities we see going through these experiences may never hear the conversations we have behind closed doors, there are women in our lives who are experiencing the same things and won’t speak up because of what we say.
I still remember the feeling of self-blame in my relationship with physical proof of abuse appearing on my body and the mindset that if I were only somehow a better partner and more “submissive” in my relationship these things wouldn’t continue to happen.
However, what I and all other abuse survivors know is that there is nothing you can do to appease your abuser, and the only true way to end the abuse is to leave the relationship in the safest manner possible.
Yet, what many abuse survivors also know is leaving is one of the most difficult challenges in an abusive relationship. On average it takes victims of abuse seven attempts to leave their abuser and stay separated for good according to RESPOND Inc., New England’s first domestic violence agency. Though physical and sexual abuse are often discussed the most in conversations of domestic violence and abuse we need to acknowledge that it often begins with mental and emotional gaslighting and manipulation.
According to the (NCADV) 53.8 percent of Black women will experience psychological aggression by a partner in their lifetimes. In Kelly Rowland’s 2013 song "Dirty Laundry," she showcases how psychological abuse appears in relationships with lyrics, “he said, ‘Don't nobody love you but me Not your mama, not your daddy and especially not Bey.’”
As Black women continue to speak out about their violence and challenge their abusers, it is also important for the Black community to create a safe space for them to do so. If a friend or family member confides in you about experiencing abuse be supportive and listen, avoid casting blame on them, and most importantly ask them what they want to do in terms of the next steps or leaving the relationship.
Lastly, if you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner abuse and wants help reach out to National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for support and resources.
Featured image via Getty Images