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Love Celebration: 12 Ways To Make This Your Best Anniversary Yet!

Another 365 days together? Make sure you turn up!

Marriage

As a marriage life coach who is more than aware of the fact that the current divorce rate for first-time marriages continues to hover around the 50 percent mark (with second marriages being 60 percent and third 73 percent), I'll be the first one to say that I don't care if you've been married for one year or 50, every time your anniversary rolls around, it's a BIG TIME MILESTONE — one that needs to be celebrated to its absolute fullest.


For this very reason, I thought it would be a good idea to share some ways that you and yours can honor, bless and rejoice in the fact that you chose to make your marriage work for another 365 days. Whether you decide to implement all 12 of these or just a few, I hope each one will remind you that monogamous love is nothing to casually shrug about. Sis, it's a really, REALLY big deal and for making yours last, I personally salute you. Now let's get to these ideas.

1. Rent a Dream Vacation House

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Whether you live in a house, apartment, condo or townhome, most of us have an idea of a dream house that we wish we could at least spend a couple of nights in. Thanks to websites like Vrbo and home to go, you can find beach homes, cabins or even huge houses that are either close to your own house or in another city; ones that can make you feel like a millionaire — even if it's only for a few days or so.

2. Redo a Wedding Day Photo

There's a wife I know who has a really cute anniversary tradition. Every year, she and her husband put on their original wedding attire and take a professional photo shoot in a different location. Aside from the fact that it's dope as hell that she's able to still fit into her dress after over 15 years and a few kids, what I really like about this idea is it shows how time transitions people while the commitment remains intact.

Let me tell it, not enough people take formal pictures anymore. So, whether you decide to replicate your wedding day or just take some couple shots in general, consider getting a photographer to take a picture that you can blow up, frame and post up in your home. Listen, I totally believe that couples who remain committed are their own "work of art".

3. “Update” Your Wedding Vows

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When it comes to a really beautiful sentiment, I know a few married folks who have their original wedding vows framed, matted and hung somewhere in their house. Along these same lines, whenever I'm dealing with a couple who feels like they are taking each other for granted, I will oftentimes encourage them to each write a list of things that they adore about each other and then put the lists someplace where they can both see them (like their bedroom mirror or refrigerator) on a consistent basis. In the spirit of both of these points, a sweet — and in many ways, purposeful — thing that you and your spouse can do is update your marriage vows.

What I mean by that is, I'm pretty sure that on your wedding day, you saw love, marriage and the keys to commitment quite differently than the way you do now that you're living life out on a daily basis. By revisiting your vows and then adding on your thoughts, insights and declarations, it can remind both you and yours of where you started and also how far the both of you have come.

4. Have a Chef Make Your Wedding Reception Meal 

If there's one thing that the majority of married couples who I've talked to over the years have told me was a total blur about their wedding day, it was their wedding reception. Between the excitement of it all, trying to spend at least a little bit of time with everyone and hopefully getting at least a couple of dances in, even if their reception went well into the night, it ended up feeling like merely a few minutes. On top of that, because sitting down didn't get to happen a lot, many didn't get to enjoy their reception meal either.

One way to "correct that mistake" is to hire a chef to come and make the food that was on your reception menu all over again. Or, if the food that you did taste happened to suck or you both low-key wish that you had served something entirely different, a chef can do that for you too. Hire A Chef is one website that can point you into the right direction as far as personal chefs go.

5. Get a Bakery to Replicate a Mini Wedding Cake

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I'm pretty sure you've heard of the anniversary tradition that consists of freezing your wedding cake and then having a slice of it on your anniversary. While I dig it, it's important to put on record that you really shouldn't do this for more than your newlywed (the first two) years; even then, the second year probably won't taste all that hot because of the potential for freezer burn.

Hopefully, your marriage is going to last (or already has lasted) for longer than a couple of years. So, if you want to continue having a slice of wedding-themed cake for years to come, hit up a local bakery (one that specializes in wedding cakes), send them a picture of your wedding cake along with its flavor and have them make you a smaller version. That way, it will always be fresh, and you can keep the tradition going.

6. Mark Your Marriage Milestones

Again, if marriage is nothing else, it's a long list of milestones.

If you're someone who likes to go the DIY route when it comes to anniversary presents, why not make something that consists of your marriage milestones? You know, things like when you met, your first date, your first kiss, your first trip together, the first time you both said, "I love you", the day you got engaged, etc. It can be a collage of pictures, hearts that have the dates underneath — anything that you can frame put up in your living room or bedroom.

Something that I really like about this particular idea is it's super affordable, can be fun to make and, it's a great way for couples to remember all of the good times through the years (bonus: it'll be hard for your husband to forget dates when they're posted up somewhere!).

7. Buy Each Other a “to the Nines” Outfit

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While I know that things like jewelry is pretty common when it comes to the higher end of anniversary-related gift giving, something that I think couples should do more often instead is to get each other a full outfit (head to toe), so that they can dress up and out — all out. I think I've shared before that there's a married couple that I know who haven't been on a formal date in almost 10 years of their almost 40-year marriage (what in the world?!). Shopping for your boo is not only a lot of fun, it can also get you excited about planning the kind of date that you probably went on when you were first going out. First, find the attire and then plan the kind of place that is fitting for it. It's a great way to up the ante as far as romance in your relationship goes.

8. Watch a Movie from the Year You Were Married

What if you and yours are the kind of people who like to approach anniversaries from more of a low-key and casual standpoint? Understood. If that's the case, how about ordering in and watching a couple of movies from the year that the two of you got married? The cool thing about this particular idea is it can cultivate a kind of nostalgia that could get the two of you talking about all kinds of stuff from what the music and fashion was like at that time to the types of movie dates you went on back in the day. Shoot, every time I see an episode of Martin or listen to Brian McKnight's debut LP, my freshman year of college immediately comes to mind. Amazing how pop culture will do that to you.

9. Slow Drag to Your Wedding Reception Playlist

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Outside from the y'all's first dance and maybe the dance that each of you had with your parents, do you even remember what the DJ played at your wedding reception? Hopefully, you've still got a copy of the playlist, a CD or something that will help to jog your memory. If you do, play it and do a little slow dancing together. If you don't, create a playlist of love songs from the years that you dated thru the day you got married. The only thing that will make it better is if you do the dancing…naked.

10. Take a Sex Workshop Online

Speaking of nudity, I've shared many times before on this platform that an underrated reason for why couples go through troubling times in their marriage is because they are bored — including sexually bored (check out "7 Signs You're In A 'Sex Rut' & How To Get Out Of It"). Something that could prevent this from happening in your own relationship is to attend a sex workshop online. As far as finding one, one approach is to you to your favorite search engine and put "online sex workshops" in the search field. Another angle is to skim the article "12+ Black Sex Educators Who Are Blazing Sex-Positive Trails" and ask some of those professionals if they know any Black-community-specific workshops that you can sign up for. After all, knowledge is power…right?

11. Upcycle Your Wedding Night

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A word that I personally like a lot is "upcycle". It basically means that you are improving upon the original. Well, considering that reportedly 52 percent of couples don't even have sex on their wedding night and the word "consummate" literally means to complete something, I also think wedding anniversaries can also be about literally upcycling your wedding night.

Maybe wear the lingerie that you wore that night (if you still have it) yet bring in some sex condiments (check out "12 'Sex Condiments' That Can Make Coitus Even More...Delicious"), experiment with some new sex positions ("These Intimate Sex Positions Will Up The Ante On Your Orgasms"), give your man a sexy massage ("Blow Your Man's Mind By Giving Him This Tantalizing Massage"), take oral sex up a few notches ("12 Things You Should Do During Oral Sex (That You Probably Aren't)" and/or knock some things off of your sex bucket list ("This Is How To Create The Best Kind Of 'Sex Bucket List'"). There are lots of studies to support that married sex continues to be the best kind of sex. Remind your boo and yourself of how far the both of you have come since your wedding night went down.

12. Have a “Sex Brunch” the Following Day

After a night of amazing sex (because sex on your wedding anniversary should be about celebrating each other on a whole 'nother level), make it a priority to sleep in and then to have, what I call, a sex brunch — foods that fall into the aphrodisiac cuisine list. Some of those include chocolate (chocolate chip pancakes); strawberries (strawberry breakfast cake); figs (honey and fig breakfast bowls); cinnamon (cinnamon rolls); sweet potato (sweet potato hash); apples (pan-seared sausage and apples); avocados (blueberry and avocado muffins); bananas (peanut butter and banana French toast); salmon (salmon breakfast tacos), and champagne (mimosas). At the very least, it'll be a delicious way to culminate your anniversary. Or, it could give you the fuel that you need to do a little bit of more, umm, upcycling. Either way, congrats!

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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