Something that I make a point to tell every engaged couple that I come into contact with is, "Make sure you have sex on your wedding night." There are a billion reasons why I think it is so important. For starters, in this context, consummate literally means "to complete (the union of a marriage) by the first marital sexual intercourse". This means that the marriage vows don't "complete" your wedding day; having sex with your spouse does. Also, if you can prioritize cake eating and picture taking, you can make sure to get it in (what matters, we make time for…right?). Another reason why I think it's a big deal is because it's really unfortunate—and a little shocking—how many couples don't copulate on their wedding night. How many? According to one pretty popular study, a whopping 52 percent!
What I find to be even more interesting than that is some of the same reasons why newlywed couples don't do-the-do on their first night as husband and wife are the same reasons why a lot of people (some studies say 20 percent) are in a sexless marriage—fatigue, poor communication, fighting (couples who fight on their honeymoon are more likely to fight throughout their marriage, by the way), stress, side effects from medication, not factoring in your partner's needs and even kids (some people are with their children on their wedding night and/or end up not taking a honeymoon).
And what technically makes a marriage sexless? If you and yours are only having sex 10-15 times a year, although I hate to break it to ya, that places you firmly into the category. The reason why that's not something to simply shrug off is, aside from physical issues that would prevent you from having sex, there is not one sane therapist, counselor or coach would will tell you that a marriage without sex is healthy.
Sex is a responsibility in marriage (check out "10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important"). Even the Bible says, "Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." (I Corinthians 7:5—NKJV) Did you catch that? A marriage without sex in it is a form of deprivation.
But what if you already are in a sexless marriage? What should you do? Although it takes a while to restore a sexless union, here are some questions that can help you and yours to get back on track.
Whose Definition of “Sexless” Is It?
One time I was working with a married couple on improving their intimacy outside of the bedroom. As I was offering up some tips, the husband said, "It's gonna be hard for me to focus on that when we're damn near in a sexless marriage." The wife immediately sighed. Although we were on a phone session, I had worked with them long enough that I knew she was rolling her eyes. "How often do the two of you have sex?" I asked. Before the husband could answer, the wife said, "Three times a week." Wow. And that is what her husband considered to be sexless. Bless his heart.
Listen y'all, when it comes to sex, there is a big amount of space in between deprivation and straight-up greediness. Again, the official definition of a sexless marriage is couples who engage no more than around once a month. If you are getting more than that, while you and your spouse may be sexually incompatible when it comes to appetites, or you may need to come to a place of compromise regarding frequency, a sexless marriage, you two are not in.
So, if you are like this husband (because a lot of wives have stronger libidos than their husbands do) and you are telling yourself that your marriage is sexless simply because it doesn't happen as much as you'd like, make sure to get honest about the narrative. Not having sex as much as you'd like is nothing like a sexless marriage. Any couple in a sexless marriage will tell you that.
How Long Has This Been the Case?
If indeed you have narrowed down that it's been so long since you've had sex that you can't remember the last time that it actually happened (which is way too long), it's now time to reflect on how long "long" has been. Do the two of you have a pretty healthy sex life (for the most part) and it's only been a couple of months of MIA TLC, or is there more of a pattern going on?
There's one couple I know who are physically capable of having sex and claim that their marriage is fine. But guess how long it's been since they've had sex? Around three years. More than that if you count good sex. If there's one thing that is supposed to make a married couple's relationship different than all of the other ones that they have, it's the fact that they actually have sex with their husband or wife. If you're not making physical intimacy a priority in your marriage, why is that? No…really…why is that? It's not "just because". And whatever the real reason is? It's gonna reveal what's really going on in your relationship. Chances are, sex has very little to do with it too.
What Was Intimacy Like Prior to Marriage?
Something that can be a total set-up is thinking that sex when you're married isn't much of a difference from sex when you were single. Shoot, you can check out "What 5 Men Had To Say About Married Sex" to see just how off the mark that is. When you're single, a lot of times sex is about gettin' yours—on your schedule and on your terms. But any healthy married person will tell you that sex within a sacred union is about a lot more than climaxing. Selflessness, open communication and mutual fulfillment are not only meant to be constant considerations but consistent goals as well.
Some people are in a sexless marriage because, although as a single person, sex was "fun" (because it was so much about them and not much else), they now view sex as "work".
If you add to that the fact that their past partners needs weren't that big of a deal, now that their spouse's needs should be a top priority, they would rather pass on sex than mature into the kind of partner their spouse needs in order for them to have a happy, healthy and thriving sex life.
Single sex doesn't necessarily have to be intimate. Oh, but married sex should be. Are you struggling with emotionally connecting? If so, could that be the cause of your sexless situation?
What Does Your Spouse Have to Say About It?
Here's another sign that your marriage is unhealthy—if whenever you bring up the lack of intimacy that's currently in your relationship to your spouse, they give you the Kanye shrug and go back to whatever it is that they were doing. The reason why I say that is because it's pretty rare that if a sexless marriage is going on, both individuals are completely fine with that.
Not to send you down a rabbit hole, but someone I know who is in one once told me that the only reason why I was giving their marriage side-eye was because "I wasn't mature enough to understand that sex is not all that important, the older a couple gets." Guess what? About six months after they said that, they found out that their spouse had been cheating for at least a year. Before you pin it all on the cheater, how would you feel if it had been a couple of years since you had gotten some? Wouldn't you feel like your spouse had left you out to dry? Even the Bible says that a sexless marriage gives room for evil entities to do their thing.
In an article that I read on sexless marriages, it featured a study that said the coping mechanisms for dealing with this type of issue range from masturbating (79 percent) to having an affair (26 percent). But what really stood out to me is fact that 51 percent choose to get into a hobby or (catch it) strike up relationships with other people. Hmm. I just read that around half of all emotional affairs eventually turn physical, so yeah, don't assume that just because your spouse is not talking about how they feel about the lack of intimacy and sex in your relationship that they are "fine". According to statistical data, they probably aren't anywhere close to being that.
Have the Two of You EVER Been on the Same Page Sexually?
As far as their intimacy goes, something that some couples share with me, is that it's easier to have less sex when neither of you were on the same page to begin with. If one or both of you were sexually active and not exactly "thrilled" with one another, sometimes you'll tell yourselves that things will get better after saying "I do". Then, if things still aren't quite right, after a couple of years of actually trying to get in sync or faking like you're sexually satisfied when you're really not. After all, faking is lying and when is lying to your partner ever a good idea?
What all of this boils down to is if you're in a sexless marriage because the poor quality has led to low quantity, it's time to get proactive. There are websites like The Marriage Bed that can provide information on just about anything you can think of sexually if you need help sparking up a conversation. It can also be helpful to create a sex vision board (check out "Should a Married Couple Have a Vision for Their Sex Life?") where both of you can share your innermost fantasies and desires. Personally, I am a huge fan of sex jars (you can read more about that here), and a sexcation can never hurt either.
Sometimes, navigating through a sexless marriage is all about perspective. Rather than surrendering to the belief that you are "doomed" to bad sex for the rest of your life, choose instead to see your situation as a lifetime to explore and evolve with your spouse. If both of you are committed to the goal of having a mind-blowing sex life, you're already halfway there.
Are You BOTH Open to Therapy?
In the article "7 Signs a Marriage Won't Last, According to Sex Therapists", I found it interesting that the #1 reason is couples no longer have sex. While I personally think that, if two people truly want to, they can overcome any obstacle in marriage, I will say that if you and yours aren't having sex and it's been that way for a while, trying to fix things on your own is probably gonna prove to be futile (because really, if you could, wouldn't you have by now?). The solution? Counseling.
But let me get specific about this. One time a husband told me that during premarital counseling at his church, he spoke very graphically about how important fellatio was to him. Because the people he was speaking with didn't "believe in" oral sex (what in the world?!), they sped past his point. He can count how many times he's gotten head in the almost twenty years of marriage (SMDH).
Where I'm going with all of that is this—if you're already a little hesitant about marriage counseling, make sure that you "interview the counselor" (or therapist or coach) before formally agreeing to becoming their client. You need someone who you and your spouse can feel totally comfortable with. Not only that, but someone who is willing to broach every aspect of your intimacy—and non-intimacy—until the issue is resolved. Squeamish, super-churchy and sexually pinned-up professionals need not apply. At all.
How “in This Thing” Are You?
"For better or for worse." When folks say that on their wedding day, it's kind of amazing how much they seem to focus on the better and underestimate how low the worst can actually get. A sexless marriage is hard, and to some people, it can even feel like a form of torture, but you really need to ask yourself if it's something to totally throw in the towel over.
One day, when you've got about 30 minutes or so, jot down all of the things that you love about your spouse. Then write down all of the things that disappoint you, including your less-than-stellar sex life. What has more things on its side? If it's the good stuff, isn't that enough of a motivator to stay and work on your marriage?
A marriage without sex totally sucks. I get that. But a relationship that consists of good sex and nothing else isn't much better. You up the chances of the latter being the case for you should you end the union that you are already in. The one you promised to stick with, even when times get hard.
BONUS: There’s No Time Like the Present
I must admit that one of the things that truly baffles me about sexless marriages is there is no time like the present to change the status of that type of situation. I mean, if two people aren't having sex—and again, they are physically able and there is no abuse that is going on—why not…start having it?
If your immediate thought is, "I hear you, Shellie but it's not that simple," then you are proving a point that I already made. Is the problem really about sex or is it something more? Much more?
The fascinating thing about sexless marriages is it forces couples to look at all areas of their relationship. If the act of sex itself is the last thing that you want to initiate in order to remedy your sexless marriage, resign yourself to the fact that there is something much deeper that is going on.
After all, as I oftentimes say, "Sex celebrates love, not creates it." Do you and yours have something to celebrate or not? The answer to that alone can get you down to the root of why you're currently in a sexless marriage.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
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Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
I can still remember the look on my doctor’s face when he read back my hemoglobin levels after taking routine blood work.
“You should be in the hospital right now,” he said with a look of concern on his face. Unaware of the weakened state that my body was in at the time, I was confused by his reaction. “Your hemoglobin levels are at 7gm/dL,” he told me.
“And what are the normal levels?” I asked him, now with equal concern. “For women, normal levels are between 12.3 gm/dL and 15.3 gm/dL.”
It wasn’t long after my appointment that I started on iron transfusions, and over the four sessions, it felt like I was given an entirely new body. One with more energy, better sleep patterns, less intense periods, and no more fatigue. The surge in energy made me wonder why I went so long to make my anemia a top health priority. What would've happened had I not gone in for the routine check-up sooner?
Take iron deficiency seriously. It can affect your quality of life. #irondeficiency #irondeficiencyanemia #lowhemoglobin #anemiaproblems #anemiasymptoms #blackwomenoftiktok #hispanictiktok #tiktocdocs
What Is Anemia and Its Symptoms
Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is a medical condition characterized when the body lacks enough iron to produce all of the hemoglobin necessary for healthy red blood cells (RBCs). Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Because we need oxygen to regulate proper blood flow, individuals with anemia can find themselves experiencing irregular heart rates and extreme fatigue, which can lead to serious health complications if left unchecked.
Other symptoms of anemia include:
- Cold extremities
- Pica, or the desire to eat non-nutritional foods like clay or ice
- Hair loss
- Brittle nails
- Brain fog
- Shortness of breath
- Restless leg syndrome
There are several types of anemia, each with different underlying causes, such as nutritional deficiencies in iron, vitamin B12, or folic acid deficiency, chronic diseases like blood loss from injuries or medical conditions, or genetic factors like sickle cell anemia.
Anemia and Black Women
While having anemia at times gets overlooked as a serious health condition or even reduced down to “always being cold” and eating ice, it’s important for those living with anemia to understand the causes and long-term effects of this condition.
Studies show that “anemia in Black women and Hispanic women occurs 2 to 3 times more often than in Caucasian women.” While it is still unknown why women of color have a higher occurrence of iron-deficiency anemia, key factors that cause anemia, such as your body’s inability to absorb iron and low intake of essential nutrients like vitamin B12 and B9, should be taken with a great amount of care and consideration as you prioritize your health and well-being.
That’s why we’ve tapped Hematologist/Oncologist of Hematology Connect Andrea R. Dean, MD, to provide us with insight on how to manage and treat our anemia because it’s a condition worth taking seriously.
xoNecole: Are there genetic factors that make Black women more susceptible to anemia?
Dr. Dean: Black women are more susceptible to anemia due to iron deficiency, which is most prevalent in this group. Iron deficiency is commonly due to heavy menstrual bleeding from fibroids. Black women have a greater lifetime incidence of fibroids than any other group of women. This likely has a genetic component, but more research is needed.
xoN: Iron pills are commonly recommended to aid in low iron. From your expertise, what are some other supplements or treatments that can help manage anemia?
Dr. Dean: Treatment for anemia depends on the underlying cause. If anemia is due to B12 deficiency or folate deficiency, replacement of these vitamins is needed. If anemia is due to gastrointestinal bleeding, a referral for an EGD and colonoscopy is needed to locate the source of [the bleeding] and stop it. If anemia is due to iron deficiency, you can take iron pills, liquid iron solution, or intravenous iron.
xoN: What dietary changes can someone make to improve their iron intake and absorption?
Dr. Dean: You can eat green leafy vegetables and red meats to increase iron in your diet. If taking iron pills, absorption is better when taken in the morning on an empty stomach every other day.
xoN: At times, anemia and low iron can be overlooked as a health concern, but what are the potential long-term consequences of untreated or chronic anemia in Black women?
Dr. Dean: Untreated anemia can be detrimental to your health. Your hemoglobin carries oxygen to organs throughout your body. If you are anemic or your hemoglobin is low, your organs are not receiving the oxygen they need to properly function. You can pass out from being anemic, and low hemoglobin stresses your heart muscles, and some patients can experience a heart attack. Additionally, the symptoms from anemia can be debilitating and can decrease your quality of life.
xoN: Can low iron be permanently corrected, or does it have to be managed throughout one’s life?
Dr. Dean: The underlying cause of iron deficiency will determine whether it can be corrected. If iron deficiency is due to decreased absorption from H. pylori, once the bacteria infection is treated, iron deficiency should resolve. If iron deficiency is due to heavy menstrual bleeding, it will likely have to be managed until a woman enters menopause unless she seeks treatment to stop or slow down periods. If iron deficiency is due to gastrointestinal bleeding, it might have to be managed throughout one’s life if they have arterial venous malformations.
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