I’m willing to bet that it comes as absolutely no surprise to most of you that the most popular day to get engaged is Christmas and the most popular time of the year to do it is between November and December. And just why am I bringing all of that lovey-dovey stuff up when this title clearly indicates that we’re going to be discussing the total opposite of a man getting down on one knee? Well, interestingly enough, guess when the most popular time of the year is when it comes to people (70 percent of which are women, by the way) filing for divorce? That, my dear, would be January.
The stress of the holiday season, compounded with so much focus on making resolutions for a new year, oftentimes is what sends husbands and wives over the edge. To them, ending their marriage at the top of the year means a fresh start. It means no longer having to tolerate what they’ve had to for weeks, months, or even years on end.
Now here’s the thing. While I personally think that marriage is several steps up on the commitment tip from dating (I also think a lot of us could be spared unnecessary heartache if we processed it this way. Check out “Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife”), at the same time, most people don’t get to the point of proposals, marriage, and possibly divorce without it, right? That’s why, in the effort that all of us can get to who and what is best for us (and also so we won’t end up wasting precious time), I thought it would be a good idea to run down a few reasons why ending the year with a breakup, may actually be what’s ultimately…best.
You’re Constantly Wondering If You’re Missing Out on Something
It’s not uncommon to use the end of the year as a time for some serious reflection. Well, when it comes to your relationship, ask yourself this — what do I like the most and what do I like the least about it? Although no relationship is perfect (because no human is), a telling sign that you’re in something that’s healthy and beneficial is you don’t feel like things are missing and/or that you keep having to compensate for certain voids or needs that you have. That’s actually one of the reasons why I am absolutely NOT team act-like-you’re-married-when-you’re-not; it’s because it will have you believing that you have to endure some of the things that people with paperwork, changed names and different tax statuses have to — and that’s simply not true.
Everyone deserves to feel like they can “exhale” in their relationship. If you feel more like you are ignoring the quiet voice in the back of your head that is telling you that there is more out there, I wouldn’t ignore it. There is a huge chance that it’s probably right.
Remember: Time Waits for No One
Semi-recently, I did an interview about if there is anything I regret about my 20s and 30s. Chile. CHILE. If you are in your 20s and reading this, let me share three things. One, you can spare yourself a lot of drama by not spending so much time trying to “prove how grown you are” instead of being open to hearing the wisdom of folks who have already been your age before (discernment tops experience, more often than not). Two, this ridiculous notion that you should be wild and reckless for an entire decade and then get around to getting more serious about life in your 30s is costing people more than they think. And three, I’m saying all of this because I know from personal experience. Because I was dealing with some childhood and adolescent-related trauma and I was stubborn and I was too smart for my own good, my 20s were really something. Because of that, I spent most of my 30s in recovery, and honestly, just now, in my 40s, is everything leveling out. Lawd. Time. Time I will never get back.
A wise person once said that when you start to value yourself, you start to value your time more. That said, another sign that it may be time to break up is if you keep wondering if you’re wasting your time or people who care about you keep telling you that you are doing exactly that. Because if there are two things that I believe, now more than ever, it’s when there’s reciprocity in a relationship, there is no need to keep tabs and if two people are fulfilled in their dynamic, they don’t wonder if they are wasting time; they are too busy enjoying their time together for it to even cross their minds.
I would hate for you to look up, two years from now, and realize that you should’ve made some shifts a long time ago because two years from now is…two years from now. Each day is just as precious as you are. Make sure that your relationship honors the time that you have. It’s supposed to.
You’ve Hit a Fork in the Road
A part of the reason why I’m such a fan of people getting relationship insights from the opposite sex is because you need people who naturally think differently than you do. For instance, while your girlfriends may be encouraging you to hang in for another year (after it’s already been several years) to see if your man is going to become who you want him to be, your male homies may be like, “If he wanted to marry you, he would’ve done it by now." And you know what? Your male friends are probably right because if there is one thing that I know about men is, what they want, they will go all the way out of their way to get it — if need be.
Sometimes, relationships need to end, not because two people don’t love each other anymore; it’s just that they want different things out of life. And sometimes, the relationship is what helps to bring them to that conclusion. You know, one of the best things about dating as opposed to being married is you can always put yourself above all else, you can always do what is best for you. If you want marriage and kids in the next few years and your man is like “I mean…maybe” — don’t over-romanticize things. Please believe that when he heard what you wanted and replied with some “meh” energy that he already sized up that he could end up losing you because you’re on two different pages. Staying longer isn’t going to change his mind either. He has to get there on his own.
Forks in the road can be challenging because you spent so much time walking through life together and suddenly you’ve got to decide if you should continue to do so or not. What I will say to that is the world is mighty big and you stand a far greater chance of freeing yourself up to see what other possibilities there are than to “hang right” with him and just…hope for the best. Besides, doing that, more times than not, isn’t really about love. Far too often, it’s actually about…fear. This brings me to the next point.
Fear, More than Love, Is Keeping You
You’d be amazed, how many clients have told me that on the day before their wedding, they knew that they were making a mistake to get married (check out “What Should You Do If You Feel Like You Married The Wrong Person?”). Shoot, my own mother said that about my father and my brother’s dad. And I wrote an entire book that touched on how that led to layers of pure bullshishery for all parties involved. That’s why I totally believe that the opposite of love is not hate (one definition of hate is “unwillingness”) but fear. Nothing about love moves in fear. Love is courageous. Love is bold. Love is also holistically beneficial. Fear, on the other hand, typically overthinks. Fear creates anxiety, worry, and doubt. Fear creates clinginess and neediness. Yeah, love and fear are polar opposites, pretty much in every way.
I’m pretty sure that, at some point, you’ve heard that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. Sometimes, when I reflect on that, I think of fear from the angle of being a mirage. It can play with your mind so much — yes, even in a relationship — that you’ll talk yourself into staying stuck in something because you think that leaving will totally wreck your life when that’s simply not true. Oftentimes, when we get the nudge to move on, the universe is letting us know that all that we needed to get from a person, place, thing or idea, we’ve received and to remain would be to do it/them and us a huge disservice.
Love? Love is calming and reassuring. Fear? Fear gets us to freak out in our decision-making process. When it comes to your relationship, which side of the fence are you on? Trust me, on this, there is no middle ground; riding the fence is simply impossible (if you’re honest with yourself, that is).
You Keep Looking to Him to Do More than YOU Are Doing for You
There are needs and then there is being needy. The first is healthy. The second, not so much (check out “Are You In Love Or Are You In Need?”). The reason why a lot of people are so needy in their relationship, though, is because there is some part of them who thinks that it is their partner’s job to make up for where they lack within themselves. What I mean by that is, say that you don’t think very highly of yourself. Rather than take some time to be alone to get a grasp on why that is the case, you decide, “I’ll just get a boyfriend and then constantly nag him to affirm me, give to me and make me feel good about me.” What about that sounds like a healthy relationship or something that a healthy person wants to get involved in?
I’ve had relationships in the past where, because I didn’t love myself very much, I expected the men in my life to make up for it. That’s not only unfair, it’s pretty unrealistic too. When you’re in something that’s good, your partner is going to reflect back to you how you feel. Yes, they will be loving, respectful and giving. However, not tp the point where they are being these things more than you are. You know, I know a man who, when his now ex-wife wanted to call their wedding off, he told her that he had enough love for the both of them. If you just said “aww” to that, I’m shaking my head because that is some seriously dysfunctional and codependent ish.
No one has enough love to make up for the love someone else lacks. Besides, that’s not their job. The job of a partner is to support, encourage and reaffirm what you already know about yourself as you do the same thing for him. If all of this is completely foreign to you, that’s another sign that breaking up, at least for a season, so that you can get clear on how you feel about yourself, may just be the best thing.
Feelings Are Superseding Facts
Following your heart is following your feelings and feelings tend to be quite fickle. So no, I am not a fan. Lord, the amount of drama (and even divorces) that could be spared if people focused on facts. Facts are rooted in what actually exists. Facts are based on reality. Facts are about acknowledging the truth. When it comes to your guy, feel how you feel yet don’t make major decisions without considering the facts — what exists between the two of you, the reality about the two of you, the truth about the two of you. And if those things are totally contrary to your feelings…you already know what I’m about to say. Even if you don’t break up, get some space to really ponder and process THE REAL because a relationship that is approached based on only feelings and no facts is problematic, at best.
Honey, I know. This definitely ain’t no Hallmark holiday rom-com kind of piece. Yet if you want to live the kind of life that is full of what you truly desire, it’s important to get out of scripted movies and into the real world. Ending the year with a breakup can be hard; still, it’s much harder to be right here, this time next year, with no progress. It’s your heart. Your time. YOUR LIFE. Please, sis, choose wisely.
And while you’re single (not married), that always means choosing you — most of all.
Featured image by Giphy
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. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
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Nothing beats the “Sunday Scaries” quite like a Sunday reset tailored to your needs. While the weekend never quite feels long enough to recoup from all of life's demands and responsibilities, making the most of the 48 hours we have to gear up for the week ahead is a self-care practice that every woman can benefit from.
How To Do a Sunday Reset Routine
The beauty of a Sunday reset is that it’s something you can define for yourself. On a personal level, only we know the tasks, projects, workload, and duties that demanded our attention during the week prior, so how we choose to recharge may look different for everyone. Some may feel the need to tackle weekend chores or run a few errands, while others could find that an hours-long binging spree of their favorite TV show or simply doing nothing, can do the heart some good.
Resetting your time, space, and mind over the weekend is all about listening to your body and honoring your needs. When you pause and reflect on what will make you feel the most productive, you gradually discover what a successful Sunday reset looks and feels like for you. By taking some time to plan and reflect, you allow yourself to approach the new week from a place of ease.
How To Build the Best Sunday Reset Routine
But what kind of reset could be right for you? Let’s consider the following: are there things you could scratch off your to-do list to put your mind at ease? Did this week drain you and now you need to catch up on rest? Are you looking to get ahead of a demanding week? If you’ve found yourself agreeing with at least one of these scenarios, we’ve put together a couple of tips to inspire your next Sunday reset routine needs.
The Sunday reset routine for the woman who thrives on productivity:
Hey goal-getter! For you, a typical Sunday reset looks like planning and execution. The weekend is a chance for you to catch up on all the chores and tasks that your hectic weekday schedule didn’t allow for. When planning your Sunday reset, to-do lists are your best friend. Lean on your list to stay organized and keep track of the stores you need to visit, meals to prep, and house chores to tidy up in order for you to feel like your most accomplished and productive self.
Be sure to give yourself some grace if you don’t hit everything on your list, and be sure to reward yourself for what you were able to carry out — because either way, you deserve it.
The Sunday reset routine for the woman who needs some TLC:
David Espejo/Getty Images
Self-care queens, we see you. And we know that your Sundays are sacred. You are intentional about your Sunday resets because you know that you can’t pour from an empty cup. In your case, resets are all about taking time to reflect and set your intentions for the week ahead — which can show up in many forms. From journaling and reading a new book to taking a long walk and ordering in your favorite meal, you don’t play when it comes to the power of self-nourishment.
Take a few minutes to look back on the previous week and reflect on what went well and what didn't. Think about what you accomplished, what you could have done better, and what you learned so you can approach the week with a clear mind and heart.
The Sunday reset routine for the woman who desires to do absolutely nothing:
I know you’re used to high-achieving and tackling your goals, but let me tell you something: rest is productive. You’ve spent the last five days hustling, killing your projects, and showing up for the people in your life, but now it’s time to take a moment to simply be. No to-do lists, no errands to run, no socializing — you deserve time to zone out and reconnect with yourself in solitude.
Sleep in. Watch scandalous reality TV. Get lost in your thoughts. You’re not lazy for spending time alone and letting the laundry pile up; we know you’ll get to that later. This Sunday reset is about taking time to center yourself in the present moment, you’ll be back on the grind on Monday, but Sunday is all about you.
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Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images
Originally published on March 4, 2023