I've been in a long distance relationship with the love of my life for almost three years now, and my deepest wish is to see him for more than six months out of the year. I've had an even longer love affair with the country of his birth--Jamaica--having visited since I was 19 and having extended family ties there. I literally long for the day when the beaches of Westmoreland or Ocho Rios are my backyard and when I can jerk my own chicken and pick mangoes, avocados, and coconuts outside my front door.
Now, with global quarantine orders and borders closures in place due to COVID-19, many of us have had to put any plans of traveling on hold almost indefinitely. But no worries wanderlusters.
Below, 4 women share why and how they relocated abroad, how the current events have affected their everyday lives, and--when things are back to normal--how other women can realize their dreams of moving abroad, too:
China: Karina Henry, Teacher And Model
Image via Karina Henry
How have things been for you abroad, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic changing our way of life?
In January, I returned home to visit since I had a month-long vacation for Chinese New Year. Unfortunately, due to the airline restrictions and border closings related to Coronavirus, I've been stuck in the States. I'm hoping China reopens their borders soon and allows foreigners to reenter so I can get back to my life in China!
How did you transition into working in China?
In 2018, I convinced my job in the States to approve remote work from Thailand for a month by submitting a 7-page-proposal. (To this day, I am still shocked that they approved me working from another country because they rarely approved people working from home!)
While in Thailand, I met a young lady who was living and teaching there. She told me how easy it was to find a teaching job in Asia and that I should apply. Of course, I shrugged it off and returned home to my regular job. Weeks after returning home from Thailand and settling back into my normal life, I realized how miserable I was and how much I missed my life in Thailand. I was beyond depressed. I cried everyday!
That summer, I decided to begin looking into teaching abroad and stumbled upon an awesome opportunity in Suzhou, China. I nailed the interview (which wasn't very difficult) and began preparing my documents for my visa.
In September 2018, I boarded the plane with my one-way ticket to China to begin my life abroad. I've been enjoying my life abroad ever since! I am a foreign language teacher at a privately-owned kindergarten in Shanghai and this is my second year teaching in China. Though most people find international teaching opportunities via websites like TEFL.com or Teachaway.com, I truly stumbled upon both of my teaching opportunities.
Image via Karina Henry
What resources have helped in being an expat?
When I began to consider teaching abroad, I turned to social media as a valuable resource. I joined a Facebook group called Brothas&Sistas of China, and it's a wonderful group for people of color who live or have lived in China. I began asking questions about teaching opportunities and life abroad. Because China isn't known for being very friendly to black foreigners (you wouldn't imagine how many times I've seen "only interested in European teachers" when I was job searching), I was most interested in working for a school that had already hired people of color.
I received helpful leads and reached out to schools because of referrals I received from people in the Facebook group. One of the things I love most about living in China is that opportunities are easier to find and they often fall in your lap.
In addition to teaching, I also model for a wholesale company that is based in Shanghai. How did I land that gig? I was out with a Chinese friend, stuffing my face at a restaurant, when I was approached by two representatives who asked if I'd model for them! This has also opened other doors for me in China and back home.
I recently started a YouTube channel called Karina Worldwide to document my life as a teacher, plus-size model, traveler, and black woman living life abroad!
Ghana: Maame Adjei, Actress, Producer & Creative Entrepreneur
Maame, who attended undergrad and graduate school in Philadelphia, has Ghanaian roots and decided to moved to Accra, Ghana to pursue a healthcare career in 2013. Her interests shifted when a friend suggested she try acting, and the following year she landed a starring role in the critically acclaimed show An African City. She also hosted a travel show showcasing the beauty and diversity of Ghana called Girl Going Places, and has since collaborated with other actors and creatives on the continent. Here's her story of moving abroad:
What led you to take the leap?
I've been moving "abroad" all my life. I've lived in the UK, in the US, and in Ghana. I was born in Ghana and I consider it home, [but] I left at a young age. When I finally decided to move back 7 years ago, it was like moving 'abroad' or to a new place. I had been living in Philadelphia for over a decade, so moving back to Ghana was a leap, however, it was something I had to do.
I came to Ghana on a quick 2-week vacation, and by the time I was heading back to Philadelphia, the mundaneness of my life hit me so hard.
I realized how unhappy I actually was with my life and my work and just felt an overwhelming need to shift the path and try something completely new. My family had all moved back to Ghana, and it just felt like if I was going to re-start my life with a goal to pursue happiness and passion, it was the best place to start. So I did.
What was the process to do what you love for work?
I'm a creative, and that's saying a lot in Ghana! My background is in healthcare finance and that's the field I was in before I moved to Ghana, but since I made a conscious decision to find my passions and pursue them, I took the first year of being here "off" and just traveled and lived an Eat, Pray, Love life. I had cashed out my 401k, so I had the money to just "figure it out."
In the midst of that, I started working on my own travel show. Then a friend reached out to me about a TV show she was working on, An African City, and really, my creative life began from there. So, my work found me and not vice versa.
What were the first steps you took to officially move?
Thankfully, I was moving to a country that I knew well. I had lived in Ghana as a tween, I had visited during Christmas holidays, and I had a family here, so the transition was certainly easier.
I do suggest that if you're planning on moving away from your home base, research, research, research. [Look into] work visas and how long you can stay.
Germany: Zoie-Marie, Tech Professional & Vlogger
Image via Zoie-Marie
Why did you choose to live abroad?
I am originally from New York and now living in the Stuttgart region in Germany. There are a few reasons why I decided to move abroad. During my college years I did two study abroad semesters, one to Austria and one to Germany. Those two semesters abroad really opened my eyes to travel.
Before that time I never went anywhere--never went on family vacations (outside of the country), never went on solo vacations. I was just a homebody. After those two semesters, I had a nasty bite from the travel bug.
It was so easy and affordable to travel from one place to another within Europe! To top it off, I had met so many amazing individuals, and I had the most romantic and exciting experiences which I will never forget. After that, I decided I wanted my life to always be an adventure. I wanted to make travel an essential piece of my existence which led me to the grand idea that I should move abroad officially and at least give the idea a try.
Image via Zoie-Marie
How have the quarantines and all that is related to COVID-19 affected your life?
The Coronavirus has hit me hard! My personal life is more affected than my work life. In my job, I am normally able to work from home once or twice a week, so I am not new to that. I am very fortunate that my job and my role was not affected by this virus. Outside of my job, my personal life has been halted. My main purpose of moving abroad was to travel, have experiences, and meet new people. The virus has eliminated all opportunity to continue to do that at the moment.
COVID-19 has canceled an important training trip I had to California and also a special mother-daughter vacation which I planned for Greece. I haven't seen my mother in-person since January. Further, since I moved to Germany on my own, I have no family here or nearby and due to social distancing, I cannot meet my friends or co-workers. I am home and alone 24/7. I am missing human interaction. It's extra lonely, and quite frankly all my travel plans for the year have come to a shattering and lengthy halt.
What do you do for work abroad, and how did you find job opportunities?
I am working in the artificial intelligence industry, and I was able to attain my job through LinkedIn. Before that, my two jobs in Germany did not challenge me for long and as a result, I was very unhappy with my situation. I went on LinkedIn every other week applying for jobs for over a year, and many were, in the end, not a right fit until I landed my current position.
My suggestion for anyone who wants to move abroad is to be vigilant, and if the social sites like LinkedIn are not helpful, you can try to network via Facebook groups or friends and friends of friends!
In Germany, there are numerous expat groups online where many people list or forward job openings from their companies. I even applied to one or two jobs via that channel.
Image via Zoie-Marie
What are the first steps you took to move?
First, I needed to find a job. I did extensive research on what I could do in the field of English in Germany (which is an easy field to find entry work anywhere abroad). Once I secured a job abroad, I needed to save enough money to support myself for the first few months abroad. I worked two jobs in the States, 7 days a week, and saved every penny (literally).
Before I officially moved abroad, I did research on what was needed for my work visa. Since Germany is included in the Schengen Agreement, Americans with a U.S. passport are allowed to enter Germany for a maximum period of 90 days. This allowed me to enter the country without a work permit.
As soon as I landed in Germany, my immediate task was to apply for my work visa as it was now time sensitive and the clock was ticking. I could not start my job without it [so] during that time I just relied on my savings.
My advice is to be very vigilant in getting this process started as soon as possible because the processing time could be anything from 1 to 2 months. On top of that, you will need to consider the additional tasks that must be completed before you can even apply for the permit. This includes signing up for health insurance, opening up a bank account, and finding accommodation which could take up a chunk of that 3 months.
France: Latrice Shepherd, Educator & Travel Consultant
Image via Latrice Shepherd
Latrice is from California, and after working in New York, decided to act on her dream to live in Paris. She launched her own travel site, Penniless in Paris, where she shares insights on places to go, live, and shop and where expats can find support and community. She also helps others reach their expat goals and feed their travel bugs. Here's her story:
How has life changed for you as we all face the issues of a global pandemic?
I am currently abroad in Paris and the Coronavirus has affected my life tremendously. More than ever before I wish I was home with my family. I know that I live far, but these past few weeks on lock down, I actually feel far. Additionally, as an expat, your friends become your family. Being separated from friends during the quarantine is also very difficult.
I consider myself to be an avid traveler and I'm usually exploring a new place every 90 days. Due to the lock down, I'm also unable to pursue my passion of travel. Nonetheless all is not lost.
My French neighbor and I have forged a bond during the quarantine. She's around 55, and like me she's single and lives alone. She's across the hallway, and she and I shoot the shit over a bottle of wine every other day. We remind each other that this too shall pass and talk about all the things we intend to do when the quarantine is over. We get 6 weeks of vacation in France---one of the many reasons I'm still here! When this is all over I intend to frolic in the South of France as I do every summer. There's a fabulous jazz festival in Nice in July---the largest of all of Europe. I'm also looking forward to spending the month of December at home with my family.
What sparked the final decision to move to France?
I'm originally from the [San Francisco] Bay area (yeeeeee!) but before I moved to Paris, I was living in New York. Fun Fact: The day I moved to New York, I told myself that once I was finished with New York I would move to Paris. I believe that my move was literally a stepping stone to prepare me for my relocation to Paris.
While in New York, I had been laid off from my retail management job. It was the middle of a recession and finding a job with a comparable salary was impossible. As a result I returned to university to finish my bachelor's degree since I already had an associate's.
I studied international relations, and as part of my degree program I was required to learn a second language. I chose French and studied abroad in Paris for two months during the summer to help me master the language.
After returning from Paris, I decided to pursue a second degree in French and embarked on a one-year study abroad program in Paris. I moved to Paris January 2014 for my program, and I literally never returned!
Image via Latrice Shepherd
What were the first steps you took to officially move and enjoy life in a new country?
Because I moved to Paris with my university I had to obtain a student visa for a year. I argue that a student visa is the most hassle-free visa to obtain for anyone looking to move to Paris and have the ability to work part-time.
I also significantly downsized my life before my move. I rid myself of unnecessary material things because I knew I would be gone for at least a year and I didn't know what my future held. I wanted to be able to transition to any situation smoothly and that's difficult to do when you have a lot of things in tow. Parisian apartments are very small and there's no way they can accommodate the things that we Americans tend to acquire in the States.
I arranged for all of my financial responsibilities to be managed online. I set up a checking account with Capital One 360 which is basically an online banking account with no foreign transaction fees.
I also prepared myself to integrate to another culture. Paris is not the U.S., and French culture is not American culture. It's pointless to compare the two. If I want to maintain a positive experience and a happy life, it is necessary to adapt.
What do you do for work in Paris?
I'm a tenured English lecturer at a private university. I acquired my current position through a liaison that my university uses for study abroad students in Paris. Before becoming tenured, I was working under the table (or 'au noir'), and making roughly 300 euros a month (about $330 today).
My first two years in Paris were very bare bones. I was literally surviving on scholarships and grants received from my university. Additionally, I taught English on the side. I also started a small business helping people plan trips to Paris or move abroad. That small business has since turned into a full-fledged website aptly named "Penniless in Paris." If anyone is interested in moving or even traveling to Paris, please check out the website. Au Revoir!
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Featured image courtesy of Latrice Shepherd
In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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Charge it to the fact that I am such a fan of music, but whenever I’m out shopping, I tend to pay attention to what stores are playing. And if there’s one song that seems to show up just about everywhere, it’s a light rock classic by Don Henley and Patty Smyth entitled “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough.” I promise, even if you don’t know it by the title, you’ve heard it yourself, at least a dozen times in your lifetime — and whether that kind of music is your “scene” or not, the reality is that the words are true.
Even now, in real time, I’m dealing with two clients who love each other very much, and still…they are gearing up to file for divorce. Why? One reason is that, although the love is very strong, the type of love that the husband has for the wife is very different from the kind of love the wife has for her husband (hers is more of a friendship/agape love). Another reason is because, over time, their values have become very different (get someone who complements your life; it makes all of the difference in the world). And still, another is the wife feels that, if she were to stay, she’d be choosing to remain stagnant as an individual because the kind of life he wants isn’t the kind that she desires…anymore.
Because I am super Team Covenant, for me, in many ways and on many levels, it's all tragic. Divorce is indeed like a death. I am a survivor of it from my own parents. I am watching two children who I love very much currently go through it. And as a marriage life coach for over 18 years now, although I’ve been able to help more couples stay together or even reconcile after divorce, my “record” is not spotless. Yet you do live long enough, and you see that, sometimes, no matter how much love is present, if you want to go the very far and beautiful distance of “’til death parts us” on a literal level — you need more than just love to make that happen…no matter how romantic or even idealistic the notion might be.
Let me explain, in a bit more detail, just where I am coming from.
What It Means to Actually Love Someone
Have you ever thought about what it actually means to love another individual? I promise that if you rely on social media to define it for you, you’re about to be set up for a mighty fall because easily 60-70 percent of the content on there is self-centered, unrealistic, and very feelings-and-nothing-else driven. What I mean by that last point is folks seem to think that love is ONLY a feeling when it is actually so much more than that.
For starters, love is a daily choice. Yep, ask any married couple who has more than a decade under their belt, and they will be quick to tell you that no matter how much they love their partner, sometimes they don’t “feel” like they do, and so they have to push past their feelings and remember that they chose that individual, they made sacred promises in the form of vows to that person, and so they must choose to honor them. THAT IS A FORM OF LOVE.
Know what else love is?
Love is being someone’s strongest support system, greatest advocate, and biggest hype man or woman. That requires a lot of patience, a ton of prayer, and quite a bit of believing in someone because, if they were perfect, why would they need any of that? Yeah, another thing that’s sad about what many people think about love is they expect the person who they say “I love you” to, to be whatever version of love that they conjured up in their mind — and usually that is very idealistic, which is extremely unfair.
Yeah, it’s mighty interesting that if you look to the Good Book for love definitions, things like “love is patient” (I Corinthians 13:4) and “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16) are what immediately come to mind and yet humans? They don’t wanna wait for nothin’, and they definitely don’t think that they should sacrifice anything. Wild.
Another thing about love is it transforms. Not "changes someone" (some folks think they are supposed to use love to manipulate, and that isn’t love at all) — it transforms them. And that takes time. Contemporary Christian artist Michael W. Smith once said, “Transformation in the world happens when people are healed and start investing in other people.” Transformation plays a role in the healing process. Here’s the thing about that, though: if people didn’t have anything wrong with them, what would they need to heal from? Transformation invests in others; in order to invest, you must give — not just take.
Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti once said, “If you begin to understand what you are without trying to change it, then what you are undergoes a transformation.” Transformation is about understanding someone without trying to change them. Unfortunately, far too many people fail miserably at this. And yet, how arrogant is it to be out here thinking that it’s your job to change someone? Who are you to appoint yourself to that? Do you even understand the person who you’re trying to change? Or are you only coming from the angle of who and what you want them to be? That’s not understanding; again, that is manipulation.
To be honest with y’all, I could go on and on about what love is, yet this is an article and not a book. For now, I’ll just say that I think it was important to amplify those three talking points because they are the “angles of love” that oftentimes go overlooked. That’s why I wanted to lay some foundation on what genuine and mature love looks like before getting into why sometimes love is enough because it’s its own pandemic: the amount of people who call what they are in with or towards someone “love” when it's actually…anything (and sometimes everything) but.
Five Things That Should Come with Being in Love
Okay, so with all of what I just said, you might wonder how you could actually hit the three love points that I shared, and it still not be enough to keep a relationship going — at least, a healthy and purpose-filled one. That’s a really great question. So, because love is so vast…let’s keep building with five things that should be happening, MUTUALLY SO, when two people are actually in love with each other.
1. You’re becoming a better person. There is a Leo Buscalgia quote that I’ve shared before (more than once, actually) that I absolutely adore. It says, “As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, as soon as I, in a love relationship, do not lead another person to himself, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, is not true love. For real love is dedicated to continual becoming.” And honestly, the quote says it all. If you think you’re in love with someone, yet you AND they are not becoming better as a direct result of the love experience, something is definitely awry. At the end of the day, if you believe that “God is love” (I John 4:8&16), love should definitely be improving you and him in a myriad of different ways and on a thousand different levels because a spiritual relationship with the Divine does just that. No wiggle room.
2. Your life is moving forward, not back. On the heels of what I just said, love shouldn’t have you out here living in a state of stagnation. Love is to liberate you and make you feel like you can release what is holding you back so that you can run toward what will improve your quality of life. That said, if since you’ve been with “him,” you can’t name three things that have shifted, drastically so, when it comes to how your life is progressing, that is a bit of a red flag as well. Love is to fuel you into newer dimensions, not keep you in hamster wheels of cyclic (and typically counterproductive) patterns.
3. You are receiving peace and being a conduit of peace too. I can’t believe how many people on social media get triggered whenever they hear that someone wants to be with a peaceful and peace-filled individual. What in the world? Peace, in a relationship, is about harmony. Peace is about tranquility. Peace is about being on one accord, having a strong and solid friendship, and feeling calm in another person’s presence. Peace is not turmoil. Peace is not stress. PEACE IS NOT DRAMA. A lot of people out here? They think that because their relationship is passionate or intense that love is present. More times than not, the answer is “no.” As a woman by the name of Mary Helen Doyle once said, “Choose love and peace will follow. Choose peace and love will follow.” If that is not your personal reality with your significant other…you’ve got some serious thinking to do.
4. Your views on love and relationships are maturing. Have you ever known a relationship that is childish? There’s no other way to put it. The two people involved are always trying to one-up each other. When they’re mad, they’ll go days without speaking. You find yourself watching a soap opera online that you didn’t ask for because one or both of them are constantly being passive-aggressive about each other’s mess on their social media pages. Ugh. Remember how I said that peace isn’t drama? Yeah, true love isn’t either. In fact, one of the main things that love does is provide you with a safe space to be held accountable so that you’re able to grow in areas where you wouldn’t have otherwise. If your “love relationship” isn’t maturing you…that’s another flag on the play.
5. Sex is the “icing” not the “cake.” A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “What If The Sex Is Great? But The Relationship Sucks.” And yeah, this point? Listen, oxytocin — the natural hormone that bonds you to the people you are physically intimate with — can have you out here thinking that just because a man makes your body feel good that he’s good for your mind and spirit too (check out “Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?”). In other words, sex can be deceptive, which is why I don’t like the term “make love” (check out “I Absolutely Hate The Phrase 'Make Love.' Here's Why.”). Truly, it can’t be said enough: sex does not MAKE love; sex CELEBRATES a love that is already in place. People who are truly in love know this.
Okay, so this is already quite a bit to think about, right? It’s also essential and relevant because, before you can come to the conclusion that love is not enough to keep your relationship going, you need to make sure that love is what you’re actually experiencing. IS IT?
Now, let’s get into the main reasons why this article has the title that it does.
It’s Damn Near Impossible to Love Someone You Don’t Respect
I’m pretty sure that, at one point or another, we’ve all heard the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Y’all, that is absolutely how I feel about providing this kind of content for singles — and to me, “single” is individuals whose tax records say that they are. Because no matter how much you may care about someone, again, ask anyone who’s gone through a divorce, and I’m pretty sure they will tell you that breaking up (no matter how difficult it may be) will spare you a lot more heartbreak than ending a marriage will. And so, with that being said, one reason why love may not be enough to try and stay with someone you are seeing (in a dating or even engaged dynamic) is if you don’t respect them — or they don’t respect you.
Scripturally, when it comes to how wives are to treat their husbands, I always think it’s amazing that women are told, not to prioritize loving their husband but respecting him (Ephesians 5:33). If you go to I Peter 3:2 (AMPC), it defines respect in this fashion: “…to respect, defer to, revere him—to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband].” (Did y’all see “prize” in there? I DID.)
Ask any man worth his salt, and he’s gonna tell you, I believe without hesitation, that the way he feels love is by feeling respected. So, when you take all of those words in I Peter into account, do you respect your man? And if you don’t, why don’t you? I promise you, with every ounce of my being, that if you don’t respect him, it’s only a matter of time before your relationship either ends or becomes highly dysfunctional because respect is paramount in a healthy, loving dynamic.
And yes, you deserve to be respected as well.
- When a man respects you, he is honest with you.
- When a man respects you, he values opinions.
- When a man respects you, he honors your boundaries.
- When a man respects you, he doesn’t “hit below the belt” in disagreements.
- When a man respects you, he is careful in how he treats you.
- When a man respects you, he prioritizes you.
- When a man respects you, no kind of abuse transpires (including neglect).
Hmph. When you marinate on all of this, one might say that you can’t be loved without being respected. While on some levels, that’s true — believe you me, I have dialogued with many couples over the years who love each other yet they don’t respect each other’s boundaries or they don’t fight fair. And that’s because one or both of them weren’t taught to prioritize respect.
I will say this, though: even if you do love your partner, if you don’t respect them and/or they don’t respect you, love is not going to be enough. Not to go the distance in a mutually beneficial kind of way, it’s not.
LOVING Someone Doesn’t Mean That the Two of You Are COMPATIBLE
Yep, I’m gonna bring some Scripture back into this. Back in the Garden of Eden, when God decided to bless Adam with a helpmate, the Classic Amplified Version of Genesis 2:18 described her to be this: “Now the Lord God said, ‘It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.’” Suitable means “appropriate” and “fitting.” Adapted means being able “to adjust oneself to different conditions, environment, etc.” Complementary means “the quantity or amount that completes anything.” Complete, in this context, speaks to “having all parts or elements; lacking nothing.”
Y’all, there are a couple of men who I loved, but it didn’t work out. I was mad at first — and yet, in hindsight, it was never meant to be. Why? Because I was not the right kind of helper for them, and they were not the right kind of protector and provider for me. There were things about us that didn’t “fit.” There were areas where we weren’t willing to be flexible in order to make the relationship work. When it came to our values, perspectives, and goals, significant things were lacking.
And that’s why I tell couples who come to me prior to marriage that they need to take COMPATIBILITY into serious account before saying “I do.” Compatible literally means “capable of existing or living together in harmony” — and I can’t tell you how many married folks have either been at their entire wit’s end or have ultimately called it quits due to this being such an issue.
It can be what seems like something “minor” at first too. For instance, don’t underestimate if you’re the kind of person who likes a spotless home and your partner’s house isn’t the cleanest. Don’t think it’s not a big deal if you’re an extrovert who likes to go out a lot and your partner seems like he barely even likes people (I know a married couple who have suffered, greatly, over the years because of this). Don’t go into denial if you’re a spontaneous person and your partner is very much “married” to routine.
Some of my male friends? We are very close, and I adore them; they adore me, too. We ain’t ugly either. Yet we are close enough to know and accept that the way we do life as individuals, there is no way we would be harmonious as a couple. Yep, sometimes love isn’t enough because the two of you simply aren’t compatible (or compatible enough) to go the distance.
Being with Someone You Love Isn’t the Ultimate Goal. Being in a Healthy Relationship Is.
As I wrap this up, one more point. A hill that I will forever and a day die on is far too many people put being happy over being healthy. Hmph, I’ll even take that a step further and say that far too many folks think that it’s someone else’s responsibility to make them happy when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Besides, if you don’t even know how to keep yourself happy all of the time, how the hell is someone else supposed to pull it off? Ridiculous. And you know what? When two people are able to see things from this perspective, when they are able to fully grasp that 1) happiness is about inner work, 2) happiness comes and goes, and 3) being healthy is what should matter more — then they can find another person who feels the same way. And that is a solid foundation to build on.
Definitely, two healthy people get that when it comes to being in a long-term relationship that is thriving and flourishing, having someone to love who loves you back is pretty awesome. However, what keeps the relationship together is ensuring that the dynamic is HEALTHY.
So, am I saying that you can love someone in a very pure and genuine way and the relationship be unhealthy? 1000 percent. I’m not speaking of extreme things like abuse, either. I mean…a word that oftentimes comes up whenever healthy is mentioned is “vigor.” Vigor speaks to strength, power, and ability. And if, by being involved with the person who you love, you are not getting stronger, becoming more powerful, and feeling more capable of becoming your best self as you are doing the same thing for him — there are elements about the relationship that is the opposite of healthy: unhealthy, and that means that love isn’t enough. In fact, you should love each other enough to let each other…go. So, that you both can be joined by those who will support and encourage you to become a more…vigorous individual.
Whew, this was a lot. I know. It was also necessary. Because it’s time (past time, really) that we stop romanticizing love to the point that we lose sight of what its purpose is: the fuel needed to keep a healthy relationship going. And hopefully now, all of these words later (LOL), you are able to see that certain things have to be in place, outside of love, for things to not only work…but work well.
“Sometimes love just ain’t enough” is both a mouthful and the truth.
Choose wisely, sis. Love yourself enough to do that…please.
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