My fiancé, Q, and I have a great relationship, but I do feel like, in order to keep and maintain a great relationship, sometimes you need to fine-tune it. So when the opportunity to get relationship counseling on “Love Goals” came to me, I was in: I thought that I needed it for myself and that we could definitely use it to help us.
Q and I have been together for six years and are getting married in a couple of months; he’s a treasure to me. Part of our thinking about getting this counseling was that we knew there would be some premarital counseling required by our faith and we had talked about a more traditional model to add to that.
But I didn’t know where to go, and I hadn’t done counseling before like this. So while I did jump at the chance to be on the show, we had a discussion about it, and asked the producers what it would entail and whether it would be beneficial because I truly didn’t know what to expect. But I’m so glad that we did.
The thing that I knew going into this experience was that I have had communication issues in the past, and I didn’t want to bring the past into what I’m blessed with right now. I really wanted to make sure that I didn’t do what I did in my past with this relationship.
Communicating my feelings has always been my problem; if I’m dealing with something, I close down because I feel like I can or should handle it within my own head. It started early on: I remember even when my dad used to ask me what was wrong, I would tell him “nothing” — even when I was dealing with a bully or some other personal issue. I didn’t want to put any of that stuff on someone that I loved, including my dad; I wanted the world to be beautiful.
Through the years, I did the same with everyone else in my life, whether it was friends or other loved ones. I know that, heading into a marriage, this was the time that I needed to stop doing that, and to be able say what was wrong if something wasn’t right.
With Q, I do know that’s what he’s there for: he’s a partner, somebody I’m committing to, who is present, who I can bounce things off of, who I can help reason things out with. He has been all of that to me. I just had to open up and really allow him to be that
So, I’d hoped that going to couples therapy would help me to open up more. And that’s exactly what it’s been doing. I really recommend it; it’s not just something that’s good for me.
I know my issues aren’t so unusual. Some people, you’ll ask them if they’re OK and they’ll say “Oh, I’m fine,” but inside there’s more going on. Women like me, we smile a lot, we take care of our families, we take care of the kids, and we’re not really OK all of the time. I know that women in general really give so much, but, in the African American community, we’re almost expected to be superheroes. We have to keep it going, despite whatever our circumstances are. It’s a double whammy.
That’s one of the reasons I think it was quite helpful to have Spirit, a therapist from our community on “Love Goals.” I’m sure any therapist would have something to give, but having Spirit counsel us was a bonus because I felt like she identified with my experiences as a woman, as the center of my family, as the one who makes things happen. She taught me some things that were priceless; I got so many gems from her in that short period of time. I felt like she really understood.
I realized that a lot of people feel like there’s a stigma attached to going to therapy or getting counseling, but I’m at a point in my life in which I am reflecting, and I’m always looking at why things are the way that they are. I’ve always been open to anything — whether it be therapy or uplifting experiences — that will help me figure out how to interact with the world, and I’m realizing more and more that you have to do that inner work.
I hope that people can use experiences like mine to learn the value of their own voices; that’s what I’m learning now because of this couples therapy. I’m going on 50, and I went through my whole life just letting things happen to me, as opposed to being stern and aggressive with what I wanted for me. I didn’t feel like I had a voice, and now I think that not asking for what I wanted stunted my growth. Because of all of this, I’m discovering a new me, and I feel like I’m living a fairytale life.
As told to THINK editor Megan Carpentier, edited and condensed for clarity.