What’s Wrong With The Phrase “Power Couple?”

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Caption: Photo by Juan Anthony Images

Every time I hear the words “power couple” I cringe. Whether someone calls my husband and I that, or I hear someone else use those words, it never quite sits well with me. When it comes to “power,” I cannot help but think about the opposite end of the spectrum – disempower. There are many words that I love to claim… peace… balance… happiness… success., but “power” has never been on my list of desired characteristics or character traits. “Power” implies a separation from the people. It implies that someone (or a group of people) has “it” and others (usually a large group of people) don’t. I’m not interested in separating myself from people in that way. I don’t want people to look at me & think that I have something (power) that they do not…

Now don’t get me wrong… I do believe in influence… I do believe in platforms… I do believe in spokespersons… but all of those terms seem to be more communal in nature… Less aggressive… Less absolute… Less rigid… and even influence, platforms and spokespersons should be cushioned in community, owned by the people and treated with grace, humility and responsibility.

I’m much more interested in being an EMPOWERED Couple… I believe that my physical frame is just that. A temporary “uniform” to house my soul & my energy. “Power” in my opinion comes from God and God EMPOWERS us to do what he needs/wants us to do. I did not wake myself up this morning… I did not have the POWER to do that. As the Executive Director of a non-profit, the students that I serve and the team that I belong to EMPOWERS me by ALLOWING me to serve as a midwife to their dreams and goals. That POWER belongs to them, so they EMPOWER me… Our TEAM is one in which everyone feels EMPOWERED to do whatever needs to be done to fulfill our mission. It’s not beholden to one individual (including me).

To me EMPOWERMENT is a much healthier descriptor of who we are and what we stand for. It is much more symbiotic than hierarchical. It is much more accessible than hoarded and hidden. We need more empowered couples if we want to have healthier relationships/marriages, healthier families and healthier communities. #EMPOWEREDCOUPLE

Speaking of empowering, check out my hubby’s new website: WhoIsRhymefest.com designed by one of our Donda’s House alums Hex Hectic!

Happy 5th Year Anniversary Che!!!

Donnie and Che
Caption: Our first photo together ever, the first weekend that we met in person after a month of talking on the phone. January of 2009. Che actually came to visit & speak to my class at Whitney Young!
I think it’s totally appropriate and kind of symbolic that our five year Wedding Anniversary is on Election Day! When we met on Twitter in January of 2009, I never knew that behind that @rhymefest Twitter handle was my future best friend and husband. Today is also especially important, because we were both married before to other people for 5 years – so this is a huge milestone for us!

5 Things You Said That I’ll Never Forget

1. “Forget choose your battles! Choose your enemies, because then you already know what battles are ahead of you.”
2. “The definition of revolution is love.”
3. “Sometimes we have to be the blade that sharpens the steel.”
4. “You’re not a girlfriend, you’re a wife. You’re going to be my wife.”
5. “Everybody wants to be “hot,” but what’s “hot” eventually cools off. I want to be dope, because dope lasts forever.”

5 Adventures I’ll Never Forget

1. Horseback riding in Florida, when our horses decided to take off running fast and we had to hold on for dear life.
2. Being angry about the state of our community (which was Washington Park) and deciding that we could do better and launching our Campaign for Alderman of the 20th Ward less than one year after being married! That campaign was a hell of a honeymoon lol!
3. When you used to do the “VS” game on Twitter before we started talking on the phone. I used to break my neck to participate, everyday around 5 or 5:30 p.m. CST.
4. Driving around Beverly Hills & Santa Monica in the Camaro with the top down.
5. The water fights we used to have in our first apartment together.

5 Things I Love About You

1. How much you give of yourself, your talent and your time to others.
2. Your laugh and your sense of humor. We have so many inside jokes that sometimes all you have to do is look at me and I know exactly what you’re thinking.
3. Your creativity. You are the KING of ideas!
4. Your masculinity. Your motorcycle riding! The base in your voice. Your collection of Timbs.
5. Your mind. You have a beautiful mind. You are so reflective. You know so much about the world because you’ve traveled the world. I love hearing your stories about getting lost in Palestine, seeing Civil Rights murals in Northern Ireland, riding the train and eating Pigeon in London. I never tire of hearing you tell stories!

5 Things I’m Looking Forward To

1. Going half on a baby at some point in the future. We have three little angels in heaven that will one day carry our baby (or babies) into this world safely. I can’t wait to see what he/she/they get(s) from me and what he/she/they get(s) from you.
2. Traveling. We have so much fun when we travel. We don’t worry about money, or time, we just go & do & feel & experience.
3. Our projects. We have so many seeds that we’re watering and feeding. I’m excited to see the fruit & the plants flourish.
4. Our children & one day grandchildren grow up. I can’t wait to see my bonus (step) babies grow up and become their own forces of nature on the world.
5. “Raising” Donda’s House into a full-grown, international organization for young creatives.

5 Ways that You’ve Impacted Me

1. You’ve supported me as I’ve made the transition from a traditional job to a social entrepreneur.
2. You’ve helped me to be better at debate & helped me step outside of my comfort zone on so many occasions. Outside of the comfort zone is where true growth happens.
3. You’ve shown me that two broken and hurt people can create a beautiful, powerful whole! We patched each other up and loved each other to health.
4. Because of you I know that God is real. Our love is miracle, and God sent us to each other to help keep us on the path that he set out for us. While our love is amazing and the greatest gift I’ve ever received, I know that it doesn’t stop there. We were sent here for something far greater than just loving each other.
5. When I look at before Che & after Che photos and journal entries I realize that I’m a better woman today! A more confident, acne-free, smaller, happier woman. I’m a reflection of you, and you are a reflection of God, and I’m so grateful for these last five years.
To Forever!!!! I love you baby!
Yours Always,
Donnie Nicole Smith

Don’t Squeeze The Life Out Of Your Partner or Relationship…

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with my husband, with my friends and with family members about dating and marriage. One of the things that I said was don’t confuse possessiveness OR clinginess with love and attention. In my first marriage that ended in divorce after 5 years, my ex husband didn’t have any friends or interests outside of our relationship. That was a recipe for disaster, because anything that “competed” with him for my attention was dismissed or frowned upon, even if it was healthy.

When my current husband and I started dating, we talked about how sometimes a person can squeeze something so tight that it squeezes the life out of it.

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Don’t get me wrong… quality one-on-one time is very important in a relationship. My husband and I go on a date alone at least once a week and we try to take a vacation outside of Chicago for a week every year.

A healthy relationship and marriage should be one where you are allowed to evolve and grow. Speak to your partner regularly about his/her goals, and try to support him/her in those goals. Of course, you don’t want to support him/her in their goals if it is something that will harm them (e.g. my husband is diabetic, so I’m not going to support him going to an all you can eat dessert bar or event). Our identities are multilayered. We can be lovers or spouses, and parents… but we can also be entrepreneurs, ministers and volunteers. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a person who wants to stay at home to take care of the kids, but I do think there is something wrong if someone feels forced to stay at home and take care of the kids. It’s also normal at the beginning of a relationship to be “addicted” to each other. It’s so exciting to feel a deep connection with someone that you’re attracted to, especially if one of your life goals is to get married, or find a monogamous relationship, but don’t lose sight of your dreams, your goals and your path, for the sake of a relationship. Speaking from experience that usually ends in something negative… the end of a relationship. The end of your happiness. or worse, the end of who you truly are…