It's always a wonderful when someone finds another person they believe to be their soulmate. However, as life presents varying challenges, it's important that they maintain the bond they share in a positive and healthy fashion.
If it is one couple who understands this sentiment, it is Raashaun (aka DJ Envy) and his wife Gia Casey, who met as teenagers while attending the same high school and have manifested a beautiful life together for almost three decades. In their book Real Life, Real Love: Life Lessons on Joy, Pain & the Magic That Holds Us Together, the Caseys detail the entire chronology of their love story with lessons of hope and sincerity to inspire other couples.
EBONY caught up with DJ Envy's wife Gia to get her top tips for thriving in a committed relationship:
EBONY: In 2022, we are becoming more open to different displays of what love is. So we're curious to know what love is to you?
Gia Casey: For me, love is having the same level of healing, intention and respect for another person that you have for yourself. When you ask most people about how they feel about themselves, they'll say that their children, parents or a God that they that they worship is number one in their lives. However, some people are selfish in many ways because, at the heart of it, we love ourselves. So, when you can have that deep level of feeling and emotion for another person, that describes love.
As I think about my husband, it's hard for me to distinguish him from myself, which may be difficult to understand. Sometimes when he's sleeping next to me, I stare at him and I literally have to remind myself that he is a separate human being. Because of the deep love I have for him, we are one and the feelings that I have for him are unconditional no matter what happens in our relationship. Even if something so terrible happened that for some reason we weren't together any longer, that love would always be consistent, because the love for ourselves is consistent.
You and your husband mention that your hope is that Real Life, Real Love becomes a blueprint for others in their relationships. Who have been the blueprints for your marriage?
My parents had a beautiful relationship. As a couple, they were fun and had each other's back. They truly enjoy each other and they enjoy being parents. As individuals, they both have their own set of characteristics that I admire so greatly.
My father, he's brilliant; he's technically a genius. The time that he spent with me, educating and sharing himself with me, influenced me as a parent; and if I had been taught a different lesson, I would have grown into a different type of an adult. My mother's so generous, loving, kind and caring; she would do absolutely anything for me. She poured into me so much love, self esteem and confidence every day. Their character and lessons of love that they had for me impacted how I carry myself in my relationship and affect how I coexist as a parent.
In this book, you share various experiences in your marriage from the most beautiful to the most challenging moments. What are some tips that folks can look to for recalibrating in the midst of difficulties in their respective relationships?
First, would be the most obvious, communicate. There really is an art to communication. When we communicate the wrong way, we can be offensive to the person that we're communicating with, especially if we are coming from a place of hurt. So when moving forward, you have to establish a set of ground rules to ensure that you're speaking from the highest level of compassion possible so that both parties can be understood fully.
The next tool is taking accountability. This is not just understanding when you're wrong, but accepting it and accepting what came of that wrong behavior. When the behavior is incorrect, words can ignite something terrible in someone else and that monster can just grow and grow. So you have to take accountability and accept your part in your partner's hurt feelings.
Another tool is that to have an understanding of what love is, they have to be able to answer that question and define it for themselves. Many people have different definitions of love and it takes real commitment to make that definition work within their relationship. If you are making a decision to marry or be with someone as your partner, it is a choice. It's important to go back every so often and realize that this choice was made because that person was the best for you, in your eyes. When in a relationship, act with integrity and intention to make that love work.
Lastly, you cannot move forward from a tough situation without actual forgiveness. This starts with being worthy of forgiveness, earning that forgiveness and doing the work towards that forgiveness, regardless of how long it may take. It's not just one person job. It's a partnership of working together to revisit what was once beautiful.