Gabrielle Union recently spoke to EBONY about Hallmark’s Put It Into Words campaign and detailed why sending cards in her marriage to NBA superstar Dwyane Wade has made all the difference in their union. After having spent nearly a decade with Wade, the Being Mary Jane actress offered up her best relationship advice and explained why the hashtags #relationshipgoals and #couplegoals should not be the standards for how to love your partner.
In the age of social and digital media, why do you think it’s important to send physical cards?
The thing about a card is that it requires effort. I can shoot off a text and not really have to put too much time or thought or effort into it. There’s something about leaving your house and going to the card aisle or Hallmark store to take the time to find the right card, which can [beautifully and concisely express] all your thoughts.
Honestly, when my husband sends a card, I know he put forth extra effort, and I appreciate it. It wasn’t like a dictated footnote card that comes with flowers. He actually went down to CVS or Walgreens, [stood] there in the aisle, went through a number of cards and found the one that actually speaks to what he was trying to say. That to me feels way more special.
I try to [send cards] to my friends who have thankless jobs and don’t get nearly as much recognition or the appreciation and acknowledgment that they deserve. I like to surprise them.
What was the most surprising moment when Dwyane sent you a card?
I was having a s****y week–just those days when you wake up angry, you’re angry all day, you go to sleep angry, and it’s rinse and repeat every day for a good week. I get in my trailer, and somebody is like, “Oh, there’s a delivery for you.” I say, “Thanks,” and am just like, “Whatever.”
I get in my trailer, and there are flowers all over and there [are] a number of cards. Each card says something a little bit different, [including,] “I see you,” “Our family appreciates your sacrifice,” “We all know how hard you’re working” and “I love you.”
For me, it just meant something to know that he made that extra effort in the middle of his season. It could have been a losing streak; whatever it was, he took the time to see me.
Why was that moment in particular special?
Sometimes you go through life and even in a marriage, you don’t always see the other person and just how they’re busting their a** or how they might be struggling. Sometimes you can start to feel like you’re disappearing or you’re shrinking right before somebody’s eyes. That card at that moment was like, ‘OK, I’m not crazy. I am not doing this for no reason. I’m going to be OK because somebody out there loves me.’ It was just the right card at the right fricking moment, and it helped me turn [my mood] around.
You and Dwyane showcase your love a great deal on social media and have become #relationshipgoals and #couplegoals for many people. Do you have any advice about maintaining a relationship?
Stop listening to people who have failed miserably at relationships as they offer relationship advice; that’s the first thing. Second, my “perfect” relationship isn’t the next person’s. Stop comparing your life, your love and your marriage. Everyone [doesn’t] have to match for it to be real, amazing and beautiful. It only needs to be [those three things] to you. Don’t try to have a relationship for the sake of other people because you’re going to be empty inside.
Your relationship won’t have any substance because it’s all about show and not a deeper foundation. Whatever that is or however that looks to you, there should be peace, grace and joy with anything you do, whether that’s a relationship, business, friendship or hobbies. Make sure that it brings you peace, that it allows you to have grace and that it brings you a ton of joy. How that takes shape, what it looks like, whom you chose, [is up to you].
How can someone put himself or herself first in a relationship?
You have to [say to yourself,] “I don’t give a s**t. I don’t need this to match. I don’t need to be anybody’s anything. I need to be everything to myself. And once I become everything to myself, I can offer something to someone else and maybe we can create some different s**t that works for us, and that’s it.”
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.