Monday, May 27, 2024

Loving In The Grown Zone. How to Make Healthy Decisions in Love.

*While most people may be happy that Valentine’s Day has come and gone because they no longer have to lament over another year without a significant other.

Others may still be celebrating their V-day bliss of coupledom, Zara D. Green and Alfred A. Edmond Jr. are a living testament that love is more than butterflies in the stomach or the pitter-patter of one’s heart.

In their new book that they co-authored together, “Loving in the Grown Zone,” the husband and wife relationship experts, who recently celebrated their fourth month anniversary after six years of dating, created a practical guidebook on how true love, a healthy relationship, and ultimately a marriage should appear.

With four failed marriages between them both, Zara and Alfred felt the need to share the lessons that they have learned in the rocky terrain we like to call love and marriage.

(l-r) Alfred A. Edmond Jr. with wife Zara D. Green

Zara, can you tell me about your education and professional background?

Zara: I am a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana.  My educational and professional background are a perfect blend of Communications and Psychology, my career started in news, I am a former newscaster.  I thought I was going on to receive my Ph.D. in Psychology except I was very disappointed in the entire industry.  Because it seeks to diagnose and I found that rather disappointing, because I am of the same premise of Hippocrates in that there are always root causes to issues, and if you can get to the root, you can always modify and correct.  So that set me on my quest to learn about how we are [normally]. So I teach people how to recognize their natural propensities so they can recognize that about others. While I was interested in the psychology side, I was more interested in understanding people enough so I can teach people on how to get along. I am also a certified counselor in [religious] studies and I am a Heal Your Life certified trainer under Louise Hay.

Alfred, where did you go to school? You are the Senior Vice President/Chief Content Officer of Black Enterprise Magazine, how long have you worked for the publication?


Alfred: I am a proud graduate of Rutgers University; my degree is actually in Studio Art with a minor in Economics and [I will celebrate] my 30th anniversary next month with Black Enterprise.

In the book, you both stated you were divorced twice, what made you decide to give love another try?

Zara: It was never a question.  I was never mad at love. (Laughing)  More than that it was decision making which is what we emphasize.

Alfred: Love was not the problem.

Zara: For several years I taught professional development, and I always laced in temperamental studies in all of that.  I have always been very clear there are no mistakes; my job is to keep on learning and keep on getting better. I never allow an experience to define what my life is or what it can be.

Alfred:  The problem with love and marriage, primarily why we wrote the book and we started our business, is that there is nothing wrong with love and marriage.  What is wrong is that we think it is a matter of luck and divine intervention and stars are aligning, our hearts beating fast, all those things that say this is the one.  We go into relationships without any preparation, education, or consideration of what makes a good, healthy relationship.  The book stresses the foundation rather than marriage; we tell people we are neither pro-marriage nor anti-marriage.  The reason there is such a high divorce because people are not prepared to pursue or build a healthy relationship.  From birth, we are told, as long as you are in love, if you feel a certain way, if people look a certain way, then you should go ahead and surrender access to your body, money, heart, and home and marriage is surrendering all four at one time.  So what we set out to do, was to use our personal and professional experiences to counsel other people.

Alfred and Zara, co-principals of A2Z Personal Growth Enterprises, conducting a Grown Zone live event.

Part of the reason I ended up in this space because what I have learned over my now 30 years with Black Enterprise. Every time someone’s career got derailed, their business got destroyed, or their personal finances got messed up, it wasn’t because of their professional training or they made a business mistake, it was almost always the choice they made, the relationships they engaged in, and how they managed those relationships and their personal growth.  There are plenty of examples of destroyed businesses and careers because people made poor relationship choices.  I realize in business media, we talk about happened after, we report on the disaster, nobody talks about the causes.   Before Zara ever met, we were both on this track that if we do not get down to the foundational issues that were present in my two marriages, those marriages were doomed to fail because there was no secure foundation in the first place.  We spent a lot of time in the book on why people get married.

Zara: And if we are honest 80% of those who are still married, those are not happy marriages.

Alfred: More than 50% of people who [end up getting married] will likely divorce. Of the 50% that is left, eight out of ten reports one [unhappy] partner.

Zara: That means we need to revamp this, and looking at the divorce rate itself.

Alfred: The deeper problem is that people do not know how to pursue and recognize what a healthy relationship looks like, and we are not getting guidance from traditional sources like church, from schools, or even from our parents.  In the book, we show how we learned from our experiences.   We went back and examined it, what made us get married to the [ex-spouses] we got married to, and it had nothing to do with building a healthy relationship, it had nothing to do with the sustaining factors we detail in the book, it was all the attractors.

Zara: The other thing we recognized is, and this is where we spend a lot of time with people, is understanding you make decisions where you are. We make decisions based on the information we have, and what we believe is best for us, we are providing you with more information so you can make better and informed decisions.

Alfred:  You can’t get to the grown zone unless you challenge a lot of things you have come to believe whether they came from your parents, pastor, friends, television or movies.  That if you don’t challenge the underlying beliefs, then your emotional responses are not going to change because that is rooted in your beliefs. The decisions you make, which is rooted in your emotions, the relationships you choose, the way you react to things, we spend our time in the grown zone getting to people’s underlying beliefs about love, life, and who they are, if you do not change that, nothing will change.

Zara: What it boils down to is people often like the idea of love and love the people that they want in their space more than they love themselves.

Alfred: That is the underlying problem with all of it. There is no true love without self-love. We are taught that our love is supposed to fix other people.  I exchanged on Twitter with a person “Oh, love can heal broken people,” that is not how romantic love is used.  If you are a broken person, that is [the purpose] of ministry, therapy, and counseling.  People go into relationships thinking, love is going to fix it, us having a child together is going to fix it, and a beautiful wedding is going to make it better.  The best way to reduce the divorce rate is for people to refuse to get married unless they are prepared and ready. What our company does, A2Z Personal Growth Enterprises,  in addition to this book, is provide information, education, and one-on-one coaching for our private clients, to help them walk through dating.  We ask them, “Why you are dating, how I am choosing who to date, what am I expecting out of dating, am I even ready to be dating?”  Then we go to the next level, “What kind of relationship am I looking for, is it a healthy relationship, how do I know, when do I know when to break it off, how do I know when to keep going?”


And of course, the biggie, “Am I ready to get married, or is this something I think I want. Or something my mama says I should have by now, or my friends are all married.”  We help people in our one-on-one coaching to push back on those other things that clutter their mind, about the decision-making and focus on self-love.  [They have to] focus on what is healthy for them, and be able to say it is not the time for me to get married, or I do not need to have a relationship right now.  If you do not do all of that, you are either unhappily single, if you are unhappy single you will be unhappy in a relationship or worse unhappily married. And we say all the time it is better to be single and to wish you were married than to be married wishing you were single.  We can say that from both personal experiences.

There is a mantra that you both emphasize throughout the book Before you give access to your body, money, heart or home. This motto seems like such a simple principle that everyone should know, why has this concept become so difficult for so many to grasp?

Zara: Because society shoves down our throats that it is the first thing to give.  Society has conditioned us that sex is the answer then they can sell you more things that are sex related.  If society can condition you that giving up your heart and forgiving people for any and everything and that love is the answer then they can make far more money in the month of February than any other time; surely, if you love somebody you will put your money no [your love].  We don’t honor ourselves in those four things, what we do is comply with other people’s agendas, and that is what gets us into trouble.

Alfred: The Grown Zone was created to be preventive.  We wrote the book as a lover’s manual the same way you would have to read a manual before you get into a car, so you are less likely to have an accident.  We identify the four things that bond you to another human being, sex bonds you, being emotionally vulnerable bonds you, people think they can buy love or control someone with money.  If you paid attention to nothing else that we said in the book, and you just did not surrender your body, money, heart, or home, until you see who that person is, you would avoid 98% of any lasting damage from any relationship even if it turns out horribly.

What advice can you give to love-seeking singles, especially after they have survived another year of Valentine’s Day?

Zara: Stay at home and love on yourself, get in the corner in your favorite socks and read Loving in the Grown Zone.


Alfred: The love of your life is you.  Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday, it is designed to get you to buy something for somebody, now separate that and ask yourself what is the most important love relationship you can have, it is your ability and capacity to love yourself.

For more information, join Zara and Alfred in the Grown Zone                            Instagram: @GrownZone

Twitter: @GrownZone               Google +:  +GrownZone

Facebook: /GrownZone  


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