Date Night with Nas Abraham and Rebecca Keates
We recently had the pleasure to sit down with another incredible authentic and creative couple. Like us, Nas Abraham - a creative director - and Rebecca (Bex) Keates - a makeup artist - who are soon to be married. We spoke to them about their upcoming nuptials, what it’s like to work and create together and how they came from different worlds to creating a future built on shared values.
STARTING WITH THE NORMAL TOPIC OF CONVERSATION FOR ENGAGED COUPLES…!
Ruth: So how’s the wedding planning going?
Nas: Everything’s pretty much sorted...
Bex: I’m sorting it, that’s why!
Ruth: (laughs) I love it when the guy is like “yeah it’s going really well”
Ayo: When the guy says “It’s going well” it means “I’m not involved in it”!
Bex: I actually book meetings with Nas and beforehand I’ll write a list down of all the things I need to ask him and ask all at once
Ruth: I find that Ayo’s getting tired cause everyday I’m like…
Ayo: Yes! Ruth I think should make notes there, right?
Ruth: How did you meet and what first attracted you to each other?
Bex: I was doing a makeup course and after the lesson, I came to Soho (in London). I bumped into one of my uni friends and Nas was with him. I didn’t know who he was but we said hello and then I got invited to the party of Individualism (a menswear blog Nas used to be part of). I went to that party. He was there and he was around me dancing, just hovering around me. I was like ‘why are you so close to me?!’ I mean, I thought he was cute though. We exchanged numbers because he was like ‘oh I always need a makeup artist for shoots’.
Nas: No I didn’t! (laughs)
Bex: 3 months after that party, I didn’t hear anything from him and I was like ‘Okay cool’. I really wanted to work with him because I saw his work on Instagram and thought he was great. I’d just finished my course so I wanted to get in the industry so I was like ‘Right, I need to get to work with him’. One morning around 3am, he messaged me: ‘Hi, are you free? I’ve got this shoot for this brand, do you do male grooming?’ We did the shoot and I knew… this sounds so crazy… but during the shoot I looked over at him and I knew he was gonna be my husband. Obviously I never said it to him!
Nas: I would have run the other way!
Bex: But I just knew that I was really attracted to his talent and how he was so polite, hardworking and genuine with people. I was like, ‘Right, I wanna be with a guy like that.’
Ruth: How did you know Bex was the one?
Nas: It was funny. There was one time we were doing some product photography in my room. She took the camera from the table while I was doing something else and just started taking photos. I was like, ‘wait, what?’ She hadn’t expressed any kind of interest in photography at that point, but she just started doing it.
Bex: I studied photography but he didn’t know that!
Nas: Ahhh! Tactics! I loved that she was interested in one of my art forms. I formed a connection with her that I didn’t even know I wanted or had thought about. Her heart is so beautiful and it was that that was like, ‘I didn’t even know this existed in anybody. I didn’t know this is what I actually needed.’ God knows what we need and when we need it. I prayed for a girl that I can be this person for and she can be this person for me, that I could have that support pillar and I could support her as well, I can protect her. Bex exactly filled out all the criteria. And then some! I was like, this is crazy.
Nas: I can’t keep saying this stuff cause there’s gonna be nothing for the vows! (laughs)
HAVING THE SUPPORT OF A COMMUNITY
Ruth: What kind of community do you have around you to help you in your relationship?
Nas: Our church community is one of the best things that has happened to us as a couple and individually. We’ve been so blessed to have this family of people. It's so important to have the people around you that genuinely want to see you succeed. Like, that’s very hard to come by these days. I think having people holding you accountable for aspects of your life is one of the most important thing you can have.
Bex: We’ve had issues before. The main thing I think with a lot of couples is that usually, nothing is that big of an issue, it’s just a miscommunication issue. It’s about how you’re receiving and how you’re giving. This is why we have such a great community. Once we were arguing - our love tank was completely empty and we almost broke up, until we made the decision of giving it a last go by going for counselling. Because we trusted our mentors, and they really want us to be a great couple. I really didn’t want to lose him but at the same time I didn’t know how to be with him.
Nas: It’s sheer communication. And it goes so deep as well, it’s not a surface level thing of, ‘oh he just doesn’t understand me’. It’s love languages. Love languages are very important.
Bex: We’d end up having a massive argument over something we just didn’t understand in each other. Miscommunication can be so damaging in relationships. Is it worth breaking up for? No. Is it worth arguing? No. Okay then communicate more.
Nas: Now we’re in a place where it’s so natural we don’t have to do it like this anymore. You learn to deliver in the right way. Everything just flows so much better.
Bex: The bottom line is you need to know that you are on the same team. We’re not against each other. A lot of couples they think they’re against each other. No, we’re actually in the same boat here. In the Bible, it talks about how the tongue is a weapon, and you have to be slow to anger. When we argue I especially remember that scripture. (James 1:19)
Bex: Yeah. When we argued once, I got so angry, about to blow because he said something and that’s when I stopped talking and took a moment. When you’re in the moment, emotions take over and you end up spitting some poison. The tongue is a weapon. I remember that scripture was in my head at the time, that’s why I was able to stop. Not because I was so great in that moment,but because of a conviction.
Nas: I think I remember being taken aback by that as well. Cause that was usually the moment she would blow. I was ready for it then I was like…’Oh, what did I do? I love you’ conflict, avoided (laughs)
Ruth: A lot of the narratives I hear are along the lines of 'this person makes me whole’. Bex - you mentioned before you got into a relationship this was your view. Why was that?
Bex: I think from a very young age the society just drills into you that the male figure is there to take care of everything and deal with everything. He’ll take care of you, he’ll love you, protect you and so on. But for me, I had daddy issues because I never had a father. Society projects that a happy family is the mum and dad and the child and there’s all this love from the male figure. I never had that and therefore I always wanted that in men that I was with. So I did with my ex-boyfriends the same as what I did with Nas in the beginning. I would look at him and I would expect, ‘Oh yes, you can be there for me. You can protect me like a father would.’ Even though it sounds quite twisted, but in a way that’s how a lot of women think. I did the same thing with Nas until he said to me, ‘Whatever that you’re looking for, I can’t fix it. I can be there for you and help you and guide you through it. But I can’t fix it. Because I’m just a human being.’ He was the first person to ever say that to me. So that’s where he was different.
Ayo: Nas, how do you manage to strike the balance between being what Bex needed in terms of being a support system, but at the same time not trying to fix it for yourself?
Nas: I think for me it was understanding my limitations, understanding that I am not God and I actually can’t bring true healing to her. I’ve got the kind of heart where I just want to help people with what they’re going through and my natural reaction is, ‘I want to save you’, but I’m not the one to save you. I can’t save you, because we’re human, that’s not our job to save people. That’s what God does. So when I realised my place, my limitations it became very urgent for me to tell her that, ‘I am not your saviour, if you’re looking for someone to heal your deep rooted issues, I can’t do that.’ The moment I said that, I not only released her from her expectations but I released myself. And that was really important for me because I didn’t want her to have this expectation that I’m going to sort out everything that’s going on in her life. As much as I would absolutely LOVE to, I can’t. I wouldn’t be able to. It’s about knowing where you are, being very honest with yourself and knowing what your limitations are but also knowing what you can do and provide the human love and relational support. That took me a while to understand because I would give her presents and do all this kind of stuff. To her it wouldn’t mean much because that’s not what she was looking for. In my mind, I was like, ‘Let me do this lovely thing for you!’ Then her reaction would be like, ‘Oh that’s cool.’ Then I would respond with, ‘No, but I did this thing for you!’
Ayo: I guess that goes back to the love languages.
Nas: Exactly. There’s a humility in all that too, knowing that you’re not always right. You don’t always know what’s best, you don’t always know what’s gonna bring her healing. You’re not the person who is going to save her.
WORKING TOGETHER ON A SHARED MISSION
Ayo: You mentioned your alignment. How do you feel that drives you both on a day to day basis?
Nas: That was definitely a driving force in the beginning of our relationship too. I remember sitting down on Pinterest scrolling through 100s of images showing up and we both picked the same one out of the whole list. Like, ‘wow, look at that one! That’s the one I was thinking of too!’ That kind of stuff just really showed how unified our mindsets were in what we do. Then a couple of years later we formed our creative agency, Sense of Sync. But I think now, after working so many shoots together, we’ve seen the kind of problems in the industry.
Bex: It’s sad - there really are a lot of issues.
Nas: Very sad, very heartbreaking. That’s the kind of stuff we feel God is trying to say to us, ‘This is why you need to be influential in this industry so you can start making change and start bringing my Kingdom into the industry’. That’s what we’ve been working slowly towards. God’s been directing our steps. We’re getting there but it’s more about doing everything God’s put on our plate at the moment then further on we’ll get to where he wants us to go.
Ayo: As a couple, what is the future that you’re building towards? And how do you find working together?
Nas: The more we spent time together and the more we started to understand each other on a deeper level, we naturally began to gravitate towards the same kind of ideas, the same kind of future plan and goals. We actually formed our creative house because we’d been working together and with a bunch of different people quite regularly on different shoots and campaigns that it just made a lot of sense. We had a bit of a vision for it as well, at the heart of it we just wanted to create amazing imagery and powerful campaigns and that was the main aim from the beginning.
Bex: Communicating and having boundaries is important. For Nas, him just taking out a camera is his hobby but he does it for a living as well. But for me, when I take a camera out, that’s more work-based. So he would come out with me with his camera as quality time, which I wouldn’t consider quality time. But then that comes down to your partner and knowing their love language. I think it comes down to the respect for each other therefore doing things for each other. So he’s aware that I don’t like doing that sometimes because we work in this industry, we’re always working.
Ruth: Finally what are your shared values as a couple and why are they important?
Nas: Jesus at the centre. Full stop.
Ruth: What does that mean… can you unpack it a little bit?
Nas: So what that means is that there’s something more important than ourselves in this relationship. There’s a unified understanding….
Ayo: I remember Ruth’s dad first asked me, ‘why do you want to marry my daughter?’ and I said exactly what you said.
Nas: That’s just the truth in one sentence. We are together and we’re moving forward in a place where people don’t really understand. It might seem funny to other people, but this is what God’s placed in our hearts. We need to be in a place where we’re responding to God and where we’re listening. The main thing is that we love each other, we want to make sure we are communicating in the right way as well. We want to make sure that we are catering to each other's needs too and not just, ‘I want things done my way’. It is both of our ways. I’m living for you. You’re living for me. That’s the foundation of our relationship.
Follow Nas on Instagram here.
Follow Bex on Instagram here.