Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One Simple Question - Do Black Women Really Want To Get Married?

When I was posting on another blog, I wrote an extensive piece on black women and marriage. Despite the sad statistics on black marriage and the fact that I pointed out that many black women are not interested in marriage or that some black women have no business EVER being married, all kinds of black women came out of the woodwork, swearing up and down about their wedding day dreams.

Yet every time I look around black women are single. And I mean single, not alone. There is a difference. Plenty of black women have healthy and hearty dating lives. I just wonder why black women getting to the alter still seems to be an issue. Particularly for educated, financially sound, well-traveled, high-powered, and ambitious black women.

I unintentionally revitalized this discussion with my posting on the African American women being picked by President-Elect Barack Obama for positions in his cabinet. An awesome bunch of brilliant black women - currently without husbands (notice I didn't say black, it really should not matter in the multi-cultural 21st century)

Spare me all the stereotypical excuses, lack of good black men, black women are too picky, too educated, too mean, etc..... Something else is going on here. Tell me what do you as a black woman think about marriage and I mean what you really think! Other folks are more than welcome to join in, but I am not responsible if you say something out of turn that strikes a sista's nerves.


Kristin November 25, 2008 at 8:04 AM  


I love my husband he is a really great man. We married when I was 24. If I had to do it all over again I would rather live together or wait until my late 30s or early 40s to marry. The reason for this is simple. The world offers so much more now than marriage and kids it offers freedom.

I don’t want anyone to think my husband is restrictive, far from it. He loves the fact that I have my own thing going on he does not mind when I take trips with friends or to visit friends. What I mean by freedom is the freedom to pick up and go without consulting anybody to do what I please when I please. In marriage you (should not all people do) at least give the other person the respect and courtesy of discussing your plans. It is my belief that this is what keeps many Black women (and some men) from making the commitment to marriage.

Kristin November 25, 2008 at 8:06 AM  

Oh btw way the lady who did the cake in your bottom pic is related to my husband and she did out cake as well. She is the bomb people.
Absoultely Edible Cakes is the name of her company.

Shurl November 25, 2008 at 8:36 AM  

I think you ask an excellent question about marriage and black women. I've always been pro-marriage and actively sought men who were also marriage-minded. I was 36 when I married my husband. He is white. ( I am now 39).

In my family, there are three women that are dating men who are currently in other relationships with women and who have multiple kids. The 3 women in my family also have kids by these guys. I've been too chicken to ask why they engage in these kinds of relationships rather than finding a man that is emotionally and physically available to them. But, they definately don't complain that they aren't married. If I really want to start something, I'll bring it up on Thanksgiving!

Claudia November 25, 2008 at 9:31 AM  

I consider myself to be a very independent woman; I'm proud of this, but at times I think it can negatively affect my outlook on how marriage works. I appreciate my own space and having control of my own finances and professional decisions. This is a survival strategy that I learned as a child (of divorced parents) but also something that my grandmother actively tried to develop so that I would be able to fend for myself in this tough world.

But then, I'm also surrounded by people - in college, at home, in society - who believe that all relationships must lead to long marriages with a good man who will "take care" of you. That's supposed to be the ultimate goal (even when it's not stated explicitly).

We get mixed signals - from people who love us and those who don't - about what constitutes "dependence" and "trust" and "control" even in a healthy, committed relationship. I've been happily married for nine years. But when I got home from my honeymoon, I remember being scared I wouldn't know how to be married to this guy - even though we had been friends for years. Should I have my own room? My own checking account? Do I have to tell him all my business? (Today my answer to these questions would be: No, Yes, NO!!!)

I know that a few of my happily single friends find it easier to bypass the traditional marriage route for this reason.

Just my two cents!

notburnttoast November 25, 2008 at 11:33 AM  

I'm a black woman who, at 35, decided that she would never get married. I knew what I wanted in a husband and I was not meeting him. I'm an attorney, well travelled, outgoing and quite attractive. I decided to live my live and not even think about men. All my friends were suprised at how sure I was that I was not getting married and was stubborn in not even wanting to date. Well.. imagine my surpise when at 38, I was introduced to the man that I instantly knew was my match. The comfort level was so real. Everyone who met us saw it. So yes, at 40, I got married. Unfortunately, because of our ages, we do not plan on having children. (yes, I know it's not too late - but we think it's too late for us - he has a 19 y/o)

So all I can say is never say never and just know what you want and stick to it - otherwise you will not be happy. I think getting married at 40 was good because we were 2 grown people moving together into another stage of our lives. We have our established lives - while we have our separate credit, bank accounts, etc., we see ourselves as a team. Also, I think it works well for us because we have very similar backgrounds. We are both black, but we were both born in Britain to Jamaican parents. We just really GET each other

So ladies - never say never.

T. Nichol November 25, 2008 at 12:05 PM  

As a single black woman, I would love to get married. But I feel many of the ones that Ive seen (especially from friends and family) don't take that committment seriously. I feel that sometimes some and women feel they might be inadequate for someone to marry just because of the emphasis of "what can you or are you bringing into the marriage" , instead of what can we learn from each other and together during it. I for one, being honest, would like to take the traditional route but if it doesn't happen that way though I am fine with that.
I think seeing destroyed marriages or no marriages at all deters blacks from it also.

Since we are on the topic of black women and marriage, can I ask the sistas that are married, how they relate to their single friends. Do you still hang or have you found yourself distanced from them and no longer hang? This may also deter some strongly independent women from getting married, because it may seem to THEM that a marriage means losing part of their independence, but they don't see their girlfriends hamging with their single friends anymore and instead are doing the couples thing.

roslynholcomb November 25, 2008 at 12:53 PM  

I have a post about this on my blog called Men: A Disposable Commodity? I think for some women, especially women who've already been married or already have children men become somewhat superfluous and really more trouble than they're worth.

I've seen this with white and black women. White women have their 'starter marriages' in their twenties have their kids, then divorce in their thirties. Then they have time to focus on their career without having to worry about a husband. They've already got their kids, so the biological clock has been shut off. If they're of an age to have gone through menopause they're free to have 'friendships' without fear of pregnancy. Of course, many black women in their forties aren't fertile anyway because of fibroids.

This is especially true if the woman is doing well financially. For many women the pressure to marry has more to do with a desire to have children than any real desire to be married. Yes, they want to get married, but do they want to BE married? For many, the answer is no.

Obviously, I'm talking about middle-class professional women, but I suspect something similar happens in lower economic groups as well.

Anonymous,  November 25, 2008 at 1:04 PM  

I know betta!

Gloria November 25, 2008 at 1:08 PM  

Our culture doesn't glorify marriage hood- we glorify Motherhood.

Non-black cultures celebrate marriage and keeping the legacy alive at any cost! Thus you have ww of all sorts walking down that line. WM are taught at an early age that marriage and family is VERY important. Unfortunately in our culture a man prowess is defined by how many women he has. It's shown in our music and praised by family members. We saw it briefly in the Hudson tragedy. The suspect’s mother was on Nancy Grace discussing where her son was the night before the murder. She casually told Nancy that he was with one of his girlfriends the day before. Nancy then responded by asking how many girlfriends did her son have. She responded by saying two with no hesitation.

Then we have a lack of choices:

BM (no matter what HE brings to the table) in general hold out to marry because of the high standards that they place on bw. The average bm's choice for marriage is usually a non-bw. I don't need to talk about the lack of quality bm that bw see in schools or at work, because that's been talked about a million times over.

So to sum it all up, until our culture changes its stance on marriage, and encourages bw to seek quality men (regardless of color) who DO want to marry, we’ll be having this same discussion 50 years from now.

ETA: I posted this twice. Sry

Naturally Me! November 25, 2008 at 1:55 PM  

Personally, I don't think people understand what marriage means anymore. There seems like a kind of lack of respect for it. I know when I was in college no one was a couple or an item. Everyone was "kicking it" or had "friends with benefits." It seemed like no one (including me) wanted to be connected to or tied down to any one person.

The older I got, the more I realized that I wanted a mature and real relationship...but I was still dealing with a lot of the bull-crap that comes along with the "no strings attached" mentality in our culture (and especially in my age group).

I know that personally, I'm not looking to be married soon but that's because I want to be settled into my career first. However, I think that there's a part of me (and probably a lot of people) that feel that if they get married they will deny themselves of the perfect mate that's suddenly going to spring up from out of nowhere and they won't be able to take advantage of that opportunity because they are tied down to a regular human being. Yeah, it's a wrong kind of thinking...but I think that's a thought people don't want to admit to.

Unknown November 25, 2008 at 2:14 PM  

I don't want it nor feel like I need it now.

I was married for over 20yrs. I have a great career and five beautiful daughters. Three grown. My marriage occured more based on my religious beliefs then my own beliefs. Now needless to say I'm not religious any more either. My siblings, one older, one younger both decided to get married later in their lives. One @37, one @ 39. This really worked out well for them. I've found happiness with a new man. We live together. We've dated a while now, but I have no desire to marry.

If for no other reason than college scholarships...Two of my daughters have bachelor's degrees, one has gone on for her Master's. I have another one in her third year of college; and one graduating from highschool in 2 years. If I tie the knot...there goes my eligibility for assistance, it would be all on me to pay for education and I can't afford it at all.

wanda loves... November 25, 2008 at 2:32 PM  

Well, I'm still fairly young, but when I think about marriage, I can't help but think about the disaster which was my parents marriage, the financial hardships of marriages of co-workers and the dreaded task of just finding someone period.

I've personally never have been one to have a "wait until you lived life and everything is perfect attitude" towards marriage. Our life goals and timing is something I figured I would discuss with my husband, but now in my singleness, sometimes I don't know if I even want to bother discussing it. I get so used to having and controlling my own space, that I truly don't know if I could fully commit to having a husband and let's not even get on children! Omg.

Monique November 25, 2008 at 4:48 PM  

I don't think a lot of black folks are interested in marriage or they don't realize the importance of stable families until later on in life. I mean so many women and men around me have become baby moms and dads their teens/ early twenties and they do it over and over again. Does someone who have 2-3 kids in their twenties and never married, got more than 1 "baby father or moms" even thinking about marriage. I mean how many productive well adjusted folks are willing to enter ready made families these days. I know a ready made family for someone in their late 30's and 40's is normal, but why would someone in their 20's put up with that. And thats what young single people have to deal with these days.
There are also a lot of knuckle heads running around who lack maturity and common sense. No woman wants to marry a man she has to raise. Women do want men who can lead a household

wisdomteachesme November 25, 2008 at 5:11 PM  

you are funny to me!

well, i'm not married in the traditional way--nor do i want to marry my partner--neither of us wants that.

we are committed to each other for life and to our children.

i like the freedom that one poster said that she has- when she wants to, she does thing with her friends and her husband is cool with it.
he is very secure with himself and with the relationship you two have, if he is not all up in your conversation with your girlfreinds or pouting because you want to spend time with your friends. that is really great!

i've found that with some of my straight girl friends--when they get a man--or are married--as soon as he comes around they have to go. or some of their husbands sit down with us to listen or try and add to the conversation when i visit them.
not cool.
go do your guy things and let us talk.
which keeps me from visiting often. (yeah i know it's a tactic to keep her friends away--it is also a sign that he is not secure with himself or with their relationship).

these girl friends whose husbands sit in when their friends come to visit dont' act the same when the men are not around--so i feel it is a waste of a good visit.
Also some friends you don't hear from after they 'get them a man' or get married. i often wonder if their phone does not ring out anymore??
then i have some straight guy friends that i visit--some of their wives do the same thing..
lolo you know -- i know marriage/ a committed relationship is about 'sharing'--but i give my friendship to who i decide to.
i don't like that--and usually it's because i'm not too keen on their choice of spouses. i keep my mouth shut and allow them to increase the space in our friendship as they see fit.

i applaud you Cinco....you have found yourself and claimed your freedom and i am glad that you are happy!
and i agree with you about a lot of black women (women in general also)marrying for the legalistc religious reasons taught to them. not a good reason to be joined to another.

when people learn not to bring the hurt and pain from relationships gone bad to the new one--to stop comparing old people with the new people in their lives--i think they have a chance at their relationship. but if a person keeps the pain and hurt done to them always on their mind, then they will ruin the new one they are in.
and some people keep getting the same person but with a different face and name.
that causes a sourness to grow into bitterness and may give them a negative outlook on marriage and or a committed relationship.

and i also agree with rhc about starter wives and husbands--lolol that is so true.
i know a few white and black women that have done that--i dont' think it was meant to be that way--just how it turned out. lol

wisdomteachesme November 25, 2008 at 5:13 PM  

naima said= "There are also a lot of knuckle heads running around who lack maturity and common sense. No woman wants to marry a man she has to raise."
TRUE in any relationship--so true!

Conservative Black Woman November 25, 2008 at 5:46 PM  

I don't think that we (the black community) value marriage anymore. Several of my girl friends feel that marriage is "over-rated". I also don't believe we raise our sons to take a wife. We would rather that he remain unbound, uninhibited (at least that's what I infer by some comments I hear from my girlfriends)

Before I was married I was chided and accused of placing too much emphasis on being married. But the longing that I have to be in a covenant relationship with the man I loved was innate. I don't want a healthy dating relationship. I want a healthy marriage. A life partnership.

I'm sure that people have valid reasons for not wanting marriage but I wonder how much of it is based on lack of trust and an inability by both black men and women to be transparent and vulnerable. I'm thinking that because we are generally raised to look out for "self" (for good reason obviously) that it inhibits us to fully give ourselves over to another. It's a sad reality. But bless the Lord that their are women who are happy, blessed and complete in their singleness. I am unfortunately about to be single again and you'd better believe I don't intend to stay that way. I think marriage is beautiful and I loved waking up under my husband's thigh. (too much information I guess)

Kim November 25, 2008 at 5:48 PM  

It doesn't matter one way of the other. The whole notion of being "chosen" is is ridiculous when Marital status does not guanratee happiness. By the way it irks me when women hyphenate. I don't care what any woman says. It's so not about keeping identidy as it is about letting the world know that you have been "chosen".

wisdomteachesme November 25, 2008 at 7:23 PM  

Common Sense Ain't Common!

It's really simple to see and understand;
a lack of discipline to develop self-control is the root ball.
not God control, other people control, angel control--Control Of Self-self control.
Which, when is nurtured, fed and used often, creates higher levels of maturity. growth.
Another root growing from this same root ball is self worth.
If a person feels they don't deserve better--they will not seek better.
And, what they value As "Better", is what they go after.
If Wanting a life partner that only wants you is what you value--then you will seek that.

If wanting any person that says they like you or loves you whether they already have another is all that you think you deserve and really, you see nothing wrong with being ok with a partner like that--then that is what you will seek.

The understanding of what is real love--the basics of Love; is also a confusing point for a lot of people.

All this is simple to see and understand--the work that we each have to do is harder, but not impossible to start-get through and complete.
one day at a time.

LorMarie November 25, 2008 at 7:29 PM  

Back in my Christian days, I wanted to be a married housewife with children. The desire for marriage has waned dramatically. In fact, I don't want to be married. I do desire male companionship and children. I'll be 35 next month and I'm seriously considering the SMC route. The personal conflict I have is that I strongly believe that it's better for children to have active fathers. Have I absolutely ruled out marriage? No. But If I had the choice, I'd go without it. I realized that what I really want is a committed boyfriend rather than a husband. What decreased my desire for marriage is actually the fear of divorce rather than marriage itself.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog November 26, 2008 at 3:00 AM  

I think if we're open to all possibilities, have an open heart and we meet someone compatible and we share goals then marriage is inevitable. Now all of those things have to fall in place of course, but I see how 'easy' it can be. I remember when I was younger just assuming it would happen. I know that I've blocked things because I had to work through childhood issues and find my own path to 'Blackness'. I met a guy last year that I really connected with but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew it was good but not good enough. Some people stop at good, some people don't even have standards at all.

GoldenAh November 26, 2008 at 1:25 PM  

>>Tell me what do you as a black woman think about marriage and I mean what you really think!

I don't know what I think anymore. Although I certainly wouldn't shack up with any man, share one, or have babies out of wedlock. Nearly every adult in my family is married. I don't and never have felt any pressure to get married.

I wish I grew up somewhere else, and came here as an adult. I would have liked to have met "my husband", and married while overseas, and then come here.

The USA isn't good for black women when it comes to relationships and marriage. The black men here are oversized children. As for men of other races, they have racial issues against black women.

If I had given marriage priority I would have left the country a decade ago.

Unknown November 28, 2008 at 12:52 AM  

I vacillate about what I think about marriage, depending on which of my married friends I have seen most recently. I have some friends who have married wonderful, considerate, enlightened, loving, intelligent, fun brothers who fit them. I have more friends who are married to...well, let's just say their husbands are something else. When I see my happily married friends - the minority - I think that the tradeoffs and sacrifices I would have to make would be well worth it to have a husband who would be my partner for life. When I see my miserable friends, I know that single and content is better than married and miserable.

So, the short answer is that I believe that a good marriage would add value to my already quite lovely life. If I can't have a good marriage, I'd rather be single.

Anonymous,  November 29, 2008 at 10:58 AM  

I am 23 and I have lost confidence that I will ever get married. I have my degree in Early Childhood edcuation. I am so disgusted with my options for black men that I have chosen to stay single. Dont get me wrong, there are good black brothers out there. Either they are all taken, married, gay, and too hard to find. I have given up all hope. Im starting to be comfortable with the fact that I will probably never get married.

modest-goddess December 5, 2008 at 1:41 PM  

I do want to be married and have a long term healthy committed relationship. All of my female friends want to be married. My male friends are not ready to settle down, they want to play the field, be more established in there career, ect. I'm about to turn 29 so I'm not talking about young adults here. It is hard out here for single women.

Kristin Harper December 7, 2008 at 12:44 AM  

As a former single parent who married, divorced, and re-married my child’s father, here are four reasons why I think so many sisters are single.

1) Often, we prioritize minor characteristics over substance. For example, by focusing more on someone’s height, profession or salary than their character, value system, or how they treat you may cause you to miss out on a good thing! When I first met my husband in college, his socks were up to his knees, his mustache seemed to extend from ear to ear, and he his shorts were way above his knees. I thought “no way for this guy!” Never mind the fact that I hadn’t dated in months. Luckily, he was persistent, and I discovered a gem of a man. Today, he is the best dressed guy I know, and is a far stretch from the guy I met almost a decade ago.

2) They say that a “piece of man is better than no man at all,” but this type of thinking has led to man-sharing, casual sexual relationships, bitter feelings, and broken hearts. As women our self esteem diminishes by the moment, which can result in hopelessness, bitterness, anger or desperation. Instead of enabling guys to have their cake and eat it, too, we should realize that men will only treat us the way we allow them to.

3) Things get more complicated when children are involved. Today, there are record high pregnancies to single moms. According to the CDC, 7 out of 10 black babies are born to single mothers. Co-parenting with a “baby’s daddy” or raising a child by yourself means that a woman has less time—and energy—to date. And according to some of my guy friends, the harsh reality is that most guys (especially in their 20s and 30s) don’t want to get seriously involved with women who have children.

4) Making your new guy friend pay for the sins of your ex. It really hinders new relationships when we don’t drive closure from the last relationship. Healing takes time, and includes honesty, forgiveness, and a declaration of what the future you envision. It’s difficult to make a fresh new start when we’re still carrying around baggage. Take the time to heal, we owe it to ourselves!

For a real life story on the mistakes and joys of marriage, check out my memoir, “Love’s Resurrection: A Spiritual Journey through Marriage, Divorce and Remarrying the Same Man.” Available at http://www.kristinharper.com.

SchadenfreudianSlip October 23, 2009 at 2:37 PM  

Women are women, doesn't matter what skin tone they sport. Marriage to them is a fairy tale, first, a romantic story, second, and a chance to dominate, control and intimidate a male! OH MY GOD! TALK ABOUT A DREAM COME TRUE!!!! All with the full force and backing of the U.S. government and states should you or she decide to get bored., dissatisfied with the lie/dream, etc.

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