I readily admit that I am a Twitter junkie and as such spend time in Twitter Ville daily. Sometimes I participate with great joy in the trending topics of the day and other times I sit on the sidelines and either cringe as I read the entries or laugh out loud with amusement. For those of you yet to be indoctrinated, Twitter is a social network site where people engage in lively conversations of all natures with “followers” both known and unknown. No it is not just a compilation of random tweets (thoughts/entries) about everything a person is doing on a minute by minute basis. Those folk don’t have many friends to speak of because no one wants to hear that. The trending topics, however, are topics that a number of people choose to comment on throughout the course of the day and some of the comments may number in the millions. Monday’s (3/22) trending topic was “dear future husband”/ “dear future wife” and most people took this as an opportunity to tell their future spouse what their expectations in a marriage would be. Interestingly enough, people who are currently married also participated in said discussion, which I found a tad odd to say the least.
The media has bombarded us recently with the statistic that states that a large number of black women have never been married. When you combine this with a divorce rate which continues to remain around 50% (and even higher for second marriages), I am forced to ask myself “what is really going on?” This question came to mind again as a result of a private discussion I had with a married, childless Twitter friend on the subject of children and the effect that they have on the state of the marriage relationship, but more on that a little later.
I often hear people my age and younger say they want a long-lasting marriage like their parents/grandparents had. I want the longevity as well but I contend that neither I nor they want the same “type” of relationship. You see the relationship of our parents and grandparents was built on an entirely different set of expectations. You show me a marriage lasting 30 years or more and I will show you a marriage where: a) the main expectation of the man was that he pay the bills and maintain the house and cars, b) quite possibly infidelity (on the part of the man) was not encouraged but accepted, c) the woman was primarily responsible for everything regarding the children except for, in a lot of cases, the disciplinary tasks. We have enough stories in the news that show that women are no longer accepting of infidelity, fathers are expected to play a much larger role in the rearing of their children, and in many households the woman is the breadwinner. It’s all different. So I caution you, when you say you want what your Grandma had, to remember that you came along late in the game of that relationship and look at more than the years invested and be truthful. Is that what you REALLY want? Some may doubt the validity of my assertions. I encourage spending some time in discussion with your auntie, grandmother, or some of the “mothers” of the church. They will confirm what I’m saying. One of my friends admires Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis as one of the greatest examples of black love. While I agree that they are definitely an example of sticking together and making it work, I reminded him that for at least a period in their relationship they had an open marriage.
I also contend that because of today’s environment, the introduction of children into a relationship wreaks great havoc. Back in the “good ole days” when I was a little girl, children would go outside and play for hours (all day in the summer) with no parental oversight or worry. Parents could get in a quickie and nurture their relationship quite easily. J Now, parents, one if not both, spend an inordinate amount of time shuttling their kids to numerous after school and weekend activities. I know of one family who has three sons who are involved in sports year round. All of their weekend activities are dedicated to tournaments, meets, etc. While there is a lot of time spent in each other’s company, this is not thought by at least one person in the union to be quality relationship time. Also in my childhood days, children’s value seemed to be similar to that of slaves of old -3/5 of a person- not really having the same needs or requirements as adults. You know the deal – “do as I say and not as I do;” sit down somewhere and be quiet; don’t speak unless spoken to and definitely DO NOT GET IN GROWN FOLKS’ BUSINESS. That is why parents of those generations scoff at and ridicule modern day parents who read parenting books, etc. They did not customarily adjust their flow based on how the kids felt. Yes they wanted them to know that they were loved, but their feelings and self-esteem were of lesser regard in the overall scheme of things. I can remember my mom saying to me, when as a kid I cried about some adult not “loving” me, to “look at what he does. Don’t worry about what he says.” I don’t think she was that unusual for her generation.
My conclusion is that maintaining a quality relationship within the context of a family in 2010 requires a Herculean effort- not one day but every day- 24/7. Most people don’t have the relationship/marriage they desire because they are not willing to put in the work required on a consistent basis. Not to mention that one must continue to work at self-improvement-but that’s probably another blog entirely. Both parties have to be willing workers for the cause. Before you begin spouting the laundry list of things you are desirous of in a mate, remember to ask yourself if you are willing to put in the work required to have the marriage you desire. I know this desired relationship is possible. I am encouraged to see the degree to which men now participate in their children’s lives and emotionally nurture their wives while said wives are helping to shoulder the man’s burdens while still “frying it up in a pan.” We have the capacity to set the standard for which generations to come look back with envy. We just have to get our heads in the right place. Are you ready? I am.
Spread love…Peace and Blessings…
Sweet Tee B-S