Right now the current state of marriage in Black America is not all that bad. It’s not great, but it’s not time to start reading last rites. I’ve told people that I rarely share my opinions on marriage because it’s a real depressing outlook that bothers a lot of people. When I tell people that I’ve been in six weddings, know the next two I’ll be in, and have consistently attended 4-6 weddings a year for the last five years. Their reaction to that information is interesting.
Black men typically respond by saying that they are going through the same thing or remember the part of their life when that was happening to them.
Black women typically respond by saying that they’ve maybe been in a wedding, attended a couple, but want to know why I know all these people getting married.
Where’s that gap coming from?
By and far when I explain this to people I want them to know that this is an accurate depiction of our race’s dating, relationship or marriage status. I like to early on in the discussion enter in all the empirical evidence that should be noted here. Here are a few notes:
- Contrary to belief, more education will give you a better chance at marriage than someone who is less educated. This is for Black women and men. Any excuse that your degrees have placed you out of the dating pool is false.
- Contrary to belief, more money you have will give you a better chance at getting married and staying married. Any excuse that the money you have is placing you out of the dating pool is false.
- Although marriage rates are lowest in the Black community, they are still only marginally behind the national average… in general. As it pertains to Black women, they’re at the back; the very back of the statistic. It’s not important to quote the exact statistic because before we get into a statistical analysis, let’s just have a conversation for a moment. (If you want statistical information, you can actually go to WIM’s post, here.)
The first thing that I want to point out is that (based on sheer numbers) Black women are at a disadvantage when it comes to even getting into a relationship. There’s an overwhelming trend in Gen Y to avoid relationships and carry on exclusive situations. Recently, I’ve even noticed that people are convinced that exclusive situations have led to marriage. That is a fairytale, hoop dream, and scam. Treat that information like an email you got from Nigeria telling you about some money they want to transfer to your account.
More important is the fact that Black women outnumber men. That’s no secret. And what’s also important to note here is that let’s say that number is three to one, every time a Black man chooses to date/marry outside of his race, it doesn’t help Black women at all. In fact, it creates a situation that if at one point the ratio was three to one, it’s now six to one. As it pertains to those six women and that one man, only one of them can marry him (Unless, that’s your thing). That means in practical application that the other five will at some point need to find other options. That also means they have to decide at which point they need to seek other options. The point being, the numbers aren’t looking right.
Just to expand on the current situation that is Black men dating outside of their race and why it’s so problematic to this conversation, I’m not saying that Black men shouldn’t date outside their race, that’s not the intention. The fact is Black men are doing this way more than Black women. Like WAY more. No really, let me make sure you understand this, WAY MORE. Pay close attention to the next two sentences.
Black women would prefer to marry a Black man but are open to marrying someone outside of their race.
Black men are open to marrying someone outside of their race but will likely marry a Black woman.
Notice a difference?
In addition to the numbers game, there’s a difference in the way each gender chooses mates. Men are very much unlikely to marry a woman who isn’t wife material. However, there are several women who will marry a man who isn’t husband material. They will let love or a great desire to be married overshadow a man’s shortcomings. Men almost never allow themselves to get over a broom with a woman they don’t regard as “wifey material” or “wife material.”
And if the criterion for “wife material” isn’t high enough there’s another factor at play when it comes to marriage. Divorce and children hurt women more than men. Women meet men with children in their late twenties and thirties and they can almost assume that he has a child. He may not have a child. I don’t have a child and I fall in that age range. Although the man may have a child it will not be a huge barrier for them, it certainly won’t be the same obstacle that it becomes for women. I joked, but was actually very sincere, “I can’t understand how men get upset with the way child custody works. There exists a system that ensures that you can actually get away with NOT having to be the sole caregiver for your child. It’s made that way. The woman thinks she’s getting custody, but no… that decision was made for her a long time ago.” Therefore, when a woman has a child, every man she dates afterward pretty much can count on the fact that she has custody of the kid. Women just don’t have the same expectation of men.
On the other side of the conversation is that when a man is divorced, people assume that the marriage just didn’t work out. When men meet women who are divorced they begin to wonder “what’s wrong with the women?” I’ve only known a handful of women who can marry, divorce and then marry again more than once. After that point, people really start believing that something must be wrong with her. However, there are several men who marry three or more times. This may be because men are asked to provide and as long as a man can provide, he’s thought to be a good husband. Women are thought to be nurturers and people assume that if she can’t keep a husband she must not be a good nurturer.
The last thing I’ll point out is a challenge for middle ground because both sides are probably right but neither is totally right. Black women hate when men tell them they’re intimidating. They are convinced that they’re doing nothing of the kind. While many Black women are doing their best not to come across as intimidating, some of them just can’t help it. Therefore, Black men are somewhat afraid of Black women; sometimes for good reasons and other times for reasons which are very personal to them and are correctly categorized as, “Their bag.” The truth is there are ways for Black women to prevent coming off intimidating by looking at the courting process that men use to woo women.
A man shouldn’t waste time on a date talking about himself too much; the car he drives, the job he has, the degree he has obtained, or the amount of money that he makes. Likewise, neither should women. A man shouldn’t ask his wife to be his mother. Likewise, a woman shouldn’t ask a man to treat her like her father treats her. A man shouldn’t have a long list of requirements, whether shallow or not, that he dictates to a potential partner from the onset. Likewise, women shouldn’t do it either.
There’s a lot being said in this conversation both in this post and in conversations that occur offline. Here’s what’s important to note: do not walk away from this article thinking that Black women are doomed. They’re not, they’ll be fine. Only about half of the people in this country will ever get married, if you have four friends and only two of you get married, that’s fine. Keep in mind that of the two that get married, one will likely get divorced. Pick your poison on who you’d like to be. If you want some real thoughts, because there’s not much advice in this article, think to yourself what would you have me say, “stop being Black?” That won’t work. All I’m saying is the next time there’s a group of Black women sitting around asking the question why they haven’t been to a wedding or have married friends, link them to this post.