October 7, 2011

Marriage Induced Amnesia

I was browsing Facebook one day and came across my friend’s status that said something like….
“I often wonder what single people who are itching to settle down and get married think they're missing out on."
My friend is a sweet person, a great mom and loving wife... but I must say I was in no mood that day to read that. I don’t even think she realized how condescending the question was. It was beyond condescending...it was insulting.  Now, this is in no direct attack of my friend's standpoint, but folks have got it twisted, and I can clearly see why.
I guess because I’ve been on both sides of the fence I know about the ache and hunger of marriage, how the dream gets fulfilled, and then the dream gets deferred and now you are back out here, aching and hungering for marriage. I know that marriage isn’t all wine and roses.  I never went into it with rose colored glasses...lofty expectations, yes..but never unrealistic ones. I know it is hard work. I know it isn’t going to make me totally happy yet it’s supposed to give me some modicum of happiness. I know even during marriage we will want some time for ourselves.  WE, the single black woman collective,  GET IT. And never once, even during the lowest of lows of my marriage, did I discourage my sisters to get married with talks of "it aint all that". I'll let you have your own individual experience.

I figure most married people get amnesia. Lest we forget the nights you were praying faithfully for your Boaz. ..Asking “WHY ME? WHY NOT ME?” when you got yet another baby shower or wedding invitation...Lest we forget the nights you cried...the endless and fruitless happy hours...the wasted cash on new outfits and fly hair-dos only to be stood up for a date...the horrible internet dates and hook ups...The sex that lead to nowhere...the broken hearts…the tears, hot and streaming down your face soaking your pillows......the broken promises and broken engagements…the lies..The disrespect...the cheating...the dreams crush…the expectations raised THEN lowered to negotiate via the “marriage market” (as Ralph Banks puts it...)…. You didn’t “LOVE “being single. GTFOOHWTBS……..If you did, marriage would have been an afterthought. Or maybe it is something you just lucked up on. What you loved is what single hood taught you…which is really to appreciate positive companionship a whole lot more while allowing you to grow into your own independence. Singleness teaches balance. Yeah...you didn't need a man..but having one sure is nicer.
And I’m supposed to be OK with living “in my singleness” and not be “itching” to get out of that bull? Just because your marriage didn’t live up to YOUR expectations doesn’t mean you need to thwart my efforts to have even what you have…the good and the bad. We as single women get tired of hearing the “Girl…don’t rush it…” or “Girl...Marriage isn’t all that…” or “it’s not going to make you happy” stories. You say that now...as you hold your 2.5 kids on each hip, pet your dog, iron your husband’s shirts, and balance the family checkbook…..yet not seeing me on the other end of the line, eating yet another Lean Cuisine meal alone, and standing up at my kitchen counter. Please...miss me with that. WE GET IT! There is both good and bad! JEESH!  Enjoy my freedom and all my time to myself?? ..uhm...that is getting OLD. So guess what? I’M READY! Hell...some of us have BEEN ready…some of us are hopelessly waiting, still living fulfilling lives but…time is passing us by. We all aren’t living in a fantasy world of what marriage is or can be. You say you are encouraging us....but it doesn't remotely sound that way.
So you know why single people are “itching to settle down and get married” (ESP black women):
We want…being truly vulnerable and letting our walls down…tax breaks, a partner to handle financial responsibilities, the opportunity to garner generational wealth, a person to rear and father my children, not having to settle for less…a prayer partner, a warrior who is my defender and comrade, a support system, a rock, a person who affirms and confirms me…a person whose life and mine is enhanced with our mutual interactions..someone who sees the best in me and me at my worst....not having to pay a fucking mortgage solo cause the rents too damn high…a built in taste tester of all my recipes. and eats the leftovers...My Plus 1….A family...not being a statistic….THATS what and WHY I (the collective I of single women) am “itching” to settle down!
No one ever berates our “non” black cohorts for their desires to get married. EVER. Even though the marriage market is also dwindling for them as well. Yet if a black woman expresses these desires to get married, something must be wrong with her. The cards are stacked against us and we as single women don’t want to always hear how “tiring” marriage is…how “hard work” makes it work…how “sex” won’t be as you imagined it to be.  But...Let your marriage be swiftly taken away from you (as it was for me) and you are "thrown back out here to the wolves". You'll  put on a brave face for a while..but then you'll be miserable as fuck. Ask me how I know...
I truly MISS being married (yet I certainly don't advocate staying in a miserable one for the sake of being married...). So don’t you dare berate me for being wishful, hopeful as a black woman when the stats are all against me  You may not be “devaluing” marriage but you sure aren’t making it appealing to the rest of us.
 Being single is exhausting. This “dating market” is oversaturated with fabulous women and not enough equally awesome men. You just happened to find a needle in a haystack….so get over yourself, Married People... (LOL). Wanting to get married doesn’t take away from me being OK in my singleness. I can be OK...and simultaneously fed up. I’m not asking marriage to be the panacea for my shortcomings. Not at all. It takes two WHOLE people to make a marriage work. But….why can’t I desire it? Why can’t I thirst for it WITHOUT seeming thirsty? Thirsting does NOT make you thirsty or mean that you are lacking somewhere in your life and can't cope with singleness. Quiet frankly, it's a misconception that is getting old. And your thoughts on the "institution" are doing a piss poor job of encouraging us to desire what YOU, the married collective, have.

Perhaps my friend should have qualified her statement with "single, UNREALISTIC" people. Because, call me naive, but I feel that the majority of smart, rational, single professional black people (esp. women), prime for marriage, are rooted in reality.  While I understand most people dont have the sense God gave a billygoat, everyone isnt like that. And how do you think it makes your single friends feel if you CONSTANTLY telling them "marriage is hard work", "you aren't missing anything", ... or that "no pefect spouse exist". While you think you are "keeping it real", you are really dampening people's spirits. Be honest...most of us are like (as my friend put it): "DUH! I don't desire to be married to attain perfection. I desire marriage b/c, I deserve to be and I am someone's Good Thing. A blessing to him and in turn, he will be a blessing to me."

Not to be spiritual, but you don't know my God, that told me to have faith like a mustard seed, that would mount me up like wings of eagles, and who made people imperfect so they'd be perfect for me. I'm not saying we are bible beating in churhc, waiting on Jesus himself to be our man. But it's as if you think we aren't up for the challenge. Some are not. But some are ready...BEEN ready. If you stay ready, you aint got to get ready.
We can agree to disagree..these camps of married and single folks... but I’m not buying any more of these half backed, cockamamie arguments. What I am going to do is continue to pray for my single sisters in the struggle, to allow them to have full and wishful and “itching” hearts.

Because that “itch” is one that God is preparing to scratch.
(Then again, I guess “marriage amnesia” has left your empathy nerve a bit jaded too)

5 comments:

  1. I liken singledom and marriage to being in college. I absolutely LOVED being in college. It was an amazing experience. LOVED IT! But I also knew that I wanted to graduate from college and start a career. Now that I have graduated from college, I love being a working professional. But just because I have graduated and moved on to becoming a professional doesn't lessen or cheapen my collegiate experience. But there isn't any less love for that experience and my life at that time. Now I will say that I do agree that sometimes folk, especially newly married folks - especially women tend to have that amnesia. But - I also fully recognize that my single/dating/marriage experience is maybe different from a lot of other women. I didn't suffer through broken dates, tears of disappointment, etc etc. So in that I recognize that I'm lucky.

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  2. Thank you thank you thank you!I hear it all the time, enjoy being single because you're gonna wish you had. Married people need to zip it sometimes. They forget how they once wished for happily ever after.

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  3. *standing ovation*

    I agree, those types of comments are completely patronizing and very annoying.

    "Enjoy being single?" Who really wants that, at the end of the day? It's cool when you're young, but we all (or most of us, anyway) yearn for that companionship and that union of marriage. I don't think that married women (who makes such statements) have forgotten that feeling... that feeling of praying every night for God to bring them their mate. I just think with marriage, for some women, comes a certain smugness and self-satisfaction.... that makes folks feel entitled to make those kinds of ridiculous statements.

    I really cant stand those kinds of people, who say stuff like that. No offense to your friend or anything, im sure she meant no harm... but that's why i always knew i would never be that kind of married woman who had her nose up and making those kinds of comments. Cuz i remember when i was unmarried how infuriating it used to be to hear folks talk like that.

    Great one!

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  4. Bravo! This was a great post. Kudos!

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  5. Let the church say AMEN AMEN and AMEN again..somebody hold my mule while I shout!!!

    SN I finished reading Is Marriage for White people.

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