As I scroll down my Facebook mini-feed, I notice a trend. My white friends are throwing statuses, pictures, etc. up of them getting either engaged or married, while my black friends are discussing their “baby daddies” referring to themselves as “wifey” and living with their significant others with children. If I were to put a percentage on it, I would say that about 70% of my white friends and 25% of my blacks friends who are in committed heterosexual relationships are engaged or married. Why is it that black women seem to not walk down the aisle as often as their white counterparts? We’ll live with our man, have many of his children, play house but not take the plunge.
I took my curiosity to social media and gathered the following responses:
“I think it’s a mix of issues, but what I see being the overriding factor is a matter of standards. Many of the White women that I know and am friends with are pretty upfront about marriage in the beginning of their relationships, so there is never really a question of “where is this heading?”
“Black women don’t require it from us brothas like other races do. A lot of black women require “swag” and materialistic things, so guys don’t have to have much of an obligation other than look a certain way and maybe have some cash.”
“Really I look at it the opposite way. White American men are the wealthiest, most powerful men in the history of the world and HALF of their marriages end in divorce. I think the problem is that we try to copy what white people do, but we’re neither the wealthiest nor the most powerful.”
For the most part, many who commented erred on the side of standards. They felt like black women just did not demand that next level of commitment from their mates. This is a point that I agree with. Why do we continue to settle? Is it because we don’t recognize our worth? Is it because we’re so glad to get a man that we will take him any way we can get him? Allow him to plant his seed in us, live with us but not commit to us for a lifetime? Personally I am a believer in the philosophy of teaching someone how to treat you. You ultimately have the power to either stay or leave. Not to say that every black woman living with a man is settling. Or wants to get married for that matter. There are plenty of relationships where both partners are happy without the desire to tie the knot. Hell I’m not sure if marriage is for me. I’m referring to the women who want to get married, but for whatever reason remain in situations where their partner clearly is not interested.
The idea of demanding that someone marries you as stated in the above response does not sit too well with me. Call me old-fashioned, but when a man has a good thing in front of him, he locks her down. It shouldn’t be the other way around. Of course this comes with the assumption that the woman is a good thing. One thing is for sure, a woman should never have to DEMAND that a man should marry her. In fact, the only thing she should demand is that he treat her with respect. Demanding that he marry her provides room for forced marriage, which can ultimately end in divorce. This brings me to the third response stated above. Are we, black people copying what white people do? Is marriage just an institution that few believe in, but follow because they’ve been told to do so? Is marriage an institution in which one race benefits from more than others? I wonder. I don’t have any answers to the questions above but I know one thing, no one should ever settle. If you do, then you are solely responsible for the way in which others treat you,and therefore you cannot complain. You’re ultimately choosing to live in unhappiness, which is a choice that many make more often than not.
I don’t see this marriage vs. non-marriage as based on race. Not really. But then it depends whose social circles are. I have a number of long standing female friends (I’ve known for past 20 years or more ) who are still single but some have lived with guy in their life. These women don’t have children.
It appears that those who have children or decide to have children, do get married. While I agree a piece of paper and wedding band does not at all define the level of respect, trust, fidelity and love in a partnership, for children it does make it less confusing for them. There is the hard cold issue of child custody and responsibilty of raising children and providing food, shelter, clothing which requires money.
I’ve been with my partner for last 21 yrs. and we’re not married. His divorce through the courts, soured him greatly about marriage. He is a father of now 2 adult children. Yes, he did share child custody with ex and paid child support until they were adults.
There are a number of practical reasons I choose not to be married when there are children from a someone else’s former marriage involved. But above all, I chose not to have children in my early 20’s. I am the eldest of 6 and did see the stress of my parents raising children, as well as helping looking after younger siblings. This is what happens in poor families that can’t afford paid babysitters.
And therefore I did not want to become a stepmother. Already the children were loyal to their mother. Can’t win on that. So my partner and I are relieved that things worked out well the way it did when the children were growing up. He took upon fully looking after children when he had them. I was still living in my own place. So we visited each other alot.
It does take some time and soul-searching for any woman who chooses the route that I have. But believe me, it has saved alot of unnecessary heartache. It is true, a love and fidelity to one another can last a long time…without the wedding bands. It does require alot of communication, but we enjoy sharing.
It is very important that a woman think and plan her own financial independence under any circumsances –married or not, children or without children.
It is suggested that if you aren’t married but have young children, then this is particulary important on financial matters.
Jean great points. While I do believe that social circles do affect one’s perceptions, if we look at this from a statistical standpoint, African Americans are less likely to get married and more likely to get divorced (http://www.divorce360.com/divorce-articles/news/trends/african-americans-and-marriage.aspx?artid=1176). In terms of your situation I think that is wonderful! There just seems to be this enormous group of women who indeed do want to get married but settle for their current situation. My main question that I would like to know is Why? Thank you so much for responding!
I skimmed over the linked article above. It would intigue me if I were to make a broad statement, that I’m willing to bet that more Asian-American /Canadian women probably are married with children or choose to be divorced if there are children. And more like me, who are not married but coupled without children. I would love someone to do research on this angle because there would be also a range of socio-economic and cultural reasons for this also.
It would be disappointing that black men would have difficulty in accepting their black partner earning significantly more money, as a cause of marital/conjungal strife. Hard to know. But also hard to know the dynamics of personalities of men and women and how it affects the relationship’s quality. HIdden anger and frustration at society manifested in personal relationships is above all, the worst thing and deeply corrosive for any relationship that struggles to expresss love well and freely. There’s no easy answer to this.