It’s been little over a year since I have been married and felt the need to reflect through my rambling that I call writing. I wanted to share a few pieces of advice to other young Black women out there. As a Black feminist that didn’t have many examples on how to live out life as is and how to be happy, I found it difficult to envision what a healthy relationship looked like. So this is me reaching out or talking to myself. Whichever is fine.
Also, I have only been in one relationship and I’m speaking from that lack of experience. So just putting that out there.
Decolonizing the mind
It took years to unlearn womanhood as defined by white patriarchy. A lot of it was heavily enforced by men and women in my life. Gender roles made me sad and not want to be in a relationship for years. You see women crying your whole life and long suffering over men, it makes you not want to be with a man as a cis-het woman. Who could blame me when most men subscribe to the traditional roles. Even the “good ones” subscribe to it. I received loads of advice from older married women and single women telling me I needed to let my husband lead and help him “feel like a man”. I should “compromise” my need to speak up because sometimes “all that nagging will drive him away”. I was even told my husband will leave me for a white woman if I kept up my “feminist stuff”.
All of this was maddening and the entire point of me not wanting a relationship in the first place as a Black woman. However, luckily I wasn’t with a man who needed constant validation of his manhood. Everyone needs encouragement occasionally and I’m willing to give that to him. But I can’t form and build my husband’s gender. These people didn’t know the dynamics of my relationship nor care. I noticed any “wife advice” was riddled with patriarchy, misogyny, and other women’s insecurities. So I decided to just focus on how to be a loving person and focus on advice centered around that.
So a lot of this advice I try to give back is gender neutral. Because not every woman is destined to marry a man, or marry. So building around that and giving yourself the chance to truly be you will inform your relationships better.
Marriage is a choice
If you are a young Black woman (or even older), marriage is not the end of the road or the culmination of all your successes. I say this as a married woman. As I journey, marriage was something I decided I’d take on. That in itself took work. I didn’t know how to have a truly decolonized marriage. Since marriage itself as an institution is colonized & rigid. However personal unions and promises don’t have to be; and that is what I took away from it. Marriage can be what you define it. If you are not there yet. That’s okay. If you feel it’s not for you, that’s also okay. You are no good to anyone living out a lie or a social norm just because.
Motherhood is a choice
You are also not defined by your level of motherhood or lack there of. At every turn we are asked to be maternal figures. In church, in our relationships, and at our jobs. I struggle with how maternity has been thrusted upon me every since I got married. Even before the wedding people were asking about “buns in the oven”. In a not so distant future when I am pregnant, all that enthusiasm may fade into harsh criticism. Black pregnant women catch hell for just being pregnant. The “welfare queen” image sticks with us no matter how much money is made or how many positions you hold. People ask “where is the father?” way too many times. That will be an ongoing battle that I anticipate; asserting my humanity as a person and as a mother. It may or may not be as bad as I say, I’m not there yet. That’s okay. I plan on having a support system by then for such a process. So, in conclusion to my motherhood point just do what you are willing. Because we tend to catch hell no matter the case.
Sometimes getting a cat is the healthier choice. Cats are cool too.
Ugh. Material? Well. Fuck being marriage material. You’re a human being with desires, dreams, and purpose. Not raw materials for a taco shell factory. Enjoy your life. If you’d like to be married one day. Marry the person that adds a wonderful patch to your quilt, not tear it to shreds and make you start all over because it makes them feel better.
One of the first questions most guys in the past asked was “can you cook?”. It was such a bland and dumb question to me. Shouldn’t everyone know how to cook? One of my first forms of rebellion was making sure I never gave my best meals to men who asked this weak question. If the first thing you wanted to know about me was how I can take care of you without any reciprocation, I usually had the ice walls up. I usually cooked for people who I genuinely connected with as an activity. But overtime I let go of what defined a “good wife”. I have seen the most conforming of good wives suffer. So maybe a good relationship had nothing to do with what I could make in the kitchen.
So many times I have seen women post photos on Facebook exclaiming how they were going to make a good wife one day and I always had mixed feelings about it. On one hand if one of your goals in life is to be a wife, that’s okay. Wanting a partner comes naturally to some. On the flip side I see it as not truly living for yourself until then. I may be reading too much into that, but it’s those moments that made me realize living my path was more appealing to me then trying to bend it into another.
My path naturally came across my husband’s and it felt right. I can cook okay, I’m not the greatest of listeners at times, I’m a bit crass, I call bullshit out quickly, I challenge my husband when I think he’s wrong. However I also try my best to love through actions, I tend to over worry about him, I support his career, his personality is built better for leading than mine, and I always back him up. I’m not marriage material according to patriarchy on the surface but he looked past that and saw a person to love. Not a caregiver who’d just be for popping out his kids and cooking for him.
After a year of being married, I’m glad I took this approach. I’m happy.