Yes, I Have Standards and You Should Too

Sunday night I was having dinner and drinks at my girlfriend’s bar with some of her friends. The conversation turned (as it usually does) to the state of relationships and what black women want. Inevitably, it became a conversation against men and women. Why does that always happen?

Here’s what happened next…I said that I wouldn’t date a man who made less than $10,000 than me. Of course the men got upset and said really? Why are you putting restrictions and standards on men like that? I was floored. Really? I said if I make $100,000 a year and he makes $40,000 he becomes a dependent. How can a man afford to date me making $60,000 less than me? The wage gap is huge?

Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not all about money but men want to say that they want a woman who will believe in them and support their dreams and such and then they want me to not have expectations for what I want. Never mind that they do. One man even questioned my values by saying, “What if he makes $40,000 now and two years later he’s making $200,000. Would he be more attractive to you?” I said, “Man, you don’t know me. I wouldn’t sweat a man over his pockets.” In other words, his money doesn’t matter. If that was the situation, I would ask him to come and speak to the children I’m mentoring about how he was able to turn his income in less than two years. Give something back to the community.

That turn in favor wouldn’t make me want to date him. In other words, there is a reason why we didn’t work out anyway. What is really frustrating is that men tend to believe that black women have too many standards? So, you can have standards but I can’t? I posed the question to the group of men and said, “So, my requirement on income is problematic but you can choose not to date me because I’m plus-sized?” Really? Who the hell is shallow now?

No response. Crickets right? Because everyone has standards and there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t care if a man isn’t interested in dating a thick sister like me. Oh well! Your loss. I don’t care. I don’t hate.  Your choice.

But, you can judge me for mine? Get out of here with that double standards. Why criticize me for having standards? Are you preaching to yourself or all those men that don’t want to date thick women? Nope.

In my Facebook scroll, I ran across this post of one of the bloggers I follow at Bougie Black Girl and I think she captured it right on the head. Read below:

It’s these men that are really troubling. Not men who could care less about what you have or who you are. But, everyone has standards. There is nothing wrong with that. I am not looking for PERFECTION –  I’m looking for a PARTNER. The definition of partnership is:

partnership (n): 1. the state or condition of being a partner; participation; association;joint interest.

I want a partnership in the truest form. It is financially draining on a relationship when one person is the financial breadwinner. This applies to both men and women. Especially when you both have young children. You think my number is too unrealistic? Right, talk to some of my friends who make about $50,000 and have already struggled in a relationship with a spouse who makes less than $30,000. No one wants to struggle in their 40’s.

Trust me.

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Ah, the joys of dating!

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In Memoriam of My Marriage

“I’ve examined my first marriage from every angle – dissecting every reason why it didn’t work.

In the end, I came to the conclusion that my marriage didn’t fail – it simply ended due to incompatibility and our difficulties resolving ongoing conflicts that were becoming increasingly damaging to our children.” – Terry Gaspard

 

Last weekend I attended the marriage of one of my friend’s daughters. It was a beautiful wedding and the first wedding event I had attended since my own marriage ended. I was sitting there reflecting/reminiscing about my own wedding day and how it was the happiest day of my life. It was like a dream. I was marrying a man who LOVED ME.

But, underneath it all, I was a scared wreck. How could someone love me with all my flaws? How could someone see past this facade and promise before God and my friends to love me? Would I be a good wife? I mean, I play one now because we live together in NYC, but what happens after we’re married? Will I change? Will he change? Those were some of the questions running through my mind on my day.

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Marriage does change people. It should change you. You should want to be better and live better for the person you promised yourself too. You should want to be a therapist, a best friend and a spouse. Different roles all combined in one person. You will need to be able to wear the appropriate hat at the appropriate time. How will you know when to wear the right hat? By talking to your spouse. Communication is key. Speak openly and respectfully about your needs and wishes.
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We didn’t. We loved hard, fought harder and in the end it was incompatibility and our inability to resolve those issues that wouldn’t go away. We were destroying each other. Not what I wanted and I’m sure he never wanted it. We dang sure didn’t want it for munch, so divorce was the only responsible thing to do. Let go of what you thought you could forcibly fix and walk away dropping the pieces on the floor.shattered-heart-520x325

Life didn’t turn out the way I imagined and I never thought I would be here, but I am. I have no regrets, scars and many lessons learned. However, I am stronger and more determined to not repeat the past. The thing about this wedding was that it reminded me of what love was. Beautiful.
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Until next time!

Has Anything Changed?

On Wednesday, I was looking at my “Timehop” application on my phone and it showed that five years ago I posted this on Facebook:

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Interesting that when I posted this I was happily married and not even really understanding the plight of single black women when it comes to finding a man. Why? Because I had a man. I could empathize with my sisters from a married woman’s perspective, but I couldn’t feel their weight when it comes to finding a man.

Fast forward five years later and I am one of those women. Starting over and trying to figure out the state of relationships among black women and black men in their 30’s and 40’s. Now, what’s interesting about this conversation with my friend was that we were discussing the relationships among blacks but using a fictitious white couple as a measure of success. Why? Because this was our point of reference for TV. We are both successful people, but black women and/or men as leading characters on prime time weren’t shown. Not in our age group.

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It’s five years later and we have points of reference in fictitious characters on television that resonate with us as a people. We have Olivia Pope (Scandal – ABC) and Mary Jane Paul (Being Mary Jane – BET) that show strong and successful women trying to navigate dating and relationships. This is my reality. I know many successful women in my circle who are in the same boat. Looking for their Mr. Big. Is it wrong? No.

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Let me tell you why…I worked my butt off. Hard. I stayed focus and stayed out of trouble. I was the 2nd grandchild out of 30 to attend college. Unheard of right? I focused on being able to take care of myself. No babies. No drugs and no jail. If I did everything right, shouldn’t I expect to find someone on the same level? Is having expectations for my potential mate a bad thing?

No.

Last week there was a post about how black women marry down more than any other group. You get it? We marry down instead of out. We fail to practice “assortative mating” which basically means that we choose spouses that haven’t obtained degrees like we have. Now, this was a hot topic on many of the blogs that I subscribe to with women saying that they won’t marry down. Let’s keep these two issues separate for now. Marrying down could be solely financial but there are many men who didn’t go to college but went to a trade school and make more money than their spouse. Think electrician, plumber or even auto mechanic.

When we marry “down” instead of “outside of our race” we are in essence creating wealth inequality and have a harder time trying to balance work/life than if both partners had gone to college and could afford private school. The idea that we are choosing spouses based off of love became non-existent. The study suggests that black women should choose partners based off the person that can provide for you to not create this gap in wealth. Umm, now marriage is a business transaction? I had issues with this whole argument, but moving past that and getting back to my what’s wrong with wanting Mr. Big – nothing!

It’s not about the shoe purchases, fancy dinners and a black card, but a man’s ability to take care of business. To be able to date a woman on his level that appreciates him and the things that he can bring to the table. We need to stop thinking that women are gold diggers when there are a reasonable number of people making decisions off a person’s look instead of their background, character or values. Money doesn’t make the man and good looks won’t keep the woman.

There is nothing wrong with having expectations and standards when it comes to dating. You have that right. You owe no one anything when it comes to making choices about your personal life and what you want out of a partner. I get it! Heck, if we’re being honest there are many men who don’t want to date me because I’m a plus sized woman. I’m okay with that. Your choice and your loss. I know my worth.

So, if I want a Mr. Big, I’m going to get him. You better believe that I’m bringing my Olivia Pope Mary Jane Paul entrepreneurial skills and business savvy mixed with my Carrie Bradshaw appreciation for the man who appreciates and respects me.

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It’s not the Manolo’s (no matter how beautiful) that matter, but the man himself. Find someone that is your Mr. Big and don’t settle! carrie-and-mr-big

Great Marriages and the Reality

My Facebook friend posted this link last month for a piece entitled “It’s time to accept this fact: A really great marriage is rare”.  I read the article and the researcher made some great points. It wasn’t a woman arguing that people shouldn’t get married, but that great marriages were rare and that there has been a shift in our society whereby women don’t need to marry because of the shift in our circumstances and/or cultural norms. Women have more options and don’t need men for financial security, sexual satisfaction, to have children or for social approval. Women have in essence changed the game. We’ve become more powerful.

I pondered that theory and I have to say that the researcher has a point. When you look at the changes in our society over the years, you see that not only in other races, but especially in the black community, there is a shift. More black women are earning more than their black male counterparts. Thus, it makes it harder for college educated women to find their ideal black man “IBM” who has equal or more to her in terms of wealth. Black women are working hard and waiting until later to get married. But, when you’re ready to get married, your IBM doesn’t come in riding on a white horse to sweep you off your feet.

Fairytales are just that. Fairytales. Not meant to provide any form of reality for our young girls. But, could I as a feminist really truly believe that I needed a man for anything? I don’t know if I was ever sold on the whole happily ever after fairytale that other little girls were taught because I knew better. My reality didn’t include a happy queen and a happy king. In my post yesterday, I talked about how my dad is an alcoholic so any chances of a prince charming taking care of me were replaced with the reality that he didn’t exist. People had faults.

Those faults translated into the fact that I grew up in a single parent home and I knew that I never wanted to be like my mother. She wasn’t a bad mother. She just short changed her life to have me and my siblings and to be a wife. Would she have made the same decisions now in today’s society? I don’t know. I would like to think no. I think she would have given birth to me and gone back to college like my grandfather insisted. I think she would have accepted that she could be considered a social pariah in a small town, but she would have been just fine raising a child on her own after getting her degree. She would have been considered a game changer by my standards.

But, she didn’t change the game. She followed her heart and cultural norms. Those norms shaped and impacted my belief in marriage. That fostered with the environmental factors and social shifts helped me realize one thing…I didn’t need to get married. I didn’t need a man for anything. Men were dispensable objects that had no real value other than fixing my car, maintenance on my house or just friends who I could toss ideas about my career path with. Not worthy of having the title of husband or father because I was jaded and I didn’t believe in happily ever after. I would never sacrifice my career to be a wife or mother. It wasn’t an option.

However, that changed when I found someone who wanted to marry me with my flaws and all. With my jaded view of reality in tow, he sought about finding refuge in my heart and spirit so that he could show me or whether prove to me that men weren’t dispensable objects and I could be both a wife and a mother and I would love it. Problem was that I didn’t love it. I loved him. I loved our family. I loved our son. But, I didn’t want to live my life being disappointed and feeling lonely and unloved. Yes, people have problems. I get that, but when the problem is the two people what do you do?

You make a decision on how your life will play out.  Whether it be a comedy, love story or tragedy, you have to know marriage is what you make it. It takes two people who share, not only the same value of marriage, but the desire to keep it healthy and functioning. You will make mistakes, nothing is perfect, but if you want to find someone who at the end of the day you would rather fight with than without then you have hit the jackpot.

“The painful truth is that really great marriages exist, but they are rare. What we as a society should probably be telling married people is, “If you have love, passion, companionship and equality in your marriage, you are wealthy beyond words. If you don’t, you have two choices. You can decide that your marriage is the best you’re going to get and try to be content. Alternatively, you can leave your marriage to play the lottery of finding that perfect partner, accepting that you are unlikely to win and may have to stay single for the rest of your life.” – Danielle Teller

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I Am America

My heart is heavy with this Trayvon Martin case. For those of you that may not have been following the case, he was a 17 year old boy who was shot and killed by an overzealous self-nominated neighborhood watch captain who claims he was acting in self-defense. The same self-defense argument that has prevented him from being arrested even after the boy was found dead with only iced tea and skittles in his pocket. We all know how skittles can be threatening to someone who is pursuing a suspicious black kid.


As a mother, woman, citizen and child, I can not imagine what this family is going through. They are left to rebuild their shattered lives after a man of questionable character named George Zimmerman shot him dead in the back like an animal. George Zimmerman is claiming self-defense and has not been arrested. He is hiding due to the various threats he received on his own life. I know the country is angry over this case, but death threats are not called for. Justice is called for. We should all want George Zimmerman arrested and charged with the crime of shooting and killing an unarmed young man.

Trayvon’s case was like a knife through my heart when I listened to the 911 tapes. I imagined this young man trying to get home and then being followed almost hunted by Zimmerman and Zimmerman all the while pursuing him and telling the dispatcher things like “This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something.” How and why would you be following someone under the guise of neighborhood watch captain with a loaded gun? After killing the child, does the neighborhood feel more safe or are people looking to move because an innocent child was gunned down like a dog in the streets?

Zimmerman’s lack of arrest points to one simple fact for black folks…it ain’t over. Racism is still alive and this white man hasn’t been arrested for killing a black boy. All lives should be valued and not those that are black. When will society see that this is a big issue of injustices and Jim Crow era laws? Are we not supposed to assert or challenge the belief that Zimmerman was lying about self-defense? I’m tired of having to stand up and make people see that I am more than just the color of my skin. I am black. I am a citizen. I deserve respect.

I feel good about the fact that the U.S. Department of Justice will be investigating this case, but it’s not enough. Trayvon’s death should shed light on the fact that many of this country’s citizens haven’t accepted a diversified America. An America where everyone is judged on the content of the character and not the color of their skin. An America where injustices against one another are punishable by a court of law. An America where you can be proud of the color of your skin at all times and not just when you’re in the comfort of your own home. Has America changed or are we blind to the fact that in 2012 many people still think we are enslaved?



TheHuffington Post is doing a great job covering the story with a page dedicated to Travyon. Click on the link to go to their page.

Motherhood before Marriage

Okay, I’m on another tangent after reading this story in the New York Times this weekend. So, here’s my deal…

I remember when I was in college and my girlfriend had just given birth to her second child out of wedlock. A baby girl with the biggest brown eyes I had ever seen. She was a stunningly beautiful child. I smiled, held her close and inhaled her intoxicating baby scent. She was one of God’s greatest creations and I was in love. I wanted to be a mom someday. What followed next caught me by surprise.

My girlfriend’s mother was in the room while I was holding the baby and she asked me, “When do you plan on having a baby?” I was momentarily caught off guard because I thought that would be an absurd question considering that I wasn’t even married. I politely responded, “When I get married.” Later that night, I talked to my mother and told her about the incident. I asked my mother, “Why would people assume that I would want to be a mother without being a wife?” She simply replied, “Environment. Times have changed and black women seem to be okay with having children out of a wedlock.”
Years later, I married the man God chose for me. Neither one of us was prepared for the journey that marriage would take us on, but one thing for sure was that we knew we wanted to enjoy the ride together. My husband wanted children immediately after our wedding and I said, “No, I don’t want children before I’m 30.” Well, 30 came quickly and my husband still wanted a baby. I pushed and paused and said, “Do you know most marriages end in divorce in the first five years? I want to wait.” He had no choice because it was my body and I wasn’t ready to be a mother, but he wasn’t pleased. It wasn’t until after our five year anniversary that I got the news from my ob/gyn that if we wanted to have children we needed to get started. She explained to me how Hollywood glamorized that you could have children well into your 40’s, but that is not always the case with all women and that given my medical history it would be difficult for me to continue to wait. She asked me what are you waiting for?
Almost five years later, I have finally figured out what the answer to that question. I was afraid. I didn’t want to be a single parent. I didn’t want to raise my child alone. I know that nothing is guaranteed (including marriage), but I didn’t get married to do it on my own. Marriage is a partnership and I need my partner. I need to be able to have “me time” and still be a good mom with an active role in my child’s life. Even now, that is a source of pain in my marriage. I’m afraid of having another child because what if my husband and I don’t work out? I know we’ve been married almost 10 years, but people divorce all the time. Or, what if he dies? Can I be the emotional anchor my children need after burying the man who promised me forever? Can I realistically afford to take care of two children by myself? I don’t want to be a single mother.
It’s years later, but many women, especially black women continue to think that single motherhood is the norm. Why? Because you have people like Halle Berry, Kourtney Kardashian, and Jamie Lynn Spears and many others having children out of wedlock. Shouldn’t you want your child to be born in wedlock? I know it seems like everyone has illegitimate children running around nowadays, but aren’t we missing the fact that we are raising a generation of children with no sense of marriage and two parent households? There is nothing normal about raising children all on your own without ever being married. The fact that 73% of black children are born out of wedlock is astronomical. We need to do something about these numbers. Is it lack of education or a cultural phenomenon? This is out of control! I’m raising a son who if he is lucky enough to find a wife, he will find slim pickings among eligible females who don’t have children.

This is not meant to bash women who are raising children on their own, but to help me and the rest of society understand why would you want to be a mom before a wife? I hate when people say that marriage is just a piece of paper and doesn’t mean anything. That is a falsehood. A wife is entitled to make the decisions regarding her husband in case of emergency, collect his pension and be recognized for the fact that she legally married. The Bible says in Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” We should all want favor from the Lord.

So, this is a call to arms to women because we are the givers of life. We birth society and all the troubles that come with it. We shoulder the burdens of life and keep it moving. More importantly, we need to make the decision to scream “I will be a wife before a baby’s mama!”

Trust me, you’re worth it!

Black Marriage Negotiations

I ran across this video on www.blackandmarriedwithkids.com and watched it. I wanted to share this video that is going around on You Tube because I think it paints a pretty dark picture of black women and black men.

I recently had dinner with a friend and some of her friends and some of the comments mentioned in this video were things I heard these ladies say. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe you should settle when looking for a mate, but I do believe you should be honest and realistic about what you want and what you’re bringing to the table. Marriage is a compromise. That’s the thing people fail to remember. You don’t get everything you want all the time, but a good marriage means that you never miss what you thought you wanted.

Women get hung up on the fact of submitting to the man because he is supposed to be the head of the household. I know I did when I first got married, but I realized that God anointed and blessed my marriage. It was God’s will that Lee and I married, but we needed to submit to Him and put Him first in all that we do. Once Lee and I started to remember that we can do all things through Christ, it was easy to submit.

Women you need to realize that the scripture says that you are supposed to submit, but your husband is supposed to love you like Christ loves the church. I remember that from my premarital counseling. Isn’t that awesome? If he is loving you like Christ loves the church then you should have no problem submitting. Men need to remember that part of the scripture, but women need to submit. There is no negotiation when it comes to love, either you love someone or you don’t, so why are we negotiating when it comes to black marriages?