I don’t know how I missed this.
Back in February, Tracy McMillan wrote “Why You’re Not Married” for The Huffington Post. In case you’re unfamiliar, she’s “a TV writer whose credits include Mad Men and The United States of Tara.” I have to give you her bio upfront so you don’t mistake her, like the person who sent it to me did, for Terry McMillan.
What makes this Ms. McMillan qualified to break this down further than say, I dunno, a comedian, a barber, or anybody with a penis and little research? Her version:
I’ve been married three times. Yes, three. To a very nice MBA at 19; a very nice minister’s son at 32 (and pregnant); and at 40, to a very nice liar and cheater who was just like my dad, if my dad had gone to Harvard instead of doing multiple stints in federal prison.
Without really trying to, I’ve become a sort of jailhouse lawyer of relationships — someone who’s had to do so much work on her own case that I can now help you with yours.
My best guy friend Kewon, on why this makes no sense:
She knows how to get married, but not how to stay married and i think the staying part is the better skill. Staying shows that they know how to maintain a relationship, how to navigate the waters. Getting married is easy— just do everything the man says, dont talk back, always be there… then when he gets used to it, take it away. He will go crazy and think he cant live without u. Viola, marriage proposal. *Shrug*
McMillan’s quick summary of why women who want to get married haven’t boils down to about the same reasons that every one else seems to have reached: it’s us, ie, women. It’s both depressing because we’re being made ultimately responsible for a decision that involves two people; but then also refreshing because maybe there is something we can do about it for those of who want to change the status on our tax forms. (20% of women don’t.)
Let me go back for a second though: McMillian breaks down six reasons women who want to jump the broom have yet to do so: You’re a Slut, You’re a Liar, You’re Selfish, You’re Shallow, You’re a Bitch, ie, all ground that’s been covered plenty of times before by misogynists everywhere. Loosely translated to apply to Black women: your business is in the street, you’re a gold-digger, your expectations are too high, or you’re an angry Black woman. Oh, and you date thugs aka men that are beneath you. We’ve dissected and dismantled all of those arguments on here plenty, so I’ll skip that analysis and get to the good part.
McMillan’s sixth reason is “You’re Not Good Enough”. Her breakdown:
I don’t think that. You do. I can tell because you’re not looking for a partner who is your equal. No, you want someone better than you are: better looking, better family, better job.
Here is what you need to know: You are enough right this minute. Period. Not understanding this is a major obstacle to getting married, since women who don’t know their own worth make terrible wives. Why? You can fake it for a while, but ultimately you won’t love your spouse any better than you love yourself. Smart men know this.
It made me wonder if self-esteem is also at the root of why the Black marriage rate is so far behind others. How self-esteem affects a whole host of other issues— sexuality, ambition, emotions etc.— is well documented, but marriage? Never thought about it that way. Still rolling it around in my head.
And that’s not to let Black men off the hook in why Black women aren’t getting married. In addition to a plethora of issues we have, they have a myriad of their own, including an almost paralyzing fear of becoming a “We”. It takes two to do the cliched tango.
Kewon on Marriage:
Funny we’re talking about this. Me and Brian (my boy. You’ve met him a couple times) were just talking about the fear we have that the moment we get married that the woman will change. His exact words were, “right now, my girl gives me a pretty long chain, but i know the minute we get married she will shorten it up.”
For all the ladies who want to get married and haven’t, McMillan goes on to give a little real-experience insight on marriage, basically debunking the idea that a ring and a huzzzband (cue Jackee) will cure whatever ails you:
You’re just going to need to get rid of the idea that marriage will make you happy. It won’t. Once the initial high wears off, you’ll just be you, except with twice as much laundry.
Because ultimately, marriage is not about getting something— it’s about giving it. Strangely, men understand this more than we do. Probably because for them marriage involves sacrificing their most treasured possession— a free-agent penis—and for us, it’s the culmination of a princess fantasy so universal, it built Disneyland.
The bottom line is that marriage is just a long-term opportunity to practice loving someone even when they don’t deserve it. Because most of the time, your messy, farting, macaroni-and-cheese eating man will not be doing what you want him to. But as you give him love anyway — because you have made up your mind to transform yourself into a person who is practicing being kind, deep, virtuous, truthful, giving, and most of all, accepting of your own dear self — you will find that you will experience the very thing you wanted all along: