The Big-Ass, Fat-Ass Lie About Black Marriage » VSB

Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Lists, Theory & Essay

The Big-Ass, Fat-Ass Lie About Black Marriage

Monday night, my fiancee and I attended the first of seven sessions for a pre-marriage counseling class. It’s a decent sized group with roughly 15 engaged couples, and the course is led by a husband and wife team who’ve been married for 36 years and reminded me of Aunt Helen and Uncle Junior from The Jamie Foxx Show.

Before attending, I thought the comparison of the relationship-based topics I occasionally touch on here with the topics discussed in the class would make for a good piece, and I planned on writing about it this week. But honestly, there really wasn’t much we went over that night that we haven’t already written about on VSB and my fiancee and I haven’t already discussed. Communication matters, relationships are work, and women use a lot of toilet paper.

Still, there were a couple things that stood out

1. They give you pizza at these things

Everyone who’s ever gone to any type of evening gathering like this knows how important is it to have food, right? Of course! Without it you can’t concentrate, you get irritable, and you spend the majority of the time counting stomach grumbles and waiting for it to end. Right? So, why do so many people hold food-less evening events? Why is it a pleasant surprise when there actually happens to be food? Who are the people who think it’s a good idea to invite a bunch of grown-ass men and women to be somewhere for 90 minutes without food, and why do they still exist?

2. EVERYBODY GETS MARRIED! EVERYBODY!

Now, when I say “EVERYBODY GETS MARRIED” I (obviously) don’t mean every single individual person is getting married. Nor does every single person need to get married. Even if there is someone for everyone, sometimes the world is a better place if some people never meet.

What I mean is this. If you read enough, watch enough TV, or listen to enough conversation about the state of young Black marriage, you’d think the only marryable Black people were Idris Elba/Neil Degrasse Tyson hybrids and PhD-ed Briana Bettes with active fathers and good credit.

But, aside from the age — everyone was relatively young (between 28 and 40) — it was like someone threw all of Black America in a plastic bag, and randomly pulled people out. You had short people, tall people, light-skinned men, dark-skinned women, people with nice bodies, people with not so nice bodies, virgins, former players, people who looked like they were upper middle class, people who looked like they were working class, introverts, extroverts; basically any type of Black person you can think of was there. I know this was just one class in one city, but I think it’s good snapshot of the type of Black people who get married. Every type.

Again, I’m not bringing this up to convince people they should get hitched. Or make anyone who wants to get hitched but still happens to be single feel bad about it. Just that if you put — or allow others to put — arbitrary limitations on and requirements for who and what you need to be in order to get married (or just to be in a happy and healthy romantic relationship), you need to stop. All types of people (Black people!) are getting married all the f*cking time, including people who look, talk, think, act, and smell just like you.

And no, you don’t have to thank me for this information. Just, if you ever invite me to an evening event, make sure to have some f*cking food there.

Please.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • TJ

    I’m definitely looking forward to the marriage counseling pizza, preferably thin crust with pepperoni and sausage on top, when I reach that point in my life.

    • I’ll take mine with hamburger and jalapenos.

      • TJ

        I’m pretty sure there isn’t a wide assortment of marriage counseling pizza. Lol,

        • There should be. A lot of folks aren’t digging pepperoni, especially the healthy negroes who’ve chosen to shun all things pork lol.

          • There’s cheese, pepperoni and veggie….otherwise take yo behind to dominos after

            • Fine. Be that way. I’ll pack my own jar of jalapenos. How’s about that! lol

          • SuperStrings

            Ahhhh I remember when I gave up the swine.

    • Msdebbs

      veggie please

      • Andrea

        Now I’m hungry. And I couldn’t even do yoga today…lol

        • nillalatte

          VSB will do you like that girl. They take away all the fun we have left, turn it inside out, and then pat you on the rump as they send you away. Wait. That sounds like a one night stand, huh? :/

    • HRH Prince Farouk I

      Chicago style pizza!

      • Wretched Blasphemer! Do not mention the phrase “Chicago Style” with the world “pizza”. The proper term is pizza casserole!

        • Sigma_Since 93

          or pizza pie!

      • IcePrincess

        Hell na. St. Louis, fool!

  • I never bought the lie that state of Black relationships and marriages were in trouble. Most of my friends and families are married or engaged. I believe the narrative of Black romantic relationships being in dire trouble was created and perpetuated by the media to 1) promote the agenda portraying the Black community in a negative light 2) To mentally program Black people into buying into hype(since anything the media says is correct, right? O_o) 3) To gain ratings for various media outlets who cover the story. 4) To promote products and purchase for financial gain. IE: Steve Harvey and his entire, “Think Like a Man” book and accompanying. All and all, I agree with the article. Don’t believe the hype.

    • Sahel

      I have always wondered how people take relationship advice from someone who has divorced numerous times

      • Andrea

        I would think they do have a lot of experience to share. Like what they got wrong. I liked that divorced lady Oprah used to have on a lot. Dr. Robin. I thought “Lies at the altar” had a lot of good insights from a divorced persons perspective.

      • Msdebbs

        Is that a dig at Steve Harvey fans???? The only solid advice divorced folks can give is what not to do.

        • Sahel

          Not really. I just think that advice from someone who has made it work is better than from one who has not.

          • Londa

            Sometimes the wisest thing you can, and should, do is walk away. I’m not advocating for Steve Harvey; personally, he kind of rubs me the wrong way. He’s a little too slick, for lack of a better word. But, I’m sure he does some things that are good. I just am not a big fan. Anyway, I’m just saying that staying together isn’t always the best. And, this walking away does not preclude you from having good advice to offer. Look at the person and not the circumstance. Do they typically make great decisions, have common sense and are on point in general? If so, counsel from that person makes sense. If not, keep it moving…that person has nothing to offer you.

        • nillalatte

          Right?! Like don’t marry an Ahole or a psychopath. :/

        • CNotes

          “The only solid advice divorced folks can give is what not to do.”

          Untrue. Just because someone has been divorced does not mean they did not experience any success while in the marriage.

          • BreezyX2

            Agreed C! Even if their marriage was like the Hiroshima bombing there are always positive life lessons they can draw from that experience to share with others.

          • SuperStrings

            Agreed. Your past is your lesson, not your blueprint.

      • Not once, but three or four times. There should be a limit on the number of times you can get married before your license is revoked, like seriously lol.

      • Geneva Girl

        Or from a woman who married a gay man. I did not need her point of View and was a bit peeved to received emails from her asking me to buy her marriage advice book when she’d only been married about a year.

      • Ifuno

        I told an ex that after she suggested that I read Steve’s book. It didn’t go over too well then. Now that sometime has passed and we are cool, she’s acknowledged that I was right about Steve.

        Women…go figure, smh lol

        • Geoabouttown1

          When it comes to Steve Harvey and relationship advice I’ve always viewed him as a snake oil salesman in that context.

      • Geoabouttown1

        I’ve wondered about this too Sahel. It’s like a dog owner taking advice from a cat owner on how to train a dog. I always ask these self proclaimed relationship experts “And you know this how?”

    • Val

      It kind of annoys me when people read a comment that they wholeheartedly agree with and then leave “THIS!” as their reply. If that wasn’t the case I’d definitely leave a “THIS!” as my reply to your comment.

      • Well, thank you for not saying, “THIS” LOL!!

        The individuals who own powerful media companies such as Viacom could literally promote any agenda of their choosing for profit.

        • Val

          We’re the easiest target though. Folks, including many Black folks, love to hear about supposed Black dysfunction.

      • Sahel

        THIS

        • Secret Sauce

          THAT!

          • THERE!

          • SuperStrings

            You can get with THIS, or you can get with THAT!

            • IcePrincess

              Eat THIS, not THAT

              • SuperStrings

                I may need to send myself to the corner on this one because my mind immediately went to the gutter on this.

                • IcePrincess

                  Looool! I’m talking bout the diet books!!

                  • SuperStrings

                    *yells from the corner* I’ve never heard of those books. My bad.

                    • IcePrincess

                      Yea right

          • Animate

            THE OTHER!

          • BreezyX2

            *puffy voice* TAKE DAT TAKE DAT!

          • Shamira

            AND THE THIRD!

    • Huey Freeman

      Do you think the black community in this country has more single parent
      (i.e. “fatherless” household) than any other demographic group by
      comparison? I know we have more men incarcerated per capita than any
      other racial/ethnic group or is that assertion in question as well? When
      one says that the dysfunction reported by mainstream as well as some
      very intelligent seemingly well-researched black folk, are those
      assessments misguided? I am only asking to understand your angle in
      stating or implying that black union is not in peril.

  • Sahel

    Marriage happens,alot. The bad marriages are played up more because divorces have crazy story lines And i had no idea there are such things as pre marriage counselling,who knew.

  • h.h.h.

    i would give my real opinion on relationships…

    but you guys don’t have any pizza.

    laters

    • Sahel

      I have chapatis

      • h.h.h.

        if you have ramen, i might be tempted to…

        • Epsilonicus

          Shrimp is the best flavor

    • Andrea

      Pretty please Mister h!

      • h.h.h.

        nah sorry ma’am…my thoughts aren’t really productive for this environment. besides, it’s friday, no need for me to be droopy dave/bitter brian/ashy larry, ya know?

        • Epsilonicus

          I say share it.

    • IcePrincess

      Don’t you mean croutons? ;)

  • Andrea

    I always wondered what those counseling classes were like. I don’t know anyone who got married who actually went through with them. Good to know. I also didn’t know Briana had a PhD. Who knew?
    My sister bought me a copy of Patti Stranger’s how to get “Married in a Year” dvd. I am really appreciating having watched it now. I would recommend it for women who are interested in getting married on an accelerated schedule for whatever reason. I never dreamed my oncologist would be the person in my life most concerned about me getting married, and quickly.

    • Vesalius

      What do you like about those DVDs? What message(s) stands out?

      • Andrea

        What stood out about that DVD: I’m a math person so formulas are often very attractive to me. This video is like a recipe. How to “negotiate the ring”.
        It was the first time I heard anyone talk about not giving a man more than a year of your life. I liked how she developed a business model that relies on time.
        “You should be in the negotiation stage at nine months”, the introduction to concepts like that.

        • h.h.h.

          not to be nosy, but has the principles outlined in the dvd worked for you/working for you?

          • Andrea

            Yes!!! The biggest principle being that I can be married in a year. That I don’t need to give a man more than a year of my life for him to decide if I’m the “one”.

            • CrayolaGirl

              I’m curious. Do you have to be married or engaged in a year?

              • Andrea

                If you mean, do I have to be married or engaged in a year? I don’t Have to be of course. But I would really like to be for health reasons.

                • CrayolaGirl

                  Gotcha.

        • IcePrincess

          Omg that sounds like horrible advice! Patty is such a quack. I like MMM, but a quack none the less.

          • Andrea

            What makes you think she is a quack? Are there any self-proclaimed “relationship experts” you have found to be really knowledgeable or helpful. Or where do you like to turn to for relationship advice? What resources have been the most beneficial for you?

            • IcePrincess

              I mean I like patty she cool & errthang, but she’s on like her 3rd relationship since MMM been on the air. So it doesn’t feel authentic, na mean? Then she be talkin all crazy to ppl, lol. I just feel like demanding a ring inside of a year is a good way to make a man run in the opposite direction.

              • Andrea

                I wouldn’t look at it as “Demanding a ring”. “Give me a ring” or else! But as being intentional in relationships. Honestly evaluating what you want and honestly discussing your intentions with your mate. Also, Patty doesn’t encourage ultimatums but purposeful dialogue.

    • Yonnie

      I recently read Getting To I Do by Patricia Allen. I never would have read this book but a friend recommended it to me and even mailed me a copy (she still can’t explain why). The author says a lot of crazy/radical (imo) stuff in this book and I’m not necessarily concerned with the “fast track” to marriage, but she does make some good points about having a masculine energy (the giver) and a feminine energy (the receiver) in every relationship and why two masculine energies or two feminine energies in a relationship won’t work. An entertaining read (if nothing else) if you’re into relationship books.

      • Andrea

        Ohhh wonderful! Will add to library.

  • I stopped reading after you said Briana Bette. If I eat like 10,000 calories a day and only do core exercises I think I’ll make it to that level of goddess-like physique.

    • NomadaNare

      Son, though….

    • doooooooooooooo iiiiiiiitttttttt

  • iamnotakata

    Oh…marriage, I’m still working on getting chose. But yeah I never paid too much attention to what the mainstream media was saying as it relates to brown folks and marriage. Contrary to popular belief facts make the world go round not the media….shrugs

    • TRUTH! The media is privately owned by wealthy individuals with their own interests and agenda.
      They control the majority of the content which we see at the movies, tv, and radio. ‘
      I wonder how long it’s gonna take for them to establish a stronghold to control the majority of the content produced on the internet?

  • Hey, I never bought the lie about two relationships for 2 reasons. One is that most brothers end up married. Not to their first, over even 24th choice, but they do end up jumping the broom. Two is that ain’t too many sisters on the Elizabeth Taylor plan of 9 husbands, so obviously these brothers are marrying a wide array of Black women.

    That said, there is a truth in the lie, if that makes sense. The reality is that Black men aren’t as marriage-avoidant as portrayed, and that Black women are more afraid of marriage than advertised. It all evens out, but the media will have you believe that every brother is playing the field like Joe Montana in his prime, while even the most career driven woman is just dying to get married so she can quit her job, clean and bake cookies.

    Bullsh*t.

    For every brother playing the field, there is a brother who wants to settle down and get married, but the homegirls he’s dealing with is trying to turn dude into the next Mike Jones with their Alpha D chasing. For every sister that wants to get married, there’s another sister using her “great career” and “exciting lifestyle” to hide the fact that she doesn’t want to get hurt in a relationship like her mama and aunts did.

    Life is rarely as neat as portrayed.

    • Epsilonicus

      “The reality is that Black men aren’t as marriage-avoidant as portrayed, and that Black women are more afraid of marriage than advertised.”

      I am seeing this within my single friends. My male friends talk about marriage and their desire to be married pretty frequently. My female friends (Black and otherwise) are actually talking about the need to have a career first.

      Now that I think about it, the majority of Black white-collar female professionals (under 45) I know are not married. Hmmm…

      • SuperStrings

        I think the phenomenon with your female friends is just an over-correction for past historical inequities. The market is self-correcting though, so I believe all these things will level out over time.

        • Epsilonicus

          I just worry bc many of them want kids via the normal, biological process. That means time is ticking when you pushing close to 40. Actually for both but women tend to have a tighter schedule.

          • SuperStrings

            “I just worry bc many of them want kids via the normal, biological process.”
            Well, maybe technology will be on their side, either by making it safer to have children at an older age, or by extending their life expectancy. Shoot I don’t know. lol

        • As Keynes said though, in the long run, we’re all dead.

          There are two things going on. On one hand, the 70s and 80s redefined marriage and relationships on a level we’re still dealing with. As a result, a lot of people got burned and burned hard, and in turn, us the children of that bunch are feeling the side effects. On the other, it’s not socially acceptable for a woman to straight up say that they aren’t interested in relationships. As a result, a lot of women go through the motions of wanting a relationship, but doing everything possible to make sure that doesn’t happen, all while maintaining plausible deniability.

          • SuperStrings

            “As Keynes said though, in the long run, we’re all dead.”
            The market can be brutal, sometimes lethal in its self-correction.

      • 321mena123

        My biggest fear, and possible for some of your female friends, is being dependent on a man for my financial well being. For a lot of women, we have heard too many stories of our mamas, her friends, aunties, grandmama, old women cousins who were imprisoned in a marriage because they had no means out. And yes, their marriages felt like prisons. That is an extremely scarey thought. True independence, for me (again FOR ME) is being financially independent and this is why i am serious about my career. It’s the independence that it allows for me.

        It’s fear coupled with some truth on why women want a career first and then a marriage second. I don’t think that many men look at women having careers this way. They just see us trying to be like men instead of understanding why we value our careers so much.

        Granted, all of my female friends who are married have careers as well and i don’t believe that they would ever depend on their husbands for their financial futures. In fact, one of them is working while her husband quit his job to go back to school so the times are changing.

        • Epsilonicus

          I have a few questions:

          – Does it have to be an either/or proposition?

          – Are women struggling to find mates that would be willing to work with them on having career and family?

          • 321mena123

            I will only speak for myself. There was a guy that wanted to be with me and was willing to work with me while we were in grad school but A) i wasn’t feeling him like that at all and B) i was trying my hardest to leave my state with the quickness. So no, it doesn’t have to be either or and yes, there are people who are willing to work with the other but as i have told you a few times, when you are YOUNGER, working with someone is much easier than when you are older. So the older you get, what you will and won’t put up with becomes less and less. When i moved to DC, the last thing on my mind was a dude and i just recently started wanting to find someone to build a life with. We are all different and many women aren’t out here trying to get married ASAP. That’s a myth.

            My friends didn’t struggle to find mates but luck and being in the right mindset played significant roles in them getting married. I will also say that we are from the south and even though we moved to DC many of them found southern men so that may have played a part as well.

            • Epsilonicus

              This makes me feel lucky I found someone when I did then

              • 321mena123

                Yes and it is a lot of luck. But you also too a chance, took a risk, and now you have a wonderful outcome. :-) I’m always happy hearing from you and a few others regarding your marriages. Gives me hope.

                • JayIzUrGod

                  There is hope, it just doesn’t work on your schedule.
                  I am a firm believer that your life is already predestined, save for a few choice moments that you are in control of the decision you will make, and what direction that decision will take you down.
                  I met my wife after breaking up with a bad break up with a bad woman who faked a pregnancy on, while recovering from a life altering surgery that stopped my body from being partially paralyzed. Safe to say…I just didn’t know what was going on. I played it one day at a time until it got me to this moment as I type to you.
                  There is no perfect way for things to happen. they just do. That’s the best way I can explain it.

              • JayIzUrGod

                Same here. She came out of nowhere…I never expected it to turn into what it turned into.

        • That first paragraph is the truth. It’s not that hard to find an older woman who got caught up in as poor marriage due to finances. The problem is that fear is articulated in such an indirect and vague way that some men just throw up their hands and say f*ck it, if a woman ain’t going to be loyal to me, I’m not going to be loyal to them.

          The sad part is that these fears are out there, won’t be articulated, but these same women have less of an issue letting a dude move in and hit it raw. It’s sad how intimacy can become the exact opposite if someone is determined enough to put up those walls.

          • 321mena123

            I wish that some men would try harder to understand where women who want careers are coming from. It doesn’t have so much to do with the career but the security that it can bring. I don’t wear my degrees or my career on my sleeve and don’t talk about it unless asked since it seems like people become defensive when they hear a black woman speak about her education and what she does.

            • Excellent points. I had to take a moment to think about what you’re saying.

              I think careers mean different things to men and women (broadly speaking here). For men, their career is their passion in life, or at least something they have a deep interest in, and a lot of dudes project that mindset onto women, for good or ill. The thinking is that “gee, if she’s spending her time working on XYZ, will I have to peep my own videos and always be #2?” This isn’t necessarily right, but just human. Also, much the same as girls hear about women trapped in marriages, boys hear about, and sometimes live in, situations where the women around them talk about how so-and-so ain’t sh*t all while they’re scamming the bejesus out of dudes, or the men are struggling and striving to deal with the aftermath of a woman scorned.

              I do think if men actually sat down and spoke to women about their motivations about their career, they’d be pleasantly surprised. As I tip-toe back into the dating world, it’s shocked me how often what you’ve mentioned has come out. Save for a very select portion of the heterosexual woman population, women don’t really define themselves by their careers as men do, but use them as a means to something else. (And that something else varies wildly.) There’s so much baggage around women working that these conversations never happen.

              • 321mena123

                Yes. Don’t get me wrong, i love what i do but what it provides me is an income (money to save, buy things, travel, hang out with friends, etc.) and the biggest thing is sanity (i work with people around my age who challenge and interest me and the older people i can learn from and the younger ones i can help mentor). These are the ways that i look at my job.

            • SuperStrings

              “seems like people become defensive when they hear a black woman speak about her education and what she does.”
              I can’t, for the life of me, understand why a man would be defensive about this. I like my women smart, ambitious, and confident.

              • Andrea

                That’s what’s up

            • JayIzUrGod

              You also need to understand, that too many people out here are traditionalists. They do things the way they were taught to do things when it comes to relationships, and don’t do a lot of independent thinking when it comes to their own situation.
              Its not 1952 anymore, so men no longer need to be worried about being defined by their career, but due to tradition, we are all still lead to believe what we do to make money will define how a woman sees us. And with that, a lot of men still haven’t gotten used to the idea that women HAVE TO WORK nowadays, and have passed us in the meaning of careers.
              So like Todd said, there needs to be more honest conversations.

        • JayIzUrGod

          I’d like to think times are changing to the point where no matter man or woman, you wouldn’t be respected if you weren’t pulling your own weight and depending on your spouse for financial security.
          My wife was supposed to be making over $70K years ago, and she’s still making far less than that right now. I never would have put my hopes on that happening and I couldn’t respect a woman who’d put her bets on me to make long money so she could have it easy.
          Those days need to be over.

    • JayIzUrGod

      *lights a candle*
      A moment of silence for the fallen souls that used to be ho’s and the forgotten simps suddenly turned pimps.

  • Sigma_Since 93

    The big lie about Black marriage is that the mainstream will lead you to believe we don’t get married. Have you ever gone into a big box retailer and look at the wedding frames or tried to get a wedding card? When have you ever seen anyone in the frames, cards, or wedding toppers that are black? I pulled a manager at one of these stores over to the wedding section and asked him what did he see and what didn’t he see; needless to say he was nonplussed. I asked him how much money does he think his store loses out on by not utilizing suppliers that have stock photos of diverse wedding couples? Dude looked like he wanted to run to the nearest shower and have a crying game shower moment rather than truthfully answer my questions.

    While I’m tying this, I find it ironic that there’s an add for Cheerios given the noise that’s been made about its interracial commercial.

    • Sahel

      Start a petition to have a black guy on the Bachelor lol

  • IcePrincess

    You’re gonna make a great husband/father, Champy. I kno u will. God bless.

    • BreezyX2

      Yes, he will! Hi IP :)

      • IcePrincess

        Breezy babyyyyy!

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