Gold Diggers Vs. Sugar Mamas: How to Avoid Being Either And Find Balance
Relationships can be tough. Realizing who to take that next step and build a lasting marriage with can be even tougher. We women want our prince charming and we want him to need us as much as we need him. And in this era, needs aren’t based around the emotional or physical so much as the cha-ching! I was at a get-together with a few of my girlfriends the other night and each of them made a list of the 5 things the man they’d marry needs to have: A good job and money were the top 2 things on each list.
Now let me be the first to say a woman should look for a goal-orientated man with something to offer, but I have to be honest, only three out of the seven friends who asked for this had a decent job/career of their own. The others? Well let’s just say they’re still trying to find themselves. Me, on the other hand, I’ve been on the opposite end of the spectrum, involved in more than one situation where my contribution to a man was way more than his contribution to me.
So where can we find the balance ladies? How can we look for prince charming without putting too much significance on his pockets? Or be an independent woman without playing someone’s mama? When we don’t want to be gold diggers (although it is important to have a man who can provide) and we don’t want to be sugar mamas (although we want to provide for the one we love as well), where can we find the happy medium? The balance all lies in building together, not what you came into the relationship with but what you both plan to achieve in the union. Here are a few inspiring couples who show us just where the healthy balance lies:
Gregg and NeNe Leakes
There’s nothing wrong with meeting a man who can introduce you to a whole new world. If the love is there why not be whisked off your feet? Take a look at Nene Leakes of the RHOA. Before meeting her husband Gregg, she was a single mother raising her eldest son, Bryce, and stripping to make ends meet. After meeting Nene at a gentleman’s club, Gregg decided this was the woman he wanted to be his wife and she would no longer have to lift a finger to live a life of luxury, or struggle in any way to provide for her son. Prince Charming you say? That’s an understatement! Not only ready to give his woman a life full of happiness, generosity, and security he managed to do all of this while becoming a father to her son.
Now some people would look at the women of the casts of shows such as the Real Housewives of Atlanta, or Love and Hip-Hop, or Basketball Wives as gold diggers. Whatever opinions one may have about a woman who marries a wealthy man, a blessing is what you make of it and that is exactly what I see when looking at Ms. NeNe Leakes. Being a devoted wife to Gregg at home did not stop this strong and business savvy woman from making a name of her own in Atlanta and beyond. With the help of her husband, Nene has put together fundraisers for women in abusive relationships and is an advocate against domestic abuse and has written a memoir describing her own experiences with abuse. And that was just the start.
Sshe was a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice 4. She currently plays a regular role in the NBC comedy series The New Normal and in addition to her famous role on RHOA, she gives her audience a spark of her strong, savvy, and hilarious nature in the third season of Glee in a recurring role as synchronized swim coach and Olympic bronze-medalist Coach Roz Washington. And even though Nene and her husband finalized a divorce last year, they were still of great support to one another and not to mention inseparable after the fact. It’s no wonder this power couple has decided to engage and marry for a second time.
Rev Run and Justine Simmons
We all know Rev Run and his beautiful family. When he first met the love of his life, Justine Simmons, they were teenagers — Justine, 15, him 16. Although distance cut short their puppy love courtship, after their second meeting they did not let the chance of destiny slip through their fingers again. Just coming from a split with his former wife and mother of his eldest children, JoJo, Vanessa, and Angela, Run ironically met up with his soul mate, Justine, after a cousin of his ran into her little sister at a school in Long Island.
At this point, Run, aka Joseph Simmons, had turned over a new leaf and now wanted to give his life over fully to God. Justine, who as a teenager used to work three jobs and never imagined herself with many, if, any children, turned out to be a great second mother figure to Run’s children, not to mention three others of their own.
Not only an extremely caring mother, stepmother, and wife, Justine has come a long way from juggling three jobs. She’s launched her own business endeavors, including the jewelry line “Brown Sugar,” and in early 2007, she published the children’s book, “God can you hear me?” The two have become a great example of how a couple coming from different means can work as a team to make even bigger dreams come true.
Denzel Washington and Pauletta Pearson
Denzel Washington and his beautiful wife Pauletta Pearson met on the set of Wilma, his first television screen work, and this would be the first and last time he laid eyes on a woman that could complete him in every way. The couple married On June 25, 1983 and went on to have four children, all of which they have inspired and led into great directions — some even the entertainment industry.
Although an actress herself, Pauletta Pearson’s main role is being a supportive and loving wife and mother to her world famous actor, film director, and film producer husband, Denzel. A successful man is nothing without a strong successful woman by his side, and Pauletta is the definition of that. She keeps him grounded, and even after 29 years of marriage they still hold that twinkle in their eyes for each other. Together, as devoted Christians, they contribute to various numbers of charities and humanitarian organizations, including the Grace Kelly Foundation.
Phaedra Parks and Apollo Nida
Here stands another fierce, classy and well known lady of the RHOA, Phaedra Parks. The Southern beauty with brain, booty and a lot of business, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Wesleyan College in 1993 and a law degree from the University of Georgia in 1998. As a high profile, entertainment lawyer Phaedra represented a number of celebs, including Bobby Brown, so it’s no wonder it’s her prerogative who she decides to marry. The lucky man, Apollo Nida, isn’t exactly who you would picture this southern belle with though.
Although they met in 1995 while Apollo worked in asset recovery, he had a past — a criminal one. Apollo served almost five months from December 29, 1998 to May 14, 1999 for theft by receiving stolen goods in March 1997, and according to public records, he was convicted for racketeering and began serving another sentence July 28, 2004. He served nearly five years of his 18-year sentence before being paroled on May 27, 2009. But for him and Phaedra, its not about your past but your future. The two married on November 1, 2009, brought their son, Ayden Adonis Nida, into the world on May 2010, and Phaedra announced on December 28, 2012 that baby number two is on the way. Not to mention they are in the works of releasing an exercise DVD together titled: Phine Body. Who ever said love, good influence, and a good ol’ southern peach couldn’t balance a person out?
Catherine and Dewey Hughes
Named entrepreneur of the year by the company Ernst & Young, Catherine Hughes is an example of success all black women should take pride in. A business mogul, Hughes founded Radio One in 1979, growing it into the largest Black-owned radio chain in the country with 53 stations across 16 markets, oversaw it as CEO for 17 years, then launched its sister network, TV One, in partnership with Comcast in 2004. Her then-husband, Dewey Hughes then entered enter her lane when he bought AM radio station WOL 1450 in Washington, D.C. The couple took over the airwaves with force, giving sistas and brothas a choice and voice in everyday music and media.
Lebron James and Savannah Brinson
Mr. Male Athlete of the Year, aka “King James,” is not only tall, talented, and funny but admirable too. In his hometown of Akron, OH, he was highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA superstar, so it was no surprise that directly after high school he was selected as the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft. What makes this man admirable above all this is his devotion to his high school sweetheart and mother of his two adorable sons, Savannah.
When their eyes met in the hallways of St. Vincent – St. Mary High School, they would stick together way through the years of puppy love, spotlight, and media interference. This duo is truly the meaning of a fairy tale. and as she lives the luxurious life as you would expect of any basketball player’s wife, she doesn’t let it get to her head as she seems to be shy in the spotlight, not worrying about primping for the camera but being a devoted mother and wife.
Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham
Oh how we love Oprah. What’s not to love about a woman who has overcome so many obstacles to now be the only black billionaire in America. As a media proprietor, actress, producer, and as some would say talk show host — though I would say ‘life coach’ and inspirational philanthropist — there’s no stopping Oprah. A woman like this doesn’t only deserve but needs a man who can keep up with her and love her not only for her fame and success, but for everything she has to offer as a strong black woman.
Stedman Graham has filled those shoes for more than two decades. Standing at 6’6, the ex-basketball player and sportswear model, captured Oprah’s heart in the 80’s when a local newspaper sold her out for a measly $20,000. Since then, the duo has been inseparable with Oprah once stating in an interview, “I do not know another man on this planet who could have lived this life with such dignity, such grace, and such respect and humility in it, and still hold his own and be his own.” That can’t be easy to do dating a world-renowned media mogul, but Oprah hardly needs to foot the bill for her partner who is a successful author, educator, and business man in his own right.
Samuel L. Jackson and LaTanya Richardson
One of the highest paid and ranked black male actors in America, Samuel L. Jackson can be seen everywhere and in everything. If there’s a film worth seeing he’s in it! As a film/television actor and film producer who attended Morehouse College for acting, this man reinforces the fact that intelligent, influential black men exist. And his marriage to LaTanya Richardson in 1980 gives us something else to smile about. A sports channel producer and actress herself, LaTanya met Samuel while she was enrolled at Spellman. In 1982, they had their daughter Zoe, and though the camera rolls have caught Samuel in various character parts over the years, his role as a humanitarian beside his wife of 20-plus years takes center stage. In 2009, they started their own charitable organization to help support education, proving that LaTanya is far from just a trophy wife.
Barack and Michelle Obama
For a second term, African Americans are able to relish in the promising reality that our president is black and we couldn’t be happier; not merely because of the color of Barack Obama’s skin, but because of the depth of his drive, intelligence, determination and devotion to this country. And on top of all that, the woman that stands by his side was the driving force that got him to where he now stands today.
With Princeton University and Harvard Law School degrees under her arm, Michelle first met Barack when she was assigned to mentor him as a summer associate at a law firm in Chicago. Yes that’s right, she mentored the man we call President today! Barack’s intelligent, assertive, and articulate words impressed Michelle and from there they made history. She would go on to not only work alongside him, after giving up her career, but to be the key to his election after Americans fell in love with her. Married in October 1992, and bringing their daughters, Malia Ann and Natasha, into the world, this family has given everyday working class families something to strive for.