I was never a real follower of Braxton Family Values or its spinoff series, Tamar and Vince over the years. However, I’ve been drawn to the latter show as of late since Tamar Braxton and Vince Herbert’s relationship issues went from just being played out in the public eye, to making headlines. To better understand her reasons for wanting to end a 14-year-long marriage and to see if Herbert displayed the type of behaviors he’s been accused of by not only his estranged wife but also his mother-in-law, Evelyn Braxton, I’ve been tuning in to the latest season. And let’s just say that things, at least in the last few months of this year, were quite rocky for the pair.
I was particularly intrigued by a conversation that took place during last night’s episode, where the topic of being independent within a marriage was brought up and caused quite the disagreement in front of friends.
The couple was supposed to be taking a trip to Mexico to try and get away from work and focus on their relationship. However, Braxton invited pretty much everyone who works for her on the trip, including her publicist, hair stylist (and his friend), and fashion stylist. That was something Herbert was already unhappy about.
But he had another thing to be unhappy about when during conversation with all of these people over dinner, Braxton shared her regrets about not being able to operate independently on anything within her marriage.
“Vince, do you wish someone would have told us about the dangers of velcro?” she asked after her stylist stated that he wished he had someone to share his career success with. “I wish someone would have sat us down and talked to us about the danger of velcro. Velcro, like when you’re always around the person, you don’t do nothing without the person. When you’re around somebody all of the time, 24/7, how do you grow? How do you still be the same person, the person they fell in love with?”
As she would say in a confessional, Herbert was not only her husband, but, of course, also her manager, agent and “baby fath-inger,” and not having space from him in any realm of her life was proving to have a negative effect on their marriage. But Herbert disagreed.
“When you love somebody and you want to be around them, that’s who you want to be around. All of the time,” he said during the dinner. “When did that change for you? After 14 years, when did that change?”
In true Braxton fashion, she responded by saying, “When I started feeling like I’m at the Waffle House, scattered, smothered and covered.”
And in response, he put his head down into his arms and said, in front of everyone, “Shut the f–k up.”
Obviously, the conversation didn’t go well. However, that didn’t mean that she didn’t make a great point. As time passes and people get older in a relationship, their desires change because they change. She wanted to keep the love and change the relationship because she’d grown up and realized that being glued to him romantically and in business, wasn’t working.
“You lose your individuality,” she said in a confessional. “Once somebody stops looking at you as an individual, sometimes they lose their respect for you. You don’t want that.”
But as Herbert would reveal later in the episode, when it comes to the velcro way of operating, “that’s what love is to me.”
So is wanting to have your independence, individuality and space in a marriage a bad thing? Does it mean you weren’t as ready for your partnership as you thought?
I often wonder about this as a newly-married person. While I’ve made certain sacrifices for my relationship, none that I really regret, there are some things I feel that are expected of me sometimes that can be unfair. Outside of the two of us, I’m often given the side-eye by people who know my husband and know that I still go to and sing for my home Baptist church while occasionally attending his Pentecostal church. I’ve been asked, “So you two are going to worship at different places?” and “How does that work when you are a family and unit?” How dare I do anything without the unit?
And within the walls of my home, I’ve been questioned about wanting to travel home to visit my family without my husband, desiring to connect with my sisters, brothers, parents, nieces and nephews without worrying about who is accompanying me and what they feel like doing. The response to such desires (before eventually giving in and agreeing that I should go) was, “I just want to remind you that you have family here now.”
It can be tough. I’m a firm believer that just because people are married doesn’t mean every aspect of their life has to be intertwined. I think of my sister who had no qualms with taking a sabbatical from work and traveling with her best friend and even by herself across Africa for two weeks – not with her husband and son. Or my brother, who spends entire Sundays pretty much every week with friends instead of winding down and preparing for the new work week with his wife and son. When my mother thinks of their way of doing things, she calls them “busy bodies” and often worries, but I see it as them carving out something for themselves in order to be whole for their partners. His friends don’t have to be your friends. His interests don’t have to be your interests. You don’t have to spend every moment together. But at the end of the day, you should know that what brings you together and keeps everything going is the love and commitment to the relationship. It’s the center, but it can’t be everything and the only thing.
So for Braxton, it’s not a surprise that she would feel suffocated by her husband. They had to do everything together, and when they had disagreements about the business side of things, it would turn into insults and creep over into the romantic side of things. Her desire for space, in the hopes that it would save her marriage, was her last stand, and when he didn’t agree on the idea, there was nowhere to go but downhill from there.
In the end, we all know that when you marry, they say two come together as one. And while that can be literal (in money, sharing a home and creating a child), that is also a figurative statement. It takes two independent people, happy and whole by themselves, to come together and be a strong force. So if you ask me (and possibly Tamar Braxton), it makes no sense to expect that as you come together as one, the need for self-expression, self-fulfillment and yes, space, will go out of the window with singlehood…
But per the usual, that’s just my opinion. What say you? Is it wrong to want space to grow as an individual in a marriage? Or is it necessary?