When my friend recommended the book “Marry Him: The Case For Settling,”a couple of years back, she assumed she was doing me the favor of putting all my fantasies of true love to rest. She raved about the book and endorsed the principals espoused by the controversial author Lori Gottlieb. The 40-something and then-single author basically talked about her experience with creating more practical and complementary standards to attract a mate, after years of being too picky. You’d think my friend was in the singles scene herself or someone who had benefitted from the book directly, but in actuality, she had already been married for two years by the time she read the book.
What I understood immediately is that the book assuaged her own doubts about her marriage. Let me get cliche here and say that my friend “Kyra” seemed to have it all from the outside: a man who not only loved her but also looked good and held down a lucrative career. Only problem is that her feelings didn’t come close to his. And that sad reality was not only stressful for him, I had assumed, but was also uncomfortable for our mutual group of friends. While we were out, we’d have to witness Kyra being rude to her husband. It was like another side of her came out when he was around – a side that we never had to experience when she was without him.
She always brought up the idea of divorcing her husband to me. But as soon as she listed off the many reasons why she couldn’t fathom being with him much longer, she considered her options…or what she deemed were her options. I know that Kyra relied on her the experiences of those women around her to gauge whether she was making the right decision. After all, she was someone for whom money was very important. She needed a certain lifestyle and she knew that her husband and his income marked a rare combination amongst Black men.
Did it help that many of her friends were out in the dating world, and lamenting the lack of great connections and men over weekly Sunday brunches? Did it help that many people praised her for being with such a great guy? Did it help that every week, a news story is published about the devastating plight of unmarried Black women?
It certainly didn’t help her situation. What seemed to be a very challenging decision for her seemed simple to me. She was unhappy; she was unhappy before she decided to marry him, she was unhappy near her wedding day, and she’s been unhappy ever since. Kyra saw herself as a prisoner of circumstances. I know she thought about what would happen if divorced him and was worse off in terms of options? That’s a crazy notion if I ever heard one. What does it matter that you’re slightly better off financially or status wise if you are semi-depressed day to day?
Kyra wants me to coax her to leave her husband, but like I wrote about earlier, I refuse to give hardline relationship advice to my friends. I can only tell her that she can’t base her decisions on her perceptions of others or fears of the unknown. Black women are constantly inundated with this news about being unmarryable and inundated with stats showing that we will be worse off than our non-black counterparts when it comes to love. But on the very personal level, it’s untrue. We create our own realities and perpetuating the negative assertions pushed forth by the media only sets us up to fail. We all know this, right? I hope so. But I have to admit, I’m guilty at using situations of friends to confirm my own beliefs such as…I won’t marry someone if I’m not in love, for the sake of escaping “being alone.”
Have you had friends in these situations or experienced this yourself? Sound off in the comments below!
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