If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say “Marriage is work” well, I’d never have to work again.
It’s always said as though nothing else in life takes work. Work is defined as an “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.” By that definition, we work all the time. Sometimes, getting out of bed in the morning takes serious effort. To me, cooking is a lot of work. I have a boatload of clothes to fold later tonight and that is work. Trying to keep up with the fast-paced dialogue on ABC’s Scandal is work. Not to mention the actual work I have to do in order to get a paycheck next week.
When people say marriage is work, they’re often saying that as a bad thing. It takes some mental and physical effort to maintain any human relationship – including marriage – but that effort isn’t necessarily undesirable considering it’s possible for work to also be fun.
We don’t talk about the good aspects of marriage though because we’re too busy talking about the negatives or ignoring the partnership completely. I’m not sure if Black people are really against marriage as much as they say or if it’s just a, “I’m not fired because I quit” sort of response to the statistics that say marriage isn’t in the cards for a substantial amount of our people.
I was thinking about this after reading the latest Ebony magazine and their list of 100 Ways to Jumpstart Your Life. Called the “Black Woman’s Guide to Having Everything You Ever Wanted”, the list is extensive. It includes basics but good reminders such as “refresh your wardrobe”, “make a vision board” and “forgive,” along with thinkers such as “begin again”, “forge your own path” and “start a movement.” However, among advice such as “go back to school” and “become a mom” there was no suggestion to “get married.” This perplexed me.
Given an opportunity to talk about the positive impact marriage can have on a woman’s life, the topic was totally skipped. There are some women who never want to get married, sure. There are also some women who never want to be a mom (married or not). So if we can talk about the benefits of being a mom, certainly we can acknowledge the benefits of being a wife. In fact, being a mom seems to require a lot more work and sacrifice in one day than being a wife ever requires in a lifetime.
Don’t get me wrong, marriage is give and take. Sometimes, you have to compromise and make sacrifices to make the other person happy, but sometimes, sacrifices are made to make you happy. Sometimes, marriage is him converting a spare room into your own dream closet, or him watching endless Friends marathons on Nick at Nite until he’s laughing along with you. Sometimes, marriage is him picking up the bread on the way home because you don’t feel like going back out, or him having to eat weird fat -free snacks because you’re on a health kick. Sometimes, marriage is his combined income helping you to afford the new iPhone 5 while still having enough money for savings. Sometimes, marriage is him texting you a new job opportunity or reminding you where you left your keys. Sometimes, it’s him warming up your side of the bed while you’re wrapping your hair at night or listening to you tell him stories about people he’s never met. Sometimes, marriage is him dropping you off at the front door during a rainstorm or running to put gas in your car while you’re getting ready for work. Sometimes, marriage is him leaving you alone to write while he cuts the grass, straightens the bedroom and takes out the trash. Sometimes, marriage is you using every dish in the cupboard to cook a single meal and he washes the dishes afterward. Sometimes, marriage is an awesome partnership.
We always hear high-powered career women crediting their success to their single state, but marriage can help women reach their career goals (and beyond) as well. A husband can be your most enthusiastic supporter and biggest fan even when no one else is supporting you. Sure being married means having to care about someone else, but it also means having someone care about you day in and day out. If that means putting in some work, sign me up because that kind of love will certainly jumpstart a life.
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