Similarly, B. Araba Essien, the single thirty-something mother, artist and entrepreneur behind B. Araba Photography, agrees that marriage is worth it with all its pitfalls and risks. However, she fears that some black women are not finding love because they are focusing on a potential mate’s height, titles and wealth instead of trying to foster a meaningful connection. She elaborated, “marriage is worth it for black women, but we must keep our options, minds, as well as our hearts, truly open.”
I could not agree more with Araba’s determination to focus on establishing a meaningful connection. As human beings we all long to feel loved by and deeply connected with other human beings. There is something unique about the love and connection that marriage provides because of its nature as a public commitment to engage in an exclusive relationship based on both sexual and emotional intimacy. This special intimacy often allows marriage to be a place where old wounds are exposed and current vulnerabilities emerge.
Spouses are called to be sources of love, healing and encouragement for one another. It can be wonderful to wake up with a fellow adult and go to sleep with that same adult and to know that you have an earthly partner on this not-so easy journey called life. Additionally, there may be an elevated sense of freedom in expressing and exploring your deepest of sexual desires with someone who has officially promised to love you for life.
Lurie Daniel-Favors, a married consumer rights attorney, mother and author of the upcoming book Afro State of Mind, Memoirs of a Nappy Headed Black Girl, embraces this idea of marriage being primarily about connection rather than a system of economic support or labor-sharing — which tends to be how the act is evaluated in recent reports. “For the first time in modern history, marriage can be about two equals coming together to create a union between their personal and life visions. Now that I no longer need a husband, I can truly enjoy the husband that I chose,” Lurie told theGrio.
Indeed, as a married woman I can truly say that my husband and child are sources of great enjoyment. No, marriage is not easy and it may not agree with everyone. Decision-making regarding financial obligations, household chores and child-rearing approaches can be contentious. Each spouse’s mood-swings, ego-trips, silent treatments or screaming fits can wreak emotional havoc on both partners. But in my experience, these negatives do not destroy the tremendous human value and joy of this age-old institution for any group of people, including black women.
Yes, when you look at the numbers, and weigh them against the alternative of permanent singledom, the struggle for marriage might seem pointless to many of us. But children and friends cannot replace real adult intimacy. It might be harder for us to find that real connection — regardless of whether you are gay, straight, or your “marriage” is more one of minds than on paper.
But don’t give up the fight or the dream based on statistics, if it’s something you want to make a reality.
Ama Yawson is a co-founder of Loveessence.com, a romantic networking site for black women who are ready for love and men of all races who are ready to love them in return. Ms. Yawson was inspired to create loveessence.com because of her own experiences in discovering romantic love. Ms. Yawson earned a BA from Harvard University, an MBA from the Wharton School and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.