Dear married women, single women aren’t your enemy

Recent comments made by singer-actress Kierra Sheard-Kelly resurface battle lines between single and married women.

Kierra Sheard-Kelly recently shared the boundaries she has in place when it comes to her single friends and her husband.

Gospel singer and actress Kierra Sheard-Kelly
Photo: Getty Images

While interviewing Sheard-Kelly in promotion of her new movie Line Sisters, Page Six’s Tashara Jones asked the newlywed, who recently celebrated her first anniversary, about the marital advice she’s received from her mother, gospel music icon Karen Clark-Sheard. Regarding letting friends stay at her home, Sheard-Kelly said her mother told her to be careful about who she allows into her space now that she’s married. Pressing further, Jones specifically asked Sheard-Kelly about her willingness to trust her “close friends” around her husband, given the type of drama we’ve collectively become accustomed to seeing on scripted “reality” television shows.

“I don’t care how you trust them or whatever it is, I’m very mindful and careful. I would buy a friend a hotel room before I let them stay at my house,” Sheard-Kelly told Jones. She went on to say that, as a prayerful person, it’s equally as important for her to discern what role she should play in a friend’s need for housing.

“Am I supposed to let them into my home?” she asked, adding: “Because we, as believers, we believe that what we have we are supposed to share with others—but I’m not sharing my man. Since I’m not sharing my man, I have to be cautious with everything else that I share, as far as with him being there, too.”

There was much fruit in discussing what it might look like to help a friend in need—something we all need to think through regardless of our marital status. But when presented as “Can you really trust your girl around your man?” it continues to position Black women as the problem, and aren’t we all tired of that?

The majority of my closest homegirls are married and, for the record,  I’ve stayed with each of them. Ranging from a quick overnight stay for work, to a weekend of total shenanigans, to a month of caring for her family as she recuperated from a major surgery, my girls have welcomed me into their homes while their husbands have been there.

Here’s the truth, though: when your girl is married, things are inherently different and the vast majority of us who are single know and respect that.

We’re aware of the unspoken, proper etiquette when staying with our married homegirl. We’re wearing the loose-fitting granny pajamas and not the thirst-trap, social media post-worthy two-piece short set we took on our girls’ trip. The robe we packed isn’t the satin one we found on sale at Macy’s but the seafoam green with blue daisies button-down joint from Walmart. And we never go into the common areas of the house without being fully clothed…and that includes our bra. Unless invited into it, their bedroom is off-limits—and even then, we’re not sitting on the bed.

Again, your “close friends”—your girls, your day-ones, your ride-or-dies, they all know this. So what is this really about?

For many of us, the church taught that marriage is the ultimate goal. It doesn’t matter what we accomplish in this life, it is for naught until a man comes along and chooses us to be his wife. And, when he does, we must protect that distinction at all costs because the devil hates marriage and will use anyone to destroy it—including the single friend who was your prayer partner when you both were longing for companionship.

So, the homegirl who was good enough to fast with you in hopes of you attracting your husband— and then paid $500 for a dress, shoes, hair and makeup to be a bridesmaid is now unable to be a guest in your home because she can’t be trusted? Not because she said anything. Not because you caught her looking at him out of the corner of her eye or because she asked you to send a picture of him in some grey sweatpants. She can’t be trusted simply because you got married before she did?

The “keep single women away from around your husband” is not a new narrative; it’s just an old and tired one. Too many of us watched our single mothers’ friends treat them differently once they got married and we’ve also felt the sting of the same. We roll our eyes at their attempts to be the new #christianrelationshipgoals couple on social media and become exhausted by the ways they don’t break the molds that have done so much damage but instead fully embody them.  

While I’m glad Sheard-Kelly also spoke to a single woman’s ability to be wise counsel in the videotaped conversation with Jones, I wonder what it would mean to take greater inventory of how what we say actually might betray what we believe. Your girl asking if you’d be willing to lend her your spare bedroom for a minute isn’t the same as her asking if you’d lend her your husband. The belief that we must look at women with a measure of skepticism because of what a man might do, while never holding that man to the same level of scrutiny, is what continues to feed our insecurities and leaves the depths of our most meaningful relationships wanting.

Our homegirls have been there for us long before our dudes came into the picture. When he messes up—as he inevitably will, whether in a minor or major way—they will be right there. And God forbid the relationship has to come to an end, our girls will be there when he leaves. If a ring causes our gaze to now shift and view them as our enemies, perhaps we should reevaluate the ring, the one who gave it to us and why we feel like we need it so much.

Candice Marie Benbow is theGrio’s daily lifestyle, education and health writer. She’s also the author of Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @candicebenbow.

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