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I want to get married. Realizing that has taken 28 years.
No one knew Kerry Washington was dating Nnamdi Asomugha let alone had we suspected she’d secretly gotten married. Everyone who follows pop culture knew Janet Jackson was dating billionaire Wissam Al Mana, but the couple managed to keep their marriage a secret for months. Women laud celebrities like Kerry, Janet and yes, Beyonce, for being notoriously private with their love lives. Social media has made it so it’s incredibly easy for people to think they know you/your life so I get it, but I’m the exact opposite of Janet and crew. When I’m in love you will know. That’s not to say you’ll know my business; it is to say I have no problem expressing love publicly for the person I’m with. There are two reasons I’ve begun questioning whether or not I should. One is because people put those who are calculatingly private with their relationships on a pedestal. The other is my love and I work in the same industry which comes with nosey lurkers looking to be messy. More importantly I NEVER want anyone to think I owe my success to him. All that said, thank God for couples like Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker and Salim and Mara Brock Akil who choose to share their truths with the hopes people can take away something from their unions.
For 45 minutes host Tanika Ray spoke to married couples Boris Kodjoe and Nicole Ari Parker along with Salim and Mara Brock Akil who were all brutally honest about what makes their eight and 14 year respective unions work for them. Their candidness about the issues they individually have is refreshing. Everyone has issues, even rich folks. Both Nicole and Boris had just gotten out of relationships with baggage. Although they’d already fallen in love they stepped back, taking a nine month break and went to therapy separately. Salim suffers from depression–which he self-medicates with weed–and Mara has abandonment issues. Boris and Salim grew up without fathers and had to heal from that pain before being the great men, partners and dads they are now. Nicole grew up seeing her partners argue all the time so she thought it was ok to yell and storm out. Boris had to shut that down by letting her know what he wouldn’t tolerate.
In my own life I’d always loved love despite not being sold on the benefits of marriage for women. Droves of little girls still wearing barrettes fantasized about the day they’d walk down the aisle finally trading their family given last name for a brand new or hyphenated one. Coming from a strong matriarchal family I never gave marriage much thought, nor did I think it was beneficial for women. As a feminist I saw marriage as solely benefitting a man since the woman would most likely still have to work, clean, cook and be the main child caretaker. Marriage doesn’t guarantee your husband will be active in any of the above. And if it ended in divorce? The woman was screwed.
Both my maternal and paternal grandparents are married to this day. But my mom had never been married (and has no interest at this point), both of my godmothers have never been married, my Dad’s sister has never been married and my mom’s sister has been married and divorced twice. These were all smart, double degreed, home-owning, kind, cooking, traveling, fun women who’d lived full lives without a life partner. Get married for what? was the motto. After some self-examination I’d realized my views on marriage had more to do with a fear of not being a good wife due to the lack of examples I saw. I’d also never been in a relationship longer than two years. My grandparents marriages works for them, I suppose, but it wasn’t what I wanted for my own life.
The BET Experience: Couples Revealed reminded me that everyone comes to the table with their bullshit; and after saying ‘I Do’ is when the real work starts. If nothing else it’s inspiring to see married black folks being transparent. It sure beats that 44% of black women have never been married tired headline. As for me, no wedding bells in my near future. I’m working on myself to make sure I’m the best me for when that day comes.
“You are taking away your energy to do what you came here to do.” – Mara Akil on wasting energy thinking your partner’s going to leave you
“People too often leave the ship before they give themselves and partner a chance to work through something that could make their marriage stronger.” – Boris Kodjoe
“Working with Mara is a continuation of our relationship. We’re both friends. We like spending time together.” – Salim Akil
“You got to remove our past out of our future.” – Boris Kodjoe