Guest Editorial: Is marriage important to Black families?

by Dr. Yaounde Olu

We live in a changing world, and one truth of this situation is that yesterday is not quite like today! Regarding marriage, many people have the goal of finding a prince or princess charming, someone with whom they can live their lives for the duration of their existence on Earth. Sometimes people find that special someone, but very often they don’t.
 
Marriage, occasionally called matrimony, wedlock, or just plain getting hitched, is important because it establishes rights and obligations between people. It unites families and their respective resources. There was a time when marriage was not about love, per se; it was about the uniting of kingdoms, dynasties and more. The idea of people falling in love was sometimes a collateral benefit.
 
Marriage tends to provide economic well-being; it is true that, for the most part, families where there are two partners raising children fare better economically and socially than those headed by single persons. Unfortunately, today, many Black communities are faced with a plethora of single parent households and generally, this circumstance has tragic economic consequences.
 
One thing that exacerbates this situation is trends in popular culture, especially the more negative aspects of hip hop music, to express divisive sentiments about marriage.
 
There was a time in years past when popular music was about love and romance. Today, that idea appears to be rare; love and marriage does not seem to be the goal of the post-millennial cohort. Currently, when the music is not focused on people dissing or killing each other, the emphasis tends to be on sex, on the physical aspect of life and not on love.
 
The latter idea can be seen among men AND women; yet it is certain that families with both parents are in a better position to raise successful offspring if the partners have adopted positive values. Nowadays, as previously stated, a growing number of young Blacks don’t see marriage as an asset.
 
In addition to the negative influences of popular culture, this might be due to the trend away from spirituality that has become the hallmark of our society. Marriage has traditionally been connected with religion. As the world appears to be devolving into materialism, there seems to be an attendant exodus from churches.
 
Now, it must be understood that there is a difference between “religion” and “spirituality.” Organized religion comes with rules and regulations that must be followed in order for a person to remain in good standing with an organized religious institution. It may or may not embody a wide range of spiritual values.
 
The focus on rules and not on spirituality may be chasing some people away from religion and the institution of marriage. While there is the trend where marriage is not valued, it is also true that there is a basic yearning for connection with a “soul mate” even among the most jaded of individuals. For that reason, it is doubtful that marriage will ever actually go out of style.
 
One of the most important ingredients needed when looking for a partner is that values are aligned. If people are not equally yoked, the marriage is doomed to failure. Yet there is a tendency among many younger people to place value on money and superficial appearances at the expense of basic compatibility.
 
Recently, there was an online conversation among men and women who seemed to agree that men should dominate women and that women who are educated are detrimental to families. The people in question felt that women should be subservient and allow men to control the life of families. The latter may fit some situations, after all, one size does not fit all. But as we evolve as human beings, we will find that each partner must bring something important to a union that adds value to it.
 
One more thing; because of an imbalance in numbers between males and females in Black communities, a movement is afoot advocating polygamous unions wherein men partner with multiple women. These unions are not always successful, however, for a number of reasons. The most important of these is that balance is necessary, and that tends to happen best when two individuals who realize their own worth come together.
 

With that said, the question remains: is marriage important to Black families? Whether you think it is or not, families united by marriage will tend to fare better than those without; and this could have great benefits for the success of Black communities as a whole. A Luta Continua.

Reprinted from the Chicago Crusader

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