TO HAVE, TO HOLD, TO COMPROMISE
THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
BY Sylvia TruGem Warren Woods
Statistically, marriage has become less common among African Americans. According to the U.S. Census, African American households are the least likely to contain a married couple, compared to other racial/ethnic groups. Marriage appears to contribute greatly to the economic well-being of African-American families. During the last decades, the rates of marriage in the black community have declined while the rates of divorce, separation, cohabitation, out-of-wedlock births, and children residing in female-headed households have increased (http://www.healthymarriageinfo.org.) With that, more than ever, America needs the Black family. So what happened? There are many factors to consider obviously but I’ll speak on one issue; longevity.
Our parents, grandparents and great grandparents knew what it was like to stick it out. If they were having problems, it was nobody’s business but their own. If they no longer loved each other, they saved face by acting normal yet slept in separate beds. If there were any indiscretions it was hushed and not flashed around town. Were the methods they used effective? Yes. Some methods of course weren’t ideal, but were still effective and ultimately saved the family. Today, sticking it out and making it work seems to be a past time in the Black community. The words “I do” should possess permanent power. Those words were not taken lightly then and shouldn’t be taken lightly now with what seems to be a combination of a self and societal annihilation of the Black family. Traditional vows are widely held and highly respected by many, including myself, however I do believe the willingness to compromise should be a part of a tradition the Black family seems to have lost in the ruins over the years.
A marriage is sure to fail without compromise. Can compromise take place when two people aren’t happy and neither are willing to find out why? Not likely. Can compromise take place when one person feels they are always right and the other is always wrong? Won’t happen. Can compromise take place when one person’s flesh begins to cloud their judgment on what’s best for the family? Not ever. Can compromise take place between two people who haven’t a clue how to not only suffer but also accept the trials and tribulations that seem to go hand in hand in marriage? Not likely.
Love is equally important in a marriage but even it is not possible without the willingness to brave the waves, walk over coal, take a few punches and sustain a few setbacks all with the willingness to repeatedly take one for the team.
Compromise, stronger than love.
Sylvia TruGem Warren Woods