My friend in my head, life coach/author/speaker Shanel Cooper-Sykes was on a panel last night entitled, “Why Black Men Don’t Get Married.” It was hosted by Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant of The Empowerment Temple in Baltimore and streamed live.
Bryant was the moderator who preached a short message before opening the floor for questions from the panel. The panel consisted of five women, all of whom were ministers and/or authors (not sure why no men were on the panel). Below I share some tidbits of advice from the panel based on random questions from the audience.
Note: These quotes are not all-inclusive, and I’ve interjected a few notes. Unfortunately I did not catch the names of all the panelists, so in fairness, I will not credit anyone at this time.
Men are not getting married because women are not requiring it. We are giving a man everything of ourselves and not requiring anything in return. [Daree's note: not requiring does not mean the same thing as not asking.] Stop shacking. Make requirements and put them on a list.
Each partner should set boundaries and respect them.
Sex [on its own] is not intimacy. It’s extremely important in a marriage bed, but intimacy is a powerful, awesome, wonderful experience when you are willing to be humble, submitted, and surrendered. Be creative! Explore your options within the marriage. [Daree: This was in response to a question from a viewer who was married and has not had sex with her husband in 19 months.]
You’re so independent, ladies. If your attitude is, “I don’t need a man,” then why would he show up in your life? We need to replace being independent with being self-sufficient. We need to tell brothers, “I need you. Not saying that I’m needy, but I need you.” [Daree's comment: Reminds me of Jill Scott's sentiment in her song on the Beautifully Human album, "The Fact Is (I Need You)."]
Some of us ladies are just tired. Believe me, we all are not like that [acting as if we don't need a man]. We don’t wanna pay the bills, we don’t wanna wash the car. Us women want us to exhale and say, “You do it, please!” [Daree's comment: *with both hands raised* AMEN!!!]
When to Stay, When to Go
We have to practice our patience, women. Sometimes you have to tarry a little bit. We have to have discernment. You should find your forehead ashy, lying prostrate, praying for all the men in your life. Our brothas need us. Prayer has got to take over.
Real love means you will make an investment. If you want to be a wife, ask yourself, ‘What am I willing to sacrifice so that someone else can become their best self?’ When they become their best self, they can bring out the best in me. The responsibility of relationships involves cost. It costs to love and be loved, and we have to be willing to make that sacrifice.
Look in the Mirror
Forgive your father [if he abandoned/hurt/abused you]. Ask God to help you love yourself.
If you’re operating out of fear then you cannot receive. In order to receive, be still. Be still and know that I am God. Be still. You’ve got too many voices.
Just be. Don’t worry about how much you have to give, or whether it’s too much. Practice being and not giving.
Get yourself some mentors. I have a mentor for every aspect of life, for every goal I’m trying to achieve.
It’s OK to be a little vulnerable. But let go in proportion to the commitment. A little for a boyfriend, and little more for a fiance, and let go a lot more when he’s your husband.
Marriage vows mention ‘for better or for worse.’ What could be the worst? Be real and write it down. [Daree: Don't take it lightly or ignore it. I know from experience, if you don't confront it early on, it may happen and you WILL have to deal with the ramifications.]
Positioning and Purpose
The safest place for a woman is in her purpose. Ruth was working in a field. She didn’t even see Boaz at first, and didn’t try to attract him. Go after your passion and your purpose. Whoever is for you will see you doing it. You wanna be so busy doing you that he has to chase you down and overtake you because you are so focused on your destiny and your goal, that he’ll see it and want to help you and compliment you. He will show up.
If you delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
Single moms: You don’t have to place yourself in the role of mother and father. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. Your child deserves to have a father figure and learn what a man is supposed to be from another man.
Pastor Bryant closed with a few brief remarks before dismissing the event in prayer:
“Whatever you do, don’t lower your standards. There’s a crown above your head that you have not yet grown tall enough to wear. God has set standards for your life. There is a temptation to settle for less than your call. But don’t just settle for a good man or a good woman. Don’t stop until you get the greatest thing God has for you life.”
Do you have anything you would add to this topic of why men (Black, White, or whatever) are not getting married (or staying married) as much these days? Sound off.