The highest expression of love is to accept without exception.
These are the words I try to remember as I patiently wade through marital problems with my husband of 7 years.
It's amazing when I think about the many women in my circle who are currently having or have had marital problems. The reasons range from financial irresponsibility and stress to drugs and legal problems. Many of us are educated, thirty-somethings with all of the benefits of our parents' hard work. The home, the cars, the private school education for our children or the public school in the best districts. And, though we are not dealing with what our mothers dealt with - physical and mental abuse, intimidation, abandonment - many of of us still find ourselves looking up at the corner of Disappointment Ave. and Frustration St. And, when looking for guidance on which way to go, we are reminded of the statistics of success, I mean lack there of. With these reminders many decide to just stay there or take "I Can Do Bad All by Myself" Blvd. instead of riding or walking a little further to find that "A Litle Bit of Lovely" Circle and the "Other Side of Through" Lane are just up ahead.
But, how do you stay focused on what seems like a "forever journey." When looking for encouragement, you are hard pressed to find it. Whether it's the words of your family - I remember "stuck on stupid" as one description for me - to the dismal conversations that always include reference to "the out clause ," there is not enough encouragement for Black marriages to stay together. The are many more examples of getting rid of him or her and doing it all by yourself. And, while that works for some people, I am trying to stay focused on the course of staying married.
My girlfriend recently said to me, "I don't see why you and your husband have problems, with all of the patience and understanding you have." Well, I do have patience and understanding. But, that does me little good if my husband can't see it and acknowledge the value in it. If he stays focused on my faults - my emotional eating problem (a gift from my New Orleans cultural heritage), my lack of financial saavy (I'm getting better though), my lack of June Cleaver homekeeping skills (I've just decided we need a cleaning service to meet his neat-freak standards), my sarcastic and flippant mouth (a gift from my family of strong women. I'm getting better though), my laid back personality (in contrast to his Type "A" personality), it's difficult to see the forest of goodness through the trees of pettiness.
But, the positive side of my faults are the these things that attracted him - i.e. I can cook a mean meal; I am a rock in a crisis; I'm loyal, always looking for solutions; I'm strong yet gentle, beautiful, intelligent; and I have a soothing, loving, comforting spirit based in faith. If he can just remember me in this struggle we can make it through.
And, if I can just remember the man that he is beyond his faults, we'll make it through. Remember who he is beyond all the frustration I see. Remember he's one of the smartest people I know. He's financially savvy. He's driven. He's focused. He has a big heart (This man was a Big Brother when he wasn't married and didn't have children as well as coached a soccer team of 10 year old girls at the Y in a Black neighborhood that was and is 25 miles from his house.) He's loyal. He's handsome. He can be so sexy. His strength. His contribution to these two beautiful babies we have. He takes care of the bills every month. Family is very important to him. And, most importantly, he loves us (even though he doesn't say it much). And hopefully, he's speaking to me after reading this. He's very private.
Don't get me wrong, he gets on my last nerve with his stuff. He doesn't listen. He tries to be controlling. He's stubborn. He can be close minded. He can be selfish, self-righteous. And sometimes, when I am reminded that he is far from my ideal physically, I think about some of the offers that have come my way.
"Truth is, I'm not the reason you're so angry. Truth is, you're not the
reason I'm so passive."
And, even though we are not the picture perfect couple right now, I look forward to the other side of the prayers and tears, which is waaaaaay past the fights about money, the emotional disconnection, the power struggles.
I can't say how that will happen. Sometimes the divide seems too wide. But, I know that I stand on the faith that "God ordained marriage and He can sustain it." So, if I can remember the highest expressions of love that india.arie speak of and work on self love while praying us both past the generational curses of our familes and communities - single-motherhood, father abandonment and divorce, financial divide and others - we will stand as an example and testiment to God's will for marriage and family. I think that is a worthwhile cause. So, I'll stand
"We're only human. Let's shake free this graviy of resentment and fly high.
You're only human. Let's shake free this gravity of judgement and fly high on
the wings of forgiveness."
In the meantime, I'll continue to search out whatever encouragement I need. And, I'll gladly continue to share it with those that need it and are interested.
Here are some articles that refer to the state of marriage in the Black Community.
Turning the Corner on Father Absence in Black America
Can I get a witness?
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