In a post titled "A Case for Marriage," Clutch writer Herina K. Ayot writes about black men who are ambivalent about taking a trip to the altar:
But most men under 40 are afraid of the “put a ring on it, let’s get married and have babies” kind of commitment. They want to accomplish something first. They want to sew [sic] their wild oats, live their best life, travel the world, sleep with dozens of beautiful women before they settle down, trade in their condo for a house with a picket fence, a Golden Retriever, and perfunctory sex. Read more...I've always uncomfortable with blanket statements about what "most" men (or women) do. Statements like these are bound to be driven more by personal bias than any hard evidence. And while I understand what Ayot is alluding to, something about this article makes me uncomfortable. There are certainly men (and women) who are enamored of the options that come with single life and who believe marriage is a boring alternative. As a happily married woman, I happen to disagree, but we all have our own paths to get ready (or not) for lifetime commitment.
Marriage-hungry woman tries to reform commitment-phobic man is a common trope--especially in the age of "the black marriage crisis." But as I've interviewed women for my marriage project, I've spoken with many who don't wish to marry for real and compelling reasons. That is their right. It is not that they don't understand the benefits of marriage; they simply believe the benefits of singleness are better for them. Not every woman or man needs to or wants to marry. Not everyone can get married.
In genuflecting to traditional matrimony, the article makes embracing one's journey as a single person seem like a foolish or selfish thing wayward men do. But when I read: "They want to accomplish something first. They want to sew [sic] their wild oats, live their best life, travel the world, sleep with dozens of beautiful women before they settle down..." I think is sounds like something men and women ought to do. Exploring yourself and the world, growing, learning, understanding your sexual needs--all those things make you a better, more self-aware romantic partner.
What's wrong with waiting on marriage? Being emotionally and practically ready before making a lifetime commitment seems a smart thing to do. Are our heads so turned by noise about the marriage gap and the last black man on Earth that our goal is simply to get heterosexual black couples to jump the broom? Do we just want more black marriages or do we want more happy, nurturing relationships between whole and healthy people? If we desire the latter, preaching against enjoying the single life isn't the path to that end.
Photo Credit: Gimme Some Sugar (vegas!)