"And I’m not about to get married for the sake of somebody else, either. Just because everyone is all up in your face having kids and tying the knot, I’m good on that. Just because we say I do doesn’t make us happy." [An Interview]Read Now
MW: The woman I spoke with last month talked about losing her virginity. Can we talk about that for a minute? Did you love the man you lost your virginity to?
I thought I did. But I was 19. I thought I did. It was the first time I’d really spent the night at a guy’s house, and stuff like that. I thought I was really doing it. I was in college, I was working. I had my own money. I had my own car. I was still at home – I hadn’t moved yet – but I was coming and going. And I had this guy and it was cool. It was fun. That’s what it was… he was fun. But when I came out of my fun stage and was looking at what my life was going to look like…
MW: How old were you when that happened?
I had just graduated from college—I was 22. After I looked at what I wanted my life to look like—and I looked at him – it didn’t equate. He couldn’t get with the program because he hadn’t grown up. It really made for a difficult situation. We broke up, and then when I went and got my own crib, we got back together for a minute. But in hindsight, I had been done for a minute. And I knew I was done. But we had been together for so long that I said, maybe we just needed some time apart and maybe he’s grown up some. But I knew in the back of my mind that shit wasn’t true. (laughs) I said, this dude is not any further along in this process than he was before. For a moment he’d gotten himself together. ‘Cause see, he was a street nigga. And it was fun. And then he got a legit job. I said sweet, ok then, this is actually going to go somewhere. I said, he’s got his gig – he was getting up faithfully every morning going to work. I mean, he was not late. Did not miss that alarm clock. If I spent the night at his house, I dropped him off to his ride in the morning. I didn’t take him to work – he never ever asked me to take him to work. It didn’t cross his mind. He met somebody who stayed south who was going in the same direction and he just had to meet them at a certain time in the morning. So I would get up, drop him off and then go back to bed. He had that gig and we started talking about moving. We were about to get an apartment and I was on 10. I was like, ok, this is really going someplace. I’m liking the way this is looking. And then…
MW: Uh oh…
Yeah, I’d gone to see the apartment and everything. I’m at school and his mama calls me and says, I know you all are about to move but maybe right now isn’t a very good time. Maybe you all should wait. You know his job at the post office is only temporary. I was like, temporary? Then she said, he may or may not have it later – he has to get through the probation season. I was like, what? After that he started temping, and after that he just stopped working altogether. I was like well, now you’re not legit anymore. I can’t do anything with that. (loughs) I need to know there’s steady income paying the rent. And after that, I just kind of had a bitter taste in my mouth with him.
MW: So when you got pregnant at 25, was that a planned pregnancy?
Of course not. But when you have your own crib, your own car, and you’re in your profession, you feel a little bit better about taking risks.
MW: And you had all of those things at 25?
Yes. I was in my career – I had even started my master’s degree. I hadn’t finished – I had to stop because the school was too far and I said, I’ll pick it up later – but I had started. I was in the profession that I wanted to be in at the time. So it wasn’t as big a risk. I wasn’t worried about being homeless. I wasn’t worried about having to explain to somebody why I’m having a baby. I didn’t have to do any of that. Now of course when my family got the news it was a little different because no one really thought I would have kids. They just didn’t peg me as having children. I was always with somebody else’s kid – my nephew lived with me and so did my goddaughters for a while – so I always had them, but they went home. (laughs) If I got tired of them or their parents wanted them back, they went home. But me having kids on a full time basis, nobody really expected that. And they definitely didn’t expect me to have kids with somebody who wasn’t a CEO.
How much of a CEO wasn’t he?
(Laughs) He was working at CVS. And no, he didn’t own the place. But he was working. He had been to school. He had been to the service. There were just certain things about his person that worked for me. And he was a lot of fun. To this day, we have a lot of fun. I was a little more comfortable with the risk. And I knew if something happened, that I was able to take care of my own kid and I don’t have to worry about hounding somebody, sitting up in court. I didn’t have to do any of that. My kid was going to be taken care of hands down, because I knew I could do it. And I didn’t have to depend on anybody else to do it for me.
MW: So, are you married?
MW: How long have you been together?
We’ve been together eight, going on nine years.
MW: How many kids do you have together?
MW: How old are they?
One is seven years old and the other is almost six months.
MW: (Laughs) And… why aren’t you married again?
By choice. I’ve been engaged for six years. He proposed to me just before our oldest son turned two. When he proposed I was excited. I was like, ooh, really? I pulled out my big notepad and started making preparations like, oh my God, where am I going to get married? But what I was caught up in at the time was the wedding itself. The dress, the preparations, what are we going to serve, who my bridesmaids will be, what they will wear, who my maid of honor will be, what she will wear. So I was going through all these steps, calling around, getting all these prices, putting money away, saving and everything. We figured we’d get married one year from the day we got engaged. I thought, we can do this. And then as the date drew closer – I’m calling around and I’ve already made arrangements with the caterer – we started talking money and that’s when certain things started to come out.
MW: Oh hell…
Yeah, about six months into it, we just started bumping heads on some things. First we looked at how much it was going to cost. He said, well I’m not spending that amount of money on a wedding. He said it shouldn’t cost that much. It was some idea he had for the wedding – I can’t remember what – but I totally disagreed with it. I was like no, I don’t think so.
MW: Because you were planning your wedding…
Right. (laughs) And then he made a comment and said we needed marriage counseling – you know how when you get married at a church and they make you get counseling with the pastor before he’ll perform the ceremony? Well he said we needed that. And I said, no dear, we need relationship counseling, and they ain’t the same thing. And at that point, it dawned on me – I think I’m good. We can exist as we are and if it becomes too much, we can go our separate ways.
And with all relationships, especially with men and women, men and women have different ideas of intimacy. Especially when children have been introduced into the equation. And mind you, he proposed after we had a kid. Now of course had he proposed before we had any children and we had gotten married before we had any kids, this probably would have looked very different. But, we did have a kid. And it did sometimes mean he couldn’t be first. As with all men (laughs), they have to adjust to this. And it’s a hard adjustment to go through – first, to realize they are no longer first – and then to say, I want this right now and it can’t happen. They say, what is this madness? What? What do you mean, not now? And I’m like, uhhh, not now. And he had been married before and he had a son with her, but it was still a very different dynamic than what he was going through with me. They didn’t really live together – I mean they did for a minute, but it was very brief. So still, that notion of having to wait – we’re all here together but I have to wait on the little person – he was like, what is that? I’m confused.
And then, a friend of mine lost her aunt. She had three daughters but I didn’t know that she had been married. And then at the funeral, her husband showed up. Me and her daughters got to talking and it came out that they had been estranged for years but because they were still legally married, he was entitled to all of her money. And I said, but she got kids – what do you mean? The whispering was that he showed up all of a sudden to claim his piece of her money. And I said, as long as she left her will to her kids, he can’t touch it. But they said, no no no, because they were married, he’s entitled to whatever she has…
MW: Right, because he’s the surviving spouse.
And I said that’s some bullshit. I said, I wish I would. We split up, we ain’t talking, you ain’t sent child support check the first, I ain’t seen you in 15 years, but you’re entitled to what I have? My kids don’t even get it – you get it? And we haven’t seen you and you’ve done nothing? I said hell naw. Marriage did that ? I said, that’s okay. We can stay together, but that’s all it’s going to be. (laughs)
MW: So how did your forever fiancé deal with the fact that…
Oh, he was pissed. Because at first, we just put it off another year. But when you continue to be with somebody, you learn more about them. And as you learn more about them as the years go on, you start questioning some things. And there were just some things that I was learning that… I had to ask myself, do I want to be tied to this for the rest of my life? Because I also believe that when you say I do, you should really try to make it be forever. I mean, divorce is expensive. (laughs) It’s expensive, it’s stressful, and I would rather not deal with it. If we come to the point where we feel that we can no longer make this work, I really want to be able to split amicably and easily. I don’t want to have to sit here and divvy up what belongs to you, what belongs to me, how much money you got to send me… I don’t want to be bothered with any of that. I don’t want to have to go the courts and let them say, ok, let them dissolve their marriage. Why should they be the ones to tell me my relationship is over?
MW: And how much I gotta pay...
Darn it, if I feel like my relationship is over… and that’s another thing – with that, it puts the government in your business. It’s a legally binding agreement, is what it is. And if at any point you want to sever that legally binding agreement, you got to go see the man. I’m okay on that. I’d rather deal with my own shit in house. So with that, it was like, why do we need to get married then? We can just remain together and that’s just what it is. Why do I have to have a piece of paper to say that I love you?
MW: So how does he feel about that?
He has come to grips with it a little better over time. He went through a period where he was extremely salty behind it. But also when I look at it – I don’t think he was ready, either. He thought he was. But in my personal opinion…
MW: He was ready to be married but he wasn’t ready for a wife…
Right. And I was not about to subject myself to that because I knew I’d have to get divorced. Because I’m not going to live in a marriage miserably…
MW: But you still are kind of in a marriage. You live together, right?
Yes, but things aren’t tied. There are certain decisions he can make that won’t affect me, just like there are certain decisions I can make that won’t affect him. There are still some things that are kept separate because we aren’t legally tied at the hip. Knowing that also allows a little freedom on my behalf to allow him to do certain things. It’s like when you know certain decisions will have certain consequences and repercussions, you’re more prone to try to control it because you know what the outcome is.
MW: What kinds of things are you talking about?
Like, financial decisions. You know, I made a conscious choice to stick with him when he decided to start his own business. Which is fine. He decided he wanted to quit his job and go ahead and start up his own and I said, ok, let’s see how this works out. I sat back and I watched to see how all this was going to pan out. But mind you, if the stuff went south, all our stuff ain’t tied together in one thing.
MW: (Laughs) So you have the luxury of watching.
I have the luxury of watching. And if you need my help and you ask for it, I have no problem with assisting. But I had to see if he had enough drive – and not just drive, but enough… see, before you start a business, you need to know the ins and outs. There are things you should research, like what is it that you need to get this baby rolling? Now, I thought starting the business was a great idea. He took the classes. I thought what he was going into was great. I just didn’t feel like he should let his full time job go in order to do it. So, you know I just said, ok, I’m being the motivator or whatever. But in the back of mind I’m saying, you know, if this shit don’t work out…
MW: I’m ok…
Me and my kid is gon’ be alright. And I just realized he hadn’t done his homework. But I knew he hadn’t done his homework when he started. I knew that already. I was just looking. And oh how badly I wanted to say something. And if we had been married, I would have, because everything would have been all tied up. But this way, I was able to give him the leeway he needed to learn on his own and…
Learn from his own mistakes…
Right. I was able to take a back seat and keep doing what I was doing – making sure the kids were good. He was still doing what he was supposed to do too, but like I said, he hadn’t done his homework. So when stuff didn’t pan out the way he had hoped, he was a little salty. Granted, I would have been too. But I would have done my homework first. And there were certain rules, regulations, fees, fines, (laughs), stuff you need – that he just hadn’t fully explored. He was just so excited that he did some of the research, but not all of the research. But he learned from it, though. So if he chooses to jump back in it again later down the line – which, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does – he’ll be much more prepared for it. But he had to go through it first to see what was needed. But had I been married? I’d have said, no honey, we can’t do this. And it really would have caused a lot of friction in the house because I’d have been up and screaming like, you can’t do this and we can’t do that and we have to pay so and so… but because we weren’t married, I didn’t do any of that. I said, is there anything you need me to do? I got some free time on Saturday – is there anything you need me to type up or send over?
Since you’re not legally married but you are monogamous, what are the rules of your relationship?
It’s us. We stick by each other until we can’t do that anymore.
What does that entail?
We support one another, we’re open with one another. We don’t feel like anybody owns anybody. I don’t own you because I’m married to you and you don’t own me because you’re married to me. We are existing in this together. When I feel like I’m not being supported, I have to bring it to the forefront and tell him what it is. I have to say, this here, this ain’t working. We had a conversation one time where I had to point blank come out and say, we need some space. We’re going to have to take some time apart. We’re going to have to because this here ain’t working. You need to be in your space and I need to be in mine.
And did you end up taking that space?
No… he was like, I understand what you’re saying. He was like, I see it from your perspective. And he made some changes. But I feel like when you’re human, sometimes you need to take space. That’s my own personal feeling. But when you’re married to somebody and you take space, it looks different. When you’re not married and you take space it’s like, oh, ok. You’re taking space – it’s not a big issue. Nobody’s up in arms like, oh my God, they’re getting a divorce. She done moved out the house, oh God. There’s no uproar. Ain’t nobody all up in the business, ain’t nobody all concerned. You don’t get all of that. But for some reason once you say married, it changes all the rules. I like the rules as they are, to be honest with you.
Now of course everyone doesn’t subscribe to this, clearly. His grandmother still says, I wish you all would get married but I’m not going to say anything. (laughs) Also his cousin isn’t married. They had plans to get married – they announced the engagement and everything – but for whatever reason, they still ain’t tied the knot. And I think its more so her than him. She’s strong willed like that. I think one day she just decided, you know what – I’m good the way this is and I think we’re going to stay right here for a little while. Now his other cousin, once she got herself a man and had a baby, she hurried up and tied the knot. She had other people in her ear, though. Folks saying, they already not doing it right. I think that influenced her decision to go ahead and do it. So they did it, and I hope they’re happy. They seem to be. And I’m not about to get married for the sake of somebody else, either. Just because everyone is all up in your face having kids and tying the knot, I’m good on that. Just because we say I do doesn’t make us happy.
MW: Well, let me ask you this – married men, because of the word married, expect a physical recognition of this union…with some regularity. Do you experience this with your forever fiancé?
That was what sparked the argument six months before we tied the knot. He was complaining that he wasn’t getting enough.
MW: But you already had a small baby?
We had a two year old. And I was working and taking care of the house and my feeling was, you want all of this extra but what are you doing extra? I’m going to work, picking up, dropping off. I’m cleaning, I’m cooking. What are you doing besides going to work? But I’m supposed to have enough energy at the end of the day to deal with you? But I ain’t dealt with myself, either. So I done dealt with the baby, the house, now you – and nothing for me? Yeah… I ain’t really liking that one. And marriage seems to scream that these are the things that are supposed to happen. Bullshit. I said, you know what? You can keep your marriage because I’m not on that. I’m just not. And men seem to have, once they get married, some sense of ownership with their women. It’s… I don’t know… it takes something away from it for me. At the time I preferred not to be bothered with it. Now that I’m older it’s not a big deal with me now because we’ve been through so much. At this point if I do go ahead and get married, not much will change. But if I’d gotten married when he proposed, things would have been totally different. At this point, enough has happened. We’ve gone through enough that now it doesn’t bother me so much. I doubt very seriously that anybody’s going anywhere. But at the time that he did propose, shortly after that…you’re in that process of learning somebody and you learn more and more about the person. And you have to make the decision whether or not this is what you want to deal with for the rest of your natural born life. You ask yourself, if this is the best it’s going to be, is that what you want to deal with? If this person doesn’t grow anymore than they’ve grown right now, are you okay with that? And at the time, I wasn’t. I was like, I’ll be damned if I deal with this shit the rest of my life. I’m just not going to do it.
MW: But he’s made some changes though?
Yeah, he’s grown. We’ve both grown.
MW: Have you ever considered the fact that part of those changes he made was because of you? And because you were acting in the exact same way that a wife would act? And can you consider that maybe he just needed a wife to help him grow up? And that you did that anyway?
No. Part of it was that he thought I was about to walk, to be honest with you.
MW: Got it. You're saying if you had married him and been a forever wife instead of a forever fiance, he would have said, I can do what I want because you ain’t going nowhere…
Right. Part of it was, he was in the process of making some changes on his own, looking at himself and deciding, there are some things about me I want different. And some of it was, wait a second, I think she’s about to walk. It looks like she’s going to talk. And is it really worth it me being this selfish, for her to walk? And he kind of weighed the two. And I mean, women do it too. There are things we compromise on for the good of the relationship. And he’s done that over time. And I’m not saying he was a horrible person. I think he’s great – he’s always been great. But when you look at what forever looks like (laughs), and what you’re willing to deal with for forever… you have to decide what you’re willing to deal with for the rest of your life. I asked a friend of mine that – she was talking about her boyfriend and I said, well, I can’t tell you to leave him. I wouldn’t do that. But you gotta ask yourself, if this doesn’t get any better than what it is today, are you okay there? And if you’re not okay there, you’re going to have to make some decisions.
So we’ve both grown. I’ve learned to compromise more on some things, and he’s learned to be more supportive in certain areas. I tell him, I understand how you grew up and what you’re used to seeing, but I don’t subscribe to that. I don’t make choices that will make my life twice as hard as it has to be. I’m not going to live my life twice as hard as it has to be. I’m just not going to do that. And so if we’re going to be together, you’re going to have to do your part. It took both of us to make children and have a house, so both of us have to pull our weight. Period. As long as I have to work… if I still have to bring in income, then you still gotta wash dishes. I’m just saying. As long as I have to contribute in this other way… if you want the 1950s lifestyle, I’m not opposed to it. But that means I get to live the 1950s lifestyle.
MW: Right – like, this is all I have to do.
There you go. And if you aren’t in a position to do that, that’s fine. I’m not knocking you. But then you can’t expect a 1950s outcome, either. It doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t. So over the years, there’s been some things we’ve learned about each other. There’s been some trying times. I know I’ve been in positions where I was going to walk. And he knows it, too. And there’s been times where he’s had to ask himself, is this what I want to be bothered with for the rest of my life? But he said when he put in perspective, based on what he has dealt with and what the alternatives are, he said yeah, I’d rather be here. He said, I’m going to sit here and try to make this work. I’m going to try to do what she’s asking me to do.
MW: So at this point, do you think your relationship is forever?
I feel that it is forever as long as we want it to continue to be forever. But if at any point, our attitude or feelings change, then it won’t be. I think we’ll love each other forever, but who can realistically say… there have been many people who said when they got married, that this is going to be forever – I’m going to love this person forever. Which, I think you do – love doesn’t change. But the ability to live with that person? If you all aren’t growing and changing together, or at least respecting the growth and the change that person is going through, it can’t go forever. It can’t. So one person is constantly growing and changing and the other person can’t deal with the change… that’s what happened with my previous boyfriend. I was growing and changing and maturing but he was still in the same space. So no matter how much he thought he loved me or how much I thought I loved him, there was no way it would work. It couldn’t. We didn’t want the same things. We weren’t moving in the same direction. It just couldn’t happen. So no matter how madly in love you are with somebody, the human condition is change. So if people are not on board, then it’s not going to be forever, no matter how much you may want it to be. And if you force it, everybody’s just miserable. When everybody could just be happy apart. (laughs)
MW: (Laughs) That was the perfect end to this interview. I truly appreciate your time.
"I felt that marriages were messed up. From the things I saw I thought, this is some kind of slavery." [An Interview]Read Now
MW: I want to start with a quote from last week’s interview. The woman last week said, “Marriage is what you make it.” Do you agree with that, or do you think marriage has a specific definition?
I agree with it. Marriage is what you make it – for me, at least. Some people are very traditional with how they see marriage. And it’s what they want. But I believe the only people who get to decide what marriage is are those two people in the marriage. They get to make the rules for their marriage and I think a lot of problems that people have, have to do with traditional rules of marriage and the pressure for it to be a certain way. A man is supposed to do this, a woman is supposed to do that. Or, even if it’s same gender marriage, one has to be the male and one has to be the female, whatever that means. (laughs) I think that causes a whole lot of problems. People follow those traditional rules instead of trying to figure out, or trying to understand who the other person is and work with that.
MW: That makes a lot of sense.
Yeah. Who are you? Who am I? What works? I think one of my issues is that I’ve tried so hard to forget about the rules– but lately I find I’m actually comfortable with some of them. And I’m just now realizing at forty-something that, oh, I kind of like that. For whatever reason- it might just be my personality or, I just don’t want to do a particular task –
MW: Right – like, isn’t a man supposed to do this?
Yeah. Or understanding that the person I’m with, maybe he’s just better at this particular thing than I am, so I’ll let him do that. And vice versa. I just think we get too hard and strict about, these are the roles. And they change over time, you know? The longer you’re together, you might become more capable at something that you weren’t very good at before. You might say, hmm, I like this and I’ll do it. Marriage is what you make it.
MW: Are you married in the conventional sense?
I am not married in the conventional sense. I am not legally married. If Illinois had a common law marriage – which it doesn’t, because we looked it up (laughs), we would be common law. We’ve been together 14 years. We’ve lived together almost ten years.
MW: Can I ask why you chose not to get married in the conventional sense?
I have never been interested in having something sanctioned by the state that I think is personal. I understand the economic reasons for it. I understand… for example, there’s this Supreme Court case with this same sex couple who had been together 40 years, and they had a civil union. Anyway, when her partner died she inherited all this stuff but there was like a million dollar estate tax charged by the government. See when you’re married, you don’t get taxed. So I understand why people want to get married for that reason, but I’ve always seen marriage as something different. Not an economically based thing, but a personal thing that is about me and this other person. And our family. And I think growing up also, I saw a lot of marriages that were sanctioned by the state and the church, but that I feel were horrible. I’m not as judgmental now the older I’ve gotten, but I’ve seen some things that really didn’t work. People were so taken with, we gotta go to the courthouse and get married or we’ve got to go to the church and get married. If my partner and I decide to do it, it will probably be a big party.
I never fantasized about weddings when I was younger. I wasn’t one of those girls who thought, oh my wedding’s going to be this, or this is what my dress is going to look like. I always fantasized more about the partner I would have and the family I would have. And how I could do it differently than some other marriages I’ve seen. And then the older I’ve gotten I’ve learned to look at those relationships and also take what’s good. Some of them were just no good (laughs). There was nothing redeeming about them other than the children they produced.
I was just never that girl. I’ve gone to weddings where I thought oh this is beautiful, but the marriage is the relationship, not the wedding. I think weddings have always been a turnoff for me in terms of the big productions, but the intimate, family weddings, I would always go – yeah, I like this. And those people, I always respected what happened in their marriage later, you know – the family they were trying to build. Watching them and seeing how it wasn’t easy, even with the best of the best. What turned me off of conventional marriage mostly was seeing things that made me uncomfortable growing up.
MW: Do you want to elaborate on that at all?
Seeing marriages to the extreme of physical abuse, things like that. Seeing people who were unfaithful. I mean consistently unfaithful to their partner. That’s just problematic. I don’t understand. I mean, why are you married? (laughs) Why are you trying be committed to people? And I’ve seen a lot of people who were together for 20 years who hadn’t cheated on each other. And I thought, ok, this one is sanctioned by law and by God, and that one’s not. But that one’s working a lot better in my opinion.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, many people encouraged me and my partner to get married. The very ones encouraging me to get married had their own partners, and their idea was, if he leaves you, you’ll be in a better situation. But these very people had their own husbands leave them while they were married and they wound up raising a child by themselves, essentially. Having to take their partner to court the entire time for child support. Whereas the partner I had, had already committed financially to this child. When I found out I was pregnant, he established all that immediately.
MW: Are you saying he established child support immediately?
Before she was born, he put away money for her. He said, this is established, this is for her, this is her money. And also as soon as she was born- well she might have been a few weeks old – we had the child support stuff all figured out. That let me know that even if he and I didn’t stay together, he was committed to her. I knew he was committed to her emotionally as a father, you know, as a parent presence. But the fear that a lot of women have – I’m going to be doing this by myself financially – I saw a lot of that from people, especially from family, and friends of my mother’s.
And I also saw relationships where gender … it didn’t feel like two people who respected and liked each other. It felt like work. Which is of course in contrast to the things you see in the TV and movies where it’s all romance. I always felt like I wanted something where, this is my friend, we like each other, with also the understanding that- and this was the older I got – that the romance part of it is not going to always be present. Just like any other relationship, you have periods where you’re really happy, and then other periods where you’re having to really work hard at communicating. And that’s any relationship that you care about. If you don’t care about the relationship you can say, forget this (laughs). I’m not going to be bothered with this drama. But if it’s somebody you’re invested in – your child, your parents, your siblings, your partner – then you want to expend that energy, You say, ok, let’s work through this. I didn’t see… I saw a lot of people going through motions. I saw a lot of people who – particularly women – who were working, coming home and working…
MW: (Laughs) Right? Working, and then coming home and working…
Going to work in an office, coming home and working some more. And I didn’t see husbands doing that. As I got older, I recognized some families, like, oh yeah, I didn’t see it at the time, but looking back I realize, the husband would cook. Sometimes in your youth you don’t see all of it, and then you step back as a person with some experience and go, oh I see it now. He may not have cooked but he brought home dinner twice a week. He did laundry. I can recall my uncle combing my cousin’s hair. And then I go, ok, so there were these things.
Those gender things really impacted me, though. And also, the idea that the man is supposed to be the breadwinner. And the idea that if he can’t do that, there’s something wrong with him. I never liked that. It didn’t seem fair to me. If there’s a husband who stays home and takes care of kids and feeds them and washes their hair and does the laundry and she goes to work every day – if that’s the way you’ve worked it out, so be it. Let it work for you. If there’s a partner who is not willing to wait at home or bringing in any money, then that’s a problem, with any spouse.
I was always just really looking at these relationships. I saw physical abuse. Disparity between gender and work. There was a “we’re in this together” mentality that I didn’t see enough of to want to do it. Or it was all Disney, you know. Princesses and diamond rings. But many of the women I saw who had diamond rings and their husbands bought them this and that, and they had the best car – their husbands were cheating on those women. And I thought, so, keep your diamond ring. A lot of women would accept that, though – thinking, I got a diamond ring and I get to drive a fancy car. And all that has to do with economics. They don’t want to be hustling out there, trying to make it. I just felt that, for a long time, that marriages were messed up. From the things I saw I thought, this is some kind of slavery. (laughs) And it felt to me that people who weren’t legally married in that institution seemed happier. Much more at peace with who they were, and are.
MW: What are your expectations for your partner?
Support. Emotional support. Which sometimes is probably unfair, because you need to be able to do a lot of that stuff for yourself. But I like emotional support. I need a cheerleader at home – somebody to say, you can do this, or, it’s going to be okay. Or ask, what do you need? And I want to be that for my partner. I expect equity. Fairness. I think sometimes one person at different points in the relationship is probably doing more in one area than the other person. So, my work equity is probably more with my daughter and what’s going on with her, in terms of taking her where she needs to go – piano, and this and that. His equity, his work comes in on the economic side of things, because a lot of my money is going to her. So his money, his work, is going toward providing and maintaining our home. To pay for long term kinds of things like the house, and taxes on the house. And he’s able to do that with the kind of job he has. At some point, that might be different. The older she’s gotten, he’s been able to take her to certain things, depending on his work schedule.
When she was a baby, I had more to do – nursing, you know – my body was so involved. There wasn’t a lot for him to do in that respect. But even though he wasn’t raised around babies, he still needed to know how to take care of her. I taught a Friday night class when she was first born. Instead of his mother keeping her, I wanted him to keep her for those three hours, without me around to say, that’s not how you do it. He needed to find his own way to do it, and make mistakes. My mother would say, he might be giving her the milk too hot, and I would say, maybe, but I might be giving her the milk too hot, too.
MW: So many women assume that because they’re the mom, they know the perfect way to do it.
Right, yeah. But all we know is we may have had some practice with babies. That doesn’t make you an expert. The first time I told him to change a diaper, he was like, uhhhh, and I said, oh, you never changed a diaper before, have you? And I was like, ok, let me show you this, and he said, ok, don’t stand next to me while I do it. Don’t watch me. (laughs) The equity… I don’t want there to be this sense of, you’re the man, and I’m the woman. Sometimes things break down traditionally, and it’s ok if I’m comfortable doing certain things. I want equity. I want fun, friendship. Which is different from romance. I’ve never been a big traditional romance person, because I always think that stuff is cliché and trite. Like, I’m going to give you a box of chocolate covered strawberries. (laughs) I don’t want that.
MW: And it’s only sexy because men want to watch us eat them. (laughs)
Yeah! Or they saw it on TV. I like stuff that means you know me. It’s sexier and more romantic to me to feel like you know me. I like when he gets me flowers but it doesn’t have to be all the time. Just to say, I’m thinking about you, that’s more romantic to me. Or to have an inside joke. Our own language. That we can laugh at something and nobody knows what the hell we’re laughing about. That is the kind of stuff I like. I’ve always been that kind of person. Especially after college. (laughs) You’re always so enthralled with relationship stuff in college. Everybody wants to get married, and this is the kind of ring that you’re supposed to want. That stuff is such a turn off for me now. I want fun. I want humor. I want a friend. That’s what I require.
MW: How old were you when you met your partner?
I was 34.
MW: How old were you when you got pregnant?
MW: You talked about how when you had your baby, your partner set aside money for her and that he was financially responsible right away. Also, you said you’ve observed certain marriages and realized they weren’t for you, and that you prefer a less traditional arrangement. How do you think your age influenced your decision making? How do you think it would have been different if you’d met your partner at 22 and had a baby at 23?
You’re absolutely right. My age did impact that. Because not only was he old enough to be an adult with a certain financial maturity, I was an adult. Even if he had said, I’m out of here, I was a tenure track professor at a university. I had a salary. I had health insurance. At 22 I wouldn’t have had any of that and we would have both been scrambling. But we were both at an age where we could say, yes, first of all, I want this child. I can take care of this child financially, which is a big deal. It’s all about love, but if you’re struggling to take care of somebody, that’s hard on two people. It meant everything to know that I was capable, that he was capable, and that this child would have a place to live. That it was safe, and that there was plenty of food. And if she got sick, we could just go to the doctor. And if she needed medicine, we could just go get it. We had a car and car insurance. Those kinds of things at 22… I was working on a master’s degree when I was 22. I would have been adjuncting at a bunch of places. He was a teller at a bank when he was in his 20s, and he was still in college. We would not have been in the same kind of position. And I think my expectations for a relationship would have been very different when I was 22.
MW: Talk about that.
Well I think I would have been more traditional. I would have accepted…when all the relatives said I needed to get married I would have said, ok. We would have had a wedding and done all that stuff but I would have been mad and resentful the whole time. Because actually, at 22 I was engaged to somebody. I accepted the ring and I remember putting the ring on my finger – and I loved him – but then saying, I ain’t marrying nobody. There was a voice in my head going, is you getting ready to marry him? And me saying back, naw I ain’t getting ready to marry him. I mean, I loved him. I wanted to be with him. And one part of me was like, ok, I’m getting married. And then the other part was like, um, this is never going to happen, for real. (laughs) And he turned out not to be a mentally healthy person. There were a lot of issues. And I think I knew that in my heart. I always tell my girlfriends, I remember buying one bride book and looking at the dresses, and then I think I threw it away when I moved out of the dorms. I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Because I knew we were too young.
The 20s doesn’t seem too young – I mean you’re an adult – but I was too young. There were too many things I wanted to do. I didn’t have the patience. I just didn’t know who I was. In my mid-30s, I had done some living. I had been in relationships and knew what I didn’t want. And I think that the thing that changed everything for me was deciding it was ok if I wasn’t in a relationship. When I moved to Chicago I was like, you know what? It’s ok. That was one of the best Valentine’s Days I’ve ever had. I hung out with myself. I bought plants for my apartment, I went to the movies. I wasn’t depressed about who I was with or who I wasn’t with, you know? It was great. And as soon as that happened, I met somebody.
Also I said to myself, I’m not going to depend upon a type that I think is best for me, you know – like an artist or a writer or professor. I had this type – bohemian or artsy or whatever. I let go of that and started to see these other human beings, these other men who had plenty to offer and were kind and generous. I said, just try dating someone who’s not in that category. And it’s worked out well. In your mid-30s – and he was the same way – we’ve already had drama. So that was not attractive. No more drama. I think at 22 and 23, you almost attract drama, especially if you’re an artist. Everything is dramatic. And you start to decide, I don’t want this stuff anymore. So yeah, economically, it would have been very different if we’d gotten together at 22. And even in our thirties, it was still stressful. Anytime you’re in a new relationship and you have a pregnancy and a newborn and a child in a brand new relationship, is very stressful. Because you’re still getting to know each other. It’s like warp speed. So instead of 14 years together it feels like 24. (laughs) I tell him, I’ve known you a loooooooong time. (laughs)
MW: Did your partner have the same ideas about marriage as you, or did he want a more traditional marriage?
He was like me about getting married. I don’t want to completely speak for him, but I know we both felt the same way about weddings. We were sort of like, you know, why do people spend 30 thousand dollars on a wedding? That could be their down payment on a house…
MW: College tuition, vacation…
Something, you know? Pay your bills, whatever it is. So we agreed on that. His mother was very independent, even though she was married for a number of years. She really was uber competent. She could run a household and work. She was stressed, she told me later– but she knew how to do so many things. If she took her car to the shop, she knew exactly what was wrong with that car. And those mechanics were not going to screw her over. So although my partner doesn’t consider himself a feminist, from his ideas about women, I could already tell he came from a competent woman. So his expectations about what women could do… he automatically thought I knew how to take care of things. But there were some things I didn’t know how to take care of. Because even though I’m a feminist, there were some things that I couldn’t do, or I didn’t know how to do. He was kind of thrown off by that, like wait a minute. Just like I assumed he could change a diaper, he was like, I thought you would know how to invest and do these kinds of things. (laughs) I’m a poet. I was an adjunct professor and a poet so it’s like, invest what?
But yeah, he was nontraditional in that sense. I honestly think that a lot of his aversion to marriage had to do with financial equity. To be perfectly honest, I think a lot of it had to do with fear of being tied to somebody financially, and then if it didn’t work out, having to go through a lot of craziness. But I made it clear to him that, although we have a child, I don’t expect you to take care of me. When we’re kicking it, or in a relationship, I’m not expecting you to take care of me. I think when he saw that, he felt better. And even after we had a child together, it was still difficult for me to let him take care of me. We were both responsible for her, but when he would say, yes we are responsible for her but you are her mother and I love you and I want you to be okay too…
MW: Because she can’t be ok if you’re not ok…
Right. There was a part of me that felt beholden, like I’m taking something from him. So I was over-the-top the other way, like, no, you just take care of her. But I began to soften up about that. I realized yeah, I’m also a human refrigerator for this child. I gotta feed her. I’m the one buying diapers. So slowly, I let him do things for me. And my thing was always, how do I reciprocate? And at that early stage, there wasn’t much I could do to reciprocate. Other than cook a meal or something like that. Now, at the stage we are now, he still has more economic capital than I do. So, how do I reciprocate? Well, I cook a meal. Or, I’m responsible for meals. I have food in the house for him. He comes home – even if I’m not cooking the food – there’s food for him. He’s a vegetarian, so I always make sure there’s something for him to eat. Gifts are not… I can’t spend a whole lot of money on a gift for him and he doesn’t want me to. He’s like, you ain’t got no money so… (laughs) So my gifts become gumbo at Christmas or crocheted scarves. He put on a scarf the other day and I was like, where you get that scarf? He said, you made it for me.
And also I reciprocate by being by his side when he needs support. And it became a more relationship then, not a transaction. That’s the way having a child early on made it difficult. Because I didn’t want to be that woman who says, how much money you got? or, you better get me this. I hate that kind of woman. I can’t deal with those kinds of people. And so I said, nope, just take care of our daughter. If you’re going to put a down-payment on a condo for the baby and me to live in, that’s for her. But he was saying, I want you to have what you like. Don’t just get the house… I mean, do you like this place? Is this a place you can live in? Do you like the neighborhood? And I was just tense about that.
I think he had seen as many bad relationships as I had, so he knew what he didn’t want. And I think right now we’re at a place where we’ve both calmed down about a whole lot of stuff that doesn’t matter. And now we see ourselves as a family, instead of only these two separate people. We’re a unit now. Now that we’re family, my mother is his mother in-law. So, early on in our relationship, he didn’t even know what to call my mother. He wasn’t raised in the south so he wasn’t going to call her Ms. Lucille. But then all of a sudden, my mother had a name. The children had given it to her. My daughter and nephews gave her a name and she became Mama Lu to him. My sister became his sister in law. His sister became my sister in law. His mother was always my mother in law (laughs). But, we became family. And when his mother passed, I think her death impacted that dynamic.
Also when you’re working as a unit, as a family, you forgive a lot more. My daughter and I always say, oh, that’s just your daddy. And I heard him say it other day to her, well, that’s just how mama is. (laughs) And I was like, hey, wait a minute, I’m supposed to say that about you! (laughs) And we laughed about it. When you’re in a marriage, even when it’s two people and no kids, you’re family. And when you start thinking about family, it feels different than saying marriage, to me. I just have all those crazy connotations with marriage. But when people say family, I can relate. I always saw myself having a family. We both knew we wanted something different. And we still try to figure it out every day. (laughs)
MW: Is your partnership forever?
I don’t know. This is anonymous, right?
MW: (Laughs) Yes, it’s anonymous.
I don’t know. I love him. But two years ago, I was ready to go. There was too much head bumping. I felt like, this person will never understand who I am, or let me be. But I think he started to understand that’s the place where I was and started to work on himself. Which then made me more forgiving. And I said, ok, he’s working on himself, now I gotta go work on myself. I can’t just be the one that everything is happening to. So yeah, I don’t know. But I will say this – even if we were to break up – and this would make it difficult for another man or another woman who wanted to date either of us – we will still be family. And I think that’s another thing people don’t quite understand. When you have children with people, and you have a long term relationship with someone, they’re still your family. His mother will be the only mother in law I ever have, for real. Even if he and I broke up and I was with somebody else, he’d still be my family. That is my daughter’s father. The father I picked for her. I mean even if it happened by accident – I didn’t have to have the baby. This is the person that’s meant to be your father and I accept that and I loved him and I picked him. As much as my mother talks about my stepfather, (laughs) he ain't this, he ain’t that, you know – his mother is in the hospital and my mother is so worried. And they’ve been divorced over 20 years. But that’s her mother in law. It doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter if we did end our formal relationship. We’d still be family. Whether he knows it or not. (laughs)
MW: Well, I think you answered everything…
We could talk all day. We done? I can run my mouth…(laughs)
MW: We’ve been talking for like 40 minutes. I have to type all this up! (laughs) It was awesome talking to you. This was a great interview. Anything you want to say that I didn’t ask?
Just… people need to create their own families and not be so pressured by the rules. You’ll find that some of these laws of nature are true, but some of them are false. And it’s up to us to figure that out. That’s it.
MW: Thank you.
"Marriage can’t stay stagnant or that shit’s going to crumble. I have to make my marriage what it is." [An Interview]Read Now
MW: How long have you been married?
14 years. No, 13 years. It will be 14 years. I’m rushing it. (laughs)
MW: How old were you when you got engaged?
MW: Did you feel ready at 20?
MW: How did you know you were ready?
Because I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else… I was just… with him. I was happy. Tunnel vision. I was good. I didn’t need nobody else. I wasn’t really looking for nothing else. I was happy where I was at and we just figured that was the next level for the relationship because we’d been together for years by then.
MW: What was your wedding like?
Quick. (laughs) And cute. It was quaint. One day we….gosh its such a long story so I have to go all the way back. So a few months after we got engaged, I got pregnant. Then I lost the baby a week after we found out. I had a miscarriage. But in that week… I feel like sometimes God will show you what’s to come. After it was over with and I lost the baby it was hard because in that time …we had become parents. We were bonding and ready to have a family. So when we lost the baby I think everybody – including my parents – was just expecting us to go back to girlfriend and boyfriend like, okay, whew. They were kind of glad we lost the baby. They were like, okay, now you guys can slow down and do this and do that, but we were like no, this brought us closer together. Maybe a couple of months after I had the miscarriage we were like, we should just do it, we should just get married. We had already been engaged. I’m not big on planning. I don’t like planning shit. I’m not a good event planner type deal. So all the wedding stuff – where we gonna have it, what church…all that stuff dragged me. So we decided to just do it and keep it a secret. We went to the courthouse downtown and did it and that was my wedding.
MW: So did ya’ll live together yet?
No. It was a secret. I was still living with my dad. We said our vows in front of the judge and got married and later on that day we went back to his house – his parents were out of town – and consummated the marriage. (laughs) Had a good old time. And then we got up and just kicked it, met up with some friends and hung out. And then the next day I went to work like nothing ever happened. And then I came home like nothing ever happened. And stayed like that for like a year.
MW: And you just dated your husband?
Yep. Nobody ever knew we were married for a long time. He would go back home, I would go back home, like, see you tomorrow honey! (laughs) It was crazy.
MW: I’m going ask you all of these at once and you can answer in any order you like: What did you imagine marriage would be like? What were your expectations for your husband? Or did you have expectations at all?
What did I think marriage was going to be like? I didn’t know. I had no clue. I thought marriage would be whatever you wanted to be at that age. You know, the sky was the limit. If we want to do this, then we’re going to do this. If we want to go there, then we’re going to go there. That’s what I thought going into it. I didn’t really have too many expectations for it. The only thing I expected was for us to play the role, husband and wife. The rest was up to us. You be down for me, I’ll be down for you. And we’ll just take this ride together.
MW: What were your expectations for your husband?
Don’t know. I have to go back into the memory repertoire, shit. (laughs) I’m so fucking serious. I think my expectation for him was just for him to give it his all. I believed that he would. I believed in that always. And I believed it was my job to motivate him. So that’s what I did. I’m his motivator. In the midst of it, I think there were times where he seemed like he was unsure about himself, but I never really thought much of it because to me, I’m his motivator. I just figured I’d be able to get it out of him. I’ll be able to be the person to help push him. It seemed like in his family, there weren’t too many people pushing him. So, that was my job. I don’t think I really had too many big expectations – just for him to be able to provide. That was the main thing. So I pushed him towards that, towards being a provider.
MW: So, has your husband lived up to your expectations?
Yeah. Because I think it was inside of him to be that provider, to be that masculine role model in a marriage. So that’s what he was. He went and made it happen. He secured a place for us and we moved in together. Right afterwards, I found out I was pregnant again. He had a job and it was like, okay, go, and he really kicked into gear. So he did, he lived up to my expectations and he kept doing it. He made goals for himself. And he had a pretty good job for awhile. But then it got rough.
MW: How do you mean, rough?
(Laughs) What he was doing got under his skin till he was like okay, to heck with this job. But he put so much effort into getting that job because there’s a process. He had to do the application, then he had to do the test, and then he had to do this and then he had to do that before he even got into it. So after going through all that and then getting into it and seeing how dangerous it was and the turnoffs and feeling like, okay, this isn’t really what I want to do, he didn’t really have a plan after that. I think that kind of left him in a rut.
MW: How has that changed your marriage?
How has that changed my marriage?
MW: Or has it?
Yeah, it has. It’s a bigger strain. And the dynamics have changed because we’re not 25, 26, 27 anymore. Now we’re older. And it’s not us with the first kid, now we’ve got 4 kids. So sometimes I feel like he’s kind of left me to weather the storm by myself. So now I’m wearing both hats in the marriage instead of just being able to concentrate on my part. Now I have to take care of my own goals, and take care of the nurturing side – and provide – while he figures out his plan and figure out how to work his plan. And in some aspects – even though what he’s doing now is intellectually smart because he’s starting his own business - he’s going his own way which is good, especially if you don’t want to work for “the man” - it’s just, it would be a lot easier if it was just a cut and dry business. For example, say I have a lemonade stand. You’re thirsty. You come to me, you give me fifty cents, I give you lemonade, that’s business. When you have a business that people don’t really understand, and it’s not very cut and dry like a lemonade stand, now we got a problem because people don’t really understand the need.
MW: It’s like you have convince people why they need you.
Right. And you have to do it though fear, like if you don’t get this product, you’re going to die (laughs). Or you wait for people to have the realization, like, yes I need this. But that may take forever. And so we’re on other people’s time table and that’s wearing thin.
MW: What are some of the symptoms of this “wearing thin”?
Fatigue. Shit. Complete fucking fatigue. That’s the main symptom. Because, you know when you have a marriage you have to be able to put energy into it. And when you have to do so much that you take out of your marriage and you never put back, you never replenish your marriage, you’re going to lose bits of pieces of it. And that’s a sign and symptom, when you don’t have money to go out and have a date night on Friday. When you don’t have money for a babysitter to just maybe go out and and maybe have a meal without the kids. When you’re always with kids or with bills. So, stress. Fatigue. Lack of… care. Where you get to the point where you really don’t care about trying to work it out because you have too much else that you do have to care about. Sometimes I don’t care if we don’t have a babysitter because I ain’t trying to go out anyway because I have to deal with this.
MW: So it’s like self-preservation mode?
It is. It kicks in quick.
MW: Do you believe marriage is forever?
Forever ever? (laughs) I’ve come to the reality that I don’t even like how that sounds.
MW: Til death.
Oh, I don’t like how that sounds.
MW: And it might kill you (laughs).
No. Nope. No. I think love is forever. Because marriage is an institution and I’m realizing at the ripe young age of thirty-something that institutions are not good. You have to be able to have a way out when it gets confining and starts to kill your individuality. Nobody goes into institutions like jail or college and says, I’m gonna stay here forever. No, you’re supposed to have a way out. No. Don’t do that. Love is forever. The love will still always be there. Love is forever. But to be in a marriage, with all the rules and stigmas and everything society puts on a marriage, that shouldn’t be forever. That’s why marriage doesn’t last. But on flip side, you have some people who divorce for years and get back together like they never skipped a beat..That was love, not marriage.
MW: What were your goals for yourself before you got married? Have they changed?
Some of them have. When I got married I was already on course. See, before I got married, I wanted a degree. That’s what I pictured. I always pictured myself going across the stage, getting my degree, having myself established. Because that was my ambition. That’s what I pictured a s a little girl. I wasn’t the little girl who pictured a wedding. People always say, oh I dreamed about this since I was a little girl. I wasn’t that child. I was never consumed with the idea of getting married. My goal was always to get my degree and a wonderful career, build my career and go on with my life. Then have a family. Man, this is taking me back. And yeah, I did in a sense go for my goal because I have my degree, it’s just that it’s taken me longer than I thought. Because of starting a family first I had to push my goals back, wait for a time, struggle for a time, to be able to get back to achieving those goals.
MW: How has having children changed you?
Probably like it changes every devoted mother. Everything’s about them. Now it’s no longer about me making money for me or me setting up everything for me. Now it’s about them. Whatever I set up, it has to be for them. It’s not just about having a career, it’s about having a career that I can hopefully one day pass on to them. That they’ll be able to dive in and love and enjoy. And kind of, you know, give them a taste of … I don’t know how to put it… life in easier in terms. That’s what I want for them. An easier life. I don’t know if I answered your question. Did I answer your question?
MW: Well, your answer was all about your kids, which is exactly what you said happens. (laughs) I’ve observed that women, especially mothers, take care of everyone except themselves. They are last on their own list. Is that true for you?
It was. It kind of still is in a sense. I’m not last on my own list any more, I stopped that. Now I kind of feel bad because something in my life had to take the hit and I hate it but I think my marriage took the hit. Because I had to push my relationship to last on the list. I still put my kids first because they have to live on. Hopefully they’re able to live on after me. I don’t put myself on the back burner anymore. I used to and that shit was draining because, you know, you have to do for you. Women of old always say that – make sure you do for you. Make sure you take care of you. So every now and then – I don’t give a fuck if I’m broke as shit, I’m getting my nails done. I’m not getting ready to go out with booty diggers.
MW: Booty diggers? (laughs)
I’m not doing it. I bite my nails. I know I bite my nails. (laughs)
MW: You said you put your marriage last. But since there’s only two people in a marriage, then technically you’re saying you put your husband last. So if your husband had a list, where do you fall on his list?
At the top. Top of the list. I know his list would probably be God, then family, and I’m in family. I have to go back and say– I guess you can say there’s two people in a marriage but I see marriage as a separate entity. Marriage has those rules. On my list my husband falls under family, but those rules of marriage and the way it confines–it has to go. That has to be at the bottom of the list because there is no room for that anymore. I love my husband and I care for him so he has to be at the upper top of that list, because in all honesty, the fact that our roles have changed doesn’t change the fact that he’s one of the best friends I have. He creates true balance in my life and I don’t think I realized that until recently. My family goes haywire sometimes and he’s the only one in the house who creates balance. So that’s important. I have to give him that. That’s what he brings. Balance.
MW: You said he creates balance in the house with your family. Do you live with your family?
Yeah. We live with my parents. Which is really good because my mom is sick, so it really eases her nerves having another woman in the house because she’s not able to do the things she used to do… there are other relatives in the house who aren’t handling what she’s going through very well so there’s a lot of stress on everybody. So having us there and having the kids there, it lightens the mood like you wouldn’t believe. But it’s still a lot of stress, though. We bring good to the situation but that situation is kind of hurtful to live in.
MW: Has moving back home changed your marriage?
Sort of. Yeah. It’s put it on ice.
MW: How do you mean?
It’s put it on ice big time because… there’s that part in the bible that says a woman leaves her mother and father to be joined with her husband. Well, when you move back, that’s the strain. Because now, what am I? I don’t feel like being a wife. I’m not a wife. I don’t want to be a wife under my dad’s roof. I mentally can’t wrap my mind around being somebody’s wife living in my dad’s house. So that’s a… big change.
MW: Does your husband understand that about you?
He does. He’s starting to now. He gets it. I don’t think he gets it the full extent. I think he would get it if we were in his father’s house. Then he would be like, yeah, ok. He don’t want his dad hearing him… you know what I’m saying? We can’t do the things we used to do as a married couple in our own house so… that’s a strain.
MW: If you could do it all over, would you do it the same or would you change anything?
I would do it the same. In the span of the years that we’ve been talking about, I’ve had kids, and you’d never change a minute of that. There’s been a lot of good times. It’s just in these recent years it’s gotten harder financially. Of course you have those moments where you think, what if I had taken another route, or maybe I should have a given myself more time. But I’d never change my kids. I live for them.
MW: So even though you don’t believe the institution of marriage is forever, do you think your marriage is forever?
Yes. To an extent, I do. Because, like I said in the beginning, marriage has to be what you make it. You have to, even in a situation like now where we’re in a transition, marriages have to transition along with the people. Marriage can’t stay stagnant or that shit’s going to crumble. I have to make my marriage what it is. And that’s why you have people who have alternative relationships, or they may… I don’t know… they customize that shit to fit them. So to me, that’s what marriage has to become. It’s going to have to be forever because we have kids. We’ll always be linked. Those little souls bind us.
MW: You have a daughter, right?
Yes. And three boys. Pray for me. (laughs)
MW: If your daughter came to you and said she wanted to get married at 21, what would you tell her?
Don’t do it! (Laughs) Don’t do it. You better wait. You better have your shit together. You better know who you are. Because here’s the deal – you’re going to change throughout those years. He’s going to change throughout those years. So you better have a good grip on who you are now. And at 21, I don’t think you do. Because you’re entering into everything. You just getting in the club! Who the fuck are you at this age? You don’t know what your personality is like in the club until you get in the club. (Laughs) You like oh, I’m the drunk bitch in the club or, I’m the single bitch in the club that’s going to block everybody off from the other single friends. No, but seriously you have to figure out who you are, what you want, where you want to go, what you’re going to accept. She has to be who she is and she has to be aware of being a woman. And that’s probably going to be a book I write, teaching girls how to be women, straight up. Like, I want all of that. Before you even think about getting with a man, I want her to be… I can’t say established because you’ll spend a lifetime trying to get established, but just being stable in being a woman.
MW: What is the most important thing about being a woman?
Good self esteem.
MW: Which is all wrapped up in knowing who you are.
Yes. Healthy self-esteem. One of the big things with the age she’s at now is teaching her how to groom herself. As she gets older, nails have to be done. I’m not talking about shallow shit, you know, or making her shallow, but just grooming yourself. When she gets to be a certain age, I want her to have pretty underwear. I shopped at Victoria’s Secret at 15. I thought I was doing something wrong and my dad found out, but he was like I’m so fucking happy that my daughter shops at Victoria Secret. High end underwear. My girl is going to do that.
MW: You just changed my life and you don’t even know it. I’m never going to buy a five pack of Hanes again! (laughs)
MW: My mother would never let me wear black underwear. She never took me shopping for pretty underwear because she thought it would me fast or something.
And that’s the fear. That’s the fear and that’s just so not cool. I did that up until a certain age but when I got to high school, I got my nails done and I got my hair done and I got my eyebrows arched and I wore Victoria Secret underwear and I had body mist and body spray. I knew I was the shit, fuck you. (laughs) You not hitting this because this is prime Grade A. And that’s the most important message that my girls have to know. See when you do all that and you put all that into yourself it does something to you mentally. To the point where, when you get a dude and he try to come in and bring you a whole bunch of garbage, or he come to you and he looking like he about to help somebody move, you tell him, you ain’t getting ready touch this. You’re not. You’re not touching this.
MW: You just taught me so much.
He’s got to know it’s prime grade A. It’s a mental thing with girls. You have to do that. When you get married and you don’t have yourself established… I watched myself go lower on those rungs, and constantly have to put myself on the back burner. I’m tired of that.
MW: This has been an awesome talk.
I know. (laughs)
MW: Thank you so much.
You’re welcome doll.
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