"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.