Collective Retrospect: “You’re Not Married. You’re Trapped.”

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Last week the interwebs and social media were up in arms and edges about this post that Sista Lorraine Kamesha shared her thoughts on marriage structure. Check out her thoughts:

The dialogue was varied – but there was a common chord: The perspective of marriage and the roles that women play in them is all over the board.

“You’re not married. You’re trapped.” This line really pulled up some feelings more than a 90s playlist among women. It drew some of the following questions we saw as comments to repost: Do you feel that women become trapped in marriages? Is the over-achieving mode of women forcing them to over-do themselves in marriage? Is marriage even seen as a partnership anymore?

One of the biggest “whoa” moments were one woman felt that even though she is the breadwinner that her man should be the main provider among the household. That’s another post for another day, but this made us at 32 Letter pull 4 collective points laced with our point-of-view:

1. How important is balance and partnership in a marriage or relationship?

Candace: Balance and equal partnership is the heartbeat of a successful marriage/relationship — without it, the union dies. The ‘ship can’t move forward if two parties are not thinking the same or if one half is not willing to follow the other when it comes to decision-making. I would also toss in humility and respect as a critical ingredient.

Christina: It’s very important to balance responsibilities in a marriage and/or relationship. Those “ships” are partnerships that if everyone isn’t rowing the boat together you’ll get worn out and at some point will be in a standstill in the middle of the ocean because your arms are tired.

Nadia: Many times we see these memes/posts/articles on think pieces about how women should operate within relationship and don’t see that same insight carried over towards men. To me, that has curated an unbalance that many relationships experience today. By constantly focusing on women, culture has allowed the man to not see the importance of balance and partnership. They [some] know teamwork for sports and with their bros – but miss the connect within their romantic relationship.

2. Is a relationship or marriage ever 50/50?

Candace: No. A relationship spent focused on who does more for the other is purely toxic and it’s, in a sense, playing tit-for-tat. Your partner might be the best cook in the world — and therefore designated to handle all kitchen duties, while you, on the other hand, might be better at reading bedtime stories. Every relationship is different. It not about 50/50 — it’s about you both being 100% happy.

Christina: Unfortunately, that’s not totally realistic. Life happens where one half may get laid off or the other half might get sick and the other has to pull the weight more than before. While it’ll be nice that a relationship is 50/50 that’s not possible because of the unpredictability of life.

Nadia: The only thing in life that is 50/50 are when you bet half black and half red on the roulette table. Outside of that you are going to have days in which you are 60 and your mate is 40.

The thing is to understand that relationships are constantly flowing and both parties must understand that that their definition of the relationship would develop as they grow. If both don’t allow to nurture the relationship – together – it will not grow. As a culture, we focus so much on balance that we miss the mark on where there is imbalance within the connection.

3. How has your past and current relationships made you view self-preservation?

Candace: Self-preservation was a non-factor in my life until I turned 30. In my past, I was focused on being wanted and I was willing to do anything to fulfill that need — even settle for a relationship that was emotionally abusive. Now, I’m like ‘Bye.’ I don’t have time for the foolishness. I have to keep my sanity and inner peace intact.

Christina: I learned after my divorce how to appreciate and value myself. During that lengthy stint — the latter of my teens into the my entire 20s — I was so caught up in making sure his happiness was displayed I didn’t check in on me. And in the end, that fool was still miserable. I learned then that the only person that has the key to your happiness is you. Now I do whatever I want to do and whoever I’m dating will have to understand and know how to make themselves happy independent of me.

Nadia: I didn’t realize how much of myself I have given until I was off of the ride. While I have never been married – I take my relationships to the light as a partnership. I’m dating to marry, with intention – while not fully indulging it in the concept of an actual marriage. In the post, Auntie Lorriane spoke to how we want to make sure that everyone is straight until the point we fail to self- check ourselves. We become trapped in relationships when we aren’t sure of the relationship we have with ourselves. Some women focus to give so much, we have nothing left to give to the woman we need to be – for us. Pain is a lack of understanding (word to J. Cole).

4. How do you feel the perception of marriage has changed through the years?

Candace: I don’t think it’s changed all that much in recent years, but when I think about my grandparents and their union I definitely see a huge difference. My grandmother stayed by with my grandfather until he took his last breath despite all of his mistreatment and philandering. Staying loyal was just the thing to do. I was told that she didn’t even shed a tear at his funeral. For me, marriage can end if I’m not happy or being treated well. I see no taboo in divorce. It makes no sense to stay locked up in a partnership that threatens your happiness. I think these days my peers are rushing down the aisle for likes and praise on social media. So many people are wearing the mask of happiness just so they can be accepted into this sacred marriage club that isn’t in real. I have my fingers crossed for a long-lasting marriage in the future, but if it comes down to ending it, then so be it.

Christina: Before celebrity news/gossip became a thing, marriages were literally till death do you part. There is something about seeing how celebrities get divorced left and right; getting hitched after dating for 48 hours; reality t.v./talk shows exposing the private matters of a union and displaying the thousands of dollars folks spend on one day, that turned marriage into a joke.

Marriage, in my opinion, is supposed to be about two people joining together to build a life together. Those life goals — some individually made, some together — are still a joint effort. That may have been a confusing statement but if the wife wants to further her education, she needs her partner’s moral support through the late night studying until she slides across that stage. If at some point one’s mind changes and those goals change, it’s important to communicate that rather than take the easy way out by becoming deceitful and checking out — hurting your partner. This is a portion as to why the divorce rates are higher as well, it’s an easy way out.

Nadia: The perception of marriage is in two different decades — some withhold the theories of the 50s and others want to learn from the lessons of the past and revamp them to the current landscape. In the discussion post by Demetria L. Lucas – there were even some women who felt that a man should uphold the household even if they [ the woman] makes more than him. Many marriages fail due to placing so much focus on the expectation that we fail to try to adapt to the experience. Some have this ideal of weddings, marriage and that white fence that when we experience something different – we automatically turn off. Back in the 50s gender roles were so defined and now that things are shifting it is hard to push that gap. Look to the past for lessons on how to build from what wasn’t working to align with what will work for your marriage. Marriage shouldn’t be defined by the culture, but the couple that is in the marriage.

What are your opinions of the 4 points/questions? Are ladies deemed to handle it all, provide 50/50 and give mean sloppy toppy? Did Sista Lorraine preach or did she leave some context out?

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