Why Marriage is the Ultimate Commitment Partners Can Make to Each Other
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
Marriage is more than a piece of paper. Let me repeat that statement. Marriage is more than a piece of paper! Depending on your religious convictions, it is a prerequisite to marry before starting a family. Putting religious beliefs aside, the institution itself is encouraged in our society through tax incentives, retirement compensation, and benefits. Spouses or parents are the only ones who can make health and legal decisions for incapacitated people. An episode of the reality show Love & Hip Hop in which Mendecees Harris’ attorney reminded Yandy Smith that he couldn’t disclose much information about her fiancée and son’s father because they aren’t yet married, painfully reminded viewers that many benefits are exclusively for married couples.
In the African American community, marriage for various reasons, including negative socialization and economics is not valued as it is in other racial and ethnic groups. Studies have shown that this has played a major role in the current epidemic of broken black families and the disproportionate amount of single mother homes in the Black community. Black women must establish early in a relationship that marriage is their goal. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, a pro-fatherhood organization, married fathers are more likely than unmarried fathers to remain in the household. When most men marry their thinking psychologically and morally shifts to a family mindset versus a single man mindset when in happy and healthy marriages.
African Americans have to feel that they are capable of functioning productively in a marriage which begins with a change in the mindset. African Americans must also stop pointing to the 50% divorce rate and referring to their few experiences with dysfunctional marriages as indicators that theirs is destined for failure. For black women in particular, these reasons should stop being used as excuses after unsuccessfully attempting to get boyfriends or the fathers of their children to marry them.
Ideally, marriage brings a sense of eternal partnership and belonging. It makes you feel like you have someone going through this crazy thing called life with you. The studies show that people are healthier and happier in good marriages. It’s also the best visual a parent can give their child when teaching family values. They will learn what they are supposed to do by just seeing their married parents interact. Let’s encourage marriage in our community and set this standard of expectance and follow through when dating.