Pretty Women, Will He Ever Put a Ring on It—The Low Black Marriage Rate
By Maco L. Faniel
You see them at the club, church, the Urban League meeting, and the grocery store, on Facebook and Tagged, or like me at Starbucks – single ladies who can’t get a guy to put a ring on it. And you wonder “Why isn’t she married?”
That is the question that comedian and radio personality Marcus Wiley (a.k.a. Bishop Secular on the “Yolanda Adams Morning Show”) had that led him to create the stand up show Pretty Women Never Get Married. He said that he and one of his boys “… always chit-chat with women that they went to school with, and other women about relationships and the women always say how there are no good men out there. And we just could not understand that. They talk about what type of man they want, and they sound like they want a ready-made success story.”
Yes, there are a great number of beautiful Black women who are happily married and who keep the Black marriage rate stable. So, one would be foolish to believe that pretty Black women are doomed to singleness. One anonymous respondent to a Facebook survey about why pretty women don’t get married actually said, “They do; I’m married and I’m pretty.”
But there are thousands of attractive, educated, strong and healthy Black women who have never been married or are now unmarried. Why?
Someone could probably write their dissertation on this subject to try to explain the Black marriage rate, and why 41 percent of Black women are not married.
Are men the reason why the Black marriage rate is low? One respondent believes that “men are insecure and don’t want to commit to someone who can crush them, someone who doesn’t live up to their expectations of what a pretty woman should be/do.” Another respondent thinks that pretty women are victims of the fears of men because, “Dudes don’t approach the extra pretty girls in fear of rejection.”
But it does take two people to be in a relationship and move towards matrimony, so what role do pretty Black women play in the low marriage rate? Are they too picky or always looking to upgrade? A female respondent thinks that, “it’s because a pretty woman feels like since she’s pretty she doesn’t have to put anything into the relationship except for her looks. A pretty woman knows that finding a replacement is easy because, face it, men are suckas for looks, but looks don’t keep a man so she will always remain single.”
We seem to think that pretty women and “good girls” only like bad boys, and bad boys don’t have good intentions – especially marriage. But one respondent thinks that the marriage rate for pretty Black women is low because pretty women “are already married to themselves.”
When I sat down to talk to Marcus Wiley about his show and the Black marriage rate, he told me that he received some hate mail from many women for suggesting that pretty women never get married. Some people said “Who died and made you the answer to pretty women’s problems? I don’t think you should joke about such a serious issue. Women are out here and can’t find a good man and you are joking about it.” He only told them to come to the show to see what he had to say.
The house was packed with hundreds of people – single and married, beautiful people, all seeking to find out the answer to why pretty women never get married. The satire was marvelous – people were laughing and saying “aha” at the same time.
The Black marriage rate is not necessarily low because of scared Black men and vain Black women, but more because of the pretty perceptions that women have of marriage. Wiley says that women should, “Erase their picture of however they thought it was supposed to go, how he is supposed to act, and what he is supposed to do. Get the pretty – everything is supposed to be beautiful out of your head. That the man is going to be affectionate all the time; that the man has all his stuff together. That the man is going to be a provider. That he is going to be playing with the kids. How is he gonna do that when most of our fathers did not do that. We just don’t know how. A lot of things of how you think it is going to be ain’t how it is.”
And it is not just women who have the pretty perceptions of marriage; men have some expectations also, which contributes to the low Black marriage rate. Wiley says that, “Men want her to be like their mama, cook all the time. We think that we will have complete control, but that don’t work either. Some men want their woman at home, and don’t go nowhere. Women like to go out and have fun.”
When expectations are created, the expectations are actually set ups for resentment – we get mad or hurt when someone does not do what we expect them to do or be what we want them to be. Wiley believes that what women want out of relationships “takes time, so that means that the relationship is going to take some sacrifice in order to get there. You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather. We can make all of the fantasies and Kodak pictures. You can say that you want to be married by 25, have kids by 27, house by this age, etc. You can plan all of that, but you cannot predict the weather that will come. Now you are 30 and ain’t married, with two different baby daddies. Life happens, and you have to deal with it.”
Wiley, who is also a professor, says this for pretty women who really want to be married, “Not to settle, but be realistic. Settling is accepting something that you really don’t want. If you know that you don’t like dude, but you get married because you are lonely and because he wants to, then you are settling. You already know this. Realistic, is when you meet somebody that you do like and want, and just because y’all are “soul mates” and he “completes” you don’t think it won’t be some rain. There will be some rain, but you have to be able to stand it. Don’t forget that the person ain’t perfect. The theme of the show came from the Bible – Jeremiah 17:5-6. We can’t put all of our confidence in another person. We can’t forget that a person is human, he is flawed. He is flesh. You can’t put all of your confidence in flesh; you will continually get let down. And it ain’t that he is trying to let you down, he is just flesh, you can’t control him, and he can’t control it, it is what it is. At the end of my show, I talked about the seriousness of the wedding vows. – There is a better person and a worse person. So, wipe all the cool out of your mind. It is going to be rough. Look at the vows. You have to love the unlovable, and remember what you love about the person.”
There it is; pretty women don’t get married because of the pretty perceptions and pretty expectations that they have of marriage. The marriage is rate is low because relationships are real, and they require work. They require relating when you don’t want to relate and when your mate is un-relatable. So, it’s not just pretty women, it’s everybody who has false expectations, which contributes to the low Black marriage rate.
Pretty people with pretty perceptions, of pretty married lives, and pretty ideas of this thing called love, but pretty pictures take a pretty long time. So, pretty people need a pretty heavy dose of reality if the marriage rate is to improve. If your life ain’t perfect how do you expect another’s to be? So, no more pretty ideas of pretty things and pretty rings, but some pretty hope, so that you want be the pretty wings!
What do you think?
Faniel is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine.