In case you’ve been under a social media rock, Rohan Marley, 39, son of Rasta reggae legend Bob Marley, is engaged to be married to someone else other than the Grammy Award-winning singer Lauryn Hill, mother of 5 of his 7 publicly acknowledged children. His fiancee? Brazilian model Isabeli Fontana, 28, the “other” woman alleged to be the final straw in the 15 year on-and-off again relationship between Marley and Hill. Fontana and Marley are planning on exchanging their vows in Ethiopia, the birthplace of the Rastafari movement. A website quoted Fontana as saying this past weekend “Rohan told me that we must return to their origins so that the marriage will last forever.”
Cause’ everyone knows that the long-term viability of a marriage is largely due to the locale of the wedding.
Marley and Fontana are engaged. However, they ain’t married yet. They haven’t even set a date. Still, their announcement has created quite the buzz online. Many are disappointed that Marley has opted to marry someone other than the woman with whom he has five children. I get that there is something threatening about the fact that a man could have enough kids to form a basketball team with a woman over the span of 15 years and never take the steps to make her his legal wife. Let alone turn around less than a year later and propose marriage to another woman…and a WHITE one at that.
Honestly, the lack of an engagement/marriage certificate between Marley and Hill doesn’t faze me…I understand that jumping the broom is not the defacto relationship end game for everyone. Maybe Hill wanted to get married to him. Maybe she didn’t. Who knows if she wanted to marry? The fact that they did or didn’t is no one’s business but their own.
What does irk me is that many of the commenters (who are largely women, I might add) essentially infer or come straight out and say that the fact that Marley never married her, even after having five of his kids, is a clear indication of Hill’s lack of self-love. Somehow, Hill is the deficient one in this drama. Not the twice-divorced bride-to-be who allegedly began an affair with Marley while he was still with Hill. Not the man who was willing to jointly create five children with a woman he “didn’t love enough to marry.” No, Hill wasn’t able to get this dude to wife her because she didn’t love herself. Because if SHE really loved herself, HE would’ve put a ring on it.
It’s troubling that there is a prevailing belief system in our culture that places superior value on married women. This patriarchal idea that a woman can only truly be secure in her self-worth and solidify her social standing through marriage is damaging, leaving unmarried women to question their value. Based upon this misogynistic attitude, women who for one reason or another are single have something seriously wrong with them. Because as we well know, the “normal” and “good” women in the world ALL have husbands.
This position that a woman isn’t complete or legit until the day she gets her (marriage) papers is extremely problematic – it’s thinking like this that can pressure a woman to stay in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. Based upon reports over the years, it seems that Ms. Hill has struggled with some serious personal demons. But that isn’t what folks are talking about. No, her biggest problem is that she couldn’t convince Rohan to marry her. And apparently, it doesn’t matter that Hill is a Grammy Award-winning performer who has sold millions of records. Nor does it matter that she is one of the greatest musical geniuses to come out of New Jersey. In the eyes of some, she’s just another baby’s momma.
Contrary to popular belief, marriage doesn’t automatically increase a woman’s inherent value as a human being. Look, I’m not anti-marriage. I’ve seen how it can be an amazing union that bolsters the individual and the society in which they live when it’s between two loving and committed and conscious people. And I get it: putting a ring on it is a big statement, however having a man pop the question or even marry you isn’t always an accurate barometer of how much he loves you or is even capable of loving you.
In my opinion, real commitment is not exclusively based upon securing a legal decree or a piece of jewelry. (Just ask those you know with faithless husbands). One’s love for a person is shown through one’s actions…it’s not a lifestyle choice. Ultimately, a woman’s worth should not be defined by her husband or lack thereof. It should be based upon who she is at her core as an individual, irrespective of her relationship status.
Sil Lai Abrams is EBONY.com’s Relationship Expert and the author of No More Drama: 9 Simple Steps to Transforming a Breakdown into a Breakthrough and a board member of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Follow her on Twitter: @sil_lai and connect with her on Facebook. Want Sil Lai's advice? Email SilLai@ebony.com to have your love questions answered in a future column!