He Said, She Said

It’s June. A lot of us can be fairly certain that at some time during this 30-day period, we’ll be dressed to the nines, craning our necks during Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus,” enjoying an open bar and doing the Electric Slide. Still, marriage rates have been declining for a decade. EBONY asked men and women across the country if the institution is becoming obsolete or whether it’s as valuable as ever.

Does marriage still matter today?

He said …

The institution of marriage has not changed; however, people’s mindset has drastically changed. For example, reality stars including Kim Kardashian and her 72-day marriage, Snooki becoming pregnant without being married and the women on the popular Housewives shows have influenced the young generation. It is not surprising that people would not see the significance of marriage.

—Roland, 45, Los Angeles

A good marriage allows a man to productively focus his sexual energy on one woman. That way, he can concentrate his other creative energies to be successful in his career or business. I personally believe that the lack of a healthy and enduring marriage is one reason that so many Black males are not on par with other males (White, Asian or Latino) in terms of career, business or financial achievement.

—Tony, 48, Dallas

I’m married with kids, but I think that if not obsolete, marriage has become less important for African-American men. Our women aren’t demanding more. They are settling for part-time or temporary relationships that end in emotional discord. Most men will take the path of least resistance, especially if there are no demands placed on them by the women they date.

—Ivan, 50, Atlanta

I have tried to [be a] role model for a marriage that is a lot of fun and that is a desirable activity. Many men don’t advocate the positives of being married. Like they say, “The squeaky wheel gets greased,” and I think more of us happily married men need to get SQUEAKY.

—B.J., 35, Washington, D.C.

I plan on getting married and enjoying all of the personal, professional, social and financial benefits of my relationship with my future wife and our children, but not until I further secure my financial stability for the long term.

—Rodric, 31, Scottsdale, Ariz

She said …

The actual deed of getting married shows how serious we are about our promise to one another. The commitment only begins to look less valuable when people enter into it like a dating relationship. If we’re only making this commitment until one of us gets mad, why bother?

—Camesha, 35, Los Angeles

Marriage is becoming less valuable because people do not want to make long-term commitments anymore. Spending the next 50 or 70 years of your life with one person is going to take commitment and work, and some people are not willing to work at it. Couples have to invest time in each other, going on retreats, for example. Most of all, they have to work at forgiveness, trust, being accountable and overlooking the faults of their spouses. Before a couple seals the marriage covenant with “I do,” they have to decide in their hearts and minds that divorce will not be an option.

—Darla, 47, Radcliff, Ky.

I’m not sure if I want to get married. Nowadays, I want a committed relationship with someone who loves and respects me and has his own home, where he can sleep two to three times a week. The goal isn’t for me to be married; it’s for me to be loved and to love someone. If the relationship leads to marriage, then fine. If it doesn’t, that is OK as well. I am married to my wonderful husband of 10 years, and neither of us would have it any other way.

—Tamira, 35, Orlando, Fla. —Shannon, 43, Wasington, D.C.

I have come to believe that most people want to be married, but no one wants to be miserable. Therefore, I strongly believe that relationship readiness skills need to be a core part of social curricula in school, church and most certainly within the family. I’m a single Christian woman who strongly believes in marriage. I look forward to making a connection that leads to a life commitment.

—V. McLeod, 50+, Savannah, Ga.

Read more in the June 2012 issue of EBONY Magazine on page 90.

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