by: Debbie Wright
According to Census Bureau (2000) reports, there has been a steady decline of couples of all races getting married. For the past thirty-six years, the marriage rate has gone down by fifty percent. More couples are opting to live together rather than "risk" their relationship to a marriage that has a fifty percent chance of ending in divorce, per current U.S. divorce rates.
However, for African Americans, the decline in marriages is disproportionate when compared to the general population. Approximately, sixty-two percent of white adults marry. Conversely, only forty percent of Black adults marry, which makes singles the majority among Black adults.
The low marriage rate for the underemployed, incarcerated or impoverished segments of the Black community can be easily explained but highly successful, educated, upper income Black professionals are following the same low, marriage rate trend. The reasons for this marriage deficit varies depending on whether you are speaking to Professional Black men or women. Gender relations within the Black community have been sited as one of the many contributing factors to this marriage issue.
I interviewed both men and women on the matter and came up with some very interesting findings. The men wanted to make it positively clear that they do desire marriage but not at the same propensity and timing as women. Many of them admitted that their professional success afforded them the opportunity to choose from a greater pool of women, which affects how long they choose to remain single.
During a series of roundtable discussions, I held to explore this subject; the men revealed that their high stature in the community positions them as a perceived commodity in the eyes of many single Black women looking for eligible men. In addition, according to the men, this further delays their timetable for marriage. They expressed concerns of women wanting to marrying them for their bank accounts and not their character.
Many of the Professional women I interviewed were less than optimistic about their likelihood of ever getting married. They are setting up their lives, buying homes, having children, without waiting to become wives. Some by choice, but the majority of the women stated that their options were extremely limited.
"Black men aren’t marrying us," says Monique, a 41-year-old single mother and successful, professional woman living in Los Angeles. This sentiment was widely expressed. To sort this issue out, it is essential for more Black women and men to come together and bridge the communication gap that separates us.
Forming casual roundtable discussion groups centered on the issues that affect relationships between Black men and women would be a great start for anyone interested in taking some action and building better relationships. The group should be no greater than fifteen men and women in order to allow for deeper discussions. The facilitator should focus on one issue and allow participants to share their views and experiences. This is a good way to generate productive conversation and encourage more dialogue on the marriage delay. True progress and greater communication in our relationships can only come by listening.
About The Author
Debbie Wright is a freelance writer and editor/creator of www.umojamix-blackpeoplemeet.com.