If you have not already read the story of Lola and Dayo, then definitely check it out before proceeding in order to get the context and background story.
Dear Lola Akindele,
First off let me say a big, huge congratulations. I am actually really jealous covetous happy that you have found someone with whom you can share your life. Afua sent me a message about a 93-year-old man who wrote the most beautiful love song to his recently deceased wife of 75 years and I hope that I too can one day experience the joy of meeting my ride-or-die lover-roomie-friend. After reading your letter, I was at first challenged in my faith. I know that I too believe that God can do outstanding things in various areas of my life and I definitely believe that it is in His power to bring me a tall dark handsome Lecrae-esque Obama character who will engage me in freestyle battles and discussions about DuBois and Foucalt God fearing man. Nevertheless, as someone who has dated an actual atheisty- agnosticy person, I found it very interesting that your partner was originally Muslim. Not because those two things are alike, but because in my super conservative, Pentecostal Ghanaian upbringing, to date someone who is not Christian, is essentially a banishment to the deepest depths of hell.
Everyone I have ever known in all of my life has always said that we should never make it our mission to change our partners’ beliefs. I mean we can change our partner in so many other ways but in this one area, we should essentially just ‘not be unequally yoked’. Yet, after reading your story the second time, I am now burdened with a myriad of questions about religion and relationships. When I consider my own parents, I know that my father was not a believer when he married my mother (a woman who was like—literally—3 sneezes away from becoming a nun) but that he eventually came into the faith and after she passed, his faith has only deepened. Yet, even he will advise me that it is in my best interest to just ‘get it right the first time’. What’s interesting is that I love my dad. I baaaasically want my husband to be a 30 year old version of his 60 year old self (I know— talk about impossible standards). My dad wasn’t a ‘bad’ person when he wasn’t going to church with us or making us listen to Elder Mireku jams during long family trips. And I loved him then as I love him now, but I do notice how his countenance has changed. And I wish I could ask my mother the questions that I am now coming to ask you. So here goes… three essential questions about faith, fidelity and family that I want to know about your Saul-to Paul fairytale wedding…
Ok… so I completely understand that God told you he was going to become a Christian. But I do not get why you were dating before that actually happened. Why couldn’t the two of you have just been bff’s (since that’s all you were given the whole ‘no sex before marriage’— ‘no marriage before you get saved’ thing)? Why did he have to pledge his fidelity to you so early in the game? If I were him, I would be thinking, ‘Hmmmm… welt… since you know without a shadow of doubt I will come to Jesus… let me philander and/ or see what else is out there and if I come back to you a saved man… we just walk down the aisle the next day.’ And if it was his decision to date you in spite of yourself, what would compel a man to do this… especially one who may not understand all of your visions, dreams, signs and wonders? For me… I believe in a God born of a virgin who resurrected after being crucified. I recognize how ridiculous this is (foolish things confound the wise… its true) and I am therefore able to believe the other supernatural utterances of the faith— I mean really anything after that is possible. BUT for someone who has a completely different faith base, how do you convince him to stick around? And how does he not get weirded out by your uber spirituality? In my experience, I have found these things met with smirks, eye-rolling, face-slapping and general derision… so I want to know how that all panned out.
Now it seems your family was super involved in this plan for his soul. And that’s great… because we all know what they say about families that pray together. But then… what about his family? Because we also know that when you marry someone, you marry their family and from your letter it is not clear that anyone else changed their beliefs. How do they feel about the fact that their grandbabies and nephews won’t be called Ismael and Jamal? How do they feel about the influence of your prayers on their son? How will that affect your relationship with them going forward? I guess this means you won’t be coming around for the Eid celebrations then, eh? And what about the kids… I mean, a whole side of their family is Muslim— are there any implications for how you will raise them? I mean, my mothers father was Muslim and so a number of people on her side still practice the faith. It did not really have much an effect on me, but then we were separated by time, space and water, and I am assuming his family will be a bit closer. Any thoughts?
Alrighty… soooo a soul is won for the kingdom. We rejoice! My question is… how will his infant faith and your adult faith come together in your home? Can he really be the head of household and the spiritual leader of the home if his faith is literally the size of a mustard seed while yours seems to be a mustard orchard of sorts? I know that the measure of faith isn’t necessarily time… but then if he has been Muslim his whole life there are a lot of things that he will have to change in his thinking to grow in his faith. Chief among those is the value of faith for salvation as opposed to ‘works’ for salvation— and even we Christians don’t get that right. And I am not sure when you plan on having kids but will he be able to admonish them in the faith? Is that important to you?
There are a number of very interesting nuances that come to bear when we talk relationships and religion. I, for one, do not have any the answers. After all my talk from my Pentecostal days about only dating ‘a man after God’s heart’… I ended up with someone who actually said, and I quote, ‘I, like Biggie, would rather go to hell than be stuck in heaven praising God’ end quote. To his credit, he was very disciplined about reminding me about living out my faith (without being all ‘… are Christians supposed to do thaaaat?’) and a lot of my maturity happened because of my experiences with him. Nevertheless, while I learned a lot from being with him, especially about what I believe and what I value in my faith… I wish I could have been able to pray with him and not at him…
… and make jokes about the Israelites in the old testament stories with him (Golden calf?? Really?!?! After you see a whole Red Sea parted… REALLLLLYY?! Ha!)
… and to encourage him through scripture and (co)prayer
… and to talk about hearing from God or the move of the Spirit without him rolling his eyes and/or smirking
I think it’s awesome that these are things you will enjoy with someone who is in your faith and yet, as you can see, I still have questions and concerns. I would have really loved to get Dayo’s perspective because it would have helped a lot with some of my quandaries. I have been talking to Afua a lot about this whole ‘marrying outside of your faith’ bit, and I am certain things are easier better when you are both strengthening each other with the same foundational faith. I see this in my parents’ relationships and some of my friends who have married recently. I also know that Christian marriages falter at about the same rate as secular marriages and actually more than those of other religions like Islam. I think a lot of that is more a testament of our own walk and commitment to God when we make our vows, but I think I will save that diatribe for another day. I am genuinely interested in understanding this, and though I have included my usual sarcasm and wit, I do in all sincerity have these concerns. We will be awaiting your response in our inbox: firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS. Afua? I know you got something to say girl… because you know it seems we Christians are the only ones up in arms about this whole inter-religion relationship thing. I went to a Muslim wedding in Tamale where I met loads of guys who said they could marry outside of their faith with no hesitation (don’t know if the same is true of women in the faith)— but that struck me as very interesting. In fact, most of the guys I know (Christian or otherwise) would be fine marrying outside of their faith. So is it just a thing us ladies are obsessed with? And if its gendered, why is that? And if its just our religion, why is that? Sheesh… all these questions!
My uncle, who is a marriage counselor, frequents this blog from time to time, and after reading my take on logistics and love, he took me aside and said, ‘Afua, I think you need to believe in love again.’ I don’t know what happened, and I don’t need to, but you need to start rebuilding your faith in love again.’
Although I don’t think I’m jaded on love, perhaps my blog(s) come across a lil more ‘matter-of-fact’ than ‘hopeless romantic’. And I think in my quest to be pragmatic in life, I’m less able to, as Amma says, ‘suspend reality’, so perhaps my uncle does have some-what of a point. In any case, he recently gave me a book (A Match Made in Heaven- Inspirational Love Stories) in order to encourage me to believe again that love always finds a way, that people can meet in the most miraculous ways, that your future spouse can have the guts to wait for you & not settle for whatever comes along (because of age/ time/ family pressures), that if its meant to be its meant to be, and that age and time are no match for the power of love, and all that other good stuff. So I’ve started reading the book – each chapter a new story of how a couple met and fell in love (sometimes in the most miraculous way… or even more touchingly, in the most simplistic way).
For those of you who can’t get your hands on a book like this and also need to jump start your belief in love again, I want do share a short clip with you (it’s ten minutes of your life…just watch it). I was already in tears half way through. I guess you can say I’ve begun drinking the kool-aid… a little.
A while back, when this blog was the official bandeka blog, I told a reader that I would post her response to a blog that I did. In getting caught up with the move to Rambling Roommates, I never did. Although we’ve moved on from the topic, I still want to honor my commitment… so see below for the thoughts of one of our readers. She is responding to this piece that I wrote, which was a response to this previous guest post.
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I think more than anything this black man/white woman thing is a phase/status thing. In my observations (based on family members and two exes who married out of the race) black men actually want black women (and vice versa) especially the older they get. No one wants to grow old with someone who has foreign customs and culture and they also want their children to grow up with their culture and learn their values. When we are young we are open and flexible to life but the older we get, the more we experience the world and try to make sense of it and find our sense of belonging which makes us want to retreat to our cocoon of comfort and what we know, namely our customs and culture. Also, there comes a stage in a man’s life where he expects/looks for a woman who “is like his mother” because again that’s what he knows.
Where (in my opinion) we “fail” as African women:
1.We forget who we are and get so caught up by the blinding and false promises of Western culture that we shun our customs and norms and name call them names in our bid to be white sorry I meant Western there I go again, I meant to modernize ourselves.
2.Ladies, yes we are very capable of anything a man is capable of; in fact anything a man can do we can do a hundred times better (sorry brothers but it’s the truth :p) that being said we should not try compete with our men. A man needs his place to be recognised, he needs to be honoured and respected (WOAW before you come baying for my blood ladies and reminding me of women who fought for my rights please listen with an open mind). Fact: men are stronger than women (but that does not make a woman any less of a human being) and as the stronger sex they should be the protectors of a home and that is what African culture (as well as other cultures) dictates. I’m not saying the man has to be the sole provider and the woman has to be subservient to him just that men and women are different and not just anatomically. We each have different strengths and roles we bring and play in a relationship. Yes, be ambitious but do not try to dictate to your men and STOP trying to be a man in the relationship. There’s a saying in my culture that you cannot put two bulls in one pen it’s the same with a relationship you cannot have two men in a relationship (unless it’s a gay relationship but even then one acts the role of a man). If you honour your man he will honour you back and support you and your ambitions.
3.In response to Lady B’s song: one, Beyonce was just selling a song. Secondly, none of us knows what Beyonce does behind closed doors. We don’t know what she had to compromise and put up with to get that ring.
How the white woman hook our men in:
1.They are light skinned, have long silky hair and colourful eyes
2.They give them the honour they are looking for and make them feel like a MAN
3.They are open to compromise and are willing to do whatever to please them (e.g. move across oceans)
But they also end up messing it up in the end, when they’ve secured their place their true colours come out and they start dictating, demanding and become less compromising and that’s when our brothers come back to us by that time we’re willing to try anything and are more open to compromise. (LoL)
Last bit: I once shocked my white colleagues when I told them that I want a bride price to be paid for me, I’ll never marry an uncircumcised man and when I get my husband shall be KING of my household. They were shocked that an “educated and independent” woman like me would think like that. But I told them that in my culture that is how it is and I know when I make him my KING he will make me his QUEEN. I’ve seen it, I come from a family of strong, educated and working women (mother, grandmother and even great-grandmother) they honoured their husbands and they had successful marriages and I’ve had three marriage proposals before so I guess I must have done something right. In conclusion, compromising and bending for our men is not an off-set of giving up our independence.
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Now the only few words I (Afua) will say about Anon’s piece stem from this article: Below are some interesting facts and statements from the article, which lend to what our reader has noted above. The article is quite on the money, minus the ridiculous amount of underlined, italicized and bold font… and this is why I’ve taken the liberty to separate out the interesting points for you. Although the article is about black relationships in the US, I think some of it applies to Africans in the diaspora and on the continent too… sometimes we get disillusioned with what we see (cough…the guest blogger), and forget the entire picture.
The interracial genocide of Black love is a FALLACY… When news organizations put this garbage out, we eat it up
95% of Black males marry Black women
We easily believe all the negative and depressing commentaries about the state of our community and our inability to LOVE one another, even though the FACTS prove otherwise
Eighty-three percent of married Black men with an income of more than $100,000 put a ring on a Black woman
Black men with college degrees also overwhelmingly marry Black women to the tune of 85%
By 35, 75% of Black women are experiencing bridal bliss, and have headed down the aisle at least once
All this BS about the Black man’s exodus from educated, successful Black women is FALSE and unsubstantiated
When you look at the percentage of Black men out there who comprise interracial marriages, the reality is that those men most likely did not EXPLICITLY choose a white woman over a Black woman, they choose what was most available to them
Also, some wise words to all black female bloggers were included in the article- we must be responsible in our speech: ”Stop propagating falsehoods because you are NOT adding intelligent and intellectual commentaries on a “serious problem””.
Thank you, author. Your words are noted… (hence the ridiculous number of black love pics in this piece )
On another note, if you want to have your say on Rambling Roommates, let us know: email@example.com.
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I’m pleased to announce that in the matter of my exhaustive search for an apt, save a boyfriend, I have found myself a humble abode, and have successfully moved in. *Let’s all have a moment of silence*.
Side note: For those that don’t know me personally… I took a slight detour out of the country for work for a few months. Not important. But what is important is that during this time, my room was
snatched given up to another person, not as awesome as me… so technically Amma and I aren’t roommates anymore…physically, but in spirit we will always be.
But I digress.
Since moving into my apt, I’ve had to get my house in order- sorting out my Internet, dstv cable, my cleaner, getting roommates, doing some touches to the apt, and other seemingly menial tasks. Now that I am in what I would consider a ‘semi-stable’ state of life, one of the things I have vowed to start doing on a regular basis is cook.
I’m not sure if I should be announcing this to the world, but I don’t enjoy cooking (like others do). It’s not a deep hatred of sorts, more-so just something that’s not high on my list of pleasurable activities in life (watching the food network, high. eating, high. actual cooking, not so high). Living a lot on the road, in temporary situations, in hotels, on my company’s tab…these things don’t lend well to me being my own personal chef, and in the last little while, I haven’t had to do much of it. In times past when I was in a situation where I was established in an apt, it wasn’t any more economical for me to cook for a party of one, particularly when you add in the opportunity cost of doing other things with my time. So thats the context in which we find ourselves for this blog.
The funny thing is that some folks, even those close to me, equate enjoyment with ability… So a month ago, an old roommate of mine took the liberty of forcing a dinner party of six on me…one in which I would host & cook. With this
invitation badgering, it became evident that folks were hoping some sort of failure would occur to confirm preconceived notions: ‘But afua, can you actually cook?’ ‘You know you can’t use your house help for the dinner.’ Saa?*** Hmmm k. Well, it’s a good thing I’m up for a challenge, especially when I know the truth about myself, and that people would be put to shame.
And. put. to. shame. they. were.
I am happy to report that, I threw down… hard. Cooking a three-course delectable dinner -don’t play me. ‘Wow afua, this is really good.’ *side-eye* ‘Is it, really? I’m glad you like it.’ I
won’t will toot my own horn, because I had folks chowing down on food that they don’t even like, don’t play me. Or Amma, I dey lie? Like I like to say, don’t come for me… You will get stepped to, hard. Thank you.
Now that the air has been cleared and corrections made to folks’ asinine assumptions, I must ask: does my stock go up because I can recollect how my mother told me that this spice and that spice go better together, or because I can follow a recipe? Am I not the same woman as I was prior to you tasting my food? Am I any more or less ‘wifeable’ because of my culinary skills? …Well, you have to provide food for your family, folks say. It’s even biblical (Proverbs 31). *le sigh* Yes, this actually came out from my friend’s mouth. Well, I can’t argue with you on the bible, but what I know is that I’m not any less of a woman or any less of ‘wifey’ material before I cooked for you. I feel like folks need to relax on this cooking thing. I think people get caught up on things that naturally take their place- clearly I will
have to cook for my family, and for those women who don’t know how to cook, they will just have to figure it out- you’re gonna HAVE to learn at some point or find someone to do it for you. I guess it would be different if I couldn’t cook, but my issue is one of desire *le sigh*.
I met a friend of a friend who flat out told me (with amazing pride) that she doesn’t cook (she has a husband and two kids)… And she’s Ghanaian AND HE’S (born and bred) GHANAIAN. *Gasp* ‘Nope, I don’t cook… But what does that have to do with me providing food for my family?’ Good question, I guess. Is she any less of a woman because she has someone cooking dinner for her family, something that is tres common in this part of the world, might I add. You gotta find what works for you AND your spouse. If he’s cool with it, what be the problem? In Africa, it is easier to hire domestic help… So if women aren’t physically doing the cleaning or cooking, BUT it’s getting done (and they’re overseeing it- which isn’t a small task in itself) then what be the issue
, Lydia? Why do men, and other women for that matter, equate your ability (and desire) to cook as a super plus plus on the wifey material scale. It’s quite primitive, no? Now that we’re in an era where women work equally as long and hard as men, why is there still an expectation that the woman be the house cook and maid?
So if you’re not the traditional woman in the household, what do you bring to the table? Another good question. Firstly, can I say this: why do people act like African women who don’t cook don’t get married (have you ever met a woman never married say, “I wish I had learned cooking because thats what created my singleness.” Let me throw a caveat in here, I am talking about singling out the ACT of cooking, and not cooking as a representation of something bigger, ie. taking care of your husband, family, home). Secondly, to answer the question: there are a lot of things one can bring to the table apart from cooking, including: support for your man, peace of mind ( you’re a good cook, but you’re a nag 24/7…what’s the good in that?)…lets continue, your sex game is on point (both in frequency and performance), you’re honest with your man, you’re charming and have good morals/ ethics, lets see… You’re faithful, you’re confident in yourself, attentive, compassionate, you handle your business (and ‘take care of the home’), you stick up for your man, you’re respectful, and have respect for yourself, you’re a good mother, you’re caring, considerate, your vision is aligned with his … Or, these things don’t matter??
Yes, there is something to serving/ taking care of your man, no doubt… but tell me how a man would deny a woman with the qualities above if she didn’t cook or didn’t like to cook… OR is this a stigma thing with friends and extended family??? You know folks always say women are the ones who have unrealistic expectations of men, but this is one aspect of wifey that both men and other women perhaps need to rethink… I mean what are the ACTUAL necessities to a happy home. Or perhaps I’m rambling nonsense… And need to advertise myself to the world with the following hashtag: #icanACTUALLYcook
I’ll end with a little sermon I was listening to on the radio the other day. The gentleman speaking was discussing why he believes his marriage has been successful for 34yrs. He simply said, ‘I place no conditions on my wife.’
He went on: Love is the decision to commit and to meet the needs of someone else without any expectations. If there’s certain expectations, there will be disappointment (because we are human). Disappointment leads to divisions in the home, which often leads to divorce.
He used the example of waking up that very morning and going to iron his own shirt… I place no expectation on my wife to do it for me. And doing so means I am appreciative every time she irons for me… Every time she cooks.
I do believe this is the most convoluted post I’ve done since My Trip to Pluto. Lydia, it’s not your fault, clearly I have issues
when folks come after my wifeability and my ability to be a good mother. I still love you.
But on the real, certain conditions do destroy a relationship, and we need to challenge what it means to be a wife. Wifey doesn’t equal being a specific mold. Because as soon as you can’t meet the expectations… what happens to the love?
***This is a Ghanaian expression in twi for the phrase: ‘is that so?’. In my case here, sarcastically.
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Tell em’ why you mad, Afua!
I mean you mad, right?? Hahaha…
The thing is, I do not think that it was ever a sum zero game. I do not think that the point of bringing up cooking was to say you would make a terrible wife in its absence. I think that you are right, in the game of ‘ would you rather’, any man would rather an understanding, loving, supportive, sex-kitten over one who can just cook. But it’s never that kind of dichotomy is it? The truth of the matter is that the debate around being able to cook is more about what ‘cooking’ represents than the actual act.
As you admitted, your job had you jumping around the world and working RI-DI-CU-LOUS hours… at that rate, if you were married with that job, when would you have had any time to do things like ‘cater to your man, be supportive, etc. etc. etc.’— you would never be around. The amount of time, effort and emotional investment it takes to make a satisfactory meal that you can be proud to serve is equal to so many of the other attributes you listed— especially coming from a woman who is herself fully immersed in career and other extracurriculars. But this goes for both men and women really. Why do you think folks get all kinds of excited when they find out a guy can cook— #noBobbyFlay
Furthermore (perhaps unfairly so), women not being able to cook having the desire to cook has been associated with other things like:
- not wanting kids
- not wanting to raise kids without a nanny present 24/7
- not spending time out of the office
- being an egotistical, maniacal, OCD’ish crazy
- Oprah Winfrey
I think more than the Bible and all others, it’s really about what not cooking/ desiring to cook could potentially mean for your character and your ‘maternal instinct’. It’s definitely not fair— and somewhat of an erroneous causal relationship, but it’s so engrained in the social fabric of ‘Africanness’ and ‘Womanhood’ that it seems it would take an apocalypse to reverse the trend (good thing I plan on riding the Jesus train out of here… so I won’t have to find out myself)…
But there is hope yet… as you rightly pointed out. You. Can. Cook.
And even if you married a man that never required it of you… you would probably do it at some point anyway because on some level you have slurped the misogynist koolaid recognize what it means to cook and how intimate it is for both your husband and your kids. Not to mention how many cool points you get from the in- laws.
Cooking is one of those things that’s like… a nice back massage… or a serenade after work… or a surprise vacation to Turks and Caicos for your birthday weekend. It’s just icing on a cake… and who just eats icing??
So in defense of our silent roomie… and still somehow in agreement with you: not being able to cook does not de-wifey you, but being able to cook can upgrade your already existing wifey status.
In my last post we established there was a survey and people responded...
Let’s get the boring bit out of the way. I considered making an infographic of the demographic information, but I didn’t want to incur Afua’s judging eye. You all know she wishes she could do hates my diagrams. *brushes shoulders off*
So here is a round up of the makeup of those surveyed:
- 34 women responded to the survey
- Most of the women surveyed were between 22 and 30
- Over 2/3 of them have Masters degrees
- The demographic is basically split 50/50 between living in Africa and living in the US/UK/Europe
- A majority of them are either in business or nonprofit/ policy type of work
Essentially, all of the women who responded are iterations of Afua and I— so yes… selection bias… *we know*. But it’s interesting that within this selection of women, there were varying levels of expectations. Yes, we did find that most of them were fairly together (good looking, well educated and well situated in career/ finance). However, there was a lot to be said in terms of values (religion, communication, wellness) for both themselves and their partners. The graphs below illustrate how women responded about themselves and then about their partners.
Some of the ladies admitted they were walking around aimlessly or only sort of where they want to be, while they expect their mates to already ‘be there’ or be really close. Someone commented that this was because they want a man who is head of the household and is able to be a leader in the home. I speak a lot to guys about this topic and many of them would prefer women who are with them on the come up and who are willing to be part of their career journey. To them, gold diggers aren’t just the uneducated video vixens that Kanye raps about looking for a ticket out of the ‘hood— someone’s else’s words… not mine. Well. Ok. Sorta Mine… but paraphrasing from guys on the matter. I don’t think it makes you a gold digger for wanting someone who is well seated in his career. However, there seems to be some insecurity on the guys part about genuineness from a woman who’s lost in her own career path but holds solemnly to his firm foundation. And then there were the women who were ok with someone equally situated in their careers. Nothing surprising there. But if you are a woman with a masters degree, six figure salary and excellent 401K, couldn’t he just be en route? I mean, is nobody at least willing to be with someone who is not quite all together… yet? Michelle was killing the game before Obama meandered his way onto her radar… and we see how that turned out right? One respondent put it this way:
“…Career focus is a close 4th, but it’s not to say he would need to be or aspire to be a CEO. He needs ambition matched by action and follow through and he’s good with me.” #touche
This was an interesting one. Yes… Yes… its true: All of my friends are hotties. No… you can’t have their numbers. But while most of my girls are fours… they are willing to be with threes. Which is to say, they are willing to choose to be with someone who is less attractive than they see themselves. There were individuals who want more attractive men, but I know them and it’s near impossible because they are definitely really good looking. Nevertheless, it looks like attractiveness isn’t as much a priority as I hypothesized… or at least that looks aren’t the sum game of attraction (though it certainly doesn’t hurt). So this is essentially a middle finger to those who say the problem is
educated black women all want Denzel’s and Chris Attoh’s. We would be just fine with the Idris’s Tyson Beckford’s errr, regular guys of the world.
Health and Activity
I laughed when I saw this because it sort of reminds me of how I generally hate working out, but definitely don’t want a guy that doesn’t excel at some sort of sport. I see my sisters agree. The narrative is: ‘Look— I am going to hope that my metabolism does not slow down and these fries don’t catch up to me… but you— you BETTA not get fat.’ I mean I, like my paddies, fall somewhere between being a total lazeball and remembering to skip rope from time to time. As long as we both don’t end up looking like the Klumps… I think this is fair. I know guys who say the opposite in that they expect a woman, after child birth and desk jobs, to somehow manage a Victoria Secret figure. As if!
Most Important Characteristic: It seems in our survey that the most important trait for everyone is monogamy, followed by religion. The comments people left offer insight into the interplay between religion and monogamy, and make it clear that we want loyal husbands above all. The first quote rightly points out that the interplay is still flawed because no one is perfect and people are tempted no matter what their spiritual affiliation:
If hes a christian, issues related to monogamy, and a few other categories shouldnt be a problem….shouldnt….shouldn’t
It is really important that my future mate is very supportive. I think that a lot of these characteristics are great independently, but if there isn’t that love and support base then I don’t think you have much long-term.
Religion/spirituality and monogamy tie for third. A man who shares similar spiritual beliefs will should also (in theory) highly value monogamy. Career focus is a close 4th, but it’s not to say he would need to be or aspire to be a CEO. He needs ambition matched by action and follow through and he’s good with me.
I found it interesting that the second and third most important characteristics were communication and finance/ career focus. On the issue of finance, one person rightly noted:
The finance section is most interesting. One’s proclivity to have fully manageable accounts is different from your current state of finances and this is a gray area in the survey. For instance, though you typically may have money management on lock, recessions, education financing, family circumstances or other components may skew the answer to be “out of control debt/ broke as a joke”
I was mostly correct in my hypothesis except for the bit about looks. Attractiveness was not even a close fourth or fifth which should restore our belief that woman of high caliber are not superficial women with impossible standards.
As if fifteen metrics were not enough, someone also pointed out ‘respect for culture’ as an important ideal. This is really important in the African context when we consider the diversity of ethnic groups and the increasing inter-ethnic/ interracial phenomenon. They had this to say on the matter:
Culture… it is hard to be with someone who does not value culture and or is not open to people of different people. For example, he has to be willing respect rule and follow traditional practices out of respect for me and out of interest. not just say ok thats good for you… he need to be interested on his own also if he is from a different culture he should know enough to share with me!
Well— really smart, good looking Afro women want monogamous men who may not be that attractive but are more fit and more ambitious than they are. They want men who have similar ideals with respect to sexual proclivity, number of children, political inclination and attitude. Essentially– partners who can be leaders in and outside of the house. I wonder if this is a really antifeminist conclusion (I will leave that exploration for the discussion). *shrugs*
Funnily, a work mate of Afua’s once commented that men could only be two of three things: good fathers, loyal husbands, excellent businessmen. Either you get a good father who is a great business man but cheats… a dead beat dad that’s faithful and has a great job or… a man who is both a great father and husband but can’t hold a job. Based on this, I would say that women want a good husband with a great job… I don’t know where that leaves the kids though… no one is perfect right?
So I have to ask, if you could only choose one of the three combinations. Which would it be? Sound off!
To see the rest of the graphs and charts from the survey, click here for the google analytics.
*** All quotes from the respondents are taken verbatim. Even if they have grammatical errors, you can catch the spirit of the words… so… catch them. ha!
Towards the end of grad school, I had a friend who began to talk about babies all.the.end. I didn’t understand it. It got to the point where she told me once that she believed her womb was ripe for a baby… ‘Your womb is what now??’ Again, I didn’t understand. But somehow, I’m beginning to (Read more about baby fever here). Although many of my peers are getting engaged and married now, I’m not feeling that ripeness to do so (mind you, I feel it’s time to settle down in a longterm relationship that’ll lead to marriage, but I’m not feeling the ripeness to be married quite yet). What I am feeling of late is a little tugging of this baby fever…strange, I know.
My friend sent me the picture below with the note, ‘you know your child’s going to have attitude like this, right?’ I could only laugh… not because there’s a high probability that what she said was true, but because of late I’ve been thinking a lot of what my ‘mini me’ will be like. What characteristics will s/he take after me? My outspokenness? My attitude? Or, my slight OCD-leaning tendencies or other quirks, perhaps? Not only this, but what will my child(ren) take after from my significant other??
I’m curious, how much does baby fever influence dating choices – to date someone and not to date someone? And I’m speaking here for BOTH men and women…
“Hun, it’s not you… it’s
memy unborn child…”
We haven’t done a poll in a minute, so let me know what you’re thinking..
I’m finally getting around to responding to Eli’s guest post… It’s taken me a little while to finish this… starting and stopping several times. As Eli knows, this is a sensitive topic for me. Something I’ve struggled with in the past.
Vulnerability is scary and often unnatural to many people. I find the latter even more-so true with Africans given that our culture encourages us to suppress (and sometimes not even acknowledge (certain) emotions). One of the main reasons for this is that being vulnerable is viewed as a sign of weakness and exposes flaws…and within a relationship dynamic, this can translate into very real negative consequences, ie. your significant other discovering that they do not want to be with you anymore. So people keep quiet. They conceal themselves. Or become who they believe the other person wants them to be. And this is why many relationships/ marriages have shaky foundations.
Time is the unassuming key factor in this equation. Rightfully, it should have a multiplying effect on vulnerability in order to achieve intimacy. In my opinion, opening up to someone gradually makes for a stronger bond- there’s just something about getting to know someone intimately too soon which screams warning signs (that crash and burn scenario). I know people wouldn’t be able to handle all of me in the first conversation, nor would they be able to understand certain things about me unless there had been a foundation set over time… for example, appreciating that I’m really not as tough as I want people to think I am, first, will allow you to better understand that my feminist roar really masks my burning desire to be an amazing wife to a great man one day… To take care of him… be his support… his best friend and the mother of his children…
One of the tough questions that Eli touched briefly on in his piece is how long should one wait to become vulnerable with someone – emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically- and is there an order which guarantees success? Is it best done all at once? My roommate and I were discussing the romantic landscape of our current lives, and she said something I really connected with: there’s something unnerving about meeting someone out and beginning the relationship on a romantic level right away. Her desire, and frankly mine as well, is to develop a friendship with a guy and for things to naturally blossom. Is this too idealistic? Who knows. But in my experience, the best relationships last when a foundation of spiritual and emotional intimacy is laid first. If I’m to be frank about things, I can accurately predict whether a relationship will be short- or long-term depending on how quickly we’re physical.
Opening up has been a journey for me, even with close friends. I’ve been guarded a lot of my life, because there’s always been an implicit persona that needed to be kept up… ‘the academic one’ ‘the good girl’ ‘the tough girl’ ‘the African daughter from a respectable home’. How exactly does one admit to their fear of rejection when she’s known as the ‘haaard girl’, you know. Although I’ve become better at opening up, I still stick to the premise that one does not necessarily need to share everything with everyone, and that means your partner too. Some things are just for you and your Creator. However, your significant other should be the one person on this planet earth who knows the most about you and who you feel the most comfortable sharing things with: not your best friend(s), not your colleague(s), not even your family, but your significant other- that’s just how I feel.
But to eli I would say this, a lot of people do not share
your our view that love blossoms out of vulnerability. I can “love you”, be married to you/be in a longterm committed relationship with you, and that have nothing to do with my emotional, spiritual (and even physical) fulfillment in life. Rather, my love for you is in how I take care of you- monetarily… it’s how I respect you as a woman and the mother of my children… but not that I necessarily share my feelings with you (perhaps because I don’t even acknowledge my own feelings to myself). Do we look at that couple and say that the man doesn’t love his wife if that’s his definition of love?
My friend wrote a tweet a couple days ago that really struck me:
vulnerability x time = intimacy
I wanted to hear more on the matter, so he sent me this:
Just my thoughts…
So, vulnerability x time = intimacy
Intimacy is born out of vulnerability. A person needs to allow themselves to be seen before they can cultivate anything real with someone else. The degree to which we do this is the degree to which we get intimate with another person. Unfortunately, many in our world (particularly in our generation) think of intimacy as solely physical. I don’t. It’s emotional, mental and spiritual before it’s ever physical. When we’re invested in ego, invested in reputation, invested in power and status… rather than invested in allowing ourselves to be seen as we really are — complete with chipped paint and all the requisite chinks in the armour — we sabotage our relationships. Many of my “close friendships” over the years could’ve very well grown and fluorished into a connection of the romantic sort… but in at least two or three cases, I made an executive decision and placed the woman on the bench… on account of her inability (more so, unwillingness) to be vulnerable.
Now all this is under the assumption that one has the time to achieve this. One of the things I’ve been reminded of since returning here [Ghana] is that intimacy comes quickly for me. Whether the relationship we have is platonic or not, I often get deep on the first or second question of the conversation. I’ve had people joke about how excruciating times with me can be… but also, how they end up being genuine, authentic and refreshing once they clear the hurdle of being reluctant about vulnerability. Most “normal” people take time to get “deep” however. It’s a gradual process. Even in long-standing friendships, when people have been apart for a very long time, once they reconnect, they’re usually slow to get back to the same level of intimacy. So a person has to be patient (to a degree) and wait for enough time to pass that a person can develop trust and confidence in the relationship… and feel comfortable opening up.
Now, some people are able to speed up this process. Particular demeanors, personalities and dispositions lend to this. Similarly, if you’re the opposite of these (cold, frigid, intimidating, arrogant) then you’ll cause people to clam up. So the speed can be varied.
But intimacy can’t be had without vulnerability.
And in most cases, vulnerability can’t be had without time.
Some people spend “years” in a relationship, but have no intimacy with their partner… because they spent those years putting up fronts and/or interacting on a functional level — “how was your day?” “who’s going to pick up the kids today?” “what’s your ePack fund looking like?” — rather than a vulnerable level — “what are your hopes? dreams? fears? what about yourself gives you pause? why does that quality in that person irk you so much?” etc…
So lessons I’ve had to re-learn since getting back to Ghana: intimacy is a lifeblood for me, and relationships are (more often than not) personally useless to me without it; vulnerability requires putting in the time, rather than expecting things instantly; the more the tendency to front, the weaker the connections between people will be. This is true at work, church, home, etc.
Hope that gives you an overview of where my mind was when I came up with the equation?
Eli just moved back to Ghana after being the US for some time. Apart from being my big brother and designated life coach :), Eli is also editor-at-large of Dust Magazine, follow him on twitter: @elidot
I’ll be responding to his thoughts in Part 2 of Vulnerability x Time = Intimacy. Stay tuned.
Having witnessed a flood of people getting engaged and married in the last 6months, I think I’m going to start a mini-series on marriage… so here begins the first piece. Enjoy!
If I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve heard of a young African couple getting married abruptly, and then <9months later welcoming a new child into their home, I probably wouldn’t be rich, but at least middle class status There’s no judgment, but I do find the differences in the African approach and the American approach to pregnancy before marriage quite intriguing.
Take Lady #1- a woman in her mid-20s who has been dating her bf for a few yrs. They were married this past year and recently had a child. The kicker isn’t that people know the couple got married because she was pregnant, but rather that it is common knowledge that this lady got pregnant on purpose because the guy was taking a long time to marry her.
Take Lady #2- a woman in her early 30s dating a man in his mid-30s for a couple years. Recently she has become restless about the guy not wanting to make a decision about getting married (his MO being, ‘what we have is good, let’s just continue what we’re doing). Her response has been, ‘I’m about to be out of this piece, why wait on someone who is just wasting my time?’
The stories are loosely based on the lives of women I know. I don’t think I have to tell you which of the two women is African either*. Again no judgment. Although there are some differences in age and how long each woman has been in their relationship, I think its okay to compare the two (dating for 5yrs in your mid-20s can be some-what comparable to dating for 2yrs in your 30s). Knowing the 2nd woman very well, I know she is very serious when she says she’ll be out very soon if this guy doesn’t express interest in marriage soon (and side note: I fully agree with her stance- in your 30s, after dating for 2yrs, you need not to be taking a ‘let’s see where this goes’ stance). This lady would NEVER, and I can emphatically say NEVER dream of getting pregnant to corner her bf into marrying her- she just wouldn’t.
Men hold out on marriage for various reasons (not ready financially, finishing school, looking to get to a certain place in their career), but sometimes it simply comes down to the belief that there could be something better out there. So if your guy gives you that spiel, should your action plan be to reel him in (through various means, including pregnancy), or should you let him go? Thoughts?
UPDATE on post – since I initially began writing this piece, lady #2 has in fact ended her relationship, and has a new fabulous bf who is serious about marriage.
*people, please no hate mail on this. I know American women get pregnant on purpose to trap their men too. However, from what I have seen, African men are more likely to respond to pregnancy with a proposal than American men. Correct me if I am wrong though.
I recently discovered the blog Mind of Malaka, and it has become one of my new forms of entertainment. Malaka is a Ghanaian blogger based in the US who writes about marriage, motherhood, and madness! In a post that I stumbled upon: “Spousal Stimulation Does Not Always Equal Arousal’, Malaka discusses things married couples do, which single people would not understand (or people who are just dating). I thought the piece was quite
disturbing hilarious, so I had to share. Malaka’s piece is a stark contrast to another article I was reading, which discusses a woman’s need for a little mystery in her relationship, ie. women should never let their men see them ‘putting on spanxs’ (or shaving their moustaches, tweezing their eyebrows or beards, or engaging in any act that relates to grooming, maintenance, and bodily functions the bathroom). I wonder if the latter is an old school of thought, while the other is the new norm for committed relationships. Before you jump to say that you have a history of being very open with your significant other, let’s run down Malaka’s list, shall we?
Let me also quote Malaka before I run through the list: “Let’s face it: there are things married folks do that people in casual relationships would never even permit, even as a passing thought. The bonds of matrimony are (supposed to be) that strong.” Here we go…
“1.Kissing your spouse in the mouth first thing in the morning without brushing your teeth.
2.Taking a dump in the same room while your spouse brushes his/her teeth.
3.Picking your spouse’s pimples and blackheads. (I admit, I happily did this when any guy I was dating would allow me to. Nothing makes my day like hearing a pimple go *squish!*)
4.Shaving each other’s pubic hairs
5.Cleaning up your spouse’s poo if he/she was too sick to get to the toilet immediately.
6.Cleaning up your spouse’s puke if he/she got carsick after a long trip.
7.Calling from the checkout line to ask if the “absorbency on these sanitary towels are the right level”.
8.Asking if the other party has gum, and being responded to with a partially chewed piece from the other person’s mouth.
9.Lying in bed playing the “make a new sentence with the last word of my sentence” game. (This is actually really fun!)
10.Farting in the middle of a heated conversation and carrying on like it never happened while the other person stares in disbelief before eventually fleeing the scene of the stink.
11.Scratching your butt, waving your fingers in your husband’s face and asking him if it smells like chocolate and/or roses.
12.Fighting over who gets to hide from the children in the attic.”
Still singing the same song??? OH me, OH my. On one hand, it’s great(?) that people can be so comfortable around each other, but I do wonder how one can keep up the sex appeal when you’re squishing the pimple of your spouse? Or scratching your …. let me stop. lol. I’d be interested to hear her husband chime in on the discussion. Given that guys are so visual, I wonder how seeing your wife take a dump while you’re brushing your teeth affects your relationship… or maybe it doesn’t at all…???
Regarding the other article, I wouldn’t agree with the author’s grand-old neighbor, who believes it is a sin to let your man see you “in a face mask, rollers or housecoat.” However, I agree that my desire to see my ‘other half’s ablutions or maintenance tricks, or for him to see mine’ is very low. Also, let’s point out that labors of love, such as #5 and #6 on Malaka’s list, don’t fall in the same category as say, #8…
What do you think? Better for the two of you to be ‘one’ for all intents and purposes, or are there some things that are best kept to yourself — POLL BELOW!