Relationships

On Why You Should Change for Your Man

photo (1)“Don’t let anyone change you”

“Your partner should love you for who you are… as you are…”

“You can’t enter into a relationship with the idea of changing your partner… if you can’t love them as they are, then you don’t deserve them forever”

Raise your hand if you have heard one or more of these before…

I certainly have. It’s easy to believe that change, when explicitly requested in a relationship, can be bad. Often this conclusion is a result of deciding that when change is requested, nay, required, it is somehow an attack on who you are as a person— like a direct hit to your identity. Then the idea of changing at the request of someone who should love you as you are, feels contrived… almost like “Was this your plan all along? To woo me and then force me to transform to suit your fancy”?!?!

But sometimes changing for your partner… and for the health of your relationship is good.

Let’s look at Ginuwine.

As he said back in the day… even though he may be on TV, he is in fact the same ol’ G.  Fast forward to 2014, him and his wife are fighting on instagram as he foolishly posted a picture of their daughter with a caption implying she was a stripper— or whatever. I mean, I wonder how much Sole was telling him, “Babe, you actually can not be the same ol’ G… you should find a new G status to acquire that includes not being so faded on television that you are slurring your words in a live performance.” Perhaps if Ginuwine was a new Ol’ G, his marriage would be in a better place (and even maybe his career). ginuwine

Perhaps that example is egregious… because he should obviously change for his own good. But so… is that the standard? If your partner requires certain changes of you before you can move along in the relationship, is it ok as long as these changes are constructive? What if they seem constructive to your partner but may not be to you (as in, they are not destructive but you don’t find them particularly valuable)? Is it unfair of you to acquiesce and are you doomed to a life of sadness if you do? Will all your friends judge you and say you’re whipped?

I remember casually dating a guy in college that had been a childhood frenemy (I hated him until I was like 18… on everything, I wished death upon his life twice.) The fact that we were even casually dating was a feat. He was very headstrong, and I was very dogged in my beliefs, but we somehow clicked. I remember we had this long conversation about trust and what it means to really be vulnerable and show affection. He would always say that I was so hard. I thought I was doing really well with my smiley faces and the fact that I made a lot of time to talk to him. Over time, I became increasingly comfortable with him but I was still guarded. When it came time to go back to school, I told him straight up that I knew that this relationship was going to wither into the wind because we were in different time zones (Cali love #noTuPac) and he was a guy… so… we shouldn’t fool ourselves. He said we should just see what happens, and stay connected. I obliged. We tried to stay in contact but the time zone difference was killing us softly. I knew this would happen. I remember telling him that I knew this would happen. Even though we knew the time zone factor was an issue, he said it came back to me being an ice queen “hard”:

“You can’t ever just say how you feel Amma. If you miss me, tell  me you miss me. Don’t be afraid to be affectionate. I mean yeah, we always seem to be busy but you’re just not vulnerable”

“How can I be vulnerable when you are never around!?” I thought… crying on the inside but maintaining my nonplussed attitude on the outside. If he couldn’t handle my love…well… then… good riddance.

Fast forward ten years later, and in a number of relationships I have received a similar critique. It could be the case that I just attract these really soft, romantic types that do not reflect the archetype of the hard, emotionless African man I understood. Or it could be that I was in fact an African man Ice Queen. Upon realizing that the latter was closer to the truth (though the former is not mutually exclusive), I decided maybe I should try something different. Maybe I should change.

Here’s the thing… none of my friends take issue with my “lack of affection”— neither do any of my family members. They all love me as I am, and completely accept the way I show love (read: smiley faces and acts of service). Any changes I would make, therefore, in my propensity to show affection, would be at the strict request of the person I was dating. Thus: I would, in fact, be changing, for my man. Setting pride and ego aside and looking at this as purely wanting to make sure the person I am with is happy, one would be hard-pressed to find fault with my actions. Furthermore, these changes do not make me less “me”… in the ways that people know my character and general sensibilities. Yet, talking to friends about it… even in the abstract is often met with hesitance. “If you start now, will it ever end… what else will you have to change… blah blah blah”…

Most people understand that change is inevitable.

No one really expects to be the same ol’ G forever… but I think people take issue with the change being done for someone else, as opposed to for yourself. But what is really wrong with that? Am I less independent? less intelligent? less— anything because of it? And if the changes don’t make me unhappy (though… a bit… uncomfortable in the short term— open affection takes getting used to, I am fighting years of desensitization, allow!), isn’t it worth the effort?

All in all… I am happy with the changes I have made. Aside from making the other person in the relationship happy, there are also spillover effects for other relationships with friends and family. At the end of the day…I just cannot be the Ginuwine to someone’s Sole… it could never be me, me, me (*cue track*)

What are your thoughts? Should you change for your partner? Is changing for your partner a slippery slope? 

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Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day: Vulnerability is a Learned Behavior.

photo (3)I’ve generally been a late adopter of things… I was probably the last of my friends to switch from a flip phone to a blackberry, likewise one of the last to get an iPhone. I’m only now jumping into the yoga phenomenon, and I just decided to give this natural hair thing a real try (yay for transition period… I think lol 🙂 ). Thus, it wouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s taken me this long to fully embrace vulnerability.

Over the last year or so, I can proudly say that I’ve been working on my ability to be vulnerable with people that I care about. It’s been a rocky road, but I’ve thankfully seen concrete progress. It hasn’t always felt good, but it’s definitely been good for me.

I used to have a real issue with being vulnerable. If you recall I wrote about this briefly HERE as a response to one of my favorite guest pieces on the blog, by Eli Tetteh (HERE). I know that fundamentally the issue stood with me seeing it as a sign of weakness. Let’s pause for a sec, because there might be some questions as to the relevance of this post to our generally fun happy-go-lucky dating stories. Welt, 1. I think the topic is important- because, just like it was for me, a lack of vulnerability can lead to the downfall of some of our most intimate relationships. And 2. It’s my blog and I get to write whatever I want this is somewhat therapeutic for me.

unnamed (1)In any case, over the last year, I’ve made a conscious effort to come clean to myself, my God, my close friends and other relationships more than I have ever done so in the past. This has included opening up about my fears, insecurities, and failures to close friends; telling someone that I loved them for a long time although I knew he never shared the same feelings for me (and knowing the admission meant closure of a chapter in my life); and yes, even becoming way more open on this little ol’ platform right chere through pieces like this, thisthis, and who could forget this. The consequences of doing these things, I will tell you have not always been as I would have liked, BUT I’ve learned a lot more about myself in how I love others and how others love me… more than if I had never opened up. I’ve learned that there is no intimacy without risk (intimacy… … into me see… … see into me). There’s no seeing into me, all of me, without risk. I’ve learned that we tend to fear vulnerability, not realizing that without it our hearts aren’t able to fully love… For if we cannot open ourselves up, we can’t appreciate the wonders of what is inside (BOTH good and bad). And this also has ripple effects on our relationships.

Be your authentic self, and trust that those that are supposed to be with you will be drawn to you, and will stay.

I’ve also learned a lot about the power of vulnerability to take relationships to a new level, and to also sift out relationships that are not meant for you. I’ve learned that people need to earn the right for me to be vulnerable with them (spiritually, emotionally, and physically)… because any time you give up power, you have to trust the person you’re giving power to. I’ve also learned that just because someone earns that right for me to be vulnerable with them, doesn’t mean they are necessarily able to handle the weight of my vulnerability.

I know I am saying ‘learned’ for all these things, but the truth is that I am still ‘learning’.

So again, why am I writing this? It’s mostly because I know I’m not alone. And I want to pass on the message… Being scared of rejection and failure because of vulnerability is in essence being scared of love. True love. You cannot separate the two. I’ve included below a Ted talk on the Power of Vulnerability by Brenin Brown (BB). It’s a really powerful video on how to have a correct view on vulnerability and how being vulnerable is the only way to fully love and be loved for your authentic self. If you’re on any kind of journey of self development or exploring why certain relationships aren’t working, I’d encourage you to watch the vid.

I jotted some notes while watching the video (for those that do not have time to watch):

  • It takes courage to show your imperfections.
  • Authenticity produces connection.
  • When BB observed people in her study who were vulnerable, she saw that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful  (which is sometimes contrary to what we tell ourselves: “what makes me vulnerable makes me ‘ugly’ “)
  • Vulnerability is at the core of shame, fear and our struggle for worthiness (to be loved), but it’s also the birth place of joy, creativity, belonging and love.
  • You can’t selectively numb the ‘bad emotions’, without numbing the good emotions… Letting yourself experience emotions such as fear, shame, vulnerability allows you to better experience emotions such as joy, peace, love.
  • Lastly, and this isn’t directly from the vid, but my big takeaway this year is:

Vulnerability is not weakness. It’s a sign of strength.

Amma? Readers? Thoughts? What’d you think of the video and how does it relate to your personal life?

Dear Lola (and Amma). Pt 2 of Faith, Fidelity, and Family

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WHOA. I don’t know what to say, but THANK YOU. I’m not one to be very outwardly emotional (y’all know this), so you can probably imagine the inner struggle I had writing and actually posting my last blog, but your response has only confirmed that it was the right thing to do. After posting ‘Knowing Before You Know‘, I received so much love through calls, emails, whatsapp messages, informal discussions- thanking me for being so blunt open, it was kinda crazy weird. Not to mention the fact that y’all really shared the post – it was the highest single day viewed post in the history of this blog, by more than double… ya, crazy times.

So without getting too emo on you again, I wanted to say thanks for the encouragement and support…and the sharing of the post! It’s great to know people relate to and appreciate what we’re writing.

On a last note, I want to clear up that that post wasn’t about bashing the guy or men in general; there are great guys out there, and I actually think he’s one of them. Judging from the way he treats his family and friends, I know he’s going to be a great husband to his wife one day; my post was about the fact that ‘she’ wasn’t me… and I should have been more attentive to the signs so I could have bowed out of the game much earlier and been on a path to find the person who was for me.

Anyhoo on to my actual post, which is a response to Amma’s piece on Faith, Fidelity and Family.

– – –

photoIf I’m honest, I’ve often wondered if when this subject would come up. In fact, it’s such a dicey topic that it’s taken me over three months to pull a response together. Amma and I have had several too many conversations to count on this topic, because it’s a little too close to home for us. Like Amma, I also grew up in a strong faith-based home. Although not quite the Pentecostal hooting and hollering-type, it was definitely the grounded in faith, grounded in The Word and church-type. And like Amma, I also fell in love with someone who didn’t share in my faith  was basically atheisty- agnosticy, and I had to grapple with how I wanted to proceed. Following the relationship, I still have to say that my feelings toward being with someone outside of my faith aren’t hellbent on ‘no’. Too much has happened since then for me to know that life is complicated, and sometimes love is complicated too. So as much as I would love to be with someone who shares my same beliefs, I can’t guarantee that if put in the exact same situation again, I wouldn’t continue on with the relationship… And that’s just real talk.

The topic of inter-faith or faith/no-faith relationships has reared it’s head several times in the last few months, not only with the referenced letter in Amma’s post, but also with an intriguing conversation that I had with some new friends of mine here in Accra. And because you know I love to retell a good story… let’s begin:

The setting is the apartment of a young married couple in Accra. I’m having a friendly discussion with the man of the house about everything and nothing in particular. The conversation slowly steers towards the standard, “how is life in Accra treating you as a ‘returnee’ ‘half-outsider’?” Armed and loaded with my ‘young returnee answer tool kit’, I respond politely that things are fine and uneventful.

“And dating in Accra?”>> ‘bold, much?’ I think to myself, ‘this usually doesn’t come up till further into these types of conversations…’ But still, I present my neatly packaged response: “uneventful.”

“Are your standards too high?” Was the subsequent question. Which for now I’ve come to expect when I give anyone a less than stellar response to the “Are you seeing anyone?”-type question. Unfortunately for me, the one word response of ‘No’ is never believed by whomever I’m speaking to, and spending time explaining how their assessment of me is incorrect is always a very conscious decision because it means getting into an exhausting argument exchange that I’m so over before it begins. However, as life would have it I found this gentleman mildly worthy to continue engaging with me on this topic, so I gave him a half truth in response, ‘I’m not picky, but I do think wanting someone that loves Jesus in a genuine- genuine meaning not illogical fanatic way**- is hard to come by these days (read here how some studies brand Christians less intelligent than atheists).

“Aaaa you’re one of those. Like my wife.”unequally-yoked

“Excuse me?”

“My wife is religious, and I’m not in the least.”

From here, he proceeds to tell me their story and how things work for them in a faith/no faith relationship. For some context: this is a young, well educated, well traveled couple with no kids. However, this isn’t the end of the story- his wife walks in and he invites her to join in on the discussion, which puts an interesting spin on things. I won’t waste too much time on the details of the rest of the exchange, but my two takeaways from the conversation were these:
1. It can work- Inter-faith and faith/ no-faith relationships. However, the can is a very big can. And that work, is very real work; and,
2. It is not ideal for the party that is Christian (particularly if this is the woman).

Obviously, I don’t know the ins and outs of Mr No Faith and Mrs Faith’s marriage, but as it pertains to #1, what I mean is that heaven doesn’t rain down fire and the world doesn’t come to a screeching halt (like some Christians would like to believe). However, undoubtedly sacrifices have to be made: Mr. No Faith mentioned he accompanies his wife to church on occasion because he knows ‘it’s important to her’, and Mrs. Faith mentioned that she doesn’t share with her husband her ‘God experiences’ knowing he wouldn’t appreciate them (I believe her actual words were, “he’d probably laugh”). In regards to #2, I say this isn’t ideal for the Christian spouse because marriage for Christians is supposed to have a deeper purpose of being one of the most important ways God uses to demonstrate His Nature -how He loves, how He commits, how He sacrifices, and how He forgives- to non-believers (and believers) on earth. Thus fundamentally, this is supposed to guide how a couple spends their time, money, and how they raise their children, etc. Particularly for the Christian wife, an ‘unequally yoked’ relationship isn’t ideal because men are looked to, in most people’s minds, as the (spiritual) leader of the home. Amma pointed out that this seems to be something women ‘obsess over’ more than men, and I think it’s because there is no substitute influence over a woman’s life and her children’s than the leadership of her man on all matters spiritual and none. With the number of ‘single’ women I see at church, children in tow, I often wonder what the dynamics are at home (for example, what is their continual response to their children when they ask, ‘How come daddy doesn’t have to go to church?’). [If you want to read more on this, here’s a good article on whether interfaith marriage is always wrong, from a Christian perspective].

I think similar to Amma’s dad, Mrs. Faith having crossed over the hurdle of nuptials has the luxury of saying things like, ‘you should try to find someone you’re spiritually compatible with from the get go’- which is indeed something she said during our conversation. Because both she and Amma’s dad successfully found someone they actually connected with enough to marry (even church and hateif it was only on a physical and emotional level), hindsight is now 20/20… especially when you’re rendering advice to single young women like me and Amma. But for us who haven’t been fortunate enough to have found our ride-or-die, lover, roomie, best friend person to share our lives with yet, we recognize that it’s quite a tall order these days to find someone who you connect with – mind, body, AND soul. And things become more complicated when you add in the fact that the difference between some Christians and non Christians is inconsequential, for the most part now. It also doesn’t work in your favor when you’re smitten by a particular type of guy- the highly educated, highly analytical, highly opinionated critical thinker who is not drawn to fables about an intangible God up in heaven looking out for us (and dictating how we have to live our lives), much less His incompetent followers gouging money from poor unsuspecting gullible people *side eye*- yes, Amma and I dated iterations of the.same.guy. Although these men were supportive of our individual relationships with Christ (and have a lot to do with why we have individually matured in our faith/beliefs even now), I know our relationships with them would have been richer if we could have been able to-

…pray with them and not at them

… go to church with them

… make jokes about the Israelites in the old testament stories with them (really, Amma?)

… encourage them through scripture and (co)prayer

… and talk about hearing from God or experiencing a move of the Spirit without them rolling their eyes and/or smirking, just like Amma said.

However, I also know being a Christian doesn’t guarantee connection/compatibility (nor fidelity, honesty, good communication and all that other great stuff), so I can empathize with Lola that she was captivated by her husband by something other than his spirituality. I am happy that she found that special someone, and I recognize that people do change (note that it’s generally accepted that men take a longer time to ‘find religion/spirituality’ than women), but I also know that it’s not my job to change anyone, it’s God’s. So while not making any judgments on Lola’s situation, if I were to end up being with someone not of my faith, rather than placing stipulations on what their spirituality has to become ultimately, I would make peace with who I was marrying… as he was. And I would certainly make peace with the fact that I may be forever trucking to church solo, children-in tow, answering questions like ‘why doesn’t daddy have to go to church?’

**What I mean by this is you actually know why you believe what you believe, and how it translates to practical living, rather than blindly following any hooting and hollering pastor of the day, or just going to church because that’s what your parents did.

On Being Better than Basic

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This is a response to Afua’s most recent blog post “Go Check Your Wife, Now!”

– – –

Amma: “Yo…I saw you called. You never call. Whats up?”

Afua: “Girl! Guess who texted me”

Amma: “<insert names of many an antagonist in the Afua Telenovela of Life>”

Afua: “No…. ***’s wife”

Amma: “Who?”

* face palms*

* rolls eyes *

*<shows other general signs of incredulity>*

I HATE… with a scathing hatred, when women approach ‘the other women’ about their relationship issues. Does that even make sense to you? Do you really think that if your man is going to step out, the woman is some seductress trapping your man with fetish powers and flirtatious text messages? Are you a fool?!

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That is what I wanted Afua to say to her, but as Afua noted, she decided to take the high road of not even responding at all— well aside from the blog post. In a secret fantasy of mine, I hope she happens upon the post and sees how ridiculous the situation even sounds. After we had a ‘could one person be so dense’ fest… I started thinking about Afua’s stance on keeping in touch with exes in relationships… and now I am starting to wonder if it is all a function of age.

In high school, when it was all, semester long relationships… maintaining a meaningful friendship with an ex was an excusable thing because a) you could totally fall in love again in college or after and b) what you shared wasn’t deep enough to throw a whole wrench in your social calendar. No reason to make going to the movies with the group this big awkward experience.

In college, when you thought you would marry on your graduation day and you didn’t, it still made some sense to at least KIT. I mean… networking. Plus…you could always fall in love again in five years if you were not married and there was no one else (was I the only one making these social contracts?). In any case, maintaining a superficial relationship with an ex… the kind Afua described in her last post, made a lot more sense at this stage than in the next one.

In Quarter Life, when people are actually getting married,having kids and forming these intricate family/ friend relationships with their play groups and reading clubs for moms, it would seem really out of place to insert yourself in that situation at all. Like how does a conversation as a single woman sound when you are checking in with your ex who has three kids and is planning a family vacay? Surely the banter you cherished will be a little– distracted, no? Plus… there’s no chance of rekindling the flame at this point. Don’t let  bollywood nollywood hollywood fool you… we can’t all be The Good Wife.

So maybe Afua should amend her rules. No talking to exes who are married— with kids, unless they can literally get you a meeting with the Obamas period.  Because clearly folks go ham to protect their family unit… even if the main threat to the said unit— is an actual member of. the. said. unit. #noshadeImage

My favorite part of this is how much people have been commenting on Afua’s insistence that the wife is a basic chick. I haven’t met her… and she is probably a lovely girl with many qualities that make her wifey material (hashtagcancook hashtagwifeytings). Furthermore, she is at least very committed to eliminating all threats at any cost… which is the sort of Ride or Die, thug lifeness that most men dream of… so I have heard. So at least she has that as a redeeming quality to her ‘basicness’… and she was the one he wifed… which threatens me to ask: is better than basic… better? 

I mean… maybe at the end of the day even the most sophisticated of men don’t want that in a pairing. Perhaps having a women who, “…hasn’t traveled much or at all, hasn’t gone to university, she’s quiet, (very) young- there’s about ten years between the two of them, and she’s the seemingly shy and submissive type.” is a better long term investment. I had the most interesting conversation with two guys I work with. They were explaining that as folks who have experienced both US and GH living, they seem to be at war with themselves. On the one hand they want to be around someone who pushes them, challenges them and provokes them… but mostly they don’t want to come home to a two or three hour session on the latest in political economy. **guffaws**

Who is out here trying to give you three solid hours of political economy?! You get the point, Amma.

I do.

So here we are going in on the basic chick… but she is the one that has the quote ideal guy unquote to sleep next to every night, while Afua is left to her intermittent discussions of political economy once every six months.

Again… is better than basic really better?

*shrugs*

Clearly a woman of more style, grace, class, wit, and sense would have avoided the aggressive text message in pursuit of a 3 hour long conversation with her husband about how the political economy of their household was bound to come crumbling down like the Roman Empire if he did not delete his ex’s facebook, twitter, phone number, instagram, snapchat, googleplus, email, and LinkedIn (what have we come to…!!). And perhaps the right response for the actual woman of style, grace, class, wit and sense is to just avoid all of the exes who hold no future value in terms of relationship and marital bliss.

But maybe… the real lesson here is that: being a basic ride-or- kill die chick >>>> the better than basic chick– chick.

#jussayin’

Dear Lola (On Faith, Fidelity and Family)

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,

photo (7)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.

Essentially. *shrugs*

ImageEveryone 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…

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His Fidelity

ImageOk… 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.

His Family

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?

His Faith

ImageAlrighty… 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…

willywonkaatheist… and to go to church with 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: ramblingroomies@gmail.com.

Patiently Waiting,

Amma

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!

CHECK OUT AFUA’S RESPONSE in Part II HERE!

The List: Decoded

photo (7)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.

Career

Screen shot 2013-07-25 at 10.51.03 AM

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

Looks

Screen shot 2013-07-25 at 10.45.03 AM

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

Screen shot 2013-07-25 at 10.48.24 AM

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!

Screen shot 2013-07-23 at 5.19.56 PM

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!

600_NotMarriageMaterial-275x275So what did we learn?

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!

The Overflowing Fountain of Youth

photo (7)

I am not complaining about the fact that Jesus gave me baby bottom skin.

I just want to make clear I am grateful that, as they say, black don’t crack and the cellular make up of my skin allows for me to avoid the worry of wrinkles and crows feet.

Having said this… I think my skin is stopping me from being great. Wherever I go… if I am to be approached I can almost guarantee that 95% of the time the guy is younger than me… by at least a century. I have been hit on by so many high school aged/ uni freshmen that its disheartening. And it would not be as disheartening if there was the balance of sophisticated suave men of my age group trying to pick me up at airports.

So first I was like… do I smell?

Should I wear my degrees on my forehead?

Should I walk around in blue/black/ grey and get a FLOTUS bob… it totally works for Afua.

Maybe I should wear make up… weaves mayhaps?

Anything to repel these small boys, abeg!

I recently concluded that in my next relationship story I should date someone who is older then me. I have had my share of younger guys and I think its time, as I consider a long term forever type of situation, that I make time for more established men. The problem is… The ones I have met have been too rigid and super… Well… Boring.

Its not like I need tattoos, earrings and jays (though I’m still a sucker for a proper pair of sneaks— trainers as they’d call them here). I just feel like I need someone who can balance being a useful member of society with utterly useless moments. For example, is it absolutely positively necessary that on BBM or other chat platforms I use proper greeting etiquette? If I hit you with a ‘yo’ or a ‘question?’… We should have the understanding that all of the niceties that might normally precede are included. All of the ‘How was your day’ and ‘how are you this fine blessed mornings’ are part and parcel.kerrywashingtonandhusband

Or is it just me?

Well recently Kerry Washington got hitched to a Nigerian football player 5 years her junior (and no… It wasn’t for papers). I gave her a standing ovation in my mind and then I thought… Maybe its not me. At the end of the day, if I can’t establish a working social contract with guys my age… That doesn’t make me a mad woman… Does it? My dad thinks dating younger is crazy and my history hasn’t helped my cause… But Kerry gives me hope, have you seen the guy?.

*Two slow claps*

images

– – –

photo (3)Bright colored clothing. Abnormally high 80s style ponytails. Large thrift vintage store jewelry.

You do smell.

We all smell.

Even before we open our mouths, we have an odor aura that projects statements about us, right?

I’ll admit when I first picked up on this trend of yours, I was disturbed. ‘Amma, for the why?’ ‘You do know men mature slower than women’ ‘Can’t you at least get someone your own age.’ But now, honestly I’m warming up to the idea, and for two reasons. 1.) I used to think you needed a serious man to balance you out, but the more I know you, the more I know you have an internal balance already, and 2.) The older we get, the less age matters (within reason)… So for these younger guys, sha: if you like it, I love it.

I don’t understand this new conclusion for your next relationship, because in terms of your list of priorities for a forever type situation… a guy’s ability to be outright silly and abreast with popular black culture trumps age, period. And the former tends to be found in guys that are of a certain age group. It’s not a bad thing, it just is what it is. You and I both share the blessing of a ‘baby face’, and on top of that I also stand proudly at 5’2 on a good day (I lie, 5’1.5, but who’s measuring), however I recognize that if I were to meet someone attractive on a flight for example, say from Kumasi to Accra last week, my first few exchanges with him would not be about the differences in the release of ‘Yeezus’, ‘Born Sinner’, and ‘MCHG’. (Dear Reader: If you don’t know what any of those three things are, it’s okay).

So, my point is…

FLOTUS-110148996365

It’s not the face. It’s what you place as priorities for your mate as well as for yourself, and how you project it.

I will say this, the combination of being ‘down’, yet enlightened may be a little difficult to find in Ghana… you usually get one or the other. Most of these youngins make it through your first tollgate, but remain parked there, ie. they would not be able to spar with you about the merits of Moyo’s ‘aid is dead’ argument vs. Gates’ ‘aid can never die’ argument  (Dear Reader: If you don’t know what any of those two things are, it’s just a little less than okay). But there’s hope for you yet, because your predilection is likened to that of Kerry Washington’s, so hopefully with a population 5x the size of Ghana’s, you can pick up someone suitable from our friendly neighbor… road trip soon? large