In these modern times, we have seen a drastic change in the structure of the Black family. New generations are becoming increasingly sexually promiscuous and losing connection to traditional relationships and marital ideologies, including the concept of courting. What has changed our perspective on relationships? What has allowed couples to pursue non-monogamous relationships rather than those like their grandparents and parents had and have?
While we can blame the usual suspects–the lack of fathers present; women being too independent; and having unrealistic ideas about relationships–the more important question is where is the love? How have people separated themselves from one another to the extent that commitment to another human has become an almost frightening prospect; so frightening, in fact, that individuals would rather opt out of a permanent monogamous situation?
Could the real culprit be the lack of positive ideals and promotion of successful relationships and love? Christopher E. McMullen, Morehouse College graduate and entrepreneur suggests, “Everything we see, from music videos to television shows, and even the music we hear, always presents an issue in regard to love and relationships.
Let’s take one of the most popular television shows among African Americans today, BET’s ‘The Game,’ and look at the relationship dynamics on the sitcom. The most traditional of all the couples, characters Melanie and Derwin Davis, are dealing with Derwin having a child out of wedlock while the couple was separated a few seasons back. Even though the couple is married, which I applaud the writers for doing, I believe that this is the reality our generation now faces.
Because of the images portrayed in the media and the lack of knowing anyone in successful relationships ourselves, I think we’ve lost faith in the institution–love, marriage and children; especially in that order.”
Hill Harper, actor and author of “The Conversation: How Black Men and Women Can Build A Trusting and Loving Trusting Relationships,” tells Essence magazine “We have a great example of a really effective partnership in the White House. It makes all of us want some of what they got, which is a really good thing. But we’re not seeing those couples in our communities.”
Have we become so disillusioned with the concept of marriage that we no longer find this special? While the days of Cliff and Claire Huxtable are no longer present, shouldn’t we push promotion of a structured marriage and family?
Instead, we continue to see examples of the damaged institutions of love and increased focus on wealth. The desire, it seems, to have a life of luxuries has increased while the dream of achieving a life-long partnership enriched by love is slowly diminishing. For so many of us, we have begun to look at marriage as an optional achievement.
Joy Jones, writer for the Washington Post suggests that in today’s society “Sex, love and childbearing have become a la carte choices rather than a package deal that comes with marriage.”
She continues “As (a) woman realizes that a good marriage may not be as possible or sustainable as she would like, her focus turns to having a baby, or possibly improving her job status, perhaps by returning to school or investing more energy in her career.”
Being a part of a generation that is grossly impacted by an extreme need for instant gratification, the long road to a successful relationship and the work it requires to maintain such a union is becoming less traveled or desired.
The idea of achieving a happy and successful marriage is something we are still interested in having, yet it just appears less and less attainable. We are growing to accept the idea that a good marriage is something of the past. I have heard my colleagues utter from their own mouths, “Marriage is nothing more than a business transaction.” While society changes daily and the traditions of the past are just that, we should increase our fight for the institution that provides foundation, balance and love for Black families. However, none of this can be possible, if we don’t first increase our love for one another; for we are not battling each other, we are battling the world.