Why Successful Black Men Are Shunning Marriage ~ Let’s Talk
by Rick Wallace, Ph.D., Psy.D. | The Odyssey Project
Successful Black Men Are Shunning Marriage ~When considering the $2 million per month that Nicole Young is seeking in her divorce from Dr. Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, the $15k that Kia Proctor (Cam Newton’s ex) is asking for seems minute. The truth is that these exorbitant figures are difficult for the average person to comprehend because the average person cannot fathom spending that much money in one month.
While there might be plenty to gossip about when it comes to these couples and their breakups, that is not why I am here. I was asked to weigh in on a weightier matter — when women go after the bag after a relationship has ended, does it negatively impact the willingness of successful men to get married? In a world in which prenuptial agreements aren’t worth the paper that they are printed on, are there ways for a man to protect his wealth? Aside from the need to provide for any children from the relationship, is it fair for a woman to expect to continue enjoying the benefits of being with a man after the relationship has ended?
Nicole Young is not the first woman to demand ridiculous amounts of money during a divorce. In fact, it is a routinely standard part of the divorce negotiations. Obviously, Dr. Dre’s net worth creates a vast space for ridiculous demands. I am not simply here concerning the demands made by women married to successful Black men, but to examine the idea that this type of opportunism has led to a decrease in the number of successful Black men who are willing to get married.
I will start with the disclaimer that I am more than willing to hear why Black men don’t want to get married, but I refuse to entertain any foolishness about why Black men don’t want to marry Black women. For the record, White women are reared to marry for money, so this is not an exclusive phenomenon as it pertains to Black women.
Defining Successful Black Men
We must be honest and admit that we live in a society where Black women typically outearn their Black male counterparts. Therefore, this prose does not address the vast majority of marriages in the Black community, where the woman is likely to have equal or greater earning capacity.
For the sake of clarity, we must define what is meant by a successful Black man. To keep things simple, we will use two essential criteria.
- Gross Income of $120,000 or higher
- Capable of being the sole provider of the lifestyle his family enjoys.
While the possession of liquid and hard assets definitely sweeten the pot, these standards will create the baseline of financial performance that qualifies the man as being successful. However, it is essential to acknowledge that on a grand scope of reality, success extends far beyond the confines of financial fluidity. I know quite a few men who don’t earn six figures that I consider to be successful. This discussion is directly related to money, so we had to establish a standard to anchor the discussion.
Marriage As a Business
One of the most fallible notions ever entertained is the idea that love conquers all. For decades, we have become enthralled in the concept of romanticism within the confines of marriage. We have reduced the covenantal commitment of marriage to a feeling. We have disregarded the notion of marriage as an institution through which the values, interests, and principles of two like-minded individuals can be perpetuated through generations. Marriage is no longer the environment through which principles are inculcated into the minds of children, and goals are set and met through mutual effort.
Most fail to see marriage as a business, and so they fail to plan for the financial navigation necessary to move forward as a couple. Married couples never consider the importance of a good exit strategy because they are leading with their emotions and never consider the possibility that they may grow apart. The failure to create a viable exit strategy leaves too much up for resolution during a time in which one or both parties will be in a highly emotional state of mind.
Long before romanticism was interpolated into the institution of marriage during the 13th century, marriage was more about two people from like-backgrounds coming together to achieve a common life-long goal. There was no such thing as irreconcilable differences. What we view as love was often something that developed overtime during the marriage — not before. The failure to see marriage as a business leads to erroneous expectations that facilitate chaos and frustration.
Why Successful Black Men Are Shunning Marriage
When respected scholars like T. Hasan Johnson start weighing in on celebrity divorces, you have to ask yourself, are there some significant dynamics worth examining. What I have been asked to weigh in on is the suggestion that many Black men no longer see marriage as viable. These new perspectives are primarily due to the potential of losing a significant portion of what they have worked so hard to create in the way of financial fluidity and wealth.
For the most part, I will refrain from commenting about any specific case, with this one exception: When Nicole Young documented her itemized list justifying $2 million per month, there was something that jumped out at me. Her monthly mortgage payment was $100,000, but her monthly entertainment budget was $900,000. In what world does anyone’s entertainment budget equal nine-times their mortgage/rent? Such unjustifiable notions are the type of fiscal ambiguity that is created when you become accustomed to living a highly exorbitant lifestyle.
These types of expenses may be acceptable when you are the person generating the revenue that makes them possible, or even if you are married to the person who makes them possible. However, at what point after the separation do you lose the benefit of being with such a person? The fact that the children need to be taken care of should go without being questioned. I have never been a fan of someone, male or female, attempting to make the argument of what they have become accustomed to and demanding that an ex continue to provide that lifestyle.
Some of you are boiling over thinking about what the man has done to cause the divorce. Your concerns are valid, but I believe they must be addressed through a different mechanism other than divorce. I think divorces should require more than irreconcilable differences to be granted. Obviously, abuse (of any kind) and cheating would be acceptable reasons to grant a divorce. I can see being financially irresponsible as another reason to divorce. In the case of a divorce, both parties should leave with what they entered the marriage with and divide the community property based on the individual level of contribution. If a spouse cheated or was abusive, the spouse who was wronged should be able to file a civil suit separate from the divorce, where they will have the opportunity to prove their accusations and be rewarded monetary damages.
There is another component that must be considered here. A Value must be given to motherhood and the management of the household — something that tends to go underappreciated in our society. In cases in which it can be proven that the wife was not adequately compensated for the work she did during the marriage, she should be rewarded a lump sum at the close of the divorce.
The only monthly payments a man should be making to an ex should be for the care of his children from that union.
Sadly, the commodification of Black men in Western society has created a situation in which women rarely see the value in a man beyond what he can provide financially.
The institution of marriage is so important to the perpetuation of the values, interests, and principles that will strengthen our people and ultimately liberate us that we cannot afford to disregard it or depreciate its value. For this, the average Black woman should not seek to live vicariously through the women who make these ridiculous demands for support after the relationship is over. If the person believes they deserve a certain amount for pain and suffering or work they have not been compensated for, they should file a civil suit and present their case. However, making demands just because it is what they have become used to is not a legitimate argument. What they have experienced and enjoyed during the relationship is specific to the relationship, and should be seen as a unique benefit of the relationship. You should not have the same benefits of being with a person with whom you are no longer in a relationship.
Relationships and babies are not come up opportunities. I am a firm believer that relationships are entered into too lightly. Relationships are exited just as easily with little to no consideration of the long-term implications. We have to do a better job of choosing mates, and we must not ignore the business element of marriage.
Black men are becoming more aware of the fiscal reality associated with potential relationships, and one way that they are protecting themselves is by not entering into legally binding relationships ~which is a sad reality. ~ Rick Wallace, Ph.D., Psy.D.
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