What Growing Up in The Hood Taught Me About Love

BY: - 5 Aug '13 | Marriage

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I grew up in walking distance of the infamous Cabrini Green Housing project in Chicago. My housing complex resembled The Carters from the movie New Jack City and those who would visit or come to pick me up would often joke about the neighborhood. I wasn’t ashamed then and I’m still not now. I learned so much growing up in that area. And I developed an understanding about life, goals and dreams that I don’t think I would have had I not grown up there.

Survival, being aware and living with limited resources were all takeaways from my childhood. Although I may not have appreciated them way back then, I sure have been grateful for them at certain points in my life.

In addition to what I mentioned above, I also learned a thing or two about love. My idea of love and relationships were challenged quite frequently. I always wanted the fairly tales I saw in the movies when I was a teen. You fell in love with a boy, he loved you back, you got married  and you went on happily from there. But the reality was, relationships didn’t seem to last forever and you had to be prepared. Another reality was the person you had children with didn’t have to be your spouse. Unfortunately, there weren’t many marriages in my neighborhood. Single mothers were heroes. When Father’s Day rolled around, we found ourselves celebrating the mothers who played both roles. They held it down and made us feel like men were just optional. The men weren’t as present and two-parent households were dang near obsolete. We were a tight knit community, there was love, but solid relationships were rare.

Had I believed what I saw, I would be in a very different place today. The hood taught me a few things that I am grateful to have learned along the way. Here are a few hood lessons that traveled with me into adulthood:

  • Children do need two parents actively involved in their lives. My entire circle of childhood friends grew up with just our moms in the home. That consistent male role model makes a world of difference in a child’s life. Girls learn the type of guy to bring home by observing their dads. Boys, of course, learn the essentials of manhood from their fathers. I learned that men are absolutely necessary in the home as well as in a community.
  • It’s okay to stay and fight for your marriage. There were broken families all around us. It seemed easy to walk away and there wasn’t a high expectation for our relationships to work out. No one held the other accountable for  building stronger families. I learned that we could have used that sense of community to encourage each other in love and relationships. The elders looked out for the children and told our parents when we did something wrong, but no one ever told that straying husband to go back home to his wife and family.
  • Healthy marriages aren’t a novel idea. They actually do exist. All over this world with people who look just like us. I wish more of us knew this when we were coming up. Some may have thought it was only something you see on TV, but it’s real. I know that now.
  • When you do love, love hard. Those relationships that did last, lasted because those couples loved hard. They sacrificed and gave everything they had to their relationship. There’s really no other way to love, in my opinion.

I am stronger as a result of my neighborhood. I love the people I grew up with and the memories will stay with me forever. There were great times and challenging times that made me appreciate what I have today. I am so grateful to have learned these powerful love lessons.

BMWK, what have you learned about love from your childhood?

About the author

Tiya Cunningham-Sumter wrote 573 articles on this blog.

Tiya Cunningham-Sumter is a Certified Life & Relationship Coach, founder of Life Editing and Author of A Conversation Piece: 32 Bold Relationship Lessons for Discussing Marriage, Sex and Conflict Available on Amazon . She helps couples and individuals rewrite their life to reflect their dreams. Tiya has been featured in Essence and Ebony Magazines, and named one of the top blogs to read now by Refinery29. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two daughters. To find out more about Tiya, and her coaching, visit www.thelifeandlovecoach.com and www.theboldersister.com.

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Sacrificing for My Wife; Learning to be Selfless in My Marriage

BY: - 5 Aug '13 | Marriage

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This weekend my wife Tanya told me she was taking Naomi to downtown Silver Spring to help support one of her homegirls who was selling jewelry which was great for me cause I can ALWAYS use a break for some me time! They left around 11am and after a wonderful quiet day of playing PS3, making beats and watching some of Season 4 of the Wire…I looked up and saw that it was 7pm! I called Tee to make sure they were alright because if I’m out with Naomi for over 4 hours I start seeing double! And she said they were fine and that she was giving me a break from Naomi. Now, my first thought was “what did you do” or “what do you want”, but then it hit me that my wife was just being selfless.

My life is based on sacrifices… – Jay Z

My homegirl once called me selfish and I couldn’t believe it! I’ve known shorty for over 20 years and she knows more then anyone that I would give her or anyone on my team my absolute last! So I felt some kinda way about her calling me selfish. But then she broke it down to me that I’m not selfish with my money or possessions but that I’m selfish with my time. And after really thinking about it, she was absolutely right! When I wanna make beats, I wanna make beats. When I wanna play NBA 2K13 for 5 hours straight, I wanna play NBA live for 5 hours straight, and a lot of times I’m not mindful that at times I’m not putting my wife’s needs above mine.

We have to realize that once we become Christians, we are called to be servants. The reason I’m writing that is because I always say and hear all the time, that marriage is so hard but truth be told, being a Christian by itself is hard! So, once we decide to give our life to Christ, we should begin to shed the selfishness that we ALL have and begin to serve others. So, it should be a no brainer that once we get married we’re still called to be servants! I remember before I got saved, I was asking one of my peoples if he was buying the new NBA live game that just dropped and he said he had to make sure that his wife and his daughter had everything they needed and if they did, then he would buy the game because his needs come last. And I thought to myself, “You work hard everyday and you can’t buy a video game AND you come last?!?! That sucks!” But now I understand EVERYTHING he was talking about perfectly!

Thanks to my homegirl’s 2 cents, I see that I have to be more mindful of my time and being selfish towards my wife. I think when we hear the word selfish we automatically think money and nothing else but selfishness covers a wide range of things. I had to sit back and check myself and see was I putting my needs first or last. And that’s what many marriages need to do, because I truly believe that if both people are putting their own needs before their spouse’s needs that the marriage is not going to be able to grow the way God intended it to. And I don’t know about you, but I want my marriage and my family to be everything that God wants it to be. I believe marriage should be about putting my wife’s needs first and her doing the same for me. That way we depend on each other to get our individual needs met. But what I believe usually happens is each spouse is putting their own needs first and no one is caring about the other person’s needs. Which eventually leads to both people thinking “ummm, why do I need you again?”

Jay told ya’ll on “Politics As Usual” that his life is based on sacrifices and that’s what our marriage should be based on…our sacrifices for each other. We’ll brag to anyone who will listen about all the sacrifices we make for our kids (“I sold my car to be able to put ‘lil Malik in that private school” or “I gave up my dream of being an astronaut to be a stay at home mother”) and we do it without even thinking about it. And on top of that we don’t resent our kids for our sacrifices! Too many times I hear, “I put my dreams on hold for my marriage but now I resent my spouse for it.” We don’t resent our kids for our sacrifices so why do we resent our spouses? Let’s start bragging about how we sacrifice for our spouses and brag about how we put our dreams on hold for our marriages. So, my challenge for the week ya’ll is let’s (myself included) figure out what we can do for our spouse to show some selflessness.

BMWK – What are your thoughts on the concept that couples should be servants to each other? Do you have issues with serving your spouse? As you reflect back on your own marriage, can you identify areas that you have shown selfishness or selflessness?

About the author

Rahaman "Kil" Kilpatrick wrote 27 articles on this blog.

Rahaman "Kil" Kilpatrick is a relationship coach, producer, writer, photographer, director and co-creator of Marriage Exposed. He has been married 13 years to his beautiful wife Tanya and they have a beautiful daughter together, Naomi. Through Marriage Exposed & coaching couples with Dr. Roz, Kil encourages people to always continue to fight for their marriages and relationships.

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