I’ve been married for almost two years, but I still feel compelled at times to share bits of wisdom I’ve collected over the years with singles that have intentions of being married some day. I think it’s especially important for married men to share with single men because so much of what we have all been taught about being a man is counterproductive to having a good marriage. I hope current husbands will also find this list useful because sometimes we don’t realize we’ve brought some unhealthy beliefs into our relationship until after we’re married. That said, here’s a simple list of five things every man should know before tying the knot.
1. Women are people, not objects
Seems obvious, right? Unfortunately too many men have grown up believing women are objects to be collected or challenges to be conquered. This is a global problem, but this first lesson is especially important for the millions of black men who grew up hearing men that look like them casually refer to women as “bitches” and “hoes” in their music, in movies, and on TV shows. Understanding this fact will impact every interaction you have with a woman, whether as a single man on the dating scene or a married man at work. Most men will give lip service to how precious women are when they are talking about their own mother, aunts, grandmother, or daughters. Sadly, some of the same men who talk about their love for mom will leave their mother’s house and harass the first woman they see on the street. Your future wife will have her own thoughts, desires, ambitions, and feelings, but it will be hard for you to receive them and value them if you don’t see her as your equal. Always remember, “objects are collected, people are respected”.
2. Being a good husband requires more than having a degree and a job.
I know a number of black women who have dated in big cities that have described what I would characterize as a sense of entitlement among many of the black men they have encountered. Given the effects of substandard schools, mass incarceration, and unemployment, I could understand how some men with a degree and a job could have an over-inflated sense of their value on the dating market. While impressive on paper, advanced degrees and ambitious career aspirations say nothing of your ability or desire to resolve conflict, practice forgiveness, or encourage your future wife in her professional endeavors. Make no mistake, I certainly believe that part of my duty as a husband is to provide for my family. But, meeting material needs is only one aspect of provision. My wife also has social, emotional, and spiritual needs that a paycheck or letters behind my name won’t help me meet. I’ve learned the hard way that becoming a good husband requires moving beyond the basics.