Is Marriage Doomed in the African American Community?

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The once dominant married couple family—a husband who works for pay, a wife who tends to home and children—has relinquished its privileged position, having now become a minority of all households.

More Americans are unmarried now than ever.

People marry later in life and sometimes not at all. And among those who do marry, the wife is more likely than ever to earn more or be better educated than her husband.

While these developments are society-wide, they were apparent earliest, and are now most pronounced, among African Americans. More than 2 out of every 3 black women, and a majority of black men, are unmarried.

More than half of college educated black wives have husbands who did not go to college. Many of these college educated wives will no doubt earn substantially more than their husbands.

African Americans are at the leading edge of changing patterns of family and gender roles.



6 Comment

  1. Not yet – marriage is still beautiful. It gives us stability of life. We look responsible people and in fact I see African-Americans are tying the knot every day. The problem is after the wedding and thereafter. And this is across racial line. Women tend to be bosses – they tell you what to do; bring me this, give me all your money; I need extra money for my hair, nails; special dress for different occasions. They talk too much with their friends and relatives even in the middle of the night. They force you to go to their parents. Wait after you have kids – they will tell you to babysit while they go out with their friends. Worst of all they may yell at you in front of friends and co-workers. And if they are angry with you – you won’t get it. That’s breaking-point for what African-American men or men as whole can take or are turned off in marriage. I am asking women to treat us men as men and everything will be alright.

  2. well when one sees the flowering of the children as a result of the end of marriage what is there to say. makes one feel bad for Asian-Americans and Hispanic communities that are still clinging to marriage and family. the toll shows up in their kids!

  3. You don’t write about families like mine. I was married for 22 years before we got divorced. We married young and made many mistakes. After our divorce, we told our daughters to develop themselves and marry mature men. My ex and I remained friends. When he remarried, I was so happy for him, my daughters had to stop me from buying a wedding gift for him and his new wife. Two of his ex-girlfriends were at the wedding.

    Although my children were in college when his wife came into their lives, they consider her to be a step-mom and her daughter is like a little sister. A few years after, my oldest daughter married her high school sweetheart. They have been together for 20 years and they have a six year old daughter (I LOVE being her grandma!).

    This past June, my youngest daughter married a man who was is loving, easy-going, kind, and caring. He comes from a good family and he has a good job. At the wedding my ex-husband’s wife, who is an ordained minister, officiated at the wedding, and everyone had a great time. It was a beautiful day and everyone had a great time. Now, my daughter is having a baby (I’m going to be a grandma again!)

    I grew up in a very abusive family and no one knew how to love one another. I vowed to break the cycle of abuse. At the wedding, my daughter’s friends kept saying, “Your Mom is amazing! She is so generous.” But I am not amazing, God is. You cannot love someone and then turn around and hate him. Besides, I really do like his wife. She is a very kind and spirit-filled person. We prayed and affirmed at our family would grow with balanced, centered, and peaceful people.

    If Black people are not getting married, they may be preparing for someone who is worth waiting for. They may have a lot of internal work to do on themselves, they may be trying to create stability in their lives, or they may be trying to overcome past abuse. But I don’t think that is a problem or a sign of pathology.

    • That’s an amazing story, Monique J. Thanks for sharing it 🙂

  4. You wrote, “More than half of college educated black wives have husbands who did not go to college. Many of these college educated wives will no doubt earn substantially more than their husbands.”

    How much money a man makes is not important. One of my sons–in law does not have a college degree although my daughter has a masters. He is a wonderful father, has a stable job, takes care of his child, fixes things around the house, and is very protective of his family. My other daughter is a pediatric dentist and her husband has a masters degree. Before proposing, he took me aside to speak to me privately. He said, “I want you to know who I am.” He told me about where he grew up, where he went to school and what he goals were for the future. He said, “Your daughter makes a lot more money than I do, but I will take good care of her.” I said, “How much money you make is not the most important thing. I want you to have my daugher’s back and support her.” That is more important than anything. You’ve got to have each other’s back. When we learn to do that, you have a good marriage.

  5. Thank you Ms. Monique! That was very well said.

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