Back in 1963, the average age a woman got married was 21, and the average age a man did was 23. The average age of a Millennial’s (first) marriage has increased several years since then, to 27 for women and 29 for men…2015 Pew Research Survey
So, why the hell did I get married at 20 years old and Brent at 21? …because I honestly haven’t thought about it too hard since we’ve gotten married.
Statistically, a black girl with two children by the age of 20 should have been:
- Labeled as the “welfare queen” refusing to work and collecting thousands of dollars in public assistance
- Highschool dropout and unskilled
- Portrayed as loud, argumentative and sexually aggressive
According to some stereotypes, this is where I should be. These attributes do not define me. I just happened to have a child at a young age.
When it comes to the topic of sex and education, in my family and community…no one was explicit about teaching me about unprotected sex, birth control usage and relationship building. I had no real access to social programs that could’ve been of guidance and support.
Either you’re threatened to ignore the natural urges you feel as a young adult with no realistic outlet to safely express yourself or…you’re shunned in the community for acting on those urges with negative labels that follows you.
But, I digress….
While pregnant with our 2nd child, I brought up the topic of marriage. Brent (husband) was not against it. The conversation was easy, but I think I reiterated the topic of marriage a few times….and then…
BOOM, on my birthday weekend, November of 2006, he proposed. I was happy. I GOT THAT RING!
Not thinking deeply of what the impending marriage really meant, I got what I wanted…
A LABEL to the world that I was not just a BABY MAMA.
THE DAY I GOT MARRIED
So, it was 2007, Brent and I had just welcomed our second child, Lil Brent :), into the world. Brent was working nonstop, 12 hour work days, 6 days a week. I was a stay at home mom who wasn’t that good at my job. *flashback to the day the frying pan burst into flames while attempting to fry chicken in our small apartment*
On Monday, July 2, 2007 at the “courthouse”, with Jayla at 22 months, Lil Brent at 3 months and mom in law as witness…we said “I DO”.
We literally have no pictures of that day…what a shame. Here’s an early picture of us “newlyweds” in February of 2008.
We cute 🙂
On Tuesday, July 3, 2007, Brent went back to work. I went back to my subpar domesticated duties at home.
It was anti-climactic to say the least but, in my mind, I was content to live officially as husband and wife while we figured out our lives together, with no real consideration of how difficult the merged road would be ahead.
So, WHY Did I Get Married?
I was following and adhering to the traditions my parents, who are Southern raised baby boomers, had set out for me. In my family, we got MARRIED. My parents have been married for 54 years and it was important to me to be married just by being a witness to their union.
My 20-year-old mind at the time, was fully influenced by what others thought of me. I stressed to my man how important it was for me to get married based on my religious and traditional upbringing.
But to bring it all together, I got married (in my opinion and in retrospect) because…
- I was deeply in love and infatuated with my partner
- Due to the lack of access to proper health services, such as quality medical facilities, trained doctors and nurses, and healthcare coverage — Marriage to my then boyfriend would have meant access to his employer’s healthcare for myself and our children
- The double jeopardy of being with child and unmarried compounded with stereotypes about black women’s sexuality was too much for me to bear
I am still exploring the foundation of our marriage and evolving as we grow. Of course, I don’t regret a thing. In order to overcome some obstacles, I think it could be beneficial to stop and think about the WHY.
Why did we choose each other? This path? Why are we here today?
It can be the thing you need to reignite the feelings you once had or reconstruct the purpose of your journey.